By Alexis Coe
In 1892, the US was once keen about a teenage murderess, however it wasn't her crime that surprised the nation—it was once her motivation. Nineteen-year-old Alice Mitchell had deliberate to move as a guy for you to marry her seventeen-year-old fiancée Freda Ward, but if their love letters have been chanced on, they have been forbidden from ever conversing again.
Freda adjusted to this destiny with an ease that surprised a heartbroken Alice. Her desperation grew with every one unanswered letter—and her father's razor quickly went lacking. On January 25, Alice publicly slashed her ex-fiancée's throat. Her same-sex love was once deemed insane by way of her father that very evening, and health workers agreed: This used to be a deadly and incurable perversion. because the court docket used to be accelerated to deal with nationwide curiosity, Alice spent months in jail—including the evening that 3 of her fellow prisoners have been lynched (an occasion which captured the eye of journalist and civil rights activist Ida...
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Extra info for Alice + Freda Forever. A Murder in Memphis
Ada’s letter was brimming with intimate details that could only have come from Freda. Her fiancé had cracked under pressure, making neither any effort to protect her confidences with Alice, nor any attempt to preserve the possibility of a future together. It now seemed prescient that Alice had, in the past, suggested to Isabella that Ada was not well. ”12 Of course, Alice did nothing to disabuse her mother of this interpretation, nor did she argue against Isabella’s verdict, the same one imposed by Ada.
She had played accomplice on enough of Alice’s investigative missions that month to know why her friend slowed the horses to a near-halt before the widow Kimbrough’s home. Freda and her older sister, Jo Ward, had been staying there for nearly a month, during which time they had shown no interest in Alice and Lillie, once their closest friends at the Higbee School for Young Ladies. Lillie had adjusted to this reality, but Alice could not. The Ward sisters had moved up the river to Golddust, but visited Memphis often.
I remember it well because I was so engrossed in the act of imagining their lives, I missed my stop—and then three more. 1 And so I’d closed my eyes and tried to hear their voices through the dense text, to visualize their story. But I had little more than a train ride for such reveries. I was already a year into research on citizenship, and I was determined to be the kind of historian who focused on law, not love. Nevertheless, I slowly started collecting newspaper articles about the Mitchell-Ward case, struck by their sensational headlines and front page placement, and intrigued by the physical evidence they mentioned—love letters, a bottle of poison, a father’s razor.