Essay About The Death Penatly in America (1500's-Today)

Essay by BamboozledHigh School, 10th gradeA+, December 2003

download word file, 3 pages 4.5

The famous Philosopher Epicurus once said," Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not. This quote was once said by Steven Hatch before his execution in 1996. There has been a long list of names of people that have been given the death sentence in this country. Many are unaware of the history behind the death penalty in the United States.

The idea of the death penalty was first introduced by the British and introduced to the United States in colonial times. Britain influenced America's use of the death penalty more than any other country. When European settlers came to the new world, they brought the practice of capital punishment. The first recorded execution in the new colonies was that of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608. Kendall was executed for being a spy for Spain.

Laws regarding the death penalty varied from colony to colony, similar to the United States today. The Massachusetts Bay Colony held its first execution in 1630. The New York Colony instituted the Duke's Laws of 1665. Under these laws, offenses such as striking one's mother or father, or denying God were punishable by death. In 1846, Michigan became the first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes except treason. Later, Rhode Island and Wisconsin abolished the death penalty for all crimes. By the end of the century, the world would see the countries of Venezuela, Portugal, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Brazil and Ecuador follow. The 1960s brought challenges to the fundamental legality of the death penalty. In the late 1960s, the Supreme Court began fine tuning the way the death penalty was administered. One problem that the Judicial system faced was the idea of...