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The Body in the ReservoirMurder and Sensationalism in the South$
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Michael Ayers Trotti

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831786

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807899038_trotti

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The Origins of Virginia Crime Sensationalism

The Origins of Virginia Crime Sensationalism

(p.13) 1 The Origins of Virginia Crime Sensationalism
The Body in the Reservoir

Michael Ayers Trotti

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes how, over the next three months, the Virginia Gazette published fifteen articles on the Chiswell case, some anonymous, others pseudonymous, still others penned above the names of some of the most prominent Virginians of the era, including the colony's most influential lawyer, George Wythe, and a leading member of the House of Burgesses, John Blair. In all, the Virginia Gazette printed slightly more than six pages on this case over the course of four-and-a-half months, or about one-quarter of a page in each issue. In volume, the coverage was significant, particularly for this era; in tone, it was moderate, even tentative. In October, this flurry of activity ended when John Chiswell died of “nervous fits, owing to a constant uneasiness of mind” shortly before he was to go to trial.

Keywords:   Virginia Gazette, Chiswell case, George Wythe, House of Burgesses, John Blair, John Chiswell

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