The Clarence Darrow Digital Collection
Written letter from Clarence Darrow collection
Collage of Clarence Darrow at different ages Postcard from Clarence Darrow Collection

Clarence Darrow Signature

The Clarence Darrow Letters

Clarence Darrow to Paul Darrow, September 4, 1919

Darrow's remark about the Simpson case is about Emma Simpson, who shot and killed her husband in April of 1919 in a crowded Chicago courtroom during alimony proceedings. The couple was separated at the time but Emma Simpson refused to divorce him. She declared that she would be acquitted because the "new unwritten law, which does not permit a married man to love another woman, will be my defense." Clarence Darrow defended her and argued to the all-male jury, "You've been asked to treat a man and a woman the same, but you can't. No manly man can." The jury deliberated for half an hour before finding Emma Simpson insane as the prosecutor had urged. Most observers viewed the insanity finding as a defeat because Simpson believed she would be acquitted. The reference to Elgin is to the Elgin State Hospital that was opened as the Illinois Northern Hospital for the Insane in 1872.

Click on the image to view as a PDF. A transcription of the letter is on the right.

Central 925

Dear Paul          Sept 4

Yours just arrived had heard nothing about what had been done. How much raise are you to get & was every one satisfied at home[?]

Where did you get that stuff about my loosing Simpson case. I won it. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty of murder finding she was insane at the time & still insane. She has gone to the asylum at eligi Elgin and as soon as she recovers she will be released.