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For Sale: One Gallows, Slightly Used

Throughout suburbia, the Halloween-decoration competition is beginning to rival Christmas. If your yard's ghoulishness remains frighteningly lackluster, here is just the adornment you need: the gallows Chicago built in the late 19th century to hang anarchist labor organizers convicted in the Haymarket Affair and later used to hang some of the city's most infamous criminals.

Actually, it will be a bit late for this Halloween, but, as writer Kari Lydersen reports in The Washington Post, the gallows is to be sold at auction beginning Nov. 20. Last used in the 1920s, it sat dismantled in the basement of the Cook County Jail until 1977, when two history buffs put it on display in a Wild West theme park in Union, Ill. Before it was retired and replaced in 1927 by the electric chair, the gallows was used in at least 40 hangings, beginning with those of four of eight men convicted in the deaths of eight police officers during an 1886 labor rally in Haymarket Square.

Starting bid: $5,000. If no private party steps forward to purchase the gallows, perhaps the states of New Hampshire and Washington will be interested -- hanging remains legal in both.

[Via Sentencing Law and Policy.]

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on October 31, 2006 at 02:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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