Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The McGruff of an Earlier Age

April 19th, 2010 · No Comments


The always excellent Early American Crime just wrapped up a multi-part series on Levi Ames, a Massachusetts burglar who was hanged in 1773. Ames’ story survives in large part because of his last words, delivered on the gallows and commemorated in an illustrated pamphlet bearing the ridiculously non-concise name An address to the inhabitants of Boston, (particularly to the thoughtless youth) occasioned by the execution of Levi Ames, who so early in life, as not 22 years of age, must quit the stage of action in this awful manner. As he bid farewell to this Earthly realm, Ames spent appreciable time warning New England’s youth to obey the Ten Commandments—fairly stock sermonizing for the day. But as Early American Crime recounts, the condemned man also took a moment to offer his fellow citizens on some key security tips:

Keep your doors and windows shut on evenings, and secured well to prevent temptation. And by no means to use small locks on the outside, one of which I have twisted with ease when tempted to steal. Also not to leave linen or clothes out at night, which have often proved a snare to me. Travellers (sic) I advise to secure their saddle bags, boots, &c. in the chambers where they lodge.

Ames may not have been as eloquent as our favorite canine detective, but his words doubtless encouraged more than a few New England families to take a bite out of crime.

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