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Rush gained the support of Benjamin Franklin and Philadelphia Attorney General William Bradford. In 1794, Pennsylvania repealed the death penalty for all offenses except first degree murder.(Bohm, 1999; Randa, 1997; and Schabas, 1997) Nineteenth Century In the early to mid-Nineteenth Century, the abolitionist movement gained momentum in the northeast.(Randa, 1997) 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.In 1846, Michigan became the first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes except treason. states began abolishing the death penalty, most states held onto capital punishment.Later, Rhode Island and Wisconsin abolished the death penalty for all crimes. Some states made more crimes capital offenses, especially for offenses committed by slaves.This introduction of sentencing discretion in the capital process was perceived as a victory for abolitionists because prior to the enactment of these statutes, all states mandated the death penalty for anyone convicted of a capital crime, regardless of circumstances.
The 1838 enactment of discretionary death penalty statutes in Tennessee, and later in Alabama, were seen as a great reform.(Bohm, 1999) During the Civil War, opposition to the death penalty waned, as more attention was given to the anti-slavery movement.After the war, new developments in the means of executions emerged.In the early part of the century, many states reduced the number of their capital crimes and built state penitentiaries.In 1834, Pennsylvania became the first state to move executions away from the public eye and carrying them out in correctional facilities.
The death penalty was also part of the Fourteenth Century B. C.'s Draconian Code of Athens, which made death the only punishment for all crimes; and in the Fifth Century B. Death sentences were carried out by such means as crucifixion, drowning, beating to death, burning alive, and impalement. D., hanging became the usual method of execution in Britain.