Common section

NOTES

PROLOGUE: NEW YORK CITY, FRIDAY AFTERNOON, SEPTEMBER 17, 1841

1. We know these details of Samuel Adams’s dress and gait from the trial testimony of his acquaintance John Johnson. See Thomas Dunphy and Thomas J. Cummins, Remarkable Trials of All Countries (New York: Dossy & Company, 1870), pp. 247–48.

2. Besides Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” my evocation of the street scene is drawn from several sources, primarily Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Man of the Crowd,” Charles Dickens’s American Notes for General Circulation, and Nathaniel Parker Willis’s Open-Air Musings in the City. Excerpts from the last two can be found in Phillip Lopate’s anthology Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (New York: Library of America, 2008), pp. 51–64, 74–90.

3. For example, see J. Disturnell, The Classified Mercantile Directory for the Cities of New-York and Brooklyn (New York: J. Disturnell, 1837), and E. Porter Belden, New-York: Past, Present, and Future (New York: G. P. Putnam, 1849), pp. 276–450.

4. On the very day of Samuel Adams’s disappearance, the New York Herald ran a prominent story, “The Case of Mary Rogers—The Place of the Murder,” accompanied by a large woodcut illustration showing “The House Where Mary Rogers Was Last Seen Alive.” See New York Herald, September 17, 1841, p. 2. For a full account of the McLeod case, see William Renwick Riddell, “An International Murder Trial,” Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1919): pp. 176–83.

5. For a description of Scudder’s American Museum, see Neil Harris, Humbug: The Art of P. T. Barnum (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), p. 39.

6. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 248.

7. See Holden’s Dollar Magazine, vol. 6 (1851): p. 187.

PART ONE: FRAIL BLOOD

CHAPTER 1

1. The school was later renamed the American Asylum at Hartford for the Education and Instruction of Deaf and Dumb Persons.

According to local historian Mary K. Talcott, Captain Lord (1611–62) “was one of the most energetic and efficient men in the colony; when the first troop of horse was organized, he was chosen commander, March 11, 1658, and distinguished himself in the Indian Wars. He was constable, 1642; townsman, 1645; represented Hartford in the General Court from 1656 until his death.” Also see J. Hammond Trumbull, ed., The Memorial History of Hartford County Connecticut 1633–1884 (Boston: Edward L. Osgood, 1886), p. 249.

2. William Hosley, Colt: The Making of an American Legend (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996), pp. 14, 228. For more about the complicity of New England merchants in the infamous “Triangle Trade,” see Janet Siskind, Rum and Axes: The Rise of a Connecticut Merchant Family, 1795–1850 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004).

3. Hosley, American Legend, p. 15; Josiah Gilbert Holland, History of Western Massachusetts (Springfield, MA: Samuel Bowles and Company, 1855), p. 225.

4. Jack Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker: The Story of Sam Colt and His Six-Shot Peacemaker (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1948), p. 3.

5. Miriam Davis Colt, Went to Kansas (Watertown, MA: L. Ingalls & Co., 1862), p. 250; William B. Edwards, The Story of Colt’s Revolver: The Biography of Col. Samuel Colt (New York: Castle Books, 1957), p. 15.

6. Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 2.

CHAPTER 2

1. In addition to his sisters Margaret (b. 1806) and Sarah (b. 1808), Sam Colt grew up with three brothers: John (b. 1810), Christopher, Jr. (b. 1812), and James (b. 1816). Two other children—Mary (b. 1819) and Norman (b. 1821)—did not outlive childhood.

2. Madison (WI) Express, November 7, 1841, p. 3.

3. See Life and Letters of John C. Colt, Condemned to Be Hung on the Eighteenth of November, 1842, for the Murder of Samuel Adams (New York: Extra Tattler, October 21, 1842), p. 3; Charles F. Powell, An Authentic Life of John C. Colt (Boston: S. N. Dickinson, 1842), p. 14.

4. Powell, Authentic Life, pp. viii–ix.

5. Ibid. Also see Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 16, and Gertrude Hecker Winders, Sam Colt and His Gun (New York: John Day Company, 1959), pp. 13–15.

6. John D. Lawson, American State Trials, vol. 7 (St. Louis: F. H. Thomas Law Book Co., 1917), p. 464; Henry Barnard, Armsmear (New York: Alvord Printer, 1866), p. 295.

7. Lydia H. Sigourney, Letters to My Pupils (New York: Robert Carver & Brothers, 1853), pp. 233, 241.

8. See Jane Benardete’s biographical entry in American Women Writers, ed. Lina Mainero (New York: Frederick Ungar, 1982), pp. 78–81.

9. Lydia H. Sigourney, Letters of Life (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1868), pp. 186–87.

10. Ibid., pp. 203–18.

11. They are part of the Colt Family Papers, donated to the University of Rhode Island Library Special Collections in 1989.

CHAPTER 3

1. The quote is taken from Daniel Walker Howe’s Pulitzer Prize–winning What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 38. Though Howe is not referring specifically to Christopher Colt, his description of the quintessential American male of the era applies perfectly to the patriarch of the Colt clan (as well as to his most famous son): “This was not a relaxed, hedonistic, refined, or indulgent society … The man who got ahead in often primitive conditions did so by means of innate ability, hard work, luck, and sheer willpower … Impatient of direction, he took pride in his personal accomplishments. An important component of his drive to succeed was a willingness … to innovate and take risks, to try new methods and locations.”

2. See Hosley, American Legend, p. 228, n. 15; “Cattle Show,” Connecticut Courant, November, 3, 1818, p. 2; “Savings Society in the City of Hartford,” Connecticut Courant, July 6, 1819, p. 3.

3. Sigourney, Letters of Life, pp. 243–48, 266–80.

4. Alice Morehouse Walker, Historic Hadley: A Story of the Making of a Famous Massachusetts Town (New York: Grafton Press, 1906), pp. 92–93. Also see History of the Hopkins Fund, Grammar School and Academy, in Hadley, Mass. (Amherst, MA: Amherst Record Press, 1890).

5. The bylaws of the academy can be found in History of the Hopkins Fund, pp. 80–81.

6. Powell, Authentic Life, p. 15.

7. The calculation is based on a yearly tuition fee of $12, plus boarding expenses of $1.50 per week for forty-four weeks. (According to official records, the academic year at Hopkins Academy consisted of four terms commencing on the first Wednesdays of December, March, June, and September, with four vacations of two weeks each. See History of the Hopkins Fund, p. 81.)

8. See Samuel Rezneck, “The Depression of 1819–1822, A Social History,” American Historical Review, vol. 39, no. 1 (October 1933): pp. 28–47; Murray N. Rothbard, The Panic of 1819: Reactions and Policies (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962).

9. Barnard, Armsmear, p. 296.

10. Powell, Authentic Life, p. 18.

11. Ibid., p. 19.

12. See Hosley, American Legend, p. 15; Luther S. Cushing, Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, vol. 1 (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1865), p. 232; Siskind, Rum and Axes, pp. 78–89.

13. The poem is appended to Powell’s book as “Note A.” Another poem on the subject by Mrs. Sigourney is inscribed in Sarah Ann Colt’s school notebook:

“On the death of an infant son of Mr. Colt’s who was buried on the first anniversary of its birth, Sunday May 5th 1822”

Sweet bud that on a fading stem

   Did faintly bloom,

Then shed thy pure and snowy gem

   Upon the tomb.

That day which mark’d with smile of dread

   Thy feeble birth

Returns—and lo thy couch is spread

   In mouldering earth.

One slumbers there who would have sighed

   O’er thy crush’d head

To think how soon grim Death had spy’d

   Thy cradle bed.

But she hath escaped the torturing wound,

   The tearful sigh,

And ere thy brow was pale hath found

   A brighter day.

Say! Did her angel vision trace

   Thy being given

And her maternal arms embrace

   Her babe in Heaven?

CHAPTER 4

1. For different accounts of young Sam and his first firearm, see Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 16; Winders, Colt and His Gun, p. 18; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 9; Barnard, Armsmear, p. 298.

2. As many old-timers saw it, Colonel Colt actually improved on the design of the Creator: “God made men, but Sam Colt made them equal,” as the saying goes.

3. The entire poem, which appears in Sigourney’s Letters to My Pupils, pp. 234–36, reads as follows:

There was an open grave, and many an eye

Looked down upon it. Slow the sable hearse

Moved on, as if reluctantly it bare

The young, unwearied form to that cold couch

Which age and sorrow render sweet to man.

There seemed a sadness in the humid air, Lifting the young grass from those verdant mounds

Where slumber multitudes.

         There was a train

Of young fair females, with their brows of bloom,

And shining tresses. Arm in arm they came,

And stood upon the brink of that dark pit

In pensive beauty, waiting the approach

Of their companion. She was wont to fly

And meet them, as the gay bird meets the spring,

Brushing the dew-drop from the morning flowers,

And breathing mirth and gladness. Now, she came

With movements fashioned to the deep-toned bell;

She came with mourning sire and sorrowing friends,

And tears of those who at her side were nursed

By the same mother.

         Ah! and one was there,

Who, ere the fading of the summer rose,

Had hoped to greet her as his bride. But death

Arose between them. The pale lover watched

So close her journey through the shadowy vale,

That almost to his heart the ice of death

Entered from hers. There was a brilliant flush

Of youth about her, and her kindling eye

Poured such unearthly light, that hope would hang

Even on the archer’s arrow, while it dropped

Deep poison. Many a restless night she toiled

For that slight breath that held her from the tomb,

Still wasting like a snow-wreath, which the sun

Marks for his own, on some cool mountain’s breast,

Yet spares, and tinges long with rosy light.

   Oft o’er the musings of her silent couch

Came visions of that matron form which bent

With nursing tenderness to soothe and bless

Her cradle dream: and her emaciate hand

In trembling prayer she raised, that He who saved

The sainted mother would redeem the child.

