William Kemmler becomes the first person ever executed using electrocution. It doesn't go well.Flashback: Seven years ago today, Bush received ‘Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.’ memo.
Kemmler, a Buffalo, New York, vegetable peddler with a strong jealous streak, confessed to killing his wife with a hatchet following an argument. "I killed her, and I'll take the rope for it," he said, expecting to be hanged.
But the state of New York had other plans.
It was Kemmler's bad luck to be condemned to death just as the state was ready to try out a newfangled killing device called the electric chair.
The switch was thrown, and 1,000 volts of AC slammed into Kemmler. There was every reason to think that would be sufficient: Only a day earlier, it had been enough to kill a horse during a final test.
After 17 seconds, the current was shut off. The attending physician, Dr. Edward Spitzka, pronounced Kemmler dead. But he wasn't dead. He was still breathing, and when a member of the gallery pointed that out, Spitzka and another physician re-examined Kemmler. "Have the current turned on again, quick. No delay," Spitzka said.
This time they gave Kemmler 2,000 volts. According to witnesses, the second jolt caused his blood vessels to burst and his skin to catch fire.
A New York Herald correspondent who witnessed the execution left no doubt about its effect on him: "The scene of Kemmler's execution was too horrible to picture. He died the death of Feeks, the lineman, who was slowly roasted to death in the sight of thousands."
Today marks seven years since the day President Bush received a President’s Daily Brief entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” (See the memo here.) At the time, Bush was vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, TX and stayed on vacation the rest of August 2001.
Today — 2,557 days later — Bin Laden still remains free and “determined to strike in U.S.”