HISTORY: Public Executions in Virginia

A new book by Professor Harry M. Ward of the University of Richmond examines the death penalty in Virginia at a time when executions were carried out for all to see. In Public Executions in Richmond, Virginia: A History, 1782-1907, Ward provides a history of the hangings and, during the Civil War, firing-squad executions in Virginia’s capital city. Thousands of witnesses attended the executions, which were seen as a form of entertainment. Public executions ended with the introduction of the electric chair in 1908. In 1995, Virginia adopted lethal injection as its primary form of execution.

Professor Ward is the William Binform Vest Professor of History emeritus at Richmond. He has authored 18 books, including college-level textbooks on colonial America, the American Revolution, and military biographies.

(H. Ward, “Public Executions in Richmond, Virginia: A History, 1782-1907,” McFarland Publishing, 2012; DPIC posted Aug. 27, 2012). See Executions and History of the Death Penalty. See also Books on the death penalty.