Was the orison lost? Whence then that peace

So dove-like, settling o’er a soul that loved

Earth and its pleasures? Whence that angel smile

With which the allurements of a world so dear

Were counted and resigned? That eloquence

So fondly urging those whose hearts were full

Of sublunary happiness, to seek

A better portion? Whence that voice of joy,

Which from the marble lip, in life’s last strife

Burst forth to hail her everlasting home?

   Cold reasoners! be convinced. And when ye stand Where that fair brow, and those unfrosted locks

Return to dust, where the young sleeper waits

The resurrection morn, oh! Lift the heart

In praise to Him who gave the victory.

4. These contrasting views of the wicked stepmother can be found in Bruno Bettelheim, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1976), pp. 66–73; and Iona Opie and Peter Opie, The Classic Fairy Tales (London: Oxford University Press, 1974), p. 15.

5. William Upson, b. October 24, 1824, d. September 28, 1848; Mary Lucretia, b. July 29, 1826, d. November 23, 1828; Olivia Paine, b. September 26, 1828, d. April 5, 1838.

6. Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 8.

7. Ibid.; Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 17; Ben Keating, The Flamboyant Mr. Colt and His Deadly Six-Shooter (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1978), p. 5.

8. Powell, Authentic Life, p. 22. Information on the Union Manufacturing Company of Marlborough, Connecticut, can be found online at the website of the Richmond Memorial Library (www.richmondlibrary.info/blog/historic_buildings/mills). For interesting material on the use of double entry bookkeeping by early nineteenth-century Connecticut merchants, see Siskind, Rum and Axes, pp. 50–52.

9. For example, see Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 17; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 9; Winders, Colt and His Gun, p. 38.

CHAPTER 5

1. It should be said that the meandering course of John’s career was more typical of his era than the unswerving trajectory of Sam’s. As historian Donald M. Scott explains, “Those who sought professional or intellectual careers in mid-nineteenth-century America faced a chaotic, confusing, and frequently unpredictable occupational life. Few whose adulthoods spanned these decades had careers that followed a course that they could have either planned or predicted. They frequently made their way by moving into and through a series of institutions, places, and activities that had not even existed when they started out and that they themselves often had to invent … Indeed, many career seekers shifted around in a manner hard to imagine for either the eighteenth or the twentieth centuries as they tried to get ‘a hold’ on life.” See Donald M. Scott, “The Popular Lecture and the Creation of a Public in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America,” Journal of American History, vol. 66 (March 1980): p. 795.

2. See Edward K. Spann, The New Metropolis: New York City, 1840–1857 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), pp. 1–7; Edwin Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 430–32; Ric Burns and James Sanders, New York: An Illustrated History (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), pp. 56–58.

3. Spann, New Metropolis, p. 1. The material in this chapter regarding John Colt’s life between 1826 and 1829—including all quoted passages of text—comes from Powell, Authentic Life, pp. 22–31.

4. Hosley, American Legend, p. 15. Also see Cushing, Reports of Cases Argued, vol. 1, p. 232. Christopher Colt remained with the company until 1835; two years later, it went under during the panic of 1837. See Arthur Chase, History of Ware, Massachusetts (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1911), p. 220.

5. Sigourney, Letters to My Pupils, p. 258.

6. Madison (WI) Express, November 7, 1841, p. 3.

CHAPTER 6

1. John Phelan, Readings in Rural Sociology (New York: Macmillan, 1920), pp. 5–6.

2. Ibid., p. 6.

3. Barnard, Armsmear, p. 298.

4. Phelan, Rural Sociology, p. 3.

5. Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, pp. 10–11; Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 17.

6. Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 11.

7. Philip K. Lundeberg, Samuel Colt’s Submarine Battery: The Secret and the Enigma (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974), p. 8. Also see Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 12, and Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 17.

8. L. P. Brockett, The Silk Industry in America: A History: Prepared for the Centennial Exposition (New York: George F. Nesbitt & Co., 1876), p. 110.

9. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 17.

10. Ibid., p. 18; Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 8; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 26.

11. Frederick Tuckerman, Amherst Academy: A New England School of the Past, 1814–1861 (Amherst, MA: printed for and published by the trustees, 1929), pp. 82–83.

12. Ibid., p. 67.

13. Claude Moore Fuess, Amherst: The Story of a New England College (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1935), p. 27.

14. Rufus Graves, “Account of a Gelatinous Meteor,” American Journal of Science, vol. 2 (1820), pp. 335–37. Also see Hilary Belcher and Erica Swale, “Catch a Falling Star,” Folklore, vol. 95 (1984): pp. 210–20.

15. My description of these experiments is taken from a standard text of the time, Chemical Instructor: Presenting a Familiar Method of Teaching the Chemical Principles and Operations (Albany, NY: Webster and Skinners, 1822). Designed specifically for the use of chemistry teachers in public schools and academies, this manual was written by Amos Eaton, later a renowned botanist, geologist, and chemist who taught for a short time at Amherst College.

16. John White Webster, A Manual of Chemistry (Boston: Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb, 1839), p. 142. For Sam’s familiarity with Webster’s text, see Martin Rywell, Samuel Colt: A Man and an Epoch (Harriman, TN: Pioneer Press, 1952), p. 18. In later years, Webster, a Harvard professor of chemistry and mineralogy, would become the central figure in a sensational murder case that almost uncannily mirrored that of Sam’s own brother, John.

17. All quotes and information relating to this period of John Colt’s life are taken from Powell, Authentic Life, pp. 29–32. As for his possible real estate ventures, the speculation that he owned property in Baltimore derives from a contract signed several years later by Sam Colt’s employee John Pearson, who agreed to rent workspace from John Colt at the rate of four dollars per month. See Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 32.

18. The definitive work on this subject is Ronald E. Shaw, Canals for a Nation: The Canal Era in the United States, 1790–1860 (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1990). For more specific information about the project in which John Colt was reportedly involved, see Chester Lloyd Jones, “The Anthracite-Tidewater Canals,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 31 (January 1908): pp. 102–16.

19. All quotes about the Reverend Mr. Fisk and the Wesleyan Academy are taken from George Prentice, Wilbur Fisk (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1890), pp. 78–86.

20. See Madison (WI) Express, November 17, 1841, p. 3; Powell, Authentic Life, p. 32; Life and Letters, p. 4. James’s remarks about Sarah Ann’s “derangement” appear in a letter to Sam, dated October 6, 1841, that is among the Colt archives at the Connecticut State Library. For Lydia Sigourney’s tribute to Sarah Ann, see Sigourney, Letters to My Pupils, pp. 242–43.

21. Life and Letters of John C. Colt, p. 4; Powell, Authentic Life, p. 32.

PART TWO: FORTUNE’S TRAIL

CHAPTER 7

1. Barnard, Armsmear, p. 296.

2. Ibid., p. 276.

3. The author of the “Battle of the Kegs” (a satirical ballad apparently performed to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”) was Francis Hopkinson, judge, author, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The complete poem consists of twenty-two stanzas. The ones reprinted here are excerpted from the version in Samuel Kettell, Specimens of American Poetry: With Critical and Biographical Notices (Boston: B. G. Goodrich and Co., 1829), pp. 202–5. Also see Rywell, Man and Epoch, pp. 14–15.

4. See E. Taylor Parks, “Robert Fulton and Submarine Warfare,” Military Affairs, vol. 25 (Winter 1961–62): pp. 177–82; Robert Fulton, Torpedo War, and Submarine Explosions (New York: William Elliot, 1810); Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 160–61; Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 7.

5. Barnard, Armsmear, p. 275; Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 18; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, pp. 14–15; Hosley, American Legend, p. 25. Also see Paul Uselding, “Elisha K. Root, Forging, and the ‘American System,’ ” Technology and Culture, vol. 15, no. 4 (October 1974): pp. 543–68.

6. Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002), p. 19.

7. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 19–20.

8. Herbert G. Houze, Samuel Colt: Arms, Art, and Invention (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press and the Wadsworth Museum of Art, 2006), p. 37. Also see Fuess, Amherst College, p. 108; Edward Wilton Carpenter and Charles Frederick Morehouse, The History of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts (Amherst, MA: Carpenter & Morehouse, 1896), pp. 460–61; Margaret Hope Bacon, But One Race: The Life of Robert Purvis (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2007), p. 22.

9. The Joneses were transporting “two hundred reams of paper, a quantity of printing ink, and other articles to facilitate the printing of the Burman bible, tracts, &c.” See James D. Knowles, Memoir of Mrs. Ann H. Judson, Late Missionary to Burmah; Including a History of the American Baptist Mission in the Burman Empire (Boston: Lincoln & Edmonds, 1831), p. 389.

10. Colt’s official biographer itemizes the expenditures thus (see Barnard, Armsmear, p. 300):

Seaman’s cap

$ 3.50

Quadrant, almanac, and compass

18.50

Mattress, bedding, &c

9.00

Slop clothes

38.92

Boots and shoes

8.00

Stockings

2.00

Jackknife &c

1.00

Custom House

.25

Seaman’s Chest

4.62

 

85.79

   

Cash

5.00

Paper &c

.45

Total

$ 91.24

11. Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 38; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, pp. 19–20.

CHAPTER 8

1. According to his biographer, Charles Powell, John had come across “a Navy Department Order in a newspaper to prepare the Frigate Constitution for a Mediterranean cruise” (p. 32). While “Old Ironsides” did, in fact, serve as the flagship of the navy’s Mediterranean Squadron between 1821 and 1828, she was laid up in Boston Harbor, undergoing extensive repairs, at the time of John’s enlistment and did not return to active service until 1835. If John intended to embark on a Mediterranean cruise, it would have been on a different vessel.

2. Powell, Authentic Life, pp. 32–33.

3. Ibid., pp. 35–36; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 40.

4. Rywell, Man and Epoch, p. 74.

CHAPTER 9

1. I am referring here to the 1961 best-seller African Genesis (New York: Atheneum, 1961), by Robert Ardrey, a highly successful Hollywood screenwriter turned amateur anthropologist. Though Ardrey’s work has not completely stood the test of time, it offers profoundly important insights into the savage springs of human behavior and culture.

