MinneCulture 8/27: End of the Rope

The End of the Rope: How a botched hanging ended the death penalty in Minnesota
by Susan Gray


Tonight on MinneCulture, producer Susan Gray takes an in-depth look at how a botched hanging ended the death penalty in Minnesota.

Before Minnesota became the third state to abolish the death penalty in 1911, legislators instituted the nation’s first law to make executions secret.  Created to protect public morals, the midnight assassination laws mandated that hangings to take place at night behind prison walls, and banned reporters from attending. The law backfired when a St. Paul reporter snuck into the botched hanging of convicted murderer William Williams and publicly revealed gruesome details.

In this audio documentary, Susan Gray talks with death penalty scholar John Bessler and Twin Cities historian Larry Millet on details of the last hanging in Minnesota.

Tune into MinneCulture tonight and every Wednesday at 7:30pm. This program is made possible by a grant from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

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