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US Executions from 1608-2002
A Demographic Breakdown of the Executed Population


ProCon.org made the graphs and charts below using data from M. Watt Espy, Jr. and John Ortiz Smykla’s 32-year study of 15,269 executions performed from 1608-2002 under legal civil authority in the US, or within territories which later became part of the US.

The data begins with the first official American execution in 1608 when Captain George Kendall of the Jamestown colony was executed by firing squad for the crime of mutiny. The data ends in 2002 when the study was considered complete.

Espy and Smykla gathered data from state Department of Corrections records, newspapers, county histories, proceedings of state and local courts, holdings of historical societies, museums, and other listings of executions. The data were then broken down by 21 different variables such as race, age, jurisdiction, type of violation, crime committed, method of execution, day, month, and year of execution, order of execution, state where execution took place, year of statehood, gender, and occupation of the person executed.

The ESPY list is considered the most comprehensive one of its kind, yet it is still incomplete because some executions were not recorded at all, and some records may have been lost or destroyed over time. To view their list of executions in Microsoft Excel format, click on "Executions in the United States, 1608-2002: The ESPY File”.


I. Total Number of US Executions, 1608-2002
II. Top 20 Occupations of the Executed, 1608-2002
III. Executions by Race, 1608-2002
IV. Executions by Crime, 1608-2002
V. Executions by Method, 1608-2002
VI. Executions by Method, 1900-1999
VII. Executions by Age, 1608-2002
VIII. Executions by Gender, 1608-2002
IX. Executions by State & Year, 1608-2002
X. Executions by State & Race, 1608-2002


I. Total Number of US Executions, 1608-2002
15,269 total US executions shown mostly in 25-year increments.
Total Executed 1608 to 2002

 
1608-1624 1625-1649 1650-1674 1675-1699 1700-1724 1725-1749 1750-1774 1775-1799
3 26 49 84 156 226 391 618
1800-1824 1825-1849 1850-1874 1875-1899 1900-1924 1925-1949 1950-1974 1975-2002
602 894 1,364 2,521 2,995 3,644 916 780


II. Top 20 Occupations of the Executed, 1608-2002
The occupation of the executed individual was recorded in 7,555 (49.5%) of the 15,269 US executions between 1608 and 2002. All terminology used for occupations came directly from the original study, "Executions in the United States, 1608-2002: The ESPY File."
1. Slave - 1,748 (11.5%) 11. Criminal - 75
2. Laborer - 585 (3.8%) 12. Pirate - 68
3. Farmhand - 369 (2.4%) 13. Tenant Farmer - 67
4. Farmer - 347 (2.2%) 14. Carpenter - 54
5. Farm Laborer - 168 (1.1%) 15. Housewife - 50
6. Miner - 130 16. Truck Driver - 49
7. Soldier - 118 17. Cook - 47
8. Gangster - 110 18. Railroad Worker - 43
9. Seaman - 92 19. Freedman - 42
10. Tenant Farmer - 77 20. Ranch Hand - 39

Other Interesting Occupations of People Executed (in alphabetical order):

Attorney (12), Baseball Player (5), Bootlegger (35), Boxer (3), Clergy (16), Clown (1), Guerilla (4), Jockey (6), Physician (19), Playboy (2), Policeman (11), Preacher (15), Teamster (6), Voodoo Doctor (2)


III. Executions by Race, 1608-2002
The race of the executed individual was recorded in 14,555 (95.3%) of the 15,269 US executions between 1608 and 2002.
Total Number of US Executions by Race from 1608-2002
Pie Chart of Executions by Race 1608-2002


Asian Black Hispanic Native American White
1608-1699 0 18 0 21 100
1700-1799 0 621 2 36 567
1800-1899 36 2,592 116 253 2,052
1900-2002 111 4,122 231 52 3,625
Totals: 147 7,353 349 362 6,344
(1.0%) (50.5%) (2.5%) (2.5%) (43.5%)


