Thomas Benson and Edward F. Douglass

Benson, Douglas, and James Clements were among the crew of the Glen, a large cargo ship that operated between Maine and San Francisco, sailing around the tip of South America.

After delivering a cargo of lumber to San Francisco in 1849, the ship returned with a cargo of copper picked up in Chile; departing there on August 29, 1850. While still off the South American coast during the early morning of September 17, the Glen’s second mate, Asa Havens, was shot and killed.

The killers – Benson, Douglass, and Clements – then confronted Captain Small with their plan to take over the ship. Small was able to escape and, with the aid of other sailers, was able to capture the mutineers. Small then sailed into Valparaiso, Chile, and turned over the captured men.

New York Evening Post, June 2, 1851

The prisoners were returned to New York for trial for the murder of Asa Havens on the high seas. Convicted in the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York, Edward F. Douglass and Thomas Benson were hanged in New York on July, 25, 1851.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 25, 1851

James S. Clements, convicted at the same time and for the same offense, was pardoned.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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