An Event That Advanced a Successful Movement to Reduce the Number of Capital Crimes in Massachusetts [Broadside]. [Execution]. [Salem, Massachusetts]. Execution of Stephen Merrill Clark, Which Took Place on Winter Island, Salem, On Thursday, May 10, 1821. Salem (?), MA: S.n., 1821. 17-1/2" x 11-1/4" broadside. Text in four columns enclosed by black rules, small woodcut of a coffin below headline, untrimmed edges. Light browning and foxing, fold lines, three horizontal and one vertical, a few creases and tiny fold-overs along edges. A notably well-preserved copy. $1,500. * In 1820 Clark burned down a barn. There was no loss of life, but he was tried for a capital crime, found guilty and sentenced to death. The jury recommended commutation to no avail. He was sixteen years of age when he committed the crime, seventeen when executed. His case helped to advance a successful movement to reduce the number of capital crimes. By 1852 only murder remained a capital offense. Cohen lists this item but notes that he didn't handle a copy; his entry is based on a dealer's catalogue. Cohen also notes another broadside, again unseen, a 16-page pamphlet at Harvard Law School, and a 63-page report of the trial, at Yale Law School. Curiously, there is nothing for Clark in McDade, which is surprising given the contemporary and long-term importance of the case. These omissions in McDade suggest the rarity of these four accounts. OCLC locates 10 copies of the broadside. Cohen, Bibliography of Early American Law 1238.
Book number 67516