Untold History: Edison and the botching of the electric chair

Below is a rush transcript of this segment:

I want to tell you a story about a guy you never heard of before, William Kemmler. He lived in New York City, a pretty bad guy, a drunk, very abusive to his wife, his child, ugly. He was a vegetable cart salesman, and he would take his vegetables and stuff out, and he would get the food from the farmer's market, stack up his cart, push his push cart out and sell it all day, he'd come home, start drinking and beat his wife.

One day, he came home and I don't remember what the scrabble was about, but all the neighbors heard it, and he went downstairs and he went back to his cart -- trying to remember what he used. I think it was a tapper or 2-by-4, but he went back upstairs, in front of his child, he beat his wife to death. Blood splattered everywhere. He throws the weapon down, walks out in the hall. Everybody in the building had heard it. Everyone was standing out in the hall. As he came around, splattered in blood, he looked at the crowd in the hallway and he said well, they'll hang me for this. He went outside, police came, arrested him.

It was one of the more famous murders in New York City. New York City at the time was a very rough and gruesome place, especially in the Tenderloin District. This is 1890, when political corruption had gone awry, but there was something else that was going on.

Before this murder, for about five years, there was a dentist up in Buffalo, who had written Thomas Edison over and over again, and said there's got to be a more humane way of killing people than hanging. It's barbaric. How can we do it? You are the smartest man in the country.

Thomas Edison wrote back I have no stake on this. I don't know how to help you. The guy kept writing him over and over. Edison, you know, was perturbed by this guy. What does he have to do with me? But that

letter kept coming.

It was sitting on his desk one day, when everyone was up in arms about Kemmler. Edison was trying to stop Tesla's new radical idea of AC. DC was where Edison put all his money. That's a battery, but date, it was a

power plant. A power plant would have been about every two blocks, no more than a mile away, and this would have to be some sort of a coal-fired or diesel-fired generator. I think it was coal-fired at the time and they would have to keep the again rater running all the time to keep your electricity running in your house, and it was now battery-powered, but then, little teeny generators all over the country. That was Edison's idea.

Well, Tesla thought that was ridiculous. You can't have all these generators running every wrote, so he thought of alternating current, AC. That's where we get our plug, our outlets are AC outlets.

Well, Edison had all his money in DC. Edison had all the power, literally, the power in Wall Street and the power of the government. He needed to start some way to thwart Tesla. So what he had done, just google search a couple things today. Google search Topsy the Elephant.

This came after the turn of the century, but in the 1880 an '90s, Edison actually hired a really sick, almost Mengele-like doctor to go around in the towns, all around the country and electrocute with this new AC power, new AC current, electrocute horses and cows and sheep and dogs. It made people violently ill. The doctor would say, just want you to know, this is DC power. Look, I can hold onto it and it shocks you, but doesn't kill you, but let me show you what AC can do. It will kill you dead. You don't want this sitting in your home? How many of us will die because of Tesla and that greedy Westinghouse? Let me show you what happens to a dog.

He would fry a dog, kill a horse. Edison himself, after the turn of the century, just out of sheer spite, electrocuted an elephant. Topsy the Elephant, you can see it on Edison vision, Edison films. He was proud of it. Look it up. Google it.

The reason I bring this story up is because at the time, he couldn't convince the American people, so he decided he would embrace AC. He would embrace Tesla. And say that is really good for something. There's progress for you. We can use this to electrocute people. So because the world or the country was so enamored with the brutal killings that William Kemmler did, Edison used that as the case. He wrote the doctor in Buffalo, New York and said I know what to do. You need to Westinghouse Mr. Kemmler. Westinghouse has this new AC power. I have been saying how dangerous it is.

While Kemmler was in the prison for about two years, because this went on and on. They could have hung him, but they wanted a new humane way. So Edison went and he testified and said this is the way. The doctor that went around, the sick doctor that went around electrocuting horses and -- testified this is the way to do it. Do you have the volts right? You sure we can kill them quickly?

