Nathaniel Gordon

American Pirate & Slave Trader

Born: 1826 in
Portland, Maine

Died: February 21, 1862
 in New York City

Captain Nathaniel Gordon was the first and only American slave-trader to be tried, convicted, and hanged in accordance with the U. S. Piracy Law of 1820. Prior to his slave trading, he had been operating as a pirate along the coast of the United States.

On August 7, 1860 Captain Gordon loaded 897 slaves aboard his slave trading ship Erie at Sharks Point, Congo River, West Africa. The very next day he was captured by the USS Mohican fifty miles from port on August 8, 1860. After one hung jury and a new trial, Gordon was convicted November 9, 1861 in the US Circuit Court at New York and sentenced to death by hanging on February 7, 1862.

Before he could be hung President Abraham Lincoln issued a temporary (2 week) stay of Gordon's execution setting the new date for February 21, 1862. Lincoln made clear that the respite was only temporary to allow Gordon time for his final preparations.

The evening before the execution, Gordon unsuccessfully attempted suicide with strychnine poison prompting the local authorities to move forward the execution to noon from 2:30pm due to Gordonís health.

Gordon was survived by his wife, son and mother.


The execution of Nathanial Gordon

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