The “Trial of the Century” draws national attention

The “Trial of the Century” draws national attention

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Schoolteacher John T. The case debated in the so-called “Trial of the Century” was never really in doubt; the jury only conferred for a few moments in the hallway before returning to the courtroom with a guilty verdict. Nevertheless, the supporters of evolution won the public relations battle that was really at stake.

READ MORE: Scopes Trial

Despite popular perceptions of the case, fueled in part by the Broadway play and movie Inherit the Wind, the Scopes trial was never more than a show trial. On May 4, 1925, the American Civil Liberties Union published a newspaper advertisement offering to help any Tennessee schoolteacher challenge the new law that had outlawed the teaching of evolution. George W. Rappleyea, a New Yorker who had moved to Dayton, Tennessee, read the ad and persuaded the local townspeople that Dayton should host a trial in order to spark interest in the town.

The leaders of the less than 2,000 residents of Dayton quickly came around to Rappleyea’s idea. The school superintendent agreed with the law but wanted to gain publicity for the town. Even Dayton’s prosecutors were in on the deal. The last piece of the puzzle was to find a defendant. Twenty-four-year-old John T. Scopes, a local high school science teacher and football coach, agreed to fill the roll since he wasn’t planning on staying in Dayton for the long term. No one was really concerned whether he had actually taught evolution to his students. The fact that he had been using the state-approved science textbook, which included a chapter on evolution, was deemed sufficient. A warrant was made for Scopes’ arrest, and word went out that the trial would begin in the summer.

Although the rest of Tennessee was displeased with Dayton’s plan, 500 seats were added to the town’s courtroom for press and spectators, and loudspeakers were set up on the lawn outside and in four auditoriums around town. This proved necessary when the nation’s leading figures in the evolution debate hijacked the case from the local attorneys. William Jennings Bryan, a former congressman who had three times run for president before serving as secretary of state for Woodrow Wilson, took over the prosecution. Bryan had personally initiated the campaign against evolution in the United States; the Tennessee law was his first major success.

Knowing that it would be the perfect forum to debate Bryan on the evolution and creationism issue, the great liberal lawyer Clarence Darrow wormed his way into the case as the defense attorney. While the press flooded into Dayton for the showdown between these two larger-than-life figures, a Chicago radio station broadcast the trial live—a first in America.

The trial opened on July 10 with magnificent speeches from both Bryan and Darrow. However, it soon became evident that the trial judge was not going to play along: He cut off every attempt by Darrow to debate the validity of evolution. The trial would have been completely uneventful except for a creative gambit by Darrow—he called Bryan as a witness. Although the judge would never have allowed a prosecutor to be called as a defense witness, Bryan didn’t dare back down to the challenge. In a famous exchange, Darrow questioned Bryan on the literal interpretation of the Bible’s account of the beginning of the world. With masterful questioning, Darrow forced Bryan to admit that a purely literal interpretation was not possible, making him look very foolish.

Darrow’s performance didn’t save Scopes from a conviction and $100 fine (it was later overturned on a technicality), but in the mainstream press, the theory of evolution clearly won the debate.

LGBTQ History Month: The early days of America's AIDS crisis

October is LGBTQ History Month, and to celebrate, NBC News will feature an NBC Out weekly review of key moments and people in LGBTQ history. Each week’s feature will include images from the New York Public Library’s LGBTQ archives. This week, we look back at the early days of the AIDS epidemic in America.


When the AIDS plague finally took hold in the U.S., it surged through communities that the straight world preferred not to see.

It took a few tries. The virus lurked in tropical regions of central Africa, and made several incursions into the American continent before becoming a global pandemic. HIV likely killed a young man in St. Louis in 1969, just one month before the Stonewall riots. A Norwegian sailor died from AIDS in 1976 after he likely contracted the virus while traveling in Africa.

It was not until the late 1970s when the HIV strain that started the North American pandemic had made its way to the United States, via Zaire and Haiti. By then, the sexual revolution was in full swing and HIV was spreading silently among gay male populations in large American cities. Men who have sex with men were, and still are, disproportionately impacted by HIV because it transmits much more easily through anal sex than through vaginal sex.

The first official government report on AIDS came on June 5, 1981, in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a government bulletin on perplexing disease cases: “In the period October 1980-May 1981, 5 young men, all active homosexuals, were treated for biopsy-confirmed Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia at 3 different hospitals in Los Angeles, California. Two of the patients died.”

In NBC Nightly News’ first report on AIDS in June 1982, Robert Bazell reported that “the best guess is some infectious agent is causing it.”

In a 1983 appearance on NBC's "Today" show, activist and Gay Mens Health Crisis co-founder Larry Kramer asked host Jane Pauley, "Jane, can you imagine what it must be like if you had lost 20 of your friends in the last 18 months?"

"It's a very angry community," Kramer said.

Professor of African-American studies draws national attention with an op ed in the NYT

White resentment put Donald Trump in the White House. And there is every indication that it will keep him there, especially as he continues to transform that seething, irrational fear about an increasingly diverse America into policies that feed his supporters’ worst racial anxieties.

If there is one consistent thread through Mr. Trump’s political career, it is his overt connection to white resentment and white nationalism. Mr. Trump’s fixation on Barack Obama’s birth certificate gave him the white nationalist street cred that no other Republican candidate could match, and that credibility has sustained him in office — no amount of scandal or evidence of incompetence will undermine his followers’ belief that he, and he alone, could Make America White Again.

The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration. No wonder that, even while his White House sinks deeper into chaos, scandal and legislative mismanagement, Mr. Trump’s approval rating among whites (and only whites) has remained unnaturally high. Washington may obsess over Obamacare repeal, Russian sanctions and the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump’s base sees something different — and, to them, inspiring.

Like on Christmas morning, every day brings his supporters presents: travel bans against Muslims, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Hispanic communities and brutal, family-gutting deportations, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, an Election Integrity Commission stacked with notorious vote suppressors, announcements of a ban on transgender personnel in the military, approval of police brutality against “thugs,” a denial of citizenship to immigrants who serve in the armed forces and a renewed war on drugs that, if it is anything like the last one, will single out African-Americans and Latinos although they are not the primary drug users in this country. Last week, Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions put the latest package under the tree: a staffing call for a case on reverse discrimination in college admissions, likely the first step in a federal assault on affirmative action and a determination to hunt for colleges and universities that discriminate against white applicants. .

Limestone County tornado history draws national attention

Limestone County has been in the cross-hairs of the two largest tornado outbreaks in American history.

April in the Tennessee Valley is the height of tornado season. In the cross-hairs of the two largest tornado outbreaks in American history - the Super Outbreaks of April 3rd, 1974 and April 27th, 2011 - was south Limestone County. More specifically, the Swan Creek Manufactured Home Community.

Alabama is now being called the "New Tornado Alley" by some. Our state now averages more deadly tornadoes than any other in the country. The dangers are so high, The Washington Post recently broke down some of the deadliest tornadoes in North Alabama. There&rsquos one thing in common: Limestone County.

Three of the deadliest tornadoes hit in 1974 and 2011. The 2011 anniversary is this weekend on April 27th. "Tornado day," as many in the south now call that fateful day in 2011, brought 62 twisters to Alabama in a single day. The deadliest tornado carved a path from Franklin County, Alabama to Franklin County, Tennessee, killing 72 people along the way. The Hackleburg/Phil Campbell tornado grazed the Swan Creek Community at EF-4 strength.

