Tom Edison and George Westinghouse battled for years over which type of electricity would be the worldwide standard. The Current War incited Tom to electrocute a six-ton elephant named Topsy.
It’s 1904. Edison is on trial for Topsy’s premeditated murder a year earlier. In an unusual legal maneuver, Westinghouse assumed the state’s prerogative by retaining the prosecutor, Bourke Cockran, a wealthy Manhattan attorney, Federal Congressman, and a mainstay in the Democratic Party. Edison retained the defense, Elias Kilgore, another wealthy Manhattan attorney with a long list of millionaire clients.
At stake are the reputation and life of Tom Edison, the validity of the death penalty, the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, our laws governing our treatment of animals, and our continuing journey to be a more humane society.
The world is watching.