2. For the development of repeating handguns, see W. Y. Carman, A History of Firearms: From Earliest Times to 1914 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1955), pp. 131–48; Roger Pauly, Firearms: The Life Story of a Technology (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2004), pp. 39–58; Charles T. Haven and Frank A. Belden, A History of the Colt Revolver: And Other Arms Made by Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company from 1836 to 1940 (New York: Bonanza Books, 1940), pp. 3–13; Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, pp. 22–36. Samuel Colt himself provided a useful survey of the subject in a lecture delivered to the Institution of Civil Engineers in London in 1851. It is reprinted in Haven and Belden, pp. 312–26.

3. Quoted in Rywell, Man and Epoch, p. 45.

4. For example, see Ellsworth S. Grant, The Colt Legacy: The Colt Armory in Hartford, 1855–1980 (Providence, RI: Mowbray Company, 1982), pp. 2–4.

5. Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 38. In other versions, Sam derived his inspiration not from watching the Corvo’s wheel but from observing either the windlass used to load and unload the hold or the capstan for raising and lowering the anchor. See Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 23; Harold Evans, They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine: Two Centuries of Innovators (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2004), p. 62.

6. Beecher’s Illustrated Magazine, May 1871, pp. 343–47.

7. The precise date of Sam’s return is unknown. However, “based upon Olivia Colt’s remark in her letter of 23 June 1830 telling Samuel that the Corvo would be at sea for ‘about ten months,’ ” it “most likely occurred either in May or June of 1831.” See Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 38; Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 23–24.

CHAPTER 10

1. Powell, Authentic Life, pp. 36–37.

2. The seal is divided into two halves. The upper portion depicts the sun rising over a mountain behind the university building. The lower half consists of three emblems: a quadrant, a globe, and an ideogram of two small squares balanced atop a much larger third. This latter is meant to signify “the Pythagorean proposition that, in a right-handed triangle, the square of the hypotenuse equals the sum of the squares of the two other sides.” See Julian Ira Lindsay, Tradition Looks Forward: The University of Vermont: A History, 1791–1904 (Burlington, VT: University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, 1954), p. 88.

3. John’s precise movements during these years and the exact locations of his various enterprises are difficult to sort out. This summary is extrapolated from information in Powell, Authentic Life, pp. 40–43, as well as from a letter on file at the Connecticut Historical Society, dated 1833, in which James Colt writes to Sam: “John has returned to New York … He has got a notion in his head that he thinks will pay him 20 thousand dollars, it is making oil sope [sic] and I think it is a foolish one.”

4. Ibid., p. 41.

5. John C. Colt, The Science of Double Entry Book-Keeping: Simplified, Arranged and Methodized, 10th ed. (New York: Nafis & Cornish, 1844), p. 191.

6. Cary John Previts and Barbara Dubis Merino, A History of Accounting in the United States: The Cultural Significance of Accounting (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1998), p. 21.

7. Powell, Authentic Life, p. 43.

8. Ibid., p. 44.

9. Daniel Aaron, Cincinnati, Queen City of the West: 1819–1938 (Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press, 1992), pp. 7, 17.

10. Scott, “Popular Lecture,” p. 792.

11. Four of Colt’s talks—three given to “public meeting[s]” in Cincinnati, Dayton, and Boston and one prepared for Cincinnati’s College of Professional Teachers but never delivered—are appended to the tenth edition of his textbook, The Science of Double Entry Book-Keeping. All quotes come from pp. 191–253 of that volume.

CHAPTER 11

1. According to his own account, Sam Colt’s original conception was a gun with multiple barrels that rotated when the hammer was cocked. He soon abandoned this pepperbox design, however, for the far less unwieldy one of a single-barrel firearm with a revolving six-chambered cylinder. See Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, pp. 38–39, and Barnard, Armsmear, p. 162.

2. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 24. Edwards describes Bassett as the captain of a whaler but a congressional document identifies him as “a merchantman, principally in the European trade.” See Executive Documents of the House of Representatives at the Second Session of the Twenty-first Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Washington, December 6, 1830, vol. 3 (Washington, DC: Duff Green, 1831), document No. 104, p. 123.

3. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 24; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 25; Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 45.

4. Evans, They Made America, pp. 62–63.

5. Ibid., p. 63.

6. Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 41.

7. See Ellen Hickey Grayson, “Social Order and Psychological Disorder: Laughing Gas Demonstrations, 1800–1850,” in Freakery: Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body, ed. Rosemarie Garland Thomson (New York: New York University Press, 1996), pp. 108–20.

8. William Hosley, “Guns, Gun Culture, and the Peddling of Dreams,” in Guns in America: A Reader, ed. Jan E. Dizard, Robert Merrill Muth, and Stephen P. Andrews, Jr. (New York: New York University Press, 1999), p. 54.

9. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 18.

10. Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, pp. 36–37. Colt’s standard introductory speech at his performances was much the same as his newspaper advertisements. Sometime in 1832 or 1833, he committed this speech to paper. This document (reprinted in Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 40) conveys not only the learned tone of “Dr. Coult’s” spiel but the inimitably wretched spelling of its author:

Ladies & Gentlemen

If you will give me your attention for a few minuits, I wil commence the evenings entertainment with a few intraductary remarks.

Nitrous Oxide, or the Prot Oxide of Azot. which is more generally known by the name Exhilarating Gas, was discovered by Dr. Priestley in 1772 but it was first acurateley investigated by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1799 …

Sir Humphrey Davy first shode that by breathing a few quarts of it containd in a Silk bag for too or three minuets effects analagus to those occasioned by drinking formented liquors were produced. Individuals who differ in temperament, are however, as one might expect differantly effected.

It effects uppon some people are truly ludicrus, producing involuntary muscular motion, & a propensity for leaping & Running. In others involuntary fits of laughter & in all high spirrits & the most exquisately pleashourable sensations, without any subsequent feelings of debility …

Agreable to my usual custum, I wil enhale the first dose of Gas myself, in order to show you that it is purfectly pure & that there need be no fear of enhaling it—I would observe to all pursuns who inten taking the Gas, this evening, to dispose of their nives, or other weppins, preaveous to there taking it, in order to gard against an accident, altho I do not apprehend any danger for I have never had an accident hapin.

11. Haven and Belden, History of Colt, pp. 17–18.

12. Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 38; Rywell, Man and Epoch, p. 27.

CHAPTER 12

1. Theophilus E. Padnos, “Here Is a Cabinet of Curiosities: Collecting the Past on the American Frontier” (PhD diss., University of Massachusetts, 2000), pp. 23–27; Louis Leonard Tucker, “ ‘Ohio Show-Shop’: The Western Museum of Cincinnati, 1820–1867,” in A Cabinet of Curiosities: Five Episodes in the Evolution of American Museums, eds. Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., et al., (Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1967): pp. 73–105.

2. Aaron, Cincinnati, p. 276.

3. Edward P. Hingston, The Genial Showman, vol. 1, Being Reminiscences of the Life of Artemus Ward and Pictures of a Showman’s Career in the Western World (London: John Camden Hotten, 1870), pp. 11–12, quoted by Tucker, “ ‘Ohio Show-Stop,’ ” p. 74.

4. Padnos, “Cabinet of Curiosities,” pp. 61–64, 117; Tucker, “ ‘Ohio Show-Stop,’ ” p. 85.

5. Richard P. Wunder, Hiram Powers: Vermont Sculptor (Taftsville, VT: Country Press, 1974), p. 11.

6. Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans (London: Whitaker, Treacher & Co., 1832), p. 53.

7. Padnos, “Cabinet of Curiosities,” p. 48.

8. Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 40; Rywell, Man and Epoch, p. 28.

9. Rywell, Man and Epoch, p. 27; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, pp. 38–50.

10. See John Colt, Double Entry Book-Keeping, pp. 29, 30, 34, 40; Powell, Authentic Life, p. 8.

11. Colt, Double Entry Book-Keeping, p. 40.

12. For example, see Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 61.

13. Charles Theodore Greve, Centennial History of Cincinnati and Representative Citizens, vol. 1 (Chicago: Biographical Publishing Company, 1904), pp. 643–44. Also see the Cincinnati Public Ledger, February 20, 1841, p. 3.

14. Aaron, Cincinnati, p. 278.

15. All information about Frances Anne Frank and her tragic relationship with John Colt comes from Powell, Authentic Life, pp. 44–52.

16. Powell—whose biography was clearly composed with John’s cooperation and represents him in the best possible light—insists that his subject nobly resisted Frances Anne’s seductive advances: “deep as was his interest in her, he saw that it would be ruinous to give way to it” (p. 46). His repeated assertions of Colt’s purity and restraint, however, have a distinct air of protesting too much. Everything that Powell reports about the relationship suggests that John and Frances were lovers.

17. Claudia D. Johnson, “Enter the Harlot,” in Women in American Theatre, ed. Helen Krich Chinoy and Linda Walsh Jenkins (New York: Crown Publishing, 1980), pp. 57–66.

18. The account of Frances Anne Frank’s final twenty-four hours is based on a letter from Joseph Adams to John Colt, printed verbatim in the appendix to Powell, Authentic Life, pp. 69–70.

CHAPTER 13

1. Charles Varle, A Complete View of Baltimore (Baltimore: Samuel Young, 1833), p. 41.

2. Hosley, American Legend, p. 16; Evans, They Made America, p. 63; Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 35.

3. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 32; Keating, Flamboyant Mr. Colt, p. 13.

4. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 42.

5. Ibid., p. 182. Also see Andie Tucher, Froth & Scum: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and the Ax Murder in America’s First Mass Medium (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1994), pp. 173–75.

CHAPTER 14

1. The story of the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company is told most fully in Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 43ff., and Haven and Belden, History of Colt, pp. 20–43. Also see Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, pp. 72–116, and Keating, Flamboyant Mr. Colt, pp. 1–49.

2. Nathaniel C. Fowler, Getting a Start: First Aids to Success (New York: Sully and Kleintech, 1915), p. 43.

3. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 44.

4. Keating, Flamboyant Mr. Colt, p. 19.

5. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 50; Evans, They Made America, p. 65.

6. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 56; Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 54; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 91.

7. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 62.

