The Mercy Seat: Historical Background: Background information when reading The Mercy Seat

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The Mercy Seat

by Elizabeth H. Winthrop

The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop X
The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop
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  • Published:
    May 2018, 240 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite

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The Mercy Seat: Historical Background

This article relates to The Mercy Seat

The Mercy Seat is inspired by true events. In the acknowledgements, the author, Elizabeth H. Winthrop, says that the character Willie Jones is based loosely on two men: Willie McGee and Willie Francis.

Willie McGee, a young black man, was arrested in 1945 in Laurel, Mississippi when a white woman accused him of breaking into her house and raping her at knife-point. Although no white man had ever been given the death sentence for rape in Mississippi, McGee, after a trial that only lasted half a day and jury deliberations of less than five minutes, was found guilty and sentenced to death. Not everyone believed he had committed the crime. Despite suggestions that the sex was consensual and a vigorous campaign to assert McGee's civil rights, he was electrocuted in May 1951.

Willie Francis was just sixteen when he was sentenced to death for the murder of a local pharmacist in St. Martinville, Louisiana. The black teenager's execution by electric chair was scheduled for May 3, 1946. ...

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