[D8933AAN7], Letter from Arthur Edwin Kennelly to Harold P Brown, June 29th, 1889


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[D8933AAN7], Letter from Arthur Edwin Kennelly to Harold P Brown, June 29th, 1889

Editor's Notes

In view of the present condition of affairs in the matter of elecrocide, the forthcoming judicial examiniation, and at Mr. Edison's instance, I beg to bring the following consideration before your notices. The only argument of an weight which can be urged against electrocide, on the score of a cruel punishment, is that the application may burn the flesh of the criminal at the ponts of contact, and that the amount of current which can be given without such mutilation is not yet known. Other arguments, such as the unknown quanitity of current necvessary, really merge into the proceeding, because it is only a question of giving such a large margin of current strength as shall inevitably be fatal. If, then, by definite experiment before competent witnesses a srtrong current could be sent through a man's body under parallel conditions without producing any external injury, the internal lesions, if not too violent, woud not call for any comment. This experiment, if successfully carried out would effectually silence the mutilation argument. Any reasonable strength of current, whether continuous or alternating, could be safely sent through the skin, provided the latter were immersed in salt water and thus provided with a liquid electrode, because it is a matter of physical certainty that the temperature at the skin's surface could not exceed the boiling point of water, so long as the liquid envelope remained intact, and the heat supply in the flesh was not excessive. I imagine that perhaps ten amperes could in this way be sent through the skin of a human ar for thirty seconds without mutilating it externally. I remain yours truly A. E. Kennelly, Electrician, Edison Co.






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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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