8. Evans, They Made America, p. 65; Keating, Flamboyant Mr. Colt, p. 32; Hosley, “Guns, Gun Culture,” p. 62.

9. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 70. Though it took some doing, Sam was ultimately able to wrest a replacement payment from the army.

10. Ibid., p. 80.

11. Keating, Flamboyant Mr. Colt, pp. 41–42.

12. Ibid., p. 35; Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 89.

CHAPTER 15

1. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 60–61.

2. Powell, Authentic Life, p. 52.

3. Aaron, Cincinnati, p. 232. Also see Walter Sutton, The Western Book Trade: Cincinnati as a Nineteenth-Century Publishing and Book-Trade Center (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1961), pp. 5–18, 67ff.

4. Sutton, Western Book Trade, pp. 41, 175.

5. Jay Ruby, Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), p. 44.

6. Sutton, Western Book Trade, pp. 315, 341.

7. Powell, Authentic Life, p. 53. In accordance with the then prevalent view that the double entry method originated with the fifteenth-century monk Luca Pacioli, author of the first published treatise on the subject, the first edition of Colt’s textbook bore the title The Italian System of Double Entry Book-Keeping. The word Italian was dropped in subsequent editions. Also see Grant I. Butterbaugh, “Dr. Stands for Debt,” Accounting Review, vol. 20, no. 3 (July 1945): pp. 341–42.

8. Merchants’ Magazine and Commercial Review, vol. 1 (July 1839): pp. 462–63.

9. Jan R. Heier, “A Critical Look at the Thoughts and Theories of the Early Accounting Educator John C. Colt,” Accounting, Business and Financial History, vol. 3, no. 1 (1993): pp. 21–22.

10. For an example of the first, see Previts and Merino, History of Accountancy, pp. 75–77.

CHAPTER 16

1. Located, according to contemporary city directories, at no. 15 Pearl Street, Cincinnati.

2. Besides being close friends with Washington Irving, Delafield was the first president of the New York Philharmonic Society and a founder of New York University. His interest in the artifacts at the Western Museum is mentioned by M. H. Dunlop, “Curiosities Too Numerous to Mention: Early Regionalism and Cincinnati’s Western Museum,” American Quarterly, vol. 36, no 4 (Autumn 1984): p. 540.

3. See the long, unsigned review-essay on Delafield’s book in the New York Review, vol. 5 (July 1839), pp. 200–222.

4. See Burgess’s testimony at John Colt’s trial in Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 261.

5. Powell, Authentic Life, p. 55.

6. Ibid., p. 56.

7. See the Philadelphia North American, January 1, 1842, p. 3; Madison (WI) Express, November 13, 1841, p. 3.

8. See Lydia Maria Child, Selected Letters, 1817–1880, ed. Milton Meltzer and Patricia G. Holland (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1982), p. 183.

9. Powell, Authentic Life, p. 57; Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 262–63.

CHAPTER 17

1. Rywell, Man and Epoch, p. 66; Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 126, 133; Hosley, American Legend, pp. 18–19.

2. McLeod turned out to be nothing more than a “blustering braggart.” At his trial in October 1841, “it was conclusively shown that he was not even a member of the attacking party. The jury, after thirty minutes’ consultation, returned with a verdict of acquittal” and the threat of war with Great Britain instantly evaporated. See Frederic Bancroft, The Life of William H. Seward, vol. 1 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1900), pp. 111–13; John Charles Dent, The Last Forty Years: Canada Since the Union of 1841, vol. 1 (Toronto: George Virtue, 1881), p. 175; William Renwick Riddell, “An International Murder Trial,” Journal of the American Institute of Criminal Law and Criminology, vol. 10, no. 2 (August 1919): pp. 176–83.

3. Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 66. The definitive study of Colt’s harbor defense system is Lundeberg, Submarine Battery.

4. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 160–61; Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, pp. 17–18.

5. Rosa Pendleton Chiles, John Howard Payne: American Poet, Actor, Playwright, Consul and the Author of “Home, Sweet Home” (Washington, DC: Columbia Historical Society, 1930), p. 44. Chiles’s book draws heavily on what remains the most comprehensive biography of Payne: Gabriel Harrison’s John Howard Payne, Dramatist, Poet, Actor, and Author of Home, Sweet Home! (Boston: Lippincott, 1885).

6. See the news item “A Great Day for Paterson,” New York Times, July 5, 1892, p. 8.

7. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 162; Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 19.

PART THREE: THE SUBLIME OF HORROR

CHAPTER 18

1. Michael Schudson, Discovering the News: A Social History of American Newspapers (New York: Basic Books, 1978), p. 15.

2. John D. Stevens, Sensationalism and the New York Press (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), p. 15.

3. James L. Crouthamel, Bennett’s New York Herald and the Rise of the Popular Press (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1989), p. 25.

4. Stevens, Sensationalism, p. 43.

5. New York Herald, April 11, 1836.

6. See Daniel Stashower, The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe and the Invention of Murder (New York: Columbia University Press, 1981), p. 94; Amy Gilman Srebnick, The Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 66.

7. Despite overwhelming circumstantial evidence of his guilt, Robinson was ultimately acquitted. The definitive account of the case is Patricia Cline Cohen’s The Murder of Helen Jewett: The Life and Death of a Prostitute in Nineteenth-Century New York (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998).

8. Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 149.

9. Srebnick, Mary Rogers, pp. 4, 17.

10. Stashower, Beautiful Cigar Girl, pp. 77–78.

11. Ibid., pp. 15–17.

12. Ibid., pp. 80–82; New York Herald, August 17, 1841, p. 2; Srebnick, Mary Rogers, pp. 18–19.

13. Stashower, Beautiful Cigar Girl, pp. 89–90.

14. Edgar Allan Poe, “The Mystery of Marie Roget,” reprinted in John Walsh, Poe the Detective: The Curious Circumstances Behind “The Mystery of Marie Roget” (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1968), p. 100.

15. Walsh, Poe the Detective, p. 26.

16. Stashower, Beautiful Cigar Girl, p. 96.

17. Ibid., p. 192.

18. Ibid., p. 16; Walsh, Poe the Detective, p. 10.

19. Walsh, Poe the Detective, p. 98.

20. See Stashower, Beautiful Cigar Girl, pp. 91–92, 132–54.

21. See Walsh, Poe the Detective, p. 34.

22. Ibid., p. 33. Though the case was never definitively solved, the most likely explanation was provided by Frederica Loss. In a deathbed confession made in the fall of 1842, the innkeeper claimed that on Sunday, July 25, 1841, Mary Rogers had come to her roadhouse from the city in the company of a young physician and had died at his hands during a botched abortion. Her body—with a strip of cloth wound around the neck to make it appear as if she had been assaulted and murdered—was then dumped in the river. Also see Srebnick, Mary Rogers, pp. 29–30.

CHAPTER 19

1. Copies of the Literary Cadet and Rhode-Island Statesman (which began life as a weekly called the Literary Cadet, and Saturday Evening Bulletin) are on file at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library in Providence. Information on the firm of Smith & Parmenter can be found in Glenn H. Brown and Maude O. Brown, A Directory of Printing, Publishing, Bookselling and Allied Trades in Rhode Island to 1865 (New York: New York Public Library, 1958), p. 156; Frederic Hudson, Journalism in the United States, from 1690 to 1872 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1873), p. 337; Printers and Printing in Providence 1762–1907 (Providence, RI: Providence Printing Company, 1907), pp. 27–28. For the scant facts about Samuel Adams’s early life, see the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 33 (Boston: New-England Historic, Genealogical Society, 1879), p. 104; Brown and Brown, Directory, p. 15.

2. See Hudson, Journalism in the United States, p. 337. Also see Grant James Wilson and John Fiske, Appleton’s Cyclopedia of American Biographies, vol. 5 (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1900), p. 588. Interestingly, John Howard Payne worked as an editor for Smith’s Sunday News, which suggests the possibility that the famed author of “Home, Sweet Home” was not only a friend of both Colt brothers but an acquaintance of Samuel Adams.

3. Unsigned notice in “Monthly Commentary” section, American Monthly Magazine, vol. 10 (December 1837): p. 596.

4. See the testimony of Samuel Adams’s foreman, James Monahan, in Lawson, American State Trials, vol. 7, pp. 468–69. The panic of 1837 precipitated an economic depression that lasted seven years. Also see Howe, What Hath God Wrought, pp. 502–4.

5. Ransom’s testimony appears in a handwritten deposition before District Attorney J. R. Whiting, dated November 17, 1841, in the file of the New York City Municipal Archives. Nicholas Conklin’s testimony is part of the trial transcript, reprinted in Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 253.

6. New York Herald, September 25, 1841, p. 2.

7. Founded by a group of culture-minded business and professional men, the Apollo Association—which evolved after a few years into the American Art-Union—mounted public exhibitions of paintings and sculptures by the country’s leading artists. For an annual subscription of five dollars, members received free family admissions to the shows, an engraving published by the association from a painting by a contemporary American artist, and a lottery ticket for an original artwork from its collection. The definitive history of the organization is Mary Bartlett Cowdry, American Academy of Fine Arts and American Art-Union: Introduction 1816–1852 (New York: New York Historical Society, 1953).

8. Trial testimony indicates that Adams and Colt had known each other for three years at the time of the murder. See Lawson, American State Trials, p. 467.

CHAPTER 20

1. For information on the Granite Building and its tenants, see Transactions of the Apollo Association for the Promotion of Fine Arts in the United States, for the Year 1841, p. 3; The Knickerbocker, or New-York Monthly Magazine, vol. 17, no. 5 (May 1841): p. 445; Beaumont Newhall, The Daguerreotype in America (New York: Dover, 1975), p. 25; John Flavel Mines, A Tour Around New York and My Summer Acre: Being the Recreations of Mr. Felix Oldboy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893), pp. 60–61; Hugh Macatamney, Cradle Days of New York: 1609–1825 (New York: Drew & Lewis, 1909), p. 191; New York Times, February 12, 1876, p. 8.

