Jereboam O. Beauchamp

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Jereboam Orville Beauchamp (September 24, 1802 - hanged July 7, 1826) was an American lawyer and convicted murderer, who was one of the central figures in The Beauchamp-Sharp Tragedy.

Jereboam came from a fairly prominent and respectable family and was born in Kentucky. His father was a farmer, and Jereboam received a good education and at age eighteen began studying law in Glasgow, Kentucky.

He began courting a woman who was sixteen years his senior named Ann Cook and soon fell deeply in love with her. But she would only marry him on the condition that he kill a prominent figure, a former attorney-general of Kentucky, Colonel Solomon P. Sharp who had jilted her and slandered her name. It is believed that Col. Sharp was the father of her illegitimate stillborn baby in 1820.

Jereboam vowed he would avenge her, so in the Fall of 1821 he went to Frankfort, Kentucky to seek out Sharp and murder him. His plans failed and he returned home without completing his promise to Ann. In 1824 Jereboam was admitted to the bar, and in June he and Ann were married.

During the legislative election of 1824, John V. Waring had conducted a smear campaign against Sharp by printing handbills accusing him of seducing Ann Cook of Bowling Green, Kentucky and fathering an illegitimate child born to her in 1820. Jereboam, infuriated by these accusations about his wife and Sharp, vowed revenge, and in the early hours of November 7, 1825 he knocked on Col. Sharps' door in Frankfort and fatally stabbed him after asking him if he was indeed Col. Sharp.

Jereboam was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in Frankfort. He and Ann persuaded his jailers to allow them to stay together in the cell. On July 5, 1826 they attempted a double suicide by taking laudanum. The attempt was unsuccessful and a guard was placed in their cell. On July 7, the day set for the hanging, they persuaded their guard to allow them some privacy. They then made a second suicide attempt, this time with a knife that Ann had sneaked in.

Jereboam was hustled off to the gallows, but was so weak from his wounds he had to be supported by two men before being hanged. Ann succumbed to her wounds at nearly the same time.[1]

They were buried in an embrace in the same coffin, and a poem that Ann had written on the eve of their deaths adorns their double tombstone. The Beauchamp-Sharp Tragedy created a national sensation at the time, and has been the subject or inspiration for many books and story plots, the most famous of which are probably Edgar Allan Poe's "Scenes from Politian" (1835) and Robert Penn Warren's "World Enough and Time" (1950).

A cousin, Noah Beauchamp, was hanged in 1842 for stabbing a man to death in Indiana.


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