The chilling account of Edgar Allan Poe’s death seems to have sprung straight out of one of his own tales. 1849 is the year. Unable or unable to explain how he got there, a guy is discovered unconscious on the streets of a city where he does not normally reside. He is also wearing clothing that is not his own.
After experiencing debilitating hallucinations in his dying hours and continuously reaching out for a man no one knew, he passes away within days. Additionally, the circumstances surrounding Edgar Allan Poe’s passing are just as bizarre and unsettling as his works.
No one is certain what exactly led to Edgar Allan Poe’s demise on October 7, 1849, in Baltimore, despite historians having studied the facts for a century and a half.
What the historical record has to say about the passing of Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe vanished six days before he passed away and just before his wedding. On September 27, 1849, he left Richmond, Virginia, for Philadelphia in order to edit a book of poems for a friend. He was discovered on October 3rd, confused and only partially awake, outside a Baltimore bar.
Poe never made it to Philadelphia, and no one had seen him in the six days since he departed, it was eventually revealed. It was unclear how he had arrived in Baltimore. He either didn’t know where he was or didn’t want to say why.
Poe was wearing obviously not his own highly filthy, tattered attire when he was discovered loitering outside a neighborhood tavern. Once more, he was either unable to or unwilling to give an explanation for his current situation.
He could only express one thing, though. Joseph Walker, a local typesetter for the Baltimore Sun, stated that Poe was only lucid long enough to give him a name: Joseph E. Snodgrass, an editor friend of Poe’s who also happened to have some medical expertise. Poe was discovered by Walker.
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Fortunately, Walker was able to send a letter to Snodgrass.
Walker wrote: “I promise you, he is in need of immediate aid. There is a gentleman, somewhat the worse for wear, at Ryan’s 4th ward polls, who goes by the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe and who seems in considerable trouble.
In a short period of time, Snodgrass and Poe’s uncle showed up there. They and Poe’s other family members were unable to provide an explanation for his actions or his disappearance. Poe had a blind fever while being taken to the Washington College Hospital by the two.
Did anyone drink alcohol?
On October 3, 1849, Poe was in or near Gunner’s Hall bar, when printer Joseph Walker wrote a message to Poe’s friend J.E. Snodgrass. When asked how Poe looked, Walker said he was in “severe trouble.”
Snodgrass observed that Poe’s attire was haphazard and out of place, and concluded that “he had clearly been robbed of his [own] garments or tricked in an exchange.” After assuming Poe was intoxicated, both Snodgrass and his uncle Henry Herring decided to take him to Washington College Hospital.
After arriving, Poe was transferred to a special ward for intoxicated individuals. For the following several days, Poe was in and out of consciousness; when Dr. John J. Moran questioned him about his condition, Poe gave vague and unsatisfying responses. Moran forbade guests as well, citing Poe’s “excitable” state.
Later, in a letter to Poe’s mother-in-law Maria Clemm, Moran described Poe’s “empty discourse with phantom and fictitious objects on the walls” during a moment of awareness. His entire body, even his pale face, was saturated in sweat. On Sunday, October 7, 1849, just before daybreak, Poe passed away peacefully.
Given that alcohol was a detrimental influence in Poe’s adult life, it may be reasonable to believe that it contributed to his death. But that still doesn’t answer the question of why Poe was dressed in someone else’s garments. It also doesn’t explain how he got to be in such a sorry position in the first place.
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What Role Did Cooping Play in Poe’s Life?
Poe’s body was discovered on Election Day, and Gunner’s Hall served as a polling place, which has led to one of the most widely accepted explanations concerning his murder. Poe may have been a victim of cooping, a widespread kind of voter fraud in the 19th century, on that particular election day.
Victims of vote-buying were kidnapped, drugged, or drunkenly coerced, and re-disguised in order to cast several ballots. Some have speculated that Poe was the victim of violent crime (including beatings and robberies) or possibly caught rabies.
As befits the master of mystery, there are many speculations surrounding Poe’s demise, but none have stood the test of time.