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Monday, August 22, 2011

The Hanging of Nathan Foster - Traitor and Spy

Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved.

Imagine a gallows in a dusty town in the old west. A tumbleweed rolls by. The sheriff is leaning against a post, chewing a plug of tobacco, contemplating the hanging that will take place. A stranger sidles up, asks the sheriff "Why you stringin' the guy up?" The sheriff spits and says "Because he needs hangin' is why" Fade to Masonville, N.Y. in 1819.

Nathan Foster hired the biggest legal guns of the time to defend himself against the capital murder charge of killing his wife. But in the eyes of patriots who had fought long and hard in the Revolutionary War, Foster needed hanging regardless. They weren't about to let this guy go. He'd been an anathema for forty years.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

New York Without a Death Penalty: 1976-1995

Copyright ©2011 All rights reserved.

Part I: Introduction

Can the state take a life? Should one person or a small group of people have the ultimate power to decide who lives and who dies? These are the questions that plagued the minds of the legislators and governors in New York during a nearly twenty year period following the invalidation of the state’s death penalty statute. The state Senate and Assembly managed year after year, beginning in 1977, to pass a bill that would reinstate the death penalty in New York State. But two governors, Hugh L. Carey (1975-1982) and Mario M. Cuomo (1983-1994), refused to sign the bill into law year after year. The backgrounds of these governors led to the vetoing of nineteen consecutive death penalty bills from the New York State legislature, something never seen before in the history of state. A better understanding of the death penalty issue can be gained by examining the history of the death penalty in New York State, how the Supreme Court’s

Francis Marion Parrish ca. 1834 - June 17, 1865

Historian/author Wayne Parrish received the 2016 Jefferson Davis Historical Gold Medal from the United Daughters of the Confederacy for this article as an outstanding contribution in furthering the study and preservation of Confederate history through historical research, writing, public speaking, and other points of special achievement.

Francis Marion Parrish ca. 1834 - June 17, 1865

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My gg-grandfather, Francis Marion Parrish, was the oldest son of Sherman Parrish and Nancy Horton. He was born about 1834, while the family was still in Coweta County, Georgia, and moved to Louina in Randolph County, Alabama, when he was in his early teens. The name Francis Marion was a very common name in the early 1800's and appears in several lines of my family. The original Francis Marion was known as “The Swamp Fox”, and was a hero of the Revolutionary War. His guerilla style tactics against the British and Tory sympathizers in the Savannah River Valley of South Carolina became legendary. Many settlers of the Carolinas and Georgia named their sons for him. When I was very young there was a Disney produced TV series about the "Swamp Fox."


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“It had been customary to punish these delinquents by simple incarceration in the county jail, where, in utter idleness, corrupted and corrupting each other by indiscriminate intercourse, they remained until the expiration of their sentences, and in most cases, when discharged it was only to return thither in a few days, or weeks at most, to go through the same routine,” an observer wrote of the conditions at the Albany county jail during the early 1840s. As most local jails, the Albany facility was characterized by the unregulated association of prisoners regardless of their offense. This congregation of offenders, “so far from having any terrors or constituting any punishment, had an opposite effect,” an early chronicler added. “The jail became a fruitful source of demoralization and vice,” while the expense of its maintenance, coupled with the attendant expenses of trials courts and juries, was annually increasing at an alarming rate.1

The Full Share of Hardships Usual to a New Settlement, they Experienced…” Walton, New York and Public Memory

by Larry Dake

Copyright ©2011. All rights reserved.

Introduction: Pattengill’s “Fifteen Questions”
            In the January 27, 1857 edition of the Walton Blade, First Congregational Church Rev. J.S. Pattengill issued a call for Walton residents to record their town’s history. In doing so, he established the groundwork for Walton’s public memory. Pattengill had the first settlers in mind when he wrote, “We wish for the help of those who came to this place previous to 1812; of those who were born in this town previous to 1806.”[i] Pattengill’s “Fifteen Questions” established which facts and stories would be recorded as history and which would be excluded. From this selective historical record, Walton’s public memory would be constructed. Specifically, he asked families to consider fifteen questions: