Mary Rogers

Rogers, Mary

Time Period

1860-1910

Subject Categories

Everyday Life, Law

Notable Facts

Murdered her husband in 1902 and was executed by hanging in 1905. Second Vermont woman to be executed and the last to be hung. Case created much controversy in legal and women's rights circles about the appropriateness of the punishment.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

03/09/1883

Date of Death

12/08/1905

Primary Residence

Bennington

Historical Significance

Mary Rogers killed her husband, Marcus Merritt Rogers with chloroform on August 12, 1902. She was helped by Leon Perham, the son of the owner of the house where she was boarding in Bennington. Her trial moved quickly because she was viewed by the jury and journalists as an "unwomanly monster" and she was sentenced to death by hanging. Immediately after the trial, Rogers gained supporters who opposed her execution. They attempted to get her sentence overturned by the Legislature, and, when that failed, they went to the appeals process. Her case made it to the Vermont Supreme Court, where her appeal was denied. The case went on to the U.S. Supreme Court where it was also denied.

Her supporters tried to justify her pardon by arguing that as a woman, she could not be held fully accountable before the law. Since Vermont state law also classified women with lunatics and idiots, who were never hanged, they argued that Rogers should not be hung. Rogers' case was especially noteworthy because only one other woman had been executed in Vermont before her, and Rogers was the last woman in Vermont to be executed in this manner, in 1905.

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • "Did Mary Rogers Deserve Hanging" by John Stark Bellamy