2. As late as 1856, Wheeler’s blurb was still being used in ads for Colt’s textbook. For example, see the promotional appendix in P. A. Fitzgerald, The Exhibition Speaker: Containing Farces, Dialogues, and Tableaux, with Exercises for Declamation in Prose and Verse (New York: Sheldon, Lamport & Blakeman, 1856).

3. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 253.

4. In his classic story “Bartleby, the Scrivener.”

5. Colt’s threats to George Spencer and Mr. Howard are described in two letters—one anonymous, the other signed “H. W. Robinson”—sent to District Attorney J. R. Whiting, on file in the New York City Municipal Archives. For information on the Broadway bookseller Homer Franklin, see Ronald J. Zboray, A Fictive People: Antebellum Economic Development and the American Reading Public (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 137–38.

6. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 230.

7. See Zboray, Fictive People, p. 24; Michael Winship, American Literary Publishing in the Mid-Nineteenth Century: The Business of Ticknor and Fields (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 138.

8. Life and Letters of John C. Colt, p. 8.

9. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 252.

CHAPTER 21

1. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 249.

2. Ibid., p. 246.

3. Ibid., p. 248.

4. Ibid., p. 250. Also see Wells’s deposition before Police Magistrate Robert Taylor on September 24, 1841, in the John C. Colt file, New York City Municipal Archives.

5. Kenneth Holcomb Dunshee, As You Pass By (New York: Hastings House, 1952), p. 184; Stephen Jenkins, The Greatest Street in the World: The Story of Broadway, Old and New, from the Bowling Green to Albany (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1911), p. 129.

6. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 249.

CHAPTER 22

1. See Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 230–31; Asa Wheeler’s deposition on September 24, in the John C. Colt file of the New York City Municipal Archives.

2. Ibid.

3. Reverend Enoch Hutchinson and Reverend Stephen Remington, eds., The Baptist Memorial and Monthly Record: Devoted to the History, Biography, Literature & Statistics of the Denomination, vol. 8 (New York: Z. P. Hatch, 1849), p. 299.

4. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 233–34.

5. George J. Lankevich, American Metropolis: A History of New York City (New York: NYU Press, 1998), p. 84; Stashower, Beautiful Cigar Girl, p. 88; Augustine Costello, Our Police Protectors: History of the New York Police (New York: Augustine Costello, 1885), pp. 158–59; George W. Walling, Recollections of a New York Chief of Police: An Official Record of Thirty-eight Years as Patrolman, Detective, Captain, Inspector, and Chief of the New York Police (New York: Caxton Book Concern, 1887), p. 32.

6. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 234–35.

7. Ibid., pp. 262–63, 277.

8. Ibid., p. 234.

CHAPTER 23

1. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 235; Deposition of Law Octon before Police Magistrate Robert Taylor, December 24, 1841, in the John C. Colt folder, New York City Municipal Archives.

2. Affidavit of John B. Hasty, February 4, 1842, on file in the John C. Colt folder, New York City Municipal Archives.

3. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 235; Deposition of Law Octon before Police Magistrate Robert Taylor, December 24, 1841, in the John C. Colt folder, New York City Municipal Archives.

4. The definitive work on this subject is Graham Russell Hodges, New York City Cartmen, 1667–1850 (New York: New York University Press, 1986). Hodges also supplies the illuminating introduction to the facsimile edition of Isaac S. Lyon, Recollections of an Old Cartman (New York: New York Bound, 1984).

5. For the detail of the green umbrella, see New York Times, December 4, 1887, p. 12.

6. Howard Clark, The Mill on Mad River (Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1948), p. 252.

7. This account of Barstow’s activities comes from his trial testimony (Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 235–36), as well as from two separate depositions he made before Police Magistrate Robert Taylor, the first on September 25, the second on September 26, 1841, both in the John C. Colt file, New York City Municipal Archives. Thomas Russell (whose trial testimony appears in Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 236) made depositions on the same dates.

8. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 232.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid., p. 262.

CHAPTER 24

1. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 232.

2. New York Sun, September 22, 1841, p. 2. For information on the changes Beach made to Day’s original format, see Frank M. O’Brien, The Story of the Sun: New York, 1833–1918 (New York: George H. Doran, 1928), pp. 89ff.

3. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 250; New-York Commercial Advertiser, September 28, 1841, p. 2; Mabel Abbott, “A Mystery of the Tombs,” Detective Fiction Weekly, February 1, 1930, p. 687.

4. New York Sun, September 23, 1841, p. 2.

5. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, September 23, 1841, p. 3; New York Tribune, September 23, 1841, p. 2; New York Herald, September 23, 1841, p. 2.

6. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 239–40.

CHAPTER 25

1. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 240, 260.

2. Like John Colt’s onetime business partner Nathan Burgess, Chilton would go on to become a pioneering practitioner of the new art of photography. See Newhall, Daguerreotype, p. 22.

3. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 242; New York Sun, September 27, 1841, p. 2. Also see Chilton’s deposition before Robert Taylor, September 26, 1841, on file at the New York City Municipal Archives. Precisely what chemical analysis Chilton employed is unclear, since the first reliable test for bloodstains was not devised until the latter half of the nineteenth century. Also see Tal Golan, The Laws of Men and the Laws of Nature: The History of Scientific Expert Testimony in England and America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004), pp. 144–51; W. D. Sutherland, Blood-stains: Their Detection, and the Determination of Their Source (New York: William Wood & Company, 1907), pp. 11–37.

4. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, September 25, 1841, p. 2.

5. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 240–41, 266; New York Herald, September 27, 1841, p. 2.

CHAPTER 26

1. Hodges, Cartmen, pp. 139–40.

2. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 237. See also depositions of Thomas Russell and Richard Barstow, John C. Colt file, New York City Municipal Archives.

3. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 237.

4. New York Times, December 4, 1887, p. 12.

5. New York American, September 27, 1841, p. 2.

6. See Emeline Adams’s deposition, John C. Colt file, New York City Municipal Archives.

7. New York American, September 27, 1841, p. 2.

CHAPTER 27

1. All of these accounts are taken from page 2 of the New York Herald on the following dates: September 11, 12, 16, 19, 22, 1841.

2. Though the banner headline was first used as early as 1851, it didn’t become a regular feature of American newspapers until the advent of the yellow press in the 1890s. See Helen MacGill Hughes, News and the Human Interest Story (Somerset, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1980), p. 33, n. 2.

3. All of these headlines appeared on the second pages of the newspapers on Monday, September 27, 1841.

4. New-York Commercial Advertiser, September 28, 1841, p. 2.

5. Transactions of the Apollo Association, p. 5.

6. New York American, September 27, 1841, p. 2.

7. New York Herald, September 28, 1841, p. 2.

8. New-York Commercial Advertiser, September 28, 1841, p. 2.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. New York Herald, September 28, 1841, p. 2.

12. New-York Commercial Advertiser, September 28, 1841, p. 2.

13. New York Herald, September 28, 1841, p. 2.

14. Ibid., September 29, 1841, p. 2.

15. New-York Commercial Advertiser, September 28, 1841, p. 2.

CHAPTER 28

1. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 162–63.

2. Maurice G. Baxter, One and Inseparable: Daniel Webster and the Union (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1984), p. 308; Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 20.

3. Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, pp. 140–41.

4. See the unsigned article “Repeating Fire-Arms. A Day at the Armory of ‘Colt’s Patent Fire-arms Manufacturing Company,’ ” United States Magazine and Democratic Review (March 1857): p. 248.

5. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 169.

6. Ibid., p. 170.

7. See the Southport (WI) Telegraph, November 2, 1841, p. 3.

8. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 8, 1841, p. 2.

9. John Livingston, ed., Biographical Sketches of Eminent American Lawyers, Now Living (New York: United States Monthly Magazine, 1852): pp. 96–97.

10. From a letter to Samuel in the Connecticut State Library. From remarks made by James in subsequent letters to Sam, it appears that Christopher Colt, Jr., distanced himself entirely from John’s case and had no contact with his doomed brother throughout the crisis.

11. This and the following letter are in the collection of the Connecticut State Library.

12. Smethport (PA) Settler and Pennon, November 4, 1841, p. 3.

CHAPTER 29

1. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 8, 1841, p. 2.

2. For example, see the Maine Farmer and Journal of the Useful Arts, October 30, 1841, p. 9.

3. Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 143.

4. New York Herald, September 30, 1841, p. 2. The text that Colt had allegedly plagiarized was James Arlington Bennett’s The American System of Practical Book-Keeping, originally published in 1831.

5. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 8, 1841, p. 2.

6. Life and Letters of John C. Colt, p. 7.

7. New York Herald, October 18, 1841, p. 2.

8. According to an item on page 3 of the October 16, 1841, issue of the New York Evangelist, Colt’s trial was originally scheduled for Monday, October 4, but “postponed on application of the prisoner’s counsel to Monday the 1st of November.”

9. New York Herald, November 2, 1851, p. 2.

10. Ibid., October 25, 1841, p. 2, November 2, 1841, p. 2; Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, November 3, 1841, p. 2.

11. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, November 3, 1841, p. 2; New York Herald, November 2, 1841, p. 2.

12. New York Herald, November 2, 1841, p. 2.

13. Ibid.

14. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 3, 1841, p. 2.

PART FOUR: THE GARB OF JUSTICE

CHAPTER 30

1. Letters dated December 18, 1841, and January 10, 1842, in the Samuel Colt archives, Connecticut State Library.

2. See Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 170–71, and Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 21.

3. Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, pp. 20, 22.

4. See Rywell, Man and Epoch, p. 80; Evans, They Made America, pp. 74–84; Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, pp. 34–35.

5. Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 21.

6. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 170.

CHAPTER 31

1. New York Herald, January 18, 1842, p. 1.

2. Herbert Bergman, ed., The Collected Writings of Walt Whitman: The Journalism: Volume 2: 1846–1848 (New York: Peter Lang, 2003), p. 205.

