US pardons Irishman hanged for murder 150 years ago as victim of 'anti-Catholic bigotry'

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John Gordon, who in 1845 was the last person to be executed in the state of Rhode Island, was hanged for supposedly murdering Amasa Sprague, a wealthy mill-owner from an important local family.

Lincoln Chafee, the Governor of Rhode Island, said that Mr Gordon had been “put to death after a highly questionable judicial process and based on no concrete evidence”.

Mr Sprague was the brother of the one-time state governor and US Senator William Sprague. His killing inflamed tensions between Rhode Island's ‘Yankee’ protestant majority and the newly-arrived Irish population.

After Mr Sprague's body was found brutally beaten on a snowy road on New Year's Day 1844, Mr Gordon and his two brothers, Nicholas and William, were quickly placed in the frame....

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