Quiz about America and the Death Penalty 19th Century
Quiz about America and the Death Penalty 19th Century

America and the Death Penalty: 19th Century Quiz


This quiz only covers famous/notorious executions carried out in the United States between 1800 and 1899. Good luck!

A multiple-choice quiz by ReallyBeAmazed. Estimated time: 6 mins.
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Time
6 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
370,351
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Tough
Avg Score
6 / 10
Plays
408
Awards
Top 35% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 173 (6/10), Guest 142 (5/10), Guest 24 (3/10).
This quiz has 2 formats: you can play it as a or as shown below.
Scroll down to the bottom for the answer key.
1. This person earned the dubious distinction of being called America's very first "Public Enemy Number One" by being a very early 19th century serial killer, striking in many states before being captured and put in prison. What was the name of this person who was finally executed by Massachusetts in 1822? Hint

Horace Carter
Jereboam Beauchamp
Samuel Green
James Arcene

2. Now let's move farther south, where an infamous slave rebellion occurred in Virginia in 1831. The person responsible for this uprising, which resulted in the deaths of 55 whites and at least 200 blacks, was hanged for his involvement. Who was he? Hint

Gabriel Prosser
John Brown
Nat Turner
Gullah Jack

3. Even as the United States executed many men and women in the 19th century, abolition movements were brewing in several states, including a certain state where a man named John Gordon underwent such a racist trial (leading to his execution in 1845) that the public responded with outrage, which led to the abolition of capital punishment in that state by 1852. Which state was it? Hint

Wisconsin
Maine
Michigan
Rhode Island

4. One of the most notorious executions in United States history took place on July 7, 1865. It was the quadruple hanging of the people convicted of conspiring to assassinate U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Which of these people involved in the conspiracy was lucky enough to never have a date with the gallows? Hint

Lewis Powell
David Herold
Mary Surratt
Samuel Mudd

5. Yet another presidential assassination occurred, this time in 1881, when Charles Guiteau, a mentally disturbed man, felt slighted by James A. Garfield and decided to express his frustrations through the barrel of a gun. His was one of the first cases in the United States where what defense was used? Hint

Gay panic defense
False confession
Self defense
Insanity defense

6. Capital punishment in America in the 19th century was not confined to people over the age of 18. In fact, a child in Arkansas was 10 years old at the time of an armed robbery and murder in Arkansas, and he received the death sentence at that tender age, but he was apprehended and executed for it 13 years later. Who was this kid criminal who died on the gallows on June 18, 1885, at the age of 23? Hint

Leonard Shockley
George Stinney
James Arcene
Fortune Ferguson

7. Convictions punished by death in the United States of America were never infallible. On December 30, 1892, Charles Hudspeth was hanged in Arkansas for murdering a man named George Watkins. However, Hudspeth was later proven to be innocent. What evidence proved his innocence? Hint

George Watkins was found alive in another state.
The weapon used to murder Watkins did not belong to Hudspeth.
Somebody else made a deathbed confession to the murder.
Hudspeth was not in Arkansas at the time of the murder.

8. One of the biggest injustices in the American death penalty was the quadruple hanging of the Haymarket Rioters on November 11, 1887. They were pardoned some time after their deaths. In what year were they pardoned? Hint

1987
1888
1977
1893

9. In 1896, a man was executed in Pennsylvania for killing at least nine people at different points in time in his "Murder Castle," thus earning him the dubious distinction of being another very early serial killer in the modern sense. What was this man's name? Hint

H. H. Holmes
Albert Fish
Theodore Durrant
Henry Colin Campbell

10. Just prior to the turn of the century, a few U.S. states desperately searched for methods more humane than the easily bungled hanging. One of those states, New York, settled on a new method that made its world debut on August 6, 1890. What was this method of execution? Hint

Guillotine
Lethal injection
Gas chamber
Electric chair


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Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. This person earned the dubious distinction of being called America's very first "Public Enemy Number One" by being a very early 19th century serial killer, striking in many states before being captured and put in prison. What was the name of this person who was finally executed by Massachusetts in 1822?

