State v. Nettles and Cannon:

A Murder Trial as Social History

AMH 3930

R 6-8, Keene-Flint 117

Elizabeth Dale 2002



Professor: Elizabeth Dale

Office: 025 Keene Flint

Office hours: W: 3-4 periods

R: 3-4 periods





Required texts: State v. Nettles and Cannon

(course pack, available at University Copy Center on University Avenue)

Deborah Navas, Murdered by his Wife (2001)

Stephanie McCurry, Masters of Small Worlds (1997)

Jack K. Williams, Dueling in the Old South (1980)

Peter Bardaglio, Reconstructing the Household (1998)

Karen Halttunen, Murder Most Foul (2000)

Jules Benjamin, A Student's Guide to History (2001)




Research practice (each of these assignments is worth 2 points)


1.       Journal project, due week 2

2.       Book review project, due week 3

3.       Case project, due week 4

4.       Primary source project, due week 5

5.       Article project, due week 6


Paper projects (these assignments are worth different points, the number is in the parenthesis):


1.       Preliminary topic proposal, due week 3 (2.5 points)

2.       Specific topic proposal, due week 5 (2.5 points)

3.       Bibliography, due week 7 (worth 5 points)

4.       Preliminary presentation, due week 10 (worth 10 points)

5.       Draft paper, due week 13 (worth 10 points)

6.       Second presentations and comments on papers, due week 15 (worth 5 points each)

7.       Final paper, due Tuesday December 17 (worth 50 points)


Total points possible: 100


Grade equivalents


Recommended paper topics:


The Murder of Geogles and the Lynching of the Fiend Snyder, Bethlehem PA 1880. 813.008 A 512


Trial of Alpheus Hitchcock for the Murder of his Wife, Belinda, New York 1807. Z1215.S48 no. 13731


Trial of Alpheus Livermore and Samuel Angier for the Murder of Nicholas John Crevary, an Indian, 1813. Z1215.S48 no. 29967


Trial of Amos Broad and his Wife for the Beating of Betty, a Slave, New York, 1809. Z1215.S48 no. 18777


Trial of Charles Wakely, for the rape of Mrs. Rebecca Fay, New York 1810. Z1215.S48 No. 21515.


Trial of Cyrus Dean for murder, Vermont, 1808. Z1215.S48 no. 16344


Trial of David Lynn, et al, for murder, Maine 1809. Z1215.S48 no. 21516


Trial of Ebenezer Ball, for murder, in Maine 1811. Z1215.S48 no. 24056


Trial of Edward Tinker, a mariner, for murder, in North Carolina, 1811. Z1215.S48 no. 24057


Trial of General Von Harten for forgeries amounting to $50,000, Baltimore 1806. Z1215.S48 no. 13735


Trial fo George Hersey for the murder of Betty Francis Tirrell. KF223.H47 Y4 1997 (Levin College of Law Library)


Trial of George Travers for murder, Massachusetts 1814. Z1215.S48 no. 36119


Trial of Helen Watt for the murder of her Husband, London 1766. PR1134. E541 1982, reel #692 no. 10


Trial of Henry Hagerman for assault with intent to commit murder, NY 1818. Z1215.S48 no. 43126.


Trial of Henry W. Allen for kidnapping in relation to the fugitive slave laws, New York 1852. E449 .A62365 1998 (fiche) 51,313-51,316


Trial of James Anty, for murder, Vermont, 1814. Z1215.S48 no. 32962


Alton Trials for Crimes of Riot, involving the attack by a mob on the printing press of Elijah Lovejoy, 1837. E 499 .A62 365 1998 (fiche) 50,515-50,518


Maturin Livingston against James Cheetham, for libel, New York, 1807. Z1215.S48 no. 13738


Trial of Miss Mary Ann Tocker for alleged libel on R. Guerney. Z1215.S48 no. 43653


Kentucky Jurisprudence, Trial of Miss Delia A. Webster on a charge of aiding slaves. E 449 .A62365 1998 (fiche) 50,679-50,681


Trial of Moses Adams for the Murder of his Wife, Mass 1815. Z1215.S48 no. 36122.


Trial of Thomas Gaynor for the murder of his Wife, Charleston SC 1810. Z1215.S48 no. 21390



First week beginning Monday, August 26


Introduction to the course


Second week beginning Monday, September 2


Reading: State v. Nettles and Cannon transcription

Journal assignment due


Third week beginning Monday, September 9


Book review project due, further discussion of Nettles and Cannon

Preliminary topic proposal due

Blackstone on homicide and on accessories (if you have problems accessing the site, the URL is (look for the sections on homicide and accessories there)


Fourth week beginning Monday September 16


Reading: Dueling in the Old South

Case assignment due

Fifth week beginning Monday, September 23


Specific paper proposal due, primary source project

Further discussion of Nettles and Cannon


Sixth week beginning Monday, September 30


Reading: Masters of Small Worlds

Article project due


Seventh week beginning Monday, October 7


Bibliography due, further discussion of Nettles and Cannon


Eighth week beginning Monday, October 14


Reading: Reconstructing the Household


Ninth week beginning Monday, October 21


Individual conferences on projects, no class


Tenth week beginning Monday, October 28


Preliminary presentations on papers


Eleventh week beginning Monday, November 4


Reading: Murder Most Foul


Twelfth week beginning Monday, November 11


Reading: Murdered by his Wife

Thirteenth week beginning Monday, November 18


Drafts of papers due

Fourteenth week beginning Monday, November 25


No class, Thanksgiving


Fifteenth week beginning Monday, December 2


Presentations on papers, and comments


Sixteenth week beginning Monday, December 9


Individual conferences on papers


Finals week beginning December 14


Assignment: final papers due on Tuesday, December 17 at noon in my office