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" It is not the will of your Father which ia in Heaven that one of these 
little ones should perish." Christ. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by 
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court, for the Southern District 
of Ohio. 









iljis Volume is |lesp£dfullg mxh giffectionalelg Jfbicale^, 



Thk Author of the following pages, if he knows himself, would 
place nothing upon paper to injure society. What he writes is the result 
of years of investigation and observation, and is given to the world with 
a desire alone to benefit his fellow-men, especially the little ones and 
weak of the human family. "Have wo not all one Father, hath not 
one God created us?'* is a question asked by the ancient Servant of God, 
and answered in the affirmative by the Teachings, the Sympathies, and 
the Cross of Christ as well as the divine within us. I am, therefore, 
R constituent member of the "Great Brotherhood,'* and if a true fol- 
lower of my Master, must not injure the weakest, the most sinful, or the 
most ignorant of the race, but labor for the welfare and happiness of 
all. Humanity is never dangerous. In all ray investigation, my obser- 
vation and experience, I have never learned that the study, the cultiva- 
tion or the practice oE this divine principle would injure any one. No 
one, therefore, need fear harm from a perusal of these chapters, or a 
practical observance of the principles^ which they illustrate. 

Society, throughout the civilized world, has advanced in its human- 
ities ; but is there not room for still greater advancement? Is not our 
Christianity still dogmatic rather than practical? These important ques- 
tions are considered at length in this work. Crucifixion, burning, roast- 
ing, starving, sawing asunder, were once deemed indispensable to the 
safety and purity of society ani the Church, while at a later day 
the whipping-post, pillory and the stocks were regarded as equally 



indispensable. But we have learned to live without these relics of bar- 
barism. Can we not learn to live without other things, equally unneces- 
sary, even if they are less cruel than the customs and institutions of our 
fathers? The Inquisition is not so dreadful as endless hell-fire, but shall 
we, therefore, sustain the Inquisition? Shall we maintain the gibbet, if 
unnecessary, because the gibbet is less cruel than the faggot? Shall we 
practice any cruelty in the punishment of our fellow- men, or refuse to 
aid the poor and unfortunate, with the ploa that our practices are more 
benevolent than those of our ancestors, if a full and free play of our 
humanity would be more Christian and better for them, for us, and for 
society? The author of this work is fully convinced, by reading, and 
more especially, by personal investigation in jails and prisons, among 
prisoners, and his intercourse with the poor, the ignorant and unfortunate, 
that the Christian world is yet governed too generally by revenge, and 
too little by the spirit of Christ and a true humanity. The result of our 
investigations are before the reader. Our philosophy is based w^on facts. 
It is not utilitarian but Christian. "Let God be true but every man a 

In what we have said we have studied for clearness rather thau 
ornament in style. We have written for the heads and hearts of men 
eeeking for truth. To all such is this book respectfully dedicated, and 
given to the world with the prayer to God that, as imperfect as it is, it 
may be instrumental in helping on the groat cause of humanity. 

Cincinnati, Octd)er, 1856. 


CHAPTER I. Growth of Humanity. 

Growth, a law of Nature — Man in his Rude State — Progress of Art, Science, 
Education — The certainty of Progression in Humanity — The Hope of Doomed 
Millions— SaTageness of Soniety on the Introduction of Christianity— Herod — 
Titus — Nero — Savage Condition of the Gentler Sex — Beauty of the Bible 
Amidst this Deformity Page 11 

CHAPTER n. Progress in the Last two Centuries. 

Inhumanity of France and England Two Hundred Years ago — Cruelty of 
Persecution gradually Softened — Inhumanity of Louis XIV — Inhumanity of 
the Pilgrim Fathers — Persecution of the Quakers — The Softening of Penal 
Codes — One Hundred and Fifty Offenses punished with Death in England — 
Codes of England, Sweden, Germany, France, and Poland— Hanging for 
Stealing Forty Shillings — Touching case of the Execution of a Young 
Woman in England — Case of a Young Girl — Progress of Humanity in the 
Improvement of the Poor, Ignorant, Sick, and Suffering — Extract from 
Macaulay 20 

CHAPTER m. Appeal to Christians. 

Humanity is not yet " Full Grown " — Dreadful Evils still Exist — The Conserv- 
ative has no desire to go Back, and will not Advance — Opinions of Generations 
to come of our Barbarities — The duty of the Christian to the Living — Chris- 
tians must Labor in the Cause of Humanity, or the Work must Stop — The 
Growth of Humanitj' confined to Christian Countries — Dreadful Barbarities 
of the Chinese — Where Christianity prevails in its Purest and most Living 
form, there is the Largest Benevolence 37 

CHAPTER IV. Abolishment of the Gallows. 

The Gallows a Relic of Barbarism — It is Unnecessary and Unchristian — It 
has been regarded as 1 he Hand-maid of the Church, but so was the Pillory, 
the Stocks, and the Whipping-post — The Charge of " Morbid Sympathy " — It 
will not apply to the Great and Good who have labored for Reform — The Boy 
Hung in Alexandria, La. — Touching Incidents 46 

CHAPTER V. Vengeance of the Gallows. 

The Gallows an Institution of Vengeance — Lynch Law — " String him up," 
" Stretch his Neck," " Burn him," not Christian Exclamations — Execution of 
Colt in New York — Declaration of Vengeance of Christian Ladies in Cincin- 
nati — All this Foreign from the Christian Religion, and Condemned by it- • 61 

CHAPTER VI. Individual Responsibility 

Each Citizen's Responsibility for the Acts of the Gallows — Inconsistency o 
Christians — "Thou shalt not Kill" — Killing by Proxy — Dreadful case of 
Young Boyington— So long as the Death Penalty remains, can I shake off my 
Individual Responsibility — I wish to have no Part or Lot in the f^hedding of 
Human Blood— The Authority of the State to Kill— Has it such Authority ?— 
Argument of Rantoul 56 



OHAPTER Vn, Irremediabilitr. 

Execution of the Innocent— The Evil can not be Eemedied— Declaration of 
Lafayette— Execution of the Innocent during the French Revolution — 
Injustice of Executing the Innocent — Instance of the Imprisonment of an 
Innocent Man— Execution of an Innocent Man in Indiana— Execution of a 
Poor German— Execution of an Innocent Young Girl— Innocent Man Hung 
in England— Circumstantial Evidence not to be relied on — Positive Evidence 
not always Certain — Extract from O'Connel 67 

CHAPTER Vin. The Bible Argument 

The Death Penalty forbidden by the Christian Scriptures— Authority of the 
Scriptures above Human Authority — The Lex talionis of the Jews— The Law 
of Love, the Christian Law — Touching Accounts of recent Executions — All 
Christian Codes must Harmonize with the Law of Love — The Old Covenant 
not binding on Christians 85 

CILAJPTER IX. Covenant with Noah— Moses. 

Is it Positive, Universal, and Perpetual ?— Accidental Killing— Killing in Self- 
defense, or in Defense of one's Country, must be visited with Death — The 
Executioner must be Slain— Death Penalty not known till the Year of the 
World 1660 — Cain not put to Death — Lamech not put to Death — Moses a 
Murderer and not Slain — Numerous other cases of the same Description — 
God did not Himself regard the Declaration to Noah— The true Rendering and 
Teaching of the Text— Opinion of Learned Men — Evidence conclusive against 
the Continuance of the Gallows 95 

CHAPTER X. Gallows Unnecessary. 

The Death Penalty not necessary to Personal or Social Security— We have 
strong Prisons — The Murderer is not secured by the present Law—Difficult to 
Convict— Facts from the Criminal Records in the United States and England 
— There is a Repugnance to taking Human Life — If not Convicted the Mur- 
derer returns to Society — With the Penalty of Imprisonment for Life, he 
would be secured 145 

CHAPTER XI. Difficult to Enforce the Law. 

Scruples of Jurors— Loth to Convict— The condition of Criminal Jurisprudence 
in Ohio, as presented by a Cincinnati Editor— The cause of Laxity on the part 
of Jurors to Convict— The Gallows stands in the way of Justice— It Facilitates 
the Escape of the Guilty — Folly of Instituting Laws which can not be Enforced 
Criminal Jurisprudence in Hamilton County, Ohio, for Fifteen Years — Large 
number of Murders- But one Hung— How it worked in England— France. 154 

CHAPTER Xn. Executions Deleterious as Examples. 

The Gallows a Terror to Evil Doers— This is nn Error— The Reverse is True- 
Facts adduced in Proof— The Gallows hidden from the Public in fifteen States 
— Lecount's Execution — Certainty of Punishment more Salutary than Severity 
— Opinion of Jurors— How it worked in England and other Countries — Inter- 
esting Incidents — Testimony of RantoulandLivingston — Proofs Conclusive* 171 

CHAPTER Xm. Result of Experience Favorable. 

Men ask for Practical Proofs — States and Countries have tried Abolishment — 
Result Favorable — Trial in Maine — No Executions in Twenty-two Years — 
Vermont — Massachusetts — Michigan — Wisconsin — Effects of the Softening of 
Penal Codes in England and other Countries — Effects of Abolishment in 
Tuscany — Tuscany compared with Rome — Effects of Abolishment in Belgium — 
Also in Bombay and Russia 191 


CHAPTER XIV. Philosophy of Humanity Favorable. 

Validity of our Philosophy doubted — Kindness in the Government of Home 
and the Family — A State or Nation a Family — Want of Faith in Goodness to 
overcome Evil — Saying of the French Sage— Example of the State — Conversa- 
tion of the Monk and the Executioner — Influence of Bloody Examples — 
Sacredness of Human Life should he enforced — Early Training of Children — 
The Quakers free from Crime — Children of Newgate Criminals 212 

CHAPTER XV, Ends of Punishment not Answered. 

Three objects of Punishment — Reformation — Example — Reparation — What 
Punishment is — What Revenge is — The Christian Law — Strangling men will 
not Reform them — It is not an Example of Good — It can not restore the Life 
of the Murdered Victim 218 

CHAPTER XVI. Objections Considered. 

The Murderer not fit to Live — Give him time to Repent, then Hang him — Not 
entitled to Live — Sufferings of the Innocent — Interesting Incident — Lecount 
and his Mother — Col. Hayne and his Son — James Dawson and bis intended 
Bride— Conclusion 222 



CHAPTER I. Crime— The Criminal and the Prison. 

Crime in New York City, Philadelphia, and the United States — Crime in Great 
Britain and France — Crime in Christendom — Five Hundred Thousand Crimi- 
nals in the Christian World — What shall be done with them — Mad-Houses in 
the Past — Prisons in the Past — Ti-eatment of Prisoners regarded as Incurable 
—Dreadful Cruelty 231 

CHAPTER II. Demands of Christianity. 

What Shall we do with the Criminal? — He belongs to the Body Politic — Christ 
the Head of every Man — Christians still destitute of Sympathy — No Patience 
for the Criminal — Patience of Christ — Patience of God— Story of Abraham 
and the Sinner — Imperfection of Humanity— God the Common Father — We are 
all Members of the same Family — Christ came to Bless all, but especially the 
Sinful and Unfortunate 237 

CHAPTER III. Abandoned Vagrant Children. 

Crime in Embryo — Abandoned Vagrant Children — Twenty-two Thousand in 
New York City — Dogma of Total Depravity False and Pernicious — Necessity 
of a Proper Culture — Good Seed and Soil in every Soul — Interesting Inci- 
dent at Long Island Farms — What the State is doing to Crush these Little 
Ones — Doing Nothing for them — Children Seven years old in Jail — What it 
should do in their Behalf— Ohio Penitentiary — New York — JIassachusetts — 
Vermont — Benevolent Societies not Suflicient 243 

CHAPTER IV. The Criminal— His Treatment. 

The Small Offender— Treatment not Reformatory— The Rookery— The House 
of Correction— The Jail— Unfortunate Females— Their Treatment— Should le 
Aided and Encouraged— The State never Aids them — How it works in New 
York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati — Experience of Isaac Hopper, the Philanthropist 
—Interesting Incident — Prisons for Small Offenders should resemble a House 
of Reform— The Duty of the State—Individual Effort not SuflBicient 257 




t3HAPTER V. The Jail and the Penitentiary. 

Need of Eeform in the Common Jail— Congregated System Injurious— Jail in 
Cincinnati— The Influence of the Old Criminal on the Young— Present System 
makes Ciminals — Facts Related — Importance of Labor — Expense of Maintain- 
ing the Prisoner in Idleness— Reformation of the Offender the most Important 
Consideration — The Penitentiary — The Old System — Progress already made — 
More to be Done— Work of Howard, the Philanthropif-t- Eastern Penitentiary 
of Pennsylvania — Separate System — Its Advantages— Ignoi-ance the Cause 
of Crime — Reform needed in the Educational Department — Also in the Dis- 
ciplinary — Power of Kindness— Prisoners should be Encouraged when in Prison 
and when they return to the World— Interesting Facts 268 



CHAPTER I. Perishing Ones. 

Poverty in Christian Lands— England— France— Ireland — Scotland — United 
States — London — New York — Pauperism — Beggary — Needle Women — Interest- 
ing Incident — Death by Starvation in Philadelphia and Cinciiiiiati — Romance 
of a Shirt — Suffering in Philadelphia — Working Classes in Great Britain — 
United States — Many of them Slaves — Family Stowage in New York — Inhu- 
uianity of Christians. 293 

CHAPTER n. Jesus and the Poor. 

The Life and Spirit of Christ— His Humility— Design of Christianity— Christ 
Unfelt in the Church— Christianity Provides for the Wants of the Body, as 
well as the Wants of the Soul — Christians Neglect Poor 3Ien's Bodies in their 
Attention to the Soul — Catholic Church — Its Neglect of the Poor — A 
Farce 305 

CHAPTER m. Character of our Christianity. 

Personal and National Pride and Fashion hold Rule in the (Ihurch — Charity 
thrust out — I/anded Estates of Great Britaiu in Possession of the Aristocracy — 
Twenty-six Millions destitute of a Foot of Territory — The Church the Aris- 
tocracy — Cost of maintaining it comes upon the Poor— Enormous Expense of 
maintaining the Royal Family- Facts Stated — Christ r.ud the British Queen — 
France, and her Millions expended for Ornament — Spain and her Christianity — 
Strange Charity of a Queen — What America i:f doing 312 

CHAPTER IV. An Appeal. 

Oneness of the Human Family — Dependence of all Classes Mutual — Appeal 
to Members of our National Councils — To Christian IMinisters, Lawyers, 
Doctors, Teachers, Artists, Farmers, Mechanics Traders, the Old and Young 
the Learned and Ignorant, to help in the Geo J Work — Brighter Day Dawning — 
Conclusion 323 




Growth, a law of Nature— Man in his rude State— Pro Rress of Art, Science, Educa- 
tion—Power, destitute of Benevolence, a Curse— The certainty of Progression in Hu- 
manity-— The Hope of doomed Millions— Savageness of Society on the introduction of 
Christianity— Herod the ci-nel— Titus, " the Darling of Mankind"— Nero— Savage con- 
dition of the most refined Women— The Beauty of the Gospel amidst this Deformity. 

Growth, improvement, progression, seem a law of na- 
ture, and tlie destiny of our race. Even the earth, itself, 
is not destitute of active forces. Each moment the old 
is passing into newness of life. The mass of matter 
which, in the beginning, is said to have been " without 
form and void," has become the beautiful world which 
surrounds us. In this perpetual recreation, noble forests, 
luxuriant meadows, beautiful shrubbery and fragrant 
flowers of a thousand tints have sprung into being, ren- 
dering charming the earth-home which our good Father 
has given us for a brief time. ^. 

Man, too, is progressive in the elements of his being — 
in his INTELLECT and his heart. At first he was rude. 
His ideas were simple and his wants few. The bear was 
better fed, and the panther better armed, than he 

Thus was he thrown upon his own resources. Neces- 
sity gave him energy. He sewed fig leaves and covered 
his nakedness. He had, too, his brain and his two hands 
with which to labor; but no work-shop — no mill, and no 




steam-engine. At length he constructed his stone axe, 
and, by degrees, his saw and sledge-hammer. Then he 
forsook his cave-home and dwelt in his rude hut. But 
he tarried not here; for while the bear is only and always 
a bear, no more and no less, from age to age— boasting 
only of his fur coat, his claws and his teeth — there is 
something divine in man which prompts him to activity 
and improvement, and to look beyond the mere supply of 
his necessities, and aim at comfort, elegance and beauty. 
Hence the rude hut gradually passed into a habitation 
of refinement. ' Simple studs and rafters became col- 
umns, arches and domes; and so, at length, followed out in 
all their detail of order and beauty, the plinth, die, cor- 
nice, base, capital, architrave and mouldings, to give 
symmetry, finish and perfection to the structure; and 
thus architecture became, by degrees, a fine art. And 
what have we now ? Lift up your eyes and behold the 
thousands of magnificent cities that dot the earth; — the 
grandeur of their temples and public edifices; — our mills, 
with their millions of spindles and thundering looms ; — 
our work shops, with their multiplied implements for 
construction ; — our improvements in the arts of hus- 
bandry and in the modes of commerce. Behold oceans 
spanned, and nations linked by steam-ships — and coun- 
tries welded by iron bars, over which people of a thous- 
and realms pass in flying palaces drawn by fiery steeds. 

The same law of development prevails in Philosophy 
and Science. 

The crucible and the telescope, the galvanic battery 
and the revelations of philosophy, as directed by human 
research and ingenuity, have astonished the world. The 
earth, once thought to be the center and bulk of the uni- 
verse, now dwindles beneath our feet to a mere point; 
while the twinkling stars, regarded by the ancients as 


SO many lamps suspended in the midway heayens for the 
convenience of our earth, now burst upon us with all the 
grandeur of stupendous worlds, peopled with millions 
t)f sentient beings, and spinning through the heavens 
with the velocity of lightning, and the order and pre- 
cision of mathematical certainty. 

I suppose there are but few or none in any community 
disposed to contradict, or even to doubt, the development 
of which I speak, as connected with the Material or the 
Intellectual. All men of thought, who know anything 
of the past, are certain that the world is progressing in 
learning, philosophy, science, art, political economy and 
a true civilization. But all men of thought are not cer- 
tain that the race is progressing in Humanity. On the 
contrary, many affirm that the world, like a patient hope- 
lesssly sick, is getting no better, but worse continually; 
more corrupt, wicked and oppressive, and less kind, be- 
nevolent and humane. Such persons are always doubt- 
ing the mollifying influences of the Christian religion, and 
the prophetic declarations of the Bible with reference to 
the growth of humanity among the nations. And not 
only so, but they are constantly regretting that they were 
born into the world at so late a period. " x\h !" they 
groan, " the times are not what they once were ! The 
days of our good old fathers were happy days. There 
was less oppression and more humanity than now, and a 
great deal more true enjoyment." So chime the croakers. 

It is strange that while society is moving forward with 
eager speed, that so many should be filled with doubt, 
and, dissatisfied with the present, should look back and 
with regrets so tender, sigh for the " good old days" 
of the dark ages. 

I desire, then, in the beginning, to show to this class, 
and to all. the sure growth of the human soul in the 


divine principle of benevolence. I wish to demonstrate 
to every reader the certainty of such a growth; and further, 
that the developments of humanity are never deleterious 
to society, but, on the contrary, serve to soften and sub- 
due the sinful. I am specially desirous to impress this 
important truth on the hearts of all professed Christians, 
and to convince them that Christianity has something to 
do with the progression of which I speak. 

Now, to me, the thought is a glorious one, and full of 
encouragement, that while the public mind of all civilized 
society is ripening with wisdom, it is softening with 
benevolence. What are nations and communities, desti- 
tute of benevolence or humanity ? What the power of 
millions of men — each as learned as the seven wise men 
— boasting of philosophy, science, riches, without hu- 
manity to control and direct their energies? Such power 
would prove but a dreadful engine of cruelty and oppres- 
sion. What every good man desires above allelse, is to 
behold a development that, while it mollifies and civilizes 
society generally, it shall benefit man, especially the poor 
and unfortunate classes of our race, — the criminal, — 
the little ones and the weak, by kindness, instruction and 
assistance. There is hope in such a progression — hope 
for the suffering, toiling poor, inhabiting the wretched 
cellars and garrets of our pent up cities — hope for the 
intemperate and ignorant — hope for the "widow and 
the fatherless," cursed with poverty, rags and tears ; in 
short, hope for the doomed millions of enslaved Europe 
and America, who live beneath the very spires, and sit 
in the very shadow of our thousand churches, consecrat- 
ed to Him who was the " sinner's friend," and who ex- 
claimed, when on earth — " The spirit of the Lord is upon 
* me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to 
the poor; he hath sent me to heal the hroken-heartedj to 


preach deliverance to the captives^ and recovering of sight to 
the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised^ and to 
preach the acceptable year of the LordT 

Is there such a progression now going forward in the 
heart of all civilized society ? 

Let us see. We shall appeal to facts, and shall de- 
monstrate by contrasting the past with the present. And 
look you, first, at a few historical relations showing the 
want of humanity — the extreme cruelty, that existed in 
the most civilized and enlightened nations, o-n the intro- 
duction of Christianity into the world, eighteen centu- 
ries ago. 

We have all read, in the Gospel, the simple but touch- 
ing account of the massacre which took place by the or- 
der of Herod the Great, on the birth of Christ, in Beth- 
lehem of Judea; but did we ever reflect on the inhu- 
manity — the perfect savageness of the society and the 
age, which could have tolerated an act so terribly cruel ? 
This man was born in Judea, of one of the first fam- 
ilies of that realm, and was regarded as one of the great- 
est men of his time. His abilities as a politician and 
commander were of the first order, and such was the mag- 
nificence he displayed in decorating his palace and other 
public buildings, that Augustus said, " His soul was too 
great for his kingdom." And yet, in the 33d year of 
his reign as king of Judea, when Christ was born, being 
unable to find the infant Savior that he might destroy 
him, " he sent forth and slew all the children that were 
in Bethlehem and all the coasts thereof, from two years 
old and under," in order to make sure of his victim. 

Can we conceive of a more cruel and heartless act ? 
And yet we are not told that the people, being filled with 
horror, arose en masse and tore the unfeeling wretch from 
his throne and consigned him to the flames. To be sure, 


weeping and lamentations were heard throughout the 
land, by wretched mothers who refused to be comforted. 
But what then ? This was of no consequence ! Cruelty 
and blood were common with kings, and familiar with the 
people ; and the terrible act was passed without note or 
comment. Herod was still reverenced and lauded as the 
king of Judea. He put to death his innocent wife, and 
butchered his sons, and still was reverenced and lauded 
as the king of Judea. And, according to Josephus, he 
planned a scene of posthumous cruelty which shows how 
barbarous must have been the age that would suggest a 
thought so terrible. It was this : He summoned the 
chief persons among the Jews to the city of Jericho, and 
caused them to be shut up in the royal circus. He was 
now near seventy years of age and very sick, and he gave 
strict orders to his sister Salome, to have all the men mas- 
sacred at his death, that every great family in Judea 
might weep at his funeral. His savage order, however, 
was never executed. 

Now here is a question : Is there a Prince on earth in 
our age who would be guilty of acts so dreadfully cruel ? 
Or if so, is there a people on earth, civilized or savage, 
that would not execrate the monster who could be thus 
heartless? If not, then has not the world progressed in 
humanity since that religion, which is peace on earth, 
good will to men, was proclaimed? 

I am aware that Herod bears the character of having 
been a very cruel and blood-thirsty wretch, far worse than 
most men of his time. Permit me, therefore, to mention 
one other historical fact to show the inhumanity of so- 
ciety at that period. About thirty years subsequently 
to the death of Christ, the Roman army invaded Judea 
and destroyed the great city of the Jews, under Titus, 
the Roman general, who in consequence of his many 


virtues, was called " the darling of mankind ^ This man 
Titus, who was the darling of mankind eighteen hundred 
years ago, took ninety-seven thousand of the Jews 
captive; six thousand of whom, chosen young men, he 
sent to Nero, the Roman Emperor; the same Nero it was 
who subsequently, for the gra Ification of an insane ca- 
price, set fire to Rome that he might have a real represen- 
tation of the burning of Troy, and who afterward trans- 
ferred the guilt of the act to the Christians, and caused 
them to be butchered by thousands throughout his do- 
mains. But let this pass. I am not recounting the do- 
ings of had men ; I was just speaking of an act perpetrat- 
ed by Titus, " the darling of mankind." I repeat : Titus 
sent six thousand of his ninety-seven thousand captives 
to Rome, as slaves for Nero. Thirty thousand were sold 
as bond-men into Egypt; eleven thousand in one place, he 
caused to perish by starvation. At Cesarea he murdered 
two thousand five hundred in honor of his brother's birth- 
day, and a greater number at Berytus in honor of his 
father's; while he distributed nearly thirty thousand 
through the provinces of Rome, to be destroyed in their 
theatres by the sword or torn in pieces by wild beasts. 
And all this was perpetrated, not by a man recognized as 
a savage by the age in which he lived, but one who was the 
very quintessence of perfection^ the '■'■the darling of manhindP^ 
and I know not but the darling of womankind also, if any 
distinction is allowed, for I am very sorry to say the wo- 
men were as savage as the men. The reader is doubtless 
familiar with the account, in the Grospel, of the dancing 
of a beautiful damsel in the presence of a certain king, 
on the occasion of his birthday, and how charmed he was 
with her person and performance; — so charmed that he 
declared with an oath, that he would give her whatever 
she asked, even to the half of his kingdom. And do you 


not recollect what she demanded as a present ? " Give 
me here," said she, " the head of John the Baptist in a 
charger;" — that is, in a bowl or platter. What a present 
for a young damsel, charming in her person, all deco- 
rated for the dance, to ask of a king enamored with her 
beauty. The bloody head of the murdered fore-runner 
of the Lord Jesus ! But, astounding as it may seem, 
her wishes were gratified. " The king sent and behead- 
ed John in his prison ; and the head was brought in a 
charger and given to the damsel, and she brought it to 
her mother." Perhaps the reader is ready to exclaim — 
" Why this damsel must have been educated a savage, 
and was summoned to dance in the presence of the king, 
hecausb of her remarkable agility or beaut?/. Instead of 
this, she was herself of the royal family. Herod Phillip 
was her father, Aristobulus her grandfather, and He- 
rodias her mother, the woman to whom she carried the 
bleeding, ghastly head of John, when she had received 
it from the hand of the executioner. She- was, therefore, 
educated a member of the royal palace, and had all the 
advantages which the most refined and polished society in 
that age could afford. 

But here we have a specimen of what constituted 
refinement eighteen hundred years ago, in one of the 
most civilized nations on earth. We see the nature of 
the influences brought to bear on the minds of youthful 
females. Herodias, the mother of the young woman 
who so delighted the king, was offended with John 
the Baptist, because he had the boldness to condemn her 
incestuous intercourse with the king. She, therefore, 
instructed her daughter to ask the head of John as a 
present, if opportunity should present itself. And when 
she received it, it is said that she gazed with exulting 
pleasure on the speechless mouth that had dared to utter 


sucli words of condemnation against her, and offered in- 
dignities to the tongue from which she could no longer 
dread reproof. St. Jerome positively asserts that " when 
she got the head, she drew out the tongue and thrust it 
through with her bodkin." 

Such was the moral condition of the world eighteen 
hundred years ago. The apostle described it when he 
said: " Their feet are swift to shed blood." 

How shocking are these exhibitions of barbarity to the 
humanity and refinement of the present age ! Indeed, 
has there been no growth of the element of humanity in 
the human soul for the last eighteen centuries ? Why 
the man who is unable to discover this change, would 
light a candle at noonday to find the sun. 

And I will add in this place, that if there was nothing 
divine m the mission of Christ, the circumstance is niost 
remarkable, and to my mind wholly unaccountable, that 
he should inculcate a religion so pure, and a philosophy 
so divine, in the midst of a darkness so gross ! His very 
life — his spirit — his teachings, and the manner in which 
he bore his sufferings and his death, were a,ll in direct op- 
position to the prevailing sentiments and customs of the 
age in which he lived. His breathings of love and for- 
giveness — of tenderness and compassion — of benevo- 
lence and humanity, when contrasted with the predomi- 
nant principles of that age, were like a resplendent star 
in the midst of surrounding darkness — or a blooming 
paradise in a howling wilderness. 



Inhumanity of France and England two Hundred Years ago — Cruelty of Persecutioa 
gradually souened--Inhumanity of Louis XI V — Inhumanity of the Pilgrim FatherfJ — 
Persecution of the Quakers— The softening of Penal Codes— One Hundred and Sixty 
offenses Punishalde with Death in England— Codes of England, Sweden, Germany, 
Prance and Poland— The Cruelty of their Punishments- Hanging for stealing forty 
Shillings— Touching case of the Execution of a Young Woman in England— Laws of the 
New England Colonies- -Case of a Young (xirl- -Progress of Humanity in the more 
kindly Treatment of Criminals, and in the Improvement of the Poor, 'Ignorant, Sick 
and Suffering — Extract from Macaulay. 

But let US. come forward to a more recent age, and 
mark the growtli of humanity in the hearts of those who 
stand more closely connected with us on the pages of 
history. We will limit our investigations to the last two 

In 1650 we find France and England, two of the most 
enlightened and civilized nations on the globe, governed 
by principles, both in war and peace, that would utterly 
shock the humanity of the present age. 

Men regarded as great and good, both in Church and 
State, gave their sanction to laws, practices and customs 
so unjust and inhuman, as to strike the worst man now 
living in civilized society dumb with astonishment and 
horror ! This will be seen as we proceed. 

Notice the unmistakable change which has been pro- 
duced within the last two hundred years, with reference 
to the cruelty of proscription and persecution in conse- 
quence of religious faith. Christians have now very gen- 


erally learned the folly of attempting to convert men 
to a love of Christian truth, and inspire them with 
benevolence, by prisons, chains, fire and torture. But 
two hundred years ago, these were the principal means 
employed in the dissemination and defense of the Chris- 
tian religion. Two hundred years ago, the inquisition, 
that tribunal of horror and cruelty, which drank the 
blood of nearly four hundred thousand innocent victims, 
was in full force in France, Spain, Portugal and other 
countries. An accredited English writer says, in de- 
scribing the inhumanity of priests and potentates in 
choir persecution of heretics : " If the least shadow of 
proof appeared against any pretended criminal, he was 
conaemned to death at once, and was clothed with a gar- 
ment painted with flames, and with his own figure sur- 
.roundod with dogs, serpents, and devils, all open-mouthed, 
as if ready to devour him. If the offenders died in any 
other faith than that of Rome, they were burned alive, 
the priests telling them that they left them to the devil 
who was standing at their elbow waiting to receive their 
souls and bear them to the flames of hell. 

Flaming furzes, fastened to poles, were thrust against 
their faces till their faces were burned to a coal, and this 
was accompanied with the loudest acclamations of joy 
among the thousands of spectators. At last, fire was set 
to the furze at the bottom of the stake, over which the 
criminals were chained so high that the top of the flame 
seldom reached higher than the seat they sat on, so that 
they seemed to be roasted, rather than burned. There 
could not be a more lamentable spectacle ; the sufferers 
continually crying out, so long as they were able — "Pity, 
for the love of Grod !" Yet it was beheld by all sexes 
and ages, with transports of joy and satisfaction. And 
even monarchs, surrounded by their courtiers, sometimes 


graced the scene with their presence, imagining that they 
were performing an act highly acceptable to the Deity * 
Two hundred years ago, Louis the XIV. filled the 
throne of France. He was basely ignorant, but is de- 
scribed as possessing many virtues for a sovereign of 
his time. Among his virtues is enumerated that of his 
strong religious prejudices, and boldness in support of 
the established Church. He manifested a marked desire 
to convert supposed heretics to Catholicism, and intro- 
duced a method to accomplish his purpose which seems 
to have been original with him. We have no account of 
its ever having been practiced by Christ or his apostles, 
or any of the early fathers. He heat religion into them 
with the battle-ax. It is a literal fact that he sent forth 
his troopers, soldiers and dragoons, with orders to go 
from house to house, and from town to town, and with 
the sword and battle-axe, force men and women into the 
Catholic Church. " These blood-thirsty wretches entered 
the Protestant houses in France, where they broke and 
trampled under foot furniture,, destroyed provisions, 
turned dining-rooms into stables for their horses, and 
treated the owners with the highest indignation and 
cruelty. They bound to posts, mothers that gave suck, 
and let their little infants lie languishing in their sight, 
for several days and nights, crying, mourning and gasp- 
ing for life. Some they bound before large fires, and 
when they were half roasted, let them go. Some they 
hung by the hair and some by the feet in chimneys, and 
smoked them with hay till they were suffocated. "Women 
and maids were hung up by their feet or by their arm- 
pits, and exposed stark naked to public view. Some they 
cut and slashed with knives, and after stripping them 
naked, stuck their bodies full of pins and needles, from 

*Dr. Dick's Philosophy of Religion. 


head to foot : or with red hot pinchers took hold of them 
by the nose and other parts of the body, and dragged 
them around their rooms till they promised to be good 
Catholics^ or actually expired beneath their sufferings. 
If any endeavored to save themselves from these barbar- 
ities by flight, they were pursued into fields and woods 
where they were shot like wild beasts. 

On such scenes of desoltation and horror the Popish 
clergy feasted their eyes, and made them simply a matter 
of laughter and sport."* 

All this was done less than two hundred years ago, in 
refined and accomplished France, and simply for a differ- 
ence of opinion in religious faith. In the civil wars on 
account of religion, which happened in France in the 
seventeenth century, above a million of men lost their 
lives; four hundred villages, nine cities, two thousand 
churches, and ten thousand dwellings, were burnt or de- 
stroyed. The inhumanity of the soldiers when set on by 
the priests, filled with the ranklings of an unrelenting 
religion, was utterly beyond description. Thousands of 
men, women, and children died by starvation, by being 
torn asunder, by butchery and by the flames. It is said 
of Louis XIII., who carried on the war, that what gave 
him greater pleasure than all things else, was the thought 
of driving heretics out of his kingdom, and thereby 
purging the Church of Grod of its corruptions. 

In other countries the flames of persecution raged with 
nearly the same fury. In the Netherlands alone, not 
long previous to the time of which I speak, one hundred 
thousand persons were hanged, beheaded, buried alive or 
burned on account of their religious belief ! 

Even England, who has always acted with more calm- 
ness and humanity thaniany other nation, was not guilt- 

*Dr. Dick's Philosophy of Religion. 


less. During two or three years of the short reign of 
Mary, in the sixteenth century, two hundred and seven- 
ty-seven persons were committed to the flames, besides 
those who perished by fines, confiscations, and imprison- 
ment. And " scarcely a century and a half has elapsed, 
since the Presbyterians of Scotland were hunted across 
moors and morasses, like partridges in the wilderness, 
slaughtered by bands of ruffian dragoons, and forced to 
seek their spiritual food in dens and mountains at the 
peril of their lives. "^ 

It was the inhumanity of persecution that drove the 
pilgrim fathers from their homes in the old world, to 
seek an asylum among the savage men and beasts of the 
new. They were banished from their homes, and in 
their turn, they banished others. 

Two hundred years ago, Roger Williams, the founder of 
the sect of Calvinist Baptists in this country, preached in 
Plymouth, Boston and Salem. But his doctrine and ideas 
of Church government were not pleasing to the Puritan 
fathers, and he was banished to Rhode Island — he and his 
wife and children, in the dead of winter, where he was de- 
pendent on the very savages for the means of subsistence ! 

Two hundred years ago, the magistrates of Massachu- 
setts Colony cropped the ears, scourged the backs, and 
bored the tongues of the Quakers with a hot iron. More 
than this, they incarcerated them in jails and dungeons 
— whipped them through the streets at the tail of a cart, 
and banished them from the country on pain of death. 
And when they returned, they actually seized them, and 
put them to death by hanging. 

Such is a sort of bird's eye view of the inhumanity and 
intolerance which has been rife in the Christian world 
within the last two hundred years. 

*Dr. Dick's Philosophy of Religion. 


Has not an unmistakable change taken place in soci- 
ety in this time? Where is the Inquisition? Some say 
it is still in use. If so, the progress of society cheats it 
of its victims. The spirit of persecution may still be 
burning in the hearts of some of the leading Papists, but 
it is confined there by the growing intelligence, humani- 
ty, and love of liberty of the masses. 

Where is the king or the potentate, in this age, that 
dares to take the first step in the maintenance of any 
system of faith by the inquisition, the stake, the rack, or 
the scaffold? How would the public mind be struck 
with horror, in England, Scotland, or the United States, 
if men and women were beheaded or burned for their 
religious faith ! Suppose that to-day, in Boston, or Cin- 
cinnati, a Quaker should be arraigned, tried, and execut- 
ed, ^'■without benefit of clergy;'^ — executed, simply because 
he repudiated wars, believed in the efficacy of kindness, 
— the brotherhood of man, and thought fit to wear a drab 
coat and broad-brimmed hat ; — hanged for such an of- 
fense! What would the people think? What would 
they say ? What would they do ? Why, the whole na- 
tion — yea, the whole Christian world — would be shocked 
in every nerve! There is, probably, no deed that could 
be perpetrated by any party or sect, that would produce 
a more fearful excitement, in any civilized society, than 
to hang or hum a man for his religious belief I So great 
and palpable is the change which has been wrought in 
the popular mind, within the last two htindred years, in 
favor of tolerance and humanity! 

2. An unmistakable change in favor of humanity is 
seen in the softening of the Penal Codes of nations. 

We are told, by Judge Story, that less than one hun- 
dred years ago England punished one hundred and sixty 
offenses with death. Br. Dick says : " In our country it is 


a melancholy truth, that among the variety of actions 
which men are daily liable to commit, no less than one 
hundred and sixty have been declared, by act of Parlia- 
ment, to be felonies without benefit of clergy, or in other 
words, to he worthy of instant death.^' A writer in the 
London Morning Herald, puts the number at rising two 
hundred. France, Germany, Poland and Italy were still 
more unjust and cruel in their punishments. Now, Eng- 
land makes but five offenses punishable with death; and 
France, Germany and Poland have modified their codes 
in like manner. 

Sixty years ago, England, Sweden, Germany and Po- 
land, not only put to death for certain offenses, but pro- 
longed the torments of the offender by cruel tortures. 
In Sweden, for instance, murder was punished first by 
chopping off the hand, then beheading and quartering. 
In Great Britain, " those guilty of high treason were 
condemned to be hung on a gallows for some minutes; 
then cut down while yet alive, the heart to be taken out, 
and exposed to view, and the entrails burned." 

The following account is given, by a traveler who was 
in Berlin in 1819, of the execution of a man for murder, 
which shows that the execution of criminals in Prussia 
is frequently distinguished by a species of cruelty worthy 
of the worst days of the inquisition. Amidst the parade 
of executioners, officers of police, and other judicial au- 
thorities, the beating of drums, and the waving of flags 
and colors, the criminal mounted the scaffold. No min- 
isters of religion appeared to gild the horrors of eternity, 
and to soothe the agonies of the criminal ; and no re- 
pentant prayer closed his quivering lips. 

"Never," says the narrator, "shall I forget the one 
bitter look of imploring agony that he threw around him, 
as, immediately on stepping on the scaffold, his coat was 


rudely torn from his shoulders. He was then thrown 
down, the cords fixed round his neck, which were drawn 
until strangulation almost commenced. Another execu- 
tioner then approached, bearing in his hands a heavy 
wheel, bound with iron, with which he violently struck 
the legs, arms, and chest, and lastly the head, of the crim- 
inal. I was, unfortunately, near enough to witness his 
mangled and bleeding body still convulsed. It was then 
carried down for interment, and, in less than a quarter of 
an hour from the beginning of his torture, the corpse was 
completely covered with earth. Several large stones, 
which were thrown upon him, hastened his last gasp : Tie 
was mangled into eternity!''^ 

Now, all such barbarities are expunged from the penal 
code of nearly every civilized nation on earth. Only forty 
years since, the crime of cutting a small tree, or of shoot- 
ing a deer within the enclosure of an English lord, was 
punishable with death. If a man stole more than forty 
shillings from a dwelling in that country, the law clam- 
ored for his blood. He must be strangled. And, as in- 
credible as the fact may appear to some in our time, this 
inhuman law was not abolished till the year 1827— -less 
than thirty years ago ; and then it was not fully abolished: 
for the legislative body simply raised the capital indict- 
ment to five pounds, instead of four — or to sia:,ty shillings, 
instead of forty. Since, England has wiped all such acts 
from her statute books; and now in no case punishes 
with death for theft. 

Shop-lifting was also a crime punishable with death in 
England but a few years since. And from an extract 
taken from a speech by the Hon. Sir William Meredeth 
in 1777, on a bill creating a new capital felony, a glimpse 
may be obtained of public sentiment on this subject at 
that time — eighty years ago. This gentleman, in oppos- 


ing the inhumanity of the laws, produced many touching 
instances where the grossest injustice had been perpe- 
trated in the punishment of offenders. Amongst others, 
he mentioned the case of a young woman, of good family 
and beautiful person, who had just been executed for 
attempting to steal a small piece of cloth from a dry- 
goods establishment. 

"Her husband," said Mr. Meredeth, "had been pressed 
on board of a man-of-war ship, by the officers of govern- 
ment. The poor woman's goods had been sold to pay 
some debt of her husband, and she, together with her two 
little children, were turned into the streets, penniless 

" 'Tis a circumstance," said he, "not to be forgotten, 
that she was very young, but little more than eighteen, 
and remarkably handsome. She went to a linen draper's 
— took some coarse linen from the counter, and slipped 
it under her cloak. The shop-man saw her, and she laid 
it down. For this she was executed. Her defense 
was, that she had lived in credit and wanted nothing, till 
a press-gang came, who were under the orders of the 
government, and bore away her husband. But since 
then, she was deprived of a home, or even a bed; had 
nothing to prevent the starvation of her children, or to 
keep them from perishing with cold ; and she might have 
done something wrong, for she scarcely knew what she 
did. The parish officers testified to the truth of this 
declaration, but there had been a good deal of shop-lift- 
ing in that vicinity, notwithstanding the penalty was 
death, and it became necessary to make an example of 
some one. So this unfortunate woman was carried to 
the gibbet, hung up by the neck, and choked like a cat, 
for the special comfort and accommodation of the shop- 
keepers in Ludgate street, London. 


''When brought into court to receive her sentence," 
said Mr. Meredeth, "she behaved like one frantic. And 
it was enough to break one's heart to see her set out for 
the gallows, with her poor babe nursing at the breast." 
It seems hardly credible that so heartless, inhuman and 
unjust an act could have been perpetrated by the 
authorities of England — enlightened, Christian England 
— within the last century ! 

And yet the same code of criminal law was once in 
vogue in the New-England colonies. Hanging for steal- 
ing forty shillings — for shop-lifting — for worshipping 
any god but the true God — for blaspheming the name of 
God — for stealing a man — or for smiting father or moth- 
er — was the law of Massachusetts and Connecticut, one 
hundred and fifty years ago. 

The following is copied from the penal code of the 
Connecticut Colony, and was in vogue in 1690: 

" If any man shall have or worship any other god 
but the true God, he shall be put to death. 

" If any man or woman be a witch, that is, hath or 
consulteth with a familiar spirit, he or she shall be put 
to death. 

" If any man shall blaspheme the name of God, shall 
curse the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, he shall be put 
to death. 

" If any man stealeth a man, or mankind, he shall bo 
put to death. 

" If any child or children above sixteen years, and of 
sufficient understanding, shall curse or smite father or 
mother, he shall be put to death. 

" If any man have a stubborn and rebellious son of 
sufficient years and understanding, viz: sixteen years of 
age, who will not obey the voice of his father or the 
voice of his mother, and when they have chastened him 


will not hearken unto tliem ; then may his father and his 
mother lay hold on him and bring him to the Magistrates 
assembled at court, and testify unto them, and such a son 
shall be put to death." 

These laws were but too eiFectually enforced. No less 
than nineteen persons, as innocent of any crime as the 
"spirit-rappers" and "table-tippers" of our day, were 
hung, and one pressed to death, in Salem, Mass., in 
1692, for witchcraft. And the estimated number put to 
death in England for the same offense, was thirty thou- 
sand; while in Germany not less than one hundred thou- 
sand suffered death by the scaffold, the flames, by being 
drawn assunder, and by other methods, for the same crime. 

In the colonics, even parents were instrumental in the 
condemnation and execution of their own children : 

An English lady of much repute who visited New 
England not long previous to the war of '76, says in her 
diary of 22d March, 1769, that a maid of nineteen years 
of age was put upon her trial for life, in Connecticut, by 
the complaint of her parents, both of whom were present 
and swore against her — saying that "she was stubborn 
and had violated their commands." 

The diary states that " at first the mother testified 
stiongly against her child; but when she had spoken a 
few words, the daughter cried out in great agony of 
grief, ' Oh ! I shall be destroyed in my youth by the 
words of my own mother ! ' On which the woman did so 
soften her testimony, that the court being in doubt upon 
the matter, had a consultation with the ministers present, 
as to whether the accused girl had made herself justly 
liable to the punishment prescribed for stubborn and 
rebellious children in Deuteronomy, 21 : 20." 

When it was decided that this law applied only to a 
rebellious son, and that a daughter could not be put to 


death under its sanction ; to whicli the court did assent, 
and the girl, after being admonished, was set at liberty. 
Thereupon she ran sobbing into the arms of her mother, 
who did rejoice over her as one raised from the dead; 
and moreover did mightily blame herself for putting her 
child in so great peril, by complaining of disobedience." 

Has not a change, then, been wrought in behalf of 
humanity? Has not much of inhumanity been expunged 
from our statute books? Is not human life regarded by 
all legislators as a thing far more sacred? The humanity 
of every Christian heart rises up against even legalized 
killing. The offender may have wickedly violated the 
law; his deeds of blood may have been many and appal- 
ling; but we ask, is it wise or Christian to strangle him? 
— to imitate his own deeds of vengeance? 

In Russia, Bombay, Belgium and Tuscany, the pun- 
ishment of death has been totally abolished. It is also 
abolished in the States of Michigan and Wisconsin in 
our own country; while in Maine, Vermont and Massa- 
chusetts, it is virtually abolished.^ In eight of our other 
States, but two offenses are punishable with death ; while 
in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, their codes contain 
but one crime for which death is the penalty.f And 
what is remarkable, crime is never increased by such ex- 
hibitions of humanity on the part of communities and 
nations. Clemency always softens, while cruelty hard- 
ens, as I will demonstrate in the progress of these 

* lu each of these States the law requires that the offender, on 
conviction, shall be imprisoned in the State Penitentiary for at least one 
vear ; after which the Governor of the State shall issue his warrant for 
his exeoution. But as no time is specified wJien the warrant shall be 
issued, the executive, with a single exception, has failed to act in the 
premises, and the consequence is, the offender is permitted to live. 

t The penal code of Virginia has but one capital offense, when com- 
mitted by a white man, and that is duelling; but seventy-one, when com- 
mitted by a slave. When regarded as applied to the slave, her code is 
the most bloody now existing in the world. 



pages. In the reign of Henry the VIII. of England, 
the laws were never more severe; and it is a fact well 
worthy the consideration of every man interested in juris- 
prudence or moral philosophy, that crime in Great Britain 
was never so rife nor so terrible as during the reign of 
Henry. No less than seventy-two thousand executions 
took place for rohhery alone^ amounting, on an average, to 
more than six a day, Sundays included. 

3. The progress of humanity is also seen in the more 
kindly treatment of criminals and all other offenders, 
when contrasted with the past. The change in this di- 
rection within the last half^century, has been truly 

One hundred years ago, men and women guilty of 
minor offenses, were punished with pillory — galleys — 
whipping — stocks — mutilation, by cutting off the ears 
and the nose, cutting out the tongue, putting out the 
eyes, shaving off the hair, and branding — and with im- 

Fifty years ago, prisons were merely stone pens, and 
dark, dismal dungeons, filled with filth and vermin. Into 
these pens and dungeons were criminals thrust, chained 
to their stone floors, and fed like our hogs, with worse 
fare. Now, men have learned, in all civilized communi- 
ties, that such treatment was barbarous — that even the 
convict is entitled to the humanity of his brother, and is 
worth something. So his loathsome prison has, in a 
measure, been converted into a workshop and school of 

* In 1833 it was estimated that no less than seventy-five thousand 
were confined in jail in the United States fcr debt. A poor man of my 
native town lay in pririon all winter for a debt of six dollars only, while 
his wife and large family of little children were suffering at home for the 
provisions Avhich his labor would have brought. An instance is reported 
in one State, where a man was imprisoned for two cents only. Even Mas- 
sachusetts did not wipe this cruel and foolish law from her statute books 
till 1853. 


reform — a hospital for the body, the mind, the soul. 
In nearly all our State prisons and penitentiaries, in 
the Free States, there is the chaplain, the library, and in 
some States the school of instruction ; and efforts are 
made not only to instruct the criminal in some useful 
trade, that he may have the means of livelihood when he 
returns to the world, but to instruct his heart and mind 
in whatever will serve to guide and benefit him in after 
life, and render him a virtuous member of society. 

To me, there is something beautiful, Christian, divine, 
in these displays of humanity. From the cleanly, well- 
regulated school of reform, which we find in many States 
of our Union, called the House of Refuge, instituted for 
the unfortunate youth of both sexes, through the house 
of correction and the improved jail, to the cleanly and 
well-regulated penitentiary, when contrasted with the 
filth and brutality connected with the prisons of but half 
a century ago, there is a growth in true benevolence and 
Christian kindness manifested, that is full of hope and 
exceedingly cheering to the benevolent Christian. 

4. Again ; the development of which I am speaking is 
seen in the growing interest of nearly all classes, in the 
improvement of the condition of the poor, the unfortu- 
nate, the sick, ignorant and suffering, of our earth. We 
behold the blessed Jesus, at the pool of Bethesda, ad- 
ministering to the wants of the sick, lame, halt and blind ; 
so in our day, many of his followers have come to learn 
that works of humanity and mercy are demanded of 
them by the common interests of a common race. "Have 
we not all one Father; hath not one God created us?" 
and if so, are we not ALL brethren? Feeling the force 
of this beautiful principle, a broad philanthropy has 
sprung up, which manifests itself in noble charities and 
perpetual appeals in behalf of humanity. Behold our 


Hospitals — our Asylums for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb, 
and for the Insane ; — our Homes for the Widow, the Or- 
phan, the friendless and outcasts — our societies to assist 
the poor — our Peace associations — our Temperance soci- 
eties — our Prison associations, Howard associations, and 
Ragged Schools ! Behold what is being done for the most 
wretched and filthy in Field Lane, London, and at the 
Five Points, New- York ! and what was done, but a few 
years ago, in sending ships and frigates, loaded with 
clothing, and barrels of flour and meal and hams, to the 
starving people of Greece and Ireland. 

Our fathers erected the gallows, the whipping-post, the 
stocks and the pillory, by the church-side; but where 
did they ever organize the benevolent societies, and erect 
the benevolent institutions which I have enumerated? 
These belong alone to the present age, and n^ark the age 
as one of philanthropy and Christian benevolence, be- 
yond every thing the world has ever witnessed. And the 
more the human soul is brought to contemplate the con- 
dition of the criminal and perishing classes, and what 
society can accomplish with no injury to itself, for suffer- 
ing humanity — the more it beholds what there is yet to 
be done — the more tender is it in its sympathies, and 
disposed to combine the elements of its forces to contrib- 
ute to their relief. And thus is the present an age full 
of joyful hopes — an age softened and mellowed by char- 
ity — an age of advancement, not only in science, art, 
political economy and material development, but of a uni- 
versal humanity; in a word, it is an age, when contrasted 
with the past, which is full of glory. 

Macaulay, the eloquent English historian, in speaking 
of the growth of humanity in England, says: "There is 
scarcely a page of the history, or the lighter literature 
of the seventeeth century, which does not contain some 


proof that our ancestors were less humane than their pos- 
terity. The discipline of work-shops, of schools, of pri- 
vate families, though not more efficient than at present, 
was infinitely harsher. Masters, well born and bred, were 
in the habit of beating their servants. Pedagogues knew 
of no way of imparting knowledge but by beating their 
pupils. Husbands of decent station were not ashamed 
to beat their wives. The implacability of hostile factions 
was such as we can scarcely conceive. 

"Whigs were disposed to murmur because Stafford was 
suffered to die without having his bowels burned before 
his face. Tories reviled and insulted Russell, as his coach 
passed from the Tower to the scaffold where he was put 
to death. As little mercy was shown by the populace to 
the sufferers of humble rank. If an offender was put 
into the pillory, it was well if he escaped with his life from 
brick-bats and paving-stones. If he was tied on to the 
cart's tail, the crowd pressed around him, imploring the 
hangman to give it to the fellow well and make him howl. 

"A man pressed to death for stealing a trifle, or a wo- 
man burned for coining, excited less sympathy than is 
now felt for a galled horse, or an over-driven ox.^ The 
prisons were hells on earth — seminaries of every crime 
and of every disease. The lean and yellow culprits, when 
they were brought into court from their cells, brought an 
atmosphere of stench and pestilence with them, which 
sometimes signally avenged them on the bench, bar and 
jury. But on all this misery society looked with indif- 
ference. Nowhere could be found that sensitive and 
restless compassion which has, in our time, extended a 
powerful protection to the factory-child— to the Hindoo 

" *Two men were sentenced to one month's imprisonment at hard labor 
in London, during the year 1853, for the crime of causing unnecessary 
pain to a cat while killing it. 


widow — to the negro-slave ; — a compassion which winces 
at every lash laid on the back of drunken soldiers ; — 
which will not suffer the thief in the hulks to be ill-fed 
or over-worked, and which has repeatedly endeavored to 
save the life of the murderer. It is true, that compassion 
ought, like other feelings, to be under the government 
of reason, and has for the want of such government, pro- 
duced some ridiculous and some deplorable effects. But 
the more we study the annals of the past, the more shall 
we rejoice that we live in a merciful age — in an age in 
which cruelty is abhorred, and in which pain, even when 
deserved, is inflicted reluctantly, and from a sense of duty. 
Every class, doubtless, has gained largely by this great 
moral change ; but the class which has gained most is 


And it may be added, these are the v^ry classes that 
most need the gain. They are the very classes for whom 
the blessed Jesus specially labored; and never since he 
returned to his Father, and our Father, has there been a 
time when they so occupied the thoughts of the humane, 
and when all the elements and forces of the world's life 
so contributed to their improvement and happiness as the 



Humanity is not yet "full grown"— Dreadful eyils still exist— The Conservative has 
no desire to go back, and will not advance— Opinions of Generations to come of our 
Barbarities— The Duty of the Christian to tbe Living— Christians must labor in the 
Cause of Humanitv or the Work must stop.- The Growth of Humanity confined to 
Christian Countries— Dreadful Barbarities of the Chinese— Where Christianity prevaiU 
iu its purest and most living form, there is the largest Benevolence. 

Thus have we demonstrated the sure progress of hu- 
manity. But let not the reader infer from what yre have 
said, that humanity is yet "full grown." There are still 
dreadful evils, moral and social, in our world, and a vast 
amount of human suffering — suffering arising from pov- 
erty, crime, ignorance and cruelty, which can and must 
be ameliorated. We appeal to the reader for his co-op- 
eration — his sympathy, advice and assistance. You look 
back upon the past as exhibited in these pa^es, and you 
say, " Really the world has progressed in its humanities. 
I have no desire to go back and live under the customs 
and laws which held rule two centuries ago. Our fathers 
must have suffered extreme anxiety and great peril con- 
stantly. I rejoice that reforms so important to the in- 
terest and happiness of man, have been effected." All 
this is very well. But do you think it probable 
that all meeded good has been effected? Is there nothing 
more that Christianity and humanity demand at our 
hands? Have we arrived at the neplus ultra of reform? 
If not, should we not go forward? You do not desire to 
go back, but will you advance ? Everybody is opposed to 
going back. Thousands of sticklers for the death pen- 



alty for murder^ condemn the rigid laws of our fathers, 
and thank God that they did not live in the seventeenth 
century. It is difficult to get the conservative to move 
willingly. He holds hack, but like a horse in a ferry- 
boat, no matter how stubbornly he pulls back, the boat 
moves, and he goes with it in spite of himself, and when 
once over, he has no disposition to return. Where is 
the man who has been carried forward on the broad tide 
of moral and spiritual reform, for the last half century, 
though never so much against his will, that desires to 
return to the delusion, superstition and inhumanity from 
which he has merged? Why he can only look back and 
wonder that his fathers could have remained so long in 

Thus it will be with the generations to come. They 
will refer to the unchristian barbarities of our day, and 
say of us, " How astonishing that our fathers could have 
conceived it either expedient or necessary to deliberately 
kill men and women because they killed!" Our fathers 
were instrumental in the execution of their own chil- 
dren for disobedience; — they strangled men and wo- 
men for theft, witchcraft and profanity, and we are aston- 
ished." Will not our children be equally astonished at 
our perverseness in upholding the gibbet as a Christian 
institution, and our almost total neglect of the millions 
of young and old, upon whom the doom of poverty has 
fixed its seal? Examine, then, the several subjects pre- 
sented in the future pages of this work carefully. You 
do not believe that the sanguinary laws of our fathers 
were either just, necessary, or Christian; and by inves- 
tigation, you may come to hav« just as little faith in the 
necessity, justice or Christianity of the gallows for any 

If you are a professed Christian, then I would exhort 


you especially to consider what we have to offer before you 
" turn from us and pass away." Remember, that every 
man, no matter how poor, or sinful, or ignorant, or 
wretched, is your brother; bound up with you in the same 
bundle of temporal and eternal interests. Christ died for 
him as well as for you, and when on earth, he sought after 
just such to heal and bless them. You believe it to be 
your duty to labor for their future salvation, that their 
immortal souk may be secure from suffering beyond the 
grave. But is it not equally your duty to labor for the 
amelioration of their condition in life, as Christ labored 
when on earth. "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit 
the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of 
the world ; for I loas an hungered and ye gave me meat; I 
was thirsty and ye gave m^e drink; I was a stranger and 
ye took me in; naked and ye clothed me; I was sick and ye 

visited me; I was in prison and ye came unto me 

Verily I say unto you^ inasmuch as ye have done it unto ONE 
OF THE LEAST OF THESE my brethren^ ye have done it 
unto me."* 

Now, is it possible for you to enter the spiritual king- 
dom of the Lord Jesus — a kingdom of "righteousness, 
peaceandjoy" — and experience its promised blessings, so 
long as you neglect to "remember in mercy" the weak 
and perishing ones, whose bodies as well as souls Christ 
himself has made it your duty to look after and bless ? 

