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The Last GaspThe Rise and Fall of the American Gas Chamber$
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Scott Christianson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520255623

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520255623.001.0001

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Staging the World’s First Gas Execution

Staging the World’s First Gas Execution

(p.69) Chapter 4 Staging the World’s First Gas Execution
The Last Gasp

Scott Christianson

University of California Press

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

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