From states with no death penalty to the unlucky that were the last to fall victim to a certain punishment before it was abolished, the history of the United States is dotted with plenty of tales of crime and punishment. In this article, you will encounter trivia and facts that include the last people to be executed for crimes, such as kidnapping, robbing a train and forgery.
Alaska and Hawaii are the newest states in the U.S. and before becoming a statehood had abolished the death penalty. Alaska did step outside of the boundaries and executed eight men during the earlier territorial government (between 1900 and1959). During the 19th century, the “Miner’s Courts” was also responsible for executing a number of individuals.
Tom Ketchum was a cowboy that went by the name of Black Jack Ketchum. For his role in attempting to rob a train, he became the last man executed for the crime on April 26, 1901. His death took place in New Mexico Territory, where he was hanged.
An unknown defendant was the last person to be put to death for forgery in the United States on March 6, 1840, which took place in South Carolina.
In the case of stealing a horse (considered grand larceny), Theodore Velenquez was executed in California on January 30, 1852.
Billy Monk was put to death on November 21, 1960 in California for the act of kidnapping. He was the last to suffer this fate.
Nathaniel Gordon was put to death on February 21, 1862 in New York , as part of a federal execution in the state. He was the last to be executed for piracy (slave trading). His death was significant because he was the only American slave trader to be tried, convicted, and executed “for being engaged in the Slave Trade”- in following with the regulations of the Piracy Law of 1820. When he loaded 897 slaves on his ship at Congo River in West Africa in 1860, there were only 172 men and 162 women. He was known to pack his ships with children because they were unable to fight against the injustices like adults could.
The state of Alabama executed a slave named Jake for theft on December 3, 1855. He was the last to suffer this face in the U.S.
In 2007, New Jersey became the first state to repeal the death penalty in what is known as the modern system of capital punishment.
Ronald Wolfe was executed on May 8, 1964 in Missouri for committing rape. He was the last sentenced to death for raping an individual without it leading to a death. Wolfe was 34 years old when he died in the gas chamber.
James Coburn was the last man sentenced to death for the crime of committing robbery. He died in Alabama on September 4, 1964.
For their roles in a slave revolt, the state of Alabama executed slaves Caesar, Sam, and Sanford on October 19, 1860. They were the last people killed for this crime in the United States.