Another consideration you must not fail to notice, viz: 
that the world must be renovated, if at all, through the in- 
fluence of the Christian religion. If Christians fail to 
labor in the cause of humanity, therefore, the work must 
stop. I have demonstrated the growth of humanity in 
the world; but this advancement is confined mainly to 
Christian countries, as is its civilization, and the progress 

^Matthew 25: 34—40. 


of science, art, and philosophy, and all the activities of 
the world's life. 

I said in a previous chapter, that I desired to encour- 
age the Christian in the labors of humanity, by showing 
that Christianity is the main-spring in all moral, social 
and intellectual progress, and advancement in humanity. 

Let him take a map of the world, and examine for 
himself. The nations of the earth, when considered in 
a religious point, are arranged into two great classes, viz : 
the Pagan and Christian; and these two into other two, 
viz: the first into Pagan and Mohammedan, and the second 
into Catholic and Protestant. Now, in what countries 
do we find the progress and growth which I have de- 
scribed in these pages? Where the most intense love of 
learning? Where the schools and colleges? Where the 
profound knowledge of science? Where the books, news- 
papers, post routes, railroads, and other marks of a high 
form of civilization? And above all, where the growth 
in humanity, which alone is the truest seal of the highest 
human progress? 

Take a map and trace. The activities and develop- 
ments of which I have spoken are not in Africa. There, 
darkness and cruelty still reign predominant. We visit 
Asia — India, China, and what is the result? Yery 
nearly the same as that of Africa. The people of the 
"Celestial Empire" boast of their antiquity. The Chi- 
nese, if we believe the affirmations of their philosophers, 
were the first and the purest people formed by the gods. 
They have existed from all eternity, and from all eternity 
the same. They never change. Change, development, 
with them is weakness.* And the consequence is, the 

* It is said of a Chinaman, that he chanced to learn to roast a pig, three 
handred years ago, by the burning of a house ; and to this day, when one 
of his descendants wishes to roast a pig, he bums a house, not having been 
able to discover any other method. 


grossest superstition and ignorance, and the most dread- 
ful barbarities still prevail among them. During the 
past year (1855) more than 150,000 " rebels " have 
been executed in the most dreadful manner, in China. 
An American, present during one day of slaughter in 
Canton, writes as follows concerning the dreadful scenes 
that passed before his eyes : 

" As we approached the execution ground many were 
met with their hands to their nostrils, or with their tails 
tied round their faces, for the purpose of avoiding the 
horrid stench, which could literally be "felt" at a con- 
siderable distance. The ground was covered with par- 
tially dried gore, the result of the past day's work. There 
are no drains to take the blood away, nor is any substance 
used to slake it. One man was found digging holes for 
two crosses, on which, he said, four were to be tied and 
cut in pieces. 

" The execution had been fixed for noon , At half-past 
eleven, half a dozen men arrived with the knives, preceded 
by the bearers of rough deal-wood boxes, decorated with 
bloody sides. These were the coffins. Unconcern was the 
general appearance of the soldiers and spectators, of whom, 
altogether, there may have been one hundred and fifty. 
At a quarter of twelve, the first batch of ten prisoners ar- 
rived, speedily followed by the rest in similar quantities. 

" Each prisoner (having his hands tied behind his 
back, and labeled on the tail,) appeared to have been 
thrust down in a wicker basket, over which his chained 
legs dangled loosely, the body riding uncomfortably, and 
marked with a long paper tally, pasted on a slip of bam- 
boo thrust between the prisoner's jacket and his back. 
These "man-baskets," slung with small cords, were car- 
ried on bamboos on the shoulders of two men. As the 
prisoners arrived, each .was made to kneel with his face 


to the south. In a space of about 20 feet by 12 we 
counted as many as seventy, ranged in half a dozen rows. 
At five minutes to twelve a white-button mandarin ar- 
rived, and the two to be first cut in pieces were tied to 
the crosses. While looking at this frightening process 
the execution commenced, and twenty or thirty must 
have been headless before we were aware of it. The on- 
ly sound to be heard was a horrid cheep — cheep — cheep, 
as the knives fell. One blow was sufficient for each — 
the head tumbling between the legs of the victim before 
it. As the sword falls, the blood-gushing trunk springs 
forward, falls on the breast, and is still for ever. 

"In four minutes, the decapitation was complete; and 
then on the other victims commenced the barbarity, 
which, to think of only, is sufficiently barbaric. With a 
short sharp knife a slice was cut out from under each 
arm. A low, suppressed, fearful groan from each fol- 
lowed the operation of the weapon. Dexterous as butch- 
ers, a slice was taken successively by the operators from 
the calves, the thighs, and then from each breast. We 
may suppose, we hope, that by this time the sufferers 
were insensible to pain ; but they were not dead. The 
knife was then stuck into the abdomen, which was ripped 
up to the breast-bone, and the blade twisted round and 
round as the heart was separated from its holding. Up 
to this moment, having once set eyes on the victim un- 
der torture, they had become fixed as by fascination; 
but they could be riveted there no longer. A whirling 
sensation ran through the brain, and it was with diffi- 
culty we could keep ourselves from falling. But this 
was not all ; the lashings were then cut, and the head, 
being tied by the tail to a limb of the cross, was severed 
from the body, which was then dismembered of hands 
and arms, feet and legs, separately. After this the man- 


darins left the ground, to return, however, with a man 
and woman ; the latter, it was said, the wife of one of the 
rebel chiefs — the man a leader of some rank. The wom- 
an was cut up in the way we have described ; for the man, 
a more horrible punishment was decreed. He was flayed 
alive. We did not see this, but it was witnessed by the 
Sergeant of Marines of the United States, J. P. Kenne- 
dy — the cry at the first insertion of the knife across the 
forehead, and the pulling of the flesh over the eyes, being 
most horrible." 

How shocking this description ! And the more shock- 
ing to the senses of the well-informed Christian, from the 
fact that he fech the enormity, the astounding injustice 
and folly of such barbarities! We look in vain, then, 
in the Pagan world for the developments which we have 

We come next to Turkey, where Mohammed and the 
Koran have had their day and their influence, and what 
is the result? Do we discover a love of improvement 
and learning — a progression in the arts, science, and 
knowledge, among the Turks? or do they grow in the 
divine principles of benevolence and humanity? Are 
they influencing the world of mankind, on these subjects, 
by their essays, and books — and by missionary eff"ort? 
Not at all. The Turk loves his belly and his ease, and 
hates all beyond. The whole country is buried in a dark 
cloud of ignorance and superstition. There is not a post- 
route within its borders, and the people are too indolent 
to establish any. And many of their laws and customs 
are such as marked the sterner cruelties of the darker 
ages. No, in no Pagan, in no Mohammedan country, do 
we discover the developments which we have described. 

We have only the Christian nations left. And here 
they exist. But ifiey exist no where else on the face of the 


globe. Does not this significant fact teacli us a lesson 
with reference to the influence of Christianity in effecting 
this glorious result? Many men rail at the Christian 
religion. Here is matter for the contemplation of such. 

There is one other significant fact connected with this 
subject, which I feel it my duty to mention, viz: that 
the growth in humanity, and the activities of which I 
have spoken, are confined mainly to Protestant countries. 
Take the map, and examine again. Visit South and 
Central America, Mexico and Cuba; — pass over into 
Spain, Portugal, Italy. In all of these countries Cathol- 
icism is the predominant religion ; but in none of them 
do we find an active moral or intellectual development. 
Here are ignorance, superstition, filth, immorality, crime, 
cruelty and tyranny; but few schools, newspapers, books, 
Bibles or colleges. It is for the simple reason, that un- 
mixed Romanism forbids growth. It anathematizes pro- 
gression, starving and stinting the soul. In the main, it 
is not Christian. The Inquisition is no Christian insti- 
tution. To decapitate men, women, and children; — to 
burn them over a slow fire of green wood ; — to draw 
them asunder, joint by joint, or incarcerate them in 
gloomy dungeons, is not Christ-like. Still, notwith- 
standing all these corruptions of Christianity, we find 
even Catholic countries in advance of the Pagan or Mo- 

But it is where the people have had the Bible in their 
own hands, and studied for themselves the commands of 
God and the inculcations of a Christian philosophy, that 
the growth of humanity is untrammeled and has mani- 
fested itself in a universal diffusion of knowledge, and a 
broad and generous desire for the improvement and hap- 
piness of the race. In G-reat Britain and the United 
States, the inspired word has been circulated without 


"let or hindrance." Here, Christianity, in a purer 
and more divine, loving and benevolent form, exists. 
And where it does so exist, no matter in what commu- 
nity, there you behold the highest form of civilization on 
earth — the most profound love of learning — the most 
humane laws — the largest benevolence, the purest moral- 
ity, the least crime, and the greatest amount of happiness. 
We are certain of the truth of what we say. Reader, we 
ask again, are you a professed Christian? If so, we re- 
peat, Consider well the claims of what we say in the 
future pages of this book, before you decide against 
them ; for only in Christianity^ and the efforts of its support- 
ers^ is there hope of the world^s renovation. 



The Gallows a Relic of Barbarism— It is Unnecessary and Unchristian— Should be 
Abolished -It has been regarded the Hand -maid of the Church -But so was the Pil- 
lory, the Stocks, and the Whipping-post -The Charge of " Morbid Sympathy" — It will 
not apply to the Great and Good who have labored for Reform— The Boy hung in Alex- 
andria, La.— Touching Incidents, 

If the reader has perused the preceding pages, he is 
prepared for what we have to say on the abolishment of 
the Death Penalty. The gallows we honestly believe to 
be a relic of barbarism — is not a Christian institution — is 
the cause of more crime than it cures — is unnecessary — is 
condemned by the spirit of the Christian religion, and 
should, therefore, be condemned by every good citizen, 
and especially by every professed Christian; and the law 
that sustains it should be wiped from the statute book 
of every civilized state and nation under heaven. 

"Abolish the gallows!" exclaim thousands of excel- 
lent men and women, as they start and raise their hands 
in astonishment; "what would become of society without 
the gallows!" "Abolish the gallows!" echoes the min- 
ister of God; "the gallows, an instrument sustained by 
God's own law, and which has been the hand-maid of 
the Church for long centuries, in the protection of life 
and property, and so efficacious in preventing the 
depredations of the robber and assassin ! Oh ! this will 
never do — Tieoer! never!! There would be no safety 
for honest people !" 


So said our fathers and mothers when the whipping- 
post, the stocks and the gallows graced every churchyard 
in the country, and were thought to be as necessary to 
good order and good government as the pulpit or the 
Bible. I can assure you, my readers, that the reforms 
in human punishments, which I have described in the 
preceding pages, were not eifected without an effort. 
Every inch of ground has been stoutly contested by those / 
who venerate the customs of the fathers. When it was 
proposed by the humane to abolish the whipping-post, 
the stocks, and the pillory, many were alarmed at the 
bare thought of such a change, and said : " These punish- 
ments are of divine origin, — how can society exist with- 
out them?" And yet these old relics of barbarism have 
passed away forever, and society is still in existence. 
No moral earthquake has shaken the foundations of com- 
munity, and the institutions of Christianity are not 
totally demolished. 

Indeed, as we have seen, all rejoice that a better day 
has dawned, and would not return to the wilderness from 
which our fathers escaped, for any consideration. Now 
what we desire is, that our Christian communities should 
have faith in the divine teachings of their religion, and 
like the children of Israel, journey still on toward the 
promised land. Most certainly Christianity predicts the 
time the gallows shall cease to exist; when every nation, 
tribe and language, shall unite in one holy and harmo- 
nious society, and labor to ^^save, and not to destroy men's 
lives;" when ^^ violence shall no morehe heard in the land:^' 
when " the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth;" 
when "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leop- 
ard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the 
young lion and the fatling together, and a little child 
shall lead them." Then "judgment shall dwell in the 


wilderness, and righteousness in the fruitful field, and 
the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect 
of righteousness quietness and assurance forever ; and all 
people shall dwell in peaceable habitations, and in sure 
dwellings, and in quiet resting-places.^' 

When the fulfilment of this blessed prediction shall be 
realized, as it surely will be in the progress of the Chris- 
tian religion, we think it altogether probable that the 
gallows will be known only upon the pages of history, 
and as an instrument of the darker ages. 

One consideration more, before we enter on the main 
argument. Great exertions are made by those who sus- 
tain the gallows, and are in favor of a rigid penal code, 
to impress the public mind with the idea that those who 
advocate a reform have no regard for the public welfare 
—no love for good order and good government — are full 
of a morbid sympathy for the criminal — but entertaining 
no regard for those whom his lawless passions have de- 
f^troyed — that we are mere " humanity mongers;'^ — and 
even say that all we desire is, that all law should be abol- 
ished, so that robbers and assassins and murderers may 
be turned out into the world, to wander up and down the 
earth, " like a roaring lion, seeking whom they may 

Now all this is unfair — it is ungenerous — it is posi- 
tively /a?se .^ Look at the long list of eminent Christian 
men, of modern times, who were so earnestly engaged in 
the reform of which I am speaking, and answer, could 
they have acted from the motive thus ascribed to them? 
Were Lafayette, and Dr. Johnson, and Judge Black- 
stone, and Montesquieu, and Sir Thomas Moore, and 
Livingston, and Howard, and Franklin, and Lord 
Brougham, and Fox, and Pitt, and Rush, and Wilber- 
FORCE, and Channing. and Rantoul, and Upham — were 


these great and good men regardless of good order and 
good government? Were they laboring only to save the 
miserable criminal from merited punishment? Had they 
no sympathy for society as well as for the oiFender? 
Were they disposed to abolish all law, and permit the 
most desperate villains to run at large? Why, you might 
as well charge Christ himself with cherishing a ^^mor- 
hid sympathy^'' for he was their guide. Then consider the 
character of the Quakers. They, as a sect, have always 
opposed the gallows. Are they not a pure, peaceable, or- 
der-loving and excellent people ? Are they disregardful 
of the public good ? 

Why, we must have laws — and penal laws — so long as 
there are wicked men to be punished. But it does not, 
therefore, follow, that we must punish any man, or woman, 
or child, by killing. Have we not strong prisons and bars 
an.d bolts enough, and places for solitary confinement, if 
necessary ? Can not the citizens of the great State of 
Ohio, or *any other, guard themselves with all their jails 
and State prisons and penitentiaries, from the depreda- 
tions of the few persons who may be disposed to murder? 
Must we take them from our prisons where they are per- 
fectly secure, and choke the life out of them as a Christian 
duty, and for fear they may again injure us ? A few 
months since, (Sept., 1855,) the people of Alexandria, 
La., were engaged in the work of strangling a little boy 
on the gallows, only ten years old. A secular paper,* in 
giving an account of the affair, said: " On the day be- 
fore he was called to face death, some gentlemen visited 
him and propounded questions to him ; but his answers 
were and could be no other than childish. He was, I be- 
lieve, only ten years old. The gentlemen told him the 
sheriiF was to hang him the next morning, and asked him 

* New Orleans Delta. 


what he thought of it, whether he had made his peace 
with (rod, and why he did not pray? His answer was, 'I 
have been hung many a time.' He was, at the time, amus- 
ing himself with some marbles he had in his cell. He was 
playing all the time in jail, never once thinking that 
death was soon to claim him as its victim. To show how 
a child's mind ranges when about to die, I will mention 
that, when upon the scaffold, he begged to be permitted 
to pray, which was g^-anted, and then he commenced to 
cry ! 0, what a horrible sight it was !" 

Now, was that act necessary? Was it Christian ? Was 
it humane? Was it not rather barbarous and cowardly? 
In our view, Christian missionaries need not go to the 
Sandwich Islands to find heathen customs and barbari- 
ties. Pagans would be ashamed of the above deed 1 I 
would abolish the gallows, then, not from a morbid sym- 
pathy for the criminal — not because we would screen 
him from punishment — nor because we disregard the 
security and welfare of society — but for other important 
reasons, which to us are good and sufficient; — some of 
which we will now present. 



The Gallows an institution of Ven°reance —Lynch Law—" String him np," " Stretch 
his neck," " Burn him." not Christian exclamations— Execution of Colt m New-York 
—Declarations of Venjteance of Christian Ladies in Cincinnati— All this foreign from 
the spirit of the Christian Religion, and condemned by it. 

The first reason I would offer for the abolishment of 
the Death Penalty is, It is founded in a spirit of retalia- 
tion. It is a work of vengeance ! 

We profess to be a Christian people. Retaliation and 
vengeance are inconsistent with Christianity. Lynch 
law sometimes prevails in some portions of our country. 
A man commits a gross outrage, which exasperates the 
public mind. Yengeance! vengeance! is now the cry. 
The culprit is seized, and either hung up and strangled, 
or tied to a stake and burned. Nothing but revenge will 
satisfy the enraged multitude. 

Now, in this act, you perceive the spirit which first 
prompted the taking of human life for crime, and which 
does much towards sustaining the gallows at the present 
time. How many do we find in every community who 
advocate the existence of the Death Penalty on this very 
ground? " The miserable off'ender of the law," say they, 
''has outraged society — he isn't fit to live — he has no 
claims on society for life — his brother's blood should be 
avenged! String him up, we say — string him up ! " 




Bills for the abolisliment of the Death Penalty have 
been rejected in the Legislatures of New- York, Penn- 
sylvania and Ohio, at different times, mainly from the 
influence of the argument drawn from what was called 
the justice of capital punishment. It was argued that 
"men who would murder ought to be killed;" — they 
^^ deserved this punishment;" — "hanging was just good 
enough for them;" while the speakers actually ridiculed 
the "mock sympathy" that would institute a milder 
punishment for a man guilty of death. When a magis- 
trate of eminence, in conversation with Mr. Livingston 
the philanthropist, on this subject, was driven from 
every other argument, he said very frankly, " I must 
confess that there is some little feeling of revenge at the 
bottom of my opinion on the subject." " If all other 
reasoners," adds Mr. Livingston, " were equally candid, 
there would be less difficulty in establishing true doc- 
trines." " Passion first made revengeful laws, and re- 
venge once incorporated with the system of justice, re- 
produced its own image, after passion had expired." 

When Colt was expected to be executed in New- York, 
some years since, and the people had assembled in thou- 
sands to witness the act, and it was found that a por- 
tion of the prison was on fire — a writer, describing the 
scene, said: 

"The hearts of men were filled with murder; they 
gloated over the thoughts of vengeance, and were rabid 
to witness a fellow-creature's agony. They complained 
loudly that he was not to be hung high enough for the 
crowd to see him. ' What a pity ! ' exclaimed a woman 
who stood near me, 'gazing at the burning tower; ^ the^/ 
will have to give him two hours more to liveT " 

And when a man,* who now lies in jail in this city, 

* Arrison, the Torpedo Murderer. 


ctarged witli a diabolical murder, was taken and brought 
here, both men and women, even ladies- — Christian ladies, 
exclaimed, "Hang him!" — "String him up!" — "He 
deserves to have his neck stretched! " One lady — a most 
devout member of a most devout Church — went so far aa 
to declare, in her wrath, that "he should be hung by his 
toes, head downward, that he might die by inches ! " 
the common method being too merciful. 

Now, this is the spirit which prompts the work of 
death, but it is not the spirit of Christ. It is the spirit 
which nailed him to the cross, but not the spirit which 
dictated that more than mortal petition, " Father^ forgive 
them, they know not what they do^ 

I behold the Savior, as he went from place to place 
blessing the poor — healing the sick — raising up the 
bowed down — imparting hope to the sinner, and weep- 
ing of er the frailties and sufferings of humanity ; hut no 
where do I see him giving countenance to an act of vengeance. 
On one occasion, when the Samaritans refused t© receive 
him into their city, we read that his disciples said, 
" Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down 
from heaven and consume them, even as Elias did?'* 
How were they exasperated ! But what said Jesus, that 
calm, and mild, and blessed being? "He turned and re- 
buked them; and said, Ye know not what manner of 
spirit ye are of For the Son of Man is not come to 


"As if he had said," remarks Dr. Adam Clarke, the 
Methodist commentator, in his paraphrase on this text, 
" Ye do not consider that the present is a dispensation 
of mercy and love; and that the design of Grod is not to 
destroy sinners, but to give them space to repent, that he 
may save them unto life eternal. And ye, my disciples, 
do not consider that the zeal which you feel springs from 


a-n evil principle within you. Let not the followers of 
that Christ who died for his enemies, think of avenging 
themselves on the sinner." 

Now, these are reasonable and Christian words. The 
closing declaration is full of meaning. " Let not the 
followers of that Christ who died for his enemies, think of 
avenging themselves on the sinner ^ Did Christ ever avenge 
himself on the sinner? Did he ever hang, or burn, or 

" Artists once loved to paint the Savior in the lowly- 
toil of lowly men ; his garments covered with the dust 
of common life; his soul sullied by no pollution. But 
paint him to your fancy as an executioner — legally killing 
a man; the halter in his hands, leading Judas to tho 
scaffold for high treason ! You see the relation which 
such an act bears to Christianity." You perceive that 
in Christ it would not be Christian. And if not Chris- 
tian in him, how can it be in you and /, who hold up the 
hands of the sheriff when he destroys the life of a fellow- 

No, my reader, the true Christian can never avenge 
himself on the sinner. And yet, how general, how uni- 
versal, has been the work of vengeance by the Church. 
Look at the slaughter of the inquisition; — the millions 
slain by order of the Romish Church ! Our law for kill- 
ing is said to be humane; for while it demands the life 
of the offender, it requires that he be executed in the 
quickest possible manner, and in the way that shall pro- 
duce the least pain. But it was not thus with our fa- 
thers; not thus with the old Church when it was actuated 
only by revenge. As we have seen, our fathers not only 
killed, but they tortured, in a manner the most diabolical; 
by burning — by the rack — by pulling out toe and finger 
nails, unjointing the limbs — flaying alive, &c., &c. 


Christian writers have detailed a long list of modes of 
killing, as perpetrated by the Church, and which were 
resorted to only to wreak vengeance on the poor victim, 
by producing the greatest possible suffering. Amongst 
these, may be mentioned the following: " Crucifixion — 
burning — roasting — hanging by the leg or rib — starving 
— sawing asunder — exposing to wild-beasts — rending 
asunder by horses drawn opposite ways — burying alive 
— blowing from the mouth of a cannon — compulsory de- 
privation of sleep — rolling in a barrel stuck with nails — 
pressing slowly to death by a weight laid on the breast — 
casting headlong from a rock — tearing out the bowels, 
or the heart — pulling to pieces with red-hot pincers — 
stretching on the rack — breaking on the wheel — squeez- 
ing the marrow from the bones by screws or wedges," 
&c., &c. 

Now, is all that Christian? Is it not rather diabolical? 
And when men have been put to death from this re- 
vengeful, this hellish spirit, have they not been murdered? 
What is murder ? It is to kill with malice prepense or 
aforethought. It matters not whether one man or ten 
thousand commit the deed ; if we destroy human life with 
premeditated vengeance^ we murder. Every man, there- 
fore, who says, "String him up" — "Crucify him" — 
" Stretch his neck " — " He deserves to be killed," etc., 
etc., has the spirit of murder in his soul, which is un- 
christian, and should never be cherished. I again say, 
The gallows is sustained by this spirit, and should 
therefore be abolished, for we profess to be Christians. 




Each Citizen's responsibility for the acts of the Gallows— Inconsistency of Chris- 
tians—" Thou Shalt not kill"— Killing by Proxy-Dreadful Case of Young Boyincton— 
So long as the Death Penalty remains, can I shJake ofl' inr Individual Reipons'ibility-I 
wish to have no part nor lot in the shedding of Human Blood— The Authority of" the 
State to kill -Has it such Authority '—Argument of Rantoul. 

Another reason why I labor for the abolishment of the 
gallows, is, that so long as men are executed in the State 
of which I am a citizen, / feel that as a citizen, I with 
others, am responsible for the act; a sort of particeps crimi- 
nis — ^^ accessory before the fact.'' 

" Thou shalt not kill," is one of the Ten great 
commandments of the Decalogue. When I listen, it 
comes as the voice of Grod, the Great Fountain of all 
Life, to my soul. " Thou shalt not kill." These words 
I learned to repeat by heart, when a little child at Sab- 
bath School. " To destroy human life," said my pious 
teacher, " is the most dreadfully wicked act that was ever 
committed!" So said my minister; and so said all his 

And yet, my Sabbath School teacher, my minister, and 
all his Church, would themselves hill; — not as individuals, 
but as citizens of the State; — and not with their own 
hands, but through the instrumentality of the hangman. 

I look around in society, and I find that very much 
the same instruction is given in all our Sabbath Schools 


and Churches, concerning the sixth commandment, as 
when I was a child, whilst the same disposition is mani- 
fested, on the part of the people, to violate its require- 
ments. Our Christian fathers and mothers, lawyers, 
doctors and divines, still say it is very wicked to kill ; 
and yet, each of our thirty-one States, with the few ex- 
ceptions I have stated in the preceding pages, have en- 
acted laws which absolutely require the death of men, 
women and children, when guilty of certain offenses. 
Yea, even if innocent^ the same demand is made, provided 
the tribunal before which they are tried, believes them to 
be guilty, and they have no means of establishing their 

Now, for one, I desire not to participate in any such 
responsibility. A few years since, suspicion was fastened 
upon a respectable young man, by the name of Boying- 
ton, in Louisiana, of having murdered a fellow-lodger at 
a tavern. He was tried, found guilty, and condemned to 
death. His letters to his parents from his prison were 
most touching — and always to the purpose that he knew 
nothing of the crime for which he was condemned. 

When placed on the gallows, he made an able and 
most moving vindication of himself ; again protesting, in 
the name of Grod, that innocence which his fellow-men 
refused to believe. He said he could not die for such a 
crime, when he was no more guilty than any man in the 
vast crowd before him. But when informed that he 
must suffer — that there was no help for him — he broke 
wildly loose from those by whom he was surrounded on 
the scaffold, and rushed in among the multitude, in the 
most piteous manner crying, in the name of God, for 
help, and repeating the assurance, with the most dread- 
ful shrieks, that he was innocent. He was soon again se- 
cured by the sheriff, dragged back to the scaffold, and in 



the midst of the most awful cries, and heart-rending 
calls for mercjj launched into eternity. 

What followed? — A few months after this terrible 
scene, the tavern-keeper, on his death-bed, confessed his 
own guilt, and proved the innocence of young Boyington ! 

But now it was too late. The die had been cast. The 
innocent victim was slain. His life could not be re- 
Btored. His poor, heart-broken mother mourned over 
the event a few weeks, and was laid in the grave beside 
her unfortunate son. 

Now permit me to inquire of my reader : " Who killed 
that young man?"- "Who killed him?" you respond: 
"Why the sheriff, the hangman." No, my friend, you 
mistake. The hangman acted simply as an instrument 
of the government. "Ah, yes," say you, " I see how it 
is, the government killed him. The government made the 
law declaring that he should be killed; described hoio 
he should be killed, and who should be used as an in- 
strument in the work of death. Then the government 
strangled the man, simply using the hands of the sheriff 
to adjust the knot — place the rope — draw down the cap, 

and let him swing." Just so. But then there is 

another question behind all this, in which you and / 
should have been specially interested if we had been cit- 
izens of Louisiana at that time, viz: Who, or lohat, consti- 
tutes the government of a State? " Who, or what, consti- 
tutes the government," you ask. Yes. Suppose you 
desire to find the government of the State of which you 
are a citizen, where would you seek for it? "Why," say 
you, " I should seek it at the capitol of the State, if the 
Legislature was in session." But would you find it 
there? Suppose you should enter the Senate-chamber 
of your State, seat yourself by the side of some leading 
politician, and tell him your errand. What reply do you 


think lie would make, if an honest and intelligent man? 
I will tell you. " My dear sir, you have come to the 
wrong place to find the government of our State. We 
are merely ' the servants of the people.' We never do 
anything without 'feeling the public pulse.' The wishes 
of our constituents, when fully known, are ' law and 
gospel' with us. You perceive, therefore, that it is not 
we who govern the State, but the State that governs us !" 

If you should enter the private room of your governor, 
and counsel him, the same answer would be returned, if 
the truth were uttered. "Go home to the people T he 
would exclaim, "if you wish to find the government of our 
State. They place us in these offices — direct us what to 
do, and we are particularly careful to see that their will 
is respected, when once fully known, especially when we 
are made to realize that they are determined and in earnest. '* 

The people, then, are the government of the State, 
They are responsible for its laws and institutions, while 
the officers of government are only responsible for the 
execution of the laws. 

Suppose, now, that when the unfortunate young man, 
Boyington, mentioned above, was forced upon the gal- 
lows a second time, to be strangled, all the time terribly 
conscious of his own innocence, you and I had been pres- 
ent amid the swaying throng as witnesses of the awful 
spectacle. When we heard him declaring, in the most 
heart-rending accents, his innocence — appealing to the 
multitude for mercy, saying, "Oh, spare me; for the love 
of God and my poor mother, spare me! I am not fit to die! 
I am innocent!" — when we saw and heard all this, I 
repeat, should we not have felt that we weie participators 
in this act ; and if the poor man was innocent, our hands 
were not clean of the awful crime of his murder. Sup- 
pose he should have pointed to individuals then present 


and have said, *' Sir, you kill me, and i/ou, &nd you; — you, 
and such as you are the State ; — you have instituted, and 
you sustain the law which requires that I should be 
killed ; — you sanction this work ; you pay the court for 
condemning, and these men for strangling me!" If he 
had made such an appeal, would not every word of it 
have been true ? 

All the more humane and Christian of the multitude 
might have declared, " We have no sympathy for the 
gallows — we have no desire for your death. If our pray- 
ers could be answered, you would be spared; — we wash 
our hands clean of this act." But would this declaration 
have changed the responsibility from them to others, in- 
asmuch as they were still citizens of the State, and paid 
their money and lent their influence, in making its law* 
and maintaining its institutions ? 

Now, for my own part, I do not wish to occupy a posi- 
tion like this. If a man should murder my own child, 
or the dearest friend I have on earth, if once fairly se- 
cured in prison, I would never consent to his death. 
To kill him would only be imitating his own wicked ex- 
ample. It would be of no advantage to me. It would 
not restore life to my child or friend. It could not ben- 
efit the culprit. It would be simply a work of vengeance, 
which the religion I profess utterly forbids. I say again, 
I could not, therefore, consent to his death. And yet, 
as a citizen of the State, I am made, even against my 
own will, to share the responsibilities of every legalized 
murder the State commits. A large majority of the most 
order-loving and Christian portion of the people of 
Ohio and other States, are unquestionably opposed to 
the Death Penalty. Their humanity rises up against it. 
And yet, so long as this law remains on our statute 
books, and men are executed, so long will these thou- 

EACH citizen's RESP0N8IBILITT. 61 

sands be under the necessity of participating in the act, 
and feel responsible for its results. 

Another consideration. If an assassin should enter 
my dwelling at midnight, with the intent to murder, but 
should miss his aim, and I should succeed in securing 
him hand and foot with strong cords, I should feel that 

■ I had no right to proceed and deliberately beat out his 
brains, even if I possessed a desire to commit so dastard 
an act. He is secure. He can do me no further injury; 
and if I should kill him under such circumstances, the 
State would call it murder, and hold me responsible for 
the deed, declaring that I had no authority to deprive 
him of life, when he was once secure. And this is true. 
But then the State would take this same man, and though 
possessed of means to hold him far more securely than 
I, would go to work, and after weeks or months of prepa- 
ration, commit the very deed which, if perpetrated by me, 
as an individual, it pronounces murder. Now, an im- 

• portant and very interesting question arises, viz: Whence 
derives the State its authority for this deed f Many good 
and wise men have argued, and not without reason, that 
it has no authority. Look at the subject a moment. 
Who constitute the State ? Answer : Its citizens, irre- 
spective of numbers, whether ten persons, ten hundred, 
or ten hundred thousand. Well, it is plain that they can 
possess no authority in their associated capacity as a 
State, hut such as is derived from themselves as individuals. 
The State cannot say, I have a right to kill because I am 
the State, or because I have the power ; it can only say, I 
have a right to kill because the citizens which consti 
tute this body have delegated this authority to me. This 
being admitted, then, we ask, can any individual dele- 
gate to another or others a right which he himself does 
not possess ? Reader, you ar« a citizen of some State, and, 


therefore, a constituent member of tlie body-politic. 
You grant, as an individual, you have no right to beat 
out the brains of an assassin, whom you have securely 
bound. Now, can you confer this right upon another 
man, or ten other men, when you do not yourself possess 
it? You answer, that the authority is derived from the 
compact, in which the citizens of the State have mutually 
agreed to surrender life under certain circumstances. But 
here the same question returns upon us, Can a man enter 
any compact by which he can confer upon others author- 
ity which he does not himself possess? 

Grod has given me life. I hope I am grateful for this 
blessing— iwi he has given me no control over my life. I 
hold it under him. I have no authority to destroy my 
existence or barter it away. I cannot commit suicide ; 
I cannot sell my life, or dispose of ray existence in any 
possible manner, for God has given me no such authority, 
hvit positively forbidden it. Now, as I have no right to 
dispose of my existence, can I, by entering a compact, 
delegate to others this right? 

There is a provision in law, that no man shall burn 
his own buildings; and, can he authorize another to 
burn his buildings when he has no such right himself? 
The law of God declares, " Thou shalt notf*steal." Can 
any man who has no right to steal, delegate this right to 
another? No. All can see, then, that we have no power 
to give to another or others anything which we ourselves 
do not possess. 

Now, then, suppose that ten men, or an hundred, con- 
stitute a colony on some island, or in some new territory, 
and they assemble to digest and adopt laws by which 
they are to be governed in their intercourse one with 
another. Have they any right to enter a compact by 
which they barter away, or shall forfeit their lives ? If 


I were one of this compact, could I say to others, " Gen- 
tlemen, if I do certain things, or leave undone certain 
things, I will give you my existence ? You shall be at 
liberty, and have the right to, strangle the life out of me? 
And if either of you are, in like manner, guilty, I shall 
claim the same right to strangle you ?" To my mind it 
is very plain, that if I entered such a league, I should as 
really transcend any authority that I possess, as I should 
to burn my own buildings, or kill the assassin whom I 
had safely secured. 

Says Mr. Rantoul,=*^ " A man holds his life as a tenant 
at will — not, indeed, of society, who did not and cannot 
give it, or renew it, and have, therefore, no right to take 
it away — but of that Almighty Being whose gift life is, 
to whom it belongs, and who alone has a right to reclaim 
his gift whenever it shall seem good in his sight. A man 
may not surrender up his life till he is called for. May 
he, then, make a contract with his neighbor that in such 
and such case his neighbor shall kill him ? Such a con- 
tract, if executed, would involve the one party in the 
guilt of suicide^ and the other in the guilt of murder. 

" If a man may not say to his next neighbor, ' When 
I have burned your house in the night time, or wrested 
your purse from you on the high-way, or broken into 
your house in the night, with an iron crow, to take a 
morsel of meat for my starving child, do you seize me, 
shut me up a few weeks, and then bring me out and 
strangle me ; and in like case, if your turn comes first, I 
will serve you in the same way ' — if I could not make 
this agreement with one of my neighbors, would such an 
agreement between ten of us be any more valid or justifi- 
able? No. Nor if the number were a hundred instead 

* An eminent Boston lawyer, who has labored with much industry for 
years in the cause of humanity. No man has accomplished more in the 
Boftening of the penal codes of the New-England States than Mr.Rantoul. 


of ten — or a thousand — or twenty millions, who should 
form this infernal compact, would this increase of the 
number of partners vary one hair's breadth the moral 
character of the transaction ? If this execution of the 
contract be not murder on the one side, and suicide on 
the other, what precise number of persons must engage 
in it, in order that what was criminal before may become 
innocent, not to say virtuous ? And upon what hitherto 
unheard-of principles of morality is an act of murder in 
an individual, or a small corporation, converted into an 
act of justice whenever another subscriber has joined the 
association for mutual sacrifice ? It is a familiar fact in 
the history of mankind, that great corporations will do, 
and glory in, what the very individuals composing them 
would shrink from or blush at. But how can the division 
of the responsibility transform vice into virtue, or dimin- 
ish the amount of any given crime ?" 

There is both truth and reason in the foregoing. If it 
is morally wrong for one man to steal, it is morally 
wrong for ten — twenty — fifty — a hundred — or a hundred 
millions, to steal. If it is morally wrong for one man to 
take human life, when the culprit is securely bound, it 
is morally wrong for ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred, or a 
hundred millions, to commit the act. I, therefore, feel 
that as a citizen, I should use my influence to abolish a 
law which I fully believe is not valid, and for which I 
feel that I should not be held responsible, and yet must 
be, so long as it remains. 

Mr. Rantoul says that "great corporations will do, and 
glory in, what the very individuals composing them 
would shrink from or blush at." This is true. Let me 
secure the assassin with manacles and cords, and chain 
him to a post so that he can not move, hand or foot; 
»nd though he had murdered my wife and children, I 


should blush and be ashamed to cut his throat, or beat 
out his brains, or strangle him with a halter, now that he 
is secure and helpless * Indeed, it would be a murder- 
ous and dastardly act. For no consideration would I 
thus become an executioner. And should I ask another 
to do an act for me which I would shrink from do- 
ing myself with the utmost horror ? And this is what 
I demand of the State when I ask the State to sustain 
the gallows. It is what the State consents to do, when it 
places upon its statute books the Death Penalty. It be- 
comes the executioner of those who are securely bound 
or imprisoned, and for whose further depredations it can 
have no fears. Thus will great corporations do, and glory 
in, what the very individuals composing them would 
shrink from or blush at. 

In concluding this chapter, I would remark that some 
may say that the Bible affords authority for killing, and 
refer us to " Moses and the Prophets." In reply, I an- 
swer, that it was Moses and the Prophets who authorized 
our fathers to burn the witches, execute for profanity, 
strangle their children for disobedience, and hang for 
stealing forty shillings. But was this authority valid ? 
And if so, why is it not still in vogue ? Suppose Moses 
gave this authority to a particular people, existing under 

* Dr. Rush says : " The power over human life is the sole prerogative 
of Him who gave it. Human laws are, therefore, in rebellion against 
this prerogative when they transfer it to human hands." I understand 
Mr. Rantoul to advance the same doctrine in the above argument ;— that 
is, that human life is in the hands of God alone — that power over it is his 
sole prerogative, and, therefore, that man has no right to destroy the life 
of his fellow under any circumstances. Many good men have advocated 
the same doctrine. It is not my design to discuss it in this work, as it ia 
not necessary; but I wish simply to say that, though every mB.-a feels that, 
the power of life and death is alone in the hands of God, he aXso feels that 
self-preservation is the first law of his nature, and that if an assassin were 
cutting his throat, or murdering his wife and children, he would be re- 
creant to the duty which he owes to himself and his family, if he did not 
protect them to the utmost of bis power, even to the sacrifice of the 
assassin's life. 


peculiar circumstances, in a dark and rude state of soci- 
ety, can we claim the same authority from the same 
source ? 

We live under the influence of a "new and better cov- 
enant." We are not heathen nor Hebrews, but Chris- 
tians. Show me a single declaration or act of Christ or 
his apostles that sanctions the gallows — or burning — be- 
heading — strangling — the rack — the wheel, or the taking 
of human life in any form,^ or for any crime^ and I will 
yield the argument. But till then, you must not con- 
demn me if I love the spirit and commands of my Mas- 
ter more than the inhumanity and barbarity of a darker 

More on this point when we come to consider the 
scriptural argument for the gallows. 




Execution of the Innocent— The evil cannot he remedied— Declaration of Lafayette- 
Execution of the Innocent during the French Revolution— Dying Protestations of In- 
nocence—Injustice of executing the Innocent — Instance of the Imprisonment of an In- 
nocent Man Agony which the Innocent must experience in Conviction and Execution — 
Execution of an Innocent Man in Indiana— Execution of a Poor German Execution 
of an Innocent Young Girl — Innocent Man hung in England — Circumstantial Evidence 
not to be relied on— Positive Evidence not always Certain— Extract from O'Connel of 

One of tlie most pressing and cogent reasons with me 
for the abolishment of the Death Penalty, is the fact 
that so long as it remains on our statute books, and is en- 
forced, the INNOCENT are liable to be put to death as well 
as the guilty. 

The great and good Lafayette said, " I shall ask for 
the abolishment of the Penalty of Death, until I have the 
infallibility of human judgment demonstrated to me." 
And he said this because of the awful scenes he had wit- 
nessed in consequence of the execution of the innocent. 
" The punishment of Death has always inspired me with 
feelings of horror," he exclaimed, " since the execrable 
use made of it during the former revolution." During 
that revolution, the innocent and the guilty were made 
to pour out their blood upon the block indiscriminately. 
" Oh ! spare me ; for before Grod I proclaim my inno- 
cence ! " — " With the voice of a dying mortal I solemnly 
declare that I am guiltless ! " were protestations for 



which the guillotine tarried not in its work of death. 
Neither has the gallows in Europe and America. In 
England more than 10,000 men and women have been 
executed who protested most sacredly, with their las-t 
breath, that they had no knowledge of the crimes for 
which they were about to suffer. And, in the United 
States, the number is rising three hundred. 

It is true, that even the dying testimony of men is 
not always to be credited ; but, out of so many, is it not 
altogether probable a large number uttered the truth ? 
Some of them — indeed, a majority — were entitled to 
credit, for they had become hopeful converts to the 
Christian religion — were " changed from nature to 
grace" — fitted for the immortal spheres, and were expect- 
ing a world of glory on passing away from this world of 
sin. So said their spiritual advisers, and so said the 
Christian Church generally. Hence I repeat, they were 
entitled to credit among Christians. But they were 7iot 
credited. On the contrary, every one of them was stran- 
gled; — yes, strangled by the hands of Christians, in the 
very midst of their protestations of innocence ! 

Now, as I view the subject, to kill a human being for 
a crime of which he is innocent, is one of the most un- 
just and dreadful deeds that can be perpetrated. He is 
made to suffer an evil which it is impossible to remedy. 
We can restore property^ and liherty., and even character., 
to the innocent, but we can never restore life. A few 
years ago, a man in the western part of Massachusetts 
was convicted of burning a barn, on the positive evide-nce 
of a neighbor, and was sentenced to the State prison for six 
years. But when three years had passed, the very man 
on whose testimony he was convicted, when on his death 
bed, confessed his own guilt in the crime ; and thus was 
the innocent man restored to liberty, and to his discon- 

Innocent Man preparing for Execution — Page 69, 



solate and wretched family, who had been deprived of 
his presence and assistance during these long and pain- 
ful months and years.^ But though he was restored, 
ho\t could that world of mortification, and anxiety, and 
suffering, which he and his family had experienced, be 
restored ? 

Now, this was sufficiently unjust and dreadful, but it is 
as nothing — or as the mere "dust in the balance" — when 
compared with the evil perpetrated in executing the in- 
nocent. Here, nothing can he done to remedy the evil. The 
poor victim has gone into eternity. It is now too late. 
Think of the long days and nights of suffering of the 
doomed man, when in prison awaiting his trial ; of his 
agony, when the awful word " guilty" is pronounced, 
and his sentence passed. Think of the days and weeks 
of wretchedness which follow; — of his soul on fire with 
the conviction of his own innocence, when the world will 
not credit his protestations. Think of his grief when 
the awful thought comes to his soul, that his own 
parents, his wife, his darling children, will always believe 
him a felon ; and must always suffer the disgrace that 
will attach to his memory. Think of his agony as his 
day of doom approaches, and he takes his last farewell 
of wife and children. He is innocent, but no man be- 
lieves it, and he has no means of proving it. He stands 
upon the gallows, and still protests his innocence, but in 
vain. For weeks and months he has lived on the hope 
that a just God would not desert him; that in his Provi- 
dence the truth would be revealed, and his innocence 
proved. But now he is in despair. The fatal noose is 

* The State, feeling the injustice it had thus inflicted on one of its 
citizens, by three years' false imprisonment, made an effort — a very wiak 
effort it was — to compensate him for his labor while in prison. The Leg- 
islature magnanimously voted the stipend of $300, as an eqnivalefit for 
three years' confinement and hard labor. And this was all. 


fixed; the minister has commended him to Grod, and 
prayed that He will have mercy on his soul, when he 
feels no mercy; — the cap is drawn down, and the hang- 
man is ready to strike the blow that will send him into 
eternity, and yet there is no one to testify to his inno- 
cence. He must die, and die a felon ! There is no hope ! 
Great God ! what must be the agony of a sensitive soul, 
conscious of its own purity, under such circumstances 1 
For what would the reader take his place ? 

The DROP FALLS ! The man dies — dies a murderer. 
His body is given over for dissection. A knowledge of 
his execution is heralded to the wide world. But the 
next month, or week — nay, it may be the next hour, (as 
has many times occurred,) the facts in the case are re- 
vealed, and the truth of the poor man's protestations 
verified. But it is now too late — too late ! Who can 
bring back the life — or even restore the hody, for a de- 
cent, Christian burial ? Who can heal the wounds of 
that broken-hearted widow, or father, or mother ; or give 
an equivalent for the long days, and weeks, and months, 
of agonized sufi"ering, on the part of the children ? Oh, 
all this is irreparable. 

And yet, the supporters of the gallows will turn away 
from this argument, with a mere word, as if the whole 
matter were of but little or no consequence. Says a 
minister of the "true Church," " When an innocent man 
sufi'ers, all that can be said is, that Providence has seen 
fit to take away, by painful exit, one whom a few more 
years would have necessarily carried to the tomb." Yes, 
and he should have added, "The poor wretch should 
submit to the mandate of Heaven, without a pang or a 

Now, is not that cool? Is it not heartless? ^^ All thai 
can be said!'' Indeed; suppose that the case were his 


own^ or that of his son or daughter^ would lie dispose of 
it in this calm and philosophic manner ? Would he not 
find utterance for other words ? And does not that re- 
ligion which he professes teach him that every man is his 
brother, and that he should feel the same interest in the 
unjust sufferings of others that he does in his own? Did 
not Jesus forget his own trials and weep alone for others? 
And yet here is a Christian minister, high in an evan- 
gelical Church, who can dismiss this great question of 
inhumanity and injustice with the cold answer, that if 
the innocent victim is doomed to be hung he must make 
the best of it ; he would have died in a few years anyhow. 
Lafayette was right when he said that he would oppose 
the Death Penalty until the infallibility of human judg- 
ment was demonstrated. The writer of these pages has 
made this a principle of action for years. It is his motto 
still. Society had better permit a score of felons to go 
clear, than to put to death one innocent fellow-creature. 
For, at best, the murderer cannot escape punishment. 
The mark of Cain is upon him. " Vengeance is mine, 1 
will repay, saith the Lord." " Though hand join in hand, 
the wicked shall not be unpunished." Man is fallible, 
but God cannot err. Human tribunals are endowed 
with only human wisdom, and though governed by mo- 
tives the most sincere, have often misjudged. Even 
when the evidence has been positive and to the point, 
they have, in numerous instances, been deceived, and 
convicted and put to death the innocent. Many cases 
of this kind have taken place, both in this country and 
in Europe, a few of which we relate. 


Several years ago, a man residing about seventy miles 
from Cincinnati, died by poisoning, and suspicions rest- 


ing on a near neighbor and acquiantance, he was arrested 
and br.ought to trial. The wife of the deceased made 
positive oath that the prisoner at the bar was at her house 
previous to the sickness of her husband, and administered 
the poison in a cup of coffee, as she had reason to believe. 
It was also proven that the prisoner purchased poison in 
Cincinnati about that time, of the description found in 
the stomach of the deceased. Thus was conviction of the 
man's guilt fixed in the minds of the jury. In his de- 
fence, the prisoner admitted that he had purchased the 
poison, but declared that he had purchased it for the 
woman who swore against him, and who said, when she 
sent for it, that she wanted to employ it to exterminate 
rats ; — that he gave it into her hand on his return from 
Cincinnati, and was utterly ignorant of when or how it 
was administered to her husband. This story, however, 
availed nothing with the jury. The woman was SLreligious 
woman, and her story was entitled to credit. The man 
was accordingly convicted, sentenced and hung. But he 
always protested his innocence to the hour of his death. 
A few years passed, and the guilty woman confessed, not 
long before her death, that she was the guilty wretch, 
and declared that the State had executed an innocent 
man — one who was utterly ignorant of the circumstan- 
ces of the murder. What injustice was here! And yet 
the court and jury sinned ignorantly. The State was in 
fault, for by sanctioning the Death Penalty it had wan- 
tonly thrown away the power to atone for the grievous 
wrong. If the man had been put to work in the State 
prison, he could have been discharged when the facts 
came out; — the State could have compensated him for his 
services, and done what was in its power to make full 
reparation for the wrong committed. 

The following is another instance, somewhat similar: 



A few years ago, a poor German came to New- York, 
and took lodgings where lie was allowed to do his cook- 
ing in the same room with the family. The husband and 
wife lived in a perpetual quarrel. One day the German 
came into the kitchen, with a clasp-knife and a pan of 
potatoes, and commenced to pare them for his dinner. 
The quarrelsome couple were in a more violent alter- 
cation than usual; but he sat with his back towards 
them, and, being ignorant of their language, felt in no 
danger of being involved in. their disputes. But the 
woman, with a sudden and unexpected movement, 
snatched the knife from his hand, and plunged it into 
her husband's heart. She had sufficient presence of 
mind to rush into the street and scream murder. The 
poor foreigner, in the meanwhile, seeing the wounded 
man reel, sprang forward to catch him in his arms, and 
drew out the knife. People from the street crowded in, 
and found him with the dying man in his arms, the knife 
in his hand, and blood upon his clothes. The wicked 
woman swore, in her most positive terms, that he had 
been fighting with her husband, and had stabbed him 
with a knife he always carried. The unfortunate Ger- 
man knew too little of English to understand her accusa- 
tion, or to tell his own story. He was dragged off to 
prison, and the true state of the case was made known 
through an interpreter, but it was not believed. Cir- 
cumstantial evidence was exceedingly strong against the 
accused, and the real criminal swore that she saw him 
commit the murder. He was executed, notwithstanding 
the most persevering efforts of his lawyer, John Anthon, 
Esq., whose convictions of the man's innocence were so 
painfully strong that, from that day to this, he has refused 


to have any connection with a capital case. Some years af- 
ter this tragic event the woman died, and, on her death- 
bed, confessed her agency in the diabolical transaction ; 
but her poor victim could receive no benefit from this 
tardy repentance. 

We could relate many accounts of this description, 
where the evidence was positive, had we space. A few 
must suffice. 


In the " Old Bailey (London) Trials" of the last cen- 
tury, there is an account of the conviction and ex- 
ecution of a young girl of seventeen, for stealing a 
roll of ribbon, worth three shillings. But one witness 
appeared against her, viz : the shop-man. " The prison- 
er came into my shop," said he, " and bought some rib- 
bon. I saw her secrete this piece also. I personally 
knew her, and was on the most friendly and sociable 
terms with her. When she left the shop I accompanied 
her, and offered her my arm, which she accepted. We 
chatted together. As we reached the corner of a street 
leading to the Bow street office, I turned toward it. She 
said she was going in another direction, and bade me 
good morning. I said to her, 'iVb/ you are going with 
me! I saw you steal a piece of my ribbon!' She imme- 
diately implored me for God's sake to overlook it, and 
restored to me the article. I said to her that I had lost 
many things in this way, and was resolved to make her 
an example — that I was determined to have her lifer 

How heartless the testimony of this cold-blooded 
wretch. He accomplished his designs. His testimony 
yfdiS positive. The court and jury believed his story, con- 
victed the girl and hung her. And yet the subsequent 
confession of the shop-man revealed the innocence of 


the girl, and tlie enormity of Ms own sin, in taking this 
method to hide the fruits of an illicit intercourse with 
the girl. 

From the relation of such facts, the reader will not 
only come to realize the injustice liable to fall upon the 
most innocent at any moment, but he will also discover 
how little implicit credit is to be placed upon even the 
most positive testimony. It is often said, even by those 
who sustain the Death Penalty, that a man should never 
be convicted and hung on circumstantial evidence, be- 
cause of its uncertainty. But we see in all the cases 
above presented, thdit positive testimony is equally uncer- 
tain. The witnesses may be personally interested, and 
swear falsely to shelter themselves. Does not the reader 
see that so long as human tribunals are fallible, that they 
may err, even when most certain that they are correct 
in the judgment rendered. The following is another in- 
stance of the same description : 


A robber in England knocked a traveler from his 
liorse, stabbed him, and 4ook his pocket-book. It was 
in a turn in the road, and he was hidden by the bushes. 
He had no sooner accomplished his work than he heard 
another traveler approaching ; but he had injured his 
ancle and could not escape. He, therefore, secreted 
himself near the place of the murder. The traveler came 
up, saw the dying man with the dirk still in his breast. 
He sprang from his horse, drew out the dirk, and did 
all in his power to staunch the wound, but in vain. Just 
at that moment other travelers appeared, and the robber, 
thinking that he would be discovered, came boldly from 
his hiding-place, and upon his testimony the innocent 
man was arrested, and, to his own astonishment, on his 



person was found the pocket-book of tlie murdered man. 
The real thief had slipped it, unperceived, into his 
pocket, at a moment when all eyes were turned in an- 
other direction. The prisoner protested, in the most 
positive manner, his innocence ; but there were the posi- 
tive testimony of the witness, the bloody dirk in his 
hand, as seen by other witnesses, the pocket-book of 
the murdered man found on his person, and, besides all 
this, it was shown that he and the deceased were ene- 
mies. He was, therefore, convicted, sentenced and hung. 
In a few months the real murderer was convicted of an- 
other crime, and when on the gallows confessed the facts 
as above related. 

Again, circumstantial evidence sometimes appears 
equivalent to positive and certain proof, it is so linked 
and woven together, and yet there may be no proof in it. 
Consider the following cases : 


A gentleman was tried in Dublin on the 24th of May, 
1728, charged with the murder of his maid-servant. An 
opposite neighbor saw him admitted into his house about 
ten at night, by his servant, who opened the door, hold- 
ing in her hand a lighted candle in a brazen candlestick. 
Not long after, the gentleman made an alarm, exclaim- 
ing that his servant was murdered. The woman was 
found a corpse in the kitchen, her head fractured, her 
neck wounded so as to divide the jugular vein, and her 
dress steeped in blood. On further search, the inquirer 
discovered that the prisoner had on a clean shirt, while 
one freshly stained with blood, and ascertained to be his, 
was discovered in the recess of a cupboard ; where also 
was found a silver goblet, bearing the marks of a bloody 


thumb and finger. The prisoner fainted on being shown 
the shirt. He was executed. 

His defense, on trial, was, that the maid-servant admit- 
ted him, as sworn, and went to the kitchen; that he had 
occasion to call her, but not being answered, went and 
found her lying on the floor; not knowing her to be 
dead, and being a surgeon, he proceeded to open a vein 
in her neck ; in moving the body, the blood stained his 
hands and shirt sleeves. He then thought it best to 
make an alarm for assistance, but being afraid of the ef- 
fect which his appearance might produce, he changed his 
linen, and displaced the silver cup in order to put his 
bloody shirt out of sight. 

This story was deemed incredible. Several years after, 
a dying penitent confessed to a priest, that he was con- 
cealed in the gentleman's house for the purpose of rob- 
bing it, at the moment of the gentleman's return ; that 
hearing him enter, he resolved to escape ; that the wo- 
man saw, and attempted to detain him ; that he, fearing 
detection, knocked her down with the candlestick she 
had in her hand, and fled, unnoticed, from the premises. 

