Human beings historically have been quite creative in the methods they have legally employed to put people to death. At one time or another, execution methods have included “flaying and impaling, boiling in oil, crucifixion, pulling asunder, … burying alive, and sawing in half.”1 None of these methods has ever been used legally in the United States, but beheading, pressing to death, drawing and quartering, breaking on the wheel, drowning, and burning at the stake were used as late as the eighteenth century.2 The last execution method-burning at the stake-was reserved for two classes of crimes, both referred to legally as “petit treason.” The first class included the murdering of an owner by a slave or a slave plotting a revolt; the second was the murder of a husband by a wife. Both classes of crimes had in common a challenge to traditional hierarchical authority and were considered especially disruptive of the social order. Burning was employed infrequently.3