Death Penalty History Essay

1266 Words 6 Pages
The death penalty has been used as a penalty for disobeying the law since the 18th century B.C., in the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon. The Hammurabi Code included the death penalty for more than 20 different crimes. Since then, most countries have adopted the death penalty at some point.
The integration of the death penalty in the United States was largely influenced from Britain, as Britain had a major history of capital punishment. In 1612, Thomas Gale, the Virginia governor at the time, created the Divine, Moral, and Martial Laws, which allowed the death penalty for crimes as insignificant as stealing grapes and trading with Indians. In 1622, the first legal execution in the United States occurred. Daniel Frank was hanged for stealing and killing a calf from the previous colonial territory governor of Virginia.
In the period of 1612-1776, throughout the United States, the death penalty was given out for crimes such as arson, piracy, treason, murder, sodomy, burglary, robbery, rape, horse-stealing, slave rebellion, and often counterfeiting.
Many have argued that the death penalty is unconstitutional as well as immoral, with the first reform of the death penalty starting in 1776. Thomas Jefferson, among others, proposed a bill
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Executions were done publicly in these years, where thousands of people would line up to watch the act. Merchants would even sell alcohol and souvenirs during the events. Executions were treated as public shaming events at this time. Though it may seem like this could have provided motivation for those watching to not want to end up in that same position, the people treated it as a show. They seemed to take it lightly- getting drunk while observing the show. It was not a time for those in the public to hide in fear of execution. These public executions were viewed by some as cruel, but there wasn’t a breakthrough for over 100 years later until there finally was in

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