Sunday, July 31, 2016

Hanging Up the Ladies

If you ask folks who the first woman hanged in the United States, you'll likely get Mary Surratt, the boarding house operator who helped plot the Lincoln assassination.  But that's not the first woman hung, it's merely the first by the United States Government.  A lady named Hannah Ocuish was hung in Connecticut way back in 1786.  She was a native American and choked a girl to death following a fight over strawberries.  A woman was hung in May of 1865 after poisoning her husband in Illinois. One writer estimates 505 women were hanged in the USA since it was founded. About 200 of those are disputed or at least not verified.  But 306 cases are fairly well documented. Of these 306 verifiable cases, 211 women were put to death for murder, 7 for attempted murder and 2 for conspiracy to murder. 26 were hanged for witchcraft, 17 for arson, and the rest for various other crimes including concealing a birth and burglary in a dwelling house. One woman was hanged for adultery. 

You'll note some women were hung as witches.They didn't always burn them.  Fire wood was probably too precious in winter to waste it burning some witch.  Gradually, authorities started treating woman with more kindness.  Martha Place was electrocuted  in New York in 1895. So, Mary Surratt  most assuredly was not the first woman hanged in the USA.


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