IV. Executions by Crime, 1608-2002
The crime committed by the executed individual was recorded in 14,810 (97.0%) of the 15,269 US executions between 1608 and 2002. All terminology used for type of crime committed came directly from the original study, "Executions in the United States, 1608-2002: The ESPY File."
1. Murder1 - 12,111 (81.8%) 16. Witchcraft - 35
2. Rape2 - 988 (6.7%) 17. Counterfeiting - 31
3. Slave Revolt - 277 (1.9%) 18. Spying/Espionage - 27
4. House Break-in Burglary - 251 (1.7%) 19. Theft/Stealing - 23
5. Robbery - 158 (1.1%) 20. Forgery - 21
6. Attempted Murder - 144 21. Aiding a Runaway Slave - 20
7. Piracy - 130 22. Burglary/Attempted Rape - 16
8. Unspecified Felony - 107 23. Sodomy/Buggery/Bestiality  - 15
9. Conspiracy to Murder - 99 24. Kidnapping - 11
10. Arson - 97 25. Guerilla Activity - 7
11. Poisoning - 59 26. Concealing Birth - 4
12. Horse Stealing - 51 27. Rioting - 4
13. Treason - 43 28. Adultery - 2
14. Desertion - 40 29. Prison Break/Kidnap - 2
15. Accessory to Murder - 36 30. Criminal Assault - 1
1. Murder: This category includes murder, arson/murder, kidnap/murder, murder/burglary, murder/rape/robbery, rape/murder, and robbery/murder.
2. Rape: This category includes rape and rape/robbery.


V. Executions by Method, 1608-2002
The method of execution was recorded in 15,202 (99.6%) of the 15,269 US executions between 1608 and 2002.

Asphyxiation
(Gas)
Bludgeoned/
Broke
on Wheel
Burned Electrocuted Gibbeted/
Hanged in
Chains
Hanged Injection Pressing Shot
1608-1649 0 0 0 0 0 27 0 0 2
1650-1699 0 0 1 0 0 114 0 1 12
1700-1749 0 10 35 0 12 317 0 0 0
1750-1799 0 3 22 0 2 929 0 0 19
1800-1849 0 1 8 0 0 1,435 1 0 33
1850-1899 0 0 0 58 0 3,781 0 0 44
1900-1949 372 0 0 3,564 0 2,677 0 0 25
1950-2002 221 0 0 803 1 44 620 0 8
Totals: 593 14 66 4,425 15 9,324 621 1 143
(4.0%) (0.1%) (0.4%) (29.0%) (0.1%) (61.3%) (4.1%) (0.0%) (1.0%)

Asphyxiation (Gas): Placed into an air tight chamber and made to breath poisionous gas until death occurs.
Bludgeoned / Broke on Wheel: Beaten by a short, heavy club, usually made of wood and/or tied down to a wooden wheel or cross and, through beating or other force, having ones body parts broken through the gaps until death occurs.
Burned: Burned to death.
Electrocuted: Strapped to a chair and have electricity pulsed into the body until death occurs.
Gibbeted / Hanged in Chains: Executed and hanged in public with the body left to hang on a post (known as a gibbet) in public view. Sometimes the body was placed inside a metal cage or chains, and left hanging in public for an extended period of time as it decomposed.
Hanged: Tie a rope around the neck of an individual and hang them from an object until death occurs.
Injection: Strapped down to a table or chair and have a lethal substance injected into the veins.
Pressing: Pressed between two heavy objects until death occurs.
Shot: Executed by gunfire.


VI. Executions by Method, 1900-1999
The method of execution was recorded in 8,141 (100%) of US executions between 1900 and 1999.
US Executions by Method 1900-1999
The below chart contains the categories of "hanged in chains" and "shot," which were not included on the line graph above because those numbers were too small to be visible.

Asphyxiation (Gas) Electrocution Hanging Hanged in Chains Injection Shot
1900-1909 0 132 1,146 0 0 2
1910-1919 0 484 601 1 0 9
1920-1929 2 823 456 0 0 8
1930-1939 114 1,206 357 0 0 2
1940-1949 256 919 117 0 0 4
1950-1959 149 540 30 0 0 5
1960-1969 61 119 11 0 0 1
1970-1979 1 1 0 0 0 1
1980-1989 4 71 0 0 42 0
1990-1999 6 66 3 0 390 1
Totals: 593 4,361 2,721 1 432 33
(7.3%) (53.6%) (33.4%) (0.0%) (5.3%) (0.4%)


