There is no reason I need to know this. But I was researching the history of the telephone on the Internet (which I do need to know for my WIP) and mentioned to my husband that the telephone was invented in Boston. He very smugly said “I knew that” and then went on to say that Edison was the one who invented the electric chair as proof that it was dangerous. “Noooo,” said I, and then went on to surf the net to prove–yeah, he’s right.
From About.com http://inventors.about.com/od/hstartinventions/a/Electric_Chair.htm, in 1887 Edison (who was one of my personal heroes before learning this) put a bunch of poor animals on an electric plate and shot current through it to show how dangerous AC current was. Apparently it was part of a smear campaign against Westinghouse, Edison’s competitor. Edison was a DC kind of guy. Me, I don’t know the difference between the two. I don’t really care. I don’t think the animals did either.
Shortly after that, in 1888, New York established electrocution as the official form of capital punishment for the state.
And so many people think about the Victorian era nostalgically as a better, gentler time! Hah!
I really did not need to know this, and I have no intention to use it ever in any of my books. That being said, I do have a morbid fascination with crime and punishment. . . . .