Trial of Mrs. Elizabeth G. Wharton on the Charge of Poisoning General W.S. Ketchum. Tried at Annapolis, MD. December, 1871-January, 1872

Trial of Mrs. Elizabeth G. Wharton on the Charge of Poisoning General W.S. Ketchum. Tried at Annapolis, MD. December, 1871-January, 1872

Baltimore: The Baltimore Gazette, [1872].

First Edition. 172 pp, in a later buckram binding with original front wrapper (heavily chipped at edges) bound in. Rear wrapper lacking, but otherwise complete, clean, and sound; good. Elizabeth Wharton was accused of poisoning her financial advisor, to whom she owed money. Her talented and expensive team of defense lawyers hired chemists and toxicologists to dispute the reliability of the autopsy and the scientific techniques of State witnesses. “The case became a highly publicized ‘battle of the experts” at a time when experts were still learning. Because of doubt cast on the prosecution’s work, the judge had the body exhumed and samples delivered to another chemist…whose results confirmed the earlier testing that indicated poisoning. Undeterred, the defense produced more expert witnesses, principally physicians, who raised meningitis as an alternative…cause of death. In the end, Wharton was acquitted.” (Bell, Crime and Circumstance, 77). There was much public outrage at the verdict, as “it appeared that testimony was auctioned off to the highest bidder.” The controversy “highlighted the need for reliable and unbiased scientific examination and testimony” and generated several attempts at legislative reform in the 1870s and 1880s. McDade 1076.

Item #19779

Price: $350.00