“Did voter fraud kill Edgar Allan Poe?”


He’s our reigning master of the macabre, whose ghostly imagination still transports us to the eeriest of places. But one of Edgar Allan Poe’s darkest stories didn’t come from his pen. It’s the haunting mystery of his own death.

On a fall morning in 1849, Poe died in a Baltimore hospital after a stranger had found him “in great distress” a few days earlier outside a polling place during an election. The 40-year-old had been missing for almost a week. His deathbed symptoms — fever and delusions — were so vague that they’ve spawned dozens of theories, including poisoning, alcoholism, rabies, syphilis, suicide and homicide.

Now an Ohio journalist has conducted an extensive investigation into Poe’s death. In his new book, “A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe,” Mark Dawidziak contends that the evidence points to tuberculosis, an illness that is forever linked to artistic genius and literary martyrdom. But he says there’s a co-conspirator: an affliction known as election fraud.

Dawidziak believes that Poe failed to get proper medical care because he was “cooped” — an election-rigging scheme at the time that involvedsnatching someone from the streets, confining and perhaps drugging him, then trotting him out to vote again and again.

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