|Location||Maine United States|
|Dimensions||Image: 3 1/2 x 2 5/16 in. (8.9 x 5.9 cm)
Mount: 4 x 2 3/8 in. (10.2 x 6 cm)
|Print medium||Photo-Albumen silver-Carte-de-visite|
In July 1867, nineteen-year-old Clifton Haries, an ex-slave, was convicted of raping and murdering two women in West Auburn, Maine, and sentenced to death. His case ignited a debate over capital punishment in the state, where there had long existed intense opposition to the death penalty. In capital cases, state law mandated that the governor wait a year after sentencing before setting an execution date; to avoid controversy, governors would delay sentences indefinitely and only one execution had been carried out since 1837. In Haries's case, opponents of the death penalty pointed to the white men on death row whose sentences had been commuted to life imprisonment, arguing that the brutal effects of slavery, his impaired mental condition, and his youth should be considered mitigating circumstances in Haries's favor. His supporters included the state attorney general. However, Governor Joshua Chamberlain disagreed and, in March 1869, ordered Haries hanged. According to eyewitnesses, the inexperienced hangman botched the job and the prisoner slowly strangled to death.
Museum Purchase, 2005
Daniel Cowin Collection