The following case, from a London paper, furnishes 
the strongest arguments to the friends of abolition of 
Capital Punishment. At the Surrey Sessions, Mr. Char- 
noch, who was engaged to defend a prisoner on circum- 
stantial evidence, said such evidence was always danger- 
ous to conviction, and cited the following illustration : 


A farmer who was left executor and guardian, was in^ 
dieted for the wilful murder of his niece. A serious 
quarrel took place between them, and the farmer was 
heard to say, that his niece would not live to enjoy her 
property. Soon after, she was missed. Rumors were 


quickly spread that she was murdered by her guardian. 
On being apprehended, blood was found upon his clothes. 
The judge was persuaded to postpone the trial, and the 
most strenuous exertions were made to find the niece, but 
in vain. The prisoner, to save his life, resorted to a 
step which procured his condemnation and execution 
within forty-eight hours after his trial. A young lady 
was produced, exactly resembling the supposed murder- 
ed female. Her height, age and complexion and voice 
were so similar, that the witnesses swore to the identity. 
An intimation was given that the female was not the 
niece. By skilful cross-examination, the artifice was 
detected, and the unfortunate man was hung. The un- 
happy convict declared his innocence, but was rebuked 
by the clergyman for his hardihood. 

In two years after, the niece made her appearance, and 
claimed the property. It appeared that, the day after 
the fatal quarrel, she had eloped with a stranger to whom 
she was attached, and she had not been heard of till her 
unexpected return, and that, by mere accident, she had 
heard of her uncle's execution.* 

To show, still further, the fallibility of human judg- 
ment, we would state, that when tribunals have hung, 
even on the confession of the parties, they have sometimes 
erred. The confession, a false one, may have been extract- 
ed from the prisoner by hope of reward or pardon. How 
many thousands, in olden times, confessed to anything 
suggested by the blood-thirsty priests, in order to save 
themselves from the horrid tortures of the inquisition. 


Some years ago, the London Morning Herald con- 
tained the account of a man who confessed his guilt of a 

* We take the above instances from a work entitled " Essays on tbo 
Punishment o£ Death." by Rev. Charles Spear, Boston. 




certain crime. "Circumstances transpired, which, not- 
withstanding his confession, led many to doubt his guilt. 
He at length admitted that he had made up his mind to 
suffer the punishment, in order to claim, upon conviction, 
a reward which had been offered, and hand it to his 
starving wife and children." 

Here the wretched man confessed, when he was inno- 
cent. But all can see his motive ; it was the hope of a 
reward offered, that he might, by suffering the punish- 
ment of the alleged crime, save his wife and children 
from starvation. What a comment on the Christianity^ 
civilization and organization of society in England. And 
in America it is the same, as we shall see in the fu- 
ture pages of this work. Shame on our inhumanity and 
our professions of the Christian religion! The most igno- 
rant Pagan is less indifferent and unfeeling toward those 
in distress ! 

A remarkable case of confession, where the prisoner 
was innocent, happened in Vermont, in our own country. 
It has been cited on many occasions, and was narrated 
as given below, by Rev. W. S. Balch, of New- York city, 
who was born and educated in the vicinity of the place 
where the facts occurred. We copy from Mr. Spear's 
work on Capital Punishment. It will be seen that 
Bourne confessed to a falsehood in hope of commutation. 


A case occurred in Manchester, Vermont. Two men, 
brothers, by the name of Bourne, were convicted of mur- 
der of a brother-in-law, named Colvin. While under 
the sentence of death, one of the brothers confessed a 
participation in the murder. By an act of the Legisla- 
ture, his punishment was commuted to imprisonment for 


life. The other stoutly persisted in asserting his inno- 
cence. Great excitement prevailed during and after the 
trial; I remember it well. Tt was near my native town. 
But when the confession was made under oath, and pub- 
lished, none longer doubted. Had he declared he did 
not assist in the murder, would he have been believed ? 
The day of execution at length arrived. Hundreds of 
people from the hills and vales were gathered around the 
gallows, to witness the dying struggles of a poor unfor- 
tunate fellow-sinner. The hour had arrived, and the 
elder Bourne, still avowing his innocence, wan and weak, 
was led forth into the ring, and beneath the horrid en- 
gine of death. The sheriff was about to adjust the hal- 
ter, and draw down the dismal cap, when a cry was heard 
from behind the ring — "Stop! stop! For Grod's sake 
stop." All eyes were directed that way, when to the 
astonishment of all, ih.Q' murdered Colvin was led into 
the ring, presented to the sheriff, recognized by the as- 
sembled neighbors, and greeted by Bourne with feelings 
better imagined than described ; and the people doomed 
to return home in disappointment — as some remarked, 
" without seeing the/im they anticipated." 

Had Colvin, (says Mr. Balch,) not been found, for he 
was in New Jersey, or had some little hindrance delay- 
ed a single hour, an innocent man would have been hur- 
ried out of the world as a felon, leaving wife, and chil- 
dren, and friends to lament his untimely death ; human- 
ity to weep over the mistakes and weaknesses, and cruel- 
ties of human legislation ; and judges and juries to re- 
proach themselves for taking the fearful responsibility 
of destroying a life which they could not restore when 
their errors were clearly manifest. 

Thus do we have pressed upon our notice, the fallibil- 
ity of human judgment. How liable are we to be de- 


ceived. How many thousands have been acquitted who 
were guilty, and condemned who were innocent. Amid 
all this uncertainty, and with a knowledge of the tremen- 
dous injustice attending the execution of the innocent, 
[ feel that society has no right to wantonly throw away 
its power of atoning for the wrong committed, by de- 
priving a human being of that which it has not the 
power to bestow. Within the walls of a strong prison, 
safely guarded with bars and bolts, he would be secure. 
There he could be instructed in heart and mind, by 
the aid of books and good men; and, if guilty, be 
made to feel the power of a love that could return good 
for evil, and blessing for his efforts to destroy. And if, 
in the providence of God, it should be revealed that he 
was innocent, as we have already said, he could be com- 
pensated for his labor — restored to liberty, and so far as 
possible, atonement could be made for the wrong com- 

We have already extended our remarks on this sub- 
ject beyond our original intention, but cannot conclude 
them without introducing an eloquent extract from a 
speech* made by O'Connell, several years ago, before 
the London society for the diffusion of information on 
the subject of the Death Penalty. He refers to facta 
most touching that had come under his own observation. 

" He had long been deeply impressed," he said, " with 
the conviction that Capital Punishment ought to be ut- 
terly abolished. He could not forget that ' vengeance is 
mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay it.' Perhaps it 
was by the impulse of feeling, and what he conceived to 
be humanity, that, in the early part of his life, he was 
brought to this conviction ; but long, and he might ven- 

* Originally published in the Herald of Peace, for 1832. We copy from 
" Essays on the Death Penalty." 


ture to say, great experience in the criminal law — for no 
advocate, at least in his own country, had the miserable 
boast which he could make of the frequency of his prac- 
tice in that branch — that experience had confirmed him 
in his opinion, that there should not be in man the 
power of extinguishing life, because the result was irrep- 
arable; because the injury could not be compensated 
which might be done, if the beings were not infallible 
who inflicted the punishment ; (and where should we 
find such?) and, because, while we thought we were vin- 
dicating the law of society, we might be committing the 
greatest outrage that could be perpetrated upon our fel- 
low-creatures. The honorable and learned gentleman 
who spoke last, shuddered at the death of even a crimi- 
nal ; but what would his feelings have been had he wit- 
nessed, as he had, the execution of the innocent! 

"One of the first events which struck him when he was 
rising into life, was seeing a gentleman who had forsaken 
society, and thrown himself into a mountain lodge, 
abandoning the intercourse of men, and wandering 
about like a troubled spirit, a willing outlaw, and an 
outcast from the social state. He inquired the cause, 
and learned that it originated in these circumstances: — 
Two men got into his bed-room at night, and robbed him, 
but did not treat him with any brutality. He prosecu- 
ted two brothers for the crime; and they being unpre- 
pared with any defense, from a consciousness of their in- 
nocence, were convicted and executed. Not a fortnight 
after they had been laid in the grave, in the presence of 
their father, and amidst the tears of their broken-hearted 
mother, the gentleman discovered his total mistake!" 

Mr. O'Connell said he would mention another instance, 
of which he had a personal knowledge : 

"He defended three brothers who were indicted far 


murder; and the judge having a leaning, as was not un- 
usual in such cases, to the side of the crown prosecution, 
almost compelled the jury to convict. He sat at his 
window as the men passed by, after receiving sentence. 
A military guard was placed over them, and it was posi- 
tively forbidden that any one should have any inter- 
course with them. He saw their mother, strong in her 
affections, break through the guard, which was sufficient 
to resist any male force — he saw her clasp her eldest son, 
who was but twenty-two years of age — he saw her cling 
to her second, who was but twenty — and he saw her faint 
as she clasped the neck of her youngest boy, who was 
but eighteen. And they were innocent, but were ex- 

" He mentioned these facts to show with what extreme 
caution any one should do that which was irrevocable. 
When we recollected that, in criminal cases, a prisoner 
was almost shut out from making any defense; and that, 
in cases of circumstantial evidence, men were convicted, 
not upon facts, but upon reasonings and deductions ; — 
when we recollected that the criminal law permitted the 
counsel for the crown to aggravate the impression against 
the prisoner, and prohibited his counsel from opening 
his mouth in his defense, — it might be said, without 
much exaggeration, that such a code was written in let- 
ters of blood. Was this England, the first country in 
the world for the love of liberty, and the encouragement 
of all the arts which adorn civilization and morality? 
Was this the country where, if a man had five pounds at 
stake, he might employ ten or twenty counsel to speak 
for him as long as they liked; but, when his life was in 
jeopardy, the law said, ' The counsel against you shall 
speak in aggravation of the charge ; but the lips of your 
counsel shall be sealed!' Up to the present moment, 



that horrible state of the law continued. He was firmly 
persuaded that if he had been entitled to speak on behalf 
of those three brothers — feeble as might be his advo- 
cacy, perhaps his heart would have aided his judgment 
and given him an inspiration beyond the natural dulness 
of his disposition — he felt that he would have made it 
impossible for any jury to convict. If the punishment 
of these three brothers had not been incapable of being 
recalled, they might have been restored to their family ; 
and the mother, who wept over their grave, might have 
been borne in decency to her tomb by those over whose 
premature death she mourned."* 

But enough. Were there no other reason for the 
abolishment of the Death Penalty, this would be sufficient 
for us. Down with the gallows, then. It can be spared 
with injury to no one; and so long as it remains, the in- 
nocent are not safe. 

* See HeraM of Peace for April, May and June. London: 1832. 

CHAPTER yill. 



The Death Penalty forbidden hy the Christian Scriptures— Authority of the Scrip- 
tures above Human Authority— The Lex talionU oi the Jews -The Law of Love the 
Christian Law Touching account of recent Executions— All Christian Codes must 
Harmonize with the Law of Love— The Old Covenant not binding on Christians. 

Another reason why the Punishment of Death should 
be abolished, especially by all Christian governments, is, 
that it is positively forbidden hy the Christian Scriptures. 

With the writer of these pages, there is no authority 
superior to the authority of God. His word is our crite- 
rion. We never, knowingly, swerve from its divine re- 
quirements and teachings. Human speculations, in the 
presence of the plain teaching of the inspired volume, 
like mist before the morning sun, dissipate into airy 
n-othingness. "Let God be true, but every man a 
liar," is the motto by which we are led ; and, happily, 
with reference to the subject under consideration. He is 
upon the side of clemency. He "will have mercy and 
not sacrifice."* 

"But," answers the objector, "the Bible certainly 
sanctions the Death Penalty. There is no plainer or 
more positive declaration than this: * Whoso sheddeth 
man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed;' and 
all know, who know anything of the Bible, that the law 

* Matthew, 9:13. 



of Moses demanded the life of tlie offender for a multi- 
tude of sins. ' Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for 
tooth,' is the express declaration of God himself. How, 
then, can we abolish the Death Punishment, without 
first abolishing the law of Grod ; and how can we disre- 
gard the law of God with any degree of safety ? Ah, I ' 
fear for that community which will thus thoughtlessly 
or wilfully trample under foot the wise instruction of 
the Divine Being!" 

So said our fathers, both in England and our own 
country, fifty years ago, when an attempt was made to 
abolish the stocks, the pillory and the whipping-post, 
all of which were regarded as divine institutions, and 
indispensably necessary to the safety of society. So it 
was thought a hundred years ago, by the most orthodox 
Christians in Europe and America, when hanging was 
the penalty for stealing forty shillings ; also for idolatry, 
blasphemy, Sabbath-breaking, abuse of parents, perjury 
and adultery. All these laws were devoutly believed to 
be founded on God's law, binding on the Christian, and 
could not be abolished with any degree of safety. And 
yet they were abolished, and with no detriment to either 
morals or religion, and are ngt now believed, by any sect 
of Christians living, to be required by the divine law. 
No well-informed, sane man, no matter what his religion, 
would consent, for any consideration, to go back to the 
middle of the last century, and institute its penal code as 
a substitute for our own. But if the Jewish law is still 
binding, how can we remit all its punishments hut one ; 
and what grounds have we to argue that this is binding, 
— and to the end of time — when we admit that all the rest 
were temporary, and only designed for a previous age? 
More than this : is not the question at least worthy of 
our careful consideration, whether, having abolishel 


the entire code of Moses, with the exception of this, 
with no apparent injury, but with manifest improvement 
and with no violation of the divine precept, we cannot 
also give up this ? 

And this, we repeat, is what the Christian Scriptures 
actually demand. That " breach for breach, eye for eye, 
tooth for tooth, is the express declaration of God," as 
the objector says, is, at least, problematical. Christ did 
not so understand by the demands of the Mosaic dispen- 
sation. It was not God, but ^'them of old time," who 
said this. " Ye have heard that it hath been said by them 
of old time .... an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a 
tooth." This was the lex talionis, or law of retaliation, in- 
corporated into the code of the early Hebrews and the 
rule of vengeance by which they were governed. And 
suppose we admit that God did permit or even command 
the Jews, when in a rude and barbarous state, to institute 
laws thus sanguinary and bloody, where is the man who 
can make it appear that they are still binding under the 
Christian dispensation ? On the contrary, there is no 
truth of the divine word more palpable than the fact, 
that Christ himself abrogated the very spirit and princi- 
ple of that old code, and gave, the world a new and better 
covenant in his life, teachings, sufferings and examples. 

In the very first sermon he preached, behold how 
positively and clearly he defined the principles of his 
own religion, in contradistinction to those of Moses: 
*' Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye 
and a tooth for a tooth; but / say unto you, that ye 
resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy 
right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any 
man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let 
him have thy cloak also."* We cannot suppose that Christ 

* Matthew 5: 38—40. 


designed that this command should be literally obeyed; but 
the principle contained in this declaration he did design 
should be enforced as a new, a better, a more divine law; 
a law which should abrogate the Mosaic precept and tak« 
its place. And I ask my Christian brother or sister, 
who may peruse these pages, is not its rule the exact 
opposite of the Levitical law ? "I say unto you that 
ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on the 
one cheek, turn to him the other also." He farther 
says: "Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou shalt 
love thy neighbor, and hate thy enemy ; but / say unto 
you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do 
good to them that hate you, and pray for them that de- 
spitefully use and persecute you ; that ye may be the 
children of your Father which is in Heaven ; for he 
maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and 
sendeth his rain on the just and on the unjust."* How 
can the man who professes to have been born into the 
spiritual kingdom of the Master — a kingdom of "right- 
eousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost " — and to be 
governed by the foregoing instruction, still uphold the 
killing of men, women and children by " legal strangu- 
lation?" How would the above declarations of Christ 
appear as written mottoes for the gallows ? "Love, the 
FULFILLING OF THE LAW," inscribed on the cross-bar of 
the gibbet! What an inconsistency! Jesus "lived the 
doctrine which he taught." He returned good for evil 
and blessing for cursing; and finally died upon the cross 
for his enemies, closing and sanctioning his labors of 
love by that more than mortal petition, "Father, forgive 
them, for they know not what they do!" Oh, blessed 
Being! the true guide and pattern of all Christians. 
Here is light communicated from heaven, to illuminate 

* Matthew, 6: 44—45. 


Our path of duty. "We are not left to our own sagacious- 
ness, but should follow our great examplar. " For even 
hereunto were ye called : because Christ also suffered for 
us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in his 
steps; who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; 
who, when he was reviled, reviled 7iot again; when he suf- 
fered he threatened not ; but committed himself to Him who 
judgeth righteously.'^ How divine, how beautiful this in- 
struction ; and how plain it is that, everywhere in the 
New Testament, love is made the test of the validity of 
our claims to the Christian character. " By this shall all 
men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love.^'f 
Again, " He that loveth, dwelleth in God and God in 
him. "J " For this, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou 
shalt not kill; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou 
shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, 
it is briefly comprehended in this saying : thou shalt love 
thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh NO ill to its neighbor; 
therefore, love is the fulfilling of the Zazo."|| Above all 
things,^' says the same apostle, after enumerating various 
other duties, "j?w^ on charity," (or love) " which is the" 
bond of perfectness.^^^ In short, the inculcation of this 
divine principle as the great central element of the Chris- 
tian religion, is as common in the Gospel as its practical 
utility is superior. So common and so plain is it, that 
the wayfaring man, though a fool, need not err. "It is 
the theme of all the apostolic exhortations, that with 
which their morality begins and ends, from which all 
their details and enumerations set out and into which 
they return." 

Is it not, then, evident that if all the relative duties of 
the Christian are embraced in one word and that word is 

* 1 Peter, 2 : 21. f John, 13 : 35. % John, 4: 16. 

jj Romans, 13: 9. § Colossians, 3: 14. 



LOVE, that he can institute no form of government, nor 
sanction any modes of punishment, that are founded on 
vengeance, and that result in the violent destruction of a 

As I write, the daily papers laid on my table give the 
particulars of two executions which have just taken place, 
one in Louisville, Ky., and the other in Roxbury, N. C. 
George HuflFner, executed in Louisville, asserted in the 
most positive manner, till the moment of his exit from 
time to eternity, his entire innocence of the crime for 
which he was about to suffer, and left a brief but touch- 
ing epistle, in which he expressed an ardent hope that 
the time would come when the people of Louisville and 
elsewhere, would know that he died an innocent man. 

Says the account: "After the clergyman. Rev. Mr. 
Adams, addressed the people, and exhorted them to pre- 
serve decorum, the prisoner stepped forth, and in a firm 
voice said, that he ^was not guilty of the crime of murder.^ 
Prayer was then offered up to God by the Rev. Mr. 
Adams, after which the prisoner desired him to tell the 
people that he died in full hope of heaveji. The sheriff 
adjusted the fatal noose, after covering the victim's head 
with a cap. He then bade farewell to the ministers and 
officers around him, and just a moment before being 
launched into eternity, he earnestly asked if there was 
any one around ' who believed him innocent.' ' I do,' 
was heard, and just then the drop fell and all was over. 

" Just at that moment, a woman, almost wild with ex- 
citement, forced her way to the foot of the scaffold, beg- 
ging the sheriff to send the body to his unfortunate wife, 
who was almost crazy with grief and despair. The wish 
was complied with, and the body sent to her for burial. 
The sympathies of the community are demanded for 
this poor woman, who is in extreme destitution, with a 



small child to support, twenty months old, and is again 
on the eve of confinement." 

Here was a man — a Christian man — with a soul all 
b4*ight with a glorious hope of immortality, whom the 
Christian people of Kentucky, his brethren, strangled 
into eternity. Was that act really a Christian act? 
Was it in harmony with the law of love, the great cen- 
tral principle of the Christian religion ? 

The other case was somewhat similar. The prisoner's 
name was Williams. He was greatly distressed and dread- 
fully alarmed with reference to his future condition, but 
protesting his innocence, with the most piteous appeals 
to the last. Every moment he besought the prayers of all 
Christians around him in his behalf. Says the writer : 
" The hour arriving for his execution, the sheriff, with a 
bleeding heart and tear-moistened eye, called for him. 
Taking Mr. Lyon, (his father's friend and neighbor,) 
by the hand, and begging him to go with him and pray 
for him, he proceeded to the gallows, praying all the 
way, until he arrived in sight of the gallows, when, 
trembling like a leaf, he gave vent to an expression of 
feeling which no pen can describe, and which touched 
the most callous heart. Arriving at the gallows, he 
sued for the last moment, and begged every Christian on 
the ground to pray for him. 

" It was here that the sheriff read him a brief note, 
reminding him of future rewards and punishments, of 
the awfulness of dying with a lie on his- lips, and invok- 
ing him to say, while he looked eternity in the face, 
whether he was guilty or innocent of the murder. He 
replied, that he had ' said all he had to say about it — he 
was not guilty!"* So the prisoner protested his innocense 
to the last moment. Mounting the scaffold, and forgiv- 
ing everybody, his soul was launched into eternity." 



YeSj but if every Christian duty is embraced in a sin- 
gle word, and that word is love^ could this act be a Chris- 
tian act? Would not Christ have had mercy on the 
poor man ? Did he ever condemn to death ? Can the 
law which demanded the death of these wretched men, 
be in harmony with the Christian precept which requires 
" good for evil." A law which would secure them in 
prison — treat them kindly — instruct them in their duty 
to God and their fellow men — renovate their souls with 
the spirit of Christianity, and thus cast out the spirit of 
evil, by a manifestation of goodness, would be Christian j 
but that which demands " eye for eye, tooth for tooth, and 
life for life," never! never! This belongs to another 
covenant, and another age. We are living in the nine- 
teenth century of the Christian era. We profess to be 
Christians. We are not Hehreics nor Hindoos. Whom, 
then, shall we follow, Christ or Moses? There is such a 
thing as progression ; as " a growing in grace, and in a 
knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." Why 
should we go back four thousand years for our morality, 
our laws, our reli^on, and our faith ? when Christ is the 
light that is to lighten every man that cometh into the 
world, he being " the way, the truth and the life?" 

Yet, this is what the majority of Christians are every- 
where doing. Christ himself has instructed them that 
" the law and the prophets were until John ; since that 
time the kingdom of God is preached;"* but giving no 
heed to this, they forsake the "kingdom of Christ," and 
going back to " the law and the prophets," and planting 
themselves on the old covenant, say, ^^ This is our law, our 
morality/ J our Christianity, our faith. ^^ 

It is a fact which no one will attempt to dispute who 
is at all acquainted with the subject, that every opposer to 

* Luke, 16: 16. 


progression in humanity and moral purity, has gone to 
the "types and shadows" of the Old Testament, to main- 
tain his position. He could obtain no sympathy, no aid 
from Christ and his apostles. If a Christian would find 
a scriptural argument for drunkenness, he must go to 
Noah, or the history of the ancient Hebrews. So of 
war and the gallows. These practices can find no advo- 
cate in Christ or his immediate followers. But even 
Christian men believe that they must be sustained, and 
they, therefore, appeal to commandments and a code 
which existed tioo thousand years before Christ, and which 
he clearly abrogated, as we have seen. But where is their 
authority for such a course ? What consistency is there 
in it? Why not advocate the sacrifice of sheep and goats, 
the burning of incense, and the making of ofi'erings of 
oil and flour? They were demanded by the law of 
Moses, and are as really binding on us under the Chris- 
tian dispensation, as the Death "Penalty. This, then, 
we repeat, is a very important reason for the abolish- 
ment of the gallows. It is not sanctioned^ hut positively 
condemned, hy the Christian religion. 

And here, so far as the demands of the Bible go, we 
might rest the argument. It satisfies me ; for admitting 
all the opposer claims for the Levitieal code, under the 
old dispensation, to be true, it is no more binding on us 
than is the penal code of Connecticut colony, which 
hung for witchcraft, profanity, idolatry and petty rob- 
bery. We are followers of Christ, and not of " them of 
old time," and until it can be shown that the New Testa- 
ment clearly sanctions the Punishment of Death, we may 
rest in the assurance that the Bible contains no com- 
mands, nor instructions, that demand at our hand the 
blood of a fellow creature, no matter what his ofi"enses. 

But this disposition of the subject, though satisfactory 


to some, will not answer the expectations of all my read- 
ers. Many sincerely believe that the Mosaic law is still 
binding, and especially the declaration of God to Noah, 
" Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood 
be shed" — "a declaration," it is contended, "that is ex- 
pressive of the law of God concerning the murderer. He 
must be slain. The command is universal and perpetual. 
From the beginning God made this demand, and it must 
run parallel with the existence of man, to the end of 
time." So affirm the most able supporters of the Death 
Penalty. Let us, then, enter into a more minute and 
critical examination of the subject. " Prove all things, 
and hold fast that which is good," is an apostolic injunc- 
tion by which we have long been led. It shall be our 
motto in the investigation of the question before us* 
We begin with the declaration to Noah. 




la it positive, universal and perpetual?— Accidental tilling?— Killing in Self-defense, 
or in defense of one's Country, must be visited with Death The Executioner must 
te slain The text restricted to the Murderer; but in what decree of murder shall it 
be applied— Death Penalty not known till the year of the world 1650— Cain not put to 
death Lamech not put to death Moses a murderer and not slain Numerous other 
cases of the same description God did not himself regard the declaration to Noah -The 
true rendering and teaching of the text— Opinion of learned men— Evidence conclusive 
against the continuance of the Gallows. 

" Whoso sheddeth marCs blood hy man shall his blood be 
shed:' Gen. 9: 6. 

If the reader has perused the foregoing chapter, he is 
prepared for what we have to say on this declaration 
of God to Noah* a declaration which the advocates of 
the Death Penalty contend is positive, universal in its ap- 
plication and perpetual to the end of time. "Can language 
be more emphatic or universal?" exclaims an ardent de- 
fender of the gallows. "Whoso" — that is, any person 
whatever — "sheddeth man's blood" — who kills his fellow 
creature — "by man shall his blood be shed." There 
is no escape, and no limit as to time, or country, or situ- 
ation. On the contrary, such were the circumstances 
under which the declaration was made, that the whole 
context goes to show that this command was designed to 
be "perpetual and universal." 

Let us admit, for the sake of the argument, that tho 
objector is correct in these premises; and then query. 



*' Whoso" signifies, he says, ^'^ any person whatever^'^ and 
to "shed blood" means "to kilV^ The meaning of the' 
text is, then, if applied literally, that any person whatever 
who Mils, shall himself he killed. "There is no escape." 
It follows, then, that the man who destroys life acciden- 
tally, or in self-defense, or in defense of his country, 
must be killed, for he kills. " There is no escape. " The 
jury who convict the prisoner of murder, the judge who 
passes sentence of death on him, and the hangman who 
closes the scene of blood, all must be killed, for they 
are all guilty of killing; the judge and jury by proxy, 
the hangman, personally. The heroes of "seventy six," 
who fought the battles of the American Eevolution, with 
the Father of his Country at their head, should all to a 
man have been executed, for they all "shedl)lood." No- 
„ tice, the language of the text is "positive" and "without 
restriction," "extending to a?? who kill." " TFAoso sheddeth 
man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." "There 
is no escape." As says a writer when discanting on this 
subject: "If this command to Noah requires the death 
of all who shed blood without exception, then it is clear 
that the executioner should be killed; and when he is slain, 
his slayer must be put to death, and his and his, and thus 
the work of slaughter should go on, till the last man be- 
comes his own executioner and crowns, with his corpse, 
y" the work of universal carnage." 

Here, the objector finds himself in a dilemma, and to 
escape, says that he would restrict the application of the 
t«xt to the murderer. But, we reply, first, that the mo- 
ment he restricts the text, that moment he surrenders 
the ground already assumed, that it is of ^^universal ap- 
plication;" and second, that he has no authority for 
such restriction, as there is nothing either in the text or 
eontext that will warrant it. 


But suppose he is permitted to make tlie restriction 
and apply the principle contained in the text only in a 
case of murder; in what degree of murder would he 
make the application? The penal codes of all our States 
recognize, at least, two degrees of murder. Killing with 
malice prepense^ or aforethought, is murder in the first de- 
gree. Killing in the heat of passion, is man-slaughter, 
or murder in the second degree. Does the objector say 
that he would apply the principle of the text only in the 
case of murderin the first degree? But with what pro- 
priety can he make this restriction? If a man rises up 
in the heat of passion and slays his fellow, does he not 
just as really shed his blood as if the act were premedi- 
tated? and if so, does not the declaration to Noah de- 
mand his blood ? If he answers in the aflirmative, then 
he must make the penal code of his own State more 
severe, for no State in our Union, as our laws now stand, 
demands death for man-slaughter. But why not, if we 
are Christians, and the declaration, "whoso sheddeth 
man's blood by man shall his blood be shed," is still 
binding on us? 

From the foregoing considerations, it will be perceived 
that the declaration cannot be literally and universally 
applied; and that no Christian nation pretends to live 
up to such a construction; for it is only in extreme 
cases, and for the worst form of murder, that we "shed 

And when we say that this declaration contains a law 
which God designed from the beginning to restrain the 
passions and regulate the conduct of men, — a law to be 
regarded perpetually to the end of time, — we say what the 
Scriptures do not sanction — indeed, what they positively 
deny^ as we will now show. 



First, the declaration contained in the text under con- 
sideration was not given to Noah till the year of the 
world 1657; and, what is a little remarkable, up to this 
time the Death Penalty was not known among men, 
and yet murder had been committed. How will the 
objector account for this fact, if the law of "life for life" 
was designed from the heginimig to restrain men from 
violence, and proclaimed as an adequate punishment for 
the crime of murder? For more than sixteen hundred 
years the generations of men had been multiplying in 
the earth, and had been guilty of slaying each other, and 
still the law of death was not instituted ! 

Go back to the first murder ever committed, and how 
does God himself deal with the wretched homicide? 
Does he make an application of the principle contained 
in the declaration to Noah as a punishment for the crime 
of Cain? Not at all; instead, he positively declares that 
Cain should not be slain. Let us look at his case. 

Case op Cain. 

"And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came 
to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up 
against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the Lord 
said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, 
I know not. Am I my brother's keeper? And he said, 
what hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood 
crieth unto me from the ground, and now art thou 
cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to 
receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou 
tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee 
her strength: a fugitive and vagabond ehalt thou be in 


the earth. And Cain said unto the Lord, My punish- 
ment is greater than I can bear. Behold thou hast 
driven me out this day from the face of the earth ; and 
from thy face shall I be hid ; and it shall come to pass, that 
every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the Lord said 
unto him, therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance 
shall be taken on him seven -fold. And the Lord set a 
mark upon Cain lest any finding him should slay him."* 

Here we have the account of the first murder ever 
committed, the first law ever instituted for the punish- 
ment of the off'ender, and the details of the first trial on 
record where the criminal was a murderer. The 
Almighty God was himself the Law-giver and the Judge; 
the garden of Eden the court-room, and the blood of the 
slain Abel, crying from the teeming ground, both the 
accuser and the witness. 

And what is the nature of the penalty attached to the 
awful oiFense of the wretched man? Was it "blood fo-r 
blood?" If Capital Punishment is a perpetual institu- 
tion, divine and universal, why was it not then pro- 
claimed? There was no mistake in the guilt of the 
criminal at the bar. At first, he was inclined to cover 
his sin with a falsehood. "And the. Lord said unto 
Cain, where is thy brother Abel? and he said, I know 
not; am I my brother's keeper?" But "God is not 
mocked." Human tribunals are fallible and may be de- 
ceived, but infinite knowledge, never! 

We may succeed in hiding our crimes from man, but 
the eye of God penetrates into the very secrets of the 
soul, and our sin will find us out, and "though hand 
join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished." Cain 
was guilty of murder, and when fully charged with the 
dreadful crime, he did not longer deny. We ask asain, 

Gen. 4: 8—15. 


why did not the Almighty then institute the Death Pen- 
alty? Why did he not the'}^ erect the gallows, and him- 
self become the executioner? Do you say that the murder 
was not an aggravated one ; that Cain slew his brother in 
the heat of passion, and was, therefore, entitled to lenity? 
But the facts in the case will not warrant such a supposi- 
tion; on the contrary, they show plain enough that the 
murder was premeditated and wilful. Look at the pre- 
ceding account. "Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain 
was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it 
came to pass, that Cain brought, of the fruit of the 
ground, an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also 
brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat there- 
of. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his 
offering ; but unto Cain and his offering he had not 
respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance 
fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? 
and why is thy countenance fallen ? If thou doeat well, 
shalt not thou be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin 
lieth at the door."* Here we witness the "wrath " of 
Cain. His heart was filled with envy, jealousy, and 
hatred toward his kind and innocent brother ; and these 
passions raged like a sea, unbridled, till the destruction 
of Abel was the consequence. What a cold-blooded, 
heartless murder! And yet, God did not slay the murder- 
er ! He did not deprive him of liberty, even; and instead 
of hanging him up like a cat on a gibbet, and strangling 
the life out of him, as we Christians would do in a simi- 
lar case, he actually instituted a law TO SAVE him from 
DEATH. Is not this remarkable, if " life for life" is so 
necessary to restrain the vicious, and so sanctifying in its 
moral influences ! Hear the sentence pronounced by God 
HimseF, upon the guilty man. " And now art thou 

* Genesis, 4:2—7. 


cursed from the earth which hath opened her mouth to 
receive thy brother's blood from thy hand. When thou 
tiliest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee 
her strength; a fugitive -and vagabond shalt thou be in 
the earth." 

Here was the doom of Cain. God did not slay Mm 
because he had slain. This would have been a work of 
retaliation and vengeance. "Thou shalt not kill," is 
the law of God, and He would not be the first to violate 
his own precept; but by his dealings with the murderer, 
he would show all men the sanctity of human life. And 
thus : " from the ashes of murdered Abel, and from the 
stamped forehead of Cain, is proclaimed to the magistrate^ 
and the criminal, to the murderer in his bloody purpose, 
find the judge in his fearful decision, ' Thou shalt not kill.^ " 

But though God did not slay the murderer, the pen- 
alty that he pronounced was a fearful one. He was ban- 
ished from God and from society. His conscience was 
full of guilt, and the awful apprehension of being hunted 
like a wild beast, by his fellow men, was overwhelming 
in its effect; so that he exclaimed, in the voice of de- 
spair, "My punishment is greater than I can bear! Be- 
hold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of 
the earth, and from thy face shall I be hid ; and I shall 
be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it 
shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall 
slay me." 

Some contend that the Death Penalty must have been 
previously instituted, or Cain would not have expressed 
a fear of being slain. But not so. God has implanted 
a sort of instinct in man, which causes him to dread the 
very evils which he inflicts on others. The dishonest 
man suspects the integrity of all men ; the liar confides in 
no man's word; the thief expects to be robbed, and the 


murderer to be killed. So with Cain. He was a mur- 
derer. The voice of his brother's blood was ever crying 
from the ground; and he felt that as he had killed with- 
out provocation, the hands of all men would be turned 
against him, and whosoever found him would slay him. 

But God said this should not be. " Whosoever slay- 
eth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him seven fold. 
And the Lord God set a mark upon Cain, lest any find- 
ing him should kill him." What this "mark" was, has 
given rise to many conjectures. Nothing is said in the 
context from which we can decide ; neither does it 
matter, so far as the present question is concerned, inas- 
much as we are assured that it protected the wretched 
homicide from destruction. Still we think the explana- 
tion, as given by Dr. Shuckford, of England, an eminent 
Hebrew scholar, very reasonable and beautiful, and so 
perfectly in harmony with this entire account, that we 
cannot forbear giving it a place here. " The Hebrew 
word othy^'^ays he, "which we translate 'a mark,' signi- 
fies a sign or token. Thus, Gen. 9: 13, the bow set in the 
heavens, was to be leoth, for a sign or token that the 
world should not again be destroyed by flood ; therefore 
the words, ' and the Lord set a mark upon Cain,' 
should be translated, ' and the Lord appointed unto Cain 
a token or sign,' to convince him that no person should be 
permitted to slay him. To have marked him would have 
been the most likely way to have brought all the evils 
he dreaded upon him ; therefore, the Lord gave him 
some miraculous sign or token that he should not be 
slain, to the end that he should not despair, but, having 
time to repent, might return to a gracious God and find 

Here, then, we have the case of Cain. He was guilty 
of a dreadful murder, arraigned by God himself, convict- 


ed and sentenced. His punisliment was dreadful, still 
his life was preserved, and so should be the life of every 
homicide. He was banished from the face of society, and 
BO should be every homicide. The murderer is guilty of 
the worst crime that man can commit. His presence is 
dangerous in any community, and he should, therefore, 
be safely secured. But he should not be injured. God 
has given us an example of clemency, in his dealings to- 
ward the miserable Cain, which it would be wise in us to 
follow. He visited him with no act of vengeance, but 
while he assured him of the certainty of his punishment, 
he gave him a sign or token, that he should not be slain, 
*' to the end that he might not despair, but, having time 
to repent, might return to a gracious God, and find for- 
giveness." What mingling of mercy and justice ! And 
what a beautiful example for legislation in all ages! 
The reader must see that the argument founded on the 
case of Cain, when Jehovah himself was both Law-giver 
and Judge, affords the Death Penalty no aid ; neither does 
it sustain the assertion that the principle contained in 
the declaration to Noah was of wuit/ersiyZ application; on 
the contrary, it refutes the idea, as God did not himself 
regard it. 

Coming down from this first offense in the history of 
man, to the year of the world 500, we find an account of 
the second murderer, whose case we will briefly consider. 


Laraech is the second murderer of whom we have any 
account ; and it is a little singular that he was a descend- 
ant of Cain, and the father of Noah. We are told that 
after the sentence was pronounced upon Cain, that he 
" went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in 
the land of Nod, on the east of Eden." " The Hebrew 


word ?ioc?," says an eminent commentator, "signifies tlie 
same as naJ a vagabond, and, therefore, should have been 
rendered, as some contend, "am^ Cain went out from the 
presence of the Lord, (that is, from the spiritual paradise 
of God in the garden,) on the coast of Eden, and dwelt a 
vagabond upon the earth ; and thus the curse pronounced 
on him in the twelfth verse was accomplished." But 
notwithstanding the curse that followed him, we are told 
that his wife accompanied him, that he had sons and 
daughters — built a city, and that his descendants were 
prosperc*as. The account is given in the following lan- 
guage : " And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived 
and bare Enoch, and he builded a city, and called the 
name of the city after the name of his son Enoch. And 
unto Enoch was born Irad ; and Irad begat Mehujael ; 
and Mehujael begat Methusael, and Methusael begat La- 
mech. And Lamech took unto him two wives; the name 
of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah." 
Thus it will be seen that Lamech was a bigamist. " lie 
was the first man," says Dr. A. Clarke, "who dared to re- 
verse the order of God, by introducing polygamy^ He 
was also guilty of killing a man ; and notwithstanding 
both these offenses, was not himself slain. "And La- 
mech said unto his wives Adah and Zillah, hear my 
voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech; 
for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young 
man to my hurt. '* 

" It is supposed that Lamech had slain a man in his 
own defense, and that his wives, being alarmed lest the 
friends of the deceased should seek his life in return, to 
quiet their fears, he makes this speech, in which he 
endeavors to prove that there was no room for fear on 
this account; for if the slayer of the wilful murderer, 

« Genesis 4 : 23. 

• « 


Cain, sliould suffer a seven fold punishment, surely he 
who should kill Lamech, for having killed a man in self- 
defense, might expect a seventy-seven fold punishment." 
These two are the only accounts of murder on record, 
previous to the declaration to Noah now under consider- 
ation, which was given, as we before said, in the year of 
the world, 1652, and in neither of these was the life of 
the offender destroyed. 



It may be said by the objector, that previously to God's 
covenant with Noah, no express law against the murder- 
er had been instituted, and for this reason he was not 
visited with death. But what a mistake. Could not a 
law against murder be instituted, without annexing the 
penalty of death? Let the reader look carefully at God's 
dealings with the first murderer, as exhibited in the 
preceding pages ; let him reflect upon the guilt of the 
wretched man — his arraignment before the bar of offend- 
f ed justice — his examination as a criminal — the verdict 
rendered, and the sentence passed, and answer whether 
a law was not then and there instituted against the 
murderer ; a law, too, which but echoed the very instinct 
which God had previously written in the soul of man, and 
inscribed on every filament of his nature, standing as a 
perpetual and eternal edict^ declaring, " Thou shalt not 
kill." We grant that no statute law had been instituted, 
no chains forged, or prison reared, or gallows erected. 
Still, God had instituted a law, annexed the penalty, and 
punished the offender; ^nd yet, as we have seen, he 
neither burned, hanged nor drowned him. 

But suppose we grant that no express law against the 
murderer had been instituted previously to the declapa- 


tion of Noah, and, therefore, the offender was not put to 
death; this plea cannot be put in against God's disregard 
of this penalty, o^fter he spoke so emphatically and said : 
" Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood 
be shed ;" for here, the objector says, is the law of " life 
for life," instituted by God, and which is to he perpetual 
and universal. 

But was it a universal law ? After the declaration 
was made, was ever^/ man put to death who was guilty of 
murder? Did God himself regard it in his dealings 
with those who killed ? Why, instead of this, we find 
no intimations of the Death Penalty in the sacred history, 
for more than six hundred years subsequently to God's 
covenant with Noah. Is not this remarkable, if the law 
of " life for life " was to be a rule of perpetual and uni- 
versal application ? 

In the year of the world, 2200, we find Isaac and his 
wife tarrying with Abimelech, the king of the Philistines. 
To secure them against harm, after Isaac's prevarication, 
Abimelech charged all his people, saying, " He that 
toucheth this man or his wife, shall surely be put to 
death."* And this is the first threatening of the Death 
Penalty that appears in the Bible. 

In the year 2266 Simeon and Levi, sons of the patri- 
arch Jacob, as the sacred word informs us, armed them- 
selves, with each a sword, and fell upon the defenseless 
and innocent men of a certain city, and slew them all.f 
And did Jacob, their father, convict them of murder, and 
command that they, in turn, be slain ? Not at all. He 
simply reproved them at the time, and when on the bed 
of death, pronounced the natural consequences of a life of 
cruelty and vengeance. He called them to him and said, 
as he spoke to his children in the order of their ages ; 

* Genesis 22: 11. f Gonesis 2: 3. 


" Simeon and Levi are brethren. Instruments of cruelty 
are in their habitation. Oh my soul, come not thou into 
their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not 
thou united. For in their anger they slew a man," (the 
original says, a 7iohle and honorahle man,) " cursed be 
their anger, for it was fierce, and their wrath, for it was 
cruel. I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in 
Israel."* This was all. And it was enough. Simeon 
and Levi were not slain ; still, like Cain, they were pun- 
ished. They and their posterity were divided and scat- 
tered. They attained to no political eminence ; but 
were followed by adversity and a curse, in the future 
years of their existence. 

Now, we must keep in mind that the law of Noah was 
given to the Hebrews, and that Jacob was a judge or 
ruler among them. Is it at all probable, then, that 
this just and devout man could have regarded the declar- 
ation to Noah, which we are considering, as a positive 
command, that all who shed blood should be killed ? If 
he had so understood this instruction, would he not have 
executed these murderers though they were his sons, or 
offered some apology for not doing it? Most certainly. 
But instead of this, we find no intimation in the entire 
account, that the necessity of such a punishment occurred 
to him. 

Pursuing history still further, in the year 2433, we 
find even Moses — Moses the man of God, the great law- 
giver — himself slaying a man. " He looked this way, and 
that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he 
slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand."f Moses 
committed this deed with the full knowledge of all that 
had been said to Noah, and yet God did not visit him 
with death. He was neither hung nor crucified. 

* Genesis 49 : 2—7. f Exodus 2: 12, 


Coming down further still, we behold Doeg, by or- 
der of the blood-thirsty and cruel Saul, wickedly murder- 
ing no less than eighty-five innocent and defenseless 
priests, together with all the "women and children and 
sucklings" of the city, and yet the declaration of God, 
*' Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood 
be shed," was not even mentioned to him. 

Again, in the year 3074, Zimri conspired against 
Elah, king of Judah, and treacherously "smote and 
killed him"* in his own house when drunk, and he, in 
turn, was not slain, but reigned as king in place of the 
murdered Elah. 

Then, coming down further, we find David killing the 
Amalekite directly, and the faithful, noble and heroic 
Uriah, indirectly, but was not in turn himself destroyed. 
But why not, if Grod had designed the declaration of 
Noah as a positive law against the murderer? David was 
guilty of a double crime. He had stolen the affections 
of the wife of Uriah, in the absence of the latter; — had 
become her paramour, and now wished to rid himself of 
the husband that he might marry the wife. So he wrote 
a letter to Joab, the commander of his soldiers, saying, 
" Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and 
retire ye from him that he may be smitten and die."f 
This letter was put into the hand of Uriah himself to 
carry to Joab, so that the unfortunate man became the 
bearer of his own death-warrant. Joab did as he was 
directed, and poor Uriah perished by order of the king, 
when he was fighting for the honor of that king. What 
a diabolical act on the part of David ! And yet, though 
God himself took this matter in hand, and arraigned the 
unfortunate David before his "judgment-seat" through 
the instrumentality of Nathan the prophet, he did not 

« 1 Kings 16 : 9—10. t 2 Samuel 11 : 16. 


command that lie be put to death ; but pronounced the 
following sentence upon him : *' Thus saith the Lord 
God of Israel: I anointed thee king over Israel, and I 
delivered thee out of the hand of Saul Where- 
fore hast thou despised the commandment of God, to do 
evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite 
with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, 
and hast slain him with the sword of the children of 
Ammon. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart 
from thine house ; because thou hast despised me. Be- 
hold, saith the Lord God, I will raise up evil against thee 

out of thine own house And David said unto 

Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan 
said unto David: the Lord hath put away thy sin — tJiou 
shalt not die.'^ Here was David's punishment. His life 
was preserved ; but all which was pronounced against, 
him was fulfilled to the very letter.^ 

And when we come down to the time of Christ, we 
find the cruel Herod beheading the innocent John in his 
prison; — Christ himself nailed to the cross; — Saul 
breathing out wrath and slaughter; — Peter and Stephen 
cruelly murdered, and yet we have no account that those 
engaged in this work of blood were themselves slain. 
Instead of this, Saul the murderer was converted to 
Christianity, through the power of the Holy Ghost, and 
afterward became " Paul the apostle to the Gentiles," 
and the author of thirteen books of the New Testament. 

In conclusion, then, we come to ask, can it be that 
God designed the principle contained in the declaration, 
" WTioso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be 
shed," to be universally applied? Can we arrive at this 
result with all these facts before us ? Did the Almighty 
design even that its spirit should enter the moral and 

* See the entire account, 2 Samuel 12th chapter. 


penal codes of nations, and that blood should be poured 
out for blood, to the end of time ? We cannot believe 
this ; and many of the most eminent Christians and bib- 
lical scholars of all denominations, who have written on 
the subject, some of whom believe in the necessity of the 
Death Penalty, entertain the same views; assuring us 
that this text does not afford that support to the punish- 
ment of death, that Christians so generally ascribe to 
it, as will more fully appear in what follows. 


We have not yet done with Noah. All that we have 
said may appear plausible to all, but may not be satis- 
factory to all. For though Noah lived two thousand 
and five hundred years before Christ, God's declaration 
to him is the rock on which the Christian plants himself 
in his defense of the "gallows. In the year 1843, the 
Rev. George B. Cheever, of New York, in his reply to 
O'Sullivan's masterly production, in favor of the abol- 
ishment of the Death Penalty, calls this text in the ninth 
chapter of Genesis, "the citadel of the argument com- 
manding and siveeping the lohole subject.''' Thousands 
view the text in the same light. Converse with whom we 
will on the subject, and if he be a Christian in favor of 
legal strangulation, whether minister or layman, he will 
be sure to adduce this text; and though he is driven 
from every other point in the fortress, will retire within 
the precincts of this with an air of the most perfect con- 
fidence that it cannot be taken from him. During the 
past year we have noticed three published sermons and 
many essays and articles in religious journals of our 
land, in favor of the Punishment of Death, and in each, 
the foundation of the argument was God's declaration 
to Noah. 


Now, we believe the Bible. We believe that it con- 
tains a pure and exalted morality; that it inculcates the 
most ennobling ideas of human duty, of God and the 
immortal world. There is no man who has a more 
sacred reverence for this " book of books," — the greatest 
gift of Grod to man — than the author of these pages. 
But this is not all. We not only entertain a high opin- 
ion and strong affection for the Bible, but we strive, 
above all things, to understand its true teachings. " Tin- 
def'standest thou what thou readest?"* is an important 
injunction, which it would be well for all Christians to 
keep in mind, in the perusal of the divine word; because 
a bare reverence for the Scriptures is not enough. They 
will be of little service to us if we do not comprehend 
their teachings. 

With reference to the text under consideration, we 
have given several reasons why we cannot believe that 
God designed the declaration it contains as a law Re- 
manding the blood of the offender, and reaching down to 
the end of time. But there are more and weightier rea- 
sons for this conclusion — reasons drawn from the text 
itself. In the first place, let me say that this verse has 
had twelve different translations, all by learned Christian 
men. Some of these translations favor the Death Pen- 
alty, and some oppose it, as we shall see bye-and-bye. 
But let us put the reasonable question here, whether it 
is probable that Almighty God would have left a matter 
of so much importance, resting upon a single line of 
Hebrew — and that line of Hebrew so ambiguous as that 
twelve different Christian men, of equal sincerity and 
learning, give it as many renderings? The Christian 
says that this text is his "impregnable foundation ;" and 
yet, if he is a Hebrew scholar, he dare not stand up in 

* Acts 8: 38. 


a company of scholars and affirm that he is sui-e of its 


We have now arrived at the proper place in our inves- 
tigations, to give what we believe to be the true meaning 
of this declaration. The writer of these pages is not a 
Calvinist theologically^ but respecting the intent of this 
text, his views are perfectly in harmony with those of the 
great Genevan. Calvin says, that to render it "by man," 
is a "forced -construction;" — that the following is a bet- 
ter translation : " AVhoso sheddeth the blood of man, his 
blood will be shed;" making the rendering, not in the 
form of a command^ but denunciatory, and describing 
prophetically what is the natural consequence of bloody 
deeds. The declaration was a general one, and never 
designed for literal, particular and universal application. 
Christ used nearly the same form of expression and with 
reference to the same subject, when he reproved the 
hasty Peter who was about to commit an act of violence, 
in defense of his Master: "All they that take the sword 
shall perish with the sword."* How positive, how uni- 
versal, is the sense of this declaration when understood 
literally. And yet no one can believe that Christ de- 
signed to teach that Capital Punishment should be in- 
flicted with the sword on all who use it. He meant only 
that "a violent life is apt to close with a violent death." 
Again, John says : " He that killeth with the sword, 
must be killed with the sword. "f How emphatic is this 
expression, and yet, the meaning is, simply, that they 
who contend in battle, are likely, on both sides, sooner 
or later, to become sacrifices to their mutual animosities. 
So of the declaration to Noah. When God spake these 

* Matthew 26: 57. f Revelation 13: 10. 


words the ark had rested upon the mountain; and Noah 
and all his family walked forth upon the green earth, 
for the waters had abated. Then God established his 
covenant; and gave the precious promise that "summer 
and winter, seed-time and harvest," should never cease. 
Then the bow spanned the heavens, as a token which 
should remain perpetually, of the love and constancy of 
the Father, and of his declaration that the earth should 
never again be destroyed by a deluge. 

And Grod said to Noah : " And the fear of you shall be 
upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of 
the air; upon all that move upon the earth, and upon all 
the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. 
Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you ; 
even as the green herb, have I given you all things. 
But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood there 
of, shall ye not eat. And surely your blood of your 
lives will I require. At the hand of every beast will I 
require it, and at the hand of every man; at the hand of 
every man's brother will I require the life of man. 
Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be 

Great stress is usually laid upon the word ^^ shall" in 
this text. "By man shall his blood be shed," as if the 
declaration was imperative. But this same auxilliary is 
employed in this same connection where the meaning 
cannot be imperative. '■'-Every moving thing that liveth 
SHALL BE meat for you''^ Caterpillers, spiders and 
rattlesnakes " live " and "move;" so that if this text is 
to be taken in its literal and imperative sense, all men are 
doomed to subsist upon these poisonous insects and rep- 
tiles. Do you say this instruction was limited to the He- 
brews, and designed only to regulate their practices in diet? 

* See third verse. 



then, on the same grounds, we can limit the instruction 
of the sixth verse to the Hebrews, and say that only they 
should pour out blood for blood. But this was not the 
design of the text. " Bloody and deceitful men shall not 
live out half their days."^ Here is the same imperative 
form; but the sense is not imperative. The instruction 
is general, and the same as that contained in the declar- 
ation to Noah, teaching us that " violence begets vio- 
lence." Again, it is declared that "the wicked shall do 
wickedly, and none of the wicked s^aZ^ understand. "f . If 
we take this in an imperative sense, then it contains a 
command to sin and not to understand the truth. So in 
the declaration of Christ to Peter, " They that take the 
sword, shall perish by the sword," the same imperative 
form occurs, and yet W3 know the declaration was not 
imperative. A better rendering would have been, " They 
that take the sword will perish by the sword," which is 
the sense, as we have seen, in which Calvin gives the 
phrase " shall be shed," in the declaration to Noah, not- 
withstanding he was both theoretically and practically in 
favor of Capital Punishment, especially by burning.J 


The views we have now taken of this subject are sus- 
tained by some of the leading spirits in every age of the 
Christian Church. Even three hundred years before 
Christ, we find the Seventy-Two learned Jews of Alexan- 

* Psalms 55: 7. t Daniel 12: 10. 

X The Death Penalty has always been adreadfulinstrumentof injustice 
and cruelty in the hands of both political and religious despots. Millions 
of innocent raen and women have been put to death by the Church, for 
matters of faith. Calvin possessed this power. James Gallet was behead- 
ed by his order, "because he had written," what Calvin deemed "profane 
letters." Michael Servetus, in his passage through Geneva, in 1553, was 
arrested, and on Calvin's accusation, was burnt alive ho had at- 
tacked, (not men and women,) but the mystery of the Trinity." Numerous 
other similar examples might be adduced, shdwing how fearful is such a 
law eT9n in the hands of religious men. 


dria, in translating their Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, 
omitting the words "by man." They gave the text as 
they understood it, merely as indicating the natural con- 
sequences of violence. Now, is it not probable that they 
understood the teachings of their own Scriptures, as cor- 
rectly as we at this late day ; and as they were probably 
in favor of the law of "life for life," is it not reasonable 
to suppose that they would have employed this declara- 
tion to support the practice, if they could have done so 
without violating the text? And yet they have it, when 
literally rendered, as follows: "Whoso sheddeth man's 
blood, for his blood, (i. e. the blood of the slain,) will have 
his own shed." 

Not only the Septuagint, but Wickliffe and the Vul- 
gate omit the words " by man." The Samaritan version 
has it : "For the man his blood will be shed." While 
the Latin version has it: "Whoso sheddeth human blood, 
his blood will be shed." Martini's Italian version has 
it: "Whoso sheds human blood, his blood will be shed," 
not mentioning the instrument by which the bloody 
work will be accomplished, and like the others, giving 
the genera? form. "The French Bible in common use, 
and which is distributed by our Bible societies, has it: 
'Who will shed the blood of man in man, his blood will 
be poured out;' making the 'beth-adam' of the He- 
brew to refer to the mode of the first life-taking, and not 
to the agent in the second. Swedenborg also renders it: 
' He who sheds the blood of man in man, his blood shall 
be shed' — placing the comma after 'in man,' as in the 
French. Paschal quotes it: 'Whoso sheddeth human 
blood, his blood will be shed;' and adds — ' This general 
prohibition takes from man all power over the life of 
man.' Cahen, the director of the Hebrew school in 
Paris, who not long since published a new version of the 


Old Testament, also uses tlie future indicative^ 'will be 

A writer in the Democratic Review^ gives a learned 
criticism, showing the obscurity of our common transla- 
tion, and what has to be assumed by the translators to 
give the text the form and signification with which it is 
clothed as it comes to us. He says : 

"Although the question is one of criticism, it may, 
however, be made plain enough to the unlearned, as well 
as to the more scholarly reader. What is the literal 
rendering of the Hebrew of the sixth verse of Genesis, 
ix ? This is the first question. Simply this : ' Shed- 
ding blood of man in man his (or its) blood will be 
shed.' No one will dispute this. Now, in order to con- 
vert this into the common English version, three things 
have to be assumed on the strength of some right or 
authority, which, wherever it may reside, it is very cer- 
tain does not belong to the Hebrew itself. Namely : 
1st. The participle ' shedding,'' is not only made per- 
sonal and masculine, but it is confined to the person- 
al and masculine sense, in the words ' whoso sheddeth.' 
2nd. The verb, which in the original is the simple future 
tense, so as to be rendered in Latin effunditur, and in 
English 'will be shed,' must receive an imperative sense 
BO as to be read ^ shall he shed.' And 3dly. The expres- 
sion which is literally 'in man,' in the original, must be 
made to denote agency, by selecting and assigning to the 
preposition employed, only one of its various meanings, 
so as to be converted into 'by man.' It is only after 
the performance of this triple process that the original 
Hebrew (of which we have given above a literal render- 
ing) becomes translated, or rather transformed, into the 
common English reading of our Bible. 

« March, 1843: page 228. 


" Respecting the future form of the verh^ however, we 
deny most emphatically that our opponents have any 
right or reason to claim for it any necessary imperative 
force. Do they deny the fact ? No. But they say, as 
there is no third -^qy^oh imperative \n the Hebrew, ih.e fu- 
ture has to be used when it is desired to express that sense. 
The word may^ undoubtedly, be so rendered if we choose, 
but it is not necessary to do it so. Because the future 
form may sometimes be rendered imperatively, must it al- 
ways be ? Are may and must identical ? For one in- 
stance of the imperative, ten can be pointed to, of the sim- 
ple and proper future tense 

"Our position on this point cannot be shaken; no 
scholar, no candid reasoner, can dispute it — namely, that 
there is not necessarily anything imperative in the use of 
the Hebrew verb here used, and that it may as well be 
rendered ^will be shed,' (denunciatory or declaratory) — 
or ^may he shed,' (permissively.) To give it the imperative 
sense,^nd then claim our obedience as a command, is not 
only to beg the whole question, but even imperatively to 
clothe in the garb of divine authority, that which is the 
mere imposture of human assumption. The present appli- 
cation of it may be fairly compared to an act of forging 
a sovereign's signet to a death-warrant." 

