May 29, 1873

President Grant Stays Execution of African-American Who Murdered a Jewish Peddler

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On December 28, 1872, The New York Times reported that "Thomas Wright, the colored desperado" was arrested in Washington, D.C. on December 25 and charged with the murder of Samuel Rogerski "whose dead body was found in an alley horribly mangled." Five months later, the Chicago Daily Tribune reported the "Execution of Thomas Wright for the Murder of Rogerski, a Jewish Peddler"

   ... Washington, June 6. Thomas Wright was hanged to-day in the jail-yard for the murder of Rogerski. He appeared quite unconcerned, and mounted the gallows with a firm step, singing meanwhile until the black cap was adjusted. At 10 minutes past 12 the drop fell. Life was not extinct until a lapse of 17 minutes. His neck was not broken, the man being choked to death. There were about 500 persons in the jail-yard, and several thousand outside, many of them on the house-tops and other high points, where they could have a full view of the execution.

  Between Wright's conviction and his execution, comes this stay of execution signed by President Grant on May 29, 1873, instructing Secretary of State Hamilton Fish "to affix the Seal of the United States to the warrant respiting the execution in the case of Thomas Wright until the 6th day of June 1873."

 

Document Signed, as President, partially-printed and accomplished in manuscript; 1 page, quarto, Washington DC, May 29, 1873.

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Transcript

I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of State to affix the Seal of the United States to

the warrant respiting the execution in the case of Thomas Wright until the 6th day of June 1873.

dated this day and signed by me and for so doing this shall be his warrant. 

U.S. GRANT

Washington, May 29th, 1873