Lowell Deeds

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January 12, 2009

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

by @ 2:48 pm. Filed under Current Events, History

Willam Zantzinger is dead…

Bob Dylan & William Zantzinger

William Zantzinger found infamy as the subject of a Bob Dylan song written in 1963. The song chronicles the murder of a barmaid named Hattie Carroll by Zantzinger and the racial bias of the lenient sentence. It is titled “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll”. In 1963 the year of the murder Zantzinger was a rich, 24 year old tobacco farmer. On the night of Feb 8 he wore a top hat and carried a cane as he attended a ball at the Emerson Hotel in Baltimore.

William Zantzinger, who at twenty four years
Owns a tobacco farm of six hundred acres

As the party progressed Zantzinger became drunker and drunker. He approached the bar and ordered a drink from Hattie Carroll who was working that night. In the eyes of Zantzinger Carroll took much to long to serve him. The impatient drunk repeatedly hit her with his cane until she ran into the kitchen.

William Zantzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger
At a Baltimore hotel society gath’rin’.

Immeditely after the beating Hattie Carroll told co-workers that she felt very sick. She was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Zantzinger was arrested for the beating but let out on $600 bail.

With rich wealthy parents who provide and protect him
And high office relations in the politics of Maryland,
Reacted to his deed with a shrug of his shoulders
And swear words and sneering, and his tongue it was snarling
In a matter of minutes on bail was out walking.

The next morning, Feb 9, 1963 the 51 year old Hattie Carroll died of stroke. And authorities changed the charge against Zantzinger to murder.

Hattie Carroll was a maid in the kitchen.
She was fifty-one years old and gave birth to ten children

Got killed by a blow, lay slain by a cane
That sailed through the air and came down through the room,
Doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle.
And she never done nothing to William Zantzinger.

Zantzinger’s defense was simple…the stroke that killed Hattie could not have been caused by the blow of a cane alone. There must have been some other underlining medical condition that contributed to her death. This argument resonated with the judge and the charges against Zanzinger were reduced to manslaughter. Within a few months Zantzinger was convicted and sentenced to six months in jail.

In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel
To show all’s equal and the courts are on the level

And he spoke through his cloak, most deep and distinguished,
And handed out strongly, for penalty and repentance,
William Zantzinger with a six month sentence.

I wonder how Bob Dylan reacted when he saw Willam Zantzingers obituary?

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