Knowledge Base Glossary    Contact Us
Browse by Category
Knowledge Base .: Archives Fiction and Non-Fiction Reviews .: Historical Fiction .: Reviewer: N. Goldman .: The Hanging Of Ephraim Wheeler by Irene Quenzler Brown: Richard D. Brown

The Hanging Of Ephraim Wheeler by Irene Quenzler Brown: Richard D. Brown

It was so horrendous a crime that one of the judges exclaimed, when pronouncing the death sentence, that “a new crime had been added to the catalogue of crimes.”

These were the words that a condemned Ephraim Wheeler heard, when in 1805 in Lennox, Massachusetts, he was sentenced to be hanged for raping his thirteen year old daughter, Betsy.

Historians Richard D. Brown and Irene Quenzler Brown’s book, The Hanging Of Ephraim Wheeler, recount in micro-history format not only the trial, but also the sociological, political, moral, ethical, historical, legal as well as psychological elements that surrounded the trial and played a role in the eventual conviction and hanging.

In essence, the authors explore subjects that are both repellant and fascinating reflecting deeply American roots as to what constitutes right and wrong.

What was quite noteworthy about this unusual trial is that the jury ‘s conviction had been based on non-corroborative evidence, as well as the fact the victim had never been physically examined by the appropriate authorities. Moreover, according to the authors, it was apparently the only case that they were aware of in early America, where a mother had sustained her daughter’s successful prosecution of a father.

Although, as is pointed out, that to gentlemen and farmers rape was tantamount to murder, the debate pertaining to capital punishment was just as controversial and divisive in 1805 as it is today. In fact, owing to the gravity of the punishment, it was very rare during early America that the charge of rape, particularly against your own daughter, was the preferred recourse.

Generally, legal authorities at the time were more inclined to bring forth a lesser charge of lewd and lascivious conduct and incest against the accused. The latter crimes did not carry with them capital punishment. From 1787 to 1826 there were only six executions in the County of Berkshire, where the trial had taken place, for capital offenses.

We are informed “in the generation leading up to 1806 in Massachusetts, and throughout the United States, it had become almost unthinkable to hang a man for the crime of rape, so powerful was the movement toward Beccarian reform. But now in Massachusetts, following the reformer’s failure to remove rape from the state’s capital list in 1805 and 1806, execution was deemed not only lawful but also acceptable.”

What makes for intriguing reading are the authors’ masterful descriptions and analysis of the principal actors of the crime and trial. The accused, who barely made a living and had in the past tried to rape his daughter, the victim, a young teenager who certainly was brave in deciding to reveal all, and the wife, who was the first to summon the authorities in order to have her husband arrested.

Readers are also vividly exposed to the courtroom arena and its various players, such as the three judges, the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorneys, all of whom were not only influenced by their legal training but also by their social and political beliefs.

This is an exciting and fascinating book using a variety of historical methods, including micro-history and social history in order to examine events in early America.

Related Articles

article Big Brown Bag:Stories
Click Here To Purchase From Amazon Big Brown Bag: Stories Author: Mark D’ AnnaPublisher: Ex Machina PressISBN: 978-0-9772763-5-6Mark D’ Anna has been a contributing author and co-founder of the successful annual short story anthology Silent Voices. Big Brown Bag is Mark’s first book. He currently lives in Los Angeles. It’s always so refreshing when there is a new talent discovered in literature. Mark D’ Anna is one of them. He produces Big Brown Bag and if Mark continues to write

(No rating)  10-13-2007    Views: 4960   
article John Brown: The Cost of Freedom
Click Here To Purchase From Amazon John Brown: The Cost of FreedomAuthor: Louis A. DeCaro Jr.Publisher: International PublishersISBN: 10: 1717807428: 13: 978-0717807420Much of my tenth grade American history class has long been lost, in the quagmire of chemically diminished neural tissue known as my brain. One thing I do remember, though, was

(No rating)  1-8-2008    Views: 5776   
article The Day the Zoo Came to Visit by James DD Smith(Author):Stina Brown(Illustrator)
The Following review was contributed by: Molly MartinJaney and Jamie went to the zoo. After returning home the kids hear a knock on the door. What a surprise awaits the pair: the zoo has come to them. Writer Smith has produced a nicely done book meant for children ages 4-8. Large, brightly colored illustration and alliterative rhyming text make The Day the Zoo Came to Visit a sure favorite for the younger set. Animals tumble over one another in alphabetical order as they invade the house. I...