VII. Executions by Age, 1608-2002
The age of the executed individual was recorded in 7,311 (47.9%) of the 15,269 US executions between 1608 and 2002.
US Age of Executed 1608-2002
10 to 19 * 20 to 29 30 to 39 40 to 49 50 to 59 60 to 69 70 to 79 80 to 89
578 3,218 2,011 984 381 112 25 2
(8.0%)
(44%)
(27.5%)
(13.5%)
(5.2%)
(1.5%)
(0.3%)
(0.0%)

* Of the 578 people aged 10-19 who were executed the breakdown is as follows: age 10 (0), age 11 (0), age 12 (3), age 13 (3), age 14 (9), age 15 (6), age 16 (38), age 17 (100), age 18 (175), age 19 (244).


VIII. Executions by Gender, 1608-2002
The gender of the executed individual was recorded in 15,118 (99.0%) of the 15,269 US executions between 1608 and 2002.


1608-1649 1650-1699 1700-1749 1750-1799 1800-1849 1850-1899 1900-1949 1950-2002 Totals
Female 9 33 32 68 92 83 30 18 365 (2.4%)
Male 20 100 338 911 1,346 3,750 6,609 1,679 14,753 (97.6%)


IX. Executions by State & Year, 1608-2002
The state in which the individual was executed was recorded in all 15,269 US executions between 1608 and 2002. States are listed in order of the most executions down to the lowest number of executions.

The time periods in this table are broken down as follows: 17th century (1608-1699); 18th century (1700-1799); early 19th century to the end of the Civil War (1800-1865); 19th century after Civil War (1866-1899); early 20th century ending in 1935, the year the largest number of US executions occurred (1900-1935); mid-20th century to 1972, the year the Furman vs. Georgia decision placed a moratorium on the death penalty (1935-1972); post-1972, in 1976 the US Supreme Court re-affirmed the constitutionality of the death penalty (1973-1991); and late 20th century to 2002, in 1993 the US Supreme Court ruled in Herrera v. Collins that a death-row inmate is not ordinarily entitled to relief where a claim of innonence is based on newly discovered evidence, unless the claim also includes an independent constitutional violation (1992-2002)
  1608-1699 1700-1799 1800-1865 1866-1899 1900-1935 1936-1972 1973-1991 1992-2002 Total
1. Virginia 10 386 481 96 223 81 11 73 1,361
2. New York 8 167 156 155 408 236 0 0 1,130
3. Pennsylvania 1 202 108 185 443 101 0 3 1,043
4. Texas 0 0 41 221 258 235 38 238 1,031
5. Georgia 0 18 84 223 343 282 14 12 976
6. North Carolina 0 131 133 112 207 201 3 16 803
7. Alabama 0 0 262 133 197 116 8 17 733
8. California 0 5 111 127 239 227 0 10 719
9. South Carolina 0 93 127 143 165 113 3 24 668
10. Louisiana 0 61 142 135 204 90 19 7 658
11. Arkansas 0 0 29 202 158 89 2 22 502
12. Ohio 0 1 44 85 188 120 0 5 443
13. Kentucky 0 8 122 92 123 79 0 2 426
14. Florida 0 0 16 30 118 150 26 27 367
15. New Jersey 8 76 35 55 143 44 0 0 361
16. Illinois 0 1 50 93 157 47 1 11 360
17. Mississippi 0 0 26 81 128 116 4 2 357
18. Massachusetts 99 102 55 24 49 16 0 0 345
19. Missouri 0 0 49 126 66 44 5 50 340
20. Tennessee 0 4 69 83 101 78 0 0 335
21. Maryland 15 43 65 74 55 57 0 3 312
22. Oklahoma 0 0 3 36 62 31 1 50 183
23. West Virginia 0 6 37 21 63 28 0 0 155
24. Indiana 0 0 33 26 41 31 2 7 140
25. Arizona 0 0 1 25 46 32 0 22 126
26. Connecticut 12 16 17 16 46 19 0 0 126
27. Oregon 0 0 21 33 50 18 0 2 124
28. DC 0 0 12 28 47 31 0 0 118
29. Washington 0 0 3 20 46 36 0 4 109
30. Colorado 0 0 6 30 37 28 0 1 102
31. Deleware 2 8 7 20 18 7 0 13 75
32. Montana 0 0 1 31 36 3 0 2 73
33. Nevada 0 0 3 17 18 23 5 7 73
34. New Mexico 0 0 9 30 28 6 0 0 73
35. Minnesota 0 0 42 17 7 0 0 0 66
36. Kansas 0 0 7 9 1 40 0 0 57
37. Rhode Island 4 44 4 0 0 0 0 0 52
38. Hawaii 0 0 1 6 37 5 0 0 49
39. Utah 0 0 5 7 18 13 3 3 49
40. Iowa 0 0 9 4 17 15 0 0 45
41. Nebraska 0 0 0 14 16 4 0 0 34
42. Idaho 0 0 3 14 6 3 0 1 27
43. Vermont 0 1 6 11 5 3 0 0 26
44. New Hampshire 0 6 5 10 2 1 0 0 24
45. Wyoming 0 0 0 6 11 5 0 1 23
46. Maine 1 7 7 6 0 0 0 0 21
47. South Dakota 0 0 0 9 5 1 0 0 15
48. Michigan 2 5 5 0 0 1 0 0 13
49. Alaska 0 0 0 4 5 3 0 0 12
50. North Dakota 0 0 0 3 5 0 0 0 8
51. Wisconsin 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Totals: 162 1,391 2,453 2,928 4,646 2,909 145 635 15,269
1608-1699 1700-1799 1800-1865 1866-1899 1900-1935 1936-1972 1973-1991 1992-2002