3. New York Herald, January 18, 1842, p. 1.

4. Rossiter Johnson, The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, vol. 3 (Boston: Biographical Society, 1904), p. 471; Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 101; Srebnick, Mary Rogers, pp. 31–32; Clifford Browder, The Wickedest Woman in New York: Madame Restell, the Abortionist (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1988), pp. 35ff. In one of those six-degrees-of-separation instances, Madame Restell first came under attack in the pages of the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, whose editor, Samuel Jenks Smith, was the original employer of Samuel Adams in Providence, Rhode Island. In an editorial published in July 1839, Smith denounced Restell’s newspaper advertisements for her contraceptive “Preventive Powder” as “monstrous and destructive”—“subversive of all family peace and quiet.” Also see Browder, pp. 17–18.

5. Browder, Wickedest Woman, p. 40. Three years later, the conviction was overturned on appeal, and Restell won a new trial. By then, however, the “chief witness had died and her depositions had been invalidated.” The prosecution dropped the indictment, and Madame Restell went back to work peddling her birth control nostrums and procuring abortions. After relentless persecution by the moral reformer Anthony Comstock, Restell (who was suspected of having performed the procedure that killed the “beautiful cigar girl,” Mary Rogers) would commit suicide in 1878 by slitting her throat.

6. Geoffrey O’Brien, The Fall of the House of Walworth: A Tale of Murder and Madness in Saratoga’s Gilded Age (New York: Henry Holt, 2010), p. 60.

7. New York Herald, October 6, 1841, p. 2.

8. Her second husband was a New York City educator named William H. Vanderhoof. See Charles Adams, Jr., A Genealogical Register of North Brookfield Families, Including the Records of Many Early Settlers of Brookfield (published by the Town of North Brookfield, 1887), p. 487, and The New York Supplement, Vol. 17, Containing the Decisions of the Supreme, Superior, and Lower Courts of Record of New York State. February 11–March 24, 1892 (St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Co., 1892), p. 712.

9. New York Herald, January 18, 1842, p. 2.

10. Ibid., January 20, 1842, p. 1.

11. Ibid.

CHAPTER 32

1. New York Sun, January 21, 1842, p. 2; Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, January 21, 1842, p. 2; New York Herald, January 21, 1842, p. 2.

2. New York Herald, January 20, 1842, p. 1.

3. New York Sun, January 21, 1842, p. 2; New York Herald, January 20, 1842, p. 1.

4. Ibid.

5. New York Herald, January 21, 1842, p. 1.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 152.

9. New York Herald, January 21, 1842, p. 1.

CHAPTER 33

1. New York Herald, January 23, 1842, p. 2.

2. New York Sun, January 23, 1842, p. 2.

3. New York Herald, January 22, 1842, pp. 1–2.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., January 22, 1842, p. 1; Meyer Berger, “That Was New York: The Tombs—I,” New Yorker, August 30, 1941, p. 24.

6. New York Herald, p. 2.

CHAPTER 34

1. New York Sun, January 22, 1842, p. 1.

2. Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 103.

3. New York Herald, January 23, 1842, p. 1.

4. Ibid.; Lawson, American State Trials, p. 464.

5. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 246; New York Sun, January 23, 1842, p. 1; New York Herald, January 23, 1842, p. 2.

6. Lawson, American State Trials, pp. 465–66.

7. Ibid., pp. 465, 468.

8. New York Sun, January 23, 1842, p. 1.

9. Ibid.

CHAPTER 35

1. New York Herald, January 24, 1842, p. 2.

2. Ibid.

CHAPTER 36

1. Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 103.

2. L. J. Bigelow, Bench and Bar: A Complete Digest of the Wit, Humor, Asperities, and Amenities of the Law (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1871), p. 214.

3. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, January 26, 1842, p. 2; New York Sun, January 26, 1842, p. 2; New York Herald, January 26, 1842, p. 1.

4. Ibid.

5. New York Herald, January 26, 1842, p. 1.

6. Ibid., p. 2.

CHAPTER 37

1. Bigelow, Bench and Bar, p. 214.

2. New York Sun, January 26, 1842, p. 2; New York Herald, January 26, 1842, p. 1.

3. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 256.

4. Bigelow, Bench and Bar, p. 215.

5. New York Sun, January 26, 1842, p. 2.

6. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, January 26, 1842, p. 1.

7. New York Herald, January 26, 1841, p. 1.

8. Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 104; New York Sun, January 26, 1842, p. 2.

9. New York Sun, January 26, 1842, p. 2.

10. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, p. 260.

11. Bigelow, Bench and Bar, p. 215.

12. New York Sun, January 26, 1842, p. 2.

13. Ibid.

14. New York Herald, January 26, 1842, p. 2.

15. Bigelow, Bench and Bar, p. 215.

CHAPTER 38

1. Philadelphia North American, January 26, 1842, p. 3. The story was widely reprinted in newspapers throughout the Northeast.

2. New-York Commercial Advertiser, January 27, 1842, p. 1; New York Sun, January 27, 1842, p. 2.

3. New York Herald, January 27, 1842, p. 1.

4. New York Sun, January 27, 1842, p. 2.

5. Ibid.

6. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 262–67.

7. Ibid., p. 267.

CHAPTER 39

1. New York Herald, January 28, 1842, p. 1; New York Sun, January 28, 1842, p. 2.

2. New York Herald, January 28, 1842, p. 1.

3. Ibid.; New York Sun, January 28, 1842, p. 2.

4. New York Sun, January 28, 1842, p. 2.

CHAPTER 40

1. Colt’s confession was widely reprinted in its entirety in the penny papers. This transcription is taken from Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 272–78.

Though Emmett was permitted to read the statement aloud, it was ruled inadmissible as evidence, and the jury was told to disregard it during its deliberations. Once having heard it, of course, the jurors could not possibly banish it from their minds. As the Brooklyn Daily Eagle put it, “its effect [could] scarcely be less as a ‘statement’ than as testimony” (January 28, 1842, p. 2).

CHAPTER 41

1. New York Sun, January 28, 1842, p. 2.

2. New York Herald, January 29, 1842, p. 1.

3. Ibid.; New York Sun, January 28, 1842, p. 2.

CHAPTER 42

1. Lawson, American State Trials, p. 279.

2. New York Herald, January 29, 1842, p. 1.

3. On August 4, 1806, Federalist attorney Thomas O. Selfridge shot and killed Charles Austin, the eighteen-year-old son of the “venomous” Republican newspaper editor Benjamin Austin. The murder stemmed from a dispute between Selfridge and the elder Austin, who had excoriated Selfridge in print. The latter demanded a retraction, which the editor refused to supply. Soon afterward, Austin’s teenaged son, Charles, encountered Selfridge on State Street in Boston. Words passed between them. When Austin struck Selfridge on the forehead with his hickory cane, Selfridge drew a pistol and shot the boy dead. Charged with manslaughter, Selfridge was tried in December and eventually acquitted. This highly controversial and unpopular verdict “affected the lives and reputations of several individuals involved in the case,” including the jury foreman, Paul Revere, whose “honor came under fire.” See Jane E. Triber, A True Republican: The Life of Paul Revere (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001), pp. 189–90.

4. Lawson, American State Trials, pp. 279–83.

5. New York Sun, January 29, 1842, p. 2.

CHAPTER 43

1. Alexander Marjoribanks, Travels in South and North America (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1854), p. 184; Thomas M. McDade, Annals of Murder: A Bibliography of Books and Pamphlets on American Murders from Colonial Times to 1900 (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1961), p. 240. Also see The Trial of Peter Robinson or the Murder of Abraham Suydam, Esq., President of the Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Bank of New Brunswick (New York: S. G. Deeth Bookseller, 1841).

2. New York Herald, January 29, 1842, p. 2.

3. New York Sun, January 29, 1842, p. 3. Also see Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 166.

4. New York Sun, January 29, 1842, p. 1.

5. Ibid., p. 2; Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 287–95.

6. See Berger, “The Tombs,” pp. 23–24.

7. Dunphy and Cummins, Remarkable Trials, pp. 296–301; New York Sun, January 29, 1842, pp. 2–3; Dollar Weekly Herald, February 1, 1842, pp. 1–2.

CHAPTER 44

1. Hubert Howe Bancroft, The Works of Hubert Howe Bancroft, vol. 36 (San Francisco: History Company, 1887), p. 425.

2. New York Herald, January 31, 1842, p. 2.

3. Ibid.; Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, January 31, 1842, p. 2.

4. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, January 31, 1842, p. 2.

5. See Michael Kaplan, “New York City Tavern Violence and the Creation of a Working-Class Male Identity,” Journal of the Early Republic, vol. 15, no. 4 (Winter 1995): pp. 603–5.

6. New York Herald, January 31, 1842, p. 2.

PART FIVE: THE NEW YORK TRAGEDY

CHAPTER 45

1. Tucher, Froth & Scum, pp. 105, 224. Held on Valentine’s Day at the Park Theatre, the gala event in Dickens’s honor, known as the “Boz Ball,” was, in the amused estimation of diarist Philip Hone, “the greatest affair in modern times, the tallest compliment ever paid to a little man, the fullest libation ever poured upon the altar of the muses.”

2. For example, see Maine Farmer and Journal of the Useful Arts, October 30, 1841; Ohio Repository, February 10, 1842; Norwalk (OH) Experiment, February 16, 1842; Portland (ME) Tribune, May 24, 1842, p. 3; Milwaukee Sentinel & Farmer, April 2, 1842), Madison (WI) Express, March 5, 1842; Boston Recorder, November 24, 1842. The story was also covered, among other publications, in the New York Evangelist, the Catholic Telegraph, the Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, the Christian Reflector, the Christian Secretary, the Christian Register and Boston Observer, the Biblical Reporter and Princeton Review, Brother Jonathan: A Weekly Compendium of Belle Lettres and the Fine Arts, the Weekly Messenger, Youth’s Companion, and Yankee Doodle.

