In 1867, Auburn was home to one of the most vicious murders committed in the state’s history. Clifton Harris, a southern black teenager, was corralled for questioning and within hours confessed to the crime. He was tried and convicted solely upon his own confession, without any evidence against him. Harris became only the second prisoner ever to be executed in Thomaston State Prison. Indeed, the de facto abolition of the death penalty had taken place nearly three decades earlier, but Governor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain steadfastly proclaimed that he would carry out Harris’s death sentence in the face of political opposition. Jason Finkelstein, Bowdoin class of 2009, ﬁrst began his research on Chamberlain due to an infatuation with the Chamberlain lore that is a part of every Bowdoin student’s indoctrination. Mr. Finkelstein currently serves as a Teach For America Corps member in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Finkelstein, Jason. "The Governor’s Gallows: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and The Clifton Harris Case." Maine History 45, 2 (2010): 168-188. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/mainehistoryjournal/vol45/iss2/5