X. Executions by State & Race, 1608-2002
The state in which the individual was executed in was recorded in all 15,269 US executions between 1608 and 2002. States are listed in order of the most executions down to the lowest number of executions.

Asian Black Hispanic Native American White Other/
Unknown
Total
1. Virginia 0 1,118 (82.2%) 7 (0.5%) 3 (0.2%) 218 (16.0%) 15 (1.1%) 1,361
2. New York 10 (0.9%) 227 (20.1%) 20 (1.8%) 8 (0.7%) 774 (68.5%) 91 (8.0%) 1,130
3. Pennsylvania 3 (0.3%) 221 (21.2%) 2 (0.2%) 3 (0.3%) 686 (65.8%) 128 (12.2%) 1,043
4. Texas 2 (0.2%) 546 (52.9%) 112 (10.9%) 5 (0.5%) 349 (33.9%) 17 (1.6%) 1,031
5. Georgia 0 734 (75.2%) 0 6 (0.6%) 223 (22.8%) 13 (1.4%) 976
6. North Carolina 0 574 (71.5%) 0 9 (1.1%) 200 (24.9%) 20 (2.5%) 803
7. Alabama 0 623 (85.0%) 0 11 (1.5%) 94 (12.8%) 5 (0.7%) 733
8. California 54 (7.5%) 74 (10.3%) 82 (11.4%) 47 (6.5%) 432 (60.1%) 30 (4.2%) 719
9. South Carolina 0 475 (71.1%) 0 0 183 (27.4%) 10 (1.5%) 668
10. Louisiana 1 (0.2%) 457 (69.4%) 3  (0.5%) 3 (0.5%) 147 (22.3%) 47 (7.1%) 658
11. Arkansas 0 277 (55.2%) 1 (0.2%) 54 (10.8%) 152 (30.2%) 18 (3.6%) 502
12. Ohio 1 (0.2%) 132 (29.8%) 0 6 (1.4%) 300 (67.7%) 4 (0.9%) 443
13. Kentucky 0 232 (54.5%) 0 1 (0.2%) 177 (41.5%) 16 (3.8%) 426
14. Florida 0 230 (62.7%) 3 (0.8%) 1 (0.3%) 129 (35.1%) 4 (1.1%) 367
15. New Jersey 3 (0.8%) 116  (32.1%) 0 2 (0.6%) 209 (57.9%) 31 (8.6%) 361
16. Illinois 0 81 (22.5%) 6 (1.7%) 4 (1.1%) 224 (62.2%) 45 (12.5%) 360
17. Mississippi 0 274 (76.8%) 0 1 (0.3%) 73 (20.4%) 9 (2.5%) 357
18. Massachusetts 3 (0.9%) 32 (9.3%) 6 (1.7%) 27 (7.8%) 210 (60.9%) 67 (19.4%) 345
19. Missouri 0 128 (37.6%) 1 (0.3%) 2 (0.6%) 187 (55%) 22 (6.5%) 340
20. Tennessee 0 215 (64.2%) 0 2 (0.6%) 100 (29.8%) 18 (5.4%) 335
21. Maryland 0 208 (66.7%) 1 (0.3%) 1 (0.3%) 89 (28.5%) 13 (4.2%) 312
