This acknowledgement was sent the following members of 'the John Gordon team' on October 14, 2011: Assistant Public Defender Michael DiLauro, Dr. Patrick Conley - Providence College, Dr. Scott Molloy - University of Rhode Island, Dr. Don Deignan - Irish Famine Memorial Committee, Playright Ken Dooley, Shaun O'Brien - Pawtucket Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Fr. Bernie O'Reilly, Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox, Rhode Island Senate President Teresa Paiva-Weed, Rhode Island Senator Michael J. McCaffrey, Fr. Bernard Healey.
Thank you for all of the support that you provided during the process of pardoning John Gordon.
When I came into this project in December of 2010, the only information that I had was the last man executed in the State of Rhode Island was thought to be an innocent man.
I had learned that information from my Irish American father. He was born, in 1903, to an Irish immigrant mother and a second generation Irish American father. He never even told me that the last man executed was an Irish immigrant. He did tell me that opinions of the man's innocence was the reason Rhode Island had abolished the death penalty.
I have some faint memories of studying about the Dorr Revolution at Providence College but I do not remember much about what I had learned there [over 50 years ago!]. What I do remember from my sophomore year history class is: 'We study the past, so that we can understand the present, and to better prepare for the future!'
The past ten months have provided me with an opportunity to 'study the past'. However, my main focus has been on the 'process of the present'. It was imperative to me that I use my skills to 'drive the bus', i.e., to pull the project together: to set the goals, gather the 'right people', and to monitor the execution of the process through the legislative and executive branches of the State of Rhode Island government.
At the same time, I was 'driving other busses'. I am most proud of three years of work that I did with the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force which culminated in the passage of a law which significantly eased the process of investigation of Internet crimes including the trading of child pornography. I also worked on two significant bills for the commercial fishing industry, a bill to assist in the handling of 'sexting' by minors, a bill to assist programs for the homeless, and a bill to prevent toll violations on the Newport Pell Bridge.
No one has ever referred to me as 'a scholar'. That has been neither my opportunity nor my talent. I am more likely to be called 'an analyst'. Most people who know me well think of me, affectionately I hope, as 'a nerd'. It has been my distinct pleasure to use my abilities to develop the John Gordon segment of my personal website: www.stacyhouse.com. My objective has been, and continues to be, to aggregate the contributions of others so that persons new to this topic will have a single source from which they can gather their initial information.
So we have seen the process publicly and officially declare that John Gordon had been the victim of an 'unfair trial'. It was very important to me that fact be substantiated in the due process of the Rhode Island General Assembly. We accomplished that goal with the March 2011 hearing in the House Committee on the Judiciary and the subsequent processing of a matching Senate resolution by their Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs. These steps were, in my opinion, essential prior to the signing of the pardon of John Gordon by Governor Chafee.
It has been my pleasure to see this project acknowledged and taken up by the Pawtucket Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the members of the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial Committee. We all enjoyed the placing of the plaque on the headstone in St. Mary's Cemetery in Pawtucket and the laying of the engraved stone at the Famine Memorial in Providence [on the Riverwalk near the intersection of Dyer and Hay Streets].
But the process does not end!
The pardon of John Gordon has shed light on a greater issue - that of Capital Punishment. Just prior to last weekend's celebrations there was an execution of another 'minority' member in the State of Georgia. This execution, like that of John Gordon was carried out in spite of public protests of innocence.
These cases and others raise questions once again as to how a society treats its most vulnerable citizens.
I have been asked by Amnesty International at Brown University to speak on a November 3rd panel regarding the use of the death penalty in the United States.
I asked that I could bring more of the 'members' of our project team. That request has been 'put on hold', perhaps for another Amnesty International event.
For now, I will attend the forum, relate the story of John Gordon, summarize the story of the pardon, and give tribute to those of you who were the driving force behind this project, and invite the audience to stop by St. Mary's Cemetery in Pawtucket and the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial.
In preparation for the panel, I took the time to download and read an ebook copy of "Brotherly Love - Murder and the Politics of Prejudice in Nineteenth-Century Rhode Island" by Charles and Tess Hoffman. My first impression was how well Ken Dooley's play - "The Murder Trial of John Gordon" captured the details of the case within two hours. My second impression was to realize, much more deeply, why this case is of such interest to all of the historians and legal experts involved.
Thank you all for your work on this project!
If you have any comments on this issue or this website, please feel free to send an email to: