On this day in 1890, convicted murderer William Kemmler became the first person executed by the use of electricity. It didn’t go well. Kemmler required two shocks, the initial was 1000 V, which did not kill him, and the second was 2000 V, which might have set him on fire, according to some witnesses.
It seems that Kemmler was a hard drinker and filled with jealous rage. When he became angry with his wife, arguing that she was planning to leave him for another man, he went to the barn, grabbed an ax, and hacked her to death. He freely admitted what he had done and at his trial was easily convicted and sentenced to death. Arguments followed that electrocution was cruel and inhumane, but in the end the courts decided that the newly devised electric chair could be used.