Updated:
Original:
Year
1814
Month Day
March 28

Funeral held for the man behind the guillotine

The funeral of Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, the namesake of the infamous execution device, takes place outside of Paris, France. Guillotin had what he felt were the purest motives for inventing the guillotine and was deeply distressed at how his reputation had become besmirched in the aftermath. Guillotin had bestowed the deadly contraption on the French as a “philanthropic gesture” for the systematic criminal justice reform that was taking place in 1789. The machine was intended to show the intellectual and social progress of the Revolution; by killing aristocrats and journeymen the same way, equality in death was ensured.

The first use of the guillotine was on April 25, 1792, when Nicolas Pelletier was put to death for armed robbery and assault in Place de Greve. The newspapers reported that guillotine was not an immediate sensation. The crowds seemed to miss the gallows at first. However, it quickly caught on with the public and many thought it brought dignity back to the executioner.

However, the prestige of the guillotine fell precipitously due to its frequent use in the French Terror following the Revolution. It became the focal point of the awful political executions and was so closely identified with the terrible abuses of the time that it was perceived as partially responsible for the excesses itself. Still, it was used sporadically in France into the 20th century.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

President Eisenhower dies

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States and one of the most highly regarded American generals of World War II, dies in Washington, D.C., at the age of 78. Born in Denison, Texas, in 1890, Eisenhower graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1915, ...read more

Spanish Civil War ends

In Spain, the Republican defenders of Madrid raise the white flag over the city, bringing to an end the bloody three-year Spanish Civil War. In 1931, Spanish King Alfonso XIII approved elections to decide the government of Spain, and voters overwhelmingly chose to abolish the ...read more

First American citizen killed during WWI

On March 28, 1915, the first American citizen is killed in the eight-month-old European conflict that would become known as the First World War. Leon Thrasher, a 31-year-old mining engineer and native of Massachusetts, drowned when a German submarine, the U-28, torpedoed the ...read more

Baltimore Colts move to Indianapolis

On this day in 1984, Bob Irsay (1923-1997), owner of the once-mighty Baltimore Colts, moves the team to Indianapolis. Without any sort of public announcement, Irsay hired movers to pack up the team’s offices in Owings Mills, Maryland, in the middle of the night, while the city of ...read more

Congress censures Jackson

On this day in 1834, President Andrew Jackson is censured by Congress for refusing to turn over documents. Jackson was the first president to suffer this formal disapproval from Congress. During his first term, Jackson decided to dismantle the Bank of the United States and find ...read more