"I remember our son calling us and telling us the devastation that had happened here. because of all the big, beautiful trees it had taken down. Mostly up front by the office and things," Sylvia Avery told me. "There were trees that were tumbled up and there was one RV that was overturned. I guess up by the office somewhere."

Sylvia and her husband barely missed that twister. They had been staying at Swan Creek, but moved to a different RV park earlier that month.

In the 70s, Swan Creek was known as Lawson's Trailer Park. Before the name change, it made its first mark in the history books when two F5 tornadoes hit within 30 minutes of each other. The Washington Post mentioned the phenomenon earlier this month, on the 45th anniversary of the 1974 Super Outbreak.

On April 3rd, 1974, the first tornado entered Limestone County just after 7 PM. Lawson's took a direct hit. Twenty eight people died. Just as rescue operations were getting underway, a second F5 formed near the Tennessee River and followed along a nearly identical track. Eleven people died in the second tornado.

For James Avery, Limestone County's history with violent tornadoes isn't worth leaving his home.

"I don't pay it no mind," says James.

He remembers the 2011 outbreak well. After seeing the sky turn dark, he left his home to seek shelter elsewhere. Weeks passed before he could get back.

"I don't ever talk about the tornadoes when they come through," says James. "That's something in the plan. You can't control it no way. Only thing you can do is take cover if you want to, be like me. Sometimes, I just ride it out."

Swan Creek has exactly the place for that - a large storm shelter at the entrance of the neighborhood. It's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unlike county storm shelters that are usually only open in the event of a tornado watch.

"I feel safe, knowing that it's there and I'm able to make that choice. that I can go and that I can go feeling that, you know, I don't have to leave my animals here," says Sylvia.

As for James, aside from heading to the shelter, he also leans on his faith. "I know somebody that's take care of me no matter what the storms do."

Swan Creek is still home to a few folks who were living and working there when the tornadoes struck in 1974. When asked if they wanted to tell their story, they said the events from that day were so horrible, they couldn't bear to talk about it.

Harvard LSD Research Draws National Attention

Sitting in Winthrop dining hall with a few classmates in the fall of 1959, Allan Y. Cohen ’61 pondered what courses to take the next semester. Conversation gradually shifted to a supposedly easy course on motivation.

Someone asked who the professor of the course was.

“I am,” emerged a voice from the end of the table, Cohen remembered. To his surprise, seated a few chairs away was Richard Alpert, now known as Ram Dass, who was the instructor of the course on motivation and an associate professor studying personality and social psychology. Despite this unusual first encounter, Cohen enrolled in Dass’ course, a decision that led to a friendship with the professor.

Dass and his research partner Timothy F. Leary—who would later be described by President Richard M. Nixon as “the most dangerous man in America”—would take Cohen on a trip he would never forget.

By administering hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin to Cohen and Harvard students in the Harvard Psilocybin Project, Dass and Leary generated discord among faculty and students and propelled Harvard to the center of national media attention when details of the ongoing project were exposed in the spring of 1962.

While psilocybin, LSD, and other hallucinogenic drugs are illegal today, these substances were legally available in the summer of 1960, when Leary first tried psilocybin during a fateful trip to Mexico with his family. Psilocybin, a naturally-occurring substance found in more than 200 species of mushrooms, transforms an individual’s mental state, triggering reactions that range from euphoria to paranoia. Right away, the young Harvard lecturer was impressed with the potential psychological and scientific implications of the drug.

“He was completely blown away,” said Don Lattin, author of a 2010 book which traces the progression and impact of Leary and Dass’ experimentation. “He came back to Harvard with this idea that psychedelic drugs could provide insights into mental illness.”

His interest was not unusual. According to Lattin, LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs began attracting academic attention in the 1950s, when scientists started to research the potential applications of the drugs in psychotherapy and treatment of mental disorders. But public consumption of the drugs remained low into the early 1960s.

“Most people had never heard of LSD [and other drugs],” Lattin said. “Marijuana was considered a much more dangerous, illegal drug.”

Intrigued by the power of these mind-altering substances, Leary joined forces with Dass and other Harvard researchers to investigate the effects of psilocybin.

“[Leary] had kind of grandiose ideas,” said Professor Herbert C. Kelman, who taught with Leary and Dass in the Department of Social Relations, Harvard’s former multidisciplinary blend of psychology, anthropology, and sociology. “He was an odd character to begin with.”

Cohen, who eventually entered Harvard’s clinical psychology graduate program in 1961, said that he knew both men “very well” and described the researchers as “extremely enthusiastic” about their scientific endeavors.

“[Dass was] a smart, young, quantitative psychologist,” Cohen said, adding that Dass served as his functioning academic adviser for the remainder of his undergraduate career.

With support from Harvard’s Center for Research in Personality, the Harvard Psilocybin Project began in 1960 and entailed a range of studies, including investigations into the ability of the drug to stimulate religious states in seminary school students and to alter the criminal behavior of prisoners.

Seeking to explore the impact of setting and environmental stimulants on an individual’s response to psilocybin, Leary and Dass launched a campus-centered study of hallucinogens in 1961. Under strict University guidelines, they were only allowed to give the psychedelic drugs to graduate students. They attracted subjects from a required introductory clinical psychology class, which they co-taught, and also found volunteers from the local artistic community, including Allen Ginsberg and Aldous Huxley.

“I was one of the students who was very impressed by the experiment,” said Cohen, who volunteered to participate and called his psychedelic forays “dangerous enough to be even more exciting.”

Starting in the fall semester of 1961, Leary and Dass administered psilocybin to the participants, later following up with them and discussing their experiences. Over time, the researchers tweaked the participants’ environments by adding music and art to observe different reactions and gradually shifted from psilocybin to LSD and mescaline as the drugs of choice.

“It was absolutely exploration, investigation, and understanding,” Cohen said about the qualitative, flexible nature of the experiments.

“Part of the enthusiasm was that this was a new discovery in the theory of consciousness,” he added. “There was a revelatory aspect that had almost a spiritual character to it.”

A group of participants, along with Leary and Dass, even went to Mexico to continue expanding their understanding of psilocybin.

Often, Leary and Dass blurred the boundaries between researchers and their subjects, Lattin said.

“They tripped together,” he said. “This was more controversial than [the use of the drugs].”

Moreover, Leary and Dass began involving undergraduates in their experiments as well, despite the University’s explicit prohibition.

“At first they were fairly cautious,” Lattin said. “They agreed to only graduate students. But [later], Richard Alpert brought in several undergraduates.”

“[This] is what got them into trouble,” he said.


By the spring of 1962, Leary and Dass’ radical study caught the attention of faculty members in the Department of Social Relations.

Kelman, their colleague in the department who had been abroad in Norway, discovered the nature of the experiments through his students.

“While I was away, I was getting letters from my students saying, ‘You won’t believe what is going on here with this drug business,’” he said. “This was totally unorthodox research, and there was a kind of cavalier attitude about the research that felt inappropriate.”

“They were being strongly urged by the two instructors to participate in the drug sessions,” Kelman said a student told him. “He said out of the 12 students in the class, only he and one other student refused to participate.”