Answer: Samuel Green

Samuel Green, who was born in 1796, is thought to be the very first American serial killer. His rough upbringing, filled with beatings and floggings, could have influenced Green to become a serial robber, assailant, and murderer. He was finally hanged on April 25, 1822, but not for any of his serial killings -- rather, for killing a black prisoner who thwarted Green's prison break in November, 1821. Green had been arrested for burglary, and the prisoner, Billy Williams, told guards that Green was planning on escaping jail, so Green fractured Williams's skull.

Green's last words at his execution were just as creepy as his legacy; the priest who attended him asked him, "Are you penitent?" To which Green responded with a deep stare and a creepy smile, "If you wish it."
2. Now let's move farther south, where an infamous slave rebellion occurred in Virginia in 1831. The person responsible for this uprising, which resulted in the deaths of 55 whites and at least 200 blacks, was hanged for his involvement. Who was he?

Answer: Nat Turner

The uprising occurred on August 21, 1831, and Turner was executed on November 11 of the same year. Turner was not the only person to be killed by the state of Virginia for involvement in the revolt; a staggering 56 other blacks and slaves were executed for their participation as well. Also, as a result of the rebellion, to try to prevent another uprising, the state largely limited educational opportunities for blacks, as well as constitutional rights for blacks to assemble.
3. Even as the United States executed many men and women in the 19th century, abolition movements were brewing in several states, including a certain state where a man named John Gordon underwent such a racist trial (leading to his execution in 1845) that the public responded with outrage, which led to the abolition of capital punishment in that state by 1852. Which state was it?

Answer: Rhode Island

John Gordon was the last man ever to die by capital punishment in Rhode Island, and in 2011, he received a posthumous pardon. Gordon was a Roman Catholic immigrant from Ireland at a time when prejudices ran very high against Roman Catholics, immigrants, and Irish people -- so Gordon inconveniently had three strikes against him. A judge in his trial instructed the jury to give less weight to Irish witnesses than to "Yankee" witnesses.

Capital punishment in Rhode Island was reintroduced in 1872, but only for those who committed murder while serving a life sentence, and nobody was executed between then and its permanent abolishment on May 9, 1984. Other states that abolished capital punishment in the 19th century include Michigan in 1846, Wisconsin in 1853 (in response to a particularly gruesome botched execution there two years previously), and Maine in 1887 (again, after a botched execution two years previously).
4. One of the most notorious executions in United States history took place on July 7, 1865. It was the quadruple hanging of the people convicted of conspiring to assassinate U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Which of these people involved in the conspiracy was lucky enough to never have a date with the gallows?

Answer: Samuel Mudd

Lewis Powell, Mary Surratt, David Herold, and George Atzerodt were all executed for their roles in the assassination. Surratt was thought to have been an innocent party, but then-President Johnson claimed that she was indirectly responsible because she "kept the nest that hatched the egg" -- that is, she owned the boarding house where the conspirators congregated to plan their deed. Some believe she was executed in lieu of her son, John Surratt, who was deeply involved in the plot but fled the country.

As for Mudd, Samuel Mudd was a doctor who repaired the leg of John Wilkes Booth, the only person to physically harm Abraham Lincoln, after Booth leapt from the Ford Theater balcony following the fatal shot to Lincoln's head. Mudd also gave Booth and his accomplice, David Herold, shelter for at least fifteen hours after the assassination. It is unclear whether Mudd knew that Lincoln had been assassinated while Booth was staying at his place, but either way, once Booth and Herold left and fled for Maryland, Mudd did not immediately contact the authorities, choosing to wait for a whole day. The authorities became suspicious because of the wait and arrested Mudd. He was found guilty, but the jury spared his life with one vote; death rulings required a 6-3 decision, while Mudd's was a narrow 5-4. He was sentenced to life but pardoned less than four years later, in 1869.
5. Yet another presidential assassination occurred, this time in 1881, when Charles Guiteau, a mentally disturbed man, felt slighted by James A. Garfield and decided to express his frustrations through the barrel of a gun. His was one of the first cases in the United States where what defense was used?

