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In Common Council's Stated Session Monday September 23rd, 1889
1889. [Capital Punishment]. [Thomas Edison]. In Common Council, Stated Session, Monday, September 23rd, 1889, Hon. John McCarty, President in the Chair and a Quorum Present. (...) A Singularly Brutal and Wanton Murder was Committed on August 22nd, 1889 at 171 Jay Street (...) on the Person of an Estimable and Inoffensive Citizen, The Late Christian W. Luca. Whereas the Prompt Arrest of the Red-Handed Murderer and His Accessories Exemplified by the Acumen, Activity, Courage, And Devotion to Duty, Which is Characteristic of the Police Force of the City of Brooklyn, In a Marked Degree... [Brooklyn: Kensington Art Studio, 1889]. 13-1/2" x 9-1/4" albumen photograph of printed and manuscript certificate mounted on 14" x 11" board. Light rubbing to edges, otherwise fine. * This certificate commemorated a resolution honoring members of the Brooklyn Police Department, the Second Precinct. The 1889 murder of Christian W. Luca, a grocer, by Charles McElvaine during a botched robbery, caused a sensation in Brooklyn and New York. McElvaine pleaded insanity, but was eventually sentenced to "death by electricity" after two years of trials and appeals. This was a controversial form of execution. The widely reported first electrocution in 1890, which used apparatus designed by the Edison Company, was a gruesome event. As a result of a gag order issued afterwards, members of the press and other witnesses were barred from the four executions that followed over the next eighteen months. Despite official claims that the electric chair delivered painless executions, stories of additional gruesome deaths found their way into print. The state had to act. Edison redesigned the electric chair, replacing metal electrodes affixed to the head and leg with a pair of electrodes in water-filled jars in which the condemned person's forearms were immersed. Satisfied that this new design resolved the issues that marred previous executions, the state lifted the gag order and invited eight reporters and Edison's chief engineer to witness McElvaine's demise. Unfortunately, Edison's theory of a "wet work" electric chair execution proved wrong, resulting in a terribly inhumane and brutal experiment. McElvaine died, but only after a miserable period of torture
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Last Found On: 2013-08-01           Check availability:      Biblio    

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