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Under the effective heading “ Rope, Axe, or Bullet, a reporter of the “New York Herald ” recounts his latest experiences of the question as to whether it is desirable to hang or otherwise dispose of a person condemned to death. By way of obtaining a really interested opinion, the ingenious writer sought out the persons who had the misfortune to lie at the moment under the disadvantage of having been found guilty of murder, and these he interviewed. Most of them, the reporter discovered, were enthushstic converts to the opinion that hanging was a very bad thing indeed, and several of them went into details and gave reasons. Mr. William Burke (who stabbed Alice Strickland, in San Francisco) declared that he “ was not in favor of capital punishment.” Ho had read and studied much on the subject, and the conclusion at which he had arrived was that “it was one of the great evils of the ago.” The accepted logic of the matter Mr. Burke thought absurd ; and to the question, “ Rope, axe, or bullet 1” ho emphatically replied, “Neither.” An opinion was then sought from Patrick McCormack lately murdered a man named James Welsh), and McCormack became very sentimental. “ What does the world care about a murderer’s mother or sister! What does it care if they die of shame at the disgrace of their boy,” McCormack asked, taking, perhaps, a rather one-sided view of the matter ; for the thoughts of the victim’s mother and sister are somewhat ignored on this system of reckoning. The reporter turned, therefore to George Smith, the colored steamboat cook (who shot his wife in Seward street), and who pronounced himself as “ against capital punishment.” The black man was, to some extent, a student of English literature, and supposed his interrogator had read where it says, “No rogue ere felt the halter draw with good opinion of the law.” George Smith could not help feeling that his notion of law would be the reverse of favorable if he could live to express it after having expiated his crime ; and not being prepared to go so deeply into the philosophy of the question, the reporter passed on to Thomas Condon (who fatally stabbed John Lynch, in Elizabeth street on election clay.) Condon “ was not in favor of capital punishment. ” So far as he could see, it did not agree with the laws of nature. Hanging wasbetter adapted to the peculiarities of the lower animals than to those of human beings ;so said Condor. Signori Francisco Acceta and Frank Bello (the Italian murderers) thought hanging “bad”; and in cell 56, William Poste (who lately killed a man with a club) expressed himself as ‘ ‘ opposed to capital punishment.” Chastino Cox, a negro (who killed a woman some time since), went further, and boldly declared that “ hanging is foolish in most cases.” Cox only believed in hanging men over fifty. They were grey-headed sinners. He and the reporter, he said, were young, and might repent and reform. The reporter, then, having being snubbed by two other popular murderers, went away to reflect on the possibilities which Cox had suggested. _____

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 78, 25 March 1880

Word Count

“ROPE, AXE OR BULLET.” Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 78, 25 March 1880