“That’s what made me realize how much it had become legitimized,” he added. “I don’t think this was serious research, frankly, and I think it was an abuse of the authority and power of the faculty members over students.”

According to Kelman, some senior faculty members worried that interfering with the experiment would endanger “academic freedom.” Yet other junior faculty members shared Kelman’s concerns, and some worried about the safety of the experiment. This prompted a dramatic face-off in March 1962 between Leary, Dass, Kelman, and Department of Social Relations Chair David C. McClelland, who served as head of the center that sponsored Leary and Dass’ experiment.

“We had misgivings about the educational implications of what was happening,” Kelman said. “It went against the academic values that we tried to promote in our graduate training.”

In response, Leary and Dass continued to defend their experiments, arguing that they could maintain the safety of their experiments by having a physician on call and asserting the value of research into mind-altering drugs.

Meanwhile, amid this faculty resistance, most of the student participants sustained their involvement in the experiment.

“Many of us felt pressure to perform well, given the criticism of our enthusiasm for this research,” Cohen wrote in an email. “Many of us assumed that faculty and others believed that the drugs would interfere with our academic performance. We wished to prove them wrong.”

“Out of all the drug experimenters of the era, we probably studied the most,” he said.

According to Kelman, the initial faculty meeting discussing the fate of the research attracted “all kinds of people,” even those not involved in the experiment.

“This had become part of the rumor mill of the community,” he said.

Following coverage by The Crimson, other newspapers such as The Boston Globe began reporting on the scandal, escalating tensions and bringing the issue to the attention of University President Nathan M. Pusey ’28. Furthermore, official agencies such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health began investigating the dangers and validity of Leary and Dass’ experiment.

“It wasn’t a secret that this was going on,” Lattin said.

Ultimately, both Leary and Dass left Harvard following the scandal generated by their experiments.

“They didn’t really belong anymore in an academic setting,” said Andrew T. Weil ’63, a Crimson reporter who followed the story closely.

Leary left Harvard shortly after the March 1962 faculty meeting, when University administrators decided not to renew his contract because he did not appear for his lectures. Later, he would say that he was fired by Pusey.

“At that point, [Leary] didn’t much care,” Cohen said. “He was pretty involved in the psychedelic movement.”

Leary rose to national prominence in the 1960s counterculture movement due to his experience and support of psychedelic drug use, defending his use of drugs before the Supreme Court, popularizing the phrase “turn on, tune in, drop out,” and even collaborating with The Beatles.

“[Leary] was a cultural icon. His influence was enormous,” Lattin said. “He was certainly a man on a crusade.”

“He saw himself as a prophet,” Lattin added. “He saw himself as a messiah.”

On the other hand, Dass left Harvard in 1963, news of which was displayed on the front page of The New York Times. He continued psychedelic research until 1967, when he left for an inspiring trip to India that led him to a path of eastern philosophy and spirituality and to his eventual name change. According to Weil, this front-page appearance may have marked “one of the first times people in the country heard about LSD.”

He said the experiment contributed to bringing hallucinogenic drugs into the national consciousness.

Yet while their investigation magnified public awareness and use of hallucinogenic drugs, the controversial experiments also stunted future scientific research into psychedelic medicine.

“Leary’s last legacy was that he set back periods of research,” Lattin said. “He launched such a crusade that science suffered.”

Within a few years, research with and use of hallucinogenic drugs such as psilocybin and LSD became illegal.

“It pushed people’s buttons and made it hard for people to research these drugs,” said Weil.

The resistance lasted into the 1990s, but recent years have seen a resurgence of research in these areas.

“It’s taken years for people to be looking at the positive effects of drugs again,” said Weil.

Fifty years removed from the controversy, Cohen said that he believes his chance encounter with Dass was ultimately beneficial.

“Almost all of us would say yes, that was a. set of experiments that changed our lives, and maybe for the better,” Cohen said.

Cohen, who now holds a Ph.D in clinical psychology, specializes in substance abuse prevention research and practice. Co-founder of the Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit research institutes on drug abuse prevention, Cohen noted that although the experiments did indeed influence his career path, they did so “ironically in the opposite direction.”

“You get high, but you always come down,” he said.

—Staff writer Nikita Kansra can be reached at [email protected]

—Staff writer Cynthia W. Shih can be reached at [email protected]

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Springfield's beloved horseshoe sandwich once again draws attention to the city

The capital city&rsquos beloved horseshoe sandwich has again drawn national attention to Springfield.

This time the local culinary claim-to-fame garnered a feature article on the website for America's Test Kitchen.

The 'shoe&rsquos history and versatility was at the heart of the article headlined &ldquoThe Horseshoe Sandwich is the Meaty, Cheesy, Potato-y Pride of Springfield, Ill.&rdquo that appeared April 26 in the online magazine for the long-running PBS cooking show.

Kevin Pang, digital editorial director for America&rsquos Test Kitchen, said he is constantly on the lookout for distinctive dishes.

&ldquoBefore (America&rsquos Test Kitchen) I founded a food website called The Takeout and the goal was to have a food site that wasn&rsquot just about New York and San Francisco,&rdquo he wrote in an email. &ldquoWe made sure to highlight dishes and food culture of the Midwest and beyond. So any stories about fish fries, cheese curds, Detroit pizzas and Jucy Lucys are always going to pique my interest.

&ldquoReally, it&rsquos about celebrating the food of America beyond what people normally know from guidebooks or the Travel Channel.&rdquo

The popular PBS broadcast, however, isn&rsquot the first to be enamored by Springfield&rsquos cheesy, calorie-loaded concoction.

A book &mdash &ldquoSpringfield&rsquos Celebrated Horseshoe Sandwich&rdquo &mdash has been written about the dish that originated in the kitchens at the Leland Hotel in downtown Springfield in 1928.

A breakfast version &mdash crafted at Charlie Parker's Diner &mdash won a national competition, edging out 135 other regional-themed dishes in Thomas&rsquo Hometown Breakfast Battle in 2015. The company&rsquos English muffin replaced the horseshoe&rsquos traditional toast base.

And the horseshoe sandwich has been captured in all its gooey glory by celebrities like chef Guy Fieri for Food Network&rsquos &ldquoDiners, Drive-ins and Dives&rdquo and Today show weatherman Al Roker&rsquos &ldquoRoker on the Road.&rdquo

America&rsquos Test Kitchen airs its 21st season this year. The popular broadcast also has spin off magazines, cookbooks and podcasts.

The Real Trial of the Century

THE Nuremberg trials were very long, very important and often very tedious. That they happened at all marked a shift toward a postwar new order, and the issues they grappled with, right down to the very definition of ''war crimes,'' are as thorny and relevant today as they were in 1945. But the drama attached to them was largely judicial and moral. Göring took his cyanide pill offstage. The final verdicts, for the most part, were never seriously in doubt. And the proceedings are now familiar history -- we know how things turned out. Not, then, the most natural material for the kind of popular fiction William F. Buckley Jr. writes. No droll tongue-in-cheek moments here, no romping across the Iron Curtain, no nudge-nudge-wink-wink insider gossip -- none of the things, in short, that have made his Blackford Oakes novels buoyant and successful. Buckley knows this, of course. He recognizes the inherent gravity and wants to live up to the high seriousness of his subject unfortunately, he can't write up to it. This is a book that displays all his weaknesses as a writer and almost none of his charm. He has written, improbably for Buckley, a dull book.

