Showing posts with label Rhode Island. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rhode Island. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rhode Island: Not Again!

The Boston Herald reports that Rep. Peter Martin (of Rhode Island) has "filed a bill" asking the governor to pardon a man "historians" think was wrongly hanged. Great. Is there any end to strategies to make the pardon power more silly, irrelevant and selective looking?

In this instance, one John Gordon (described as an "Irish immigrant") was executed in 1845 (yes, you read that right). But, now, more than one hundred and sixty years later, "some think" (yes, you read that right), Mr. Gordon "was convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence, in a flawed trial that pitted the ruling class against the immigrant working class." It is also reported that Gordon's case "led to Rhode Island abolishing the death penalty a few years later." It is not yet explained what relationship the case has to Rhode Island's reinstatement of the death penalty in 1872, and the fact that the State then retained the death penalty for over a century.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Congressman With Too Many Wives

C.C. Bowen was a member of the United States House of Representatives from the State of South Carolina. He was born Christopher Columbus Bowen in Providence, Rhode Island, but the family moved to Georgia when he was eighteen years old. There, he farmed, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1862. He actually practiced law in Charleston before he decided to enlist in the Confederate Army.

The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress simply notes Bowen “served throughout the war as a captain in the Coast Guard.” But authors Jane H. Pease and William H. Pease observe Bowen forged the signature of a commanding officer, one Colonel William P. White, on an extended leave pass in order to go on a gambling binge. After his capture, Bowen was court-martialed, stripped of his rank and dishonorably discharged. In the spirit of calculated revenge, Bowen attempted to arrange for the murder of the officer that had caused him such grief. Thus, one author may have been prone to understatement when he wrote that Bowen was "a mischievous fellow who would stop at nothing in trying to accomplish his purpose." But the cover up of the murder for hire scheme was not done well. Bowen and the private who actually did the shooting were soon arrested. As fate would have it, Federal (Northern) troops arrived in Charleston and had all prisoners released!

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