3. Episcopal Recorder, February 19, 1842, p. 192.

4. Youth’s Companion, March 16, 1842, p. 126.

5. American Phrenological Journal (April 1842): vol. 4, no. 2, p. 312.

6. Offered for sale just days after John’s conviction, this cheaply printed sheet of doggerel did not stint on gruesome details, catering to the public’s prurient appetite for gore even while affecting an ostentatiously pious tone. (A parenthetical note at the top of the sheet suggests that the verses be sung to the “solemn tune of Come Christian People.”) The surviving stanzas of the ballad read as follows:

Good people all, I pray give ear;

   My words concern ye much;

I will repeat a Tragedy:

   You never heard of such.

There was a man, an Author good

   For making a BOOK you’ll own;

And for the KEEPING of the same

   No better than was known.

Besides all this, I can you tell,

   That he was well endow’d

With many graces of the mind

   Had they been well bestow’d.

To print the book and have it bound,

   Colt, by agreement say,

The printer should, the work when done,

   Be first to have his pay.

Upon the books, when they were sent,

   Cash would advanced be;

Adams was to have his money,

   For so they did agree.

Wicked man, for the sake of gold;

   Which he would never pay,

He murder did commit, and then

   The body put away!

In New York City, Adams liv’d

   A chaste and pious life.

And there he might have lived still

   Had Debt not caused a strife.

’Twas in the year Eighteen Hundred

   and Forty One, they say.

The Seventeenth of September,

   It was the fatal day.

To see about the books, being

   Four hundred vols. Or more:

On Friday afternoon, it was

   About the hour of four.

To Colt’s room, Samuel Adams

   Went, you will remember:

In the Granite Building, corner

   Of Broadway and Chamber.

This vex’d the man unto the heart;

   He was of wrath so fell,

That finding no hole in his bill,

   He pick’d two in his skull.

Behind him with a Burkite rope,

   Round his neck did bundle,

For quickly then the slip knot flew,

   So the printer struggl’d.

Oh savage man! For blood did thirst,

   And with blows so violent

Out of his head the brains did gush;

   Down fell he all silent.

But then his heart ’gan to relent,

   And griev’d he was full sore;

The bloody Axe to scrape with glass,

   Then wash and scrub the floor.

For blood will always leave a stain,

   Whatever we may think,

And to completely hide the same,

   He’d cover all with ink.

All in the darkness of the night,

   A large box then he made,

When he’d wrapped the body round,

   Within this box ’twas laid.

On board the ship Ka-la-ma-zoo,

   A Cartman did convey,

In the hold of the ship,

   ’Twas snugly stowed away.

But heav’n whose pow’r no mortal knows,

   On earth or on the main,

Soon caus’d the body to be found,

   And brought it back again.

The box, when open’d, what a sight,

   Was never seen before,

A rope made fast to neck and knee,

   And maggots crawling oe’r.

And that it no self-murder was,

   The case itself explains,

No man could his head knock holes,

   To let out his own brains.

Ere many days were gone and past,

   The deed it was made known,

And John C. Colt confess’d at last,

   The fact to be his own.

The trial came on for murder,

   In Court it must appear,

The Doctors they did examine,

   The head of Adams there.

The skull was brought into court,

   For all to witness it,

The Jury saw the holes and hatchet,

   Did well each other fit.

The district attorney, he did

   His duty well discharge,

Twelve upright men then heard, the Judge

   Deliver his law charge.

The dreadful case being ended,

   The Jury did agree,

Of willful MURDER, guilty found,

   John Caldwell Colt to be.

God prosper long the jury, who

   Protect the lives of all.

And grant that we may a warning take,

   By John C. Colt’s fall.

I have related all that’s past,

   Let Justice have its due.

Many years hence, this may be read

   Because it all is true.

An image of the original, albeit damaged, ballad sheet (two verses are missing between stanzas seven and eight) can be found online at the site American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/rbpehtml).

7. The image of Barnum published in the Albany Evening Atlas is reprinted in Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., et al., P. T. Barnum: America’s Greatest Showman (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), p. 54. It does indeed bear a remarkable similarity to the portrait of Samuel Adams in the Sun pamphlet.

8. P. T. Barnum, The Life of P. T. Barnum, Written by Himself (New York: Redfield, 1855), pp. 356–57.

CHAPTER 46

1. See New York Herald, February 1, February 15, February 22, March 1, and March 2, 1842, p. 2.

2. Charles Sutton, The New York Tombs: Its Secrets and Its Mysteries (New York: United States Publishing Company, 1874), p. 44. According to Sutton, the name evolved from Kalchook to the abbreviated Kalch, and then to Callech, Colleck, and, finally, Collect.

3. Sutton, New York Tombs, p. 47; Berger, “The Tombs,” p. 23.

4. Charles Dickens, American Notes for General Circulation (New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1863), p. 37.

5. Berger, “The Tombs,” p. 22; Edward H. Smith, “New Scene Added to the Drama of the Tombs,” New York Times, November 14, 1926, p. 23.

6. Berger, “The Tombs,” p. 23; Timothy Gilfoyle, “ ‘America’s Greatest Criminal Barracks’: The Tombs and the Experience of Criminal Justice in New York City, 1838–1897,” Journal of Urban History, vol. 29, no. 5 (July 2003): p. 528.

7. Gilfoyle, “Tombs and Criminal Justice,” p. 530.

8. Berger, “The Tombs,” p. 28.

9. Ibid., pp. 24, 27; Gilfoyle, “Tombs and Criminal Justice,” p. 532.

10. Life and Letters of John C. Colt, letter 5, November 10, 1841.

11. Quoted in Alfred Henry Lewis, Nation-Famous New York Murders (New York: G. W. Dillingham Company, 1914), pp. 232–34.

12. John’s letters first appeared in the daily press (see the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, February 24, 1842, where they occupy all of pp. 1–2). In October 1842, they were published in pamphlet form as an Extra Tattler under the title Life and Letters of John C. Colt, Condemned to Be Hung on the Eighteenth of November, 1842, for the Murder of Samuel Adams. A selection of them was also printed as an appendix to later editions of the Sun pamphlet (see Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 230, n. 4). The quoted passages in this chapter are taken from the letters dated November 10, 1841; February 6, 8, 10, 11, 15, and 22, 1842; March 15, 1842.

CHAPTER 47

1. Rogers’s handwritten report can be found on the microfilm edition of the William Henry Seward Papers, University of Rochester, River Campus Libraries, Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, reel 165, items 5894–5901.

CHAPTER 48

1. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 173.

2. Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 23.

3. Leonard F. Guttridge, Our Country, Right or Wrong: The Life of Stephen Decatur, the U.S. Navy’s Most Illustrious Commander (New York: Forge Books, 2007), pp. 154–55.

4. Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 74; Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 173. Sam’s notebook sketch of Halsey’s submersible—the only surviving image of the boat—can be found on Captain Brayton Harris’s website World Submarine History Timeline: 1580–2000 (www.submarine-history.com/NOVAone.htm).

5. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 173–74.

6. Ibid., p. 174.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.; Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 26; Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, pp. 148–49; Keating, Flamboyant Mr. Colt, p. 59.

9. Rohan, Yankee Arms Maker, p. 149.

CHAPTER 49

1. New York Herald, May 7, 1842, p. 1.

2. Ibid., May 13, 1842, p. 1.

3. Edwin Burritt Smith and Ernest Hitchcock, Reports of Cases Adjudged and Determined in the Supreme Court of Judicature and Court for the Trial of Impeachments and Correction of Errors of the State of New York, book 15 (Newark, NY: The Lawyers’ Co-Operative Publishing Company, 1885), pp. 431–37.

CHAPTER 50

1. New York Herald, September 28, 1842, p. 1; New York Sun, September 28, 1842, p. 2; Hagerstown (MD) Mail, October 7, 1842, p. 3.

2. As John himself described it. See Life and Letters of John C. Colt, letter 19.

3. Ibid.

4. New York Herald, September 28, 1842, p. 1.

CHAPTER 51

1. New York Sun, September 28, 1842, p. 2; Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, October 28, 1842, p. 2; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, September 28, 1842, p. 2.

2. Bennett ranked the murder of Adams with three other violent incidents that had riveted the city in recent years. In March 1838, U.S. Representative Jonathan Cilley of Maine was shot to death in a duel with a fellow congressman, William Graves of Kentucky, who had taken offense at a remark Cilley had made about Graves’s friend James Watson Webb, editor of the Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer. Four years later, Webb himself was badly wounded in a pistol duel with Kentucky congressman Thomas Marshall. Most savage of all was the September 1842 grudge match between prizefighters Thomas McCoy and Christopher Lilly that did not end until—after nearly three hours and 120 rounds—McCoy was beaten to death, “his face literally knocked to pieces.” For accounts of the Graves-Cilley and Marshall-Webb duels, see Don C. Seitz, Famous American Duels (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1929), pp. 251–82, 283–309. The McCoy-Lilly fight is described in George N. Thomson, Confessions, Trials and Biographical Sketches of the Most Cold-Blooded Murderers, Who Have Been Executed in the Country from Its First Settlement Down to the Present Time (Hartford, CT: S. Andrus and Son, 1887), pp. 411–12.

3. New York Herald, September 28, 1842, p. 2.

CHAPTER 52

1. Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 168.

2. Powell, Authentic Life, pp. 6, 14, 23, 31, 49, 61.

3. Life and Letters of John C. Colt, p. 5.

4. Ibid., p. 16.

CHAPTER 53

1. New York Times, June 4, 1873, p. 8. The best and most complete account of the scandal is Geoffrey O’Brien, The Fall of the House of Walworth.

2. For example, see Charles Edwards, Pleasantries About Courts and Lawyers of the State of New York (New York: Richardson & Company, 1867), p. 317.

3. In his autobiography, Governor William Seward notes that John’s “counsel applied to me thirteen days only before the day of his execution.” See Frederick W. Seward, William H. Seward: An Autobiography from 1801 to 1834: With a Memoir of His Life, and Selections from His Letters, 1831–1846 (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1877), p. 629.

CHAPTER 54

1. Bancroft, Life of William H. Seward, p. 120.

2. Ibid., pp. 122–23; Earl Conrad, The Governor and His Lady: The Story of William Henry Seward and His Wife Frances (New York: G. P. Putnam’s, 1960), p. 238.

