Hanging of Ephraim Wheeler A Story of Rape, Incest, and Justice in Early America

ISBN-10: 0674017609
ISBN-13: 9780674017603
Edition: 2003
List price: $23.50 Buy it from $16.68
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Description: In 1806 an anxious crowd of thousands descended upon Lenox, Massachusetts, for the public hanging of Ephraim Wheeler, condemned for the rape of his thirteen-year-old daughter, Betsy. Not all witnesses believed justice had triumphed. The death  More...

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Book details

List price: $23.50
Copyright year: 2003
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 4/30/2005
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 408
Size: 5.00" wide x 8.00" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

In 1806 an anxious crowd of thousands descended upon Lenox, Massachusetts, for the public hanging of Ephraim Wheeler, condemned for the rape of his thirteen-year-old daughter, Betsy. Not all witnesses believed justice had triumphed. The death penalty had become controversial; no one had been executed for rape in Massachusetts in more than a quarter century. Wheeler maintained his innocence. Over one hundred local citizens petitioned for his pardon--including, most remarkably, Betsy and her mother. Impoverished, illiterate, a failed farmer who married into a mixed-race family and clashed routinely with his wife, Wheeler existed on the margins of society. Using the trial report to reconstruct the tragic crime and drawing on Wheeler's jailhouse autobiography to unravel his troubled family history, Irene Quenzler Brown and Richard D. Brown illuminate a rarely seen slice of early America. They imaginatively and sensitively explore issues of family violence, poverty, gender, race and class, religion, and capital punishment, revealing similarities between death penalty politics in America today and two hundred years ago. Beautifully crafted, engagingly written, this unforgettable story probes deeply held beliefs about morality and about the nature of justice.

Irene Quenzler Brown, a historian, is Associate Professor of Family Studies, University of Connecticut.

Richard D. Brown is professor of history at the University of Connecticut. His books include Knowledge Is Power: The Diffusion of Information in Early America, 1700-1865.

List of Illustrations
Map: The Wheelers' and Odels' Massachusetts, ca. 1800
Introduction: The Ride to the Gallows
The Setting
The Trial
The Daughter
The Wife and Mother
The Condemned Man
The Final Judgment
The Execution
Aftermath: People and Memory
Notes
Acknowledgments
Index

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