Saturday, July 19, 2014


Kemmler was executed in New York's Auburn Prison on August 6, 1890; the "state electrician" was Edwin F. Davis. The first 17-second passage of current through Kemmler caused unconsciousness, but failed to stop his heart and breathing. The attending physicians, Edward Charles Spitzka and Charles F. Macdonald, came forward to examine Kemmler. After confirming Kemmler was still alive, Spitzka reportedly called out, "Have the current turned on again, quick, no delay." The generator needed time to re-charge, however. In the second attempt, Kemmler was shocked with 2,000 volts. Blood vessels under the skin ruptured and bled, and the areas around the electrodes singed. The entire execution took about eight minutes. George Westinghouse later commented that "they would have done better using an axe,"and a witnessing reporter claimed that it was "an awful spectacle, far worse than hanging."

Image by thehiddencemetery. 


Steve Ring said...

Yeah, Edison was trying to prove that his direct current system was safer than the Tesla/Westinghouse alternating current, so they promoted the execution as evidence of this. But the stunt backfired when the public associated the messy execution with Edison/Morgan and Westinghouse ended up winning the big contract (though JP Morgan ended up buying him out, anyway).

Anonymous said...

Humans make they perfect guinea pigs.