Mona Lizzie © wood engraving (ed. 40) image: 7 x 5 in. $100.00 (go to "Hi There" for purchase information)

Lizzie Borden took an Axe,

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.

Never underestimate the power of a catchy little rhyme. On June 20, 1893 a jury of twelve men in New Bedford, Massachusetts, found Lizzie Borden innocent of the brutal axe murder of her father and her step-mother. These gentlemen recognized the prosecution's failure to prove its case beyond all doubt and in addition, they could not believe that a sweet young Sunday School teacher with an angelic Mona Lisa smile could have committed such a horrible crime. The story was so spectacular it spread like an epidemic across the nation. The police had only a feeble collection of circumstantial evidence, but for over a hundred years the little rhyme about Lizzie and her forty whacks (actually a total of 29, not 81) has served to establish the guilt of Lizzie Borden. Many criminologists who have studied the evidence and the transcripts believe she was, as those twelve men said, innocent.

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