Criminal logo

First Executions in History

Executions have ended the lives of many

By True Crime WriterPublished about a month ago 3 min read
First Executions in History
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Execution has claimed the lives of thousands of criminals convicted of capital offenses. At one time, hundreds of crimes fell under ‘capital offense.” First used in the 1600s, executing convicted crimes offered a simple approach to punishment for offenses like adultery, treason, and murder.

In those days, popular execution methods included hanging, stoning, and beheading.

Criminals these days rarely receive a death sentence, and those who do are comforted by knowing their death will be carried out in the most humane ways possible.

The First Execution in the U.S.

Find A Grave

The first-ever execution in the U.S. was that of Captain George Kendall in 1608. Officials suspected Kendall of being a spy for Spain.

A jury found Kendall guilty of treason after an informal trial and sentenced him to death.

Kendall was executed by firing squad in Jamestown, Virginia.

First Guillotine Execution

As execution methods evolved, the guillotine became a popular means of carrying out sentences.

First used during the French Revolution on April 25, 1792, the same day it was introduced, the guillotine promised a “quick and painless death” compared to former methods of execution available.

Nicolas Jacques Pelletier was the unlucky fellow to meet his demise by guillotine that April day. Convicted of murder, Pelletier’s execution took place in Paris, France. The guillotine was used well into the 20th century.

First Gas Chamber Execution in the U.S.


The first gas chamber execution in the U.S. occurred on February 4, 1924, when condemned inmate, Gee Jon, was put to death at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City, NV.

Gee brutally murdered 74-year-old Tom Quong Kee in the Chinatown district of San Fransisco. Gee shot Kee using a .38 revolver when he answered the front door of his home.

The gas chamber had been introduced as an alternative to hanging.

First Electric Chair Execution in the United States

Public Domain,

On August 4, 1890, William Francis Kennier became the first person in the U.S. to be executed in the electric chair in the U.S. Convicted of murdering Matilda Ziegler, his common-law wife, Kennier was strapped to a chair designed by Harold P. Brown for his punishment.

The execution did not go as planned, and Kennier required multiple cycles of electricity before he was declared dead.

Despite the hiccups during the execution, many people found it to be a more humane way to execute than hanging and other methods.

The electric chair was used as the primary means of execution until the mid-1980s when it was replaced by lethal injection. In 2024, the electric chair is available as an option for execution in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee if the condemned chooses the execution option.

First Woman Executed in the U.S.

In December 1632, Jane Champion became the first woman ever executed in the U.S. Residing in Jamestown, Virginia, A married woman, Champion had an affair with William Gallopin, resulting in pregnancy. At that time, adultery was punishable by death.

Champion and Gillespie attempted to conceal the pregnancy. The baby died shortly after its birth, and authorities accused Champion and Gillespie of killing it. They were charged and convicted of murder and sentenced to death. There is no record of Gillespie being executed.

In 1984, convicted murderer Velma Barfield became the first woman executed in the U.S. since the reestablishment of the death penalty in 1976.

First Lethal Injection Execution in the U.S. and First Execution of an African-American

Charles Brooks was the first person executed by lethal injection in the U.S. He was also the first African-American executed in the U.S.

The execution took place in Huntsville, Texas, on Dec. 7, 1982.

In 1976, Brooks and an accomplice killed a mechanic.

Brooks visited a used car lot and asked to test drive one of the cars. David Gregory, the mechanic, rode with Brooks. He picked up Woody Loudres during the test drive, and together the men tied Gregory p, put him in the trunk and drove him to a motel where they shot him in the head.

Loudres appealed his death sentence and was released after serving 11 years.

incarcerationCONTENT WARNINGcapital punishment

About the Creator

True Crime Writer

The best of the worst true crime, history, strange and Unusual stories. Graphic material. Intended for a mature audience ONLY.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (2)

Sign in to comment
  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Oh how I wish that even now adultery would be punished with death!

  • Kendall Defoe about a month ago

    Gruesome and comprehensive...

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.