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Anne Bradley Trial: 1907

Anne Bradley Trial: 1907

Defendant: Anne Maddison Bradley
Crime Charged: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: Orlando W. Powers, George P. Hoover, Robert W. Wells
Chief Prosecutors: Daniel W. Baker, Charles H. Turner
Judge: Wendell Philips Stafford
Place: Washington, D.C.
Date of Trial: November 13-December 3, 1907
Verdict: Not guilty

SIGNIFICANCE: Was Anne Bradley insane when she shot former U.S. senator Arthur Brown, or did she shoot him in a fit of jealous rage? That was what a jury had to decide in this scandalous early twentieth century trial.

Arthur Brown was born in Michigan in 1843. After college, he was a successful attorney in Kalamazoo before moving to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1879. There, he again practiced law and became prominent in the local Republican Party. Elected one of Utah's first two U.S. senators when the territory achieved statehood in 1896, he served for 13 months and unsuccessfully sought reelection in 1902.

Brown wedded twice. His first marriage ended in the late 1870s when his affair with Isabel Cameron became public knowledge. Cameron later followed Brown to Salt Lake City and became his second wife. The senator had a child by each spouse.

A Woman Ahead of the Times

Anne Bradley (nee Maddison) was 30 years Brown's junior. Born in Missouri, her family moved to Salt Lake City in 1890. For three years she worked as an assistant to her uncle who was the superintendent of the city's Water Works Department. Anne Maddison married Clarence Bradley in 1893, and the couple had two children.

Anne Bradley was active in the social and literary affairs of Salt Lake City. Unlike most women of her time, Bradley was also active in politics. In 1902, she was elected to a two-year term as the secretary of the state Republican committee. Afterward, Bradley received her party's nomination for city auditor, but lost the election. (At this time, Utah was one of the few states to allow women to vote and hold public office.)

Bradley was introduced to Brown by her uncle in 1890, and they became close friends. In 1898, Bradley separated from her husband. That's when the senator began his protestations of affection. Despite Bradley's initial objections, the two became lovers. In February 1900 a son was born, and he was christened "Arthur Brown" in the senator's presence.

Brown and Bradley Arrested for Adultery

Brown frequently promised to divorce his wife and marry Bradley. In 1902 he separated from Isabel, began divorce proceedings, and gave Bradley an engagement ring. Isabel Brown, however, had other ideas. In 1902, she hired a private detective to follow the pair and later had her spouse and Bradley arrested for adultery. In 1903, Brown reconciled a couple of times with his wife, but continued his affair with Bradley and made more promises to marry her. That was also the year when a confrontation occurred between the women at a hotel whereby Isabel Brown grabbed Bradley by the throat, threw her down, and screamed, "Let me alone, I will kill her" before they were pulled apart. Shortly afterward, the senator gave Bradley a revolver to use as protection from his wife. (Ironically, it was the same gun that later killed him.)

Before they were tried for adultery, Bradley told Brown that she would plead "Guilty" unless the senator publicly acknowledged his paternity of their son. Brown countered that he could not lest he faced prison. He begged Bradley not to testify against him. He also promised to divorce his wife and wed Bradley within 12 months. Bradley carried out her threat, but was never fined nor sentenced to jail. But neither did she testify against her lover. The senator pleaded "not guilty" and was acquitted. In November 1903, the couple's second son was born, but Brown remained married to his wife.

On August 22, 1905, Mrs. Brown died of cancer. That very night, Brown called Bradley and told her to "go ahead and get your divorce and we will make this matter right." Bradley quickly did as she was told, but now the former senator kept putting off the wedding date. In the meantime, their third child was born in March 1906, but the baby lived for only a few days. The two were finally to be married on June 2, but when the day arrived, Brown was "ill" and the only thing the couple exchanged was a telephone call. As Bradley would later testify, the strain was now taking its toll and she was severely depressed and suicidal. "I just cried. I hoped I would die and I felt at times as if I should kill myself."

Still, Bradley continued to try to convince Brown to marry her. She became pregnant again and, on October 26, 1906, told the senator about her condition. By the end of November, however, Bradley was starting to have doubts about Brown's true intentions and confronted him. What she got was mixed messages. At times, Brown was distant, sad, and said that he could do nothing for her. On other occasions, he renewed his pledges of love and promised to wed her.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, Brown left Salt Lake City to plead a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Bradley knew of his plans, but not the specific date of his departure. On December 1, after learning that he had left without saying good-bye, Bradley suffered a miscarriage. She could neither eat nor sleep. She was depressed and again thinking of suicide. After the senator went to Washington, Bradley found out that he left behind at his office money for her to buy a train ticket to anywhere she wanted. Bradley decided on Los Angeles and left on December 3, but she only got as far as Ogden, Utah. Believing that Brown would not keep his promise to marry her once he was away from "the local influence," she impulsively changed her ticket for one to Washington, D.C. Unaccompanied, the five-day trip was hard on Bradley. She was still very ill and the travel made her condition worse.

The Final Showdown

Bradley arrived in Washington on Saturday morning, December 8. She immediately went to the Hotel Raleigh, asked about Brown, and then took a room for herself. A maid let her into the senator's room. Bradley did not know yet what she was going to do when Brown arrived. While waiting, she saw a letter on the table and read it. It was from Annie Adams, a famous actress, and it gave Bradley the impression that Adams and Brown were soon to be married.

