Abstract

In 1815, Middletown, Connecticut resident Peter Lung beat his wife Lucy to death after both engaged in a two-day bout of drinking. In succeeding trials, Lung was sentenced to death, and eventually executed in 1816. Publicity surrounding the case reveals much about changing notions of violence, gender, and intemperance. In particular, the varying ways in which the interested parties depicted Lucy Lung and her drinking illustrates a trend toward viewing woman as innately moral beings who were often victimized by male violence. Lung's defense of his actions emphasized his wife's drunkenness as a cause of her death, and harked back to colonial conceptions of woman as carnal and sinful. The legal and clerical establishment downplayed Lucy's intemperance, employing images of woman victimized by male drunkenness that would become dominant in the antebellum temperance movement.

Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1897
Print ISSN
0022-4529
Pages
pp. 309-325
Launched on MUSE
2000-10-01
Open Access
No
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