Well, while this was going on, Kemmler, now away from alcohol, now being preached to by the guards and by the warden, had happen change of heart.

He accepted his consequence, knew he had to die, wanted to die, but didn't look forward to it with glee, kill me now. He wanted to go meet Jesus. He knew the only way is if he asked true forgiveness, then accepted the consequences of his actions. At the end, he was actually preaching to the other cell mates, the other people on death row. When the warden eventually came in, the warden was crying, he didn't want to kill him. He knew he had to. Kemmler said don't worry about it. It's my actions that brought this on.

When they strapped him to the electric chair, Kemmler knew that it was a big deal and knew that if it didn't go well, it would hurt the warden. So as they strapped him in, they shaved his head, put a sponge on his head and strapped all this sponge with water, dripping down his face, they strapped his arms in, he said warden, because there were people from The New York Times, people from all over the press, witnesses there, they were all -- I need to talk to you for a second. The warden came over. He said I need to talk to you privately. The warden leaned right into him. He whispered, 'This is not going to go well for you if

I jerk too much. You don't have the straps on my arms tight enough. Please have someone tighten them.'

The warden could barely hold back the tears. He asked for a guard to tighten them back up again. Then they threw the switch. The generator was down below. All the lights dimmed and the juice ran through Kemmler's body. It reason through for I don't know how long, and they stopped. And he was pronounced dead. Then he moved. They listened to his heart. And the people in the room cried out, 'Dear God, he's still alive!'

They scrambled and they turned the juice on again, and they turned the juice on so long to kill him. Reports will say -- there were erroneous reports that he was actually set on fire. I believe he was actually set on fire. I believe that was the Edison machine that tried to lessen the effects, because the reports that I have read was that he was set on fire, that people were vomiting, that people couldn't get out fast enough, because of the stench of the burning flesh. Edison was never, ever questioned or held responsible in any way for that electrocution.

The reason I tell you this story today is because there is a --there's something that happened in Arizona. A man was given the death penalty. He was executed, and he lived. Now, there are some reports saying this was cruel and unusual punishment, because he was groaning, coughing, gasping for air. Others say that's not true. I don't know what the truth is. I don't know what the truth is.

But there's two things that have to be brought up: One, whether we agree with the death penalty or not is beside the point. We have the death penalty in certain states. If we are going to do the death penalty, it needs to be done correctly, swiftly, quickly. I don't know why we don't have a firing squad anymore. You have not 10, 12, 15 people, put a couple of bullets in, make sure they are marksmen, shoot them in the head. That's if you believe in the death penalty. If you don't, then let's make that case. But if you do, what's the fastest way to kill someone? We don't stone people, we don't do what Edison did. And Edison, the worst, I mean -- I hope Edison had a lot of time to think about it in the eternal courts of what he did somewhere for money. But we do the right thing.

So there's point number one. But a bigger point, because it is about us, is what's now happening on the message boards. What's happening on comment sections, what's happening online, what people are actually saying about this guy. And it's the same story we're hearing, no matter what it is, whether it's about Israel, whether it is about the border, or this execution. Yeah, well, look what happened. Look what's been going on for so long. For instance, Israel. Yeah, but this has been going on for a long time. You don't know how disenfranchised and humiliated they were. Whatever. I got it. With the border. Yeah, but this is destroying our country and we have been talking about this for a long time.

I got it. I got it. Justifiable anger. In this case, this guy's been waiting for 25 years. How long do we have to wait? What are all of them saying? What do all those have in common? They all have one thing in common. I want justice. I want justice. When the government loses a handle on justice, we lose a handle on our mercy, because we get angry.

Now, I don't think that the average person is what we're reading on the message boards, the comment sections. I don't think those people are, but I don't know anymore. I don't know anymore. I choose to believe that that is the vast minority, and I really, truly believe it. But I will tell you I don't want to believe the other. I don't want to live in that world where everyone is ugly and dark, because if that's really the way we are, then we are so far lost, the Constitution, everything else, we are going to become Nazi Germany. If that is really who we are, where we don't care and say well, I don't care. Torture him. Kill him, who cares. If that's who we are, kill all the Jews. Let those people on the border just starve. If that's who we are, we are already lost and too far gone, but I don't think we are.

