The youngest person to have been executed in the United States was that of 14-year-old George Stinney. George lived in small, working class town where white and black neighborhoods were divided by railroad tracks. In March 1944, two white girls, Betty (age 11) and Mary (age 8) were riding their bikes searching for flowers. As they passed by George’s property, they asked him if he knew where they could find a particular type of flower. When the girls did not return, hundreds of volunteers began searching for them and eventually came across their bodies in a ditch. Both had suffered from major blunt force trauma to the face and head. Additionally, there were signs of sexual assault on the older girl. Since George was last seen talking to the girls, he was immediately charged with the murders, even though there was no physical evidence to implicate him. George was taken to trial and was found guilty by an all-white jury. 

George died in the electrical chair in less than three months after the murders had happened. As of December 2014, over 70 years after his execution, George’s name was cleared of any guilt due to the lack of concrete evidence.


James M. Cain

Bon on this date July 1 in 1892, James M. Cain was one of the most famous of the hard-boiled fiction writers who came to prominence in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. His place in history is further assured by the film adaptations of three of his novels, classics in film noir: Double Indemnity (1944, starring Barbara Stanwyck), Mildred Pierce (1945, starring Joan Crawford) and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946, starring Lana Turner). 

Raised and educated in Maryland, Cain served in the military in France during World War I, then worked in Baltimore as a journalist and teacher during the 1920s. Between 1932 and 1947 he lived in southern California, writing essays, short stories, novels and screenplays. His unsentimental crime story The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) was a popular success, and Cain followed up with more rough-edged hits, including Serenade (1937), Mildred Pierce (1941) and the serialized Double Indemnity (1942). In 1947 he returned to Maryland and continued writing, but it is generally held that his best work was done before World War II.

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U.S. Navy sailors relax and drink beer under the palms on Mogmog island. Part of the Ulithi atoll in the Pacific, on 23 September 1944, a regiment of the U.S. Army’s 81st Infantry Division landed on the atoll unopposed, followed a few days later by a battalion of United States Naval Construction Forces (nicknamed ”Seabees”, from “CBs” which in turn comes from the term Construction Battalions). The survey ship USS Sumner (AGS-5) examined the lagoon and reported it capable of holding 700 vessels, a capacity greater than either Mauro in the Marshall Islands or Pearl Harbor. It became the undisclosed Pacific base for major operations late in the war, including Leyte Gulf and the invasion of Okinawa. After Leyte Gulf was secured, the U.S. Pacific Fleet moved its forward staging area to Leyte, and Ulithi was all but abandoned. In the end, few U.S. civilians ever heard of Ulithi. By the time Naval security cleared release of the name, there were no longer reasons to print stories about it. The war had moved on, but for seven months in late 1944 and early 1945, the large lagoon of the Ulithi atoll was the largest and most active anchorage in the world. Mogmog island, Ulithi atoll, Yap, Caroline Islands (now, Federated States of Micronesia). March 1945.  

Woman writing in ledger book, New York, 1944. Photograph by Constantin Joffé. Image © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis.

The World War II change in women’s roles is reflected here as a traditional male function of the oversight of a business financial records is the responsibility of a woman. Her business attire and high-rise office with a view suggest a position of authority. Her dress is modest with similarities to a uniform.