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Dominic Daley and James Halligan Trial: 1806

An Execution And An Exoneration

In the days before their execution, the Reverend Jean Louis Cheverus, a Roman Catholic priest, came out from Boston and heard their confession. The two were hanged before a crowd estimated as 15,000 on June 5, 1806. Father Cheverus explained to the many Protestant questioners that "the doctrine of the Church" forbade him ever to reveal what the men had confessed. Inevitably rumors about this crime continued to surface but it was not until 1879 that there first appeared in print the claim that a man had confessed on his deathbed to being the true murderer. In later years, this claim was enhanced by such details as the confessor's having been the uncle of the young Laertes Fuller. But there was no corroborating evidence for either the confession or the uncle's ties to the crime, and eventually most people of western Massachusetts forgot about Daley and Halligan. However, as the Irish-American community became both more integrated and confident, individuals eventually succeeded in gaining a reconsideration of the case, and in March 1984 Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis proclaimed the innocence of Daley and Halligan.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1637 to 1832Dominic Daley and James Halligan Trial: 1806 - The Crime, The Trial, An Execution And An Exoneration, The Issue Of Bias, Suggestions For Further Reading