The Hanging & Redemption of John Gordon - The True Story of Rhode Island’s Last Execution


Review:          The Hanging & Redemption of John Gordon - The True Story of Rhode Island’s Last Execution

Author:           Paul F. Caranci

Forward by:   Patrick T. Conley, Historian Laureate of Rhode Island

How many times I laughed out loud:        None

How many times I cried:                           The whole real-life account is tragic and sad

How many Ah-Ha moments:                   Several

            Paul F. Caranci is a third-generation resident of North Providence. Rhode Island’s rich and sometimes tragic history is what has captivated Paul most of his life.  He is a true historian, and along with his wife Margie, founded the Municipal Heritage Group in 2009.  He also on the board of directors of the Heritage Harbor Museum and the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame. He is also no stranger to politics either, having served as Rhode Island’s deputy secretary of state since 2007.  He was also elected to and served on the North Providence Town Council from 1994-2010.  

            Today, he is on a mega book tour promoting his latest body of work, and writing well-researched and interesting books on our local history, which have history buffs salivating for more!  And more is coming...  trust me. I can tell you from reading Caranci’s work, this book is gripping - because it’s real life and a part of our history!  Everyone knows the Sprague mansion in Cranston, but not everyone is aware of the murder of Amasa Sprague in the 1800’s. 

            The Hanging & Redemption of John Gordon - The True Story of Rhode Island’s Last Execution is about Rhode Island’s last victim of capital punishment, John Gordon. Through diligent research and interviews with other local historians and experts, who inspired, supported and encouraged Caranci’s book, he brings to life the murder of Amasa Sprague, and the flawed system that held John Gordon accountable for his death.

            It was back in 1843 when Amasa Sprague, a wealthy Yankee mill owner, was walking on a cold winter’s day to check on his cattle.  It was then, when he was alone and vulnerable, he was attacked and bludgeoned to death and left facedown in the snow to die.  According to Caranci, judicial bias, witness perjury, and societal bigotry led to the outrageous conviction of a twenty-nine-year-old Irish-Catholic, John Gordon. Despite evidence that exonerated Gordon, Caranci says, Gordon was sentenced to hang. Through this book, Paul F. Caranci brings this story back to life, and places you at the scene of the crime as well as the legendary trial of John Gordon.

            This book is incredibly well-told and a true page turner...  however, one can’t truly let go of this book once they’ve finished it.  The story will haunt you.  It is truly a sad story that makes you consider whether or not this could ever happen again.  It also makes you reflect on capital punishment in our society. 

            The Hanging & Redemption of John Gordon - The True Story of Rhode Island’s Last Execution is published by The History Press and is available on and Barnes & Noble. For more information on author Paul F. Caranci, please check out his website at: