By Elizabeth Urban Alexander
The felony campaign of Myra Clark Gaines (1804?--1885) has all of the trappings of vintage melodrama -- a misplaced inheritor, a lacking will, a bootleg courting, a questionable marriage, a bigamous husband, and a homicide. For a part century the daughter of latest Orleans millionaire Daniel Clark struggled to justify her declare to his huge, immense fortune in a case that captivated the nineteenth-century public. Elizabeth city Alexander faucets voluminous courtroom documents and letters to solve the twists and turns of Gaines's litigation and show the reality at the back of the mysterious saga of this infamous woman.
Myra, the daughter of genuine property inheritor Clark and Zulime Carrière, a gorgeous younger Frenchwoman, used to be raised by way of pals of Clark and stored blind to her genuine parentage until eventually 1832, whilst she stumbled on her real lineage in letters between her foster father's papers. She thereupon back to Louisiana with stories of a misplaced will and a mystery marriage among Clark and Carrière and claimed to be Clark's lacking inheritor. used to be Myra the valid daughter of the renowned service provider or the "fruit of an adulterous union?" The courts might decide.
The nice Gaines Case wound its tortuous direction in the course of the usa criminal approach from 1834 until eventually 1891. It used to be thought of by means of the U.S. ultimate courtroom seventeen instances and pursued even after Gaines's dying via attorneys attempting to recoup charges. via courageously bringing her case to the court docket and doggedly retaining it there, Alexander asserts, Gaines helped instigate a brand new form of kinfolk legislation that supplied designated safeguard of girls, childrens, and marriages.
Though Gaines by no means recovered greater than a tiny fraction of the rumored thousands, this riveting chronicle of her fight for legitimacy and legacy as instructed by way of Elizabeth city Alexander is a gold mine for an individual attracted to criminal background, women's experiences, or an exceptional yarn fantastically spun.
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