Last public execution

The last public execution in New York City took place on 13 July (which for the superstitious was a Friday) in 1860, on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbour, watched by an estimated 12,000 people.

The executed person that day was Albert Hicks, part of the crew of the E. A. Johnson, an oyster sloop. Near Staten Island he killed everyone on board with an axe and dumped their bodies. The police found four fingers and a thumb on the deck.

Hicks was tried for piracy. He told the hangman “Hang me quick, make haste.” The executioner placed a black hood over the pirate’s head, secured a rope around his neck, and pulled the lever. His neck snapped at the third vertebra.

Photo: J. Hutch