Archive for January 9th, 2010

Death Be Not Proud: Executed Today wins a Clio

15 comments January 9th, 2010 Headsman

Yesterday night, your humble servant won the 2009 Cliopatria Award for best writing of a history blog.

Embarrassed headsmen are no pretty sight, but considering the depth and breadth of the history blogging community, I’m red-cheeked under the hood at stuff like this:

Given its format — the story behind a different historical execution, every day — Executed Today could by rights be monotonous and depressing. It is testament to “The Headsman’s” skills as a writer and storyteller that his blog is nothing of the sort. An engaging and astonishingly prolific blogger, The Headsman writes witty and accessible prose, jumps from continent to continent and century to century with ease, and despite two years of daily blogging he is still finding new things to do with his premise.

That’s a pretty close description to this blog’s aspiration. I’m gratified that it sometimes succeeds.

One glance at the other winning blogs (Georgian London, Curious Expeditions) and posts (Curating the Oceans: The Future of Singapore’s Past, Richardson’s Rules of Order), or at the other Best Writer nominees, or at any of the previous Clio winners, underscores the quality of the field. Best writer? How do you choose among this bounty? Clio hangs out with Calliope, after all.

So, very great thanks to the jury of professional historians for entertaining a mere hobbyist’s contributions. And special gratitude to Tim Abbott of Walking the Berkshires for both the nomination and a good bit of encouragement; to the guest bloggers and interviewees who liven things up around these dolorous parts; and to many others who know who they are, or ought to. Thanks above all to the site’s readers, new and old, regular and sporadic.

A few of the more satisfactory posts in the past year are conveniently arranged in Executed Today’s recent annual report: see here for stuff I wrote, and here for guest content that frequently puts it to shame.

why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

-John Donne

On this day..

Entry Filed under: Administrative Messages,History

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1953: Marguerite Pitre, the last woman hanged in Canada

4 comments January 9th, 2010 Headsman

Thirty-five minutes past midnight this date in 1953, the 13th and last woman executed in Canada, Marguerite Pitre, was hanged in Montreal’s Bourdeaux gaol.

Pitre was condemned an accomplice to Albert Guay in the latter’s 1949 airline bombing, which killed 23 people just to get rid of Mrs. Guay.

The “dark and buxom go-between in Guay’s affair”* with a teenage waitress had rented Guay a room to install the nymphet when the girl’s father got wise to the frolicking and kicked her out of the house.

Pitre actually testified against Albert Guay in his trial, describing how she bought dynamite at his instruction and delivered a “mystery parcel” to the air freight on the doomed plane.

In fact, she helped blow open the case at the outset by attempting suicide 10 days after the crime and blabbing in the hospital how Albert had made her do it. Pitre insisted, though, that her own involvement was unintentional, and that she thought the box held a statue even though it was her own brother who had fashioned the explosives into a time bomb.

But after Guay’s conviction, both Pitre and her brother were arrested and separately tried for the plot themselves — both of them to follow Guay to the gallows for the audacious crime.

* Chicago Tribune, Jan. 9, 1953.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,France,Hanged,History,Milestones,Murder,Women

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