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America's 'Miss Cass' Case - 1896 Stephen Crane - Charlie Becker- & Miss Dora Clark

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  • America's 'Miss Cass' Case - 1896 Stephen Crane - Charlie Becker- & Miss Dora Clark

    Most here are familiar with the 'Miss Cass' case in which a woman was wrongly picked up for solicitation by a eager beaver Met cop, a schlub named Endacott, in 1887. :

    Few here are aware that 9 years later in Manhattan, author Stephen Crane became involved with an American version of the Miss Cass case...with consequences.

    I've added two PDFs about the case...the one from the New York Sun, September 17, 1896 mentions Crane's involvement.

    The harassment of Dora Clark was not a one time affair as Elizabeth Cass's experience would be.

    ************************************************** ************************************************** *************************************************

    Stephen Crane, author of The Red Badge of Courage.

    Hypocrisy likewise stirred his social instincts, and joined them to a writerly sense of honor. Incendiary though many of Crane’s early writings were, however, none affected his career as much as when he took the stand in support of Dora Clark’s suit against the New York Police Department, after one of its officers arrested her on a false charge of soliciting. Neither the truth of Crane’s testimony nor his acquaintance with then–New York City Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt protected him. His personal life was ransacked and exposed; witnesses collapsed under intimidation, or simply perjured themselves. Though he was left with “a clear conscience,” persistent police harassment meant Crane would never report from New York City again.

    His visceral fiction and journalism might be best understood as a literature of pure immediacy.

    At the age of 24, Crane, who was reveling in his success, became involved in a highly publicized case involving a suspected prostitute named Dora Clark. At 2 a.m. on September 16, 1896, he escorted two chorus girls and Clark from New York City's Broadway Garden, a popular "resort" where he had interviewed the women for a series he was writing. As Crane saw one woman safely to a streetcar, a plainclothes policeman named Charles Becker arrested the other two for solicitation; Crane was threatened with arrest when he tried to interfere. One of the women was released after Crane confirmed her erroneous claim that she was his wife, but Clark was charged and taken to the precinct. Against the advice of the arresting sergeant, Crane made a statement confirming Dora Clark's innocence, stating that "I only know that while with me she acted respectably, and that the policeman's charge was false." On the basis of Crane's testimony, Clark was discharged. The media seized upon the story; news spread to Philadelphia, Boston and beyond, with papers focusing on Crane's courage. The Stephen Crane story, as it became known, soon became a source for ridicule; the Chicago Dispatch quipped that "Stephen Crane is respectfully informed that association with women in scarlet is not necessarily a 'Red Badge of Courage.

    Side note : Regarding Charles Becker mentioned above :

    Charles Becker (July 26, 1870 – July 30, 1915) was a lieutenant in the New York City Police Department between the 1890s and the 1910s. He is known for the scandal of being tried, convicted, and executed for the first-degree murder of the Manhattan gambler Herman Rosenthal in 1912 near Times Square.

    Convicted in the Becker-Rosenthal trial, Becker may have been "the only police officer executed for crimes connected to his official performance." He appealed and was retried but was convicted again. The corruption scandal related to the case was one of the most important in Progressive Era New York City and the early part of the 20th century.

    From the August 25th, 1896 NY Sun.....

    Attached Files

  • #2
    Crane's ancestor also named Stephen Crane worked alongside my ancestor Richard Stockton ( signed Declaration of Independence) during the American Revolutionary War in New Jersey.

    Crane's ancestor Ichabod Crane ( grandson to the first Stephen Crane 1709-1780 ) is the probable source of the Ichabod Crane in the Washington Irving story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.