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Dominic Daley and James Halligan Trial: 1806

The Crime, The Trial, An Execution And An Exoneration, The Issue Of Bias, Suggestions For Further Reading

Defendants: Dominic Daley, James Halligan
Crime: Murder
Chief Defense Lawyers: Francis Blake, Thomas Gould, Edward Upham, Jabez Urham
Chief Prosecutors: James Sullivan, John Hooker
Judges: Theodore Sedgwick, Samuel Sewall
Place: Northampton, Massachusetts
Date of Trial: April 24, 1806
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Death by hanging

SIGNIFICANCE: This otherwise obscure trial—rightly or wrongly—later came to be seen as epitomizing the anti-Irish bias that was widespread in New England during the early nineteenth century.

As the new American republic moved into the nineteenth century, most New Englanders were still of British stock and Protestant persuasion. Many of these Americans made no secret of their detestation of all Roman Catholics. Most especially, although they had just finished a war to break away from Great Britain, many New Englanders kept alive their English relatives' deep-seated prejudice against the Irish. It is against this background that an otherwise routine trial in a corner of Massachusetts has come to be judged by later generations.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1637 to 1832