Wednesday 4 January 2012

Death of Topsy the Elephant (1903)

This morning we will be remembering the sad fate of Topsy the Elephant, who was put to death by electrocution for the murder of three.

1903 was a landmark year for the inventive folk of the USA. The Wright brothers achieved their first powered flight, pointing the way to a future of cheap air travel and a shrinking world. And somebody electrocuted an elephant, showing the way for a century of experimenting with modern, efficient ways of putting people to death for crime.

It's notable, I think, that like many of those who would follow her in this new and improved execution method (so much more scientific than strangling people with a rope) Topsy couldn't really have understood the moral significance of her "crimes". And, as if to reflect the disproportionate way American justice would be meted out in the century or more to come, she wasn't white.


  1. Topsy got more current than bun?

    That Edison was a ruthless promoter of his junk wasn't he, mind you I'm not sure why one method of execution is "more scientific" than another, more technological perhaps but if the result is always the same then it's six and two threes?

  2. AE, perhaps I should think about becoming American? ;)


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