Summoned at Midnight

Summoned at Midnight

A Story of Race and the Last Military Executions at Fort Leavenworth

Book - 2019
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"In the late 1950s, as the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. was at last gaining ground, 16 soldiers sat confined in basement cells on death row in the army's Fort Leavenworth maximum security prison in Kansas. Exactly eight were white and eight were black. All of the white soldiers were commuted. Not only were their lives spared, but they all were eventually released and returned to their families. They benefited from powerful Washington powerbrokers, including the Eisenhower administration and Congress, high-priced, specialized lawyers and a groundswell of public support. Only black soldiers were hung. They were summoned at midnight to a wooden gallows and dropped to their deaths. They enjoyed no Washington support, could not afford expensive lawyers and had little public backing. Their casefiles are meager - often containing a desperate, misspelled letter from a mother pleading for her son's life. Then in early 1961 a final case reached the Oval Office in Washington. President John Kennedy, a Democrat, a liberal, and a Catholic, a leader strong on Civil Rights, was still in his First Hundred Days when confronted with whether to spare army Private John A. Bennett. Unlike all the other condemned men, white and black, Bennett was not a murderer. He had killed no one. Instead he was sentenced to die for raping a white girl. But like the other men soldiers who were hung, Bennett was black. Were he to die, he would become the last soldier executed by the army, the last in nearly 60 years"--
Publisher: Boston, Massachusetts :, Beacon Press,, [2019]
ISBN: 9780807060964
Branch Call Number: 355.13325 SE
Characteristics: xi, 239 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates ; 24 cm


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