Le Clerc, who is excellent authority, also tells us that 
the translation "by man," should have been ^'^ among 
men." " Whoso sheddeth man's blood, Ms blood will be 
shed among men." " This is the natural consequence of 
bloody deeds." He adds: " Homicides suffer a retribu- 
tive punishment for their crime, whether they fall into 
the hands of the law, or by the providence of God, they 
generally perish by some violent death." 

Professor T. C. Upham,* of Bowdoin College, Maine, 

* A Presbyterian or Congregationalist in sentiment. 


one of the first Hebrew scholars in the country, says, 
that " the passage may be read, ' Whoso sheddeth man's 
blood, by man will his blood be shed.' " He adds that 
the expressions are " obviously not to be understood as a 
command, authorizing and requiring every one, by his 
own act, and in his own person, to put to death any and 
every other individual who has been guilty of murder. 
Such an interpretation would fill the world with violence 
and confusion." He also says: " We regard it as mere- 
ly expressive of a great retributive fact in nature, and in 
the overruling providence of God, that he who designedly 
and wickedly takes human life shall, assuredly, in some 
way or other, meet with severe punishment, and will 
probably come to a violent end."f 

" The mark of Cain is stamped upon murderer.«, and 
Ihey are lost and ruined men, even if the civil mag- 
istrate does not touch them. x\ll nature frowns upon 
them ; the very stones cry out ; some perish by quarrels 
in the streets ; some seek a refuge on the ocean atid are 
drowned; some are put to death by their fellow men from 
feelings of revenge; some are killed in war; some put 
themselves to death by violent means; some die of pure 
remorse and anguish of spirit; and, in one way or other, 
as sure as there is a God in heaven, who requires the 
blood they have shed at their hands, they all, sooner or 
later, come to a miserable end." 

Never were truer words than these, or more in harmo- 
ny with the express declarations of heaven. "God is not 
mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also 
reap." The history of the world from the beginning at- 
tests to the truth of this declaration. Many facts that 
have come under our own observation, and others drawn 
from history, both sacred and profane, might be given in 

t Manual of Peac©, page 219. 


illustratiou, had we space. Read the Old Testament his- 
tory, and mark the course and end of cruel and blood- 
thirsty kings and others, and you will be astonished to 
find how large a number died of violent deaths; and, 
therefore, how true is the declaration, " Whoso sheddeth 
man's blood, by man will his blood be shed." 

In illustration of this general truth. Rev. Mr. Spear, df 
Boston, in his Essays on the Death Penalty, gives a 
striking account, taken from some English work, of the 
murder of an exciseman, on the southern coast of Eng- 
land, " that was barbarously beaten to death in the pres- 
ence of his wife and children, who were deterred from 
giving any alarm by two of the gang, who stood over 
them with a pistol at each of their heads." This was 
seventy years ago. " The government offered a large 
reward for the apprehension of the murderers, but no 
tidings were obtained of them for twenty-Jive years. At 
about that time the minister of Symington Church was 
sent for by a man on his death-bed, and this man con- 
fessed that he was the thirtieth man of the gang who had 
murdered Bursey; that he stood watch at the garden 
wicket, between the house and the road, to give the 
alarm, if needful, but had no further active hand in the 
murder ; that the other twenty-nine had every one died a 
violent death ; — some by fire, shipwreck, battle, frays with 
their companions in crimes, or some other means, so that 
of the whole thirty, no one but himself had a chance to 
die in their beds or at their homes. At the time of his 
confession, the writer was in the neighborhood of Sym- 
ington, and had the facts from the minister who re- 
ceived the dying man's confession." 

Such are the proofs we are able to adduce to support 
the views advanced concerning the true meaning and in- 
tent of this declaration to Noah. 


We would add here, that many critics entitled to equal 
credit for learning and piety, with those we have men- 
tioned, translate the words "whoso," referring to maUy by 
the term whatsoever, referring to the beast; and contend 
that the declaration is not that the blood of man shall be 
shed for the crime of killing, but that man shall destroy 
the beast who kills. Michaelis renders it: " Whatsoever 
sheddeth man's blood, his blood shall be shed." Rev. E. 
H. Chapin,'!^ in a series of lectures in Boston, a few years 
ago, on the Death Penalty, takes this view of the passage : 
*' I am inclined to the opinion," says he, "that we find 
the true meaning of this text in the translation, ' What- 
soever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall its blood 
be shed.' This translation is well authorized and sup- 
ported. Thus rendered, it extends the sanctity of hu- 
man life, even to the heast, and accords with the 
context. " And surely your blood of your lives will I 
require; at the hand of every man; at the hand of every 
man's brother will I require the life of man. Whatso- 
ever sheddeth man's blood, by man shall its blood be 
shed, for in the image of God made he man." .... 
" The great idea inculcated here, is the sacredness of the 
onysterious principle of life. Even in the beast it was to 
be respected ; the life thereof, which is the blood, was 
not to be eaten. But should the beast violate that prin- 
ciple of life in man, by shedding his blood, man was to 
shed the blood of the beast, in order to demonstrate the 
sanctity of that which was made in the image of God^ 
But, says Grod, " at the hand of every man's brother, 
will /," not shall man — not shall a court of justice — but 
"will /require the life of man." 

"The penalty, here," continues Mr. Chapin, "is not 
with man, but with God, .... for in the case of man's 

* An eminent XJniversalist clergyman of New York city. 


murder, not only is the sacred principle of life violated, 
but the image of God in man is desecrated." 

There is reason in this interpretation. God required 
the life of Abel at the hand of Cain, for Cain had dese- 
crated the image of God, and violated the principle of life 
in his brother. Still Cain was not executed, for this wa& 
not the kind of requital that God demanded, as it would 
have been but a repetition of the offense — a desecration of 
another image, and a violation of another life. The 
muderer was called to an account, and the Lord settled 
it with him in his own way. So he does with every one 
who violates his image in man. " Vengeance is minCy 
saith the Lord , 1 will repay." It is our business to 
guard the murderer, from committing greater depreda- 
tion on society. God will see that his punishment is 
sufficiently severe. Was it not thus with Cain ? In cold 
blood had he wantonly slain a kind-hearted brother with- 
out provocation, and behold how he sinks in wretched- 
ness and ruin, a miserable vagabond and outcast on 
God's earth. Shunned and forsaken of all men, no won- 
der he exclaims, " My punishment is greater than I can 
bear!" Surely "the way of the transgressor is hard, 
and " there is NO rest to the wicked^ saith my God." 
Men, even Christians^ are sometimes inclined to contra- 
dict God, and say that the way of the sinner is easy,, 
pleasant and delightful ; whilst the path of the virtuous 
is hard, barren, and cheerless. And so they would visit 
the criminal with vengeance,, declaring that if there were 
no whips, or prisons, or dungeons, or gibbets, that there 
would h^ no punishment. Ah! how little such persons 
confide in the wisdom and positive declarations of Him . 
who knoweth the condition of all hearts, and who hath 
said, " the wicked are like the troubled sea when it can- 
not resly whose waters cast up mire and dirt." Is there^ 


no punishment in remorse? Can the murderer run away 
from his own conscience ? Is not his soul like the 
troubled sea ? Has he not kindled the fires of hell with- 
in him, which many waters cannot drown ? Is his rest 
upon his pillow sweet, and with a soul overwhelmed in 
guilt, does he not '• flee when no man pursueth?" Why, 
then, should Christians entertain this strong desire to 
visit the criminal with vengeance, and dabble with their own 
fingers in his blood, lest he escape a "just recompense of 
reward?" Cannot they fasten him securely with strong 
chains and bolts and bars in his stone prison, and trust 
to Him "who cannot lie," when he afiirmsthat, "though 
hand join in hand, the wicked shall not he tinpumshedf 

This is the doctrine in which we should educate our 
children, and which we should teach at the fire-side, in 
the street, at our place of business, in the pulpit, at the 
bar, in the halls of legislation, and everywhere: that while 
human life is sacred — while the image of God in man 
should never be desecrated, even in the murderer, the 
power over human life being the sole prerogative of Him 
who gave it — it is impossible for the ofi"ender to go un- 
punished. Let society everywhere be impressed with 
this undeviating truth — this eternal law of Grod — that 
"violence begets violence," while kindness and clemency 
alone will kill revenge, and melt and subdue the heart — 
and more will be accomplished in a single year for the 
suppression of crime, and the purity and safety of society 
than was effected during the whole reign of Nero the 
tyrant, with all his dreadful severity and cruelty, his 
chains, racks, dungeons, gibbets, fires and other engines 
of torture and destruction. 

Such, then, are our views with reference to this noted 
passage in Genesis. We cannot deem it a command upon 
which the penal code of nations should rest, requiring 


blood for blood to tbe end of time, even allowing it the 
common interpretation. It was addressed to no govern- 
ment, but. to an individual in the early ages of the world. 
God did not himself regard it. More than 2200 years of 
the world's history passed away before it was enforced; 
and since, in millions of instances, where the offender was 
guilty of murder, it was not regarded. It may be a war- 
rant for "the avenger of blood," the nearest relative of 
a murdered man, to kill. This is the most that can be 
claimed for it. But let any man attempt to obey that 
custom now, and he would be arrested, convicted, and 
executed for murder. 


But by this time the reader is impatient to inquire of 
the writer if he has forgotten that God gave a law to 
Moses ; and if he is not aware that the principle of the 
declaration, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man 
shall his blood be shed," was incorporated into that law, 
and that this law must be still binding on us under the 
Christian dispensation, for Christ himself said, "Think 
not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets ; 
I am come not to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say « 
unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle 
shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled."* 

We are not unaware of the existence of the Levitical 
code, and are ready to grant that the Death Penalty was 
clearly embodied in its demands. But our questioner 
would do well to notice that it required life for other 
crimes beside that of murder. Let him examine the fol- 
lowing catalogue of offenses, all- of which were recognized 
as capital, and punished with death by the law of Moses, 
and then answer if every '■'■jot and tittle'^ of that law is still 

* Matthew 5: 18. 


binding on Christians in the middle of the Nineteenth 
Century. It was carefully prepared by Mr. Spear of 
Boston, who in introducing it into his " Essays on the 
Death Penalty," says : " It is remarkable that no writer 
with whom we have met has performed this labor. "We 
feel that it will do more to settle the question of its adop- 
tion by any civilized community than all other consid- 


Murder, Exodus, xxi. 12 

Kidnapping, " 

Eating leavened bread during the Passover, " 

Suffering an unruly ox to be at liberty, if he kill; 
the ox also to be stoned, . . . . " 

Witchcraft, " 

Beastiality, the beast put to death, . . *• 


Oppression of Widow and Fatherless, . . ** 
Compounding holy ointment, or putting it on any 

stranger, . " 

Violation of the Sabbath " 

Smiting of father or mother, ..." 

Sodomy Lev. 

Eating the flesh of the sacrifice of peace-offer- 
ings with uncleanness, , . . . " 
Eating the fat of offered beasts, . . . " 
Eating any manner of blood, ..." 
Offering children to Moloch, . . . *' 
Eating a sacrifice of peace-offering, . . " 
Screening the idolater, .... ** 

Going after familiar spirits and wizards, . " 
Adultery, [both parties, if female married, and 

not a bond-maid,] *' 

Incest, [three kinds,] .... " 

Cursing of parents, " 

Unchastity in a priest's daughter, . . " 






























, 2 
















Blasphemy, Lev. xiv. 16 

Stranger coming nigh the tabernacle, . Numbers i. 51 
Coming nigh the priest's office, . . . " iii. 10 
Usurping the sacerdotal functions, . , *' iv. 20 
Forbearing to keep the passover, if not jour- 
neying, " ix. 13 

Presumption, or despising the word of the Lord, *' xv. 30 
Uncleanness, or defiling the sanctuary of the 

Lord, « xix. 13 

False pretension to the character of a divine 

messenger, Deut. xiii. 5 

Opposition to the decree of the highest judic- 
ial authority, " xvii. 12 

Unchastity before marriage, when charged by 

a husband, ..,..." xxii. 13 
Here is the Levitical catalogue of offenses punishable 
with death by the law of Moses. To those in our day 
whose hearts are chastened by the grace of Christ, and 
who, therefore, pity the sinful, and would "save" and 
not " destroy men's lives," it looks dark and cruel. The 
thunderings of Sinai are heard in it — smoke and light- 
ning, and mutterings of wrath are mingled with its fear- 
ful demands. And the modes of killing described were 
equally cruel. Stoning and the sword — afterward de- 
capitation, sawing asunder, strangulation and crucifixion 
were the methods. 

We have presented this code, thus in detail, that the 
objector, especially the Christian objector, who is ever- 
lastingly harping on the " requisitions of GtOd's law," 
and the necessity of our walking " by the light of that 
law," may know just what it is, what it demands, what 
amount of light there really is in it, and whether it is 
binding on us upon whom the "sun of righteousness has 
arisen with healing in his beams." 

Now, if the Christian stickler for the gallows contends 


that Christ did not abrogate "one jot or tittle" of the 
foregoing code, but came to render it positively more 
binding, then it comes to us entire^ and we, as the fol- 
lowers of Christ, are under the necessity of taking it to 
our hearts as it is, and of making it the law of the land 
in which we chance to reside, whether it be in a highly 
civilized society, or among barbarians. We contend that 
this is the only alternative. There is no other. Do you 
say that the criminal law of Moses was sanctioned by 
Christ, and is still binding on society? then we say you 
must take the entire IsiW. "He that smiteth father or 
mother shall surely he put to death.' '^ This is the declar- 
ation of Moses. Incorporate it into your own penal 
code, and you must do it if you are a follower of Moses. 
"He that curseth father or mother shall surely he put to 
death.'" "^ So says the Levi tical law. "He that steal eth 
a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, 
shall surely he put to death.^'X This is the demand of the 
Mosaic code. It also required the life of the offender 
for kindling a fire, or gathering sticks on the Sabbath. 
Is not this law, "one jot or tittle" yet abrogated? Then 
blot out the penal code of your own statute book and 
inscribe this in its place. " Ye shall not alHict any wid- 
ow or fatherless child. If thou afflict them in anywise, 
and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry, 
and my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the 
sword ; and your wives shall be widows, and your children 
fatherless." 1 1 Take care, fellow Christian; you are in 
danger, if this declaration reaches to our time. How 
many hard-hearted, cruel men — yea, Christian men, if a 
strict observance of the rites and ceremonies of religion 
will make them so — are ardent supporters of the gallows 

« Exodus 21: 15. tlbid21:17. 

X Jbid 21: 16. \ Ibid 21: 24—25. 


/or murder^ on the ground that the law of God demands 
life for life, while they themselves^ "afflict the widow and 
fatherless," trample upon their rights, and rob them of 
their lawful patrimony, and never dream that they have 
violated the same law, and are, therefore, worthy of the 
halter. " Thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, 
tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for 
burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe." So said 
Moses, fifteen hundred years before Christ, and so should 
the Christian minister, and the Christian Church in the 
middle of the nineteenth century declare, if not one "jot 
or tittle " of the Levitical law is abrogated. 

Here, then, is the unavoidable position of the man 
who upholds the Death Penalty,- on the ground that 
the law of Moses sanctioned it. He must take the entire 
law. Go back to Moses, then, if you will, fellow Chris- 
tian, and at the foot of the thundering Sinai, plant your- 
self on that old code, and plead for the continuance of 
the gallows, on its authority ; but remember that you 
must use it on other criminals beside the murderer. You 
must write down in your statute book: " Death for him 
who violates the Sabbath ; and for him who profanes the 
name of God; and for him who afflicts the widow or fath- 
erless; and for him who desecrateth the sanctuary of 
God; and for him who goeth after any God but the true 
God ; and for him who communeth with a familiar 
spirit." Let all this be written down in the penal codes 
of our States, as it must be, if not " one jot or tittle" of 
the law is abrogated, and it would probably bring our 
Christian people, who are so great sticklers for that law, 
to their senses. 

The opposer may say, now, that so much as demands 
death for the murderer is binding, and no more. But what 
right have you to say this? By what rule of propriety 


oi* reason, can you select from the code of Moses, what- 
ever your whim may choose to dictate, and throw the rest 
away? Did you not, just now, quote from Christ, "Verily 
I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one 
tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be ful- 
filled ?" On the same ground that you can dispense with 
apart of the law, we can dispense with the whole. 

It will be seen by the foregoing catalogue, that the 
Mosaic code contained thirty-four capital offenses. The 
opposer strikes off thirty-three without hesitation, as not 
binding, and retains the remaining one as binding. 

Having presented the demands of the Levitical law, 
and shown pretty conclusively," we think, that it must be 
surrendered by the opposer as untenable, not affording 
any just grounds of argument for the gallows, it becomes 
necessary, to a full understanding of the subject, that a 
word of explanation be offered to harmonize what may 
appear to the casual or thoughtless reader, as a contra- 
diction in the teachings of Christ, concerning the Mosaic 
law; he declaring on some occasions, that he was "the 
end of the law," and on others, that he "came not to de- 
stroy but to fulfil it." 

It may be well to notice here, an error into which 
many Christians — some of them intelligent Christians — 
sometimes fall, viz : they not unfrequently confound the 
declaration to Noah, with the Levitical law, thinking 
that they are one and the same. This is a mistake. 
The covenant was made with Noah, as we have seen, in 
the year of the world 1657 ; but the decalogue, or ten 
commandments, and the general laws for the regulation 
of the Hebrews under Moses, were not given till the year 
of the world, 2513, or nearly a thousand years after the 
ark rested upon the mountain, and the bow spanned the 
heavens, in token of the covenant with every living thing. 


To reconcile the apparent contradiction to which we 
hsLYe alluded, it is necessary to understand that the law 
of Moses was not a unit, embracing but a single design, 
but was rather threefold in its nature and application, 
and was divided in the following order, viz: the Moral, 
the Penal, and the Ceremonial; the first embracing the ten 
commandments, written on the tables of stone ; the 
second relating to penal jiirisprudence, or the punishment 
of crime ; and the third relating to the rites and ceremo- 
nies connected with the Jewish worship. 

Now, the MORAL LAW of Grod can never be annulled. 
It is founded in justice and the nature of things, and can 
no more be abrogated than the centripetal and centrifu- 
gal forces, which regulate the courses of the heavenly 
bodies. In the decalogue, idolatry, profanity, blasphe- 
my, profanation of the Sabbath, disobedience to parents, 
destroying human life, the cultivation of revengeful pas- 
sions, riot, excess, drunkenness,, gluttony, slothfulness, 
superstition, mortifications, self-denials, adultery, theft, 
cheating, withholding of men's rights, rapine, robbery, 
murder, perjury, covetousness, and every conceivable 
wrong and injustice are condemned and forbidden. Not 
in so many words, it is true, but really in the application 
of the principles involved in the decalogue. And why 
are they forbidden, and why are the principles involved 
in the decalogue eternal? Because sin is the worst 
enemy of man; and because an adherence to the moral 
law of Him who is infinite in wisdom, will protect man 
from this subtle enemy, and guard him safely in the 
ways of virtue, and therefore in the way of happiness. 
" Thou shalt not kill." " Thou shalt not steal." " Thou 
shalt not commit adultery." " Thou shalt not bear false 
witness against thy neighbor." And why not? Because 
these acts are in their nature unjust; and wrong, because 



they are unjust. Millions of men and women believe 
that they can violate these moral commandments, and 
Buffer no unhappy consequences. But how false and 
fallacious this hope. God's law, whether it regulates the 
material or the spiritual, cannot be violated with impuni- 
ty. Can a man bury himself in the sea and not drown ? 
or throw himself upon the flames and not burn ? Neither 
can he become a thief, or robber, or drunkard, or liar, or 
debauchee, and not suffer the wretched consequences. 

The moral law of God, then, still remains. It is yet 
in full force. Christianity abrogates no moral duty, but 
it defines all duty more clearly, sanctions it, and strength- 
ens its hold upon the affections of the human soul. The 
commandment, " Thou shalt not kill,'' was proclaimed 
anew by Christ, in the declaration, " Thou shalt love thy 
neighbor as thyself." There is not a principle of moral 
duty embraced in the decalogue which was not adopted 
and reiterated again and again by Christ and his apostles. 

Now, it was to this fact — the fact that he came not to 
release men from any moral obligation imposed by the 
Scriptures, which God had previously given, and also to 
the fact that all the types and shadows of the ancient 
law were fulfilled in him — that Christ referred to when he 
said: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or 
the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 
For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one 
jot or one tittle shall in no-wise pass from the law till all 
be fulfilled." Did he mean to include the penal and cere- 
monial in this declaration? Not at all. For he imme- 
diately adds : " Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of 
these least commandTnents, and shall teach men so, he shall 
be called the least in the kingdom of heaven ; but whoso- 
ever shall do, and teach them, the same shall be called 


great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, 
that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteous- 
ness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case 
enter into the kingdom of heaven." 

Here he alludes only to the moral law of the Jews, 
which he sanctions, enforcing every "jot and tittle" of its 
demands, and concludes the declaration by asserting, 
that except the righteousness of those to whom he ad- 
dressed himself; exceed the righteousness of those under 
the law, they could in no case enter into his Grospel or 
heavenly kingdom— ^a kingdom of righteousness, peace 
and joy in the Holy Ghost, which he came to set up and 
establish in the earth. Thus teaching the superiority of 
his religion. In his " kingdom," as we have seen, no 
hatred or revenge could be admitted, but only love. 
^^ Love is the fulfilling of the law;" "Love worketh no ill 
to his neighbor." Plainly, then, it was concerning the 
moral law that he made the declaration under consid- 

We have said that the moral law of God is founded on 
fixed principles, and cannot, therefore, be abrogated or 
changed, but is eternal. But can this be af&rmed of the 
criminal code of any nation or age? Is it immutable? 
We have seen what was the code of Moses, and how the 
Hebrews were punished for violating its requirements. 
If a man was found gathering sticks on Sunday, he was 
stoned to death. Was that law eternal? The wilful, 
disobedient son was killed. Was the law that required 
his death eternal? Not at all. All this may have been 
best for the rude, uncultivated condition of the early 
Jews, but not for us living under the noon-day light of 
the Sun of Eighteousness. God did not design the 
penal code of Moses for us. Our education, habits of 


thought, customs, means for securing and instructing 
the criminal, are all far in advance of those of olden 
time. The command of Grod to Abraham, was that he 
should sacrifice his son Isaac. But this command ex- 
tends neither to the author nor the reader of this book. 
It was temporary, and ended with Abraham, and the 
circumstances under which he acted. 

So with the penal code of Moses. It was temporary. 
It demanded of the Hebrews, "eye for eye, tooth for 
tooth, blow for blow, life for life." But Christ said, as 
we have seen, (and he uttered these divine words in the 
very sermon where he made the declaration, "I am not 
come to destroy^ but to fulfil^'") "Ye have heard that it 
hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; 
but I say unto you that ye resist not evil ; but whosoever 
shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the 
other also. Ye have heard that it hath been said, thou 
shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy ; but I say 
unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse 
you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them 
which despitefully use you and persecute you.*' Here 
the spirit of retaliation and vengeance of the old law was 
forever abrogated, and it was the very first work of Christ. 
According to that law, adultery was a capital crime. 
Death by stoning was the awful penalty; but did Jesus 
inflict it when the persecuting Jews endeavored to en- 
snare him into an act that would condemn the great 
doctrine of love and good-will which he had taught? 
By no means. Look at the course of that lowly Being. 

"And the Scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a 
woman taken in adultery ; and when they had set her in 
the midst, they said unto him: Master, this woman was 
taken in adultery, in the very act. Now, Moses, in the 


law commanded us that suclf should be stoned,* but 

what sayest thou ? This they said, tempting him, that 
they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped 
down, and with^ his finger wrote on the ground, as tho' 
he heard them not. So when they continued asking 
him, he lifted up himself and said unto them: He that 
is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at 
her. And they which heard it, being convicted by 
their own consciences, went out one by one, beginning at 
the eldest, even unto the last, and Jesus was left alone, 
and the woman in the midst. When Jesus had lifted 
up himself and saw none but the woman, he said unto 
her. Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no 
man condemned thee? She said, No man. Lord. And 
Jesus said unto her : Neither do I condemn thee ; go and. 
sin no more.^' How perfectly in harmony was the deal- 
ings of Jesus with this poor, sinful woman, and the 
spirit of his divine precepts. He had abrogated the law 
of Moses in his sermon on the mount, and taught kind- 
ness for those who were out of the way ; and now, by 
his own act he condemns that law, and shows the miser- 
able ofi'ender pity and forgiveness. But would he have 
done this if the Mosaic law was designed for all time ? 

Is the reader still in doubt respecting the abrogation 
of the judicial and ceremonial law of Moses by Christ? 
If so, we would refer him to Paul, who seemed to under- 
stand the nature of the question perfectly. He says to 
the Hebrews : " The days come, saith the Lord, when I 
will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and 

* The Jewish method of stoning, according to the Rabbins, was as fol- 
lows : The culprit, half naked, the hands tied behind the back, was placed 
on a scaffold, ten or twelve feet high. The witnesses who stood with her 
pushed her off with great force ; if she was killed by the fall there was 
nothing further done; but if she was not, one of the witnesses took up a 
very large stone, and dashed it upon her breast, which, generally, was the 
coup de grace, or finishing touch.— Dr. Adam Clarke. 


with the house of Judah^ not according to the covenant 
which I made with their fathers, in the day when I took 
them by the hand and led them out of the land of Egypt ; 
because they continued not in my covenant, and I regard- 
ed them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant 
that I will make with the house of Israel, after those 
days, saith the Lord : I will put my laias into their minds, 
and write them in their hearts; and I will he to them a God 
and they shall be to me a people . . . for I will hemerci/ul 
to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities 
will I remember no more. In that he saith a new cove- 
nant, he hath made the first old. Now that which de- 
cayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.^""^ "For 
the priesthood being changed, there is made, of necessity, a 
change also of the law. For there is verily a disannulling of 
the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofi- 
tableness thereof^' f Christ, also, affirmed, saying: '' The 
law and the prophets were iintil John; since that time 
the kingdom of God is preached.^^\ And to make as- 
surance doubly sure, we would say that Calmet, whose 
learning and orthodoxy, no one will question, remarks 
that, " The law of Moses is superseded or abrogated by 
the Gospel. Since the death of the Messiah, the legal 
ceremonies are of no longer ohligation.^^ He also says : 
"When we say that the Gospel has rescued us from the 
yoke of the law, we understand only the appointments 
of the ceremonial and judicial law ; not those moral 
precepts, whose obligation is indispensable, and whose 
observation is much more perfect, and extensive, en- 
forced, under the law of grace, than it was under the 
old law.'*|| 

Thus have we seen that there are no instructions or 

* Hebrews 8 : 8—13. t Hebrews 7. X Luke 16: 16. 

i; Dictionary of the Bible, page 611. 


commandments in all the Bible, that stand in the way 
of the abolishment of the Death Penalty. The judicial 
law of Moses, like all criminal enactments, and political 
institutions, was designed for a particular people, in a 
particular age, and was, therefore, temporary, and not to 
be compared with "the good things to come," under the 
Gospel dispensation. It passed away when Christianity 
was introduced. Jesus was the " end of the law ;" and 
he, by his teachings and examples, not only abrogated 
and condemned the law of Moses, and utterly forbid all 
retaliation and vengeance toward those who are out of 
the way, but, as we have seen, actually demanded of his 
followers, kindness and mercy toward them. And think 
of it as we may, my brother in Christ, this is what the 
"law of Jesus " requires of you, if you have entered his 
kingdom, and are, therefore, colifesscdly, a subject of his 
government. His -religion is a religion of love. All 
the priests, and ordinances, and types, and symbols of the 
Law and the Prophets were fulfilled in him. '' The 
Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the 
midst of thee, of thy brethren like unto me; unto him ye 
shall hearken." Jesus came, pronounced the censure of 
condemnation on the retaliatory spirit and vengeance of 
the old covenant, and summed up and enforced all moral 
duty in two great commandments: "Thou shalt love 
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, 
and with all thy mind ; this is the first and great com- 
mandment ; and the second is like unto it : Thou shaW 
love THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF. On these two coml. 
mandments, hang all the law and the prophets.^' His re- 
ligion, we repeat, then, is emphatically a religion of 
LOVE. If we love our fellow men as we love ourselves, 
how can we strangle the life out of them, or stone or 
crucify them ? Let the spirit of the law of love be car- 


ried out in penal enactments, and we should have no 
more use for the gibbet or hangman. And this is not 
all. If we entertained a Christian love for the criminal, 
we should not only not kill him, not only do him no in- 
justice or violence, but our benevolence would prompt 
us to do him all the good in our power. If he is dan- 
gerous when at liberty, he must be confined ; but when 
once secured, and wholly in our power, all unkindness 
and vengeance are forbidden, and we must labor for the 
instruction and reformation of the man. Go to Christ, 
contemplate his acts toward the sinful, and you will find 
that the obligations of his benevolence are not merely 
jproliihitory — directing us to avoid " working ill" to an- 
other — but mandatory, requiring us to do him good.* 
Many a Christian possesses love enough for the criminal, 
to cause him to refrain from doing him actual violence, 
but not enough to " return good for evil." But to abstain 
from injustice or violence is not enough. The wretched 
sinner is our brother. He is weak, ignorant, it may be, 
at all events, unfortunate. To be Christ-like, we must not 
" destroy," but " save " him. "Love is the fulfilling of 
the law." But how can we save him if we strangle him 
while in his sins ? 

"Think gently of the erring ! 
I Lord let us not forget, 
I However darkly stained by sin, 
^ I He is a brother yet. 

,* Heir of the same inheritance ! 
Child of the self-same God, 
He hath stumbled in the path, 
We have in darkness trod. 

* This subject is more fully discussed in this volume under the head of 
"Thk Prison." 


Speak gently to him, brother, 

Thou yet may'st lead him back 
With holy words and tones of love' 

From misery's thorny track. 
Forget not thou hast often sinned. 

And sinful yet must be; 
Deal gently with the erring one, 

As God has dealt with thee. 


1. It is objected to the ground we have taken in the 
foregoing, that the Christian Scriptures themselves favor 
the gallows. Paul said: "Let every soul be subject unto 
the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; 
the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, 
therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of 
God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves dam- 
nation. For rulers are not a terror to good works but 
to the evil. Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power? 
Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the 
same ; for he is the minister of God to thee for good. 
But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid ; for he bear- 
eth not the sword in vain ; for he is the minister of God, 
a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 
. . . . Render, therefore, to all their dues; tribute to 
whom tribute is due, custom to whom custom, fear to 
whom fear, honor to whom honor. Owe uo man any- 
thing, but love one another."^ 

The instruction of the above is simply this : Let 
every man be obedient to the laws of the civil govern- 
ment under which the providence of God has cast his lot. 
The very design of the civil government is to secure the 
order, harmony, defense and happiness of society, and 

» Rwaans 13: 1-8. 


also the rights and liberty of individuals. No nation or 
people can exist without government of some kind ; nor 
can it exist with any degree of security, if individuals to 
any considerable extent trample upon the laws. No 
greater curse can befall a nation than sedition and an- 
archy. Christianity gives no lenity to lawlessness, a fact 
plainly evident from the foregoing address of Paul to the 
Christians in Rome. 

In order to a more full understanding, not only of the 
nature, but the design of this instruction at that particu- 
lar juncture, and to that particular people, it should be 
known that the Jews had a deeply rooted aversion to any 
government but their own, and had previously manifest- 
ed an uneasy and seditious spirit at Rome ; so that by 
an edict of tTie Emperor Claudius they had been banished 
from the city. Paul was anxious, not only to instruct 
the Christians there in the duty of obedience to the civil 
government, but to assure the Romans themselves that 
they need not fear insurrection or sedition from them, 
for their religion positively forbid lawlessness, and en- 
forced obedience to "the powers that be." 

But no one should ever infer from this that Christian- 
ity, in any other way, sanctioned and upheld the cruel, 
extravagant, and unjust laws of the Romans at that time. 
It is one thing to be "subject" to a law, and quite 
another and a different thing to approbate the law itself 
with our judgment. We should always endeavor to 
enforce and obey the laws we have, whether they are in 
harmony with our individual sense of justice and expedi- 
ency, or not, for the reason before mentioned, viz: the 
necessity of government and the curse of rebellion. But 
this does not preclude another duty, which we owe to 
ourselves and to our country, of equal importance, and 
that is to labor for the repeal of all unjust and unchris- 


tian laws, and the enactment of those in harmony with 
benevolence, and the true interests and happiness of 

It is recorded that when John Hancock* was govern-^ 
or of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts seventy-five 
years ago, one "Rachael Whall was hung in Boston for 
highway robbery. Her offense consisted in twitching 
from the hand of another female, a bonnet, worth, per- 
haps, seventy-five cents, and running off with it. The 
most urgent applications for her pardon were unsuccessfuV 
"I mention this," says the writer, "not to the disparage-* 
ment of the governor. He doubtless acted from a sense 
of duty, thinking it best for the community that the laws 
of the land., however frightfully severe^ while they were laws, 
should be executed.'' 

Now, this man acted, whether wisely or not, from a 
sense of the importance of the principle involved in the 
instruction of Paul, above mentioned. " Be obedient to 
the powers that be," said governor Hancock. They 
were obedient, and this young girl was executed on Bos- 
ton common, for robbing to the amount of seventy-five 
cents. No man will say that the law which demanded 
the death of that girl for this crime, was a Christian law, 
or that Christianity forbid its repeal ; on the contrary, 
Christianity demands its repeal. 

" Edward Vaile Brown was hung in Boston, fifty years 
ago, for burglary, committed in the house of Captain 
Osias Goodwin, in Charter street, and stealing therefrom 
sundry articles." 

" Within the same period, a girl of seventeen was hung 
in London, for stealing a silver cream pitcher." 

" Long after the commencement of the present ceur 
tury, eight separate capital convictions are recorded on the 

* John Hancock was governor of Massachusetts from 1780 to 1785, 


books of the court of the Old Bailey, London, as one dai/'s 
job of a single tribunal, the culprits being all boys and 
girls between the ages of fen and sixteen, and their offenses 
petty thefts." 

No one will have the hardihood to contend that the 
laws which were in force in our country and England, 
fifty years ago, were in harmony with the benevolence 
land justice of the Christian religion; or that the instruc- 
tion of Paul, now under consideration, prohibited a re- 
form. Neither can it be shown that it prohibited a re- 
form in the government or laws of Rome in the days of 
the apostle. 

The truth is, Christ had himself, previously, plainly 
abrogated the principle of " blood for blood," as we 
have clearly shown, again and again, in this volume, and 
given the law of love as the basis of all penal enact- 
ments. And if the reader will take the trouble of refer- 
ring to the connection in which the foregoing is found, 
he will there find-that Paul enforces the Christian prin- 
ciple in the very verses that follow after what we have 
quoted. After exhorting the Christians to be " subject 
unto the higher powers," he says : " He that loveih anoth- 
er fulfilleth the law; for this, thou shalt not commit adul- 
tery; THOU SHALT NOT KILL; thou shalt not steal; thou 
shalt not bear false witness ; thou shalt not covet; and if 
there be any other commandment it is briefly compre- 
hended in this saying, viz : thou shalt love thy neighbor as 
thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor. 
Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."* 

All must perceive that the principle enforced here, is 
perfectly in harmony with the declarations of Christ, 
already examined, and directly opposed to the sanguinary 
and terribly cruel laws and customs which prevailed in 

♦Romans 13: 8—10. 


Rome at that time. So that while Paul exhorted obe- 
dience to the " powers " that existed, he presented the 
great moral principle of the Gospel, divine and beautiful, 
as the foundation of all human law. " Thou shalt love 
thy neighbor as thyself" "Love worketh no ill." 
"Love is the fulfilling of the law." Now, let this princi- 
ple prevail, and it is impossible for the law which requires 
"eye for eye, tooth for tooth, blood for blood," to exist. 
And the reason why nearly all our States are still dis- 
graced with the gallows, is simply this: we are followers 
of Moses, and not of Christ. 

But it may be said here, that Paul declared that those 
in authority "bear not the sivord in vain;" and that he 
designed to sanction the Death Penalty, as he employed 
this phrase in connection with the declaration, " execute 
wrath upon him that doeth evil." In answer to this, we 
reply, first, that the language is not in the form of appro- 
bation, but it is the simple statement of a fact; and second, 
that the word " sword " was put, not as figurative of the 
executioner, but as an emblem of poioer and authority^ 
without reference to any special office.* Thus is the en- 
tire passage in Romans, which is so often quoted to sus- 
tain the code of Moses, shown to be, not only not op- 
posed to the views presented in this volume, but entirely 
in harmony with them. 

2. Again, it is objected, that Paul said, "If I be an 
offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I 
refuse not to die ; but if there be none of these things 
whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto 
thcm."t In this, it is said Paul did not condemn the 
Death Penalty, but rather sanctioned it by declaring his 
readiness to die, if they could convict him of having 
violated their laws. We answer, Paul was under trial 

*See Cruden: :il^oC.(laiet. t Acts 25:11. 


where his life was at stake; not for killing a man, but 
for other and minor offenses charged on him. Now, if it 
can be shown that he sanctioned Capital Punishment for 
murder^ (the crime for which we kill,) because he said he 
refused not to die if he was proven guilty, it can also 
be shown that he sanctioned it for the oflFenses brought 
against him on that occasion, viz: preaching a new re- 
ligion, and denouncing the unjust and malevolent senti- 
ments and laws of the Jews ; for he said he refused not 
to die if they could fix upon him their charges. The truth 
is, the sentiment of this text was uttered without refer- 
rence to either the justice or injustice of Capital Pun- 
ishment. It is simply the language of a man conscious 
of his innocence, and with no desire to save his life by 
subterfuges. The question was not, whether Capital 
Punishment was lawful, but whether it was lawful %ipon 
him. He says, I refuse not to die if / am an offender. 
But I am no offender, and therefore you have no right 
to kill me, even if the laws by which you do your bloody 
work are lawful and just. This is the substance of 
Paul's declaration. If it sanctions the Death Penalty at 
all, it sanctions it for all the heralds of the Gospel who 
have the courage to proclaim the truth of Grod, in the 
face of error and superstition, for this was the head and 
front of the apostle's offending. 

3. Once more. Christ was crucified between two 
thieves. One of them confessed that his punishment 
was just. Now, because Christ did not then and there 
speak out and oppose the Death Penalty, and protest 
against the punishment of these men as unlawful and 
unjust, it is inferred that he sanctioned Capital Punish- 
ment. This is a small peg on which to hang men and 
women, we are aware, but as slight as it may appear to 
some who may peruse these pages, it has been employed 


by many learned divines and others, as a principal ar- 
gument on which to base the gallows. But what folly. 
The account does not affirm that those put to death with 
Christ were murderers, but only thieves. If then, Christ, by 
his silence on that occasion, sanctioned Capital Punish- 
ment at all, he sanctioned it forjheft. But will the stick- 
lers for the Death Penalty in our day hang for theft ? 
Nor is this all. If Christ, by his silence, approved the 
punishment of the thieves, he also approved of his own 
punishment, for "as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, 
BO he opened not his mouth" to assert his own innocence. 
He also approved of that particular mode of death, viz : 
crucifixion; but will the supporters of the Death Penalty, 
in our time, go in for "the cross and nails," for all who 
are worthy of death? The truth is, it was not so much the 
work of Christ to condemn particular institutions, as to 
advance great truths, scattering them like seed, here and 
there, and relying on the natural course of things to se- 
cure the desired harvest. The Gospel he compared to 
" leaven which a woman took and hid in meal till the 
whole was leavened." The principles of religion, like 
the leaven, work silently, but certainly, in the hearts of 
men and communities, assimilating the desires and sen- 
timents of the world to their own nature. When hang- 
ing upon the cross it was no time nor place for him to 
condemn the cruel laws of the Jews. It would have 
availed nothing; and, besides, he had previously, in the 
most plain and positive manner, condemned and abrogat- 
ed their judicial covenant, and instituted another, more 
divine and ennobling. If the malefactors who suffered 
with him were worthy of death for theft, how much more 
deserving of this punishment were the guilty murderers 
of the innocent Jesus; and yet that blessed "Lamb of 
Grod" did not pronounce upon these wicked men any pun- 


ishment, much less the punishment of death. Instead 
of this, the last accents that felf from his lips, were in a 
prayer to God for the forgiveness of those who were nail- 
ing him to the cross. " Father, forgive them, they 
KNOW NOT What they do!" Well has it been said, that 
" Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ like 
a God!" How can men gaze upon that blessed being, 
when thus suspended upon the cross in the awful ago- 
nies of death, and listen to this more than mortal peti- 
tion for the forgiveness of his own murderers — so in har- 
mony with all his teachings, and a whole life of love and 
compassion, and still contend that he sanctioned the 
Death Penalty, because he failed to denounce it at this 
dreadful hour. Surely, if they have no better evidence 
than this, that Christianity sanctions the gallows, their 
cause stands on a precarious foundation. 

The foregoing are the most prominent objections 
drawn from the Christian Scriptures, in favor of Capital 
Punishment, which have come to our notice. The read- 
er will perceive that when examined in the light of reason, 
and other portions of the divine word, they afford the 
gallows no support. Thus is the Bible taken from the 
hands of those who support the Death Penalty, and em- 
ployed as an instrument of abolishment. "Let God be 
true, but every man a liar. 




The Death Penalty not necessary to Personal or Social Security— Protection ia 
life and property is what the good citizen asks— We have strong Prisons in every State 
in which to confine men of base passions— The Murderer is not secured by the present 
Law-Difficulty to convict - Facts from the Criminal Records in the United States 
and England — There is a repugnance to taking Human Life -If not convicted the 
Murderer returns to Society— With the Penalty of •Imprisonment for Life he would 
be secured, 

We have now seen that the Christian Scriptures are 
not in favor of, hut are positively opposed to the Death 
Penalty ; and that for various other reasons which we 
have adduced, it should be abolished by all Christian 
communities and nations. Another important reason 
we have for abolishment is, that it is utterly unnec- 


What every good citizen desires is security. When 
traveling, whether it be by railroad or steamboat — in 
carriage or on foot — in the open country or crowded city 
— and when at home, about his lawful business, or re- 
posing in slumber at night, he wishes to be protected, 
not from prowling, blood-thirsty beasts, but from men — 
the robber and assassin. Now a special object of penal 
law is to protect him ; and what he asks is the law which 
will the most certainly secure this result. The Death 
Penalty is on the statute book of his State. The gallows 
drinks the blood of its victim every now and then. Still 
he does not feel secure. The law is not enough. Pis- 
13 (U5) 



tols and dirks are at his side, under his pillow or in his 
pocket. But, notwithstanding, he possesses great confi- 
dence in the moral power of sanguinary laws ; so he ex- 
claims : ''Annihilate the gallows as a terror to evil doers 
— abolish all killing for crime, and thus say to a desper- 
ado that he may do his worst and he can escape the 
halter — and would not the result be an overwhelming 
increase of crime? Would not blood run like water, and 
all sense of individual and social security be banished?" 
This, he says, is the main question with him when con- 
sidering the subject. It is the utility of the gallows. 
Just convince him that by abolishing the Death Penalty 
you do not lessen restraint and multiply crime — or, in 
other words, convince him that the gallows is not ahso- 
lutely necessary to the protection of society — and he will 
gladly consent to a change. 

If the reader occupies this position, we would respect- 
fully invite his careful attention to the following thoughts 
and facts touching the subject, for we are not without 
hope that we shall be able to convince him not only that 
the law which requires the death of the offender affords 
no more security than imprisonment for life, but such is 
its practical operation, that it is positively less effectual 
in this respect than the latter penalty. 

He desires to feel that society is protected from the 
depredations of the assassin. Now we can imagine con- 
ditions of communities where the necessity of killing the 
offender might be pleaded to secure such protection. 
Take, for instance, Moses and the Israelites, when in the 
wilderness, journeying from Egypt to the promised land, 
at the very time that the law of death was instituted. 
Where were their jails or prisons, and other means for 
securing the murderer against the possibility of escape? 
Or take the condition of our brothers, fathers, or hus- 


bands in California during the first year of emigration 
and effort for gold. There we behold thousands of men 
in a new, wilderness country, surrounded by savages, 
without even the form of civil government. No courts, 
judges, sheriffs, police, nor jails, and no means of self- 
protection. If the assassin was caught and convicted 
where were the strong prison, the iron bars and bolts 
and trustworthy keepers to hold him securely? In such 
a condition of society, the necessity/ of "summary justice" 
and the punishment of death might be argued with some 
show of propriety. But with the people of Ohio, Ken- 
tucky, Indiana, and other States where "law and order" 
prevail, the case is widely different. Here there are 
well organized governments, with a court and jail in 
every county, and police regulations in every town ; so 
that the assassin or murderer can rarely escape detection 
after committing a crime, and if detected can be secured. 
If, in Ohio, our laws demanded imprisonment for life 
for the crime of murder, and the offender should be 
safely lodged in our penitentiary, would he not be se- 
cure? That institution is one of the most substantial 
edifices and faithfully guarded prisons in the world. It 
contains workshops for the criminal by day, and cells, 
constructed of stone and iron, for his safe keeping by 
night ; the whole of which is under the watchful care of 
the most vigilant keepers. We again ask, if the murderer 
is not safe when once confined within the walls of that 
prison. Take the case of Arrison,* if you will. He is 
thought to be one of the most desperate men living. I 
appeal to my fellow citizens to know if they would enter- 
tain the least fear of his breaking through the walls, or 

*W. H. Arrison, now confined in the Cincinnati jail, charged wi h 
the murder of Allison and his wife, at the Medical College in t i.< Ci;y, 
during the summer of 1854, with a torpedo, a dreadful instrum uit which 
exploded and tore them in pieces on opening the box that contained it. 


bars and bolts of that prison, and again returning upon 
society to engage in another work of blood, provided he 
were once placed- there for life? 

"Ah," says the objector, "we should have no appre- 
hension of the man's breaking prison, but there are other 
means of escape. Influential friends, or money, some- 
times possess a potent power. Prison doors will open 
at their nod. In plain words, we should fear the par- 
doning power." Then take the pardoning power from 
the Grovernor, where it is now lodged, and vest it in 
twelve men who shall constitute a court to examine and 
decide upon all appeals for pardons and commutations, 
subject to certain restrictions in the crime of murder. 

I ask again, if this provision were instituted concern- 
ing the pardoning power, and the murderer were secure 
in the penitentiary, would not the people of Ohio feel 
that his depredations on society were at an end? You 
say you would have him executed, not because the Bible 
demands his life, nor yet from a spirit of retaliation to 
avenge the outrage he has committed against society, but 
simply as a matter of expediency, to render your own 
safety more certain. But are you not just as secure by 
his confinement in prison as by his execution? It is 
possible, we grant, that he may break away and escape: 
but not probable ; and this possibility we must risk as 
we should were his destiny to be decided by us in our 
individual, instead of our social capacity. Suppose a 
robber should enter your house and attempt your life : 
he strikes at your heart with his glittering dagger. The 
first law of your nature is self-preservation or protection. 
Either your life or the life of an assassin must be de- 
stroyed; and no matter how powerfully your feelings 
may revolt at the thought of killing a man, you are not 
long in deciding it to be your duty to defend yourself 


to the extent of your power. If you kill under such 
circumstances, you are justified. Why? Because you 
are driven by actual necessity to commit the act in order 
to preserve your own existence. And this is all that 
can justify you, or delegate to you the right to kill the 
man. No Christian will justify the taking of human 
life hy an individual in self-defense, on any other 
ground. Suppose it is a mere child who attempts to 
rob and murder you — one whom you are certain you 
can seize and bind securely — but, instead, you kill 
him; will society justify the act? Or, further, having 
bound him with cords so that he can move neither 
hand nor foot, and thus relieved yourself of all fear of 
farther injury, you take a club and deliberately beat out 
his brains; would society justify the act? Certainly not. 
Why not? Plainly because the deed is not committed 
in self-defense. You are safe. He cannot injure you. 
The officers of justice can take him into custody, and 
place him beyond the possibility of again outraging 

I am now writing for the minds and hearts of Chris- 
tians, as well as others. Is the reader a Christian? If 
so, permit me to ask, would you thus deliberately kill 
the murderer after you had securely bound him? Would 
it be necessary? What would you think of your neigh- 
bor — a brother in Christ — a member of the same Church 
— for instance, the pastor of your society, and your spirit- 
ual teacher — if, having surprised a robber in his house, 
and securely bound him to a post with manacles, cords 
and chains, should call you and other members of his 
flock to see him cut his throat, or strangle him with a 
halter? Would you not be astonished beyond measure? 
And if he should commit the deed, would not the whole 
'Church, yea, the whole community, be struck dumb with 


horror? " This man is secure," you would exclaim, "why 
<io you kill him?" And your astonishment would not 
be lessened at the answer of your clerical executioner : 
" I know he is secure ; I feel safe. There is not one 
chance in a thousand for him to escape. But then escape 
is possible. He may break these chains and cords and in- 
jure somebody. It is best for us to he positively secure; 
therefore, I kill him." 

We venture to assert that no individual can be found, 
Christian or infidel, base enough to commit so cowardly 
and damning a deed. And any man who should present 
such a reason for the act, would be regarded as a madman 
or a consummate villain. And yet this is precisely the 
principle on which society acts, when it has safely secured 
the offender within stone walls, with bars and bolts, and 
then chokes the life out of him, on the ground of self- 
security. If the Christian minister should commit an act 
of this character, as described above, the State would take 
him, convict him of murder, treat his plea of self-protec- 
tion with derision, and hang him — his own Church assist- 
ing in the work — not as individuals, but as members of 
the body-politic, through the hangman.* 

But if the act is morally wrong in an individual^ how 
can it be morally right in the State. If the act, when 
committed by a Christian minister, is shocking to the 
moral sense of the Church, why should it not be, when 
perpetrated by the State, inasmuch as the State is pro- 
' fessedly Christian ? And further : if the State treats the 
plea of the individual who kills the bound man for self- 
protection, with derision, with what propriety can it make 
this a reason for its own acts of blood? Look at the 
strength of the State and its means of self- security. 

* See the sixth chapter of this work, under the head of Individual 


Look at its strong prisons, its chains, its cells, its dun- 
geons, its strong police force, and its hundreds of thou- 
sands of citizens to assist in maintaining the supremacy 
of the law and prevent an escape. Yet it ridicules the 
plea of an individual, when he kills in self-defense, while it 
leads out from its iron and stone cells, its victims, some- 
times little boys, and weak emaciated women, and chokes 
the life out of them, because it is unsafe to let them Uve/^ 
They may escape from prison, and kill or injure some- 

The reader must perceive, then, that the argument in 
favor of the gallows, drawn from necessity, and based 
on self -protect Ion, possesses but little force, and is hardly 
entitled to consideration. If we should kill criminals, 
simply because they are dangerous to society — if this 
is the only ground on which we defend the gallows, then, 
to be consistent, we should employ it against the lunatic; 
for it is as dangerous to society for him to have his free- 
dom, and probably more so, than for the murderer. It 
is not uncommon for madmen to commit acts of the most 
dreadful violence. Yet where is the man, especially the 
Christian, who would dream of killing this unfortunate 
class of our fellow-creatures /ro??i necessity, on the ground 
of self -protection. Every humane heart would revolt at 
the thought. Even if at liberty and roaming at large, 
there are but few who would refuse to risk any injury 
they might do, rather than to put them to death. For 

* A little boy, but ten years of age, was hung in Alexandria, La., in Sept. 
last, ( 1855.) See page 49 of this work. In 1854, a woman was executed 
in New York State, weak and feeble, leaving an infant, which had its 
birth in her cell. And now, as we write, the secular papers before us con- 
tain an account of the death of a woman, who was soon to be executed in 
New Hampshire. She was delivered of a child a few months ago in her 
cell, and the authorities were waiting for her to gain sufficient strength 
to be killed, when death by consumption terminated her miserable exist- 
ence. Was it necessary to strangle these wretched creatures in self- 
defetise ? 


all such, the State provides an asylum — a place of con- 
finement — where they are not only kept securely, but by 
humane and judicious treatment, are often entirely re- 
stored, and, with sane minds, permitted to return again 
to their friends and to the blessings of social life. Now, 
when safely lodged within the walls of an asylum, the 
lunatic is neither feared nor dreaded by society at large. 
Confidence is reposed in the strength of the institution 
and in the caution and vigilance of those in whose charge 
it is placed. So should it be, and so might it be, with 
the murderer. He is a moral lunatic; perhaps more 
really so, in many cases, than the world imagines, or will 
believe. To turn him loose upon society would be a 
dangerous act. This should not be; justice does not de- 
mand it. Let him be safely lodged in the penitentiary 
and kept in durance. Let him be treated with kindness 
and humanity, but eff'ectually confined, and society 
would no longer experience apprehensions of insecurity 
from the simple fact that the man was living. For, tho' 
living, he would be so really separated from the world by 
stone and iron — so utterly banished from society, and so 
securely guarded — as that he would be dead to the world, 
and the world dead to him. 

The plea of self-protection, then, is a false one. Not 
only is it false, but it is mischievoias. "It is terrible," 
says one " in the hands of a people's tyrant, or of a tyran- 
nous people. Self-protection, says the despot, and the 
heads of the noble, brave and good, roll before him in 
ghastly heaps. Self-protection, says the demagogue, and 
the guillotine moves its iron jaws, and the streets are 
red with blood. Self-protection, says the injured man, and 
anticipates the law, becoming for himself judge and exe- 
cutioner. Self-protection, says the mutineer, dead men 
tell no tales, and the ocean bubbles red above his com- 


rades. Believe me, this principle of self-protection that 
relies on blood, is a dangerous, two-edged principle. Self • 
protection may be secured without blood-shed. We may 
obey God's law without inflicting Capital Punishment 
There is a higher dictate than that of revenge. There is 
a nobler end for punishment than the infliction of pain. 
There is a more binding code than the law of Moses. It 
is found in the spirit and precepts of Jesus Christ." 

We have said that if the murderer was safely confined 
within the walls of the penitentiary, society would feel 
secure. We come now to add, that if the penalty for 
murder was imprisonment for life, instead of hanging, 
murderers would be secured; but, as the law now stands 
upon the statute books of nearly all our States, eight out 
of ten guilty of murder escape^ not from prison., but 
they escape conviction., and are returned again loose upon 
society. Thus does the law of death defeat the very ob- 
ject for which the class we are now considering would retain 
it. They would retain it, in order to take the ofi'ender 
from society and put him beyond the power of again 
trampling upon its laws. But instead of this, it stands 
directly in the way of securing this result. It screens 
the murderer from all punishment, and positively 
snatches him from the hand of justice, and sends him 
back into the world, all reeking with the blood of his 
murdered victim, to prey again upon society, and, it may 
be, to enact over again the same dreadful deed of which 
he is guilty. Thus, is the present law the most unsafe^ 
for the simple reason that it is impossible to enforce 
IT eccept IN rare CASES. But this is an important point 
in our investigations, and must be made the subject of a 
chapter by itself. 



Scruples of Jurors-Loth to convict— The condition of Criminal Jurisprudence in 
Ohio, as presented by a Cincinnati Editor -The cause of Laxitj^ on the part of Jurors 
to convict— The Gallows stands in the way of Justice— It facilitates the escape of tho 
Guilty— Folly of instituting Laws which cannot be enforced -Criminal Jurisprudence 
in Hamilton County, Ohio, for fifteen years— Large number ©f Murders— But one 
hung -How it worked in England— France. 

The Death Penalty cannot he enforced only in rare cases. 
It facilitates the escape of the guilty in many in- 
stances, which is another important reason for abolishment. 

