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First electric chair execution, 1890

First electric chair execution, 1890

V510/0049

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Credit

SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Electric chair. Engraving of William Kemmler, the first man to be executed by electric chair, awaiting his death on 6 August 1890, at Auburn prison in New York, USA. Kemmler was convicted of killing his lover, Tillie Ziegler, in March 1889 and was sentenced to the electric chair. Despite appealing that electrocution was 'cruel and unusual punishment', the execution went ahead. It took two attempts to kill Kemmler. The electric chair was developed in the USA during the 1880s as a humane alternative to hanging and came into use for offences committed after 1 January 1889. The electric chair has been used in 27 American states. The Philippines is the only country outside the USA to use it.

Release details

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