History can sometimes feel like a dry topic. A world made up of men in white wigs and pressed coats making important and dispassionate decisions.
In reality, there have always been scandals that have shaped our collective history – including here in Wisconsin. Author Anna Lardinois writes about many of these defining moments in her new book, “Storied & Scandalous Wisconsin: A History of Mischief and Menace, Hero and Heartbreak”.
Lardinois says that scandal is often tied with tragedy and that many of these stories shine a light on tough parts of Wisconsin’s history. One story recounts a police chief whose wife murdered his lover with his own revolver.
Another story is about Sherman Booth, who is widely known for his role in fighting against the Fugitive Slave Act by instigating a jailbreak for a runaway slave in Racine. The story in the book covers his charge of raping a 14-year-old girl and how newspapers often blamed the young girl during the trial. Booth was not convicted but his wife left him after the trial. It also led to him becoming generally outcast in Wisconsin.
Some of the stories touch on lighter subjects, like organized crime during prohibition or vengeful call girls. For every story, Lardinois sees something that can apply to the current world we are living in.
“When we look at the events that happened in the past, we better understand the world that we live in today because we see the things that happened to create the laws we live with, to create the social structure that we agree to live by,” she says. “How do we get to where we are today is always found in the past.”