The truth is, the Death Penalty is so far behind public 
sentiment, and so revolting to the humanity of every 
morally sensitive heart, that most persons refuse to act 
as jurymen in capital cases, from "conscientious scru- 
ples,'* while those who consent, will not convict, unless 
in the most certain cases of guilt. If the least thread of 
evidence is elicited in behalf of the offender, they will 
hang upon it, and acquit him through its instrumental- 
ity, and thus he escapes all punishment, though guilty. 
Look at the history of criminal jurisprudence in Ohio, 
Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, New England, any- 
where in any Christian country on the face of the earth, 
where the gallows still exists, and the fact of which we 
Bpeak is demonstrated to a certainty. While I write, a 


leading daily journal* of Cincinnati is placed before me, 
the editor of whieli, a warm supporter of the gallows, 
utters his complaints against this condition of things, 
and threatens Lynch law in the following strain, if mat- 
ters are not speedily amended: 

" It does seem as if it were impossible to procure any- 
thing like justice in 'capital cases,' as they are called in 
this State. Murder is alarmingly frequent, yet we hear 
of no instance where the murderer expiates his or her 
guilt. Judging by the past, and the history of our juris- 
prudence, there is no crime that can be committed with 
such impunity from punishment in Ohio, as that of 
murder, the most wilful of all crimes. It matters not 
how atrocious are the circumstances attending it, or the 
conclusive character of the evidence that points out the 
criminal, there is always some loop-hole by which the 
penalty is evaded. When juries do their duty in the 
premises, and render an honest verdict, some legal tech- 
nicality is raised, by which the prisoner is enabled to es- 
cape. The extraordinary laxity in the administration of 
our laws for murder, exceeds that of any other State in 
the Union, with the exception of California. Look into 
our own county jail, for instance, and see what a farce 
and mockery are the attempts which have been made for 
years here to execute the law in those cases where the 
punishment is death. It is high time that public opinion 
became aroused to this matter, and that some steps were 
taken by which the clogs that now retard the wheels of 
justice were removed. Human life is too sacred a thing 
to allow the legal barriers and safeguards that protect it 

* The Commercial. The editor's indignation was aroused by the report 
just received fromPiqua, Ohio, that a man and woman, (Jane Elizabeth 
Riggen and James Mowrey,) guilty of murder, in that county, and who 
had confessed their guilt, had been discharged through some legal techni- 
cality. If the law had been imprisonment for life, conviction would un- 
doubtedly have been the result. Ohio will not hang a wcmian. 


to be broken down. There should be even a greater 
certainty of punishment to him who unlawfully takes life, 
than for any other offense ; but in our State the certainty 
has got pretty much all on the other side — in favor of an 
escape. If we do not have a reform pretty soon, it would 
not surprise us to see ' Judge Lynch ' erect his summary 
court and proceed to execute that justice upon murder- 
ous malefactors that the regular tribunals will not 

All that is here uttered with reference to the difficul- 
ty experienced in convicting the guilty in Ohio, is true; 
and because it is true, and comes from one who has great 
confidence in the efficacy of legal strangulation, we 
copy it. 

In the recent trial of the notorious Arrison, in Cin- 
cinnati, three days were spent in empanelling a jury. 
Upwards of three hundred persons were excused from 
serving, on the ground of "conscientious scruples." We 
were told by a gentleman of intelligence, who was sum- 
moned as a juror in that case, that if he had served, he 
would not have convicted the prisoner of murder in the 
first degree, no matter what the nature of the evidence 
against him, simply because he could not consent to bo 
an instrument in destroying human life. In the case 
of Mrs. Riggen, of Miami county, alluded to in the 
note preceding, nearly two weeks were expended in em- 
panelling a jury; hundreds being pronounced by the 
court as unfit to serve, in consequence of their scruples 
of conscience on the subject of the Death Penalty, before 
twelve could be found who were willing to convict. The 
same repugnance exists throughout our State, and in ev- 
ery State to a greater or less extent, and is becoming 
every year, more and more real ; so that it has come to 
be quite generally understood that no jury will jeopard- 


ize the life of a fellow creature by conviction, if there is 
the least possible chance to save him. Almost always 
there are some of the jury whose hearts revolt at pronounc- 
ing the word "guilty," however strongly their J«c^^me«,fe 
may sanction the justness of such a decision, and they 
refuse to return such a verdict, not because they are not 
convinced of the offender's criminality, but because the 
punishment to follow the verdict is so shocking to hu- 
manity, and they are so fearful of convicting the inno- 
cent, that they shrink from the responsibility, and say 
"NOT GUILTY," when in every instance, if the penalty 
were imprisonment for life, they would return a verdict 
of guilty, and thus secure the offender from further dep- 
redations. Such is the repugnance, we repeat, which 
very generally exists in society, against sending a fel- 
low-being to the scaffold. Some sneer at it — pronounce 
it a "morbid sympathy," — a "childish, silly repugnance" 
— and curse jurymen for a set of chicken-hearted fools, 
who "themselves deserve to have their necks stretched,'* 
for their indifference to the public welfare. But all this 
does not disprove the fact that the repugnance of which 
we speak is a reality. It does not eradicate it from the 
human soul. Men do shudder and they will shudder at 
violating the shrine of human life. The feeling is nat- 
ural. God has implanted it in every breast, and it grows 
with the growth of humanity, and strengthens more and 
more in the soul which is chastened by the principles of 
a pure and holy religion. And we may rest assured of 
this fact, viz : that so long as our communities progress 
in benevolence and intelligence, our present law cannot he 
enforced^ as I before said, only in rare cases. 

Men ask for a continuance of the gallows that " society 
may he protected. ^^ But is society protected by this insti- 
tution? Let the editor referred to above, answer. "It 


seems as if it were impossible," he says, "to procure any- 
thing like justice in capital cases in this State. Murder 
is alarmingly frequent," (notwithstanding the existence of 
the Death Penalty,) '•'-yet we hear of no instance where the 
offender expiates his or her guilt. No crime can be commit- 
ted with such impunity of punishment in Ohio, as murder. 
T^ere is always some loop-hole hy which the penalty is 
evaded. When jurors do their duty in the premises, and 
render an honest verdict, some legal technicality is 
raised by which the prisoner is enabled to escape." All 
this is true. Is not the gallows, then, a glorious pro- 
tection to society in Ohio? Why, instead of this, ^i is 
the very instrument that protects the offender, and affords 
him a free pass hack into society. Wipe the Death Pen- 
alty from our statute books, and place instead impris- 
onment for life, and our fellow townsmen will no longer 
have cause to complain of the "laxity" of our judicial 
tribunals; the "impunity" with which the crime of mur- 
*der is committed; the "loop-holes" of the law, and the 
"farce and mockery" everywhere perceptible in the exe- 
cution of the law. " It is high time," he says, " that pub- 
lic opinion became aroused to this matter, and that some 
steps were taken by which the clogs that now retard the 
wheels of justice were removed." This is precisely our 
t)pinion. But by investigation* he will find that the 
only "clog that retards the wheels of justice," with ref- 
erence to the murderer, is the gallows. Pull down this 

* In justice to the gentleman mentioned here, whose talents and mo- 
tives we respect, we should say, that probably he is becoming convinced 
of the impotency of our law as it now stands, for he closes the article re- 
ferred to, as follows : "While we are in favor of the law in relation to 
murder as it now stands on the statute book, yet, if it be true, as many 
believe, that in consequence of the conscientious convictions of thou- 
sands of people against the Death Penalty, that th6 present condition of 
things is owing, it would be best to have the criminal law changed. It 
is a subject that well demands the attention of legislators, who should see 
where the fault lies, and apply the remedy, if it is in their power." 



old relic of barbarism, and place in its stead a law that 
can he enforced^ and there will be no longer complaint 
about the slow and uncertain movement of the wheels of 
justice." " Human life is too sacred a thing," he says, 
" to allow the legal harriers and safeguards that protect 
it, to be broken down." But all the "legal barriers and 
safeguards" we have to protect human life in Ohio, are 
the gibbet and the hangman; and these, as we have seen, 
are already "broken down." They exist only on the 
statute books as a mere threat. Every murderer within 
our borders, is told that if he kills he shall be hung ; 
but he has come to know that this is a mere bug-bear, 
and that the probability is that instead of being hung if 
caught, he shall be tried and discharged. He has no 
fear of the gallows. In traveling in a neighboring 
State a few years since, we tarried a short time at a tav- 
ern kept by a widow lady, who had a young negro 
servant about the house and stable, a mischievous, ma- 
licious little urchin, who was full of his pranks, and 
was anything but obedient to the wishes of his mistress. 
The good landlady had instituted a government in her 
domestic affairs, but, unfortunately, it was a government 
whose "barriers and safeguards," like those of oiir State 
with reference to the crime of murder, consisted princi- 
pally of threats — awful threats, which she never dreamed 
of enforcing. "Here, Tom!" she would exclaim at the 
top of her voice, " where have you been ? Did I not 
tell you not to leave the house, but to stay here and wait 
on the gentlemen ? Now, you go away again, and I'll 
tie you up by your two thumbs and slcin you, you see if I 
don't." Ten times in a day did she make this threat. But 
it was only a threat. Tom came to understand by it that 
it was merely a bug-bear, and to treat it accordingly. 
He knew he should not be skinned. He never was 


skinned in his life, though he had been threatened with 
this penalty a thousand times ; and with a snap of his 
fingers, a shrill whistle, and shrewd grimace, he would 
be off to his pranks again. 

How unwise in a family, how much more unwise in a 
State, to institute laws which cannot be enforced, and 
which, therefore, can claim no respect from the party to 
be governed. Gambling has been a penitentiary offense 
in Ohio, for several years, but has it ever been enforced 
in a single instance ? The penalty for murder in the 
first degree in Ohio, is death by hanging. In Hamilton 
county* alone, within the last fifteen years, hundreds of 
murders^ of all descriptions and every degree of violence and 
atrocity^ have been committed^ but with a single excep- 
tion, this penalty has never been enforced upon the murderer 
in our county during all these years. Here is a fact which 
should astonish the sticklers for the gallows, and bring 
them to a sense of the true nature of this question. 
Why has not the murderer been executed in Hamilton 
county ? Was it because he could not be arrested ? 
Not at all. But because when arrested he could not be 
convicted; or if convicted, the moral sympathy of the 

* Hamilton County embraces Cincinnati. Within the last fifteen years, 
at least five hundred murders have either been perpetrated, or attempted, 
in this county. Of course we do not mean that all these crimes would 
come under the head of premeditated murder. We include in this num- 
ber, shooting and stabbing in fights and rows, on the streets, in houses of 
ill-fame, in bar-rooms, on steamboats, indeed, every form and degree of 
murder. The author of these pages kept a minute of the violent deaths 
perpetrated in our city, during the years 1852—3, (Lecount was hung in 
the beginning of 1853,) and the number in these two years reached to 198. 
Some have doubted the statement, when publicly made, of five hundred 
violent deaths in Cincinnati in the time given, and asked us for the au- 
thority on which it is based. The above is our authority. If in two 
years there were nearly two hundred, in the remaining thirteen years it 
is probable there were, at least, three hundred. But not half of those 
gttilty of perpetrating these offenses were arrested. Out of all arrested 
during the fifteen years, probably forty-five, or three a year, were tried for 
murder in the first degree, the penalty of which is death. One was hung. 
Where are the remaining/(/;'^2/:/<'^^ ^ 


public, and the opinion which so generally prevails of 
the utter inutility of the gallows, have sought for and 
found a "loop-hole" for the culprit.* In some instances 
they have been pardoned; in others, sentence has been 
commuted from hanging to imprisonment. 

Now, in every instance where the offender was not con- 
victed, he returned again to society. How unsafe, then, 
is our present law? — unsafe because of the uncertainty of 
its infliction. Says an eminent lawyer, speaking on this 
subject: "No one who is acquainted with the history of 
criminal jurisprudence in this country, can doubt but 
hundreds of guilty ones have been acquitted, and sent 
back to the haunts of vice, for the simple reason that 
jurors would not convict in consequence of the severity 
attached to their crimes, it being death." 

Another jurist of New York, equally eminent, says : 
"None who ever attended our criminal courts in capital 
cases can have failed to notice the operation of the princi- 
ple here referred to, in a manner the most subversive of 
the ends of justice, and the most dangerous to the security 
of the community. None will question the truth here 
presented, and none can compute the number of crimi- 
nals who have been let loose upon society, free of all 
penalty, and emboldened and hardened by a first impu- 
nity, nor form any conception of the amount of evil which 
had its origin in this cause, in casting upon the adminis- 

* James Summons, now in our jail, where he has been for the last four 
years, has been three times tried for his life on the same offense ; twice 
convicted of the most atrocious murder, once sentenced and the day of 
exesutioii fixed. Two years have passed since the law demanded his 
d#ath, but he still lives. He has cost the State more than $15,000. If 
the penalty for his crime had been the penitentiary for life, he would long 
since have been an inmate of that institution, and put to some useful em- 
ployment, which is his proper place. The case of Arrison is very nearly 
similar. He should now be diligently at work in our State prison. Can- 
not the public perceive that it is the gallows which facilitates the escape 
of these men? 



tration of the law an uncertainty in the last degree pre- 
judicial to all the policy of penal justice." 

Again he remarks: "There can be no criminal lawyer 
in this State, of any extended practice or observation, by 
whom the remark, that the uncertainty of conviction for 
capital offenses has grown almost into a proverb, will not 
be received as a truism. Juries will always be power- 
fully swayed in judgment as well as feeling, by the hor- 
ror of shedding blood, which the laws of Grod have too 
deeply planted in the hearts of all to be eradicated, 
however it may be weakened by the influence of any laws 
of man. In the clearest cases it is constantly seen that 
they will not convict. They will violate their oaths 
under a thousand pleas of technical deficiencies or im- 
perfections of evidence, however immaterial."^ 

The feeling that exists on this subject is seen, as we 
have already intimated, in the reluctance with which 
many consent to act as jurymen. We have already men- 
tioned several instances occurring in our State, illustra- 
tive of this fact. Many more might be adduced. 

On the trial of Howard, in Dover, New Hampshire, 
some years ago, seven hundred persons were excused or 
set aside, before a panel was made up. 

In the case of Shelby, of Kentucky, on his trial, the 
jury could not agree, and were discharged; six or eight 
of them, and the Judge, were hung in effigy. Afterward, 
in attempting his second trial, nearly every man in the 
county, who was competent to sit as a juror, was sum- 
moned, but the panel could not be filled. 

In Kleim's case, in New York, after the panel was 
exhausted, it was necessary to summon talismen, and 
nearly a whole day was spent in filling up the jury. So 
in the case of Q-ordon, in Rhode Island. It was said 

*0'Sullivan's report to the Legislature of New York in 1813. 


that " not a man in the city of Providence, would con- 
sent to sit on his trial."* 

These are extreme cases, we grant, but the feeling of 
reluctance, and the sentiment which gives it birth, pre- 
vail, to a greater or less extent, in all communities. They 
are pronounced by some to be an indication of weakness, 
and condemned as a hurtful evil, preventing the execu- 
tion of law and facilitating the escape of the criminal. 
Hence we are called upon to stifle all such feelings — to 
trample our foolish whims and opinions in the dust, and 
lend our influence to assist in making the law we have, 
potent, by making its execution certain. 

But we reply, this was the same argument used by our 
stern old fathers a century ago, in Connecticut and Massa- 
chusetts, when their fellow men manifested some slight 
signs of aversion to the law that would crop the ears, 
scourge the backs, and bore the tongues of men for 
being Quakers; yea, that would shut them in jails, 
banish them out of the colony, sell them as slaves, and 
hang them on gibbets, simply for worshipping God after 
the dictates of their own consciences. Those who cher- 
ished a little spark of humanity and ventured to say, 
"is not this punishment too severe?" or "is it neces- 
sary?" or, " is it Christian ?" were pronounced "weak- 
minded," and were told that they harbored sentiments 
that were exceedingly injurious both to religion and the 
State. A magistrate of Boston, less than one hundred 
years ago, rendered his name everlastingly odious to all 
men of the "sterner stuff," by humanely giving back to 
his victim, a part of the ear he had officially shorn off, 
that the mutilated member might be restored and made 
whole. Yes, in criminal jurisprudence, humanity was 
everywhere deemed a weakness and a damning evil. 

* From Rev. W. Y. Emmet's Thoughts on the Death Penalty. 


So in theology; pity for the damned was a mark of fee- 
bleness in mind and faith. Even for a woman to weep 
over the endless burnings of her own (non-elect) infant 
child in the flames of hell, was deemed childish and 
wrong. But the natural feelings and affections of the 
human soul would, at times, burst out from the iron 
shackles of a stern and unrelenting creed, and assert their 
claims in startling tones of sympathy and denunciation. 
Hence exclaimed Dr. Edwards, in rebuking this spirit: 
" What has more especially given offense to many, and 
raised a loud cry against the doings of some preachers, 
as though their conduct was intolerable, is their fright- 
ening innocent children with talk of hell-fire and eter- 
nal damnation. But do not these people believe^ in com- 
mon with the whole country, that they are by nature 
children of wrath and heirs of hell? And that every one, 
whether he be young or old, is exposed every moment to 
eternal destruction, and wrath of Almighty God? This 
complaint and cry, then, about frightening little children, 
betrays a great deal of weakness and inconsideration."* 

But did the stern rebuke of the Church, or the united 
influence of creeds and the clergy stifle and put out 
the fires of tender affection, which God himself had 
kindled upon the altar of every mother's breast for the 
child she bears, and that pillows upon her breast? Oh 
no! It has exerted its supremacy; — it has saved the 
object of its affection and solicitude — it has made it an 
angel of light and crowned it with immortal glory. 
Nothing short would satisfy the longings of the affec- 
tionate mother for the happiness of her offspring. So 
with the sentiments that prevailed with reference to the 
criminal. They were stern and cruel. But humanity, 
enstamped upon the souls of -God's creatures, directed 

* Jonathan Edwards of Connecticut, in 1750. 


by intelligence and a more divine religion, lias asserted 
its claims. It has grown in the human heart, till now 
it manifests reluctance to destroy the life of a fellow 
creature for any crime, and asks, " Is it necessary to kill 
this brother? Can we not put him to a better use? Is 
the act Christian?" And this is called ^^ weakness.''^ 
And we are admonished to stand right up to the demands 
of the law, and choke men, and women, and children, 
with strong nerves and willing hands, without waiting 
to inquire into the necessity or expediency of the act. 
But would men have us go back to the days of heathen 
barbarity? Would they have us kill simply because our 
fathers killed, or out of a spirit of revenge ? This will 
never do. Rather let us keep our eyes fixed upon Christ, 
the glorious star of Bethlehem — have faith in his law as 
the best and safest, and follow "upward and onward " in 
the light of benevolence and justice. God forbid that 
we should leave the. "light of life," and go back into 
the "darkness of death!" Men will not go back. This 
is evident. The march of the intellect and the heart is 
forward. Hence, we repeat, the Death Penalty cannot he 
enforced, in most of our States, only in rare cases. 

How unwise, how impolitic, to retain a law which 
involves interests so important, with which the public 
mind has no sympathy, and which, therefore, cannot be 
executed; for so long as it cannot be executed, it defeats 
the very object it is designed to effect. The principal 
object of the gallows is to protect society against the 
assassin. But, instead of this, as we have seen, it stands 
directly in the way of such protection in consequence 
of the difficulty to tonvict the offender; and if not con- 
victed, he is liberated ; whereas, if the penalty were im- 
prisonment for life, juries would convict — all reasonable 
minds would approve the law — public sympathy would 


beat in its favor — it would be effective, for all law is 
trebly strong which comports with the moral sympathy 
of the community — the offender would be secured, and 
thus society would be protected. 


The wise men of England and France have seen the 
operation of the principle involved here, and have grad- 
ually softened their penal codes to keep pace with the 
growth of humanity and intelligence, till, instead of 
having nearly two hundred offenses punishable with 
death, upon their statute books, there is but one crime for 
which they actually kill at the present time. 

Says an English writer: "Such was the effect of the 
Death Penalty on the public mind, that the leading juries 
of the country looked on perjury as an amiable weak- 
ness^ and even valued themselves on an act which shakes 
purity and justice to the very center." Though sworn 
to return a verdict " according to the law and the tes- 
timony," they did not scruple to falsify their oaths and 
go counter to the law and the testimony, to save the life 
of the offender. 

Lord Suffield, in a speech to Parliament, on this 
subject, in 1834, said that he "held in his hand a list 
of five hundred and fifty -five perjured verdicts, delivered 
at the Old Bailey in fifteen years, beginning with 1814 
and ending with 1829, for the single offense of stealing 
from dwellings, the value of the goods stolen being in 
these cases sworn to be above forty shillings, the penalty of 
which was death." How did the jurors save the offend- 
ers? As follows. They were under the necessity of 
pronouncing them guilty, but at the same time they re- 
turned the value of the amount stolen less than forty shil- 


lings. No matter what was sworn to be the amount 
stolen, this was invariably the verdict. 

A woman was proven to have stolen a ten pound note 
— that or nothing. The jury found her guilty of steal- 
ing thirty-nine shillings. A man was convicted of steal- 
ing a pocket-book containing bank notes to the amount 
of eighty pounds, and drafts to the amount of twenty; 
the verdict was, " guilty of stealing thirty -nine shillings.^^ 
The same verdict was given in the case of a woman con- 
victed of stealing, on her own confession., gold coins, to the 
amount of sixty- three shillings, and other money to the 
amount of forty-four — to wit: ^'■stealing thirty-nine shil- 
lings.^^ Even the judges sympathized with the condition 
of the offender, and often suggested to the jury what 
verdict to return. In one case, a man had stolen a val- 
uable watch. Lord Mansfield, feeling anxious to save 
his life, directed the jury to bring in its value at ten 
pence. "Ten pence! my lord," exclaimed the anxious 
owner, "why the very fashion of it cost me fifty shil- 
lings." "Perhaps so," replied his lordship, "but we 
cannot hang a man for fashion's sake;" and the verdict 
was returned as directed. 

"Some years since, "says the London Morning Herald^ "a 
man was tried at Carnovan for forgery, to a large amount, 
on the Bank of England. The evidence was as satisfac- 
tory to the guilt of the prisoner as possible, and brought 
the charge clearly home to him. The jury, however, 
acquitted him. The next day the same individual was 
tried on another indictment for forgery. Although the 
evidence in this case was as conclusive as in the former 
one, the jury acquitted the prisoner. The Judge (Chief 
Baron Richards,) in addressing the prisoner, expressed 
himself in these remarkable words: "Prisoner at the 
bar — although you have been acquitted by a jury of your 


countrymen of the crime of forgery, I am as convinced 
of your guilt, as that two and two make four." A short 
time after the conclusion of the sessions, I met with one 
of the jurymen, and expressed to him my surprise at the 
acquittal of the man who had been tried for forgery. 
He immediately answered me in the following words: 
"Neither my fellow jurymen nor myself had the least 
doubt of the prisoner's guilt; but we were unwilling to 
bring in the verdict of guilty, because we were aware 
that the prisoner would have been punished with death 
— a penalty which we conceived to be too severe for the 

Such was the feeling against Capital Punishment in 
England. And the consequence was, that during nine 
years, out of eight hundred and eight committed on cap- 
ital offenses, no less than three hundred and thirty-four, 
or nearly one-half, were acquitted. While of five hundred 
and fifty-eight persons committed on charges not capital, 
only fifty-seven, or a little more than one-tenth, were ac- 
quitted. England perceived the unfavorable operation of 
a law so stringent; that it was unsafe, and, therefore, im- 
politic. She, therefore, raised the capital indictment to 
sixty sMlUngs, instead of forty. But this would not an- 
swer. Juries simply put the amount stolen to fifty-nine 
shillings, instead of thirty-nine, thus saving the offender. 
She then wiped all such laws from her statute books, and 
to her surprise discovered from actual experience that 
this act of clemency did not increase, but actually less- 
ened the amount of crime. For now villians could be 


The experience of France corresponds with that of 
England. Speaking of French juries, M. C Lucas, an 


eminent French jurist, says: "There is scarcely a list, 
at the present day, which does not contain men who 
experience a conscientious, and almost invincible repug- 
nance, to send one of their fellow beings to the scaffold." 

In 1832, an alteration in the penal law of France em- 
powered juries to state, in their verdicts of guilty, that 
the crime was committed under extenuating circumstances. 
When this is done in capital cases, the punishment is 
commuted to a milder penalty. Now mark the result : 
In a single year, (1834,) out of one hundred and thirty- 
six verdicts of guilty in capital indictments, one hundred 
and eleven had the qualifying clause in them which saved 
the offender's life. Only twenty-five out of the hun- 
dred and thirty-six, were sentenced to be executed, and 
six of these received a commutation of punishment. So 
that only nineteen, less than one-seventh^ of the whole 
number, suffered the extreme penalty of the law. 

Suppose, now, that this were the law in Ohio, or Ken- 
tucky, Indiana or New- York, how many verdicts of 
guilty, in capital cases, would be returned without the 
extenuating clause to save the offender's life ? Judging 
from " what we know," every man is ready to answer, 
^^ not one.'' For all this corresponds precisely with the 
history of criminal jurisprudence in our own coun- 
try, as the criminal records of Ohio, New-England, 
New- York, Pennsylvania, and all the southern and 
western States, will testify. 

For instance, the only crime punishable with death 
in Pennsylvania, is wilful murder. Now, from the year 
1795 to the year 1845, there were one hundred and 
eleven persons brought before the court for the city 
and county of Philadelphia, charged with this offense. 
Of these, only ten were convicted. The remaining one 
hundred and one were acquitted, and returned to society. 


How eflfectual is the gallows in the protection of society 
m Philadelphia! 

But look again. Man-slaughter, robbery, arson, rape, 
and highway robbery are not punishable with death in 
Pennsylvania. During the time stated above, viz : from 
the year 1795, to the year 1845, five hundred persons 
were brought before the same court, charged with these 
crimes. Of these three hundred and forty-four were 
convicted, and only one hundred and fifty-six acquitted. 
How great the difference, and how much more certain of 
conviction. Is there not good reason for believing that 
if the penalty for murder had been imprisonment for 
life, instead of the gallows, a much larger number of 
those charged with this crime would have been convict- 
ed, and thus secured ? 

From all this we must see that the Death Penalty in 
our country, is unsafe, impolitic, of no utility, and is not 
necessary to individual or social protection, but is the 
direct and positive means of the escape of tens of thou- 
sands of guilty men and women, and should, therefore, 
be abolished. 




The Gallows believed to he indispensahle as a Preventire against Crime— Is a terror 
to Evil-Doers— This is an Error— The reverse is true Facts adduced in Proof— The 
Gallows is hidden from the Public in fifteen States— Lecount's Execution— Certainty 
of Puuishment more salutary than Severity -Opinion of Jurists How it worked iu 
Englandand other Countries— Interesting Incidents— Testimony of Kantoul and Liv- 
ingston—Proofs Conclusive. 

In this stage of our investigations, the objector is dis- 
posed to remind us of what he deems a very important 
fact in connection with this question, viz: that the 
gallows is indispensable as a preventive against crime. It 
is an example of "terror to evil doers" — a dreadful 
"warning to the offender," and thus a safeguard to 

This is the opinion, we are aware, which has almost 
universally prevailed from time immemorial. But what 
a mistake ! As strange as it may appear to those who 
have given the subject but little investigation, ^ws? the re- 
verse of this is true, as the history of crime in any and all 
countries will testify. Hanging, as an example, is not bene- 
ficial. It will not deter men from crime. It is no warn- 
ing to the offender, but its tendency is to debase, and harden 
the heart; to fan the flame of hatred, and to multiply mur- 
derers instead of diminishing the number, and, for this rea- 
son, should be abolished. 



If executions are so moral in their tendency, and so 
necessary as examples, why hide the gallows from the 
multitude? Why kill the offender privately, in the jail 
or jail-yard, shutting out and positively forbidding the 
presence of any but a favored few, who are permitted to 
be present, by cards of invitation? Twenty years ago, a 
private execution was unknown. Men, and women, and 
children, were strangled in the open streets and fields, 
where the example could be witnessed by from five thou- 
sand to fifty thousand persons. Now, fifteen of our 
thirty-two States have decreed that all executions shall 
be utterly hidden from public view ; none can be admit- 
ted but a select few, such as clergymen, judges, lawyers, 
and newspaper reporters. Three years ago, a man was 
hung in the jail-yard of Cincinnati. Not for twelve long 
years had an example of killing, to prevent the crime of 
murder, been presented in Hamilton county, and deeds 
of blood were becoming uncommonly prevalent. " Some- 
body must be strangled as a terror to evil-doers, or blood 
will run like water." So said the ministers of God; so 
said the dignified judges, and especially loafing, profane 
and drunken policemen and constables. Lecount* was 
accordingly fixed upon as the man to be executed as an 
' example; not because he was guilty of any aggravated 
crime, but because he had been, previously, two years 
in the State prison — had no money, but few friends, 

* Henry Lecoant was executed for killing a man equally as quarrelsome 
and dangerous as himself, in a drunken fight. Strictly, the deed, was 
man-slaughter. The man whom he killed had been intimate with 
Lecount's wife during his absence ; boasted at the time of the fight of 
what he had done, and swore that he would continue his visits in spite 
of Lecoant. With gentlemen, this would have been deemed a sufficient 
provocation for shooting the offender ; and if prosecuted, a discharge 
would have been the result. Lecount was hung, while "Jim Summons," 
who was guilty of a most diabolical murder, and who was then in jail 
under sentence of death, simply looked on, swearing that he " should not 
be hung, for the old man," (his father,) "is rich." He was right— and is 
still living. 


and could as well be spared from society as not, thougli 
his poor old mother, and brothers and sisters, were over- 
whelmed with grief and sorrow at the awful event. 

Hearing that this unfortunate man desired to see me 
on the morning of his execution, I went to the jail-yard, 
and asked to be admitted, but was refused, the keeper 
at the gate declaring that his orders were positive, to 
admit none but those who brought cards of invitation. 
The yard is surrounded by a high and strong wall, but 
the sheriff, to prevent the possibility of any one seeing 
from the windows, and tops of the surrounding buildings 
and trees, had taken the precaution to erect a house, suf- 
ficiently large to accommodate the spectators, over the 
gallows. Thus it was entirely hidden from those without. 
Though early in the morning, when we were there, hun- 
dreds had collected around the yard, and in the streets, 
and on the tops of buildings, in hopes to catch a glimpse 
of the scene within, or hear the creaking of the gallows, 
or listen to some parting words of the doomed man. 
They were a ragged, drunken, profane, cut-throat appear- 
ing crew, of all nations and colors — men, women and 
children, peering through the crevices in the wall — 
smoking, chewing, drinking and cracking jokes, or each 
other's heads. Mothers, with their babes at the breast, 
seemed as intently interested as any persons present. 
Why not admit tJiese^ thought I, as well as ministers, 
judges, lawyers and reporters, as I gazed upon the 
scene before me ? Do they not as really need the exam- 
pie ? A noisy, drunken loafer, surrounded by a throng 
of ragamuffins, was at the gate, contending for his right 
to be let in to see the show. He swore that he had trav- 
eled one hundred miles "to see the fellow swing," and 
that "no man had a better right to a peep at the gal- 
lows!" Why not gratify this man's curiosity, especially 


when the main object of the hanging was to terrify 
evil-doers? Perhaps the effect would be salutary upon 
his heart ! 

Why, the very men who, of all others, need the "exam- 
ple " as a "warning," are denied, by the law itself, the 
benefit of the example. They are ever ready to perform 
their part. "Evil doers " are the persons, of all others, 
to exhibit themselves at a hanging. They are eager to 
witness the dying struggles of a fellow creature. But 
the State says peremptorily, they shall not witness 
them. How inconsistent. First it declares the necessity 
of hanging as an example^ and then it builds a house 
over the gallows, lest the "evil-doer" should witness the 
example. We ask again, why all this privacy? this hid- 
ing the gallows from public view? this strangling of men 
and women in the dark and in a corner? if executions are 
so salutary in their influence^ and so necessary as a terror to 

The truth is, the observing, thinking part of the com- 
munity, especially jurists, have come to know that public 
executions have no salutary effect as "examples," but 
tend to make criminals, rather than reform those already 
made. Vengeance never softens, but always hardens. 
''Satan cannot cast out satan." "The spirit of God " alone 
will accomplish this work. It is not by the influence of 
a revengeful or bloody act, that an unholy passion is 
allayed. If you would have men remorseless, familiarize 
them with blood. Put them in the slaughter-house or 
army. A wretch who was executed in Exeter, Eng- 
land, on being removed from the bar after the sentence 
of death had been passed upon him, exclaimed to the by- 
standers : "I have killed plenty of men to please the 
king, and why should I not kill one to please myself?" 
Another soldier, taken up for wantonly shooting a man 


at Lestwithiel in 1814, in witnessing the horror and ag- 
itation of the peaceful townsmen, very coolly observed: 
" Here is a pretty fuss about killing one man ; why I've 
seen thousands killed. It's nothing!" Executioners, 
however "chicken-hearted," when introduced to the 
awful duties of their avocation, have found themselves 
at home, after a little practice. A writer in witnessing 
the strangling of seven men in Portugal some years since, 
merely for "entertaining constitutional principles," de- 
scribes the scene as follows : 

" One at a time ascended the platform, up a broad flight 
of steps, accompanied by two priests, as in the procession, 
and was immediately placed on the seat, with his back to 
an upright post. The hangman, a miserable wretch, 
walking with a crutch, then secured the legs, the arms and 
body of the unhappy man, with cords; and placing a short 
cord round his neck and round the post, he put the hood 
over the face, and then, going behind the post, intro- 
duced a short, thick stick, and giving it four or five turns, 
produced strangulation. The body was then untied, and 
laid at a convenient distance, and another brought up 
from the foot of the scafi'old, until the whole had suffer- 
ed. The youngest, or least criminal, was executed first; 
and, as each occupied fifteen to twenty minutes, the last 
had to endure, for at least two hours, the horrid sight of 
the sufferings of his fellow prisoners. The mind can 
scarcely imagine a more dreadful state of mental suffer- 
ing. When the whole were strangled, the hangman 
wiped his face^ and^ seating himself in the fatal seat, coolly 
smoked a segar, regaled himself with a hottle of wine, and 
then, placing a block of wood under the neck, proceeded 
to cut off the heads, from which the blood flowed co- 
piously in streams from the platform; then, collecting 
the cords, and coolly wiping the hatchet and knife, on 


one of the white dresses, he left the platform, first throw- 
ing the heads and bodies in a heap, over the iron grat- 
ing below. The fire was kindled, and in a few minutes 
the whole was in a blaze. By six o'clock, the whole was 
burnt to ashes, when a gang of galley-slaves, with irons 
on their legs, took the ashes in hand-barrows, and threw 
them into the Tagus." 

Here was a man who was constantly witnessing the 
"examples" of executions, and behold what an unfeeling 
wretch he became. With how little compunction of 
conscience could he have murdered any man. When the 
guillotine was freely used during the reign of' terror in 
France, children, instead of becoming fearful of its name, 
introduced the practice into their very plays, and amused 
themselves with guillotining cats, dogs and chickens, 
to supply the place of the executions which had become 
less frequent. Here is the direct and certain influence 
of sanguinary punishments. They have never pro- 
duced a deep and solemn impression on the mind, and 
awakened within it kindly feelings and emotions, but 
directly the reverse. In proof of which I will adduce a 
few out of many cases that have occurred both in This 
country and Europe. 


The last man executed in the State of Maine, was 
Safer, who was hung in Augusta, in the year 1834. 
Thousands came from far and near to witness the death 
struggles of the man. Word was circulated just before 
the hour of execution, that he was to be reprieved, when 
hundreds were filled with the most dreadful rage, and 
swore that he should be hung at all events. Drunken- 
ness, profanity and fighting were the order of the day. 
Never before nor since, was Augusta so disgraced with 


rowdyism and crime. A large body of police were 
brought into service, " and the very jail which had just 
been emptied of a murderer, threw open its doors to re- 
ceive those who came to profit by the solemn example of 
U7i execution.^ No less than seven men were placed in the 
very cell from which Safer had just been taken to the 

"On the day of Lechler's execution in Pennsylvania, 
some years ago, the usual scenes of vice and brutality 
were witnessed, and crime flourished rankly on its favor- 
ite soil, the execution ground. Twenty-eight offenders 
of various grades were committed to Lancaster jail that 
night, and many others escaped, or the jail would have 
been overflowed. One of the spectators on his way home 
murdered another, and was arrested, and his limbs con- 
fined with the same irons ivhich had scarcely been laid aside 
long enough by Lechler to get cold. 

"After the execution of Lechler, in Pennsylvania, 
had gratified the people about York and Lancaster, with 
the spectacle of his death, and produced its proper com- 
plement of homicide and other crimes, a poor wretch 
was condemned to die in another part of the State, where 
the people had not been indulged with such a spectacle. 
They collected by thousands — tens of thousands. The 
victim was brought out — all the eyes in the living mass 
that surrounded the gibbet were fixed on his countenance, 
and they waited, with strong desire, the expected signal 
for launching him into eternity. There was a delay. 
They grew impatient. It was prolonged, and they were 
outrageous. Cries, like those which precede the tardy 
rising of the curtain in a theater, were heard. Impatient 
for the delight they expected in seeing a fellow-creature 

* Report of a Committee of the Legislature of Maine in 1835, on a new 
bill with reference io Capital Punishment. 



die, they raised a ferocious cry. But when it was at 
last announced that a reprieve had left them no hope of 
witnessing his agonies, their fury knew no bounds ; and 
the poor maniac, (for it was discovered that he was in- 
sane,) was with difficulty snatched by the officers of jus- 
tice, from the fate which the most violent among them 
seemed determined to inflict."* 

Thomas Barrett was executed in Worcester, Massa- 
chusetts, on the 3d of October, for rape and murder, 
and on the 14th another murder was committed within 
a few rods of the gallows, and not long after a rape in 
the same county, and only a few miles from Worcester . 
and within four months, four cases of capital crime, and 
two of homicide, not capital, were committed within less 
than a day's journey from the place of Barrett's execution. 

Several years ago a man by the name of Strang was 
hung in Albany, New York. A man by the name of 
Kelly went from Otsego to Albany, a distance of seven- 
ty miles, for the sole purpose of seeing Strang executed, 
On his return, he seemed entirely engrossed by the ex- 
hibition he had witnessed. He talked of nothing else 
on the road and at the public houses where they stopped 
for refreshment. 

A man lited in Kelly's house, by the name of Spaf- 
ford, with whom he had had some little difficulty. In 
less than a fortnight after Strang was hung, an alterca- 
tion occurred between Kelly and Spafford, when Kelly 
seized a loaded gun, and shot Spafford through the heart. 
For this offense he was tried, convicted, and executed. 
There was not a particle of evidence that Kelly was in- 
sane at the time he perpetrated the horrid act. Here was 
a case where the spectator hastened to commit the • 

* From the "Expediency of Abolishing the Punishment of Death," by 

• f 


offense, and with the same loeapon^ for which he had just 
seen the terrible punishment of death inflicted. 

On the evening of the day on which Kelly was hung, 
a man by the name of Cooke, in the neighborhood of 
Cooperstown, who was present at the execution, commit- 
ted suicide by hanging. Now, may not the philosophical 
inquirer be permitted to indulge the conjecture that 
the public execution of Strang, instead of tending to 
preserve life, led to the destruction of three other lives? 

Every where the same effects are produced by such 
public exhibitions, designed as examples to detej men 
from crime. 

Not long since, a man by the name of Smith was hung 
in Paris, Kentucky, for the murder of his father. 

The editor of the Paris Citizen, in speaking of the 
event, says: 

" This was the third execution in our county within 
the last thirteen months, and it has convinced us more 
fully, not only of the inutility but of the positive evils 
of public executions. The effect upon the public mind, 
or rather upon a large portion of those who had collect- 
ed to witness the solemn scene, seemed to be the reverse 
of that which would naturally be expected. Instead of 
producing a subdued, solemn, and thoughtful state of 
feeling, it seemed to be the occasion of drinking, merri- 
ment, and riot. We have rarely seen our streets filled 
with a crowd so noisy and unconcerned, and we are in- 
formed that just as the unhappy convict was about to be 
launched into eternity, a rabbit, starting up, was followed 
by the shouts and hallooing of half the company assem- 
bled around the gallows. The number present to wit- 
ness the terrible scene was not large. Much the great- 
er proportion of our thoughtful and respectable citizens 
stayed away as from a spectacle painful and unsuited to 
their taste." 


Yes, and we may add, that this class not only stayed 
away themselves, but kept their negroes away, having 
become convinced that examples of this kind produce 
no salutary effect upon the mind of even the negro, but, 
if anything, render him more perverse and brutal. 
This seems the uniform testimony of observing gentle- 
men with whom we have conversed in and around Paris. 
They have come to regard the influence of executions, 
to be just the reverse of what was once universally be- 
lieved to be indispensable as a warning to the offender. 

We have described the appearance of the multitude 
around the jail in Cincinnati, at the execution of Le- 
count. This man was hung, as we have said, for an 
"example to evil doers." The execution was on Friday- 
On the following Saturday night, in the lower part of the 
city, one man was stabbed, in a bloody affray, and anoth- 
er was shot; and on the following Sunday night, a bru- 
tal murder was perpetrated in a more central portion of 
the city, on the body of a man who was beaten to death 
with clubs. Within two weeks, there were seven at- 
tempts at murder. It is literally true that tJiere was 
moi'e crime cornmitted in Cincinnati, during the three 
months following that execution, than ever before or since for 
the same length of time. 

We do not assert that the execution of Lecount was 
the cause of this state of things : but we do assert that 
the example of his execution, was no "warning to evil 
doers," and that the moral condition of our city was not 
at all improved by this example. The same can be said 
of every execution which has ever taken place in Ohio. 

Two men were hung in Columbus some years since, 
and "the occasion was one of hilarity, obscene jest- 
ing, coarse ribaldly, drunkenness and crime." Pick- 
pockets were present in abundance, and men were cursing. 


fighting, and thieving, at the very moment of the 

"Nearly fifty years ago, a mulatto boy, about 16 years 
old, was convicted of burglary, at Paris, Kentucky, and 
sentenced to be hung. The day of execution turned out 
to be a very cold, wintry day; but, notwithstanding the 
inclemency of the weather and bad state of the roads, a 
great crowd of men, women and children of almost every 
shade of color and of character, assembled about the 
gallows at an early hour, remaining in the cold for a 
long time. At last the sheriff arrived, with the culprit 
riding on his coffin in a two-horse wagon. Stopping 
under the gallows tree, a venerable and worthy Presby- 
terian divine (John Lyle,) got into the wagon, and sung 
and prayed for him; at the conclusion of which, the 
sheriff adjusted the rope, drew the cap over the. culprit's 
face, and hallooed to those in front of the horses, 'Clear 
the way — clear the way,' three or four times. Just then a 
voice was heard in the distance: 'Stop the execution ! 
a reprieve! a reprieve!' A man was seen on horseback 
pressing through the crowd, and when in reach of the 
sheriff, handed him a paper; who, after opening it, 
handed it to the minister. The clergyman uncovered 
the boy's face, called his attention to the reading of the 
paper, and then read aloud ; on which the people showed 
evident signs of dissatisfaction and disappointment. The 
preacher then appealed to the boy; reminding him of how 
he had been snatched from death's door through the in- 
strumentality of the Governor ; and exhorted him always 
to be a good boy; but he was interrupted by the tumul- 
tuous uproar of the rabble, who with oaths were express- 
ing their disappointment. To a young man standing 
near him, the minister said: 'Oh, young man, young 
man, how can you give utterance to such profanity on 


an occasion so solemn ! Are you not glad that the Govern- 
or has reprieved this poor hoy?' 'iVb,' said he, 'I wish the 
Governor was in h — 1.' '0, fie, fie!' exclaimed the 
man of God, and left the ground. The young man contin- 
ued his profane harangue: 'Here,' said he, 'are hundreds 
of us, who have been shivering and suffering in the cold 

for hours, expecting to see that d d rascal hung, and 

now the Governor has set him at liberty and cheated us 
out of the fun. D — n him, I wish both he and the 
nigger were in h — 1!' a sentiment which appeared to 
be popular with the crowd. By this time the boy was 
turned loose, and when he leaped from the wagon to the 
ground, an old colored woman (said to be his mother,) 
caught him by the arm and said: ' Bill, Bill, did you see 
dat dam old prince, (the negro wagoner) jest gwoing to 
drive de cart from under you and hang you ?' 'Yes, I 
seed de dam old rascal; but neber mine, I'll gib him 
h — 1 for dat yet.' This raised a shout among the row- 
dies, and the crowd dispersed." 

I should not omit to state here that this boy was hung 
a year or two after this, in South Carolina. His name 
was Bill Hardy.^ How salutary the effect of the 
gallows ! 

But we turn from all other scenes of this description, 
which have transpired in our country, to mention one of 
a diabolical character, that has just occurred in our 
neighboring state, Illinois. 

A man by the name of A. F. Monroe, was convicted 
of the murder of his father-in-law, at a special term of 
the Cole county court, and was sentenced to be hung, on 
the 15th of February .f On that day, a large crowd came 

*This account was furnished for this work by Mr. Jesse Kennedy, an 
aged gentleman of veracity, who has resided near Paris from infancy, and 
^ras perfectly acquainted with the facts at the time they transpired. 

tFebruary 15, 1856. 


in from the country round about, to witness the "exam- 
ple" about to be presented by the State as a preventive to 
crime. Fathers and mothers came by thousands, bring- 
ing their children, large and small, male and female, that 
they might have the benefit of its "salutary influence." 
But behold, on arriving at the place of punishment, they 
found that the rumor which had reached them at their 
homes, of a respite from the Grovernor, was true. The 
day of execution had been deferred till the 15th of May. 
For this slight cause, the crowd in their rage, broke 
through the wall of the jail, took out the culprit, and 
like a set of infuriated demons, murdered him with their 
own hands. 

The following particulars of this dreadful deed, we ex- 
tract from the (Illinois) State Register. They are from 
the pen of one who was an eye-witness to the shock- 
ing scene: 

"The crowds continued to pour into Charleston all 
that day and the next — men, women and children — in 
all kinds of conveyances, and from all parts of the coun- 
try. By 11 o'clock, on Friday, there were at least 5,000 
persons in town, who came, as they said, "to see the fun!" 

"At 12 o'clock, M., the crowd began moving toward 
the Court House, led on by a man named Cunningham, 
a brother-in-law of the prisoner, who harangued the 
crowd, saying he was willing to postpone the execution 
for a short time, but that the people of Coles could at- 
tend to their own affairs without the interference of the 

"After the speech of Cunningham, a man named 
McNary was called upon, who said, speaking of the pris- 
oner: 'Take him out, G— d d — m him, take him out, 
and hang him.' 

"After the speeches of the above named man and 




others, the Co«fi't House bell commenced ringing, which 
seemed ioMo^ a signal for an attack on the jail. 

"The mob, inflamed and excited by the harangues they 
had heard, rushed en masse to the jail yard, where, yell- 
.hig like demons let loose from the infernal regions, they 
began to make an attack on the north side of the jail. 
Some ten or fifteen minutes after they had commenced 
the attack, the sheriff made his appearance, and address- 
ed the mob for about two minutes, commanding them to 
desist, but made no appeal to the spectators to assist him 
in enforcing the law. The sheriff then disappeared, and 
made no further effort either to resist the mob or to pro- 
tect the prisoner. 

"The mob were about two hours in making a breach in 
the wall of the jail. I think not more than ten or twelve 
men did the actual work, but they were encouraged by a 
large portion of the crowd, who used every means to 
keep up the excitement. During all this time were 
heard the sounds of fife and drum, amid the demoniac 
yells of the multitude. 

"When the breach was made large enough, the prison- 
er was dragged through, badly bruised and insensible, 
amid the deafening shouts of the mob, who immediate- 
ly moved with him toward the square, the fife and drum 
in the meantime sounding. The crowd pressed around, 
and it would have been impossible to know the position 
of the prisoner, had it not been designated by one who 
carried a long staff. 

" The mob then proceeded to the public square, with 
the evident intention of there hanging the prisoner, and 
thus completing their hellish transaction ; but about 
this time I noticed a prominent citizen edge his way 
through the crowd, with the intention, as I supposed, of 
addressing the mob, but in this I was disappointed; 


however, the mass commenced moving froin. the square, 
and the cry immediately arose, 'To the woods, to the 
woods.' ? 

" Immediately the mass moved with the prisoner toward 
the woods. After proceeding about half a mile south- 
west of the square, another halt was made, and those 
most active pressed the crowd back and succeeded in 
making a ring, in which some six or seven held the 
prisoner. In the middle of the ring was a tree, against 
which a ladder was placed, on which a man ascended with 
an axe and trimmed off the smaller branches; the rope 
was now made fast to the tree, and all things appeared 
ready for the blackest outrage which has at any time 
been perpetrated by any people, much less those who 
have claims to civilization. 

"During all this time the prisoner appeared insensible 
of what was going on, being unable to sustain himself 
alone. He appeared like a man who had taken poison- 
ous drugs, which had taken effect upon him ; he did not 
seem to heed the crowd, but would occasionally laugh in 
a wild and insane manner. 

"Again the cry was raised, ' Take him back to jail, 
'Will you hang a dead man?' but some demon's voice was 

heard saying, 'You Gr — d d d cowards, are you afraid 

to hang him after bringing him here.' The prisoner was 
now placed in a wagon under the rope — and again the 
mob hesitated. It seemed that no one could be found 
blood-thirsty enough to adjust the rope to his neck. 
Finally a tool in the hands of others, by the name of 
Thomas Fleming, placed the rope around the prisoner's 
neck, while others held him up. The wagon was pulled 
away and the awful deed accomplished — the victim, as 
he hung, not making the least struggle." 

Here, again, is the "salutary" and " restraining " in- 


fluence of the gallows. What a "terror" it proved to 
3vil-doers! How it softened passion and allayed anger; 
and what a chastening and sanctifying influence this 
scene must have produced on the minds of children and 
youth ! It may be said, that "if the State had executed 
Munroe, the people would not have been enraged!" 
And what does this show but that they came to the place 
of execution with murder in their hearts. The State had 
resolved that the man should die. They had anticipated 
the work of death at that particular juncture, and had 
reflected upon it, until murder grew in their hearts, and 
nothing short of a full realization of their anticipations 
would satisfy them. " String him up !" " String him up!" 
was the brutal cry. The governor said it had been "but 
a few days since the man was convicted. Wait till the 
middle of May." But they could not wait. Their souls 
panted for his blood. They were eager to drink it. So, 
assuming the responsibility, they themselves became mur- 
derers. They killed Munroe with malice prepense. The 
example of the State fanned up the flames of hell in their 
bosom, and every man engaged in that dreadful work, is 
as really deserving the gallows, as the miserable wretch 
whom their revenge strangled.* Now, if the penalty of 
murder had been imprisonment for life, in Illinois, it is 
probable that Munroe, on conviction, would have been sent 
to the penitentiary, and put to work; that the people 
would have kept about their business, without once dream- 

* From all accounts, they were the greatest aggressors. Munroe killed 
his enemy in revenge. The mob killed him in revenge. But Munroe 
contended with a single man, who had an opportunity of defending him- 
self, and who said at one time during the fight, when the by-standera 
proposed to separate them: " Let us alone ; let me kill him." When rtie 
mob came to murder Munroe, a hundred of them engaged in the work. 
They pulled the man, half dead, through a crevice in the wall, mangled his 
limbs, and when he had no more sense than an idiot, strangled the life 
out of him. The deed committed by him was revengeful; that committed 
by them, was revengeful, cowardly and malignant. 


ing of revenging themselves on the wretch, and that thu$ 
the community would have been saved the curse of this 
shocking tragedy, the evil effects of which will be visible 
for years. 


The influence of public executions has been the same 
in England as in this country. We have a mass of facta 
gathered from various English writers, on this subject, 
all going to show the wretched effects of sanguinary laws, 
the most of which we omit for the want of space. 

"Every execution," says Dr. Lushington, in Parlia- 
ment, "brings an additional candidate for the hangman." 
"Wo to society," exclaims Lepelletier, in his report to 
the national assembly, " if in that multitude which gazes 
eagerly on an execution, is found one of those beings 
predisposed to crime by the perverseness of their propen- 
sities ! His instinct, like that of wild beasts, awaits, per- 
haps, only the sight of blood, to awake — and already his 
heart is hardened to murder, the moment he is quitting 
the spot wet with blood which the sword of the law has 

Mr. Wakefield, who was long connected with the New- 
gate prison, London, says: " When I first entered New- 
gate, I had not a doubt of the efficacy of public execu- 
tions, as deterring from crime. By degrees I came firm- 
ly to believe the contrary. Newgate is the very best place 
to form a sound opinion on the subject; that is, my opinion 
as deduced. from facts in the case." 

The editor of the London Morning Herald, a man who 
has given this subject more thought and attention, per- 
haps, than any other man in England, said : " Frequency 
of executions, in any country, is generally followed by a 

* Spear's Essays on the Death Penalty. 


proportionate increase of crime, violence and blood. 
When the Legislature lightly estimates human life, the 
people are apt to undervalue it." 

Says Dr. Dodd: "We constantly hear of crimes not 
less heinous than those for which the criminal suffers, 
heing perpetrated at the place and moment of an execution. ' 
The Doctor himself afterward committed a capital crime, 
and was executed. And one of the same jurors who con- 
victed Dodd, was executed on the same gallows for the 
same offense, within a few months afterward. And 
Fauntelry, who was executed for the same offense, says : 
" I first conceived the design of committing it, returning 
from an execution." 

In an account of the execution of two persons in Lon- 
don, no less than forty arrests were made for the 
SAME CRIME. What a blessed influence hanging must 
have produced on the motley crew in attendance! " A 
pick-pocket being asked by the chaplain of Newgate, 
how he could venture on such a deed, at such a time, 
very frankly replied : ' Executions are the best harvests 
I and my companions have, for when the eyes of the 
spectators are fixed above, their pockets were unprotect- 
ed below.'" 

"The Rev. Mr. Roberts, of Bristol, England, presents 
the astounding fact, that he conversed with one hundred 
and sixty-seven convicts under sentence of death, one 
hundred and sixty-four of whom HAD witnessed EXE- 

T. F. Buxton, the well-known philanthrophist, said, 
, in a speech in the British Parliament : " It is notorious 
that executions very rarely take place without being the 
occasion on which new crimes are committed. "At an 
execution in York, England, in 1844, and at a still later 
one in London, pick- pockets were detected plying their 
trade at the very foot of the gallows." 


" A speaker at a missionary meeting in England, in 
1845, said lie began the day at an execution at the Old 
Bailey, and, continued he, to be convinced of the moral 
effects of hanging, you should have watched the mob : 
all that is licentious^ and filtliy and abominable^ is done under 
the very gallows tree.'^ 

' "An Irishman, found guilty of issuing forged bank- 
notes, was executed, and his body delivered to his fam- 
ily. While the widow was lamenting over the corpse, a 
young man came to her, to purchase some forged notes. 
As soon as she knew his business, forgetting at once 
both her grief and the cause of it, she raised up the dead 
body of her husband, and pulled from under it a parcel 
of the very paper, for the circulation of which he had 
forfeited his life. At that moment an alarm was given 
of the approach of the police ; and, not knowing where 
else to conceal the notes, she thrust them into the mouth 
of the corpse, and there the officers found them."* 

It is also related of a thief who was hung in England, 
in 1827, that on being taken from the gallows, he was 
sent to the dissecting-room, where experiments in gal- 
vanism were tried on him, during which the professor 
was absent for a few moments from the room, and when 
he returned he found the culprit resuscitated, sitting 
upright on the table, and looking wistfully round. On 
his promising to leave that part of the country he re- 
leased him. Only a few months after, he perceived by 
the papers that this same man was to be hung a second 
time, for a similar offense; and he became so interested in 
the case, that he journeyed fifty miles to see him. In 
conversation he asked him how he could possibly venture 
to commit a theft, when he had already been hung for a 

* Livingston makes this statement on the authority of an English gen- 
tleman, who related it at a public meeting in Southampton, England. 


similar crime. "Oh," he replied, "I care nothing for 
the gallows. The truth is, I love to steal, and so I run 
the risk ! When you came into your room and found 
me sitting up and looking round, / was just deciding on 
what I could steal from you of the most value, and with the 
least chance of detection ^ 

This story may be regarded as too improbable to credit* 
But it is well vouched. Many instances, somewhat sim- 
ilar, and equally incredible, are on record. Mr. Rantoul 
relates that at the execution of the notorious pirate, 
Gibbs, a few years ago, in New-York, a witness was pres- 
ent, who declared positively that he had seen him hung 
on a former occasion, for the same crime, at some port 
in South America. He insisted that he recognized him 
beyond the possibility of mistake, by certain peculiar 
marks of identity; and when we consider the not unfre- 
quent cases which have occurred, of resuscitation after 
hanging — (a distinguished physician now in New-York, 
states that he has, in the course of his life, taken part in 
three such cases) — the story is not incredible. At any 
rate, there are numerous cases known, in which criminals, 
who have narrowly escaped death for an attempted crime, 
have made its repetition the first object of their newly 
acquired liberty." 

The following account of a conversation, said to have 
taken place between a convict about to be hung for coin- 
ing, and a clergyman in England, is from the Essays of 
Mr. Spear, on the Death Penalty: 

"Have you often seen an execution?" 


"Did not it frighten you?" 

"No; why should it?" 

"Did it not make you think that the same would hap- 
pen to yourself?" 


"Not a bit." 

"What did you think, then?" 

"Think? why I thought it was a d — d shame." 

" Now, when you have been going to run a great risk 
of being caught and hanged, did the thought never come 
into your head, that it would be as well to avoid the 

" Never." 

" Not when you remembered having seen men hanged 
for the same thing?" 

"Oh, I never remembered anything about it; and if I 
had, what difference would that make ? We must all 
take our chance. I never thought it would fall on me, 
and don't think it ever will." 

"But if it should?" 

"Why, then, I hope I shall suffer like a man — where's 
the use of snivelling?" 