It didn't have to be so. ''Nuremberg'' is the story of a young American soldier of mixed parentage, assigned to be a translator at the trials, who discovers that he is more personally connected to the proceedings than he anticipated, and as such is a serviceable, if schematic, device to explore a fascinating time and place. Postwar Germany is an almost inexhaustible source of ambiguities and characters in moral crisis, a moment in history when one question inevitably leads to another, and black-and-white certainties keep turning gray. But Buckley is famously a man with his mind already made up -- his self-assurance is part of his appeal -- and he isn't much interested in the sort of moral inquiry the period encourages. (Predictably, one irony that does get his attention, out of so many, is sharing the judging with the Soviets, who 'ɺre guilty of just about everything we are gathered here to condemn.'') So no one in the novel is much interested either.

The Nazi war criminal, Kurt Waldemar Amadeus, has no second thoughts and no regrets. The young American, Sebastian Reinhard, known as Sebby, never questions the trials or his role in them. When he learns that he is one-quarter Jewish, ''his mind swirled in wonder, speculation, projection, bitterness, indignation,'' but he soon recovers and the revelation has no effect on his behavior. His German father, forced by the Gestapo to remain behind when the family emigrates (in an implausible scene), helps Amadeus (in an implausible coincidence) build a death camp, but since he does so under the threat of his own life and later performs a heroic act, the moral quandary he presents Sebby is, to say the least, muted. Aside from the prisoners in the dock, practically nobody in the book faces a reckoning -- not the grandmother who concealed her child's identity, not the G.I. friend who may or may not have given a German girl syphilis (a paragraph of interest, then forgotten) and certainly not Sebby, who comes to terms with his family's past by feeling the same horror and pity at the war's human destruction as he, or any of us, would have felt in the first place.

Without the momentum of any real moral conflict to drive it, ''Nuremberg,'' inevitably, falls back on creaky mechanics to keep things going: this is one of those books whose chapters, all dated, shuttle back and forth in time to create the illusion that something is actually happening. Sometimes it moves just for the sake of moving -- there is a trip to Berlin for no reason at all, a train ride in Georgia whose sole raison d'être seems to be the period detail of a Pullman upper bunk. At one point, Amadeus appoints his younger brother as the lawyer to defend him, a situation so rich in possibilities that the book unexpectedly comes alive with the promise of some genuine drama, but it's only a flicker and Buckley moves on as if he hadn't noticed it.

The problem is that Buckley has never been drawn to character or moral irony (much less relativism) in his fiction, precisely the qualities that would be welcome here. His talent has been to provoke, to tease, to amuse, the talent that served him well as a television host and enlivens his best fiction, especially in the Oakes series (James Bond as a Yale man). These novels have been ideal vehicles for him: it doesn't matter much that the characters are stick figures or the situations implausible (Oakes bedding the Queen of England -- those Yale men). It's a genre that forgives much if you can manage some wit and move the scenery around. Buckley has done better than that -- his books hint at details from one who's been there, all served up with a knowing smile. He's had fun with Gorbachev and Castro and J.F.K. Depending on where you sit on the political spectrum, the books are either entertaining diversions or conservative spin for the gin-and-tonic crowd. But if they preach to the choir, they do so with a glint.

NONE of that is useful here. No one is clamoring for gossip about Justice Jackson. Even the familiar Buckley technique of intimidation through vocabulary leads only to some eye-rolling prose. How about ''Only the encephalophonic whir of the cameras could be heard,'' or ''The nurture of the ardently planned visit to Berlin bore fruit''? Buckley believes in the novel partly as seminar (and why not?), but this works less well when everyone already agrees about the major issues (Nazi defenders, anyone?). To his credit, he presents the trials as something beyond ordinary politics -- this may be his least political book -- but with politics goes the spirited combativeness too.

So why fictionalize it at all? Although the book is interesting in a documentary way about trial details -- the sound system, the translators, etc. -- his attention to the look, smell and feel of postwar Germany, his fictional mise-en-scène, is cursory. Why not simply retell the story of the trials as they happened, with National Review commentary along the way? I suspect that Buckley feels a seminar on Nuremberg is best taught with a little Technicolor gloss, that we no longer like to take our history straight. In this he may be selling his students short, not to mention history. But in any case he should reconsider using fiction next semester. ''Nuremberg,'' alas, neither brings its period to life nor makes us think about what it might mean to ours. Near the end of the book, in a you-are-there moment, ''the writer Rebecca West, seated in the front row of the press section, opened her mouth in a rhetorical yawn.'' I'm not sure about ''rhetorical,'' but I know how she felt.

1978: ‘Longest Walk’ draws attention to American Indian concerns

Several hundred American Indian activists and supporters march for five months from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to protest threats to tribal lands and water rights. The Longest Walk is the last major event of the Red Power Movement.

“The Longest Walk was intended to symbolize the forced removal of American Indians from their homelands and to draw attention to the continuing problems of Indian people and their communities. The event was also intended to expose and challenge the backlash movement against Indian treaty rights that was gaining strength around the country and in Congress. This backlash could be seen in the growing number of bills before Congress to abrogate Indian treaties and restrict Indian rights.” —Troy Johnson, Joane Nagel, and Duane Champagne, American Indian Activism: Alcatraz to the Longest Walk

Theme Land and Water, Native Rights Region California, Great Basin, Great Plains, Northeast, Northwest Coast, Plateau, Southeast, Southwest

Largest class taught in Vanderbilt history draws national attention

Size and scope of U.S. Elections class allows for ex-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg as guest lecturer. Meanwhile, one of the class’ multiple-choice questions lands on Fox News.

Student works on an assignment on her laptop. (Hustler Multimedia/Emery Little)

The U.S. Elections course, PSCI 1150, makes Vanderbilt history this semester as the largest class ever taught at the university, bringing with it both opportunities and unprecedented challenges.

The class, intended to give students insight into the world of presidential elections, is taught by political science professors Jon Meacham, Eunji Kim, Joshua Clinton and Dean John Geer. The four professors, with the help of four teaching assistants (TAs), lead nearly 850 students in the all-virtual class, utilizing Zoom’s webinar feature and Brightspace’s discussion boards to facilitate the record-breaking number of students.

Dean Geer recently shared his thoughts on the goals of the class and the record enrollment number, commenting on the power of such a large class.

“A class of 800—you just think about the collective firepower of that. It’s pretty impressive because all Vandy students are smart, they are, and you know, that’s kind of the one level obvious. But here’s a group of them thinking all roughly about the same kinds of problems at once,” Geer said.

For several students, one of the main draws of the class was the expertise of the faculty involved.

Clinton is a senior election analyst at NBC News and the 2020 chairman of the task force on the performance of pre-election polls for the American Association of Public Opinion. Kim specializes in public opinion and political psychology. Geer serves as a Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and specializes in presidential politics and elections. Meacham is a 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner and journalist with expertise in presidential biographies.

Teaching Assistant and Political Science Ph.D. candidate Mellissa Meisels commented on how the professors are able to work off of one another. She said that Kim and Clinton speak about their research interests and specialties, while Meacham and Geer are able to provide historical context for the 2020 election and draw comparisons from previous elections.

Meisels also noted that this course is unique in that it does not have a set curriculum or syllabus, but is rather adaptable.