Answer: Insanity defense

Guiteau's attempts at the insanity defense ultimately failed, or else he would not have been executed. Guiteau shot President James A. Garfield in the back because Garfield and other Washington, D.C. employees refused to give Guiteau credit for a speech that Guiteau insanely thought led to Garfield's victory in the polls. Guiteau deemed the president ungrateful and assassinated him, afterwards shouting, "I am a Stalwart of the Stalwarts! I did it and I want to be arrested! Arthur (James Garfield's vice president) is President now!"

Even though an expert at the trial vehemently declared that Guiteau was insane and always had been, and even though Guiteau had been officially adjudged insane in 1875 and had escaped from a mental institution, the jury did not care; Guiteau was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed on June 30, 1882. On his way up the stairs to the gallows, he danced. To the angry crowd below, Guiteau smiled, waved, and basked in the negative media attention surrounding him. At his execution, he recited a poem he wrote entitled "I Am Going to the Lordy," but officials denied his request to have an orchestra play as he recited the poem.

Had he used the "gay panic defense," Guiteau would have been arguing that President Garfield made a homosexual advance to him and that Guiteau reacted by killing Garfield in fear. "Self-defense" would have meant that Guiteau would have argued that President Garfield posed a physical threat to Guiteau and that he only killed him to protect himself. "False confession" would have meant that authorities convinced him to confess to a crime that he did not commit.
6. Capital punishment in America in the 19th century was not confined to people over the age of 18. In fact, a child in Arkansas was 10 years old at the time of an armed robbery and murder in Arkansas, and he received the death sentence at that tender age, but he was apprehended and executed for it 13 years later. Who was this kid criminal who died on the gallows on June 18, 1885, at the age of 23?

Answer: James Arcene

James Arcene, born around 1862, was executed on the notorious Fort Smith, Arkansas, gallows for having a large part in the commission of a robbery and murder committed in 1872. Arcene, a Cherokee Native American, was only 10 years old at the time he accompanied a Cherokee adult named William Parchmeal to a store. They watched a man named William Feigel make a purchase and depart; they followed him, shot him six times once he got to a deserted area, crushed his skull with a rock, and then took his boots and sold them for 25 cents. Arcene and Parchmeal were arrested very soon afterwards and promptly sentenced to death, but they managed to escape, staying away from authorities for 13 years before being captured in 1885 and executed soon after their capture.

Arcene is the youngest person at the time of his crime to have been sentenced to death in the United States. George Stinney was the confirmed youngest to be executed in the 20th century; he was 14 when he sat in South Carolina's electric chair six decades after Arcene hanged. While some reports say Fortune Ferguson of Florida was younger than George Stinney and that Ferguson was 13, others say that he was either 16 or 17, so his age is unconfirmed. Leonard Shockley of Maryland was not the youngest, but he was the last person to be executed while a juvenile; he murdered at 16 and was executed at 17.
7. Convictions punished by death in the United States of America were never infallible. On December 30, 1892, Charles Hudspeth was hanged in Arkansas for murdering a man named George Watkins. However, Hudspeth was later proven to be innocent. What evidence proved his innocence?

Answer: George Watkins was found alive in another state.

George Watkins was married to Rebecca Watkins, who began an extramarital affair with Hudspeth in 1886 when the Watkins family relocated from Kansas. However, in 1887, Watkins disappeared, and Rebecca immediately pointed her finger at Hudspeth, accusing him of murdering her husband so Hudspeth could marry her.