22. Oklahoma 1 (0.5%) 54 (29.5%) 2 (1.1%) 37 (20.2%) 86 (47%) 3 (1.7%) 183
23. West Virginia 0 77 (49.7%) 0 0 70 (45.2%) 8 (5.2%) 155
24. Indiana 0 31 (22.1%) 0 0 106 (75.7%) 3 (2.1%) 140
25. Arizona 4 (3.2%) 13 (10.3%) 33 (26.2%) 10 (7.9%) 63 (50%) 3 (2.4%) 126
26. Connecticut 2 (1.6%) 7 (5.6%) 0 10 (7.9%) 103 (81.7%) 4 (3.2%) 126
27. Oregon 3 (2.4%) 5 (4.0%) 2 (1.6%) 17 (13.7%) 97 (78.2%) 0 124
28. DC 0 80  (67.7%) 0 0 36 (30.6%) 2 (1.7%) 118
29. Washington 7 (6.4%) 8 (7.3%) 1 (0.9%) 9 (8.3%) 84 (77.1%) 0 109
30. Colorado 0 7 (6.9%) 14 (13.7%) 0 63 (61.8%) 18 (17.6%) 102
31. Deleware 0 40 (53.3%) 0 1 (1.3%) 26 (34.7%) 8 (10.7%) 75
32. Montana 2 (2.7%) 9 (12.3%) 1 (1.4%) 5 (6.9%) 56 (76.7%) 0 73
33. Nevada 3 (4.1%) 4 (5.5%) 4 (5.5%) 6 (8.2%) 45 (61.6%) 11 (15.1%) 73
34. New Mexico 0 5 (6.8%) 42 (57.5%) 0 18  (24.7%) 8 (11.0%) 73
35. Minnesota 0 1 (1.5%) 0 40 (60.6%) 25 (37.9%) 0 66
36. Kansas 0 6 (10.5%) 0 3 (5.3%) 39 (68.4%) 9 (15.8%) 57
37. Rhode Island 0 3 (5.8%) 0 3 (5.8%) 42 (80.7%) 4 (7.7%) 52
38. Hawaii 45 (91.8%) 0 3 (6.1%) 0 1 (2.1%) 0 49
39. Utah 0 3 (6.1%) 2 (4.1%) 2 (4.1%) 42 (85.7%) 0 49
40. Iowa 0 7 (15.6%) 0 0 38 (84.4%) 0 45
41. Nebraska 0 4 (11.8%) 0 1 (2.9%) 25 (73.5%) 4 (11.8%) 34
42. Idaho 1 (3.7%) 2 (7.4%) 0 1 (3.7%) 23 (85.2%) 0 27
43. Vermont 0 1 (3.8%) 0 0 24 (92.4%) 1 (3.8%) 26
44. New Hampshire 0 1 (4.2%) 0 0 22 (91.6%) 1 (4.2%) 24
45. Wyoming 2 (8.7%) 2 (8.7%) 1 (4.3%) 1 (4.3%) 15  (65.3%) 2 (8.7%) 23
46. Maine 0 3 (14.3%) 0 2 (9.5%) 16 (76.2%) 0 21
47. South Dakota 0 2 (13.3%) 0 5 (33.3%) 7 (46.7%) 1 (6.7%) 15
48. Michigan 0 1 (7.7%) 0 7 (53.9%) 5 (38.4%) 0 13
49. Alaska 0 2 (16.7%) 0 6 (50.0%) 4 (33.3%) 0 12
50. North Dakota 0 1 (12.5%) 0 0 6 (75%) 1 (12.5%) 8
51. Wisconsin 0 0 0 0 1 (100%) 0 1
Totals: 147 7,353 349 362 6,344 714 15,269