After the First World War, many Americans feared that the Communist Revolution in Russia would spread to the United States. Fear outweighed rational debate, leading to a clamp down on civil liberties, with thousands arrested without warrants. In response, a small group of individuals set up the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In the years since then, the ACLU has evolved from a small organization to the nation’s principal defender of civil rights, playing a role in some of the most famous events in twentieth-century American history.
Barely a week went by in the nineteenth-century press without a sensational crime story appearing. Whether it was the gory prospect of blood and dismembered bodies, or simply the thrill of a classic ‘whodunit’, there can be little doubt that crime reporting made compelling copy. This was certainly the case with the ‘Brighton Railway Murder’ which took place in the summer of 1881. From beginning to end, the case captivated the imagination of the British people, eager to discover who had murdered wealthy tradesman Frederick Gold, and what would become of the culprit. A search of Gale Artemis: Primary Sources highlights the case’s notoriety, giving me the perfect opportunity to trace its development.