This is why we have to talk about justice. Freedom is a concept, is a luxury, is a luxury for society that pays attention, but we are not even paying attention, so how can we possibly teach freedom when there's no justice? Because what everybody says about freedom, yeah, but what do you do about the bad guys. Well, you don't have an answer for that, because how do I make things -- how do they make things more free, when justice isn't being served under this system?

We have to look for the ways to be just and merciful. We have to boil it down, stop look at the big concepts for a while, and start -- or the small concepts and start looking at the fundamentals, just the fundamentals. And we have to be those people that begin to demand justice on all fronts. If there's an injustice anywhere, there's an injustice everywhere, so we must start to train ourselves to care about the other person's injustice, even though it is not ours, because quite honestly, it is easy to fight for our injustice. It is really hard and I think it's the only when that gives us credibility, when we fight against the injustice against someone else we don't agree with. And that's where we need to be on the front line.

This is a battle, this is a revolution, but it is a revolution of the mind and the heart first.

Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Robert Francis "Beto" O’Rourke's disgusting and obviously-staged political stunt during a press conference about the Ross Elementary School massacre is just another of the many ways that prove the man is "human trash," Glenn Beck and Stu Burguiere agreed on the radio program Thursday.

"Beto is human trash. He is scum. He is the scum of the earth, the lowest form of humanity our society can produce," Stu said in response to a video clip of O'Rourke heckling Gov. Greg Abbott in the middle of an update on the tragic mass killing in Uvalde. "This was obviously staged from the beginning ... clearly planned. Even CBS News pointed it out it was blatantly a staged event. And this guy [O'Rourke], because he wants more power and more money, decided that this event was about him. He wanted to make the [deaths] of 19 children and teachers all about Beto O'Rourke because he is human scum. He is the worst form of life imaginable on this Earth."

Democrats like O'Rourke have been quick to use the tragic deaths of 19 children to advance their own pro-gun law political agendas, particularly "red flag" laws that would empower courts to take guns away from "potentially dangerous" people

"You want a solution? Stop selling AR-15s in the state of Texas. You want a solution? Have universal background checks. We don't have them. You want a solution? Red flag laws or extreme risk protection orders, which stop a shooting before it happens," O'Rourke shouted after being escorted out of the press conference.

Glenn wasn't buying O'Rourke's "righteous indignation," especially as his own resurfaced writings qualify as the "ultimate red flag for any red flag law." As a teen, O'Rourke wrote about hacking, overthrowing the government, and, most disturbingly, murdering children by running over them with his car.

Glenn read an excerpt from a fiction O'Rourke wrote when he was 15 years old:

[O]ne day, as I was driving home from work, I noticed two children crossing the street. They were happy, happy to be free from their troubles. I knew, however, that this happiness and sense of freedom were much too overwhelming for them. This happiness was mine by right. I had earned it in my dreams.

As I neared the young ones, I put all my weight on my right foot, keeping the accelerator pedal on the floor until I heard the crashing of the two children on the hood, and then the sharp cry of pain from one of the two. I was so fascinated for a moment, that when after I had stopped my vehicle, I just sat in a daze, sweet visions filling my head.

"Dangerous, right? Nothing good's going to come of this. According to Reuters, those are the teenage writings of Beto O'Rourke," Glenn said. "The state of Texas should be very aware and not allow [O'Rourke] to buy a gun because of this. This guy, this guy, and his righteous indignation — give it a rest, bud. Give it a rest."

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Texas AG Ken Paxton says gun laws are NOT the answer, urges schools to arm teachers

Photo by Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images

In the wake of the unspeakably grievous mass murder at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, many on the left are calling for increased gun control measures, but without specifying exactly what legislation could have prevented the horrifying event. Attorney General Ken Paxton says gun laws are not the answer. He joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to detail specific measures he believes could stop similar school atrocities in the future: arming teachers.

