A Hanging in Detroit: Stephen Gifford Simmons and the Last Execution under Michigan Law

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The first historical study - and a riveting account - of the last execution in Michigan.

On September 24, 1830, Stephen G. Simmons, a fifty-year-old tavern keeper and farmer, was hanged in Detroit for murdering his wife, Levana Simmons, in a drunken, jealous rage. Michigan executed only two people during the fifty-year period, from 1796 to 1846, when the death penalty was legal within its boundaries. Simmons was the second and last person to be executed under Michigan law. In A Hanging in Detroit David G. Chardavoyne vividly evokes not only the crime, trial, and execution of Simmons, but also the setting and players of the drama, social and legal customs of the times, and the controversy that arose because of the affair. Chardavoyne illuminates his account of this important moment in Michigan's history with many little-known facts, creating a study that is at once an engrossing story and the first historical examination of the event that helped bring about the abolition of the death penalty in Michigan.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814331330
  • Publisher: Wayne State University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2003
  • Series: Great Lakes Books Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

David G. Chardavoyne is an attorney with his own practice and an adjunct professor at Wayne State University and University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He is the author of Michigan Nonstandard Jury Instructions (West Publishing, 1997).
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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Introduction 1
Ch. 2 A Son of the Revolution 7
Ch. 3 "A Country That Will Suit Your Mind" 31
Ch. 4 "A Crime at Which Human Nature Shudders" 51
Ch. 5 The Bench and Bar of the Michigan Territory 67
Ch. 6 Trial and Sentence 81
Ch. 7 Preparing for the Last Drop 113
Ch. 8 The Day of Execution 127
Ch. 9 The Abolition of Capital Punishment 143
Ch. 10 Afterword 163
App. A 169
App. B 173
Notes 181
Bibliography 217
Index 229
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