American Detective Fiction    April 1841-July 1891

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  Published in
United States Democratic Review, August 1845


“The Innocent Convict,” continued from p. 8

prevent her from making a noise, they quietly muffled her face and tied her to the bedpost, when they broke open her bureau and rifled its contents. The son, coming home soon after, found his mother nearly dead with fright, and, from her description of the thieves, he suspected his former companions and sent constables in pursuit of them. On inquiring at the cookshop, they found that I had left in company with them, and returned with a bundle, which led to my arrest. The robbers were arrested at another place. I was indicted, tried and found guilty. The evidence was so plain and direct, that there was no chance for escape. The real thieves refused to confirm my own account of the affair, and finding that all attempts to clear myself were without effect, I submitted to my fate. Nobody could believe me innocent; and those who before doubted my college theft, now believed me guilty of that charge. The lawyer who conducted the prosecution was my friend, whom I struck at the stage-house, and he exerted himself to the utmost against me. I had no money to pay a lawyer, but a very active young attorney volunteered to defend me. Money, however,

    could have done me no good. The jury pronounced me guilty without leaving their seats. I was sentenced to the state prison for five years—the exact term that I should have been compelled to serve in the army; and if I could have had my choice of punishments, I should have been at a loss which to choose. During all this time I had not written a word to my mother. I could not inform her of my situation, and I had all the while a hope that she might not hear of my misfortune. But she did; for the trial was reported in the newspapers, with exaggerated accounts of my guilt; and it was a relief to me when I heard, in a few months, that she was dead. I knew what she must suffer, and I hoped that in Heaven she might know that I was innocent.

“In the prison I was put among the tinsmiths, and notwithstanding my natural inaptitude for mechanical labor, in a short time became an expert workman. In my cell I had no other companion than a Bible. But that was sufficient. It would have been a great happiness, if I had been allowed a bit of candle

Continued on p. 10

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