Staging the World’s First Gas Execution

Scott Christianson

in The Last Gasp

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780520255623
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945616 | DOI:
Staging the World’s First Gas Execution

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Five months after the enactment of Nevada's Humane Execution Law, prosecutors identified a crime with all the makings of a ready-made test case. It occurred on the evening of August 21, 1921 in Mina, a tiny copper mining boomtown gone bust, when Tom Quong Kee, a seventy-four-year-old laundryman and nominal member of the Bing Kung Tong, was shot dead. The suspects were two Chinese men, Hughie Sing and Gee Jon, who were convicted by a jury convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die by lethal gas. In the end, Hughie Sing was spared, but not Gee Jon, who went on to become the first person in the world to be legally executed by lethal gas. Hydrocyanic acid was introduced into the lethal chamber, killing Gee Jon. Word that Americans had become the first to use the gas chamber to execute a human being flashed across the world, including Germany where the right-wing Bavarian radical Adolf Hitler was awaiting trial at the People's Court in Munich for his role in the failed November 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.

Keywords: Nevada; Humane Execution Law; lethal gas; gas chamber; Tom Quong Kee; Hughie Sing; Gee Jon; hydrocyanic acid; Germany; Adolf Hitler

Chapter.  8090 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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