Famous Lasts The Last American Pirate to be Hanged

About the last American pirate to be hanged Captain Nathaniel Gordon, a famous last fact.

THE LAST AMERICAN PIRATE TO BE HANGED

He was Capt. Nathaniel Gordon and he met his fate in "the Tombs" in New York City on Mar. 8, 1862. The chief trade for American pirates in the mid-19th century was the smuggling of slaves; in 1859 alone, at least 15,000 Africans were brought to the U.S. Ironically, most of the dealers were Northerners. The enormous profits involved attracted men who were prepared to take great risks. On Gordon's fourth voyage aboard the 500-ton Erie, he was captured by the American ship Mohican. A search revealed 967 blacks aboard. Conditions were so appalling that 300 had died on the journey from Africa. Charged with piracy, Gordon stood trial in New York; he was found guilty and sentenced to death. Protestors claimed that it was unjust to execute a man for a crime that had been virtually extinct for 40 years. A petition for pardon was submitted to President Lincoln, who, however, upheld the death sentence instead. Gordon was hanged. Authorities were so convinced that a daring buccaneer-type rescue attempt would be made that they packed the jail with armed guards before the execution.

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