Brown and the 58-year-old entertainer had known each other for about 20 years. Bradley knew they were once an item, but thought their affair had ended long ago. Extremely upset, Bradley aimlessly walked the streets of Washington for hours and frequently returned to the hotel. Then, lying in her room, she heard the senator's footsteps. Bradley went to his door and knocked.

"Come in," said Brown and when he saw Bradley, he asked, "What are you doing here?" Bradley replied, "I have come to ask you to keep your promise to me." Exactly what happened next is unknown. After her arrest, Bradley claimed that "he said he wouldn't keep his promises, so I shot him." However, once told by her lawyers that Brown had completely disowned her and their children in a new will written four months earlier, Bradley said that she didn't remember what happened in the senator's room. And it is possible that the shooting was an accident. There were powder burns on Brown's hand. The bullet that hit the senator entered his stomach and went downward into his body. Finally, letters were found by the police in Bradley's room which her attorneys interpreted as suicide notes. This all led Bradley's lawyers to believe that after Brown said he would not marry her, Bradley drew out the pistol to kill herself, but as the senator rushed to take the weapon away from her, they struggled and Brown pulled the trigger and shot himself.

The senator was rushed to the hospital and operated on, but the bullet was tightly lodged in his pelvic bone and could not be removed. He lingered a few days, but died on December 13. Following an inquest, Bradley was held for murder.

Bradley spent nearly a year in jail awaiting her trial. During that time, her health deteriorated even more. At one point, she had surgery for "a badly lacerated cervix." By the time her trial began, her physical condition was so poor that some thought she had contracted tuberculosis.

Defense: Temporary Insanity

Bradley's original attorneys had no luck in getting from Bradley any of the information needed to prepare her defense. Instead, constantly sitting with Brown's picture in her hands and wrapped up in her own thoughts, all that she would say was that the senator refused to talk to her and, as he started to put on his overcoat and leave the room, she shot him. Eventually, Orlando Powers, a former Utah judge and one of the most prominent Democrats in the state, with the assistance of two young Washington attorneys, George Hoover and Roberts Wells, took over Bradley's defense. As Powers would later recall:

I reached Washington and went to see her [Bradley]. The first two visits resulted in nothing, so reluctant was she to have Brown's side of their relations laid bare. One afternoon in the midst of her protestations, I drew from my pocket a copy of the former Senator's will, completely disowning Mrs. Bradley's boys. I worked up to the passage in the will as strongly as I could and then read it over to her. Her eyes blazed and with a sob that sent her reeling to her cot, she said, 'Judge Powers, I will tell you all.'

At the trial, the prosecution argued that Bradley traveled to Washington to try one more time to get Brown to marry her or to publicly acknowledge their children and to kill the senator if he refused. The government's lawyers included U.S. attorney Daniel W. Baker and his assistant, former congressman Charles Turner.

While some evidence was submitted that the shooting was an accident, Bradley's defense was primarily one of temporary insanity. However, her attorneys were hampered by lack of funds. Bradley and her family had little money, and her lawyers donated most of their time. The three psychiatrists who testified on her behalf did so without any compensation. Furthermore, most of Bradley's witnesses were back in Salt Lake City and while the law allowed for some of them to be brought to Washington at government expense, just how many was up to the judge. Therefore, because Judge Wendell P. Stafford (at U.S. attorney Baker's urging) decided that only five would be sent for, many of Bradley's other witnesses had to pay their own way, and some could not afford the trip to attend the trial. In contrast, the prosecution was not limited as to the number of witnesses it could afford to bring, and the two physicians who testified that Bradley was sane when she shot the senator were well paid for their time.

At the trial, all the details of Bradley's and Brown's affair came out, including the fact that Bradley had three illegal abortions that were performed by the senator himself. Many witnesses testified about how Brown treated Bradley and about Bradley's increasingly irrational behavior as the senator continually refused to marry her or acknowledge their children. Brown's former law partner, Judge Henry Henderson, said that he dissolved their partnership because of the way Brown treated women. U.S. Senator George Sutherland of Utah, whom Bradley had known since 1895, testified that he interviewed Bradley shortly after her arrest and concluded that she was not in her right mind. Evidence was presented that two of her aunts were insane and that she had an uncle who was "full of violent hallucinations." Finally, three physicians testified that, due to the effects on her nervous system of the frequent pregnancies and abortions, Bradley was insane when she fired the gun at Brown.

Under District of Columbia law at that time, the jury could have found Bradley not guilty by reason of insanity. If they had, then a sanity proceeding would have immediately commenced after her trial. Instead, at one in the morning on December 3, 1907, after deliberating for almost nine hours, the jury in Bradley's trial took its third vote and found her not guilty of murdering the former senator from Utah.

After her release from jail, Bradley returned to Salt Lake City. An attempt was made to break the senator's will so her sons could inherit part of his estate, but it was unsuccessful. Bradley held a series of jobs over the years and, from 1921 until her death in 1950 at the age of 77, she operated an antique store named "My Shop." She never remarried.

Mark Thorburn

Suggestions for Further Reading

Ross, Shelley. Fall from Grace: Sex, Scandal, and Corruption in American Politics from 1702 to the Present. New York: Ballantine Books, 1988.

Thatcher, Linda. "The 'Gentile Polygamist': Arthur Brown, Ex-Senator from Utah." Utah Historical Quarterly 52, no.3 (Summer 1984): 231-45.

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