Paxton told Glenn that Texas has already put laws in place that allow schools to opt in to training and arming teachers as either a marshal or under the guardian program.

"We passed laws when I was in the Texas Senate, I think it was 2013, that would have helped greatly. There's no way that law enforcement can get to every location as fast as they would need to," Paxton said.

Glenn interjected, "I'll tell you, I went to a school where my son was playing football ... and there were signs all over. 'Beware. Teachers are armed. We take the Second Amendment and the protection of our students seriously.' It was so clear — not doing anything here. That's the way to do it."

"Yes," Paxton agreed. "I think that's the way it should be. I mean, these people [shooters], they know they're safe, at least until law enforcement gets there, to accomplish their goals. And we're going to keep seeing this happen until we decide as a state ... to protect these kids," he added.

"It's ridiculous for the Biden administration to suggest that this kid who decided to violate the murder laws would [think], 'Oh. Wait a minute, there's a gun law. I can't do this. I wouldn't violate gun laws.' It's law-abiding citizens that follow the law," Paxton continued. "Second, we have a fentanyl crisis that the Biden administration has presumably invited and we've had over 100, 000 people that overdosed and died from fentanyl. [...] Why isn't the Biden administration so concerned about the hundred and something thousand people that died from overdoses because they opened up the border and allowed fentanyl to come across?"

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In the wake of the horrific Buffalo shooting, the left-wing media tried to paint all conservatives as subscribers to “replacement theory” — the idea that immigrants are taking over to such an extent that they will destroy white Western civilization. Of course, no serious conservative believes in this ugly, racist, dangerous ideology, but there is a ton of ACTUAL replacement going on, and it has nothing to do with immigration or racism.

What we saw yesterday in Uvalde, Texas, is more dark horrific evidence of the only replacement theory that ultimately matters because it affects everything. We’ve replaced God in society. Glenn argues it’s why gun control is ultimately useless — even though he completely understands our human impulse to DO something. While our culture has replaced God for rot, the Biden White House and Democrats are also working overtime to replace key elements of American political, legal, economic, and cultural life.

BlazeTV host Mark Levin of “LevinTV” tells Glenn why Media Matters' latest hit job on him over his Uvalde coverage is pathetic. “Stop pushing God out of the public square” is not a radical concept to help prevent evil from taking hold in our schools. He also takes on the Democrats’ attempts to destroy the Supreme Court, voting rights, and the separation of powers.

BlazeTV host Allie Beth Stuckey of “Relatable” tells Glenn why she believes the Uvalde shooting reveals how we are failing young men in this country and what we must do to stop the replacement theory that threatens to keep an entire generation from becoming a benefit to society.

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Glenn Beck addressed the incomprehensibly tragic mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on the radio program Wednesday, saying it's time to stop with the politics, from both sides, and focus on healing a nation that is tearing itself apart.

"It pains me to think about the political garbage that has happened in the last 12 hours," Glenn began. "I believe that we are on the verge of losing our nation, and the reason why we're about to lose our nation is the same reason some kid walked into an elementary school and shot and killed people. It's not the guns ... it's our society."

Glenn called the tragedies plaguing our nation' —kids shooting kids, committing suicide, dying from fentanyl, joining gangs, and suffering from depression and loneliness — are symptoms of a greater sickness.

"Where's the value of human life? The hatred that is being poured down our throats, the class division, the racism — make no mistake, it is intentional," he stated. "The best way to destroy a nation is to cut it apart. ... In our society, where are the ethics? What are ethics? It's your truth versus my truth. There is no absolute truth. And in a world where there is no truth, who gets to be God? Well, it depends on which group you're in I guess."

Glenn said America’s underlying problem is "a rotting in our soul" and until we "live in a nation that is willing to even recognize that there is something bigger than the self, and it has nothing to do with government, we'll never fix this problem."

"Let's not make this about Democrats and Republicans. Let's just make this about what the hell is going on because everything in our society is falling apart," he said. "And until you're willing to have that conversation, the rest of it is bullcrap."

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