William Zantzinger was, to all appearances, a mean drunk and a racist. In the early morning of February 9, 1963, he assaulted Hattie Carroll, a barmaid, for taking too long to make his drink. He had already assaulted two other staff members at the event – a Spinster’s Ball at the Emerson Hotel in Baltimore. After hitting Carroll with a toy cane, he proceeded to knock his wife to the ground, and continued to be generally abusive and profane to everyone who came near him.
Hattie Carroll was a black woman of 51 years. She was raising children as a single mother, and suffered from a variety of conditions – notably, high blood pressure, an enlarged heart and hardened arteries. When Zantzinger struck her on the neck with his cane, the injury caused a brain hemorrhage that was fatal by 9am that morning. Zantzinger was arrested and charged with murder, although in the end he was convicted only of manslaughter.
|The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll — Bob Dylan|