From all these facts it will be perceived that men mis- 
conceive the true philosophy of sanguinary punishments, 
when they argue that they exert a salutary influence by 
restraining men from the committal of crime. The opin- 
ions of keepers of prisons, lawyers, judges, and all men 
intimately connected with criminal jurisprudence, both 
in America and Europe, have undergone a wonderful 
change on this subject, since the introduction and test 
of milder and more humane laws. • Even at the present 
day, when bar-rooms and liquor shops have become less 
common, and temperance more prevalent, a hanging is, 
of all places, the most notoriously drunken, obscene, 
noisy, lighting and immoral. Every newspaper in the 
land testifies to the truth of this declaration. Scarcely 
an account of an execution has reached us from any por- 
tion of our country, for the last ten years, but has con- 
tained a description of attendant rowdyism and crime, 


as the legitimate fruits of the occasion. The law of 
death, as administered even by Judge Lynch, is not a 
sufficient "terror to evil-doers," to prevent them from 
the most dreadful acts of vengeance. During the past 
year, in California, sixty-eight men have been hung in 
the most summary manner, by Lynch law, and yet no 
less than five hundred and thirty-nine murders have 
been committed, some of them of the most atrocious 
character, in the very neighborhood, and, in some instan- 
ces, on the very day of the execution! At no time previous, 
for the last fifty years, have laws so terrible prevailed, 
and their execution been so determined and vindictive, 
and yet in no part of our country has crime been so 
prevalent. And this is the history of all countries. 
Cruel and vindictive laws produce cruel and vindictive 
people. The State should, therefore, ever be cautious of 
her examples. 

" The executioner," says O'Sullivan, "is the indirect 
cause of more murders and more deaths, than he either 
punishes or avenges. He is, in effect, a sort of public 
teacher, both of the doctrine and practice of murder; 
and in the school over which he presides, are but too 
many apt scholars for his instructions to prove unavail- 
ing. 'Sow an execution and reap a crop of murders,' 
is an old proverb, but it is one whose meaning is as true 
as it is terrible." During the reign of Henry VIII of 
England, the penal laws of that country were dreadfully 
severe. Hume bears record that seventy-two thousand 
''great and petty thieves,^^ were executed, for robbery aJone; 
and under Elizabeth, his successor, " rogues were still 
trussed up apace." So that, during her administration, 
nineteen thousand were strangled ; and yet, thei^e never 
was a time in all the history of England when crime was so 
rife. In nearly every town and village, were men 


"strung up." Frequently were they hung in trees, 
where they were left for days as a "terror to evil-doers," 
and yet all this had no effect to deter the offender. 
"Sure, and it's nothing to be hung, when one is used to 
it," exclaimed an Irishman, when going to the gallows; 
" and don't the half of us expect this will be our end ! 
so what matters it whether the gallows claims its own 
this year or next/' 





Men ask for Practical Proof—States and Countries have made a trial of Abolish- 
ment—Result favorable -Trial in Maine Xo Executions in twenty-two years-Com- 
pared with other States Vermont Massachusetts -Michigan -VVisconsin -Effects of 
the softening of Penal Codes in England and other Countries -Effects of Abolishment 
in Tuscany— Tuscany comi>ared with Rome— Effects of Abolishment in Belgium -Also 
in Bombay and Russia— Result decidedly in favor of Abolishment. 

Many persons will trust to nothing short of experience. 
They ask for practical, positive proof. " Society is bad 
enough," they say, "with the gallows; how do we know 
that it would not be worse without it? Has any State or 
country tried the experiment of abolishment long enough 
to determine fairly its moral effect?" We answer, yes. 
But if it had not, that fact should deter no Christian 
State or country from following where Christianity and 
humanity, as well as a wise policy, direct. The time was, 
in our country, as we have seen, when theft was pun- 
ished with hanging. Many were fearful of the experi- 
ment of abolishment; but at last it was tried, and the 
result was favorable. So has it been with the crime of 
murder. In every country where abolishment for this 
crime has been tested, the effect has been to lessen crime. 
So that society is positively less safe with the Death 
Penalty than without it, even if the law is rigidly enforced. 
What an argument is here in favor of abolishment ! Let 
me now appeal to facts in proof of this statement. 



As we have seen during the progress of this work, 
bloody codes have never had the effect to deter men from 
crime. To many minds whose only idea of punishment 
is vengeance, this fact is incredible. Nevertheless it is 
so. When Massachusetts Colony executed men and 
women for stealing forty shillings, robbery, burglary and 
shop-lifting, one would suppose that so dreadful a pun- 
ishment would have totally prevented this description of 
crime. But not so; it was more frequent than now, in pro- 
portion to the population. The softening of the penal 
code had not the effect to increase, but rather to decrease 
the offense. The same result has followed the abolishment 
of the gallows for murder, wherever a trial has been tested. 

Maine. Here for the last fifteen years, the Death 
Penalty has been virtually abolished.* And what is 
the result ? Just what we have said. In no part of our 
country has the crime of murder been so rare. Only 
three persons have been guilty of this foul deed, since 
the change in the law. It is true, that the progress of 
temperance, and, therefore, of civilization, in that State — 
the closing of liquor shops and bar rooms — have had a 
favorable influence in banishing crime, especially the 
most aggravated classes of crime, from among the peo- 
ple. All know that " intemperance is the hand-maid of 
vice." Still, the favorable aspect of society, so far as 
relates to this question, must not be attributed to this 
cause. The present law for murder went into force 
more than ten years previous to the existence of the 
liquor law, and not for more than twenty-two years has a 
man or woman been executed in that State ; and during 
this time but Jive murders have been perpetrated. Now, 

* See the note at the bottom of the 31st page of this work. 


compare Maine with any State in the Union, of the 
same population, where the gallows still remains, and 
notice how favorable is the result to abolishment. Take 
Kentucky, for instance. There have been three execu- 
tions, at different times, within the last thirteen months, 
in the town of Paris alone, in that State; and, during the 
past year, as many as ten murders have been committed 
within the limits of the State.f As many on an average, 
for the last twenty-two years, would amount to two hun- 
dred and twenty. The population of Maine, in 1850, was 
583,169, and that of Kentucky, 982,405. 

A comparison with Ohio or Indiana would exhibit 
nearly the same result. As we have shown, five hundred 
murdersj have been either perpetrated or attempted, in 
Hamilton county, Ohio, alone, in the last fifteen years. 
Wq have no means of ascertaining the history of crime 
in Indiana, beyond the past year. During the past year 
(1855) eleven murders were perpetrated in that State. 
Two months since, three men were hung at once in La- 
fayette. Since that event, two cases of homicide have 
occurred in Indiana. The population of Ohio in 1850, 
was 1,980,329, and that of Indiana, 988,416. 

A comparison, even in New-England States, shows a 
result favorable to Maine. New- Hampshire, with a pop- 
ulation of only 317,976, has employed the gallows on 
several occasions, within the last twenty years ; while 
the number of murders within her borders, has more than 
trebled that in Maine. So in Connecticut, with a pop- 
ulation of a little more than half of that in Maine, men 
have been executed in various parts of the State, from 
time to time; a majority of her population being decidedly 

\ Those killed in Louisville during the election excitement, in the fall 
of 1855, are not included. 
X See note at the bottom of the 160th page of this work. 


in favor of hard and stringent laws, and yet murders are 
far more frequent in that State than in Maine. Three 
months ago, no less than three dreadful murders were 
perpetrated within a short distance of New-Haven. 

Thus is it seen that after a trial of fifteen years, with- 
out the aid of the gallows as a "terror to evil doers," it is 
found that the inhabitants of Maine not only live without 
the fear of having their throats cut at night by bloody 
assassins, as was anticipated by timid men and women, 
when the gallows was abolished, but they positively occupy 
the safest spot, as to aggravated crime, on the American con^ 

Vermont modified her law four years ago, with refer- 
ence to the Death Penalty, and made it very similar to 
that of Maine. The result has proved most satisfactory. 
Crime has not increased; on the contrary it has evidently 

Massachusetts enacted a similar law, in 1852, with the 
same happy results. She has no disposition to go back 
to the usages of a more barbarous age. Her next step 
will be an advance one. We regret to record, however, 
that John H. Clifford, the Grovernor of the State in 1853, 
saw fit to issue his warrant for the hanging of a man 
who was convicted of murder, soon after the modified 
law took eff"ect. The condemned man worked out his 
year in the penitentiary according to the law. He was 
as constant, faithful and orderly as any man in the 
prison, but the Govenor had the power to strangle him *, 
he conceived it to be his duty to strangle him, and so 
the man was strangled. The act was privately perpe- 
trated in the little jailyard at Taunton, Bristol county. 
No one, with the exception of the Governor, and a few 
whose views and sympathies belong to a past age, re- 
garded this deed as either Christian or necessary. Life 


and property were rendered no more secure, nor were the 
manners and habits of the people improved. 

In those States where the gallows has been absolutely 
abolished, the result has proved equally satisfactory. 
These are Rhode Island, Michigan and Wisconsin. 

Rhode Island has had an experience of six years, dur- 
ing which time the population of the State has consider- 
ably increased, while there has been no increase of crime 
— especially of aggravated crime. 

Michigan was the first State in the Union to abolish 
the Death Penalty. She made the change in 1847, and 
as reports have been every where circulated that an in- 
crease of crime was the result, and that the people of the 
State were much dissatisfied with the law and wished it 
abolished, I deem it necessary to present the facts in 
the case somewhat in detail. The reader may rely on 
the correctness of the statements which follow, as they 
are from oiB&cial reports. 

In 1851, such was the report abroad, with reference to 
the practical working of the new law in Michigan, that 
the Secretary of State saw fit to make a statement, in 
which it was shown that crimes of violence had actually 
decreased after the abolishment of the Death Penalty. 
He gave the facts as follows, with reference to the num- 
ber of convictions for murder and manslaughter in the 
State, from 1847 to 1851. 

In 1847, for manslaughter, 1 

In 1848, for murder in the First Degree, 4 

In " " " Second " 1 

In 1849, « " First " 1 

In " « " Second '' 9 

In 1850, no convictions for murder or manslaughter. 

To the question whether murder had been more frequent 



since the law was changed, he replied at length in the nega- 
tive, giving the statistics as follows : 


Exhibiting the number of Indictments found in Michigan 
during the years 1841 to 1850, inclusive, for murder, man- 
slaughter, and for assault with intent to kill — as taken 
from the Attorney General's Official Report. 



41 li 5' 2 1 316 


Oj 0| 1' 1 


2 10 2 

Assault, with intent to kill, 

11 12 12 71 9 12 63 


Total of homicidal assaults. 

16il3 19 ;9 10115,821 

OS O « 

00 00 LP 



Oi 5 

1 1 




lOi 9 13i 8 40 

11114123} 8156 

" The reader will bear in mind that during the period 
included in this table, the population of Michigan was 
rapidly increasing, partly by emigration of the degraded 
poor of Europe, and that many counties which in '41 
and '42 were a wilderness, were filled with an adventur- 
ous, hardy and excitable population in '49 and '50. This 
official statement, therefore shows a most gratifying de- 
crease of crime in Michigan, while it had been increasing 
in other States, where Capital Punishment was most fre- 
quently and certainly inflicted." 

It is true, that in 1852, in consequence of the fact that 
one or two murders were perpetrated by returned Mexi- 
can soldiers, v/ho hal be ome familiar with blood while 
abroad, it was conceived by certain persons whose sym- 
pathies for the institution of the gallows were unyielding, 
that crime was " alarmingly on the increase," and a 
memorial was sent from the Grand Jury of Wayne 

* We are indebted to the "Prisoner's Friend," a valuable monthly Mag- 
azine, edited and published by Rev. C. Spear, of Boston, tor the facta 
recorded above 


County, Michigan, to the Legislature of that State, pray- 
ing for the restoration of that old relic of barbarism. It 
is also true, that that f\iet was employed in the Legisla- 
ture of Massachusetts, New- York, Ohio and probably 
in other States, as an argument against abolishment in 
those States. 

We recollect that in lecturing upon the subject of the 
Death Penalty in 1852 and '53 we were met with this 
statement on every hand: "Michigan has abolished 
Capital Punishment ; and, after a trial of years, has deter- 
mined on reinstating the gallows." But what were the 
facts concerning this memorial ? Let a man* of integrity, 
an old and respected resident of Michigan, answer. He 
saw by the eastern papers how tliis piece of intelligence 
was received and employed by those favoring the Death 
Penalty in New-York and elsewhere ; so he writes to the 
editor of an eastern publication, as follows : 

^'Know all men, that said memorial was born in the 
city of Detroit, in sight of Rev. Dr. Duffield's church, 
the Doctor being the great advocate for hanging in the 
, State. It was recommended to that same Grand Jury 
by the Judge of the County Court of Wayne, he being a 
member of Dr. Duffield's church, and strongly in favor 
of drawing the halter to make men virtuous and orderly. 
The memorial was signed by hut fifteen of the twenty -four 
jurors, and ushered into existence in the darkest spot of 
our State. It was nursed through a short and feeble 
life, by Dr. Duffield and others, but soon died, without 
a relative to mourn its loss, and was buried, to be brought 
forth by somebody in New- York city and other places, 
to answer a bad cause. 

* Rev. J. Stebbins. We have other communications and documents, 
substantiating the above statement; but deem it annecessafy to offer 
thera here. 



''But it will never do. In Michigan a resurrection of 
such a dead body would be more offensive than the dis- 
secting-rooms of a medical college, and not half as 

"This was the 07% memorial presented to our Legisla- 
ture during the entire session ; and this, together with 
Dr. Duffield's sermon in favor of hanging, was smothered 
with remonstrances, and never even got out of the hands 
of the committee to whom it was referred, they finding 
NO CAUSE FOR ACTION. Thus ended the affair now 
brought up to influence legislation in favor of hanging 
in the great State of New- York. Shame! shame! 

"Since the days of that memorial we have had a Con- 
vention and made a new Constitution. In the Conven- 
tion it was thought advisable to let hanging entirely alone. 
Nor is this all. In Detroit there is now, and has been for 
two years, a daily press fearlessly exposing every attempt 
from abroad to support the gallows. And what is a sig- 
nificant fact, this press is the peoples^ a penny paper, 
and has the largest circulation of any paper in Detroit." 

This was the last we heard of the efforts of Michigan 
to reinstate the gallows. The present law works admir- 
ably. A letter is before us from one* long resident in 
that State, and for two years chaplain in the Michigan 
Penitentiary, in answer to enquiries put by us, in which 
the writer says : "There never was a time since Michi- 
gan was a State when its morals were so pure as now — 
never a time when the State was so secure from the 
robber or assassin. In my opinion it would be impossi- 
ble to abolish the present law. Its practical working is 
admirable. Outlaws are brought to justice. They are 
convicted, and, consequently, secured, without effort; and 

* Rev. J. Billings. 


the people consider themselves as safe from the murderer 
when in the Penitentiary as they would were he in the 
tomb. There he is, a living example to all evil doers; 
and experience has proved that he is no more dangerous 
or disorderly than other convicts." 

Wisconsin. The Death Penalty was abolished several 
years ago in this State, and generally the practical opera- 
tion of the present law has been favorable. Not so many 
murders have been committed by fifty per cent^ in that 
State, in ratio to the number of inhabitants, as in some 
portions of Ohio or Kentucky, where the gallows is still 
in vogue. There are men, however, in Wisconsin, who 
have great confidence in the moral power of legal stran- 
gulation. They look upon the murderer with feelings of 
savage revenge. Their hearts pant for blood. They 
say — "hang him;" innocent or guilty, "crucify him! 
crucify him !" This spirit is rife in Janesville. Wiscon- 
sin, so that not long since, a mob arose and seized a 
man when being conveyed from the jail to the court 
room, under trial for murder in that county, and as the 
State had declared that it would not kill him, because he 
had killed, they took the responsibility to perform this 
heroic deed themselves. Amid horrid oaths and the 
most impious imprecations, they trussed him up to 
the limb of a tree and choked the life out of him. 

Now, some persons, both in and out of the State of 
Wisconsin, attribute this lawless deed to the want of the 
gallows in that State ; and say the Death Penalty must 
be reinstated, as if blood was never known to be shed 
where the gallows was in vogue. But how narrow is the 
vision of such men, and how limited their knowledge of 
the real facts in the case ! Let them reflect. Are there 
no mobs or murders where Capital Punishment exists? 
Let them look to Louisville, Cincinnati, Philadelphia^ 


New- York, California, or nearer home, to Illinois.* In 
all these cities and States the Death Penalty still exists. 
And yet how frequent are the most dreadful crimes per- 
petrated. In California not only the gallows is erected, 
but everywhere Judge Lynch presides at the trial of the 
offender and convicts and executes in the most summary 
manner. According to the statistics of crime just publish- 
ed in that State, no less than 68 persons were put to death 
in this way, during 1855, and yet crime has not at all les- 
sened under this severity. On the contrary, it has in- 
creased. In 1854 there were but 390 homicides. In 1855, 
under this lawless and desperate code, there were 538. 

In Wisconsin, there may have been an increase of 
crime, during the last year; but this is no certain 
proof that the cause of this condition was the inefficiency 
of the present law. The result of a single year is no 
positive test in a case like this. The circumstances 
showing an apparent permanent change for the worse or 
better, may be accidental. For instance, during the 
years 1845, '46 and '47 there was but one trial for a cap- 
ital offense in Massachusetts. But in the single year 
1848, there were seven — twenty-one times as many as in the 
three previous years, a result not paralleled nor even 
approached in the case of Wisconsin. And this apparent 
change occurred in Massachusetts without any change in 
the Penal Code of that state. Now if Massachusetts had 
abolished the Death Penalty at the beginning of 1848 
what an argument this circumstance would have afforded 
the friends of the gallows in favor of its restoration. 

Such is the result of abolishment in our own country. 
We sum it up by saying, that in every state of our Union 
lohere the Death Penalty is either practically or really ahol- 

* In Charleston, Coles county, Illinois, a dreadful murder was perpe- 
trated by a mob, similar to that in Wisconsin three months ago. See 
pages 182—6 of this work, where the particulars are described. 


tshed, there is LESS crime of an atrocious character, than in 
those States where it still exists. The feeling of security is 
not, therefore, diminished in consequence of abolishment. 
The law is more in harmony with public sentiment. 
The officers of justice are less embarrassed and more 
prompt in their duties; the guilty can be convicted, and 
when convicted are secured and punished. Let the gal- 
lows be abolished in every State, and the same result 
would follow. 


"When one casts his eye upon the history of crime 
and punishment in modern Europe," says Rantoul, "the 
phenomenon which first attracts his notice is the prodi- 
gality with which the Death Penalty was formerly dis- 
pensed, and the prodigious advance which has been made 
by a milder system of repressive policy during the 
eighteenth and the first quarter of the nineteenth cen- 
turies ; and still more remarkably, during the last thirty 
years. As this mitigation of punishment has been tried in 
every part of Christendom, if any evil consequences had 
followed from it, some one would have been able to point 
them out, and to tell us when, where, how, and how long 
the mischief manifested itself. Yet among more than 
two hundred authors upon this subject, whose writings 
I have examined, I have never found but two who have 
seriously attempted to exhibit the evils which these suc- 
cessive meliorations of the law must have occasioned, if 
those wise men against whose indignant remonstrances 
these changes were effected were right in their prognos- 

. It is immaterial what countries we select as tests in 
our investigations, for everywhere we shall find the results 
subtantially the same, viz.: in favor of mild and humane 
laws. We will begin with 


England and Wales. — The advance of crime was 
never so rapid as in the latter part of the reign of George 
III. In 1814, the committals in England and Wales 
were 6,390, and in 1817 they were 13,932. They had 
more than doubled in three years! And yet more 
crimes were condemned as capital during the reign of 
George III. than in the reigns of all the Plantagenets| 
Tudors, and Stuarts combined, as stern and hard as th<^ - 
were. But thirty years ago or more, through the instru- 
mentality of humane men, Great Britain began to soften 
her penal code ; and it was discovered that no sooner was 
the Penalty of Death repealed for any given crime than 
that crime was at once arrested in its progress, while 
all other crimes continued to advance the same as before. 
For instance; the Death Penalty for coining was repealed 
May 23d, 1832; for horse stealing, sheep stealing, cattle 
stealing, larceny in dwellings, (of £5.) in July, 1832; 
forgery, 15th Aug. 1832; and house breaking, 14th 
Aug. 1833. For these offenses, in the four years ending 
with 1831, there had been condemned to death 3,786 
persons, of whom 66 were executed. 

Now for these offenses, during the time mentioned in 
the table below, the commitments were as follows : 

In three years. 



1827, 1828, 1829, 



1830, 1831, 1832, 



1833, 1834, 1835, 



In this class, the commitments fell 432, or about nine 
per cent., in the three years following the repeal. But 
look at the result for those crimes where the Death Pen 
alty still remained :— 

In three years. 



1827, 1828, 1829, 



1830, 1831, 1832, 



1833, 1834, 1835, 




Here the commitments rose 542, or about thirty-two per 
cent, in defiance of tlie gallows, in six years. 

The result shown above proved the same with refer- 
ence to every crime. For instance, mitigation of the 
Death Penalty, for assaults on females, commenced in 
1835. During the four years ending Dec. 1834, there 
were 14 executions and 520 committals. During the 
next four years, ending Dec. 1838, there were 4 executed 
and 528 committals. To have borne the same propor- 
tion to the increased population, the last number should 
have been 551 instead of 528. Again, mitigation for 
arson commenced in 1837. During the two years end- 
ing in Dec. 1836, there were 9 executed and 148 com- 
mittals; while during the two years following mitiga- 
tion, ending Dec. 1838, there were no executions and 
but 86 committals. 

But though Great Britain has demonstrated in its 
history, the fact, upon the one hand, that sanguinary 
laws always make men bloody and cruel, and upon the 
other, that, clemency on the part of the legislator always 
inspires humanity among the citizens, yet it has never 
cherished sufficient faith in the moral power of clemency 
to wholly abandon the use of the gallows. This event 
will come to pass in a few years. We have presented 
the above simply to show the validity of the philosophy 
* of humanity advocated in this work, and on which the 
*. results which we present are based. 

We now turn to an examination of the effects of the 
law in those countries in Europe where the Death Penalty 
is absolutely abolished for every crime. 

Tuscany. — " Here we find the most satisfactory proofs 
of the practical advantages resulting from the abolish- 
ment of Capital Punishment. The grand duke, Leopold, 
ascended the throne in 1765, and, governed by the en- 


lightened counsels of Beccaria, he commenced a general 
reform of the penal code. After showing that ' the proper 
ohjects of punishment' are 'the redress of injury' and 
* the correction of the delinquent,' and that he ought to 
be 'regarded as a child of the state,' and that his ' amend- 
ment ought never to be abandoned in despair,' he goes 
on to decree in the following language : 

" We have resolved to abolish, and hy the present law do 

abolish, forever, the punishment of death, which shall not 

^ , - be inflicted on any criminal, present or refusing to ap- 

♦ 'wpear, or even confessing his crime, or being convicted of 

any of those crimes which in the laws prior to these we 
now promulgate, and which we will have to be absolutely 
'^ and entirely abolished, were styled capital. 

"Let us now look at the effects of this experiment. M. 
Berenger, in his report to the French Chamber of Dep- 
uties, in 1830, says the punishment of death was abolished 
during a period of twenty-five years in Tuscany, 'and 

• • the mildness of the penal legislation had so improved the 

character of the people there, that there was a time when 
the prisons of the Grand Duchy were found entirely 
empty. Behold enough to prove sufficiently that the 
abolition of the punishment of death is capable of pro- 
ducing the most salutary effects.' Mr. Livingston says, 
' that in Tuscany, where murder was not punished with 
death, only five had been committed in twenty years ; 
while in Bome, where that punishment is inflicted with 
great pomp and parade, sixty murders were committed 
in the short space of three months in the city and 

But it is asked by the friends of the Death Penalty, if 
the milder code was attended with such beneficial results 

# * * We take the above from Mr. Spear's valuable work on Capital Pun- 

ishment. What he says is correct as other documents in our possession 
abundantly testify. 



Jii Tuscany, why was the punishment of death afterwards 
restored? Simply because an enlightened and humane 
sovereign was succeeded by a foreign conqueror and 
despot. All despotism is based on the power of the ruler 
to destroy) hence all despots have been the most decided 
friends of cruel and bloody laws. The mild code of 
Leopold was abolished and the guillotine restored by the 
conquests under Napoleon, a man who never studied the 
philosophy of clemency, but deluged all Europe in blood. 
"What better could have been expected ? The heart of a 
lamb is not found under the skin of a tiger. After his 
reign terminated and the power of his government was 
lost in Tuscany, the Death Penalty was again abolished, 
and on the day of abolishment the people showed their 
joy by "rushing en masse for the guillotine, not to put it 
in operation, but to commit it to the flames, and the bells 
rung a merry peal." 

Russia. — In Russia the punishment of death is never 
inflicted. The Empress Elizabeth ascended the throne 
in 1741. At that time she pledged herself never to de- 
stroy human life for crime ; a pledge which was faith- 
fully kept during her entire reign. Catharine followed 
her example, and Nicholas governed by the same humane 
principle. And what has been the result after a trial of 
more than one hundred years, during which the Death 
Penalty has been inflicted in that immense realm con- 
taining 62,000,000 of people only on two occasions? 
Why, the most satisfactory. The least number of murders 
are perpetrated in Russia of any country on the globe of the 
same population. Count De Segur made this declaration 
on his return from that country in 1791 saying that 
Catharine herself had several times said to him : " We 
must punish crime without imitating it; the punishment 
of d^ath is rarely anything but a useless barbarity." 


Is it not singular that enlightened England and France 
have not, even yet, opened their eyes to the truth of this 
important fact? So satisfactory has been the trial of 
abolishment, in Russia, that the reform has been carried 
into Finland. 

" Experience demonstrates," said Elizabeth, " that the 
frequent repetition of Capital Punishment never yet 
made men better. If, therefore, I can show that, in the 
ordinary state of society, the death of a citizen is neither 
useful nor necessary, I shall have pleaded the cause of 
humanity with success." 

" By her mildness and clemency," said Catharine, "she 
did more to exalt the nation, and gave the fathers of her 
country a more excellent pattern, than that of all the 
pomps of war, victory and devastation." Well did a 
Russian writer exclaim : — 

" Blush ! ye countries of a longer civilization, that 
Russia should teach you the celestial principle of reform- 
ing depraved morals, not by the sanguinary execution oi 
inexorable justice, but by the mild and divine precepts of 
heavenly mercy."* 

Belgium. — We have full and accurate tables of crime 
in Belgium both before and after abolishment, but our 
limits will not permit us to give them in detail. The 
result there, however, after a trial of years, has been most 
satisfactory. The Penal Code was once exceedingly 
severe and executions common in that country, and, as 
a necessary consequence, crime was rife. With the de- 
crease of executions, as in other countries, crime di- 
minished. Thus in nineteen years, ending with 1814, 
there were 533 executions, 399 of which were for mur- 
der, or 21 per annum; the law was then softened, and for 
the next fifteen years there were 72 executions and but 

* Spear's Essays on Capital Punishment. 



114 Mutders, or only 8 per annum. Capital Punislini^nt 
li^as then entirely abolislied, and for the next five years 
thete were no executions and but 20 murders, or only 
four per annum. How remarkable the change, and how 
hard to credit with many; and yet it is the very result 
which a true philosophy warrants, as we show in our 
tiext chapter. 

Bombay. It is thought by many that the gallows 
may be safely dispensed with in a highly civilized com- 
munity, but is indispensable in countries with a rude 
and ignorant population. Experience has taught, how- 
ever that strangling or beheading, burning or crucifying 
men or women, is just as unnecessary and impolitic with 
one people as with another, while the moral influence is 
equally pernicious. Bombay is an Island in British 
India. It was obtained by the Portuguese in 1530 from 
an Indian chief and was ceded to Great Britain in 1661. 
Its population is nearly 200,000 of whom 120,000 are 
Hindoos, 40,000 Mohammedans, 12,000 native Christians, 
15,000 Parsees and only about 5,000 English. And yet 
among this mixed and ignorant population, of Hindoos, 
Mohammedans and Parsees, — in the midst of heathen 
darkness, with but scarcely a ray of Christian light, it was 
found by actual experiment that killing for crime was 
utterly useless. On this point we have abundant testi- 
mony, but a single statement must suffice. It is taken 
from the farewell charge of Sir James Mackintosh to the 
Grand Jury of the Supreme Court of Bombay, July 20, 
1811. He says: 

" Since my arrival here, in May, 1804, the punishment 
of death has not been inflicted by this court. Now, the 
population subject to our jurisdiction, either locally or 
personally, cannot be less than two hundred thousand 
persons. Whether any evil consequence has yet arisen 
from so unusual (and in British dominions unexampled) 


a circumstance, as the disuse of Capital Punishment, for 
so long a period as seven years, or among a population 
so considerable, is a question which you are entitled to 
ask, and to which I have the means of affording you a 
satisfactory answer. 

"From May, 1756, to May, 1763, (seven years,) the 
capital convictions amounted to one hundred and forty- 
one, and the executions were forty-seven. The annual 
average of persons who suffered death was almost seven, 
and the annual average of capital crimes ascertained to 
have been perpetrated, was nearly twenty: 

"For the last fifty years the population has more than 
doubled, and yet from May, 1804, to May, 1811, though 
we had no capital execution, there have been but six 
convictions for murder. Murders in the former period 
with executions were, therefore, nearly as three to one to 
those of the latter, in which no Capital Punishment was 

"This small experiment has, therefore, been made with- 
out any diminution of the security of the lives and prop- 
erty of men. Two hundred thousand men have been 
governed for seven years without a capital punishment, 
and without any increase of crimes. If any experience 
has been acquired, it has been safely and innocently 

Here, then, are the results of abolishment. To what- 
ever country we turn our attention we find the same 
fivorable response. Are not these facts significant? Let 
not our States, then, longer be "faithless, but believ- 
ing." Cicero said, many centuries ago, "Away with the 
executioner and the execution, and the very name of its 
engine ! Not merely from the limbs but from the very 
thoughts, the eyes, the ears of Eoman citizens." Shall 
American Christians of the nineteenth century say less 
with reference to American citizens ? 





Validity of our Philosophy doubted— Kindness in the government of Home and the 
Family— A State or Nation a Family— Want of faith in Goodness to overcome Evil— 
The Philosophy of Christianity and Humanity harmonious— Saying of the French Sage — 
Kxample of the State— Conversation of the Monk and the Executioner -Influence of 
bloody Examples -Sacredness of Human Life should he enforced — Early training of 
Children— The (Quakers free from Crime -Children Of Newgate Criminals. 

The facts wliich we present in the preceding chapter, 
will astonish many persons who have given the subject 
but little attention, or whose education has been such 
that their prejudices are wholly enlisted on the side of 
stern and inflexible laws for criminals. Some will doubt 
the validity of the philosophy upon which the reform we 
advocate is based, and say it is impossible that a mild and 
lenient government should possess the power to prevent 
crime, that is found in a stern and uncompromising ad- 
ministration of justice. Even fathers and mothers who 
have long since learned the necessity of love and kind- 
ness in the government of home and the family, and who 
are certain from daily observation that those children 
are the most disobedient and cruel, who are educated 
under the most stern and cruel authority, will doubt the 
philosophy upon which they base all their hopes in do- 
mestic discipline, when they come to apply it to the gov- 
ernment of a state or nation and say, "w?e dare not trust 
itr But what is a state or nation but a family? And 
we may be certain that whatever principles will exert a 


healthful moral influence on the minds and hearts of our 
children, will exert the same influence on the minds and 
hearts of men and women, who are but children of a 
larger growth. The philosophy of humanity is in har- 
mony with the philosophy of Christianity, and is, there- 
fore, in favor of abolishment. Every principle begets 
its like, " The grace of Grod that bringeth salvation to 
all men hath appeared, teaching us that denying ungodli- 
ness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously 
and godly in this present world."* Grod's grace or love 
will produce this efl'ect, but wrath, hatred, never. " The 
goodness of Glod leadeth thee to repentance ;"f not his 
vengeance. Christ was once charged with casting out 
devils by Beelzebub the prince of devils ; but he denied 
the possibility of such a thing by showing that Satan, 
could not cast out Satan, or in other words, that evil 
could not allay or destroy evil, but only the Spirit of 
God — or goodness. Hence the injunction: "Be not 
overcome of evil, hut overcome evil with GOOD;"]; which is 
the only principle which can overcome evil. 

Now, in the philosophy of these Christian declarations 
will be found an explanation of the seeming mystery con- 
nected with the facts recorded in the last chapter, with 
reference to the eff'ects of clemency. Cruelty and retali- 
ation fan up the fires of hell in the soul, while forbear- 
ance and gentleness allay them and awaken only 
thoughts of repentance and aspirations for a more virtu- 
ous and holy life. The lesson of the French sage is a 
true one; " Une loi rigoureuse produii des crimes^' — harsh 
laws, beget crimes; and said Bentham: "If the legisla- 
tor be desirous to inspire humanity amongst the citizens, 
let him set the example; let him show the utmost respect 
for the life of man. Sanguinary laws have a tendency 

* Tit. ii : 11. t Rom. ii : 4 J Rom. xii : 21. 


to render man cruel, either by fear, by imitation, or by 
revenge. But laws dictated by mildness humanize the 
manners of a nation and the spirit of government." 

Douglass Jerrold, in his "Lessons of Life," gives a 
conversation between a monh and a hangman in Paris, as 
follows : 

"Ho! hold you there, Father — ^example.'' 'Tis a 
brave example to throttle a man in the public streets, on 
the gibbet. Why, I know the faces of my audience as 
well as Dominique did. I can show you a hundred who 
never fail at the gallows' foot to come and gather good 
'example.' Do you think, most holy Father, that the 
mob of Paris come to a hanging as to a sermon — to 
amend their lives at a gibbet ? No : many come as they 
would take an extra dram ! it gives their blood a fillip — 
stirs them for an hour or two ; many to see a fellow man 
act a scene which they must one day undergo ; many 
come as to puppets and ballet-singers at the Point Neuf ; 
but for example^ why, father, as I am an honest execu- 
tioner, I have, in my day, done my office upon twenty, all 
of whom were constant visitors, of years standing, at my 
morning levees around the gallows, to witness the jerk 
and the struggle. That was the effect of a 'good example' 

Here is exhibited the philosophy of sanguinary punish- 
ments; as an example, they harden and demoralize the 
soul, and prepare men for deeds of revenge and blood. 
When the state kills, it authorizes and sanctions the 
work of death. Naturally, man has a horror of taking 
human life. His instincts revolt at it, and his frame 
shudders at the thought of it. It is not the old and ex- 
perienced soldier who trembles at the blood and carnage 
of the battle field, but the man whose sympathies have 
not been blunted by these dreadful exhibitions. Let 


ih€ men, women and, children of any community become 
familiar with the work of death as sanctioned by the state 
in the execution of oflfenders, and their horror of blood- 
shed will gradually but certainly diminish, and they 
themselves will kill if they have what they deem sufficient 
provocation. The state has set the example. Duelling, 
bloody affrays and murders, are fostered and sustained 
by the gallows. This is wrong. The state, in its dignity, 
should teach a lesson to every man, woman and child, 
just the reverse. Both by its laws and its examples, it 
should carefully maintain and enforce the sacredness of 
human life; teaching that retaliation and vengeance be- 
long alone to a savage state; that to kill men because 
they have killed is but perpetrating the same evil ; that 
it is better to suffer wrong than do wrong, and that clem- 
ency, forbearance, gentleness, are more divine, ennobling 
and blessed than retaliation and vengeance. 

In every instance where a state or nation has exhibit- 
ed such an example it has operated upon the people like 
leaven on meal, assimilating their hearts gradually but 
surely to its own divine nature. The officers of prisons in 
Belgium testified, that from "their experience the abolish- 
ment of Capital Punishment tended greatly to soften the 
disposition of the mass of the people." The same report 
Gomes from Russia and Tuscany. Such a thing in Maine 
as a murder is very uncommon; and the consequence is, 
when one occurs the whole community is shocked in its 
every nerve ; while in California, where executions are 
almost of daily occurrence, the fact that a man has 
been murdered is received as coolly as the news of his 

What a true philosophy calls for as a preventive to 
murder and protection against it is, not the gibbet---not 
the blood of the offender, but correct moral senti- 



Let the State see to it that it sets the proper example^ 
and let all parents instil into the minds of their children, 
from their very infancy^ this reverence for human life, 
and they are effectually armed against deeds of blood to 
the last moments of their existence, as the consideration 
of a single fact will be likely to convince them. The 
Quakers, or Friends, are very particular in the education 
of their children on this point. Their religion utterly 
forbids the practice of war, duelling, hanging, or the de- 
struction of human life for any consideration. In their 
very infancy their children are impressed with this im- 
portant truth ; while always, in more advanced age, they 
are strictly forbidden to attend an execution, or mingle 
in the company of those who are familiar with crime. 
Now is it not probable that if all children were educated 
in the same principles we should have no need of gibbets 
or State prisons. How seldom is a Quaker arraigned 
for crime; and what is remarkable, there is no account on 
record of a murder committed by one of this sect. Here is 
the influence of early training and a correct moral senti- 
ment. On the other hand, the fact is notorious that 
those who have been guilty of the most villainous 
crimes were familiar with criminals and scenes of blood 
when young. An English writer records it as a fact, that 
some of the most desperate assassins ever incarcerated in 
the prison of the Old Bailey, in London, or hung be- 
neath its walls, were the children of parents who resided 
in the alleys and courts in that vicinity and who were con- 
stantly about the prison and witnesses of every execution that 
occurred. Thousands transported to Botany Bay, took 
their first lessons in crime at that place, and beneath the 
very shadow of the gallows. 


Thus have we demonstrated that the philosophy of 
Christianity is the best possible, as the basis of all 
human governments. Let us have faith in it and prac- 
tically adopt it. " Overcome evil with good.'^ Would to 
God that men, especially Christian men, could give up 
the devil^ as an incentive to purity, and confide more in 
the moral power of God — or goodness 1 





Three ejects of Punishment— Keformation— Example— Reparation— What Punish- 
ment is— "W hat Revenge is— The Christian Law -Strangling Men will not Reform them 
—It is not an Example of Good— It cannot restore the life of the murdered Victim. 

The gallows does not subserve ajiy of the great objects of 

This is our concluding reason for its abolishment. It 
is the last, but by no means the least in importance. 

There can be but three proper objects of punishment 
which are these, viz: First, the reformation of the offender ; 
Second, an example for the benefit of others; and Third, 
restitution or compensation. 

The first is the most important and legitimate object 
of punishment, which always implies correction. "Pun- 
ishment is the infliction of pain in consequence of a neg- 
lect or violation of duty, loitli a view to correct the evil." 
Hence, endless pain, or pain that results simply in the 
death of the body, is not punishment, for the reason that 
there can be no opportunity for correction. The apostle 
declares that " No chastening for the present seemeth to 
be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth 
the peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which 
are exercised thereby."^ But if we "chasten" a man by 
strangling, or burning, or shooting him, what opportunity 

»Heb. XV. 11. 


has lie for amendment. Christianity recognizes all men 
as brethren of one great family, and it demands that in 
devising punishments its votaries should be Careful to 
adopt those only which will reclaim the vicious. The 
command is: "If thy brother be overtaken in a fault 
restore such an one;" not that we strangle the life out of 
him. Thus is it enjoined upon us to exert ourselves to 
rectify and soften the disposition of our brother; to cor- 
rect whatever there is wrong in him, and raise up in his 
soul a power that shall be sufficient to counteract the 
power of future temptation. And can this be done by 
hilling him? How unchristian is this whole system! If 
our brother is overtaken in a fault we say, " hang him I 
string him up ! He has broken the law of God and man 
and deserves to be killed !" If he asks time for repentance 
we say, "give him no time!" "He is a murderer, and 
should die!" So we kill him, whether he is prepared 
for the great change or not. Now this is not punishment. 
Rather is it revenge^ which is "the infliction of pain in 
consequence of the commission of injury, with a view to 
gratify a malignant passion'^ Should Christians ever be 
controlled by malignant passion? 

The second object of punishment mentioned above, is 
example for the good of others. We might pause here to 
argue the right of society to kill one man for the good 
of others, but though the principle involves an absurdity, 
and, therefore, is not, and cannot be legitimate, this 
is not the place for its discussion. Our object here 
is to show that the gallows does not subserve any of 
the great objects of punishment. As we have seen, 
killing a man does not reform him ; and we come now 
to say, that though we may kill him as an example, 
for the good of others, to deter them from crime and 
thus purify society, the practical operation of the act is 



found, by universal experience, to produce a condition 
the very opposite of that which we desire; viz., instead of 
its being an example for good^ it is an example for evil^ 
as we have abundantly proven by an appeal to facts^ 
during the progress of this work.* 

The third object of punishment is. Restitution or Com- 
pensation. It is no more than right, if a thief steals my 
purse, or a robber enter my house and carry off my prop- 
erty, that he be made to restore it. I am aware that this 
principle is not recognized in our penal codes. A man 
may steal a thousand dollars, be convicted and serve out 
his time in the penitentiary, return to the world and be- 
come wealthy; but the law does not demand that he re- 
store the stolen property. This is wrong. Individual as 
well as general interests should be recognized and taken 
care of by " the powers that be." Reparation should be 
made. Both the law of Moses and the Christian rule de- 
mand it. " If a man shall steal an ox or a sheep, and 
kill it, or sell it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox, 
and four sheep for a sheep. "f 

Now, if the principle of restitution were incorporated 
into our penal codes, and offenders should be made to 
recompense a fair equivalent, either in money or by their 
labor in prison, those whom they had wronged by theft 
or robbery, it would not only approve itself to their minds 
as an act of reason, but it would enforce a lesson of 
justice^ which must prove beneficial, while at the same 
time it would serve, in part, as punishment for the 

But what we desire to say in this connection is, that 
even if our penal codes were based on the principle in- 
volved here, the killing of one man could never restore the 

* See the xii. chapter of this work, in which this point is fully discussed, 
t Exodus, xxii. 1. 


life of his murdered victim. It could not give back to the 
weeping widow and sorrowing children, the slain hus- 
band and father. He is gone, and the sacrifice of ten 
thousand lives could not restore him to the arms of those 
beloved, or return him in health to society. No repara- 
tion can be made for this dreadful deed save it be by 
the positive repentance of the heart of the murderer, 
manifested in a constant desire to employ a whole life 
of labor for the welfare and happiness of those who 
specially suffered by the death of the slain victim. Thus 
do we see that all the legitimate aims of punishment are 
denied by the gallows. Strangling men on the gibbet 
till they are dead will neither reform them, prevent 
others from the committal of crime, nor bring back to life 
the murdered victim. 

Now, with all these plain reasons against the Death 
Penalty, shall we still continue it upon our statute books? 
*' I speak as unto wise men, judge ye what I say." 



The Murderer not fit to Live— Give him time to Repent, then hansr him— Not enti- 
tled to Live -Sufferings of the Innocent -Interestin^c Incident -Lecount and his Mother 
— Col. Hayne and his Son— James Dawson and his intended Bride- Conclusion. 

"We close what we have to offer in this work on the 
Death Penalty, by a consideration of a few objections 
which are sometimes brought in favor of the gallows. 


But is he fit to die? May be you are a professed Chris- 
tian. Be cautious ; you tread on dangerous ground here ! 
Suppose the sentiment so generally taught in Christian 
books and Christian pulpits be true; viz: that the sinner 
who dies with his soul unregenerated by the power of the 
Holy Spirit, will be consigned to a hell of infinite and. end- 
less anguish, can you have it in your heart to hasten his 
exit from this state of probation? He is a murderer; 
and "ye know that no murderer hath eternalMiQ abiding 
in him!"* I appeal to you, fellow Christian, in the name 
of mercy, and of Him from whom you expect mercy, I 
ask, will you hasten the doom of the wretched victim? 
You have him safely secured by bolts and bars. He can 
no longer injure any living creature. Will you deny 
him the poor boon of life a little longer? It may be he 
is innocent. Will you take him from his stone cell, from 
his wife and children, from father and mother, and thrust 

1 John iii. 15. 



him speedily out of lite, where he mi<2:ht have repeated, 
down into a never dying hell, where repentance can 
nfiver, NEVER come ? 


Yes, you would give him time to repent : — you woulu 
prepare his soul for the purity and bliss of heaven ; make 
of him a saint fit for glory, and then with your Christian 
hands strangle the life out of him on a gibbet. Yes, if 
he were innocent you would do this, if you conceived him 
to be guilty. You would do it for your " brother in 
Christ." Many a Christian has been thus strangled by 
the hands of Christians: — In our own country, the act is 
perpetrated every year or month — whilst the " minister of 
God" stands by, with Bible in hand, and pronounces the 
doomed culprit a "hopeful subject of immortal felicity." 

Now, to us there appears but little really Christian or 
necessary in all this. " As I live saith the Lord, I have 
no pleasure in (he death of the sinner THAT repenteth, 
hut rather that he shonld turn and Hve.^^ If God has 
no pleasure in the death of a repentant sinner, why 
should man ? Why should society ? Christian society ? 
especially when the offender is now a pure, good Chris- 
tian with a heart full of love to God and love to man, 
and, therefore, just jit to live. How singular that we 
should conceive it either necessary or in harmony with 
the demands of Christianity to kill one who, after weeks 
or months of prayerful exertion, God has converted into 
a saint. He is no longer a murderer, but a brother 
Christian. Why should we kill him? "If thy brother 
trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven 
times in a day turn again to thee saying, I repent; thou 
shall forgive himj^'^ The friend of the gallows will give 

♦Luke xvii: 4; 


the murderer time to repent, he says, but after he repents, 
what then? Will he "forgive" him? Not he. But he 
will administer to him the eucharist in his stone cell, then 
lead him, with a halter about the neck, to the gallows, 
make a hypocritical prayer over him, pull down the cap, 
give the hangman the wink, and as the drop falls and 
the body of his brother sways to and fro convulsed in 
death, he rolls his eyes up to heaven and asks God to 
have mercy on his soul, when he himself will have no 
mercy, not even on his body, for in an hour it will be cut 
down and sent to the dissecting room. 

It may be said here that this same argument may be 
employed against the law that would imprison the re- 
pentant criminal. We answer, that the two cases are 
not parallel. Strangling or beheading or shooting a fel- 
low creature is a work of blood and vengeance, and the 
worst and most unchristian use you can put him to: 
while by a proper imprisonment, he is taken on a sort of 
probation, and may be instructed, disciplined and blest, 
through the very means of confinement. Indeed, as we 
shall show in the second part of this work, this should 
be the leading object of punishment by imprisonment. 

"but the murderer is NOT ENTITLED TO LIVE." 

Would you say that, my Christian friend, if he were 
your father, or husband, or brother ? Oh, my Grod, how 
heartless and inconsiderate we are! "When we see a 
man led to the gallows," says a thoughtful Christian 
writer of England, we should say, " there goes my father 
— there goes my son." If this were the spirit which 
pervaded society, could we say, "the murderer has no 
claims to life ? Why should we be so indiflFerent to the 
wretchedness that is the necessary consequence of hang- 
ing, simply because those who suffer are strangers to us? 


Every man who is executed holds endearing relationship 
with some one. "Is th.a,t i/oiir child?" asked a gentleman 
in the streets of Boston, of a woman who, at the peril of 
her own life, had saved a little child from death by a run- 
away team of furious horses; — " No sir," she replied, — 
"it is not iny child, but it is somebody s child !" Every 
man who is executed is somebody's child; and no matter 
how low fallen he is in sin; no matter how degraded 
and wretched he has become, the heart of the parent 
still clings to him. Society may say that he has no 
claims to life; it may condemn him and strangle him, 
but the parent, the wife, the child, cannot give him up. 
I have seen enough of the wretchedness brought upon 
the innocent in consequence of the execution of the 
guilty. The day before the unfortunate Lecount was 
hung in Cincinnati, three years ago, I visited his cell to 
sympathize with, cheer, and strengthen him. He had 
just received the following message from his poor old 
mother, residing in Dayton, member of the Methodist 
Church, and now seventy-five years of age. "Oh, my 
son, my son, would to Grod I could die for thee, my son! 
my son !" Every member of the family was in agony 
for days and weeks. They could not sleep for thinking 
of the dreadful fate of the doomed man. How many 
thousands of innocent persons have dreadfully suffered 
from the same cause. It is recorded of Col. Hayne, of 
South Carolina, who was taken by the English during 
the American Revolution, that he was thrown into prison, 
loaded with chains, and afterward condemned to death. 
His son, who was permitted to remain with him, was over- 
whelmed with consternation and grief. His father en- 
deavored to console him. "To-morrow," said he, "I set 
out for immortality ; you will accompany me to the place 
of my execution : and when I am dead, take my body, 


and bury it by the side of your mother." The youth 
here fell on his father's neck, crying, " Oh, my father, 
my father, I -will die with you! I will die with you!" 
The next morning Colonel Hayne was conducted to the 
place of execution. His son accompanied him. Soon as 
they came in sight of the gallows, the father strengthened 
himself, and said, "Now, my son, show yourself a man! 
That tree is the boundary of my life, and of all my life'a 
sorrows. Beyond that, ' the wicked cease from troubling 
and the weary are at rest.' Don't lay too much at 
heart our separation ; it will be short. 'Twas but lately 
your dear mother died. To-day I die. And you, my 
son, though but young, must shortly follow us." " Yes, 
my father," replied 'the broken-hearted youth, "I shall 
shortly follow you, for, indeed, I feel that I cannot live 
long." And his melancholy anticipation was fulfilled in 
a manner more dreadful than is implied in the mere ex- 
tension of life. On seeing his father in the hands of the 
executioner, and then struggling in the halter, he stood 
like one transfixed and motionless with horror. Till 
then, proceeds the narration, he had wept incessantly; 
but soon as he saw that sight, the fountain of his tears 
was staunched, and he never wept more. He died insane; 
and in his last moments often called on his father, in 
terms that brought tears from the hardest hearts. 

Hundreds of such incidents are on record. Some 
years ago, a young man by the name of James Dawson, 
with eighteen others, was executed in England for trea- 
son. At the time, he was strongly attached to a young 
lady to whom he expected to be wedded on the very day 
of his death. 

"Not all the persuasions of her kindred could prevent 
her from going to the place of execution. She was deter- 
mined to see the last hour of a person so dear to her ; 


and accordingly followed the sledges in a hackney coach, 
accompanied by a gentleman nearly related to her, and 
one female friend. She got near enough to see tfi^.fire 
kindled which was to consume that heart which she ^ 
knew was so much devoted to her, and all the other .■'^ 
dreadful preparations for his fate, without being guilty 
of any of those extravagances her friends had appre- 
hended. But when all was over, and she found that he 
was no more, she drew her head back in the coach, and 
crying out, 'My dear, I follow thee — I follow thee'— 
sweet Jesus, receive both our souls together !' — fell on 
the neck of her companion, and expired in the very 
moment she was speaking." 

Here we gather a glimpse of the wretchedness brought 
upon the innocent through the instrumentality of the 
Death Penalty. Would we then trample every vestige 
of mercy under our feet and strangle the life out of our 
fellow creatures, without regard to others whose hearts 
are full of affections, simply because we have conceived 
the idea that they are not entitled to life? It was once 
said that the burglar, the thief, and the robber were 
not entitled to life, but, thanks to Grod, that day of dark- 
ness has passed and a brighter and more hopeful has 

In conclusion, then, I would say, my fellow Christian 
— or fellow mortal — for we aife all mortal whatever our 
views — let us study and labor for the advancement of 
humanity. If the gallows is not a Christian institution, 
— if it is not neccessary — if it endangers the lives of the 
innocent — if it will not secure either individual or pub- 
lic safety — if executions are deleterious — if their influ- * 
ence is only to harden the heart and multiply crime — in 
a word, if we have proven what we have attempted in 
this work, why should the gallows exist a single day 



longer in any State in our Union of States ? Down witli 
it, then ! It belongs not to the present, but to a darker 
age. If we are Christians let us trample under our feet 
the very epirit which sustains and perpetuates it, and in 
future look only to the cross of Christ for light to direct- 
us. We need have no fears to go where he leads; for 
he is the " Way, the Truth, and the Life." If we base our^ 
laws upon Hh law of mercy and justice we shall be cer- 
tain of securing the best good of ourselves and our fel- 
low men. 

" The quality of mercy is not strained ; 

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven 

Upon the place beneath ; it is twice blessed ; 

It Uesseth him that giveth and him that takes ; 

'Tis mightiest in the mightiest ; it becomes 

The throned monarch better than his crown ; 

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, 

The attribute to awe and majesty, 

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings. 

But mercy is above the sceptred sway ; 

It is enthroned in the heart of kings ; 

It is an attribute of God himself; — 

And earthly power doth show likest God's 

When mercy seasons justice." 



The Prison of the Eighteenth Century. — Page 234. 




Crime in New-York City, Philadelphta. ami the United States -Crime in Great Bri- 
tain and France -Crime in Ciiristendom-Kive Hundred Tiiousand Criminals in tlie 
Christian World-What shall be done with tliem— Mad-Hoxises in the Past— Prisons in 
the Past— Treatment of Prisoners Regarded as lnmjraM<i -Dreadful Cruelty, 

In New- York city, during the year 1855, nearly 
34,000 arrests were made"; in Philadelphia, 38,657; in 
Cincinnati, 12,560 ; in Boston, 13,200 ; and in other 
cities nearly tlio same, in ratio to the population. A 
large portion of those arrested were discharged ; while a 
large portion were guilty only of small offenses. In 
1850, according to the United States Census, the peni- 
tentiaries of this country contained 5,646 convicts, while 
prisons of every description contained 40,000 criminals. 
In England and Wales, during the year 1853, there were 
27,057 commitments to the various prisons for crime. 
In addition to this, it is estimated that London contains 
1^)0,000 vagrant men and women; that is, men and 
women who have no steady employment — who are cor- 
rupt in their morals, poor, filthy, intemperate, and 
many of them wretchedly loathsome. Paris, 20,000. 
New- York has nearly 4,000, Philadelphia 3,500, and 
Cincinnati 1,500 of this class. Following in their foot- 


^ ^^ 



steps, there are 60,000 vagrant children in London and 
Paris, and nearly half this number in the three large 
American cities above named. These children obtain 
no instruction from our schools, though our school- 
houses are always open for their reception. They are 
poor, ragged, corrupt, vicious, and fast approaching the 
moral and physical condition of old offenders. These 
vagrant men, women and children, live chiefly by petty 
thieving. They never steal large amounts, but are guilty 
of pilfering any small thing upon which they can lay 
their hands and turn to immediate use. The parents of 
such children not unfrequently instruct them in the art 
of thieving, so that from this class come thousands of 
our most adroit pick-pockets and burglars. 

In the foregoing we have mentioned only a few great 
cities of the Christian world. These classes exist, how- 
ever, in every city, town and country in Europe and 
America, and nearly to the extent, in ratio to the popu- 
lation, which we have mentioned. So that from these 
partial statistical facts it will be perceived that in a pop- 
ulation of 250,000,000, which is said to be the present 
population of Christendom, there must be, at least, 500,- 

000 human beings, young and old, guilty of various 
degrees of crime. What an army ! And what are the 
demands of Christianity with reference to these classes ? 

1 write for all, but especially for Christians. Our States 
are professedly Christian States — our government a 
Christian government. I put the question to every 
Christian who reads this book, " What shall he done with 
these classes of our fellow-creatures?^^ And the question 
is one of exceeding importance and fraught with in- 
terest, not only to the criminal classes themselves, 
but to a??, for individual security and happiness are in- 
separably connected with the purity of public morals ; 


and besides this, no man can tell how soon the question 
may interest him personally. His own son — or daugh- 
ter — may soon be numbered with transgressors. We ask 
again, what shall be done with these classes? 

We know what was done with them a brief time ago — 
and what IS done with them in our day; and both the 
past and the present are full of prophecy for the future. 
In the past, men, Christian men, looked on criminals as 
voluntary enemies of mankind; and treated them, not 
as weak, or dull, or unfortunate human beings, but as 
beasts. Even lunatics were treated in the same spirit. 
"Mad-houses were simply stone pens, or jails, encom- 
passed by high and gloomy walls — without a tree or 
shrub, or blade of grass; without shade in the heat of 
summer, or protection from the cold of winter ; with the 
hard, stony soil worn into hollows from the restless feet 
that trod it; and the only luxury there, a bench fastened 
to the wall with massive iron rings above it, so that even 
in the open air, force, instead of care, might rule the 
wretched inmates." Into these places, and iron cages, 
were the unfortunate creatures thrust, and there kept in 
nakedness and filth. If restless, they were chained with 
iron and beaten with whips. If they gnashed their teeth 
and tore their hair, and raved, they were beaten all the 
more, as if madmen were not our brethren, but devils. 
And what was the result? Were these wretches cured of 
their madness? Was their condition bettered? Not at 
all. Such results were never contemplated. But what a 
change a few years has wrought! "Now," as one has ex- 
pressed it, " lunacy is a disease, to be prescribed for as 
fever or rheumatism. When we find an incurable case we 
do not kill the man, nor chain him, nor count him a 
devil. Yet lunacy is not curable by force, by jails, dun- 
geons, and cages; only by the medicine of wise and 


good men. What if Christ had met one demoniac with 
a whip, and another with chains !" 

