Execution on the White House Lawn

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

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We are frequently asked whether Jefferson played a role in a White House Lawn Execution for someone convicted of treason. This is a myth. [1] Jefferson never personally shot anyone or order anyone to be shot for any reason. Also, there were no treason executions or convictions during Jefferson's presidency. Jefferson did help write a "Bill to Attaint Josiah Philips and Others" in 1778, which ordered the trial and provided for the execution of the murderer and bandit Josiah Philips for treason. Josiah Philips was eventually found and convicted of robbery, not treason.[2]


  1. In the movie Swordfish (2001), John Travolta's character, Gabriel Shear, states that this actually happened.
  2. PTJ 2:189-193.

Further Sources

Swordfish on Yahoo! Movies