Executed Today Blog: New Yorks Electric Chair

One of the blogs I follow here at New York History is Executed Today, which gives a glimpse of those unfortunates who have found themselves at the wrong end of capital punishment. Unlike the American-only Execution Database of the Death Penalty Information Center, Executed Today travels the world far and wide and includes notable lynchings and other extra-legal violent deaths.

Wednesday’s post &#82201890: William Kemmler, only in America,&#8221 traces the emergence of the electric chair in New York by following the careers of those that have made state death their business. Men like Buffalo dentist (hence the chair and not the gurney) Dr. Alfred Southwick, who watched a drunk guy die after falling into an electrical generator and then worked diligently with New York Governor David B. Hill to make execution by electricity legal. The first execution, despite the War of Currents, was William Kemmler on August 6, 1890. He had been convicted of the hatchet murder of his common-law wife Tillie Ziegler. That’s a sketch of his death at left-above.

Some other recent fascinating posts at Executed Today have included:

1916: Sir Roger Casement
Executed by the British Government for his part in the Easter Rising.

1917: Frank Little of the IWW lynched
Wobbly labor organizer abducted from his hotel and hanged from a railroad trestle in Butte, Montana.

1963: 21 Iraqi Communists
Iraq’s new Ba’ath government executed 21 Shi’a soldiers for participating in a coup attempt.

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