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Stoking the Embers of War

About the author:
Jerry Genesio is also the author of Stoking the Embers of War, a historical novel about Portland, Maine, in the aftermath of the American Revolution. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History summa cum laude from the University of Southern Maine. He was employed as a Maine Historian and Special Collections Assistant with the Portland Public Library, Portland, Maine, retiring in 2003. Jerry lives with his wife, Judy, in Bridgton, Maine.

Portland Neck

The Hanging of Thomas Bird

Authored by Jerry Genesio

This is an account of the first death sentence handed down by a U.S. District Court judge under the authority of the United States Constitution. Thomas Bird, 40, an Englishman, was tried for murder and piracy in Portland's First Parish meeting house and was hung from a gallows at Bramhall Hill on June 25, 1790. The execution was carried out by U.S. Marshal Henry Dearborn, who would later be appointed Secretary of War by President Thomas Jefferson.

Bird was convicted of murdering his master, John Connor, captain of the slave ship Mary, off the coast of Africa. The Mary's crew then sailed to the coast of Maine. When captured by Portland's Naval Officer, there were but four people aboard: Bird; Hans Hanson, 19, of Norway; Josiah Jackson, 32, of Newton, MA; and an African boy known only as Cuffey.

Bird and Hanson were held in the Cumberland County Jail for nearly a year pending the organization of the U.S. Federal Court system. Jackson was immediately released and later testified for the prosecution. Hanson was charged with aiding and abetting in the death of Captain Connor and was acquitted.

This book is based primarily on a handwritten record of the trial found in the National Archives, Waltham, Massachusetts. It includes a narrative of the Mary's voyage from England, Connor's murder, the crew's capture, the trial, and Bird's execution, as well as biographical sketches of key Maine figures involved, and a description of Portland at the time of the trial and execution.

Publication Date:
1452825432 / 9781452825434
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5.5" x 8.5"
Black and White
Related Categories:
History / United States / Revolutionary War

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