So with the criminal. All men regarded him, but a 
few years ago, as iiicurahle, and worse than worthless — 
deserving only to be thrown into some wretched prison, 
or tortured, then killed,: and buried in a dunghill. 
Criminals were scourged and mutilated and branded with 
red-hot iron — but never instructed, improved and blessed 
as the religion of Christ and a common humanity de- 
mand. The whole apparatus for punishing the offender, 
from the guillotine and the faggot down, was founded in 
the spirit of revenge and force, and never in love and 
attraction. Jesus never drives any body into his king- 
dom with whips and torture. His language is not go, 
but come: "Come unto me all ye that labor or are heavy 
laden." How then could the system of punishment 
ipraeticed by our fathers have been Christian ? 

Behold the prisons of Europe, but a single century 
^go ! What was the design for which they were erected? 
;Was it to safely keep the offender ; to treat him kindly; 
to convince him of his error, instruct, reform and bless 
him, and send him back to the world when his term of 
service expired, a better husband, or father, or son, and a 
more worthy citizen ? By no means. 

This is an idea, what we have learned of it, of modern 
origin. Prisons, even of a comparatively recent era, as 
we have seen during the progress of these pages,* were 
simply dungeons of incarceration, into which men and 
women were thrown only to be abused and hidden from 
society. The most inhuman monsters were often 
appointed as keepers, and comfort or even kindness was 
seldom experienced by those whose misfortune or offense 
had placed them within the power of these men. 

*Seo pwijes 36—7, extrnot £rom Maoaulay. 


All history attests to the fact that " torture in every 
variety; chains, stripes, solitary confinement in dark- 
ness, dampness and idleness ; promiscuous crowding of 
offenders of every degree of guilt in the same loathsome, 
pestilential, narrow vaults ; insufficient and unwhole- 
some food ; filth, illness of the body and sickness of the 
soul, are among the cruelties which have been inflicted, 
in every age, on the doomed criminal — whether guilty 
or innocent, as a punishment for his ofi'ense."* Where 
were the sympathies, where the wisdom of the Christian 
world during these ages ? Where was the spirit, where 
the example of the blessed Jesus ? 

It was not till the last century that society manifested 
sufficient interest in the class of men of whom I am speak- 
ing, to inquire into their condition, or even ask if it 
could not be bettered ; and it was then aroused from its 
lethargy mainly by the eff'orts of a single man. There 
were, indeed, previous noble examples of attention to 
those who were sick and in prison. The names of Carlo 
Borromeo, Claudius Bernard and St. Vincent De Paul 
are all bright with deeds of humanity. But their good 
acts were confined mostly to particular localities. Not so 
with those of the immortal Howard, a man whose name 
will live in the hearts of the humane, so long as sin and 
suffering afflict our earth. He conceived that the whole 
system of criminal punishment was based on a wrong 
principle — that the cruelty men endured in prison was 
not only unchristian but wrong in itself, and he went 
about the work of reform. From the year 1773 to 1790 
— the year in which he died — he spent his whole time in 
visiting and inspecting prisons, first in England, Ire- 
land and Scotland, and afterwards throughout Europe, 
and in endeavoring to ameliorate the condition of pris- 

* Encyclopcedi* Americana, Vol. X. p. 342. 


oners guilty of every degree of crime. In this sublime 
employment lie chose to apply the fortune with which ho 
was favored ; and when he disclosed to the world the suf- 
ferings and atrocities which everywhere prevailed in pris- 
ons, all Christendom was filled with horror and indigna- 
tion. Thoughtful and Christian men were astonished at 
their own indiflference ; and even those who exercised 
control over prisons showed by the guilty consciousness 
with which they shrank from the revelations of the cru- 
elties committed under their authority, that they felt 
themselves accountable for the most dreadful outrages 
and wrongs, notwithstanding they were supported by 



What shall we do with the Criminal?— He belonf?s to the Body -Politic— Christ th« 
Head of every Man— Sentiments of Christians still destitute of Sympathy— No Patienca 
for the Criminal -Patience of Christ- Patience of God— Story of Abraham and the 
Sinner— Imperfection of Humanity -God the Common Father— VVe are all Members of 
the same Family -Christ came to Bless all, especially the Sinful and Unfortunate— Wo 
are taught to do rOK them, as well as with them. 

By the preceding chapter we get a glimpse of what 
was done with wicked men a little while ago. But the 
question returns what shall we do with them? They are 
still among us — the hardened criminal — the drunken 
vagrant — the young in crime — the degraded female — and 
thousands of vagrant boys and girls, as we have seen, in- 
habiting filthy cellars and garrets in our large cities — 
candidates for the jail and penitentiary. These are all 
in our midst and are so many members — corrupt mem- 
bers, but none the less members — of the " body politic." 
What shall we do with them ? 

There are yet those in society who say, '' they are 
worthless ; cut them off and cast them away ; the sooner 
we are rid of them the better." But is this Christian ? 
Is it best ? Would you sever the finger with a felon, or 
the foot containing a sore, so long as the surgeon gives 
promise of cure ? Would not amputation weaken the 
body and throu^ sympathy injure its circulations ? 
The Sandwich Island savages once had a custom of kill- 
ing their old men and women, because through age and 
weakness, they were a tax on the efforts and strength of 
the younger. But that was a heathen custom. We are 



Christians. We are "all members one of another." 
Christ is the Head of every man ; he died for all, 
even for the most corrupt members of the great body of 
humanity! Why, then, should any man — any Christian, 
especially — say, cut off these base members forever 
from all intercourse with humanity, truth, goodness and 
happiness — hang them on a gibbet — plunge them into 
dungeons — show them no pity — no mercy? Ah, Chris- 
tian reader, do i/ou not expect mercy at the hand of Grod ? 
You have " no patience," you say, '' with wickedness." 
No patience with those, even, who would strive, as Christ 
did, to better the condition of these perishing ones. 
*' Why show sympathy for a thief?" you ask. " Why 
talk, and preach, and speculate about, and strive to bless 
those whom God has cursed ? Why build ' magnificent 
prisons' for the comfort of such men ? and expend mil- 
lions to better their condition ? This is all mock sym- 
pathy, and lean have no patience with it." 

But would this be your feeling, this your declaration, 
if your father, or son, or brother were a convict? And 
has it never occurred to you how easy it is for human 
nature to yield to temptation ? and how possible it is for 
even you to become a criminal ? Many professed minis- 
ters of Christ, who once scouted all kindness and sympa- 
thy for the wretched offender, are now inmates of our 
penitentiaries. '' Who art thou, man, that boasteth? 
Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." 

Are you a Christian, and yet refuse to show mercy to 
those out of the way ? Have you studied the history and 
teachings of your Master? Was he ever out of patience 
with the wretched criminal ? Has he not instructed you 
to visit those who were in prison ? and behold his sym- 
pathy for the miserable thieves as h^ hung upon the 


cross. Even in the midst of malediction lie only blessed. 
You have no patience ; and yet behold the patience of 
Jesus, and of God the Great Sovereign of the universe, 
" It is not the will of your Father which is in Heaven 
that one of these little ones should perish." When all 
had become wicked — all had gone out of the way — when 
"there was none good, no not one," God was not impa- 
tient, but he sent his only begotten and well beloved Son 
to die for the world as an example for man, and to com- 
mend his love to his great family. 

** O, for grace our hearts to soften. 
Teach us, Lord, like thee to love ; 

We forget, alas, too often, 
What a friend we have above. 

Hear the story of Abraham and the sinner, and learn 
a lesson of patience and humiliation : 

" And it came to pass that Abraham sat in the door of 
his tent, about the going down of the sun. And behold, 
a man bent with age, came from the way of the wilder- 
ness, leaning on a staff. And Abraham arose and met 
him, and said unto him, turn in, I pray thee, and wash 
thy feet, and tarry all night ; and thou shalt arise early 
in the morning and go on thy way. And the man said, 
nay, for I will abide under this tree. But Abraham 
pressed him greatly. So he arose and turned and they 
went into the tent. And Abraham baked unleavened 
bread and he did eat. And when Abraham saw that he 
blessed not God, he said unto him, Wherefore dost thou 
not worship the Most High God? And the man an- 
swered and said, I do not worship thy God but mine. 
And Abraham's zeal was enkindled against the man, and 
he arose and fell upon him and drove him forth with 
blows into the wilderness. 


And God called unto Abraham, saying, Abraham 
where is the stranger? And Abraham answered. Lord 
he would not worship thee, neither would he call upon 
thy name; therefore have I driven him out from before 
my face into the wilderness. 

And God said, have I borne with hiuL these hundred 
and ninety and eight years, and nourished him and 
clothed him, notwithstanding his rebellion against me, 
and couldst not thou, thyself a sinner, bear with him even 
one night f 

I know that we profess to be Christians, but how little, 
after all, do we cherish and practice what is Christ-like. 
How little do our criminal jurisprudence and our feel- 
ings toward the guilty partake of the nature of the Chris- 
tian religion — a religion which recognizes God as a com- 
mon Father, and all men as brethren — belonging to the 
same great family, possessing the same physical and mor- 
al nature; subjects of the same temptations, and destined, 
ultimately, to the same immortality. All are sinful. 
Perfection is not known to mortality; but some are more 
sinful than others — not innately, but from a difference in 
organization, circumstances and education. This is the 
history of man from the beginning. The weak and the 
strong, the righteous and the wicked, the rich and the poor 
mingle together, and the Lord is the maker of them all. 
Christianity contains the Father's instructions for the 
government of his family. He would have them all 
happy, all blessed ; and to this end he makes it the duty 
of the strong to assist the weak; the righteous to bear 
with and reclaim the wicked; and the rich to sympathize 
with and aid the poor. We gaze upon the loathsome, 
ragged vagrant — diseased externally and internally — or 
upon a herd of offenders against the laws of God and man, 


huddled in jail, or at work in the penitentiary, with guilt 
and self-abasement enstamped upon their features, and 
we saj, " they are doomed objects of the law's vengeance, 
good enough for them — no matter how cruelly they are 
treated — they are not entitled to the sympathy or aid of 
good men!" But what a violation is this of the spirit 
and teachings, the history and death of the blessed 
Jesus! How did he labor for the little ones and the 
weak of earth's children. How kind was he to tne un- 
thankful and the evil. Follow him from city to city, 
over the mountains and along the valleys of Judea; 
Bee him in the hovels of the poor — the abodes of wretch- 
edness — in the cells of the prisoner — and every where 
and always is he laboring for the doomed millions of 
God's family. It is for these that he specially toils. " I am 
not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance."^ 
" They that be idJioU need not a physician but they that 
be sifA;.f" "The spirit of the Lord is upon lue, because 
he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor; 
he hath sent me to heal the hroTcen-hearted^ to preach de- 
liverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the hlindy 
. . . . and to set at liberty them that are Lruised.'"X 

The classes that we have mentioned are wicked and 
dangerous — they lack moral principle — and are some- 
times even desperate. Society has a right to secure 
them — to punish them. But it has no right to go beyond 
the dictates of mercy and justice and punish with ven- 
geance. It has no right to debase one of its members any 
more than is absolutely necessary to the attainment of 
its design. It has no right to endanger the health or the 
intellect, or injure the remaining principles of any, even 
the most abandoned and desperate; but it should mete 

* Matthew 9: 13. t Matthew 9: 12. X Luke 4: 18. 



out punishment ivith an eye single to the good of the offender 
and public security. This is the demand of the Christian 
religion. It will allow nothing short. The criminal is 
unfortunate. If there is a weakly born, or wayward, un- 
fortunate child in the family, will the good parent, or 
brother or sister, cast him out and curse him? Would it 
not rather be a dictate of kindness and wisdom for all the 
family to unite their energies to instruct, improve, cor- 
rect and bless him? And this is precisely what Chris- 
tianity asks of you and me and all concerning our weakly 
organized, sinful and unfortunate brethren and sisters of 
the human race. And thus does it demand of us to do 
something for them, a truth which the great mass of 
Christians have yet to learn. They have conceived that 
if they have dorie aioay with them; they were performing 
their whole duty. " The Son of Man came not to destroy 
men's lives but to mve them." 

» Luke 9: 66. 



Crime in Embryo— Abandoned Vagrant Children— 22,000 in N. York City— Dogma of 
Total Depravity False and Pernicious— Necessity of a Proper Culture— Good Seed and 
Soil in every Soul— How can we expect those educated in Depravity to bring forth 
Fruits of Virtue and Holiness -Interesting Incident at Long Island Farms— What 
the State is doing to Crush these Little Ones Doing Nothing for them— Children seven 
years old in Jail-What it should do in their behalf— Ohio Penitentiary -New-York— 
Massachusetts— Vermont— Benevolent Societies— They are not Sufficient. 

Having shown the demands of Christianity and a com- 
mon humanity with reference to the classes of sinful 
beings we have enumerated, let us now proceed to state 
more definitely their condition, and what society is doing 
and should do in their behalf. And we begin where it is 
proper we should, viz : with abandoned vagrant chil- 

Think what a child is — i/our child — what it may be 
with a careful tender culture — what it is likely to be if 
abandoned to the temptations and wickedness of the 
world, and answer your own conscience if it is not the 
duty of the strong, the rich, the guardians of Christian 
society, to see to it that no child of this great family be 
left to perish for the lack of a home, kindness and profit- 
able instruction? And yet, how sad is the thought that 
every great city contains thousands, some of them tens of 
thousands, who are thus abandoned. Abandoned! How 
little of Christ is in that word! Did He ever abandon 
any of the great family, young or old, no matter how 
sinful or wretched ? And yet, all over the world, there 
are thousands of men and women, and even little chil- 
dren, abandoned by one another and by all men, to the 



lust of liellisli passions; to crime and to a career of sin, 
degradation and death. 

During tho year 1854, there were more than 10,000 
arrests and 6,000 commitments of boys, and 12,000 arrests 
and 7,000 commitments of girls in the city of New- York 
alone, between the ages of jive and fifteen. Grreat God ! 
what a thought! Twenty-two thotisand children of this 
description in Ohrisiian New-York! Think of the vice 
— the young depravity — the taint and moral desolation — ■ 
the blasphemy, obscenity, drunkenness, wantonness — the 
rags and filth connected with these thousands, and the 
history of a life of crime, suffering and death which may 
follow, and if you have tears — weep ! 

Do you say — as many Christians have said, our fathers 
and mothers especially — that "these vagrants are born 
to crime — are full of evil — totally depraved — no one can 
benefit them — send them to the prison or the gibbet, they 
have no claim on our humanity!" But would you say 
this were your child or your son's child included ? And 
he may be ; who knows? Can you say it, and possess the 
spirit of Christ ? Was jBe ever thus heartless? These 
children are depraved, sinful, wicked, but in their nature 
no more so than others. We visit the dark and narrow 
alleys of our great cities, where dwell hogs and filth — we 
enter the wretched cellars and garrets, and if we remain 
for any length of time, we may discover an exhibition of 
human nature most depraved and sorrowful to contem- 
plate ; but just what any man of sober judgment would 
expect under the circumstances. 

The soil and the seed of virtue — of pure and generous 
emotions and principles — as well as their opposite, are 
in the nature of every child. What they need is care 
and culture. The moral development of the child 
depends almost wholly on this. 


'Tis Education forms the common mind, 
Just as the twig is bent the tree^s inclined. 
The abandoned outcast children we have described, 
whose mouths are full of blasphemy and bitterness, 
whose hearts are steeped in iniquity, and whose features 
are written all over with cunning, trickery and embryo 
villainy, perhaps have never listened to the words of 
persuasive kindness, or beheld a virtuous example. In 
the language of the Psalmist, " They were shapen in in- 
iquity and brought forth in sin." The curse of poverty 
— an awful curse — is upon them. Their parents may 
have died or forsaken them in infancy, or, what is worrie, 
may linger in drunkenness and crime. They extend 
not to their children the care and affection common to 
parents. They give them no good counsel. They put 
up no prayers in their behalf. They never send them 
to school or to the house of God ; but, instead, 'positively 
instruct them in the ways of depravity and the arts of crime. 
There are thousands of children of this description in 
Cincinnati at this moment, from five to fifteen years of 
age, who have never seen the inside of a school-room, or 
heard a lesson in virtue, but whose entire existence has 
been in the service of depravity, in which they were ed- 
ucated by their parents and associates. Oh, how unfa- 
vorable has been their position, and the circumstances 
by which they are surrounded, for the culture of the 
good soil and seed of the soul. Instead, all the depraved 
passions and principles of their being have been devel- 
oped. And what else could a reasonable man expect ? 
These children are expert liars, thieves and pick-pock- 
ets, and by-and-bywill be expert burglars, counterfeiters, 
robbers and murderers, but it would be a marvel if they, 
— or one in a dozen — became a good Christian or. citi- 
zen, or honest man, or virtuous woman. 


Let one plant seed in the bottom of a cold, dark cel- 
lar, and he will raise no fruit. The man who should 
attempt it would be pronounced mad. The sunshine 
and showers and the hand of culture are necessary to 
insure the desired result. So with the moral elements 
and affectionate desires of the young soul. They need 
the warm sunshine of a'careful and tender love, and the 
soft showers of goodness, and kindness and aflfectionate 
instruction. These will coax the better principles and 
desires forward into a healthful growth, no matter how 
cruelly the young soul has been neglected. 

At a place called "Long Island Farms," not far from 
the city of New- York, there are 1200 once abandoned 
children, who were picked up in the vilest portions of 
that great metropolis, and are now supported and edu- 
cated at the public expense. Not one of them is totally 
depraved. Their very natures contradict this foolish 
and pernicious old dogma. A change is at once observ- 
able in their looks and behavior as soon as they are fair- 
ly established in their new home, and feel, and see, and 
hear what they never before have felt, or seen, or heard, 
viz : the warm glow of human kindness, the beautiful 
picture of God's green earth, and the voice of real com- 

"It is interesting," says one, "to see how suddenly 
their better natures are wrought upon by the touching, 
the beautiful, or by whatever is truly Christian. The 
glad face of nature — the shining stars by night — the 
sweet carol of the birds — the blooming flowers — the mel- 
ody of music — the language of Jesus — the voice of love 
and instruction — all this finds a ready response in the 
young heart that is even supposed to be callous with 
evil,- and will touch and subdue the soul and soften the 
affections, when many other sterner things would fail to 


accomplish the desired effect. All of which shows that 
the souls of abandoned vagrant children, as well as hon- 
est men's children, were formed for the pure and beau- 
tiful; as it also shows what is needed for the develop- 
ment, the culture, the full moral and spiritual growth of 
these perishing ones. 

What is the State doing for this class? What should 
it do for them ? 

The State does nothing for these weak, abandoned 
creatures. It does much against them. I have seen a 
little, abandoned, ragged child, destitute of covering for 
head or feet, and but seven years of age, brought into 
court by a corpulent, savage officer, tried, condemned and 
thrown into jail, to be the companion of felons. What 
was his crime ? Stealing silver spoons from a rich man'g 
table, in obedience to the instructions of his mother. 
What was his history? Birth in a garret, amid wretch- 
edness and want — the child of lust and crime — cradled 
in depravity, with the lullaby of drunken revelry — and 
schooled in deception and knavery. Already was he old 
in depravity. What else could you expect? And the 
State, instead of taking him at an earlier age, even, and 
becoming his guardian, sending him to good schools, in- 
structing his heart and intellect in everything virtuous 
and useful, and thus helping him out of his degradation, 
by the above act it but plunged him in the more deeply. 
It made of him a felon — placed him in a college of fel- 
ons, from whence he graduated but to spend the life of 
a degraded criminal — perchance to die in the peniten- 
tiary or on a gibbet. And this by a Christian State I 
Oh, for shame ! for shame ! And this is what every 
State in our Christian Union is doing in the middle of 
the Nineteenth Century, and in this age of Literature, 
Education, Morals, Common Sense, Christianity, and a 


"world-wide humanity," for this class of perishing little 
ones. Massachusetts, New- York, Ohio, as States, all are 
employed in this same wise and blessed work. Last year 
New- York laid its strong arm on several little children, 
but five and six years of age. In the beginning of 1855 
we visited the Ohio State Penitentiary, and were 
informed by the Warden that the prison contained 598 
inmates. Sixty-five of the males were under 20 years of 
age. We had thought that the penitentiary was designed 
for old offenders ; those of whose reform there was little 
or no hope, and against whose depredations it becomes 
necessary for society to secure itself by bars and bolts. 
But here we found this large number, too young to be 
desperate, and too young, also, to be given over to the 
buffe tings of Satan. What hope can they have after years 
spent in the State Prison? What degradation! Who 
will trust or respect them ? And how readily and uncon- 
cernedly the State thus casts away, and forever, th^ 
whole earthly existence of these unfortunate youth, with- 
out one effort for their salvation or improvement. But 
what we desire specially to record is, that we found, in 
the penitentiary, one lad under thirteen years of age, sev- 
eral under fifteen, and the day previous to our visit, a 
little girl was brought there fron^ Dayton, a prisoner, but thir- 
teen years old. We could not ascertain the name of the 
heathen judge who sentenced this child thus to a life of 
infamy. But this we know, that the State of Ohio, with 
its 4,000 Christian ministers and 50,000 Church mem- 
bers, sustains upon its statute book the law by which the 
abominable deed was perpetrated. 

A Vermont paper * is placed on our table as we write, 
which contains the following : 

" There have been confined in our jail, during- the last 

♦Rutland Herald. 


four or five months, two boys aged about thirteen years. 
Last week there was put into jail, a boy seven years of 
age^ charged with the crime of stealing butternuts ! In 
that jail are more than twenty persons confined for crime 
of all grades. There are confined there, also, three mis- 
erable prostitutes I 

"Into such company, in all the counties of this State, do 
the laws of Vermont throw children who may, in their 
ignorance, have broken the letter of the law. Among 
criminals and hardened wretches, with nothing around 
them but barred doors, great hideous locks, grated win- 
dows, and everything which can remind them that they 
are rascals and villains ! No moral instruction, no good 
influences are provided for them. No voice of kindness 
reaches their ears. Idleness, bars, bolts and the rough 
voices of desperate and cursing men are around them. 
The State does not expend one dollar to reform the chil- 
dren who are sent to the jail. They go in suspected rogues, 
and go out with the feeling and determination of rascals. 
Each old companion greets each juvenile offender who 
comes from the jail, with — 'you've been to jail !' His 
eyes are pained with the full light. His limbs enervated 
with idleness. His body is full of pains from breathing 
foul air. His heart is faint with the taunts and gibes 
that greet him." 

And this is what Vermont is doing for depraved chil- 
dren. We turn from an exhibition of these facts to in- 
quire what should be done for them ? 

Some cities, and towns, and counties, and many indi- 
viduals, are doing something in the right direction for 
these perishing ones. Hamilton county, Ohio, has its 
House of Refuge or Reform School, for vagrant children. 
'It is an excellent Christian institution, and a monument 
of wisdom and benevolence. It takes the child guilty of 


crime, and while it punishes him with confinement — not 
limited, however, by the stone walls, bars and bolts of 
the building, but by the grounds of the establishment — 
it places him under the best and most judicious teachers 
and keepers — furnishes him with a good home — with 
good food and clothing, supports an excellent school, at 
which he is put six hours in the day, and to Sabbath 
School on Sunday, besides its chapel for preaching; — it 
teaches him a good trade — instructs him in the impor- 
tance of virtue and integrity — in short, the whole ma- 
chinery of the institution is designed to aid, instruct and 
bless those who become its inmates, so that they may 
return to society improved and with hopefulness for the 
future. But what is that one institution for our county 
and State? It can accommodate only about three hun- 
dred pupils at a time, while Cincinnati alone will fur- 
nish more than three thousand. 

A few such institutions only, can be found in our 
Union ; but in them we perceive the indications of the 
remedy for the condition of these classes. Benevolent 
Societies are springing up here and there, with the same 
object in view. There is the "Ladies' Mission at the 
Five Points," New-York, which has snatched large num- 
bers of children from vice and ruin, and found them 
good homes in the West; and the " Children's Aid 
Society," in the same city, which has accomplished much 
in the same direction. "Its object is sufficiently indi- 
cated by its name. It seeks first to remove the poor 
child from the coil of evil influences which have been 
thrown around him, and which have been daily strength- 
ened by the sharpest pressure of animal necessities. It 
comprehends the two-fold benefit of education and labor 
in its system of "Industrial Schools." Of these* 
at the present time, in New- York, there are eight, in 


wMcli a multitude of children are educated, taught to 
work, supplied with a warm dinner daily, and with such 
clothing as they can learn to make. In connection 
with these, there is one shoe- shop, in which thirty or 
forty boys earn a livelihood. Another object of this 
society is to find employment for its beneficiaries out of 
the city, and during the past year places in the country 
have been found for one hundred and twenty-five, where 
their employers treat them as their own children. 

These societies, we repeat, are based upon the proper 
principle, and are laboring in the true direction. "They 
aim to break up the old associations of the degraded 
child, to throw around him the atmosphere of a true 
home, and to blend intellectual, moral and religious 
training with that true charity which teaches one how to 
assert his true manliness, and support himself by the 
honest labors of his own hands." ^ 

But a work like this — so important to the degraded 
classes themselves, and the purity of society generally, 
possessing moral and practical advantages so immense, 
should not be left to the caprice and uncertainty of vol- 
untary benevolent societies alone. f The State is inter- 
ested in the matter, and should move, and move eflfectu- 
ally in it. There are 6000 children in Cincinnati who 
attend no school. This should not be permitted, unless 
they are engaged in some honorable employment. No 
vagrant or truant children should be allowed in our 

* Humanity in the City, by Rev. E. H. Chapin. 

t " The population of the Philadelphia House of Refuge at the begin- 
ning of the year," says the Annual Report of that institution, " was 364, 
and at its close 392. . The largest number under care at one time during 
the year was 457. Average daily number 385 — about one-third being in 
the colored department. It is well for us that three or four hundred of 
our neglected vicious children are under reforming influences : but what 
hope is there for the forty-nine fiftieths that the report presents to 
us as the lowest estimate of the number who are 'growing up in idleness^ 
vagrancy and crime ?' " 


Streets or drinking cellars and saloons, around the levee 
or other public places, or even at home, without a proper 
excuse. Every family should be visited in each ward, 
by officers appointed and paid by the State — their con- 
dition noted, and the children obliged either to attend 
school or employ their time in some useful avocation. 
If the parents are poor, unable to spare their children 
from home, or to properly clothe them or furnish them 
with books, then let the State assist them — cautiously — 
judiciously — kindly, but determinedly, protecting their 
interests, and doing for them what they are not capable 
of doing for themselves. 

Thus should the State become the guardian of all 
those ignorant, sinful and weak ones who have not suffi- 
cient ability or discretion, or the disposition, to manage 
their own affairs. In all great cities large numbers of 
men and women exist by receiving stolen property. 
Many of them keep second-hand stores, and encourage 
boys and girls of this description in stealing tools from 
workshops, produce from market wagons, goods from 
stores, clothing, spoons, knives and forks, and whatever 
they can lay their hands on, from dwellings and door- 
yards. Here is the school in which they receive their 
first lessons in crime. How important that all such 
schools should be utterly demolished, and children thus 
engaged should be made to spend their time in institu- 
tions of knowledge and under the tuition of teachers 
who would not only educate their minds in the important 
rudiments of learning, but their hearts in the principles 
of virtue and integrity. And all this can be accomplished 
only through the efforts and determinate action of the 
State, systematized and enforced by a judicious law cov- 
ering the whole ground of need, 

*' But," says the objector, ".this would cost something." 


So do our houses of correction, police courts, and jails, 
our criminal courts and penitentiaries, cost something, 
^nd is it not more humane and wise to prevent crime 
than to punish it ? Most men of intelligence have come 
to know that crime finds its chief ally in ignorance, and 
that moral and mental abasement generally accompany 
each other. Formerly men were not of this opinion. 
A royal governor in Virginia once thanked God there 
were no public schools in that province. Facts show the 
connection between crime and ignorance. One half of 
the criminals in this country for the last forty years, 
could neither read nor write. In the several cities of 
the State of New York, from 1840 to 1848, there were 
29,949 persons convicted of crime, as returned by the 
sheriffs of the several counties. Of the persons so con- 
victed, 1182 are returned as having received a " common 
education;" 444 as " tolerably well educated," and 128 
only, or one in about two hundred, as "well educated." 
Of the remaining 26,225, about half co\x\di barely read or 
write ; the residue were wholly destitute of literary instruc- 
tion. Of 1122 persons convicted in the same State in 
1847, 1084 were utterly destitute of education. Of 134 
persons convicted in 1848, twenty-three only had a 
"common education;" thirteen a "tolerably good educa- 
tion," and ten only were returned as "well educated," 
while eighty-eight could neither read nor write. 

We have mentioned a single State. An examination 
into the statistics of other States shows nearly the same 
result. In the South, so far as we have the means of in- 
vestigation, the comparative number of criminals utterly 
destitute of education, is still greater. And yet, notwith- 
standing these facts, with the existence of which every 
intelligent citizen should be familiar, every community 
contains men who look with distrust upon the increasing 


liberality of our public expenditures in the cause of gen- 
eral education ; as if money expended by the State to 
educate the masses were a public loss. But if the masses 
grow up in ignorance we shall have a nation of criminals. 
Nineteen out of every twenty of the vagrant children, 
and men and women of our large cities, can neither read 
nor write. Nearly all the inmates of our state prisons 
are utterly destitute of education, while out of the 165 
persons who were hanged in the United States, during 
1854, hut seven could read or write. The United States 
statistics for 1850 show, that the State of Maine has a 
larger number of children at school in proportion to the 
population than any country on the globe, and this State 
is freer from crime than any country on the globe. And 
besides all this, it is positively less expensive to educate 
paupers and vagrant children than to take care of them 
as criminals. The report of the Attorney-General of 
Ohio, for 1854, shows that the cost of trial and conviction 
of the criminals of this State, during that year, was a 
trifle over $73 each. " While the school tax levied un- 
der our present system, amounts to but $1,50 for each 
youth between five and twenty-one; and as three-fourths 
of these youth, or 600,000 attend school during some 
part of the year, the sum expended for the tuition of 
each is only $2,00. So that the cost of convicting these 
criminals would have instructed them in common schools 
for forty years; or it would have paid for their tuition 
and that of the next three generations of their succes- 
sors (making 800 in all), for a period of nearly ten years 

How great an advantage, then, to community and the 
State, would be a law which should so thoroughly sys- 

* The above is from an excellent article on this subject in the Ohio 
Journal of Education . 


tematize a course of proceedure by officially appointed 
agents for each ward in our cities, and each town and 
plantation, as would secure the universal attendance of 
children at school, at least during a portion of the year.* 
It would not only keep them from much mischief and 
crime when young, but be the means of saving them 
from a life of ignorance and wretchedness, and make of 
them respectable and useful members of society. At the 
same time it would save expense to the State, lessen its 
number of criminals and paupers, increase the public 
security, and add to the purity and happiness of all. It 
is righteousness that exalteth a nation. 

" 111 fares the land to hastening ills a prey 
Where wealth increases, but where men decay." 

Let not the State, then, think so much of saving money 
as of saving men, by looking after the mental and moral 
wants of her thousands of children and youth who were 
so unfortunately born as not to have the ability or dispo- 
sition to look out for themselves. They are the weak 
and perishing ones. " It is not the will of your Father in 
Heaven that one of these little ones should perish.^^ They 
need not perish, if the State would look after their in- 
terest with half the zeal she exercises to get or retain 
political power. Political parties hold great conventions, 
make great speeches and sometimes get very drunk on 
the people's money, and all to secure to political dema- 
gogues the spoils of office. Would it not be very hopeful 
if, for once, they should meet to devise ways and means 
for aiding the weak ones of the "body politic" in their 
efforts to live honest lives, and thus esca-pe the Peniten- 

* Of coarse we are speaking with reference to tlie Free States, wh«re 
free whools are universally sustained at the public expense. 


tiary and the gibbet; or in som^similar way show their 
regard for the interest of society. A State Farm School 
for the class of whom we speak — ample, and conducted 
on truly philosophical and Christian principles — would 
be of more real value to a State, than many drunken, 
boisterous conventions. Ohio takes criminal parents 
and locks them in jail, while the children wander about 
the streets, sleep under carts, in door yards and hay- 
lofts, and furnish themselves the means of sustenance 
by theft. Would it not be well for her, at least to insti- 
tute a law by which these little ones shall be taken care 
of, and not left to perish utterly, under such circum- 
stances ? Would not the act be Christian^ though not 
popular with demagogues ? "I speak as unto wise men, 
judge ye what I say." 



The Small Offender— Treatment not Reformatory— The Rookery— The House of Cor- 
rection-The Jail -Unfortunate Females— Their Treatment— Should be Aided and En- 
couraged—The State never aids them-How it works in New-York, Philadelphia, 
Cincinnati— Bxrerience of Isaac Hopper, the Philanthropist— Interesting Incident— 
Prisoni for Small Offenders should resemble a House of Reform— The Duty of the 
State- Individual Effort not SuflBicient. 

We leave crime in embryo, and pass to the considera- 
tion of the demands of humanity and Christianity, with 
reference to the real offender. 

We will first notice the duty of the State toward those 
guilty of small offenses. These constitute a large major- 
ity of those who violate the law. Out of the 36,000 
arrested in Philadelphia in the year 1855, but few were 
sentenced to the Penitentiary. So of other cities and 
towns. Thousands are annually brought before the 
police court of Cincinnati, while the number we furnish 
for the Columbus State prison is, comparatively, exceed- 
ingly limited. The youthful offender, guilty of larceny, 
the old vagrant, the drunken debauchee — the wretched 
prostitute — these go to swell the list upon the police 
record of every city, and constitute more than six-sevenths 
of all their arrests. 

And what is the State doing /or these classes? Liter- 
ally nothing. Nothing to benefit or bless them, but all 
to injure and curse them. Let us look at the facts. 

A man is a common vagrant. He is brought before 
the judge of the police court, and sentenced to what is 
22 (257) 


designed to be the House of Correction, for five, ten, 
twenty or fifty days, on " bread and water." Female 
vagrants are brought in, in the same manner, and done 
for in the same way. Prostitutes, both old and young, 
who are a thousand times less guilty of any criminal 
ofi'ense, than the wretches who were instrumental in 
their ruin, are either sent to the house of correction or 
the common jail. Every morning exhibits a number of 
these classes in the police court of every great city. 
Monday morning, usually, presents the largest list. 
Fifty or eighty are sometimes brought before the mayor 
of Cincinnati in a single day. The common jail, or the 
rookery, or the house of correction receives them. But 
does the jail, or the rookery, or the house of correction, 
with its "bread and water" fare, correct them? Do they 
leave their place of punishment in the least improved 
morally, physically or intellectually? Are they put to 
some healthful and proper employment? Are they met 
with the voice of kindness and affectionate persuasion, 
in their prison? Are Christian men and women 
appointed by the State to oversee them, and employ 
every means which a benevolent wisdom has sought out 
to win them to the paths of virtue ? Never. Instead, 
they are visited with harsh words, and ofttimes with 
positive cruelty and hatred. The State punishes as if 
its sole motive were vengeance. And it too often 
appoints men as overseers of these places of confinement 
who are utterly ignorant of any higher object in the dis- 
charge of their duties. Utterly regardless of the position 
of their victims as human beings, and entirely destitute 
of sympathy for them, they either treat them with heart- 
less indifference, or heap upon them curses, and torture 
them with blows. So that when they return to the 
world, it is not with chastened affections and a resolve on 


amendment, but rather with a more bitter and vindictive 
spirit and a stronger determination to follow in the paths 
of crime and pollution. So that a few days only inter- 
vene, ere they are again brought before the mayor for 
another trial, and sentenced to ten, or twenty, or fifty, or 
a hundred days at the house of correction; and each 
time they are forewarned by the court, that if again 
found in violation of the law, it will be under the neces- 
sity of enforcing a more stringent punishment. The 
number of days are, therefore, increased, and the treat- 
ment rendered more and more severe. But they are 
never improved by such treatment. Over and over 
again are they subjected to the same ordeal; so that it is 
no unfrequent thing for old offenders to have been thus 
sentenced thirty, fifty, or even a hundred times. A man 
in Troy, New- York, was imprisoned one hundred and 
sixty-eight times for drunkenness, and a woman in Phil- 
adelphia over two hundred times. Is it said, that they 
are so depraved by nature that no power on earth can 
improve them? This is simply an error. The very man 
whom we just mentioned as having been imprisoned one 
hundred and sixty-eight times for drunkenness, and 
whom every body said no power on earth could improve, 
was effectually reclaimed by the kindness, assistance and 
affectionate persuasion of the Washingtonians twelve 
years ago, and to this day is an industrious and sober 
man, and good citizen, husband and father. 

By the employment of the same means, (which are 
simply those that Grod has ordained through Christ, or 
in other words Christian,) the State could have reclaimed 
him fifteen years earlier, and thus saved him and his, 
from a life of infamy, and itself a heavy expense. 

But perhaps the worst feature in our present system 
is the injury done to the young and comparatively inno- 


cent, by placing them in the company of the most de- 
praved and polluted. All are made to herd in common 
together. In all popul'ous cities there are large numbers 
of both sexes out of employment. By a careful inquiry, 
it has been ascertained that there are on an average 1500 
females, of this description, in New- York, 1300 in Phil- 
adelphia, and 500 in Cincinnati. Many of them are 
orphans, and are homeless and friendless, and in conse- 
quence of the emergency that want brings, they are fre- 
quently subjected to fraud, imposition, deception, and, at 
length, to ignominy, pollution and death. We have 
been informed by an old physician of Cincinnati, that 
he has known scores of beautiful young orphan females 
to be led down, step by step, to ruin, purely from the 
simple fact of their position as orphans, destitute and 
friendless, with no kind father or mother to counsel and 
protect. The base deceiver, taking advantage of the 
destitution and isolated position of his victim, by hon- 
eyed flattery, the most earnest protestations of love, and 
the offer of rich presents, and a pretty little home all 
their own, in some retired place in the city, allures her 
to destruction. She yields to his embrace, and awakens, 
at length, only to find herself deserted, and in her own 
eyes and the eyes of the world — especially the Gkristian 
world — utterly and hopelessly ruined; and the conse- 
quence is, in many cases, alas, how many ! she plunges 
deeper and deeper down into the vortex of infamy. 

Now, for all such, careful Christian provision should 
be made, by the State, to save them. But there is no 
such provision. They are thrown into the alms house, 
the house of correction, or the jail, in company with old, 
drunken, profane hags, and, no matter how young, made 
to listen to the most disgusting and awful blasphemy 
and obscenity. By the Report of the Prison Society in 


New- York, we learn that there is constantly an average 
of one hundred females, old and young, in the prison in 
that city called the Tombs, all of whom are without 
any employment whatever while there, and are left to 
spend their time in such conversation and acts as their 
depraved lives might suggest. " Here, we found in the 
upper rooms," says the committee, "a number of young 
girls, from ten to twenty years of age, associating to- 
gether. It was a sad sight to see the little vagrant of 
ten or twelve years, committed for her destitution, and 
the want of a proper home and care-takers, cast into 
companionship with those whose conduct and habits had 
taken from them a name in respectable society, and 
whose corrupting influence must be powerful over those 
neglected and unfortunate children. In the yard of the 
prison were about thirty women, seated on benches, 
many (perhaps the greater number) showing by their 
wretched, bloated faces, a positive proof of the cause of 
their incarceration. Others were in the cells, or walking 
in the entries, but with every opportunity to circulate 
the poison that festered in their own minds, and created 
a malaria wherever they moved or breathed." 

This committee also visited the prison for the same 
classes on Blackwell's Island, in the vicinity of New- 
York, and speak as follows of what they saw and heard: 
" To this prison women are sent, who are sentenced to 
periods of confinement, of from one to six months. A 
large majority of these cases are from disorderly houses : 
.women, (many of them young,) to whom the glass, pro- 
fane oath, and licentious practices, are the habits of daily 
life. To some of these, the constant changes are from 
the abode of drunkenness and debauchery to the alms- 
house and the prison. Cases have been known, where 
women have been thus imprisoned forty times, and in 



their midst were several young girls, lohose countenances, 
manners and histories, told that the blight of the destroyer 
had but lately passed over them. From the Matron we 
learned, that there were two hundred and sixty women 
there; one hundred in the hospital; and one hundred 
and sixty in a frame shantee, shut up together during 
the day, often without employment, and corrupting, by 
this dreadful association, the good that still might remain 
in some." Could any place or position be devised that 
would more certainly quench the remaining sparks of 
goodness in the young, prostrate all hope of reform, and 
lead to certain ruin, than this ? And here we discover 
the wisdom and the Christianity of the State. 

" It was a sadly distressing scene to witness, and to 
know," says the committee, "that so little effort was 
made to cultivate industrious habits, or reform the mor- 
als of that degraded company; to the most of whom, 
perhaps to all. Providence had given the capacity to be 
useful, respectable, religious women. From occasional 
visits to these prisons, benevolent, earnest minds have 
seen the necessity, not only of efforts to remedy these 
evils, but that a preventive power could, and would effect 
great benefits to the unfortunate daughters of poverty, 
ignorance, and crime." 

This is true; and what we contend for, is that there 
should be a reform in this entire department of police 
operations. The unfortunate beings above described 
should never be ranked with common criminals, and shut 
out from the world by the stone walls, bars and bolts of 
the gloomy prison. They never can be improved or 
saved by any such means. On the contrary, it proves, 
in many instances, the direct and positive agency of 
ruin, by sundering the last link which binds them to 
society and gives them a feeling of right to make an 
effort for virtue. 



■ ^" 

What they need is encouragement, counsel, protection 
and some place they can call home, where such protec- 
tion and encouragement can be felt and realized by them, 
and where they can feel some security against want. 
Whenever and wherever such means have been employed 
in their behalf, the result has been most salutary. A 
Quaker gentleman of great humanity, who was long con- 
nected with the criminal courts of Philadelphia and 
New-York,* relates that many years ago, when he was 
inspector of the prison in the former city, a middle-aged 
woman by the name of Norris was frequently recommit- 
ted. On one occasion, she begged of him to intercede 
for her that she might get out. 

*' I am afraid thou wouldst soon come back again," 
said he. 

" Very likely. I expect to be brought soon," she 

" Then where will be the use of letting thee out?" 

" I should like to go out," said she. " It would seem 
so good to feel free, if for only a little while, to look up 
to the bright heavens, and enjoy the open free air." 

" But if thou enjoys liberty so much, why dost thou 
allow thyself to be brought back again?" 

" How can I help it ? When I go out from prison no 
one will employ me. I feel that everybody shuns me. No 
respectable people will permit me to go into their houses. 
I must go to such friends as I have. If they steal or do 
wrong, I am taken with them ; whether guilty or not, is 
of no consequence. Nobody will believe me innocent. 
They will all say, ' She is an old offender; send her back 
to prison; that is the best place for her.' " 

It touched his feelings to hear her speak thus; and he 

* Isaac T. Hopper, who died in New-York city two years ago, much 
lamented by every friend of Humanity in the north. 


said: "But if I should obtain steady employment for 
thee and a good home^ where thou wouldst be treated 
kindly, and be paid for thy services, wouldst thou really 
try to behave well ?" 

Her countenance brightened, as she eagerly exclaimed, 
" Oh, yes indeed, indeed I would ! But is there any place 
on earth that will receive me, and be to me a home, and 
can you help me to it? If so, God bless you!" 

" I think there is, and I will try what I can do. But 
thee must not expect too much, as thee may be disap- 

"I used my influence," said he, "to procure her dis- 
missal, and succeeded in obtaining a good place for her 
as head nurse in the hospital for the poor, and the con- 
sequence was that she remained there more than seventeen 
years^ discharging the duties of her situation so faithfully 
that she gained the entire respect and, confidence of all who 
knew her.^^ 

"I have aided and encouraged," said he, "more than 
fifty younger females, who had become fallen and de- 
graded, by means similar to those I have mentioned, and 
it is a great satisfaction to me to be able to state to the 
world, that only two disappointed my expectations." 

Aid and encouragement, we repeat, are what they need 
to benefit and bless them. And this is what the true 
Christian will strive to aff'ord. Behold Christ. When 
the woman who had been taken in the very act of violat- 
ing the Jewish law — a law which demanded her life for 
the off'ense — was brought into the presence of Jesus, and 
her sin proven upon her, and all men condemned her, 
what was the language and the dealings of that pure and 
exalted being toward her ? Did he, by cruel words, and 
more cruel acts, crush out of her heart whatever feelings 
of self-respect or principle of virtue might have lingered 


there? Not at all. He aided and encouraged her. 
'^ Neither do I condemn thee ; go thy way and sin no 

Now the State, as we have shown,, aots upon no such 
principle in its dealings with these classes. Though it 
professes to be Christian, the element of Christianity, 
love, kindness, is utterly wanting in its entire system 
of operations. In New-York there is a " Home for 
Friendless Females;" and in Boston a " Penitent Fe- 
males' Refuge;" but they were not established by the 
State, or county, or city, but by a few Christian men and 
women organized into Benevolent Associations. They 
obtained the means of erecting their buildings by beg- 
ging of individuals the stingy sums that are usually 
given for such purposes, and by Church contributions. 
The consequence is, they have been struggling with pe- 
cuniary difficulties from the beginning, and are not yet 
relieved. Expenses are constantly accruing, and how 
is it possible that such institutions can be sustained by 
charity alone? Benevolent men will give for a single 
year or two, but by constant drafts upon their resources, 
they become discouraged. Moreover, all institutions of 
this description erected in our large cities, are entirely 
too limited in their accommodations, to answer the wants 
of the communities in which they are located. That in 
Boston has an average only of twenty inmates. Those 
in New-York and Philadelphia but thirty or forty. In all 
other cities the average is about the same in ratio to the 
population. This, in itself, is well as far as it goes; but 
it is not enough. Thousands are sentenced to the jail, 
the house of correction and the rookery, every month, 
who need the good instruction, the encouragement and 
fostering aid, which these institutions might afford if 
sufficiently ample for their accommodation, and were 


nv.ned or managed by the State or county. They should 
l>o located out of the city, in some rural district, with 
iz irdens and ample grounds, school-room for the younger, 
a ad chapel for all;- and while they should be so con- 
i^tructed as to prevent any from escaping, they should 
resemble a House of Reform and Industry, more than a 
jail or huge prison.* 

The philosophy that would degrade while it punishes, 
i 7 wholly wrong and unchristian. The classes of whom 
W3 speak, when guilty, should be sent, or, if you please, 
.'^ mtenced to such an institution as we have described, 
not through revenge, but for improvement. It should 
hi a place, not of idleness like our common jail, but of 
t!ie most perfectly systematized industry. The inmates 
.should not be put to the most degraded forms of female 
drudgery, but to employments suited to their sex, and 
ho far as is consistent, congenial with their taste. Such 
a place might be made the manufactory of a thousand 
useful articles of trade; such as straw hats and bonnets, 
Avaaring apparel for men and boys, mattresses and bed- 
ding, millinery and dresses for ladies, collars, artificial 
li )wers, light shoes, hose, and many other things. And 
care should be taken that all who enter destitute of a 
k uowledge of some kind of work, whereby they can ob- 
tian the support of life, should be given good trades, 
s ) that when their term of time expires, they may not be 
returned to the world destitute of the means of sustenance. 

♦We perceive that New-York is moving in the right direction so far as 
oncerns its inmates. The Committee on State Oharitahle Institutions of 
J he New- York Legislature, reported a bill, lately, incorporating the ''Home 
i or Inebriates" in the village of Geneva. This corporation is allowed to 
h )ld 250 acres of land, or property to the amount of $250,000, in shares 
< f $20 each. The Home to be managed by nine trustees — the first set 
1 ) be appointed by the Governor and Senate, and the successors of six of 
tliem to be appointed by the stockholders, and the successors of the other 
t'lree by the Governor and Senate. The bill also appropriates $10,000 to 
the use of the corporation when $5,000 have been subscribed. 


We confidently believe that such an institution, with 
kind and judicious Christian men and women to oversee 
and control its movements, would be an immense saving 
to every large city, not only on the score of economy, 
but of true charity, and that five-eighths of those who 
might be thus aided, while they were punished, would be 
saved from idleness, want and utter ruin ; and " instead 
of living to prey upon and curse society, enduring in 
their own souls the unavailing anguish of remorse, they 
might live to honor and bless the sphere in which they 
move." This would be a humane. Christian and desirable 
work. Why should not the State engage in it ? 



Need of Eeform in the Common Jail— Congregated System injurious— Jail in Cincin- 
nati The Influence of the Old Criminal on the Young— Present System msfkes Crimi- 
nals—Facts related -Importance of Labor— Expense of maintaining the Prisoner in 
Idleness -Reformation of the Offender the most important Consideration— The Peni- 
tentiary -The Old System Progress already made— More to be done— Work of Howard 
the Philanthropist— Eastern Penitentiary of Pennsylvania Separate System -Its 
Advantages — Ignorance the Cause of Crime Reform needed in the Educational Depart- 
ment—Also in the Disciplinary— Power of Kindness -Prisoners should be Encouraged 
when in Prison and when they return to the World— Interesting Facts. 

There is great need of reform in the management of 
the common jail, in this country. The present system 
of herding together culprits of all ages and of every 
degree of crime, and permitting them to remain in idle- 
ness, indulging in gambling and profanity, reading ob- 
scene books, recounting their deeds of daring and profli- 
gacy, and instructing each other in all the arts of crime, 
is the most injurious and damning possible. 

Take, for instance, the jail in Cincinnati, for the 
county of Hamilton, which consists mainly of a room 
say fifty feet in length by forty in breadth, with stone 
floor and walls, and with cells for the safe keeping of the 
prisoners by night. Each morning the doors of the 
cells are opened, and all the prisoners, without regard to 
age, complexion, education, or degree of guilt, have the 
free range of the large room. From fifty to one hundred 
and fifty are its constant occupants. There, may be 
seen at any time the old offender steeped in crime, and 
learned in all the mysteries of theft and burglary, side 
by side with the lad of fifteen whom an unfortunate and 


trifling deviation from the right, has brought into this 
position. He may be there only for a few weeks; he 
may be detained merely as a witness, but behold how the 
tempter, as he sits before him dealing his cards, recount- 
ing his exploits in crime, his association with dissolute 
females, and describing his easy, jovial, pleasant life, is 
luring him to temptation, and sowing the seeds of crime. 
For days, weeks, it may be months, is he taught in this 
Bchool of crime. Nothing better presents itself to occupy 
his attention. Not a day nor an hour's work is per- 
formed by the whole motley crew during their entire 
term of imprisonment. Constantly do they lounge in 
idleness, with no checks upon their tongues or passions. 
Under such circumstances, what could reasonably be 
expected, but that old villains should lead the young 
oflFender in the evil way? If it were one of the main 
objects of the government to sow broad-cast the seeds of 
crime, it could scarcely devise means better fitted to its 
end, than is exhibited in the system of imprisonment 
which most of our county jails present. Hundreds of 
well-attested cases might be cited to show the truth of 
this declaration, some of which have come under our 
own observation ; but we have space for but one, which 
we extract from a voluminous letter just published, from 
the Corresponding Secretary of the " Prison Association 
of New- York," to one of the Vice-Presidents, on " The 
Cause of Crime." Among other facts, he presents the 
following : — 

" We once visited the jail of Columbia county, (N. Y.) 
and found among the inmates a boy of fifteen years old, 
who had been put there for a breach of some corporation 
ordinance — we believe it was firing crackers in the 
streets; he was undoubtedly a bad, mischievous child, 
but he never dreamed of committing a crime. A few 


months afterwards, on visiting the same jail, we found 
him there again ; and on inquiring we learned that an 
old burglar, who was in the jail at the time of his first 
confinement, had taken a fancy to the lad and infiamed 
his mind with images of the free and easy life that men 
of his profession led — their exemption from labor, the 
magnitude of their gains, and the pleasure they had in 
spending them. When he had fully succeeded in rousing 
the boy's ambition to enter a career of lawlessness and 
crime, he taught him all the details of lock-picking and 
pocket-picking, taught him how to elude the watchful- 
ness of housekeepers and storekeepers, how to dispose of 
troublesome dogs, and how to conceal and dispose of 
stolen property ; thus in a few short weeks, a wild boy, 
through the agency of a common jail, was ripened into a 
bold and consummate rogue, whose life was fully dedi- 
cated to the work of preying on the property and per- 
haps the lives of his fellow-men. On leaving the prison 
the burglar furnished him with a letter to a confederate, 
and together they soon planned a burglary; the boy 
entered the store — the other remaining outside to watch 
— but before he had secured his booty the proprietor 
entered the store through a private passage and secured 
him, while his confederate escaped; and he was now in 
jail waiting for his trial, which was certain to end in 
conviction !" 

This is but an isolated case. Hundreds very similar 
are constantly occurring. Nearly 10,000 different per- 
sons in the State of Ohio, and 30,000 in the State of 
New-York, as many more in Pennsylvania, and all other 
States in ratio to their population, pass through the cor- 
rupting ordeal of the county jail, annually; and when 
we consider how large a portion of these are really or 
legally innocent, or are detained only to testify to the 


criminal acts of others, and must necessarily be contam- 
inated more or less by the influences which surround 
them, we behold the positive inhumanity of the system ; 
a consideration which is sufficient to condemn it, aside 
from all considerations of public policy. " Why, sir.' 
exclaimed a convict to us in the Cincinnati jail not lon;^ 
since, when questioning him on this subject, " Why, sir, 
bring a man to this room as pure as an angel, and let 
him mingle in this company six months, and he will //> 
out a devil, AND can't help himself!" It is singular 
that the public have not everywhere discovered, that the 
inevitable tendency of this system is to multiply crimi- 
nals instead of lessening them. 

In addition to all this, it is an exceedingly expend.' n 
method of punishing crime. Every criminal, no matt -.r 
how long he has to remain in confinement, must be sup- 
ported 171 idleness at the cost of the State. James Sua- 
mons, charged with the committal of a most revolting 
murder, has lived a gentleman, for more than six ye:;r.s 
in the Cincinnati jail, at the expense of our citizens, mil 
during the whole time has not so much as lifted a finger 
toward his support. The annual expense to our St.ite 
for the support of our county jails, cannot be less tli la 
$300,000; in New-York, $600,000, and in Pennsylva- 
nia about the same amount. Now this need not be. 

" But how can it be remedied?" inquires the reader. 
I answer, Reform the construction of your jails; espe- 
cially, those of large cities. Make them equally safe, 
but more ample, with workshops, and rooms fitted lor 
difi"erent descriptions of employment. The shoemaker, 
carpenter, blacksmith, locksmith, turner, tailor, engraver, 
printer might be put to work. Indeed, no man, or 
woman, if in health, need remain in idleness. S(;mo 
simple employment could be furnished them, by wliich 


they could at least be made to earn their hoard, after 
deducting the interest on the cost of the establishment, 
and the salary of the keepers. In the Cincinnati jail we 
have on an average at least one hundred in constant 
confinement. Allowing 313 working days in a year, the 
average loss of time in idleness is 31,300 days, which at 
80 cents per day would amount to an aggregate of 
$25,040. The time squandered in the Tombs in New- 
York city, is worth $50,000 annually. The same loss is 
sustained in the jails of all our large towns and cities, in 
ratio to the population; while at the same time honest 
citizens are taxed to maintain these delinquents in their 
idleness. Why should this state of things remain ? 

Do you say, that many of them are not yet convicted 
of crime, but are detained in jail for trial, or as witnesses 
against other criminals, and that the State has no right 
to force them to labor, or if it has, such compulsion 
would be unjust and inhuman ? I answer, first. The 
State has the same right to compel them to labor, that it 
has to deprive them of liberty; and second, It is posi- 
tively inhuman, and most injurious to their morals, as 
we have shown, to permit them to remain in idleness. 
If guilty of crime, it is but just that they should be 
made to pay the expense of their maintenance ; and if 
on examination, their innocence is established, or if they 
are detained as witnesses, justice would demand that the 
county should refund a fair equivalent for their services. 
In this way they would be made to earn something for 
themselves, during their confinement. Thus, viewing 
the subject as we may, the advantages are altogether in 
favor of the change which we have described. We are 
satisfied, that so far as economy is concerned, the weight 
of the argument is on the side of a change ; while all 
must allow that the moral advantages secured by the 


change would be invaluable to the delinquents them- 
selves. The great thing to be accomplished in the pun- 
ishment of offenders, is their reformation. The ejuestion 
of economy, notwithstanding what we have said, therefore, 
is not one of moment. The true system of prison disci- 
pline to adopt, is that which possesses the greatest 
reformatory power. No system should be countenanced 
that makes bad men worse, and instructs the youthful 
offender in all the subtile arts of villainy ; which, as we 
have seen, is the inevitable result of our present system. 


We have said, during the progress of these pages, 
that sixty years ago prisons were simply dungeons of 
incarceration and filth, into which men and women were 
thrown only to be abused and hidden from society. The 
great mass of men regarded the convict as incurable and 
worse than worthless, deserving only to be tortured, then 
killed and buried in a dunghill. 

Such were the prevailing opinions, and the condition 
of prisons in England and France, when the attention of 
the benevolent Howard was turned to a consideration of 
this important subject. He argued that the criminal, 
notwithstanding his offense, is still a child of Grod and a 
member of the human family. He had violated the law 
and become a convict, but this was no just reason why 
he should be the proscribed object of public vengeance, 
and utterly destroyed. On the contrary, it was the duty 
of society, while it punished, to endeavor to reclaim and 
restore the offender. But this was impossible in prisons 
constructed simply with reference to a dungeon confine- 
ment, where existed but little or no light, no ventilation 
or cleanliness; no instruction or labor, no sympathy or 
kind words, nor prayerful admonitions; and it was at his 


suggestion that prisons were constructed on enlarged 
and more humane plans, with separate cells, chapels and 
healthful circulation of air. 

