William Calcraft (1800–1879) was the most famous English hangman of
the 19th century. One of the most prolific British executioners of all
time, it is estimated that he carried out 450 executions during his
45-year career. A cobbler by trade, Calcraft was initially recruited to
flog juvenile offenders after meeting the City of London's hangman, John
Foxton, while selling meat pies near Newgate Prison. He succeeded
Foxton, but his controversial use of the short-drop method of hanging,
in which the victims were strangled rather than had their vertebrae
broken by the fall when the trapdoor on the gallows was released, caused
some to consider him incompetent. Many took several minutes to die, and
to hasten their deaths Calcraft sometimes pulled on their legs, or even
climbed on their shoulders in an attempt to break their necks.
Calcraft's antics may have been intended to entertain the crowds of more
than 30,000 that sometimes attended his executions before a change in
the law in 1868 meant that executions could only take place in prisons.
Among his victims were Marie and Frederick Manning, the first husband
and wife to be hanged together since 1700.
Read more: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Calcraft>
Today's selected anniversaries:
Byzantine–Bulgarian wars: Forces of the Byzantine Empire
defeated troops of the Bulgarian Empire at the Battle of Kleidion in the
Belasica Mountains near present-day Klyuch, Bulgaria.
The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, commemorating those who fought
and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars,
was formally inaugurated.
American Civil War: Confederate spy Belle Boyd was arrested by
Union troops after her lover turned her in.
Vietnam War: During preparation for another strike in the Gulf
of Tonkin, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal was hit by a series of
chain-reaction explosions caused by an unusual electrical anomaly on its
flight deck, killing 134 sailors and injuring 161 others.
An overloaded passenger ferry capsized on the Kasai River in
Bandundu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, resulting in at
least 80 deaths.
Wiktionary's word of the day:
1. Characteristic of a shipwreck.
2. (figuratively) Weak, feeble; shaky.
Wikiquote quote of the day:
Now, the redemption which we as yet await (continued
Imlac), will be that of Kalki, who will come as a Silver Stallion: all
evils and every sort of folly will perish at the coming of this Kalki:
true righteousness will be restored, and the minds of men will be made
as clear as crystal.
--James Branch Cabell
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