Please explain how we can improve this archived object.
Thanks for submitting your feedback. Our team will review it as soon as possible, and we appreciate your contribution.
Unidentified Photographer

Clifton Haries, The West Auburn Murderer

Date ca. 1867
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.

Credit line

Museum Purchase, 2005
Daniel Cowin Collection

Feedback Accession No. 444.2005