Spring Speaker Series in conjunction with the exhibit “Controversies” Judge Kenneth MacKenzie – The Antoine Le Blanc Case

Spring Speaker Series in conjunction with the exhibit “Controversies”

Judge Kenneth MacKenzie – The Antoine Le Blanc Case


The exhibit “Controversies: The More Things Change…” presents challenging subject matter that inspires people to consider, or reconsider, the ways in which they think about important and frequently debated issues: medical experimentation, immigration, and the right to die. This spring Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is presenting a speaker series in conjunction with the exhibit, taking place on the first Sunday of each month through June. The exhibit explores local history events which had national significance: the Antoine LeBlanc murder trial and public execution; the immigration issues of the late nineteenth century as depicted by political cartoonist Thomas Nast, a Morristown resident, and the 1976 Karen Ann Quinlan “right to die” case.


On Sunday March 2nd Judge Kenneth MacKenzie will begin the “Controversies” exhibit speaker series with a presentation on the capital punishment case featured in the exhibit. In April 1833, Antoine LeBlanc was found guilty of perhaps the most infamous crime of the 19th century, a gruesome triple murder in the home of his employer in Morristown. He ransacked the Sayre household, dressed himself in Mr. Sayre’s clothing, stole a horse and rode away with the Sayres’ valuable personal possessions.  He quickly was caught and held in the Morris County Jail until his trial. After an eight day trial and brief jury deliberation he was convicted and sentenced to death. He was hanged in front of crowd of more than 10,000, the last public execution in Morris County. What happened to his corpse is appalling.  Judge MacKenzie will discuss this gruesome case and consider how many of the issues which arose in 1833 are pertinent today including capital punishment, public execution, pre-trial publicity, use of circumstantial evidence to convict, the speedy trial, and disposition of the body.


Following the presentation visitors can view the exhibit, including Le Blanc’s the death mask, and consider the issues raised.  Where most exhibits typically provide detailed information about the objects on view, “Controversies” offers limited information about the objects, essentially forcing personal thought, and inspiring discussion, about the areas represented.  Curator’s books of information drawn from primary sources within the exhibit include news articles, contemporary commentary, and images.  Visitors are encouraged to interact and leave comments about the themes presented. “Controversies” is on view during Museum touring hours through June 2014. Please note the subject matter may not be suitable for all audiences. Visitor discretion advised.  For more information about the speakers in the “Controversies” series who present on the first Sunday of the month through June visit maccullochhall.org. Information on a second series of programs, celebrating the 350th New Jersey Anniversary which take place on the second Sunday of the month through June is also available on the website.


Tickets for Sunday programs go on sale from 1pm on the day of the program, no advance sales, and remain on sale until the presentation begins at 4:30pm.  The upstairs gallery exhibits “Thomas Nast Brings Down Boss Tweed,” and “Made in New Jersey: A Celebration of Decorative and Fine Arts” will remain open until 4:30pm, with the “Controversies” exhibit closing at 3:30 pm in preparation for the program. Tickets to hear speakers are Adults $8; Seniors & Students $6; Children 6 – 12 $4. Members and children under 5 admitted free. Speaker tickets include admission to a docent-led period room tour for visitors who sign up during the afternoon. The last tour ticket is sold at 3pm.


Macculloch Hall Historical Museum preserves the history of the Macculloch-Miller families, the Morris area community, and the legacy of its founder W. Parsons Todd through its historic site, collections, exhibits, and educational and cultural programs. The Museum is open for house and exhibit tours on Wednesdays, Thursdays & Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. The last tour ticket is sold at 3pm. Adults $8; Seniors & Students $6; Children 6 – 12 $4. Members and children under 5 are free. The gardens at Macculloch Hall Historical Museum are open Monday to Friday 9am – 4pm and Sundays 1pm – 4pm unless posted otherwise. Call (973) 538-2404 ext. 10, visit our website www.maccullochhall.org find us on Facebook.  Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, 45 Macculloch Ave., Morristown, NJ 07960.  Macculloch Hall Historical Museum received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.  Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is a nonprofit educational affiliate of the W. Parsons Todd Foundation.

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