Congressman Daniel E. Sickles Gets Congress to Commemorate a Murder He Committed
In 1858, Philip Barton Key -- the son of the Star-Spangled Banner guy -- began a not-so-secret affair with the saucy Italian wife of congressman Daniel E. Sickles (D-N.Y.). Sickles received an anonymous tip on Feb. 26, 1859, that his wife was fooling around. After Teresa 'fessed up to the affair, Sickles spotted Key on a bench outside his home in Lafayette Square the next freaking day.
After Key made a gesture to the congressman's wife that in some way conveyed his intentions to have sex with her again -- we're guessing the old in-out with his fingers -- Rep. Sickles drew a pistol. In plain view of the city, in broad daylight and in front of the White House, he unloaded on Francis Scott Key's son until the man was no longer alive.
Note the fence behind them. It will be important later.
Sickles was charged with the public murder of the son of a national hero over a saucy belladonna, which resulted in nothing short of one the most star-studded, entertaining and influential trials in American history. In the end, Sickles managed to pull one of the greatest Hail Marys in legal history by becoming the first person in the United States to plead temporary insanity, and holy shit ... it worked!
Although he murdered the son of a cultural icon, Sickles was eventually heralded as a hero for "saving all the ladies of Washington from this rogue named Key." He eventually forgave his wife, enlisted in the Union Army in the Civil War and famously lost his leg during a maneuver as brilliant as it was crazy at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Beating 350 enemies to death with his own leg was just the beginning.