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  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

On this day (June 8) in the year 1849, the following account appeared in "The North Star" (Rochester, New York). This is not a pleasant anecdote, but is rather a description of a public hanging. The reason for its appearance for DagNews will not be apparent until the last paragraph. - - - - - - - - - - The Hanging in Boston, and who went to see it. (From the Chronotype.) While the law and the gospel(?) were preparing their machinery of death on the inside, the gaping crowd on the outside of the jail were not idle. The doors of nearly all the dwelling-houses and stores on Lowell, Causeway, Leverett, Cotting and Wall-streets were locked or blockaded with police. On Cotting and Wall sts. the crowd was quite large. From these two streets the gallows could be seen very plain, with its rope and cap dangling in the breeze. The anxiety of the spectators to see the deed consummated was intense. We saw children fighting for places; women that crowded the windows laughing and jesting with the rabble-- the house-tops, with few exceptions, were lined with groups of men and women eager to view the bloody work. They retained their position for about two hours, notwithstanding the rain. Expressions of the most diabolical nature were constantly put forth by the vulgar and profane, of which the crowd was mostly composed. Here and there a discussion arose as to the right of hanging. We listened. A stranger expressed his belief that it was wrong to kill Goode; whereupon a being wearing the form of man, and who is better explained by his language than by any thing else, remarked-- 'God d__n it, don't the Scriptures say that the d____d black scoundrel ought to be hung?' 'No,' replied the stranger. 'I'll be G_d d____d if they don't,' added the theological expounder. Now what church this latter saint belongs to, or what Divine preaches to him, we did not learn; but we think his reasoning about as logical as the orthodox brother's, who told us the other day that if capital punishment should be abolished in Massachusetts, he would move into some other commonwealth where it existed. We noticed one man of a party of four, who seemed extremely anxious to have the stork go on. He frequently burst forth in grains similar to the following, which our good pencil enables us to remember: 'Bring out the d____d nigger.' 'Give us a look at the son of a b___h.' Another exclaimed, 'Tear down the wall, and let us see his d____d black face.' 'Quarter the scoundrel--hanging is too good for him,' ejaculated a third. When the drop fell, and the hangman had finished his salaried job, a fiendish shout rent the air of--'Down with your umbrellas, and let's see the bloody nigger swing.' The deed done, the crowd in groups departed. Six boys, whose ages varied from twelve to seventeen years, particularly attracted our attention by their bold and daring expressions. One was recognized by the police as a notorious thief, having been in the House of Correction several times. Arguing from an old proverb that 'birds of a feather flock together,' we were led to suppose the other five but very little better than the one we have described, who, on being asked-- 'How would you like to have that come on you, Bill?' answered-- 'Oh by G_d, that's nothing; it's all over in a second.' Ejaculations like those we have recorded were as plentiful as the rain that fell all the while in torrents, and which kept at bay thousand, who, by 'THAT LOW VICE, CURIOSITY,' would have increased the motley crowd until every wall was scaled, and every street filled, for 'tis our opinion that more staid away from fear of a drenching, than from good principle. Rum-shops in the vicinity did what might be called a smashing business. Smoking was very common in the crowd, a thing very unusual in our streets. In passing Leverett street to our office, we dove into the living sea, and floated with them. We picked up some drift wood. We will give a stick or two. One man expressed deep regret that that d____d Spear couldn't have been strung up with him. Another said, 'If old Wright of the Grannytype' could be swung up, he'd pay the expense of the deed. We feel duty grateful for the compliment. The most appropriate act that came under our observation during the day was by Mr. Chase, the Daguerreotypist, who closed his place of business, shrouding it in crape, and issued a handbill, stating that a brother was to be hung, and that he should do no business during the day. -------------------------------------------------------------- 06-08-99

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