One of America’s great authors, Poe, was found by Joseph W. Walker at Ryan’s Fourth Ward Polls in ‘great distress, and in need of immediate assistance” on October 3, 1849. A letter Poe wrote to a poet called Mrs. St. Leon suggests that he was going to Philadelphia to edit her poetry book.
Poe was incoherent and could not explain how he came to wear clothes that were not his. He could also not explain how he came to the condition he was in. He called for his acquaintance and editor Joseph Snodgrass, who failed to convince his relatives to care for the ailing poet.
Seeing this, Snodgrass took him to the Washington Medical College. Poe could not explain to his physician, John Moran, he had left his belongings. Later, his cousin found one of his trunks in Baltimore, while the other one was found in Richmond.
Poe died in hospital on October 7, 1849. The cause of his death remains a mystery. One theory suggests that he died of cooping, a type of electoral fraud in which voters were forced to vote in a particular candidate after being drugged. However, newspapers also reported that Poe’s death might have been caused by ‘cerebral inflammation’ or alcoholism.
Following his death, his fellow literary critic and enemy Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote an obituary that portrayed Poe as a drunken, mad, and womanizing opium addict. He went on to publish Poe’s first biography, “Memoir of the Author,” a scandalous piece that depicted the author as a depraved and drug-addicted mad man. The biography haunts Poe’s reputation to this day.