Did Voter Fraud Kill Edgar Allan Poe? The 'Cooping' Theory

By Grace Taylor
American short story writer, poet, and critic Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), circa 1840. (MPI/Getty Images)

The stories of Edgar Allan Poe are filled with fantastic terrors and macabre wonders, but out of all his sordid tales, perhaps none is so mysterious and disturbing as the real-life story of the illustrious poet's demise. Though Poe experienced his fair share of tragedy in his life, including the death of his wife two years earlier and a lifelong struggle with alcoholism, he seemed to be on the upswing in 1849. He had become reacquainted with and engaged to his childhood sweetheart, Sarah Elmira Royster, and he was believed to have been on the wagon after receiving numerous warnings from his doctor about the deterioration of his health caused by his heavy drinking.

Poe's Fateful Journey

On September 27, he left his home in New York City to arrange a possible publishing gig in Philadelphia, but he never made it there. No one heard from him for the next week. On October 3, he was found in his hometown of Baltimore, lying unconscious in a gutter next to a polling location on Election Day. He was wearing torn, ill-fitting clothing and a peculiar straw hat, a notably different aesthetic from his usually dark, reserved, and tailored style.