• [Francis Scott Key] Philip Key, Killed By Daniel Sickles, Questions Warden About Treatment Of Prisoners

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    PHILIP BARTON KEY (1818 – 1859) was the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and the son of Francis Scott Key, writer of the poem that became the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Philip is most famous for being murdered (he was unarmed) by Congressman Daniel Sickles (1819 – 1914), a notorious philanderer and future Civil War general, after Sickles discovered that his wife, Teresa Bagioli (1836 – 1867) was having an affair with Key. Sickles defended himself by adopting a defense of temporary insanity, the first time it had ever been used in the United States, and got off. Never was Sickles’ disreputable history brought up, including the fact that he had been censured by the New York State Assembly for escorting a known prostitute, Fanny White, into its chambers or that he had taken White to England with him, leaving his pregnant wife at home, or that he presented White to Queen Victoria.  In fact, Sickles was declared a hero for “saving all the ladies of Washington from this rogue named Key.”


    Offering a one-page ALS, signed “PBK” on blue paper 7 ½ x 12 ¼, office of the United States Attny. For the Dist of Columbia. Nov. 28, 1854. Written to Thomas Thornl[e]y, Warden of the Penitentiary, regarding a contract between Thornley, as warden, and William E. Kennaugh, “respecting the labor of convicts – confined, or to be confined, in the Penitentiary of which you are the warden. In my opinion, that under the act of March 3d 1829...you have no authority to enter into or execute such a contract...”


    On blue paper. Folds. Small fold tear reinforced with archival tape.


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