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Electric Chair Inventor A Dentist…Really?

By  | January 5, 2019 | Filed under: Interesting Facts, News

Execution by electrocution, usually performed using an electric chair, is an execution method originating in the United States in which the condemned person is strapped to a specially built wooden chair and electrocuted through electrodes placed on the head and leg.

In 1881, Dr. Alfred Southwick witnessed an intoxicated man touch a live electric generator. Given that the man died so quickly, Dr. Southwick concluded that electricity could be used as an alternative to hanging for executions. As Southwick was a dentist who was accustomed to performing procedures on subjects in chairs, his device for electrical execution appeared in the form of an “electric chair.”

Dr. Southwick worked with David B. Hill, the governor of New York State to help pass laws making execution by electricity legal. Southwick also served on the state’s Electrical Death Commission which between 1888 and 1889 recommended that electrocution be made a valid form of Capital Punishment. The first law allowing the use of electrocution went into effect January 1, 1889.

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