Fragment of execution rope used to hang William Williams in 1906. The rope was too long, causing a slow, grisly death and prompting Minnesota to end the death penalty. Williams was the last person to be executed in Minnesota.
The botched execution of William Williams was the last in Minnesota. After newspapers broke state law to report on the event, public opinion turned firmly against the death penalty, and it was repealed in 1911.
The one million acres of land and water bordering Minnesota and Canada called the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, or BWCA, began to be set aside for preservation purposes in 1902. MN90 producer Marisa Helms recounts some of its history.