“The professors are trying to make this class as relevant and interesting as possible for the students. That is the overarching goal,” Meisels said. “If something popped up in this election that’s clearly ongoing right now, they want to be able to create a lesson around that and talk about that, so that [students] can have super relevant and current information.”

While students acknowledge the uniqueness of the course both academically and logistically, they are also cognizant of the various challenges and limitations of the webinar format.

First-year Grace Phillips registered for the class on a whim. Phillips stated that the class has offered her new perspectives with which to consider the 2020 election. While Philips said she is enjoying the class, she believes the rather vague syllabus lends itself to a certain degree of ambiguity. Clinton further acknowledges that the amenable curriculum has also been a unique challenge to the professors.

“It’s a bit unsettling, as someone who likes to know deadlines and organize and go by data, but hopefully it’s an interesting journey we can take collectively, both the professors and the students, so that we end up, at the end of the day, with a really great experience,” Clinton said.

Quiz question lands on Fox News

The grading of the class has also been a topic of discussion amongst students looking for more structure. Meisels stated that the grading system is something the professors are still working on. Clinton agreed that, much like the curriculum of the course, the exact details of grading are still being figured out.

He notes that while the simplest thing to do would be to provide all multiple-choice questions, the content of the class is too nuanced to lend itself well to that platform. In fact, a recent multiple choice quiz question has sparked national controversy.

As part of a true or false online quiz taken on what day, students were asked if the Constitution was “ designed to perpetuate white supremacy and protect the institution of slavery.” According to a Fox News article , students who did not select “true” were initially deducted points, which left some students unhappy. The quiz was in conjunction with an asynchronous lecture from Professor Meacham in which he addressed the topics on the quiz.

“The constitutional structure undoubtedly was designed and ratified and has endured with structural advantages that perpetuated white supremacy, and until just a century ago, white male supremacy,” Meachem stated in the lecture posted for students on Sept. 1.

Both Clinton and Geer spoke of software issues and claimed the quiz was not supposed to mark the question wrong when students answered “false.” They stated that the question was not intended to penalize students for either answer as the question was designed to allow students to think critically and express their own opinions.

“We told them in the outset that we’re sometimes going to ask them questions that prompt them to think, but that they won’t be penalized for it,” Clinton said. “I think there was some confusion in the report that said that students were penalized for their answer on that question. That’s categorically wrong.”

The official university statement reported to Fox News reiterated what Clinton had said.

“No student was rewarded or penalized for their answer. The question was posed to stimulate discussion,” a spokesperson from the university said in an email statement to The Hustler.

Guest Appearance from Ex-Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg

The size and scope of the class and the unique virtual format has also allowed for high-profile guest lectures, such as Pete Buttigieg ’s surprise appearance on Sept. 3.

Former Mayor of South Bend Pete Buttigieg joins the US Elections course over Zoom on Sept. 3. (Hustler Staff/Charlotte Mauger)

Phillips felt the experience to be beneficial in gaining personal insight into the 2020 Election and felt it was a nice complement to the professor’s history-based lectures.

While the virtual format provides for experiences such as this one, Clinton noted it also makes for more organizational problems the professors are working hard to iron out.

Chat feature on Zoom presents challenges

One such organizational problem arises from the use of the chat feature on Zoom and the open discussion boards on Brightspace.

Junior Anna Qian, a History major and Engineering Management minor, has been an active member of class discussion boards. She said she is a former member of Vanderbilt College Republicans (VCR) and was told by the organization that her comments in the U.S Elections class were excessively extreme and inflammatory.

She issued an apology on the class Brightspace board after receiving some pushback from other students that her comments in the Zoom chat were disrespectful. One such comment criticized Meacham’s involvement with Trump’s impeachment proceedings.

“I said that I just disagreed that Professor Meacham was helping out so much with the Democrats’ impeachment effort,” Qian said. “People found that to be very insulting and very disrespectful of the professor.”

Qian said she has recently been working on a campaign for Ken Stickney, who is currently running as a Republican in Boulder, Colorado for State House District 10, and that her active participation in the class comes from her strong beliefs and interest in politics.

“I’m probably the only person in the class being so expressly political just because I feel really strongly,” Qian said.

Clinton commented on the issue of the chat, acknowledging that he knows it can be distracting and there is potential for someone to say something that can send the class in an unintended direction. However, he feels it is one of the only ways students can voice their opinions and participate for that reason, it will remain open to the students.

Clinton acknowledges that with such a large enrollment number and unique format for the class, there are going to be issues. However, he still believes in the utility of the course.

“I want them all to be empowered, to be able to consume what they’re seeing critically and think about it, and come to their own decisions about what they think about the world,” Clinton said.

75 years after nuclear testing in the Pacific began, the fallout continues to wreak havoc

Patricia A. O'Brien does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations

This year marks 75 years since the United States launched its immense atomic testing program in the Pacific. The historical fallout from tests carried out over 12 years in the Marshall Islands, then a UN Trust Territory governed by the US, have framed seven decades of US relations with the Pacific nation.

Due to the dramatic effects of climate change, the legacies of this history are shaping the present in myriad ways.

This history has Australian dimensions too, though decades of diplomatic distance between Australia and the Marshall Islands have hidden an entangled atomic past.

In 1946, the Marshall Islands seemed very close for many Australians. They feared the imminent launch of the US’s atomic testing program on Bikini Atoll might split the earth in two, catastrophically change the earth’s climate, or produce earthquakes and deadly tidal waves.

A map accompanying one report noted Sydney was only 3,100 miles from ground zero. Residents as far away as Perth were warned if their houses shook on July 1, “it may be the atom bomb test”.

Observers on the USS Mount McKinley watch a huge cloud mushroom over Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands July 1 1946. AAP/AP/Jack Rice

Australia was “included in the tests” as a site for recording blast effects and monitoring for atom bombs detonated anywhere in the world by hostile nations. This Australian site served to keep enemies in check and achieve one of the Pacific testing program’s objectives: to deter future war. The other justification was the advancement of science.

The earth did not split in two after the initial test (unless you were Marshallese) so they continued 66 others followed over the next 12 years. But the insidious and multiple harms to people and place, regularly covered up or denied publicly, became increasingly hard to hide.

Radiation poisoning, birth defects, leukaemia, thyroid and other cancers became prevalent in exposed Marshallese, at least four islands were “partially or completely vapourised”, the exposed Marshallese “became subjects of a medical research program” and atomic refugees. (Bikinians were allowed to return to their atoll for a decade before the US government removed them again when it was realised a careless error falsely claimed radiation levels were safe in 1968.)

In late 1947, the US moved its operations to Eniwetok Atoll, a decision, it was argued, to ensure additional safety. Eniwetok was more isolated and winds were less likely to carry radioactive particles to populated areas.

Australian reports noted this site was only 3,200 miles from Sydney. Troubling reports of radioactive clouds as far away as the French Alps and the known shocking health effects appeared.

Dissenting voices were initially muted due to the steep escalation of the Cold War and Soviet atomic weapon tests beginning in 1949.

Sir Robert Menzies, who became prime minister again in 1949, kept Australia in lock-step with the US. AAP/AP

Opinion in Australia split along political lines. Conservative Cold War warriors, chief among them Robert Menzies who became prime minister again in 1949, kept Australia in lockstep with the US, and downplayed the ill-effects of testing. Left-wing elements in Australia continued to draw attention to the “horrors” it unleashed.

