Execution on the White House Lawn

From Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia

Revision as of 15:52, 10 February 2009 by ABerkes (Talk | contribs)

There is a very persistent story that Thomas Jefferson personally executed someone on the White House lawn for treason. This is not true. The story, as far as we know, originated entirely with the movie Swordfish (2001), where it is mentioned by John Travolta's character, Gabriel Shear.

Some websites claim that Jefferson executed a man named Rodney Cox during his presidency. We have found no evidence of such an event in any of Jefferson's papers or contemporary newspapers.

Jefferson never personally shot or killed anyone, nor were there any treason executions or convictions during his presidency. Jefferson did help to draft 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.[1]


  1. PTJ 2:189-193.

Further Sources

Swordfish on Yahoo! Movies