The jury convicted Hudspeth of murder based mainly on Rebecca's testimony, and Hudspeth was sentenced to death after not one, but two trials. Hudspeth was executed in December of 1892. In June of 1893, Hudspeth's lawyer found that George Watkins was not dead, but rather, that he had moved to Kansas and was alive and well. Hudspeth has never received a posthumous pardon.
8. One of the biggest injustices in the American death penalty was the quadruple hanging of the Haymarket Rioters on November 11, 1887. They were pardoned some time after their deaths. In what year were they pardoned?

Answer: 1893

The crime for which they died was the infamous Haymarket bombing of May 4, 1886 in Chicago. During an originally peaceful rally at Haymarket Square, a rally organized to protest police violence against strikers (police had killed several strikers the day before), police appeared and ordered the protesters to leave. Somebody uncovered a homemade bomb and threw it at the police officers, killing seven. The police are believed to have subsequently opened fire on the protesters, killing at least four and wounding around 70 people. Soon after, a "red scare" erupted against anarchists, unions, and strikers where the police and the community vigorously opposed those groups, believing them to be at the root of the killings and woundings. Four anarchists -- George Engel, Adolf Fischer, Albert Parsons, and August Spies -- were arrested and executed for "conspiracy" in the bombings because prosecutors claimed that the men planned to build the bomb, although none of them actually threw it.

On June 6, 1893, less than six years after the executions, all four men were pardoned by the then-newly elected progressive Governor of Illinois, John Peter Altgeld, his reason being that the men fell victim to "hysteria, packed juries, and a biased judge" and that "the evidence does not show any connection whatsoever between the defendants and the man who threw [the bomb]".
9. In 1896, a man was executed in Pennsylvania for killing at least nine people at different points in time in his "Murder Castle," thus earning him the dubious distinction of being another very early serial killer in the modern sense. What was this man's name?

Answer: H. H. Holmes

Herman Webster Mudgett, known most commonly as Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, confessed to killing 27 people to gain their life insurance policies and also to get cash from selling their murdered bodies to medical schools that wanted to use them for research. While only nine murders were confirmed with infallible certainty, the doctor is suspected of killing at least 100 people, with some estimates going as high as 200!

Unfortunately, Holmes was also a habitual liar; after being sentenced to death, he confessed to 30 murders in Chicago, Indianapolis, and Toronto, but some of the people he claimed to have killed were later found alive and well. Because of Holmes's tendency to lie about his killings, it will likely never be known how many people he victimized or killed. Holmes was ultimately executed in Pennsylvania on May 7, 1896, for four confirmed murders that took place in Pennsylvania: the killings of a friend, Benjamin Pitezel, and three of Pitezel's children.
10. Just prior to the turn of the century, a few U.S. states desperately searched for methods more humane than the easily bungled hanging. One of those states, New York, settled on a new method that made its world debut on August 6, 1890. What was this method of execution?

Answer: Electric chair

Lethal injection was actually proposed in New York in 1888 -- in the form of a lethal dose of morphine -- but it was turned down in favor of the electric chair. The guillotine was never used in the United States, though a Georgia politician proposed it in the 1990s. The gas chamber was used for the first time in 1924 in Nevada, but it never made its way to New York.

Kemmler was sentenced to death in the electric chair in 1889 after killing his wife with an axe, and his attorneys went to the Supreme Court arguing that sending an electric current through a person to kill them was a cruel and unusual punishment. Their argument failed, but Kemmler's execution proved them somewhat right; it took eight minutes for him to die a rather gruesome death of sparks, bleeding, the stench of burning, groaning and other indications of pain, and convulsions so repulsive that some witnesses said the execution was "an awful spectacle, far worse than hanging." Another said, "They could have done better with an axe." Officials insisted that Kemmler died painlessly, though.

Whether it was painful or not, the chair was there to stay for a long time, and over the years has been used for over 4,200 executions. In 2014, it was reintroduced as a mandatory method of execution in Tennessee, but only if lethal injection is unavailable at the time of a scheduled execution.
Source: Author ReallyBeAmazed

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