The atomic question came home in 1952, when the first of 12 British atomic tests began on the Montebello Islands, off Western Australia.

Australia’s involvement in atomic testing expanded again in 1954, when it began supplying South Australian-mined uranium to the US and UK’s joint defence purchasing authority, the Combined Development Agency.

Australia’s economic stake in the atomic age from 1954 collided with the galvanisation of global public opinion against US testing in Eniwetok. The massive “Castle Bravo” hydrogen bomb test in March exposed Marshall Islanders and a Japanese fishing crew on The Lucky Dragon to catastrophic radiation levels “equal to that received by Japanese people less than two miles from ground zero” in the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic blasts. Graphic details of the fishermen’s suffering and deaths and a Marshallese petition to the United Nations followed.

When a UN resolution to halt US testing was voted on in July, Australia voted for its continuation. But the tide of public opinion was turning against testing. The events of 1954 dispelled the notion atomic waste was safe and could be contained. The problem of radioactive fish travelling into Australian waters highlighted these new dangers, which spurred increasing world wide protests until the US finally ceased testing in the Marshalls in 1958.

In the 1970s, US atomic waste was concentrated under the Runit Island dome, part of Enewetak Atoll (about 3,200 miles from Sydney). Recent alarming descriptions of how precarious and dangerous this structure is due to age, sea water inundation and storm damage exacerbated by climate change were contested in a 2020 Trump-era report.

The Biden administration’s current renegotiation of the Compact of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and its prioritisation of action on climate change, will put Runit Island high on the agenda. There is an opportunity for historical redress for the US that is even more urgent given the upsurge in discrimination against US-based Pacific Islander communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are peoples displaced by the tests.

Australia is also embarking on a new level of engagement with the Marshall Islands: it is due to open its first embassy in the capital Majuro in 2021.

It should be remembered this bilateral relationship has an atomic history too. Australia supported the US testing program, assisted with data collection and voted in the UN for its continuation when Marshallese pleaded for it to be stopped. It is also likely Australian-sourced atomic waste lies within Runit Island, cementing Australia in this history.


At approximately 10 p.m. on March 1, 1932, the Lindberghs’ nurse, Betty Gow, found that 20-month-old Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. was not with his mother, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who had just come out of the bathtub. Gow then alerted Charles Lindbergh, who immediately went to the child's room, where he found a ransom note, containing bad handwriting and grammar, in an envelope on the windowsill. Taking a gun, Lindbergh went around the house and grounds with butler Olly Whateley [10] they found impressions in the ground under the window of the baby's room, pieces of a cleverly designed wooden ladder, and a baby's blanket. [11] Whateley telephoned the Hopewell police department and Lindbergh contacted his attorney and friend, Henry Breckinridge, and the New Jersey state police. [11]

Hopewell Borough police and New Jersey State Police officers conducted an extensive search of the home and its surrounding area.

After midnight, a fingerprint expert examined the ransom note and ladder no usable fingerprints or footprints were found, leading experts to conclude that the kidnapper(s) wore gloves and had some type of cloth on the soles of their shoes. [12] No adult fingerprints were found in the baby's room, including in areas witnesses admitted to touching, such as the window, but the baby's fingerprints were found.

The brief, handwritten ransom note had many spelling and grammar irregularities:

Dear Sir! Have 50.000$ redy 25 000$ in 20$ bills 15000$ in 10$ bills and 10000$ in 5$ bills After 2–4 days we will inform you were to deliver the mony. We warn you for making anyding public or for notify the Police the child is in gut care. Indication for all letters are Singnature and 3 hohls. [13]

At the bottom of the note were two interconnected blue circles surrounding a red circle, with a hole punched through the red circle and two more holes to the left and right.

Prominence Edit

Word of the kidnapping spread quickly. Hundreds of people converged on the estate, destroying any footprint evidence. [14] Along with police, well-connected and well-intentioned people arrived at the Lindbergh estate. Military colonels offered their aid, although only one had law enforcement expertise—Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. The other colonels were Henry Skillman Breckinridge, a Wall Street lawyer and William J. Donovan, a hero of the First World War who would later head the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the CIA. Lindbergh and these men speculated that the kidnapping was perpetrated by organized crime figures. They thought that the letter was written by someone who spoke German as his native language. At this time, Charles Lindbergh used his influence to control the direction of the investigation. [15]

They contacted Mickey Rosner, a Broadway hanger-on rumored to know mobsters. Rosner turned to two speakeasy owners, Salvatore "Salvy" Spitale and Irving Bitz, for aid. Lindbergh quickly endorsed the duo and appointed them his intermediaries to deal with the mob. Several organized crime figures – notably Al Capone, Willie Moretti, Joe Adonis, and Abner Zwillman – spoke from prison, offering to help return the baby in exchange for money or for legal favors. Specifically, Capone offered assistance in return for being released from prison under the pretense that his assistance would be more effective. This was quickly denied by the authorities. [ citation needed ]

The morning after the kidnapping, authorities notified President Herbert Hoover of the crime. At that time, kidnapping was classified as a state crime and the case did not seem to have any grounds for federal involvement. Attorney General William D. Mitchell met with Hoover and announced that the whole machinery of the Department of Justice would be set in motion to cooperate with the New Jersey authorities. [16]

The Bureau of Investigation (later the FBI) was authorized to investigate the case, while the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs Service, the U.S. Immigration Service and the Washington, D.C. police were told their services might be required. New Jersey officials announced a $25,000 reward for the safe return of "Little Lindy". The Lindbergh family offered an additional $50,000 reward of their own. At this time, the total reward of $75,000 (approximately equivalent to $1,172,000 in 2019) was a tremendous sum of money, because the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression.

On March 6, a new ransom letter arrived by mail at the Lindbergh home. The letter was postmarked March 4 in Brooklyn, and it carried the perforated red and blue marks. The ransom had been raised to $70,000. A third ransom note postmarked from Brooklyn, and also including the secret marks, arrived in Breckinridge's mail. The note told the Lindberghs that John Condon should be the intermediary between the Lindberghs and the kidnapper(s), and requested notification in a newspaper that the third note had been received. Instructions specified the size of the box the money should come in, and warned the family not to contact the police.

John Condon Edit

During this time, John F. Condon — a well-known Bronx personality and retired school teacher — offered $1,000 if the kidnapper would turn the child over to a Catholic priest. Condon received a letter reportedly written by the kidnappers it authorized Condon to be their intermediary with Lindbergh. [17] Lindbergh accepted the letter as genuine.

Following the kidnapper's latest instructions, Condon placed a classified ad in the New York American reading: "Money is Ready. Jafsie " [18] Condon then waited for further instructions from the culprits. [19]

A meeting between "Jafsie" and a representative of the group that claimed to be the kidnappers was eventually scheduled for late one evening at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. According to Condon, the man sounded foreign but stayed in the shadows during the conversation, and Condon was thus unable to get a close look at his face. The man said his name was John, and he related his story: He was a "Scandinavian" sailor, part of a gang of three men and two women. The baby was being held on a boat, unharmed, but would be returned only for ransom. When Condon expressed doubt that "John" actually had the baby, he promised some proof: the kidnapper would soon return the baby's sleeping suit. The stranger asked Condon, ". would I 'burn' [a] if the package [b] were dead?" When questioned further, he assured Condon that the baby was alive.

