In 1881, Alfred Southwick, a dentist and inventor, also a steam-boat engineer, from Buffalo, New York was credited as the inventor of the electric chair after he came up with the idea of electrical execution when he heard about the fate of an intoxicated man who touched a live electric generator.
Southwick concluded that because the man died so quickly this meant that electricity could be used as an alternative to hanging for executions.
Orginally he helped to invent a way to put down stray dogs at the Buffalo SPCA but this was soon to change and within a year he was publishing his own ideas regarding using this method for capital punishment.
Natrulally as a dentist who was used to performing procedures on patients in chairs, his device for electrical execution appeared in the form of an "electric chair."
Hangings frequently went wrong and death was slow and in the United States there was growing criticism of this form of capital punishment and the death penalty in general.
In 1886 newly elected New York State governor David B Hill and a dedicated commitie setup to look at alternate methods of execution, in 1888 recommended electrocution using Southwick's electric chair idea with metal conductors attached to the condemned person's head and feet.
The first law allowing the use of electrocution went into effect in New York State on January 1, 1889
On August 6, 1890, William Kemmler who was a convicted murderer was the first person to be put to death by electric chair.
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