Old Sparky: 
Electric Chair Timeline
 
Aug 8, 1881 Intoxicated man electrocuted at Buffalo generating plant.
1882 A.P. Southwick suggests electricity to replace hanging.
Aug. 1884 Newspaper editorials complain of brutality of hanging.
Jan. 12, 1885 NY Gov. David Hill, in state of state address, suggests electricity to replace hanging..
May 13, 1886 New York commission appointed to study alternatives to hanging
Jan. 16, 1888 Commission recommends electrocution to replace hanging
Apr. 17, 1888 New York Assembly passes electrocution law
April 25, 1888 New York Senate passes electrocution law
June 4, 1888 Gov. David B. Hill signs the bill into law. 
July 30, 1888 Harold Brown begins tests using electricity to kill animals
Nov. 15, 1888 N.Y. Medico-Legal Society endorses use of electricity. 
Dec. 18, 1888 Medico-Legal Society completes six days of debate on AC vs. DC.
Jan. 7, 1889 Southwick announces plans for an electric "chair."
Feb. 1889 Electrical engineers at Chicago convention condemn the use of electricity for the death penalty.
Mar. 1, 1889 Hill signs law allocating $10,000 to buy equipment for the chair. 
Mar. 9-13, 1889 New York experiments with chair and dynamos. 
Mar 12, 1889 Brown experiments at Edison labs in New Jersey
Mar. 29, 1889 William Kemmler kills Tillie Ziegler in Buffalo.
May 7, 1889 New York and Brown close deal to build the chair. 
May 8, 1889 Dynamos purchased for three New York chairs. 
May 10, 1889 Kemmler sentenced to die in the chair. 
May 23, 1889 Kemmler arrives in Auburn.
June 7, 1889 Dynamos arrive in Auburn, via Brazil.
June 7, 1889 Writ filed in Cayuga County to halt the use of the chair. 
July 8-31, 1889 Hearings on use of the chair in New York City.
Aug. 1-2, 1889 Hearings on use of the chair in Buffalo.
Aug. 7, 1889 National Electric Light Association asks New York to repeal its law. 
Aug. 25, 1889 New York Sun publishes letters stolen from Brown showing his secret links to Edison
Sept. 17, 1889 Oral arguments in Cayuga County. 
Oct. 9, 1889 Cayuga County rules Kemmler must die in the chair. 
Dec. 29, 1889 Electrical apparatus tested at Sing Sing.
Jan. 19, 1890 Electrical apparatus tested at Auburn.
Mar. 21, 1890 NY Court of Appeals rules Kemmler must die in the chair. 
April 29, 1890 Federal writ halts Kemmler’s execution with only hours to go. 
May 1, 1890 Bill to abolish capital punishment passed by NY Assembly. 
May 6, 1890 Abolition bill killed in the Senate.
May 20, 1890 U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on the Kemmler case.
May 23, 1890 U.S. Supreme Court rules Kemmler must die in the chair. 
Aug . 6, 1890 Kemmler dies in the chair. 
Oct. 9, 1890 Official report on the execution. 
July 7, 1891 Four murderers executed in Sing Sing chair. 
March 20, 1899 Martha Place executed in Sing Sing chair. 
 Oct. 29, 1901  Leon Czolgosz executed in Auburn chair.
 March 30, 1908  Chester Gillette executed in Auburn chair. 
Jan. 6, 1927 Robert Elliott kills six men in two states on same day. 
Aug. 23, 1927 Sacco and Vanzetti executed in the Massachusetts chair.
Jan. 12, 1928 Ruth Snyder's photo taken while executed at Sing Sing. 
 Feb. 22, 1929  John Hulbert, retired state executioner, commits suicide.
 April 3, 1936  Bruno Hauptmann executed in New Jersey chair.
 May 3, 1946  Willie Francis survives electric chair in Louisiana.
 May 9, 1947  Willie Francis dies in the chair after his appeal fails. 
 June 19, 1953  Julius and Ethel Rosenberg executed in Sing Sing chair.
June 25, 1959 Charles Starkweather executed in the Nebraska chair. 
June 29, 1972 U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the death penalty. 
July 2, 1976 U.S. Supreme Court restores the death penalty. 
May 25, 1979 John Spenkelink becomes first chair victim in a decade.
Jan. 24, 1989 Ted Bundy executed in the Florida chair. 

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Last Updated Aug. 12, 2003.