On March 16, Condon received a toddler's sleeping suit by mail, and a seventh ransom note. [1] After Lindbergh identified the sleeping suit, Condon placed a new ad in the Home News: "Money is ready. No cops. No secret service. I come alone, like last time." On April 1 Condon received a letter saying it was time for the ransom to be delivered.

Ransom payment Edit

The ransom was packaged in a wooden box that was custom-made in the hope that it could later be identified. The ransom money included a number of gold certificates since gold certificates were about to be withdrawn from circulation, [1] it was hoped greater attention would be drawn to anyone spending them. [5] [20] The bills were not marked but their serial numbers were recorded. Some sources credit this idea to Frank J. Wilson, [21] others to Elmer Lincoln Irey. [22] [23]

On April 2, Condon was given a note by an intermediary, an unknown cab driver. Condon met "John" and told him that they had been able to raise only $50,000. The man accepted the money and gave Condon a note saying that the child was in the care of two innocent women.

Discovery of the body Edit

On May 12, delivery truck driver Orville Wilson and his assistant William Allen pulled to the side of a road about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south of the Lindbergh home near the hamlet of Mount Rose in neighboring Hopewell Township. [4] When Allen went into a grove of trees to urinate, he discovered the body of a toddler. [24] The skull was badly fractured and the body decomposed, with evidence of scavenging by animals there were indications of an attempt at a hasty burial. [3] [24] Gow identified the baby as the missing infant from the overlapping toes of the right foot and a shirt that she had made. It appeared the child had been killed by a blow to the head. Lindbergh insisted on cremation. [25]

In June 1932, officials began to suspect that the crime had been perpetrated by someone the Lindberghs knew. Suspicion fell upon Violet Sharp, a British household servant at the Morrow home who had given contradictory information regarding her whereabouts on the night of the kidnapping. It was reported that she appeared nervous and suspicious when questioned. She committed suicide on June 10, 1932, [26] by ingesting a silver polish that contained cyanide just before being questioned for the fourth time. [27] [28] Her alibi was later confirmed, and police were criticized for heavy-handedness. [29]

Condon was also questioned by police and his home searched, but nothing suggestive was found. Charles Lindbergh stood by Condon during this time. [30]

John Condon's unofficial investigation Edit

After the discovery of the body, Condon remained unofficially involved in the case. To the public, he had become a suspect and in some circles was vilified. [31] For the next two years, he visited police departments and pledged to find "Cemetery John".

Condon's actions regarding the case were increasingly flamboyant. On one occasion, while riding a city bus, Condon claimed that he saw a suspect on the street and, announcing his secret identity, ordered the bus to stop. The startled driver complied and Condon darted from the bus, although his target eluded him. Condon's actions were also criticized as exploitative when he agreed to appear in a vaudeville act regarding the kidnapping. [32] Liberty magazine published a serialized account of Condon's involvement in the Lindbergh kidnapping under the title "Jafsie Tells All". [33]

Tracking the ransom money Edit

The investigators who were working on the case were soon at a standstill. There were no developments and little evidence of any sort, so police turned their attention to tracking the ransom payments. A pamphlet was prepared with the serial numbers on the ransom bills, and 250,000 copies were distributed to businesses, mainly in New York City. [1] [20] A few of the ransom bills appeared in scattered locations, some as far away as Chicago and Minneapolis, but those spending the bills were never found.

By a presidential order, all gold certificates were to be exchanged for other bills by May 1, 1933. [34] A few days before the deadline, a man brought $2,980 to a Manhattan bank for exchange it was later realized the bills were from the ransom. He had given his name as J. J. Faulkner of 537 West 149th Street. [20] No one named Faulkner lived at that address, and a Jane Faulkner who had lived there 20 years earlier denied involvement. [20]

During a thirty-month period, a number of the ransom bills were spent throughout New York City. Detectives realized that many of the bills were being spent along the route of the Lexington Avenue subway, which connected the Bronx with the east side of Manhattan, including the German-Austrian neighborhood of Yorkville. [5]

On September 18, 1934, a Manhattan bank teller noticed a gold certificate from the ransom [1] a New York license plate number (4U-13-41-N.Y) penciled in the bill's margin allowed it to be traced to a nearby gas station. The station manager had written down the license number because his customer was acting "suspicious" and was "possibly a counterfeiter". [1] [5] [20] [35] The license plate belonged to a sedan owned by Richard Hauptmann of 1279 East 222nd Street in the Bronx, [5] an immigrant with a criminal record in Germany. When Hauptmann was arrested, he was carrying a single 20-dollar gold certificate [1] [5] and over $14,000 of the ransom money was found in his garage. [36]

Hauptmann was arrested, interrogated, and beaten at least once throughout the following day and night. [20] Hauptmann stated that the money and other items had been left with him by his friend and former business partner Isidor Fisch. Fisch had died on March 29, 1934, shortly after returning to Germany. [5] Hauptmann stated he learned only after Fisch's death that the shoebox that was left with him contained a considerable sum of money. He kept the money because he claimed that it was owed to him from a business deal that he and Fisch had made. [5] Hauptmann consistently denied any connection to the crime or knowledge that the money in his house was from the ransom.

When the police searched Hauptmann's home, they found a considerable amount of additional evidence that linked him to the crime. One item was a notebook that contained a sketch of the construction of a ladder similar to that which was found at the Lindbergh home in March 1932. John Condon's telephone number, along with his address, were discovered written on a closet wall in the house. A key piece of evidence, a section of wood, was discovered in the attic of the home. After being examined by an expert, it was determined to be an exact match to the wood used in the construction of the ladder found at the scene of the crime.

Hauptmann was indicted in the Bronx on September 24, 1934, for extorting the $50,000 ransom from Charles Lindbergh. [5] Two weeks later, on October 8, Hauptmann was indicted in New Jersey for the murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr. [1] Two days later, he was surrendered to New Jersey authorities by New York Governor Herbert H. Lehman to face charges directly related to the kidnapping and murder of the child. Hauptmann was moved to the Hunterdon County Jail in Flemington, New Jersey, on October 19. [1]

Trial Edit

Hauptmann was charged with capital murder. The trial was held at the Hunterdon County Courthouse in Flemington, New Jersey, and was soon dubbed the "Trial of the Century". [37] Reporters swarmed the town, and every hotel room was booked. Judge Thomas Whitaker Trenchard presided over the trial.

In exchange for rights to publish Hauptmann's story in their newspaper, Edward J. Reilly was hired by the New York Daily Mirror to serve as Hauptmann's attorney. [38] David T. Wilentz, Attorney General of New Jersey, led the prosecution.

Evidence against Hauptmann included $20,000 of the ransom money found in his garage and testimony alleging that his handwriting and spelling were similar to those of the ransom notes. Eight handwriting experts, including Albert S. Osborn, [39] pointed out similarities between the ransom notes and Hauptmann's writing specimens. The defense called an expert to rebut this evidence, while two others declined to testify [39] the latter two demanded $500 before looking at the notes and were dismissed when Lloyd Fisher, a member of Hauptmann's legal team, [40] declined. [41] Other experts retained by the defense were never called to testify. [42]

On the basis of the work of Arthur Koehler at the Forest Products Laboratory, the State introduced photographs demonstrating that part of the wood from the ladder matched a plank from the floor of Hauptmann's attic: the type of wood, the direction of tree growth, the milling pattern, the inside and outside surface of the wood, and the grain on both sides were identical, and four oddly placed nail holes lined up with nail holes in joists in Hauptmann's attic. [43] [44] Condon's address and telephone number were written in pencil on a closet door in Hauptmann's home, and Hauptmann told police that he had written Condon's address:

I must have read it in the paper about the story. I was a little bit interested and keep a little bit record of it, and maybe I was just on the closet, and was reading the paper and put it down the address . I can't give you any explanation about the telephone number.

