In the book, “The Hanging of Ephraim Wheeler,” Irene Quenzler Brown and Richard D. Brown tell the story of Ephraim Wheeler, a man from Lennox, Massachusetts, who is 1806, was accused of raping his daughter. In “The Hanging of Ephraim Wheeler” the Browns present the case to the reader, and without bias, allow the reader to form their own conclusion on Ephraim’s guiltiness. The Browns argue, not on Ephraim’s guilt, but on the impact of his trial. In order to present the case without any bias the Brown’s utilized the long term effects of the trial, but failed to provide any real evaluation of the event.
Ephraim Wheeler was a poor man who had been mistreated and belittled since the death of his parents when he was a child. Ephraim was a father and husband. In 1806 he was accused of the incestuous rape of his thirteen-year-old daughter, Betsy, who was supported by her mother, Hannah. During the time that Ephraim was convicted there was controversy over the capital punishment of rape. Although no one had been sentenced to death for many years, the government decided to make an example out of Ephraim due to the heinousness of his crime. Many people petitioned for the pardon of Ephraim’s life, even Betsy and Hannah. Despite the petition Ephraim was hanged for his crimes.
The Browns’ main goal was not to evaluate the innocence of Ephraim Wheeler or the accuracy of the trial. As a history book the authors’ goal is to provide the information without bias, and examine the long term effects of the event. To allow the reader to do this, the Browns provided background information on the trial and the social issues leading up to the trial, laid out the trial in a chronological order, and gave the reade...
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...nt is an issue. The purpose of a history book is often to evaluate the significance of the event, but this book does not do that directly. Through the information given the reader is able to understand the importance of the trial, but the book fails to directly address the significance of the event.
The Browns were successful in utilizing the long term effects of the trial without showing bias in “The Hanging of Ephraim Wheeler,” and even though they failed to provide a direct evaluation of the event, the book was still very successful. It is very obvious that a lot of research was put into this book. The research was well organized and properly utilized. The story like nature of this book made it easier to follow, but also factored into the failure to provide a true evaluation of the trial. Despite its faults “The Hanging of Ephraim Wheeler” was truly a good read.
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