3. Conrad, Governor, p. 247.

4. Seward, William H. Seward, p. 629.

5. Ibid.

6. All quotes are taken from letters found on the microfilm edition of the William Henry Seward Papers, University of Rochester, River Campus Libraries, Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, reel 165, items 5894–5901.

7. Seward, William H. Seward, p. 633. Seward would, in fact, become the victim of an assassination attempt—not, however, as a result of his decision in the Colt case. On the night of April 15, 1865—at the same time that Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth—Seward, then Lincoln’s secretary of state, was savagely attacked at home by Lewis Powell, one of Booth’s coconspirators in a plot to decapitate the Union government. Stabbed in the face with a bowie knife, Seward survived, though he bore disfiguring scars for the rest of his life.

8. George Baker, ed., The Works of William H. Seward, vol. 2 (New York: Redfield, 1853), pp. 648–61.

9. New York Sun, November 14, 1842, p. 2.

CHAPTER 55

1. New York Sun, November 16, 1842, p. 2; New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 17, 1842, p. 2; Seward, William H. Seward, pp. 632–33; Lydia Maria Child, Letters from New-York, ed. Bruce Mills (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1998), p. 242, n. 4.

2. Child, Letters from New-York, p. 241, n. 4; p. 137.

3. Allan Nevins and Milton Halsey Thomas, The Diary of George Templeton Strong: Young Man in New York 1835–1848 (New York: Macmillan, 1952), p. 189.

4. Child, Letters from New-York, p. 137.

5. Ibid. Also see “Everything Is Changed: The Old Salt Still Brooding Over Early New-York,” New York Times, May 16, 1886, p. 5.

6. Nevins and Thomas, George Templeton Strong, pp. 188–90.

7. Ibid., pp. 190–91; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 17, 1842, p. 2.

8. New York Times, May 16, 1886, p. 5.

9. Nevins and Thomas, George Templeton Strong, p. 190.

CHAPTER 56

1. New York Sun, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

2. Nevins and Thomas, George Templeton Strong, p. 190; New York Herald, November 18, 1842, p. 1.

3. Child, Letters from New-York, pp. 137–38; New York Times, May 16, 1886, p. 5.

4. New York Herald, November 18, 1842, p. 1; New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2; Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

5. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

6. New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

7. Ibid.

8. Child, Letters from New-York, p. 139.

9. New York Herald, November 18, 1842, p. 1; New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

10. Sutton, New York Tombs, p. 76.

11. New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

12. New York Herald, November 18, 1842, p. 1.

13. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, November 22, 1842, p. 2.

14. Sutton, New York Tombs, p. 77; New York Herald, November 18, 1842, p. 1.

15. New York Herald, November 18, 1842, p. 1.

16. Ibid.; New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

17. Nevins and Thomas, George Templeton Strong, p. 191.

18. New York Herald, November 18, 1842, p. 1.

19. New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

20. Ibid.

21. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

22. New York Herald, November 18, 1842, p. 1; New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

23. New York Times, May 16, 1886, p. 5.

24. New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

25. Nevins and Thomas, George Templeton Strong, p. 192.

26. Abbott, “Mystery of the Tombs,” p. 690; Jan Seidler Ramirez, Painting the Town: Cityscapes of New York (New York: Museum of the City of New York, 2000), pp. 96–97.

27. Child, Letters from New-York, pp. 242, 138.

CHAPTER 57

1. New York Herald, November 17, 1842, p. 2.

2. “A Crime of Forty Years Ago,” New York Times, December 18, 1880, p. 12.

3. New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

4. Seward, William H. Seward, p. 635; Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

5. Abbott, “Mystery of the Tombs,” p. 690; New York Herald, November 18, 1842, p. 2.

6. Morning Courier and New-York Enquirer, November 22, 1842.

7. New York Sun, November 19, 1842, p. 2; New York Tribune, November 19, 1842, p. 2; New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

8. Seward, William H. Seward, p. 634.

CONCLUSION: LEGENDS

CHAPTER 58

1. New York Herald, November 23, 1842, p. 2.

2. Christian Reflector, November 23, 1842, p. 5.

3. Ohio Repository, December 1, 1842, p. 3.

4. Life and Letters of John C. Colt, letter 18, June 10, 1842.

5. For a thorough discussion of Universalism, see Ann Lee Bressler, The Universalist Movement in America 1770–1880 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

6. Bressler, Universalist Movement, p. 39.

7. Review of Universalism Examined, Renounced, Exposed by Matthew Hale Smith, Princeton Review, no. 4 (October 1843): pp. 527–28.

8. Christian Watchman, December 10, 1842, p. 12.

9. Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, December 31, 1842, p. 15.

10. New York Evening Journal, December 27, 1842, p. 3.

11. See Louis P. Masur, Rites of Execution: Capital Punishment and the Transformation of American Culture, 1776–1865 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).

12. Child, Letters from New-York, p. 139.

13. New York Tribune, November 19, 1842, p. 2.

14. New York Sun, November 24, 1842, p. 2.

15. Bergman, Collected Writings of Walt Whitman, pp. 162–63.

CHAPTER 59

1. New York Sun, November 21, 1842, p. 2.

2. Macatamney, Cradle Days, p. 191.

3. “Everything Is Changed,” p. 5.

4. Nevins and Thomas, George Templeton Strong, p. 193; Hartford Daily Courant, December 12, 1842, p. 2.

5. New-York Commercial Advertiser, November 19, 1842.

6. New York Sun, November 19, 1842.

7. New York Herald, November 20, 1842, p. 2.

CHAPTER 60

1. Carolyn L. Karcher, The First Woman in the Republic: A Cultural Biography of Lydia Maria Child (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998), p. 303. Despite the prominent literary and intellectual status she enjoyed in her own time, Child is best known today (to the extent that she is remembered at all) as the author of the holiday chestnut “Over the river and through the woods / To grandfather’s house we go,” originally published in the second volume of her collection Flowers for Children (1844).

2. These remarks were excised from the later, edited version published in Child’s book Letters from New-York. See p. 243, n. 16.

3. Mrs. Sigourney was a regular contributor to the Juvenile Miscellany, the popular bimonthly magazine that Mrs. Child founded in 1826. See Carolyn L. Karcher, “Lydia Maria Child and the Juvenile Miscellany: The Creation of an American Children’s Literature,” in Periodical Literature in Nineteenth-Century America, ed. Kenneth M. Price and Susan Belasco Smith (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 1995), pp. 93–109.

4. For more on this famously unsuccessful experiment in cooperative living, see Sterling F. Delano, Brook Farm: The Dark Side of Utopia (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004).

5. Child, Selected Letters, pp. 183–84.

6. See Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, pp. 31–34.

7. Ibid., p. 31.

8. A summary of James’s career can be found in Livingston, Biographical Sketches, pp. 93ff. For an account of the duel, see Dick Steward, Duels and the Roots of Violence in Missouri (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2000), pp. 126–27.

9. This and the other letters from James are on file at the Connecticut Historical Society.

10. Keating, Flamboyant Mr. Colt, p. 69; Rywell, Man and Epoch, p. 72; Hosley, American Legend, pp. 22–23.

11. Lundeberg, Submarine Battery, p. 46.

12. Ibid., p. 55; Hosley, American Legend, p. 22.

CHAPTER 61

1. See Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, pp. 195–204; Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 68.

2. Evans, They Made America, pp. 60–61; Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 99.

3. Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 73; Evans, They Made America, p. 66.

4. Evans, They Made America, p. 68.

5. Hosley, American Legend, p. 23.

6. Ibid., p. 26.

7. Ibid., p. 28.

8. Rywell, Man and Epoch, p. 130.

CHAPTER 62

1. Edwards, Colt’s Revolver, p. 42.

2. Tucher, Froth & Scum, p. 173.

3. Ibid., pp. 173–74.

4. Keating, Flamboyant Mr. Colt, p. 145.

5. Ibid., p. 65.

CHAPTER 63

1. The source of the Julia Leicester legend appears to be Colt biographer William Edwards (see Colt’s Revolver, pp. 309, 340–42). Contrary to the claims by Edwards and subsequent writers who have unquestioningly accepted his statements, Colt historian Herbert G. Houze has conclusively shown that the woman who married Friedrich von Oppen was not Caroline Henshaw but rather the much younger Julia Colt, a distant cousin of Sam’s. Also see Houze, Colt: Arms, Art, Invention, p. 69, n. 14; p. 247.

2. See Lewis, Nation-Famous New York Murders, pp. 240–41.

3. Christian Reflector, February 1, 1843, p. 19; Brother Jonathan: A weekly Compendium of Belle Lettres and the Fine Arts, vol. 4 (February 4, 1843), p. 137. For a concise account of Bannister’s career, see Martin Banham, ed., The Cambridge Guide to Theatre (Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 76.

Ninety-five year later, a dramatization of the Colt affair was broadcast on the airwaves. Scripted by George J. Throp, “The Case of John C. Colt” was the debut episode of Out of the Hall of Records, a weekly radio series of “dramatized programs based on the annals of notorious court cases preserved in the Hall of Records of New York City.” The episode was broadcast on WNYC, Monday, December 5, 1938, 4:00–4:30 EST. The original script can be found in the WPA Radio Scripts collection at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, box 40, file 1, “The Case of John C. Colt” (Collection ID# T-MSS 2000–005).

4. See Bon Gaultier, “A Night at Peleg Longfellow’s,” The New World: A Weekly Family Journal of Popular Literature, Science, and the Arts, vol. 7 (August 26, 1843): p. 227.

5. The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1966), pp. 237–45.

6. Warner Berthoff, ed., Great Short Works of Herman Melville (Harper & Row/Perennial Library, 1969), pp. 63–64.

7. Theodora De Wolf Colt, Stray Fancies (Boston: published for private circulation, 1872), pp. 118–22.

8. Hosley, American Legend, pp. 30–31.

9. Ibid., p. 138.

10. Keating, Flamboyant Mr. Colt, p. 187.

11. Hosley, American Legend, p. 145.

12. Barnard, Armsmear, p. 295.

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