A sketch that Wilentz suggested represented a ladder was found in one of Hauptmann's notebooks. Hauptmann said this picture and other sketches therein were the work of a child. [45]

Despite not having an obvious source of earned income, Hauptmann had bought a $400 radio (approximately equivalent to $7,740 in 2020) and sent his wife on a trip to Germany.

Hauptmann was identified as the man to whom the ransom money was delivered. Other witnesses testified that it was Hauptmann who had spent some of the Lindbergh gold certificates that he had been seen in the area of the estate, in East Amwell, New Jersey, near Hopewell, on the day of the kidnapping and that he had been absent from work on the day of the ransom payment and had quit his job two days later. Hauptmann never sought another job afterward, yet continued to live comfortably. [46]

When the prosecution rested its case, the defense opened with a lengthy examination of Hauptmann. In his testimony, Hauptmann denied being guilty, insisting that the box of gold certificates had been left in his garage by a friend, Isidor Fisch, who had returned to Germany in December 1933 and died there in March 1934. Hauptmann said that he had one day found a shoe box left behind by Fisch, which Hauptmann had stored on the top shelf of his kitchen broom closet, later discovering the money, which he later found to be almost $40,000 (approximately equivalent to $609,000 in 2019). Hauptmann said that, because Fisch had owed him about $7,500 in business funds, Hauptmann had kept the money for himself and had lived on it since January 1934.

The defense called Hauptmann's wife, Anna, to corroborate the Fisch story. On cross-examination, she admitted that while she hung her apron every day on a hook higher than the top shelf, she could not remember seeing any shoe box there. Later, rebuttal witnesses testified that Fisch could not have been at the scene of the crime, and that he had no money for medical treatments when he died of tuberculosis. Fisch's landlady testified that he could barely afford the $3.50 weekly rent of his room.

In his closing summation, Reilly argued that the evidence against Hauptmann was entirely circumstantial, because no reliable witness had placed Hauptmann at the scene of the crime, nor were his fingerprints found on the ladder, on the ransom notes, or anywhere in the nursery. [47]

Appeals Edit

Hauptmann was convicted and immediately sentenced to death. His attorneys appealed to the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals, which at the time was the state's highest court the appeal was argued on June 29, 1935. [48]

New Jersey Governor Harold G. Hoffman secretly visited Hauptmann in his cell on the evening of October 16, accompanied by a stenographer who spoke German fluently. Hoffman urged members of the Court of Errors and Appeals to visit Hauptmann.

In late January 1936, while declaring that he held no position on the guilt or innocence of Hauptmann, Hoffman cited evidence that the crime was not a "one person" job and directed Schwarzkopf to continue a thorough and impartial investigation in an effort to bring all parties involved to justice. [49]

It became known among the press that on March 27, Hoffman was considering a second reprieve of Hauptmann's death sentence and was seeking opinions about whether the governor had the right to issue a second reprieve. [50]

On March 30, 1936, Hauptmann's second and final appeal asking for clemency from the New Jersey Board of Pardons was denied. [51] Hoffman later announced that this decision would be the final legal action in the case, and that he would not grant another reprieve. [52] Nonetheless, there was a postponement, when the Mercer County grand jury, investigating the confession and arrest of Trenton attorney, Paul Wendel, requested a delay from Warden Mark Kimberling. [53] This, the final stay, ended when the Mercer County prosecutor informed Kimberling that the grand jury had adjourned after voting to end its investigation without charging Wendel. [54]

Execution Edit

Hauptmann turned down a large offer from a Hearst newspaper for a confession and refused a last-minute offer to commute his sentence from the death penalty to life without parole in exchange for a confession. He was electrocuted on April 3, 1936.

After his death, some reporters and independent investigators came up with numerous questions about the way in which the investigation had been run and the fairness of the trial, including witness tampering and planted evidence. Twice in the 1980s, Anna Hauptmann sued the state of New Jersey for the unjust execution of her husband. The suits were dismissed due to prosecutorial immunity and because the statute of limitations had run out. [55] She continued fighting to clear his name until her death, at age 95, in 1994. [56]

A number of books have asserted Hauptmann's innocence, generally highlighting inadequate police work at the crime scene, Lindbergh's interference in the investigation, ineffectiveness of Hauptmann's counsel, and weaknesses in the witnesses and physical evidence. Ludovic Kennedy, in particular, questioned much of the evidence, such as the origin of the ladder and the testimony of many of the witnesses.

According to author Lloyd Gardner, a fingerprint expert, Dr. Erastus Mead Hudson, applied the then-rare silver nitrate fingerprint process to the ladder, and did not find Hauptmann's fingerprints, even in places that the maker of the ladder must have touched. According to Gardner, officials refused to consider this expert's findings, and the ladder was then washed of all fingerprints. [57]

Jim Fisher, a former FBI agent and professor at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, [58] has written two books, The Lindbergh Case (1987) [59] and The Ghosts of Hopewell (1999), [60] addressing what he calls a "revision movement" regarding the case. [61] He summarizes:

Today, the Lindbergh phenomena [sic] is a giant hoax perpetrated by people who are taking advantage of an uninformed and cynical public. Notwithstanding all of the books, TV programs, and legal suits, Hauptmann is as guilty today as he was in 1932 when he kidnapped and killed the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lindbergh. [62]

Another book, Hauptmann's Ladder: A step-by-step analysis of the Lindbergh kidnapping by Richard T. Cahill Jr., concludes that Hauptmann was guilty but questions whether he should have been executed.

According to John Reisinger in Master Detective [ citation needed ] , New Jersey detective Ellis Parker conducted an independent investigation in 1936 and obtained a signed confession from former Trenton attorney Paul Wendel, creating a sensation and resulting in a temporary stay of execution for Hauptmann. The case against Wendel collapsed, however, when he insisted his confession had been coerced. [63]

Several people have suggested that Charles Lindbergh was responsible for the kidnapping. In 2010, Jim Bahm's Beneath the Winter Sycamores implied that the baby was physically disabled and Lindbergh arranged the kidnapping as a way of secretly moving the baby to be raised in Germany. [64]

Another theory is Lindbergh accidentally killed his son in a prank gone wrong. In Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax, criminal defense attorney Gregory Ahlgren posits Lindbergh climbed a ladder and brought his son out of a window, but dropped the child, killing him, so hid the body in the woods, then covered up the crime by blaming Hauptmann. [38]

Robert Zorn's 2012 book Cemetery John proposes that Hauptmann was part of a conspiracy with two other German-born men, John and Walter Knoll. Zorn's father, economist Eugene Zorn, believed that as a teenager he had witnessed the conspiracy being discussed. [65]

Watch the video: Trial Of The Century. FULL EPISODE. The New Detectives (November 2022).

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