(No rating)  10-11-2004    Views: 6792   
article Host & Writer of the Travel Channel's Series Passport To Europe Samantha Brown is Interviewed
Norm Goldman, Editor of and interviews the host and writer of the Travel Channel's series Passport to Europe With Samantha Brown.Read what Samantha has to share with Norm- CLICK HERE

(No rating)  7-14-2006    Views: 8573   
article Parenting the Ephraim's Child: Characteristics, Capabilities, and Challenges of Children who are Intensely MORE
 AUTHORS: Deborah Talmadge and Jaime Theler Publisher: Horizon imprint Cedar Fort IncISBN: 0-88290-773-5The following review was contributed by:  Molly Martin & CLICK TO VIEW  Molly Martin's ReviewsParenting the Ephraim's Child: Characteristics, Capabilities, and Challenges of Children who are Intensely MORE Is not a story book, this is 279 page work filled with parenting tips explaining why ANOTHER parenting book is needed as well as explaining just what the Ephraim’s Child...

(No rating)  4-19-2005    Views: 6015   
article Irene Watson Author of The Sitting Swing Is Interviewed
 Author: Irene Watson ISBN: 1891386492The following interview was contributed by:  NORM GOLDMAN:  Editor of Bookpleasures. CLICK TO VIEW  Norm Goldman's Reviews   To read Norm's Review of The Sitting Swing CLICK HEREToday, Norm Goldman, Editor of is pleased to have as our guest, Irene Watson, author of The Sitting Swing.Good day Irene and thank you for agreeing to participate in our interview.

(No rating)  11-22-2005    Views: 6425   
article Curiosity by Gerald Allen Wunsch(author): Irene Joslin (Drawings)
The following review was contributed by: Carolyn Howard-Johnson, award-winning author of This is the Place and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered Author Gerald Alllen Wunsch believes Curiosity is the “first children’s book to tell the story of the Underground Railroad from a contemporary perspective.” Trust me. Children will not care. They'll only notice that it's a delightful mystery a la Nancy Drew that has a couple of things going for it that are often neglected in today’s...

(No rating)  10-10-2004    Views: 3502   
article The Bush by Richard Rathwell
The Following review was contributed by: John WalshHank Rousseau, Country Director for an unnamed charity in an unnamed African country, must cope with not just the usual chaos of overseas aid projects but conniving and unbalanced agency workers, witchcraft, revolution and murder. He is reluctantly drawn into the role of aid detective, despite his dearest wish to return home and enjoy the reception-seminar-fundraising circuit he feels is his due. Instead, he must bribe, trek and generally...

(No rating)  10-11-2004    Views: 4331   
article Disinformation: The Interviews by Richard Metzger
Reviewed by Paul Lappen For a couple of years, the Disinformation TV series was shown in Britain. It dealt with all sorts of strange topics. Through a quirk of fate, it was scheduled right after Ally McBeal, an unintended bit of surrealism. In America, the show was bought by the Sci-Fi Channel, but never shown, because they suddenly realized just what they had. The interviews reprinted here represent the tame ""intellectual"" part of the show. The companion DVD contains the more...

(No rating)  1-1-1970    Views: 4769   
article Meet Richard Ide Author of 3 Aces
  Today, Norm Goldman Publisher & Editor of is excited to have as our guest, Richard Ide author of 3 Aces. Richard Ide has dealt craps in Atlantic City, has been a Wall Street broker, and has driven long-haul trucks nearly a million miles over North American highways. He lives and writes in the Endless Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania.Good day Richard and thanks for participating in our interview.NormWhen did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

(No rating)  8-27-2008    Views: 8027   

User Comments

No comments have been posted.

.: Powered by Lore 1.5.2