Acting on the hints of this friend of humanity, the 
work of improvement has progressed from that day to 
the present, in all Christian countries, till now, many 
prisons are aiming to be what humanity and Christianity 
demand, viz : Schools of Reform, at the head of which 
are some of the kindest and most Christian men the 
world has ever known. 

Probably the most humanely constructed and best 
regulated prison in the world is the Eastern Penitentiary 
of Pennsylvania. It is arranged on the separate plan, a 
principle of discipline which originated in Pennsylvania 
and was first applied and tested in that prison. Np 
prisoner is allowed to mjngle with others. Each man 
has a cell by himself, which is about 17 feet square and 
12 feet high — large enough to admit a weaver's loom, 
hydrant, bed, snug and convenient water closet, and 
whatever else is necessary to the health and comfort of 
the prisoner. To each cell there is attached a yard of 
the same dimensions, where he is allowed to exercise one 
hour each day, and in which he cultivates peaches, flow- 
ers, grape vines and shrubbery. 

Some benevolent men have condemned the " separate 
cell" system as inhuman, unnatural and awful. But 
they have condemned without investigation. They sup- 
pose the prisoner exists in perpetual solitude — is desti- 
tute of light, and that he has no employment but that of 
brooding over his own fate. But instead of this, it 
allows him plenty of light, and permits any and every 
degree of association with him, except that of other con- 
victs. His friends can call to see him, and converse 
with him at any hour as long as they desire. Each day 


his task is assigned him — his overseer and chaplain visit 
him for instruction and encouragement, and he is fur- 
nished good books, and permitted to employ a certain 
amount of time for their perusal, and for educational 
purposes. As his old associations with the corrupt are 
broken up, and he is not permitted to mingle with them 
for his term of improvement, there can be no question 
but the probabilities of the reformation of a prisoner in 
a separate prison, under such a government, are a hun- 
dred fold greater than in a congregate prison. Indeed, 
this system has been faithfully tested, and with signal 
and acknowledged success. 

This is the principle we would recommend for all 
States to adopt in the construction of their Penitentiaries, 
as speedily as the nature of their circumstances will 
allow. It is the principle on which our county prisons 
for large towns and cities, should be erected. As says 
the " Pennsylvania Journal of Prison Discipline," in its 
advocacy of this system :— 

" When a man is arrested for crime, the legal pre- 
sumption that he is innocent, should protect him from 
all degrading and polluting associates. Hence, he 
should be secluded from all others charged with or con- 
victed of crime, as one entitled to the sympathy and 
companionship of the honest and good. 

" If he is acquitted, it shall be no fault of the govern- 
ment if he does not return to society without any stain 
which was not on him when he was arrested. 

" If he is convicted, the same care is demanded by 
right and justice, as well as by sound public policy, that 
he shall enjoy every opportunity to reinstate himself in 
the confidence of his fellow-citizens, and that nothing 
shall be done to him or sufi'ered by him, that can possibly 
contribute to his further deterioration, and that all 


means are used to encourage him in efforts to retrieve 
his character. Among these the first and chief is, a 
complete change of company — absolute separation from 
convict society, and all needful association with the hon- 
est and upright. This we regard as the sine qua non of 
every rational, humane or reformatory system of prison 

But notwithstanding the progression of which we 
have spoken, in the improvement of prisons and treat- 
ment of prisoners, there remains much yet to be accom- 
plished in that direction. Neither the benevolence of 
Christianity, nor the ingenuity of humanity, has arrived 
at the neplus ultra of effort. 

In what we have further to say on this subject, we 
desire to specify four departments in which there is still 
need of more marked attention; viz: the Educational — 
the Disciplinary — Encouragement of the offender^ and care 
over him when discharged. 

1. The Educational Department. We are aware that 
some men sneer at the idea of instructing a "State prison 
bird." They don't want to live to see the day when the 
penitentiary for convicts and felons shall be changed 
into a college. They will never consent that the public 
money shall be appropriated for any such purpose ! But 
such persons, though they may profess to be overstocked 
with the Christian religion and a true philosophy, have 
but precious little of either. We have no desire to see 
our penitentiaries literally turned into colleges ; but yet 
while they are places of confinement, labor and punish- 
ment, both Christianity and a true policy demand that 
they should be places of instruction. 

As we have shown,* one great cause of crime is igno- 
EANCE. Seven-eighths of all the criminals in Christen- 

* See statistical facts mentioned in third chapter. 


dom, kave but little or no education. Many of them 
from infancy, were so circumstanced tliat it was beyond 
their power to obtain even the rudiments of learning. 
Their parents themselves were criminals, or crushed 
with poverty, or existing in profligacy and drunkenness. 
They had no care over their children, who grew up in 
idleness and vagrancy ; were instructed in crime by their 
parents and early companions, and the State prison or 
penitentiary is their end. There is no difficulty in show- 
ing, from the statistics of crime in the United States for 
the last twenty years, that a large majority of State- 
prison criminals could neither read nor write. And in 
the report of the British and Foreign School Society, a 
few years ago, we are informed that ''out of nearly 700 
prisoners put on trial in four counties, upwards of two 
hundred and sixty were as ignorant as the savages of the 
desert — they could not read a single letter. Of the 
whole 700, only 150 could write, or even read with ease; 
and nearly the whole number were totally ignorant with 
regard to the nature and obligations of true religion." 
In the reports of the Society, for 1832-3, it is affirmed, 
"In September, 1831, out of fifty prisoners put on trial, 
at Bedford, only four could read. At Wisbeach, in the 
Isle of Ely, out of nineteen prisoners put on trial, only 
six were able to read and write, and the capital offenses 
were committed by persons in a state of the most debas- 
ing ignorance." When a jailor was describing his 
prisoners to Leigh Hunt, he termed them, "poor, ignorant 
creatures^ Now this phrase describes the condition of 
nearly all the inmates of our penitentiaries in the United 
States. There is now and then an educated man among 
them, it is true, but generally they are a set of "poor, 
ignorant creatures.^^ If they had been properly educated 
when young, some of them would have been honorable 


and high-minded men, a blessing to themselves and an 
honor to their race. 

And evidently what they need is instruction, to pre- 
vent a repetition of crime. Why should they not have 
it. even in their prisons ? The true object of punish- 
ment is the correction of the offender. But how can we 
correct him if his mind is enshrouded in ignorance; if 
he is low and groveling in all his conceptions, and, 
therefore, has no appreciation of moral truth, and what 
is really for his happiness ? Our common schools are 
established and supported by taxation, on the basis of 
universal intelligence as the safeguard against moral 
depravity. Our States have assumed, that it is wiser to 
pay for the instruction of poor children, than to maintain 
them in crime; and Great Britain is following in our 
footsteps. She has learned that it does not cost the 
United States so much by four htindred per cent to edu- 
cate our children, as it does her own nation to support 
her paupers and her criminals ; and hence recommenda- 
tions have come from the proper sources in that country 
to insure the establishment of free schools somewhat 
similar to our own in the free States. 

If, then, it is in harmony with a wise policy to educate 
children, to keep them out of crime, why is it not equally 
wise to educate them in prison, to prevent a repetition of 
crime? And surely this is what Christianity demands. 
If we are Christians we must not — we cannot punish 
crime out of revenge. Instead of this the obligations of 
our benevolence teach us that while we punish the 
offender to prevent a repetition of crime, we must do him 
all the good in our power. Christianity is not merely 
prohibitory — directing us to avoid "working ill" to an- 
other — but amendatory, requiring us to do him good. 
And we may rest assured, that the legislator whose laws 


are contrived only for the detection and punishment of 
offenders, fulfils but half his duty. If he would con- 
form to the Christian plan, he must also labor and pro- 
vide for their reformation. 

Much has been accomplished already in many prisons, 
in the educational department. But not enough. All 
oar penitentiaries should be so regulated and managed, 
that every man, woman and child, with common mental 
capacity, should be necessitated to learn to read and 
write, if the term of his or her sentence would admit of it. 
They should also be carefully instructed in the principles 
of morals and religion — not the religion of a sect, or 
creed, but the Christian religion, which consists in love 
to God as a Father, and to man as a brother. To this 
end, the most judicious and Christian teachers should 
be selected, who would faithfully discharge their duties. 
A few hundred dollars additional salary is a matter of 
slight consideration.^ The right men should, by all 
means, be employed; for as far as the experiment has 
been tried, the result of furnishing such men and 
spending an hour or two each day in instructing the 
convict, has been most salutary. 

In New-York, teachers are employed in all the prisons. 
In a recent report they say : " In discharging our duties 
as teachers, we think we have been able to discern the 
wisdom which prompted to the establishment of means 
for the instruction of convicts confined in our prisons. 

* Last winter our Ohio Legislature made a move in the right direction 
for the advancement of the Columbus penitentiary convicts. A bill for 
the thorough reorganization of that institution passed through the House 
Committee of the Whole, which contained some excellent provisions. 
Among other things, it was provided that the chaplain be a tutor, at a 
salary of $800 per annum, and to have an assistant at $300 if necessary. 
We were glad to see this, as it was an advancement upon the old system. 
Still it was not advancement enough. To spend all their time in their 
duties, if the right kind of men, they should at least have $400 added to 
the above sums ; while it should have been positively settled that an 
assistant is " necessary." 


The eagerness to learn, which has been manifest on the 
part of the criminals who needed instruction — the atten- 
tion and application which they have evinced, and the 
improvement which they have made, are exceedingly 

A young man writing to his brother, from the Eastern 
Penitentiary of Pennsylvania, where the criminals are 
not only instructed in good trades, but in reading, writ- 
ing, arithmetic, religion, &c., says: — 

" I can now make a good shoe, and the improvement 
of my mind, I leave you to judge by comparing my 
letter to sister of some time since, with this. My mind 
is the main point at which I am aiming. I am deter- 
mined to master the arithmetic, and other books. This 
imprisonment will be the most useful of all my life spent 
so far, and I assure you I shall try to improve by it 
whenever the opportunity offers itself. When I am lib- 
erated, instead of wasting my evenings with engine 
companies, I will attend some useful lecture at the 
Franklin Institute, or in reading books from which I 
can derive some useful information. My eyes are now 
open, and I see the disgrace of being ignorant. I shall 
always look upon this imprisonment as the greatest ben- 
efit I ever had, and when that happy time arrives that I 
can be able to call myself worthy of my relatives, then 
I will look back on these walls, and thank God that I 
3ver inhabited them." 

2. In the Disciplinary Department^ reform is also still 


Prisons are too generally controlled by brute force. 
Blows, chains, the lash, kicking, the screw, the shower- 
bath, and other barbarous and cruel treatment has been 
employed as a means to control and subdue the offender, 
instead of persuasion and kind, Christian, moral means. 


The benevolent Howard beheld this wherever he went; 
and he saw no good resulting from it, but, on the con- 
trary, it but increased the desperation of the offender 
hardened in crime, and utterly froze all his better 
feelings to their very fountain. He, therefore, resolved 
to be governed only by kindness and tenderness in his 
visits to the wretched criminal. " Overcome evil with 
good," he believed to be the true principle; and "experi- 
ence soon convinced him that there was no man so 
debased, or his feelings so callous, but that he could be 
reached and softened by Christian kindness. Blows, 
kicks, starvation and neglect, only turned the heart to 
iron ; but no sooner was the angel voice of this Christ- 
like man heard, and his kindness felt, than the long- 
sealed feelings were opened, the dried up sources of tears- 
were filled, the waters of sorrow flowed, and the heart of 
sin became radiated with deep and undying love for his 
benevolent visitor."* 

Such are the effects of the law of Love, in all prisons 
where it has been made the governing element. Says an 
intelligent gentleman, f in describing what he saw and 
heard during a visit to the Pennsylvania Institution a 
few years ago : " I was greatly pleased to witness the 
effects of kindness, in the gratitude and reverence mani- 
fested toward the warden. We were shown to, and into 
perhaps a score of the cells in one of the wards — not by 
selection, but by succession — and we did not see a single 
instance which would create suspicion of the existence 
of any other law than kindness (associated, of course, 
with firmness.) The address of the warden, a mild and 
kind Quaker, was indeed fatherly; — as, for example, he 
would say, when he let down the iron wicket : 

* Montgomery's Law of Kindness. 
[ Rev. A. C. Thomas, Philadelphia. 



" 'Well, Ned, how does thee get along to-day, my boy? 
Does the work go to suit thee ?' To another, who was 
lying down and was striving to rise quickly, when he 
heard the wicket open — ' There, there, lie still, Sammy, I 
am afraid thee don't feel well to-day. I am bringing 
some friends to see thee, Sammy.' And thus from cell 
to cell we went to see and converse with the prisoners — 
some of them committed for terrible crimes — and the 
good warden was ever the same kind friend, as the evi- 
dent gratitude and respect of the convicts denoted. 

" The punishments, aside from separate confinement 
and the necessity of work, are only two in number ; in 
minor offenses a withholding of food for one or more 
days, and in aggravated cases a removal to what is 
termed the dark cell. Of the latter description, during 
a' year, out of more than 400 prisoners, only 15 were 
thus treated." 

" When he took charge of the prison, he was informed 
of a very hard subject — a stout, violent and very profane 
mariner. He was told that nothing short of great stern- 
ness and severity could tame this rebellious spirit — and 
so it seemed likely to prove, for ofi'enses in violation of 
rules of order, were reported daily of 'Ben.' After a 
week had elapsed, the warden went to the grating of his 
room, and simply said: " Now, Ben, thee must go to the 
dark cell." 

The keepers ironed and removed him as directed. 
He was perfectly furious, and broke out into the most 
violent imprecations, which continued, with scarce an 
interruption, for hours. 

In this state, affairs remained until the next day, 
and taking the advantage of a quiet spell, the warden 
opened the wicket. Ben saluted him with a terrible 
storm of abuse ; — but the warden merely looked at him 


in silence. "For full ten minutes, I should think," said 
the worthy man in relating the incident, "Ben continued 
his bitter tirade of abuse — and I continued to look at 
him in silence. The truth is, I was querying with my- 
self whether I had not taken wrong means to subdue 
this violent man, and was striving to discover some way 
of mending the error. But by-and-bye he was worried 
out with his own vehemence, and he heaved a deep sigh 
and was quiet. 

" Thee has noted such states in children, I suppose. I 
knew it was a tender time with him, and so I said kindly, 

" ' Ben, has thee a mother?' 

" The strong man was subdued in an instant, and 
sobbed like a child. 

" I saw he was melted, and ordered the keepers to 
take off his irons and return him to his cell. Visiting 
him immediately after, I had a long private opportunity 
with him — and to good effect, for he was afterward an 
orderly and well-behaved man. And when his time 
expired he left us with tears. I do not say that he w'as 
altogether a changed man ; hut I do think that kindness 
and tenderness did for Ben what nothing else on earth could 
have accomp lished. ' ' 

Many facts of a similar nature, going to show what 
power there is in the principle of love, to overcome the 
most ignorant and depraved, might be adduced, had we 
space. All the prison keepers, both of this country and 
Europe, who have been at all successful in " taming the 
savage breast," have owed their success to it. They 
could accomplish nothing with vengeance. Some men 
think that jphilosophy is better than Christianity. They 
are not aware that Christianity is the truest philosophy. 
" God made us and not we ourselves." He knows, 
therefore, what is in us and what will answer our moral 


and spiritual wants. And wlien Christ said, " Bless them 
tliat curse you," and Paul exclaimed, " Overcome evil 
with good," a principle of moral philosophy was ejaforced, 
which has been found by actual demonstration, to he the 
only power that will soften the heart of the criminal and 
fill him with better desires and holier resolves. 

Perhaps no man ever lived who was more successful 
in reclaiming and subduing the savage spirit, than Cap- 
tain Pillsbury, of the Weathersfield Prison, in Connecti- 
cut. Previous to his connection with the prison, the 
convicts were visited with the most shameful cruelty. 
The rooms were filthy, whipping was frequent and 
severe, while many of the convicts were kept continually 
in irons. This state of things was not only detrimental 
to industry, for the institution run the State in debt 
every year, but its effect upon the temper of the convicts 
was very injurious, producing in them "a deep-rooted 
and settled malignity." And there were so many recom- 
mitments to this and other prisons, of convicts who had 
been sentenced to it in the first instance, as to demon- 
strate that such treatment did not produce reformation. 
But when Captain Pillsbury took charge of the new 
prison in Weathersfield, and the convicts were removed 
to it from Newgate, he instituted a very different course 
of treatment. He was kind in every respect, yet inflex- 
ibly firm in the discharge of his duty. He substituted 
the law of kindness for severity. Says the Report, " He 
mingles authority and affection in his government and 
instructions, so that the principles of obedience and 
affection flow almost spontaneously towards him from 
the hearts of the convicts." The consequences of such a 
course, were immediate and obvious. The convicts were 
liberated from their irons; their respect and obedience 
to the agent were gained, and the institution began to 


pay for itself by its own labors. There was no institu- 
tion of the kind in the w^hole country so successful. The 
most desperate criminals, who could be tamed nowhere 
else, were sent to Captain Pillsbury, to be charmed into 
staying their term of time out. Even the most ferocious 
were subdued — and all by kindness, confidence and love. 
The most desperately bitter could not stir feelings of 
unkindness within him. If sick, he would watch over 
them with the greatest assiduity by night and by day. 
This was the man, " who, on being told that a desperate 
prisoner had sworn to murder him, speedily sent for him 
to shave him, allowing no one to be present. He eyed 
the man, pointed to the razor, and desired him to pro- 
ceed. The prisoner's hand trembled, but he went 
through it very well. When he had done, the Captain 
said, ' I have been told you meant to murder me, but I 
thought I might trust you.' ' God bless you, sir ! you 
may,' replied the regenerated man. Such is the power 
of faith in man." 

Thus should the spirit of Christianity govern among 
the most sinful. No other principle will reclaim them. 
How important, then, that each State should look care- 
fully after the true interests of its criminals in this 
respect. We are happy to know that Ohio is moving in 
the right direction.* Let other States follow her exam- 
ple, or, what is better, lead the way. Great care should 
be employed in selecting proper keepers and teachers. 
Politics should not govern. Profane, wicked, unfeeling 
demagogues, who may work well for a party, will not do 

* Section 16 of the bill before mentioned, does away with whipping, 
and forbids the striking of a prisoner with a stick, or kicking of him, ex- 
cept where necessary in self-defense. All the officers to demean them- 
selves in as kind, humane and forbearing a manner as is consistent with 
the enforcement of strict discipline— /orZ;2c?s the use of the shower-lath as 
funuhment, except with the consent of a physician. Punishment is to be 
confinem-ent in a dark cell, on bread and water diet. 


here. Their influence is decidedly deleterious. Regard 
should be had to moral purity. The man who occupies 
this position must possess that love which " suffereth 
long and is kind." Honor or emolument must not be 
the leading motive with him in seeking the place. He 
must feel that his work is a kind of mission, under Grod, 
of good to his race — and one which he must not, and 
dare not leave just to get more salary, more leisure, less 
worry or less confinement. "Such a man," says an Eng- 
lish philanthropist, "conducts his work in the spirit, and 
by the instruments of the missionary, JS^ot only teach- 
ing, but praying ; not only admonishing and advising, 
but giving the daily example of patience, kindness, in- 
dustry, endurance, and devotion in his personal life. 
Before such men the stubborn tempers bend, the hard 
hearts soften, the idols of vice and crime are cast down. 
They need not be men of extraordinary talent, but they 
must be men of earnestness, love, and a sound mind.'' 

3. Criminals should he more encouraged than they are, 
while suffering for their offenses. If kind, obedient, 
faithful, and guilty of no infraction of the rules of the 
prison, they should have the credit and the advantage of 
such behavior. Their term of service should be short- 
ened; they should be furnished with a certificate of go^d 
behavior by the warden, on leaving the institution, and 
acquire again the rights of citizenship.* In addition to 
this, the prisoner should have his work allotted him, 
and all he earned over the actual expenses of his impris- 
onment should be given for the support of his family,f 

* All this is provided for in the new bill for the Ohio Penitentiary, to 
which we have before alluded. This is truly Christian, and will have a 
salutary effect. 

t Says Prof. Stowe, in his Report on Education in Prussia, of the pro- 
vision made for the children of criminals : — " When T was in Berlin I 
went into the public prison, and visited every part of the establishment. 
At last I was introduced to a very large hall, which was full of children, 


who were deprived of his assistance by his imprisonment j 
or, if he had no family, it should be paid to himself on 
leaving the prison, that he might have the means of 
support till he could find employment. 

The State prison convict has little enough, at best, to 
encourage him, as he toils in his dismal confinement. 
To know that he is laboring for his wife and children, 
whom his wickedness has made to suffer, would fill his 
heart with gratitude ; and to feel that when his term of 
imprisonment expired, he would be restored to citizen- 
ship and would possess something which his own hands 
had earned, to support him while he sought in the cold 
and unforgiving world for an honest livelihood, would 
cheer him in his gloom, and encourage him to strive for 
that reputation which he had sacrificed by the perpetra- 
tion of crime. The influence of such encouragement 
could not but prove beneficial to all who might be exer- 
cised by it. 

4. Reform is needed in the treatment which the puhlic 
generally bestows on discharged convicts. No matter how 
pure his desires and sincere his resolves to amend his 
life, on his return to the world, he is met with so much 
coldness and distrust on every hand, and he finds it so 
difficult everywhere he is known, to obtain employment 
in consequence of this state of feeling, that he not unfre- 
quently becomes enraged against society; and for the. 
double purpose of obtaining the means of living, and to 
avenge himself on those who seem determined on his 

with their books and teachers, and having all the appearance of a common 
Prussian school-room. ' What,' said 1, ' is it possible that all these chil- 
dren are imprisoned here for crime ?' ' Oh no,' said my conductor, smiling 
at my simplicity; 'but if a parent is imprisoned for crime, and, on that 
account, his children are left destitute of the means of education, and 
liable to grow up in ignorance and crime, the government has them taken 
here, and maintained and educated for useful employment.' The thought 
brought tears to my eyes." 


ruin^ he plunges again into crime, utterly regardless of 
the consequences. 

A young man in writing from his cell in the Eastern 
Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, to his sister, speaks in the 
following confident language: "I am resolved in my soul 
never again to be guilty of crime. Much have I reflected 
on my course since I have been an inmate of this cell, 
and the kindness of my dear mother and sister, and I 
feel sure that I can regain my good name. You say 
uncle is well disposed toward me. I am glad to hear it. 
I am young yet, and I thank God that my eyes are open. 
What is there to hinder me from not only regaining his 
regard, but the regard of all that know me ? Nothing. 
I shall try to do so with all my power, and those hearts 
that have been almost broken by my heedlessness, will 
heave for joy when they see what a diflference this will 
make in me." 

This may have been sincere. At least, it is the duty 
of the Christian to look upon such a case with favor, and 
confide in the subject until he is proven again to be de- 
ceptive. Some say that all "State prison birds" are 
deeply dyed villains — can never be anything else ; and, 
therefore, should never be harbored by any decent 
family. But what a mistake — and how unchristian, nay, 
inhuman the declaration. Thousands have been re- 
claimed. I know a man in my native State, who was 
guilty of robbery to a large amount. He served out his 
term in the State prison, and for more than thirty years 
has been an honest, upright Christian — good father, 
husband and citizen — in possession of a fine farm, and 
is as much respected as any man in the neighborhood. 

Says a gentleman* of Boston, who, for the last twelve 

* Rev. Charles Spear, IJniversalist clergyman. He publishes a valua- 
ble monthly in Boston, called the Prisoner's Friend, which is patron- 


years, has made it his chief labor to find good homes for 
discharged convicts: "I could give hundreds of cases 
where the criminal has been restored to society and the 
confidence of his fellow-men. This whole movement is 
one of the most sublime charity. Heaven must smile 
on the efforts of any one, who in the smallest degree 
shows kindness, and contributes toward the saving of 
the erring and the fallen." 

Suppose, now, that the young man who penned the 
excellent resolves mentioned above, on returning to 
society, should be met only with coldness, distrust, 
sneers and curses; would not such treatment be unchris- 
tian, nay, positively cruel? And could its effects be 
other than injurious upon his soul? See how deplorable 
the condition of such a man, as described by himself: 

" Though his heart be as pure as the dew of heaven 
yet unfallen, yet the gaze of suspicion is immovably fixed 
upon him. The very circle which contains all his sym- 
pathies and his affections is destitute of sociality, of 
pleasure, and consolation. Does he ask forgiveness 
in charity for the past? — not a feeling bosom aspirates a 
pardoning response. Does he give an assurance of pro- 
priety in the future? — even that is sneered at with im- 
movable disbelief The inhuman deride him, and snicker 
at his misfortunes; the unfeeling calumniate him, and 
are not sparing in their invectives. He has no hour of 
peace. Has he a wife? — she is inconstant, or despises 
him. Has he children ? — they scorn to call him father. 
Had he a home? — it is now a lonely ruin. God help the 

ized by humane gentlemen, who always favor discharged convicts, until 
they have reason to doubt their sincerity. Through these friends of Hu- 
manity, by advertising in his paper, Mr. Spear finds homes and employ- 
ment for the blacksmiths, shoemakers, cabinetmakers, &c., Ac, ot Charles- 
town Prison, against their term of imprisonment expires, which is an 
invaluable favor to these unfortunate men. 



' poor man wten affliction thus comes upon him ! ' His 
consolation is scanty, his grief more than plentiful.' 

This picture may be overdrawn, but there is much, 
very much that is true in it. And is it just or humane ? 
Reader, remember, '• It is your Father's good pleasure 
that not one of these little ones should perish." 

Such are our views of the Prison and the duty of the 
State and of every individual, toward the prisoner. The 
reader may condemn them; but we are certain that the 
more he reflects upon them in connection with the 
Christian religion, and a true philosophy, the better will 
he be convinced that they have claims upon his affections 
and his influence, which he must not disregard. Oh, 
that the great world would awaken to a sense of what is 
really divine, and for the good of the human race ! Why 
distrust the power of love ? Why be afraid to exercise 
that charity which is kind, and without which " though 
we give our bodies to be burned," "we are nothing?" 
But this shall not always be. The human family is fast 
moving in the direction of Him who went about doing 
good, and who was "kind to the unthankful and the 
evil." All men shall soon be embraced by the Chris- 
tian's arms of afi'ection. 

" God loves from whole to parts ; but human soul 
Must rise from individual to the whole. 
Self-love but serves the virtuous mind to wake, 
As the small pebble stirs the peaceful lake ; 
The centre mov'd, a circle straight succeeds, 
Another still, and still another spreads ; 
Friend, parent, neighbor, first it will embrace; 
His country next — and next all human race : 
Wide and more wide, th' overflowings of the mind 
Take every creature in, of every kind : 
Earth smiles around, with boundless bounty blest, 
And heaven beholds its image in his breast." 



A Christian Mother and Children, perishing with cold and 
starvation, in the great City, and in the very midst of the 
extravagance of wealth. Page 297. 




Poverty in Christian Lands— England, France, Ireland, Sieotland— iTnited States- 
London -New York— Paiiperism Beggary— Needle Women - Interesting Incident— 
Death by Starvation in Philadelphia and Cincinnati— Romance of a Shirt Sulfering 
in Philadelphia -Working Classes in Great Britain -United States-Many of them 
Slaves— Family Stowage in New-York— Inhumanity of Christians. 

The author of these pages cannot send them forth 
without offering a plea — brief though it is — in behalf of 
the doomed victims of poverty, that everywhere exist, 
especially in civilized, Christian lands. 

" The POOR ye have always." What millions are scat- 
tered abroad in Christendom ! As we look out upon the 
great world, how do we behold them coming up from the 
dens and kennels — the cellars and garrets — the alleys 
and lanes of great cities; and from the jails and poor- 
houses, the highways and by-ways of our earth ! 

We contemplate Europe — England, France, Ireland, 
Scotland, Spain, Germany, Russia — and wherever we 
turn our attention, what an army of perishing creatures, 
in rags and wretchedness, rise up before us ! In Eng- 
land, every sixteenth man is a pauper. In France, 
nearly. 5, 000, 000 are beggars and paupers. In Ireland, 
from the Government report of July 3, 1847, there 
were 3,030,712 who subsisted on public alms. In Scot- 
land, " thirteen per cent of the population are paupers 



and live on the charities of their fellow-men." In Grreat 
Britain (England, Ireland and Scotland), an immense 
number of ragged, starving creatures, lie down every 
night on their bundle of straw, or the damp earth, not 
knowing where they may repose the succeeding night, 
nor how to procure a loaf of bread to prevent utter star- 
vation. In London alone, there are 30,000 professional 
beggars. The census for 1854, taken in that city in the 
night, shows over 20,000 destitute of a roof to cover 
them. Fourteen thousand were "sleeping on doorsteps, 
in hay-lofts and alleys, and under boxes, casks and carts, 
and in barges, boats and other vessels." In Paris there 
are 40,000 of the same description of perishing ones, and 
in all the cities of Europe nearly as many, in ratio to 
the population. 

How vast the number in Europe, then, that are thus 
cursed with poverty. What mind can conceive, or 
tongue tell, or pen describe, the amount of mental and 
physical suffering connected with it 

When we turn to a contemplation of our own country, 
the scene is less gloomy and sorrowful, but bad enough. 
The report for the State of New- York in 1855, shows the 
county paupers in that state to be 84,934; town paupers, 
18,412; the number temporarily relieved, 159,092; — total 
number relieved and supported, 204,161, at an aggregate 
expense of $1,279,959.51. Taking New- York for a 
basis, and our country contains not less than 500,000 
paupers. Beggars, of course, are not included in this 
estimate. In all our large cities this class is numerous. 
Said the " New- York Journal of Commerce," two years 
ago: "Those of our city who have good homes, and 
habitually lay their heads upon comfortable pillows, can 
scarcely believe that every night hundreds of men and 
women are wandering houseless about the streets of this 




great metropolis, without a place to shelter them. The 
Chief of Police reports that during six months preceding 
last November, 21,620 persons were furnished with 
lodgings in the various station houses in our city. This 
would give us more than 43,000 for the year. But 
probably not half of the number destitute of homes were 
found and assisted by the police : so that really there 
were more than 100,000 souls in this city during the 
year, destitute of a place of repose for the night. What 
an amazing amount of misery is concentrated in this 
single fact." 

But the paupers and the beggars do not constitute 
the sum total of the poor. Would to God they did. 
The great mass of the poor are those who are struggling 
by toil, privation, and even in destitution, to get bread 
and clothing for themselves and children, and a place to 
shelter them from the cold and the storm, without begging^ 
or calling upon the public authorities for aid. Oh, my 
God! How many thousands exist everywhere in Chris- 
tendom, of this description ! I see them now, in the 
city — the village — the country. I see them living — 
suffering in garrets and cellars — and pent-up rooms — 
with no ventilation ; damp, filthy, destructive to health 
and happiness. I see the widow and the orphan — and 
the honest poor man, with a large family — weak and 
sickly himself from long and constant toil to furnish 
bread and clothing for his dear ones. I behold them all 
in poverty ; at times positively suffering for the want of 
bread and fuel ; and yet toiling on and on, from week to 
week, year in and year out, perhaps without a murmur, 
and yet with no hope of relief. 

Cincinnati contains more than 6000 females, who earn 
a scanty subsistence with the needle by working from 
fourteen to seventeen hours per day. The youthful, 


already broken down with intense toil, and tlie aged, 
with wrinkled brow and tottering steps and husky voice, 
are among the number. Some of them once lived in 
affluence. But their riches have taken wings and flown, 
and the husband and the children have passed to " the 
land of rest." We met one of this description a few 
days since in a grocery, where she was purchasing her 
half-pound of sugar and a very little flour and tea. She 
was "in mourning." For long years had she worn the 
same faded bonnet and little black shawl — for long 
years had passed since the last dear son had been claimed 
by the destroying scourge as it passed through the land. 
A lonely widow is she now, " with no kin in the country." 
She had rented a room in the fourth story of a building 
situated ten squares, or a mile and a half from the shop 
of her employer, who keeps a clothing establishment 
For this man she manufactures vests at 20 cents each. 

" Eight a week, by working very late of nights," said 
she, "is the best I can do. That gives me $1.60, out of 
which I have to pay one dollar a week for my rent and 
fuel ; which leaves me only 60 cents for bread and clothes. 
Oh, sir, sometimes I feel that I cannot hold out much 
longer.* I am now seventy-one years of age, and have to 
get up and down the stairs four stories^ which is very 
wearisome, sir !" 

She had upon her arm her eight vests, which her toil 
had finished, and she continued : 

" Do you not think my employer very hard, sir? I 

* How much sympathy should be shown this class of virtuous and in- 
dustrious persons — aged and infirm widows. The late Mr. Graham, of 
Brooklyn, New-York, has established on a scale of princely munificence, 
a spacious Public Hospital, now nearly completed, on Raymond street: and 
an asylum, four or five blocks of f, for Poor Aged Women! Beautiful 
deed I What monuments must such works as these be, so far beyond col- 
amns of brass, or statues of marble, or even Ugacies to the Board of 
Foreign Mifnon*, 


have been all the way to his store on this hot day, to 
take these vests, and he refused to receive them and pay 
me for them, because I was one day he/ore my time. I 
must go again to-morrow, which will require half the 
day, besides climbing the stairs. Indeed, sir, it is very 
hard. I fear I shall not hold out much longer. God 
knows what will become of me when that time arrives. I 
cannot beg — and how can I go to the poor-house ! But 
I must not repine. Grod is my shepherd and I shall not 

Ah, me ! a man feels to weep when he listens to such 
tales, and knows them to be true, though it is not his 
mother who thus toils and suffers. An aged woman of 
this description literally starved to death in the city of 
Philadelphia, in the winter of 1842, for the want of the 
means of procuring bread. These M^ords were found 
upon her table : " / cannot steal, and to keg I am ashamed. ^^ 
During the same week the following appeared in one of 
the daily papers-f^ of Cincinnati : — 

A Case of Starvation. — Night before last about 9 
o'clock, as J. H. Singer, a shoe dealer on Fifth street, 
was passing along Water street, near Vine, his attention 
was attracted to a little girl not over eight years of age, 
who just then issued from an old desolate-looking frame 
house, crying piteously. The forlorn appearance of the 
child, together with the real anguish which seemed to 
weigh upon her so heavily, induced Mr. S. to approach 
and enquire the cause of her tears. She started with 
evident fear at the sound of his voice, but in a moment 
perceiving he was a stranger, besought him to give her 
fpur cents to buy a loaf of bread. " 0, pray do, sir," 
said the poor child, " mother is sick and so hungry," and 

* Crncinnati Daily Times. 

298 PERISHING ONES. va.' * 


again her tears fell. Where is your mother? enquired 
Mr. S., who felt the full force of this appeal. 

"Here, here, come, I will show you," cried the child. 
Mr. S. did as desired, and after traversing a filthy pas- 
sage and descending a broken stairway, looked upon one 
of the most harrowing scenes of human misery, such as 
would have softened with pity the hardest heart. The 
apartment was part of a dark, damp cellar, without a 
spark of fire, and bare of the most trifling article con- 
ducive to comfort — not a chair, table, or indeed anything 
save an old trunk and mattress lying in the middle of 
the floor, could be seen to denote the abode of any living 

On the mattress, however, lay the form of a woman 
about 25 years of age, reduced almost to a skeleton. At 
first sight Mr. S. thought her dead, but on observing her 
more closely he ^discovered she was still alive, though 
unable to move hand or foot. Directing the girl to re- 
main where she was for a few minutes, he went out and 
purchased a small bottle of cordial and some little arti- 
cles of food, with which he immediately returned to the 
wretched habitation. Mixing a portion of the cordial 
with water, he applied it to the unfortunate woman's 
lips, but for some moments without effect. At length, 
however, she opened her eyes, and with evidently a pain- 
ful eff'ort, faintly articulated the word " bread." Mr. S. 
gave it to her at first in very small pieces dipped in the 
cordial. Soon, under this kind treutment, she began to 
regain a little strength, and finally, in about three hours 
after the little girl's aff'ecting supplication for her parent, 
she was able to converse and move her limbs. 

She proved to be a widow, whom poverty and ill-health 
had reduced to this sad extremity. " It was so hard to 
ask for assistance," she said. And when the truth was 

l»ERISHINa ONES.' 299 

known, it was ascertained that she had stinted herself to 
feed her children, till death was about to relieve her of 
her sufferings ! 

And all this in the very midst of abundance, wealth, 
luxury, and a hundred Christian Churches, whose spires 
pierce the clouds. 

These are isolated cases, we know. But few literally 
starve for the want of bread; but, oh, God! how many 
suffer! How many perish inch by inch, as the heart's 
blood oozes out drop by drop ! How many are doomed 
to toil all their days, and at last cry out to the cold, un- 
feeling world, "Give me bread — Oh, give me bread, or I 
die!" In every great city of our beloved country and 
of the world, thousands of this description can be found: 
notwithstanding the profusion of wealth and professions 
of humanity and Christian charity which everywhere 
abound. Behold a scene, as painted by another :^ 

"Look yonder! Is it not a magnificent festival that 
flashes along the wide hall, with its pillars, its draperies, 
its columns 1 Ah! it is a gay scene ! Elegantly dressed 
men and beautiful women swaying gently along the 
bounding floor, while the music of a full band bursts 
upon your ears. This world is not so bad, after all. 
Who talks of misery and rags in Philadelphia, while 
these rich wines flow, these satins glisten, and these jew- 
els flash from panting bosoms ? 

" But hold ; let me tell you a romance connected with 
this ball-room: yes, a romance of a shirt: and, mark ye, 
those who may laugh at the title of this romance may 
pray God to forgive them for it, ere I have done. 

'Let me tell you, then, the Bomance of a Shirt. Yes, 
that elegant shirt, clothing the bosom of yonder gay, 
good-humored man — his pleasant face grows pleasanter 

From the writings of George Lippaxd, Philadelphia. 


with genial cliampagne — in the ball-room : let me tell 
you the Romance of this Shirt. You smile : it is 
indeed a laughable thing — to look upon that Shirt and 
remember that every stitch has been drenched with a 
widow's tears — every thread along its carefully wrought 
surface has been baptized with the sighs of a breaking 
heart: that candle, held in the skeleton hand of Poverty, 
has lighted the White Slave and shone on her hot eye- 
balls, as she listened to the moans of a child for bread, 
and worked on, at the Shirt, sixteen weary hours ; and 
all for — just enough to ' keep body and soul together.'' 

" Come with me now through this spacious street, 
flashing with a thousand lights ; the Theatre glaring 
here, and the Kum Palace there : let us at once dive into 
the recesses of yonder darkened court. 

" Into this old house, with rags and straw stuffed in 
the window panes — up the dark stairs, that creak be- 
neath our tread — into this lonely room. 

" Ah! there is not much of romance in this scene. 

" A lonely woman, clad in faded attire, sitting there by 
a flaring light, working away, with hot eyeballs and fe- 
verish hands, at the very Shirt which you have seen in 
yonder ball-room! 

" Thus she has toiled for twelve long hours : and now, 
while her orphan children are lying there, moaning in 
their hungry sleep, there sits the mother, without bread 
or fire, toiling on with hot eyeballs and trembling fin- 
gers — toiling on all day and all the night for this tre- 
mendous sum — a single Eleven-penny bit ! Twelve 
and a half cents for one long winter's day of hunger, 
toil, and cold — laughable, is it not? 

" And that flaring light glares in her face — shows the 
shrunken outlines — the eyes unnaturally large and dark 
— the under lip quivering, and quivering, as the poor 


Widow tries tO ohoke down the deep agony niounting to 
her throat. 

" This faded woman once dwelt amid scenes of com- 
fort—luxury. She never dreamed that the lot of the 
poor Child of Toil would be hers; never for a moment 
thought that the splendid mansion would dwindle into 
a dark, cold room; the dazzling chandelier into this 
flickering candle; the light of a husband's smile into 
this gloom of hopeless toil ; the warm, happy forms of 
childhood into those starved and ragged things in yonder 
corner! — The husband died suddenly; his estate was in- 
solvent: and now the story is clear. What claim has the 
widow on the tenderness of society? Poor — she must 
toil, and toil for the task-master, who chooses to reap hig 
profit — that is the word— from the loss of her health, the 
nakedness of her children. 

<' An isolated case? Cherish the idea, if it saves you 
the expense of a blush. But still the fact festers on the 
forehead of your barbarous city civilization. There are 
at hast Ten Thousand poor and virtuous women in Philadel- 
phia^ who^ suddenly impoverished hy the death of a hushandy 
a father ^ or a brother, are forced to toil at various occupa- 
tions for just such a pittance as ' WILL keep body and 


<' Beautiful lady, darling of Chestnut street, now float- 
ing in the dance in yonder ball-room, can you tell me 
how much agony was woven up with the threads of that 
splendid robe which envelops your voluptuous form ? 

"Wear it; and while your bosom pants beneath it, 
forget if you can your Slave Sister, who toiled sixteen 
hours a day on this very dress, and now, wljU§ you 
bound in the dance, clutches the pittance in her con- 
sumptive hand, and goes to her crust — to her sic|f piQthr 
er-— to her desolate home. 


" Laugh, my gay beauty: it will show the ivory white- 
ness of your teeth : but remember — a whisper in your 
ear — to-night your father is stricken with an apoplectic 
fit — his wealth wrecked in hopeless insolvency — and to- 
morrow you must become the White Slave, make shirts 
for twelve and a half cents, vests for a quarter of a dol- 
lar, dresses like the one you now wear for just enough 
to buy your bread, or 

" Shall I picture the alternative ? There is a great 
deal of luxury to be had in this large city for the mere 
sacrifice of a woman's virtue." 

High wrought as is this description, those who know 
best affirm that it is not fkr from the truth. All over 
the world, the same classes are to be found. In New- 
York, Boston, New-Orleans, London, Paris, "their name 
is legion." With the other sex the same condition pre- 
vails. The census of London for 1855 shows that there 
are in that city " 20,000 journeyman tailors, of whom 
14,000 earn a miserable existence by working 14 hours 
a day, at twenty cents, including Sunday. There are also 
in the same city, 30,000 sewing women, who, on an 
average, make only 5Jd, or 9 cents a day, by working 14 
hours — not quite three-fourths of a cent per hour." 
Throughout Great Britain, France and, indeed, nearly 
all Europe, the same condition prevails among the labor- 
ing classes. They are simply slaves. In the collieries 
and workshops of England, men toil for a mere pittance, 
half clad, living upon the most wretched fare ; while in 
the factories their condition is no better, but more 
dreadful. Six pence or a shilling a day is the extent of 
■Jt^ a man's earnings. The consequence is, that if he has a 
wife and children, all must go into the factory, in order 
to obtain the means of subsistence. " Thousands of lit- 


tie children not over six years of age, from the very pov- 
erty of their parents, who have been employed from 
infancy in the same trade, are obliged to enter these 
places of toil, and there delve from twelve to sixteen 
hours per day, or die with starvation. Indeed, these 
factories are the homes of vast numbers of the suffering 
poor in England. Half starved, and half clad, they toil 
through the day, and rest their weary bodies at night 
upon their chairs or stools, or lie down wherever they 
chance to be, upon the hard, bare floor." 

" Work — work — work I 
From weary chime to chime ; 

Work — work — work ! 
As prisoners work, for crime ! 
And what its wages'? A bed of straw, 
A crust of bread and rags^ 

This is the condition of more than 50,000,000 of our 
fellow creatures in Christian Europe. No wonder they 
look to America, the Land of Promise, for " rest and a 

But even here, as we have seen. Poverty stalks abroad 
all over the land. " The destruction of the poor is — 
their poverty." They are ignorant, not from choice but 
from necessity. They are the " hewers of wood and 
drawers of water." Men of mind and energy use them 
as tools, and out of their sweat and sinews coin gold — 
the American god. Their toil furnishes the luxuries of 
the rich man's table, and builds charming mansions for 
rich men's families — while they and theirs subsist on the 
coarsest food, and are huddled together in miserable 


dens,* comfortless and squalid, which they rent at ex- 
travagant prices from their rich employers. Such is the 
condition of the world — and our own blessed country is 
not exempt. 

* A recent official investigation into the occupation of what are 
known as " tenement houses " in New-York, has resulted in showing 
( not for the first time ) a most prolific cause of crime and degradation. 
In many cases five-story houses were found to contain from twenty to 
thirty families — mostly of a low order and filthy habits. In one of the 
wards one hundred and twenty-one tenement houses were found to con- 
tain two thousand two hundred and thirty -seven families, or eighteen and 
a half families to each house, and in many of the houses a portion of the 
ground floor is used for a shop. In one house one hundred and twelve 
families were found ! 



The Life and Spirit of Christ— His Humility— Design of Christianity-Christ nnfelt 
in the Church— Christianity provides for the Wants of the Body, as well as the Wants 
of the Soul— Christians neglect Poor Men's Bodies in their Attention to the Soul— 
Catholic Church— Its Neglect of the Poor-A Farce. 

In tlie preceding chapter we have presented a bird's- 
eye view of the condition of the perishing classes in 
Christendom, where Churches dedicated to Him who 
"came to preach the Grospel to the poor," are in every 
hamlet and upon every hillside; — where ministers of 
this same Gospel are as numberless as the stars of heaven 
— where Bibles and prayer books can be had for nothing, 
and a cart load of tracts thrown in — and where $10,000,- 
000 can be spared annually to send the Gospel to the 
heathen, while in Christian lands there are 50,000,000 
of God's children, who cannot read his word, and are 
pleading with hearts of anguish, not for wealth, nor even 
comfort, but for bread to prevent starvation, and for rags 
to cover their nakedness. 

Cannot this condition of things be bettered? 

Certainly. There is no difficulty in the way, if we 
would only be Christians. 

But how? 

By paying our working classes better; — by making 

laws for the improvement of the homes of the poor, and 

doing more for their education ; — by taking away from 

work its curse of shame, and by looking more after the 

26 (305) 


affairs of the millions of " little ones and weak" who 
have no eyes to look for themselves. 

All this can be done ; and we repeat, it would be 
done, and done very speedily, if all those who profess to 
be the followers of Christ, but possessed his spirit and 
practiced his doctrines. 

To know what Christianity was, and what it required 
when Jesus lived and labored on earth, and what it 
should he in the nineteenth century, we should look to 
Him — his life, spirit, teachings and acts. 

And what was the life and spirit of Christ? All have 
read the lives of the great and renowned — a Caesar, an 
Alexander, a Napoleon — but what was the life and spirit 
of Jesus. 

Did he seek wealth or fame? Was he led by worldly 
ambition, and did he study to secure the favor of the 
great and influential ? Did he repose in the luxury of 
rich men's palaces, or pass his days in idleness and sen- 
suality? Oh, no! Never! He dwelt rather in the 
hovels of the poor, and the dens of misery. The weak, 
the ignorant, the widow and the fatherless, the mourning 
and suffering, shared his attention as he went about do- 
ing good, ever intent upon the great object of his mis- 
sion, to comfort and bless the poor, the unfortunate, the 
ignorant and the suffering. 

Behold Him in his humility — his love — his wisdom. 
He wears no silk, or purple, or glittering diadem. A 
coarse robe falls from his shoulders, and his feet are 
shod with worn and tattered and dusty sandals. He is all 
humility ; and it is the humility of love and wisdom. 

See him as he wends his way along the highways, and 
through the valleys of Gralilee, on his errand of mercy to 
the poor and the afflicted. Behold him at the pool of 
Bethsaida, amidst the sick and lame and dying; at the 


grave of Lazarus, weeping with the afflicted ; ia the 
poor widow's hut, sharing her scanty crust with orphans, 
and breathing words of encouragement into their ears. 
Everywhere and always he is the same kind, compassion- 
ate and benevolent Being, toiling and suffering to im- 
prove and bless the little ones and the weak of the hu- 
man race. Oh, yes! He was consecrated by the Father 
for this very purpose. Hear him exclaiming to the 
proud Pharisees in the midst of the splendor and beauty 
of a sumptuous synagogue — " The spirit of the Lord is 
upon me, for he hath anointed me to preach the Grospel 
to the poor. He hath sent me to heal the broken-heart- 
ed, to preach deliverance to the captive, recovering of 
sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 
and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Here 
we behold the design of Christianity. Jesus was conse- 
crated, not to distract men with cold formulas, or fright- 
en them with awful declarations of Grod's wrath, or tor- 
ment them with the mysteries of subtile creeds, or save 
their souls from some dreadful doom in the world of 
spirits ; but to raise up and encourage the oppressed, to 
strengthen the weak, to bless the poor, heal the broken- 
hearted, and give all a hope of a happy immortality ; in 
a word, to show sympathy for^ and render assistance to the 
very classes that needed assistance and coidd obtain it from 
no other source. 

And how constantly and faithfully was he devoted to 
the heavenly mission entrusted to his care. I see the 
blind beggar, covered with rags — the maniac, foaming 
with madness — the sick, sinful, and the victims of out- 
rage and wrong, all pressing around him with hope and 
joy ; and as he lays his hands upon them and exerts his 
heaven-derived power in their behalf, what a thrill of 
joy runs from heart to heart, and how are the souls of 


the once doomed and despairing overflowing with grati- 
tude and peace ! 

This was the Christianity of Christ — the blessed Son 
of Grod — the Savior of the world. It should be the Chris- 
tianity of our day. But, alas ! how little do we see of 
Jesus in the Christian world — or Church, after a lapse 
of eighteen centuries! Where is the spirit — where the 
example of Christ? Fellow Christian, •! put this ques- 
tion to you. The poor, the unfortunate, are still with 
us; but is Jesus with us? Do we cultivate a desire to 
visit the abodes of squallor and wretchedness ? Do we 
say, " Come, our Master has taught us by his own spirit 
and example to go out into the by-ways and alleys of our 
city, and seek for the kennels where starvation, leprosy, 
and rags are mingled, and where the bitterness of despair 
is experienced ? Let us go and do them good." Nay, 
nay ! But we are ashamed of the very classes whom 
Christ delighted to bless, and has instructed us to assist. 
Behold the rich, the most fashionable and the most in- 
fluential portion of the Christian Church, looking down 
with contempt on the poor and suffering. Some are pos- 
itively mad with vexation, when called from the luxury 
of a divan in a sumptuous parlor, to listen at the kitchen 
door to the tale of some poor widow whose orphan chil- 
dren are starving for bread. They " wonder what these 
straggling wretches were made for," and why they are 
permitted to "disturb respectable folks in their houses." 
If the Lord Jesus himself were on earth, clad in his 
coarse raiment, with feet torn by the road-side flint, and 
hair matted with the dews and rains of heaven, and the 
dust from rich men's chariots, he would be driven from 
the dwellings and the Churches of these fashionable 
Christians — and perhaps shut up in the poor-house or 
jail, with felons. 


The doctrine of Christ is in perfect harmony with his 
spirit and acts. He taught that God is the common 
Father of the human race. " Have we not all one Father, 
hath not one God created us?" This interesting ques- 
tion, asked by one of the ancient servants of God, was 
answered in the affirmative by Jesus. All, therefore, are 
children of the same Father — members of the same 
household — brethren. Here is the great central prin- 
ciple of the Christian religion. It should cement the 
whole family of man in one holy bond of sympathy and 
interest. We are brethren and sisters; all subjects of 
the same infirmities, governed by the same laws, liable 
to the same afflictions, and destined to the same immor- 
tality. Should there not be union, sympathy and mu- 
tual aid among the members of this household? Will 
the brother who has an abundance, stand unmoved at 
the poverty and suffering of some weakly-born or igno- 
rant member of his Father's household? That would 
be unnatural — inhuman. The strong must provide for 
and protect the weak. God works by means ; and here 
is the means he has instituted to secure the preservation 
of those who, through sickness or weakness or misfor- 
tune, cannot take care of themselves. Everywhere in 
the inspired word has he plainly enforced this duty. 
" The rich and the poor dwell together, and the Lord is 
the Maker of them all." We are "one body of many 
members," of whom Christ is the head. " Whoso hath 
this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and 
shutteth up his bowels of compassion, how dwelleth the 
love of God in him? My little children, let us not love 
in word and in tongue, hut in deed and in truth T^^ 
Again: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a 
man say he hath faith, and have not works ? Can faith 

* 1 John, 3 : 17. • ■ 


save him? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute 
of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in 
peace, be ye warmed and filled, notwithstanding ye give 
them not those things which are needful to the body, 
what doth it profit?"* 

From all this, it is clear that Christianity demands 
the physical comfort, as well as spiritual good, of those 
for whom it was designed. It would " provide things 
needful for the body,'' as well as look after the wants of 
the soul. How can men and women, whose bodies are 
actually perishing with cold and hunger, give proper 
heed to the aspirations of religion? And yet, our doe- 
tors of divinity, our clergymen, and the Church every- 
where, are praying day and night, and laboring with the 
utmost diligence for the salvation of immortal souls 
from hell and from purgatory, while they will not move 
a finger to relieve poor, suffering, mortal bodies ! Mil- 
lions of dollars are raised, annually, in England and 
America, to save the souls of the benighted heathen in 
foreign lands, while in our own cities and around our 
own homes, the bodies of thousands of poor women and 
orphan children are perishing, inch by inch, for bread. 
The minister of God, when called to the bed-side of 
some poor dying wretch, whose very sickness is the con- 
sequence of his poverty, and the sufi"ering of his starving 
wife and children, prays with the most holy unction, an 
hour and a half, for the salvation of the soul of the gasp- 
ing sufferer ; but he says nothing — he thinks nothing, 
about the physical wants of this man and his family. 

Behold the millions annually extorted by Catholic 
priests from the poor of her Church, for the purpose of 
erecting gorgeous temples, and other costly edifices, 
where the souls of the Church are to be cared for; but 

♦James, 2: 14—17. 


how seldom do they look after the physical wants of her 
millions of perishing votaries. A poor Irish woman, in 
deep distress, once called on the author of these pages, 
for assistance. He investigated her case, gave accord- 
ing to his scanty means, and suggested that her priest 
would do something in her behalf, " Ah, sir," exclaimed 
the suffering creature, ^'■the priest takes all, but gives no- 
thing.^' In many instances this is literally true. He 
takes the last dollar from the ignorant and superstitious, 
for looking after the wants of their souls, and then turnsj 
them over to the world, to look after their starving, rag-' 
ged bodies. And this is the Christianity of the nine- 
teenth century. Great God what a farce ! How long 
to its end? 



Personal and National Pride and Fashion hold Rule in the Church— Charity thrust 
out— Landed Estates of Great Britain in Possession of the Aristocracy— Twenty-Six 
Millions destitute of a foot of Territory— The Church the Aristocracy— Cost of main- 
taining it comes upon the Poor— Enormous Expense of maintaining the Royal Family- 
Facts stated— Christ and the British Queen— France and her Millions expended for 
Ornament-Spain and her Christianity-Strange Charity of a Queen— What America 
is doing. 

We repeat, the condition of the poor would be looked 
after, their wants supplied, the workers better paid — 
their homes improved, their minds and hearts benefitted, 
if Christians were what they profess to be — the fol- 
lowers OP Christ. There is no insurmountable barrier 
in the way. God's earth is sufficiently spacious for all. 
It can be made to produce enough for the subsistence of 
five hundred times its present population. The means to 
accomplish the work of improving the poor are abun- 
dant. All we lack is disposition. But, alas ! how great 
is this lack ! While we profess to love Christ and hu- 
manity, and desire to worship only these, we trample 
them in the very dust of the earth in our eagerness to 
approach the altars of Power, Ambition, Gold and 
Fashion ! These are the gods we worship ! 

Look at the facts. 

The question which concerns the happiness of the 
50,000,000 beggars, paupers and toiling suff'erers in 
Christendom, is one of exceeding importance. But do 
sovereigns or kingly assemblies ever consider it for the 
purpose of devising ways and means for their relief? 


Never. It is not their policy. G-reat Britain contains 
27,000,000 of inhabitants; 26,400,000 of whom own not 
one inch of landed property. All the territory of that 
realm is in the possession of less than 60,000 families ; 
so that more than ticenty-six millions of the people of 
that nation, the most enlightened, Christian and loealthy 
on the face of the earth, are the vassals and slaves of an 
aristocracy. And the blackest feature of the whole 
abominable system is exhibited in the fact that the 
Church of England constitutes that aristocracy. 

The established religion is Episcopacy. The king is 
the supreme head, and the Church is governed by two 
archbishops and twenty-five bishops, who have seats in 
the House of Lords, and are styled spiritual lords. The 
archbishops have the title of Grace and most reverend 
father in God by divine jyermission, and are " enthroneds'^ 
Bishops are addressed with the title, Lord and right rev- 
erend father in God by divine permission, and are simply 
installed. These men really have no sympathy for the 
poor and suffering classes of Cod's children. They live 
in the most princely style, enjoying an annual income 
each, of from $50,000 to $1,000,000; so that instead of 
assisting the poor, the Church aristocracy of England 
grinds them to dust. The greatest curse that the poor 
of that realm ever felt, was the law established through 
the influence of the Church itself, which required one- 
tenth of their annual income for the support of the 

The entire government of England is equally crush- 
ing, and the poor have no possible means of redre.-s. 
When Victoria, " the Defender of the Faith," ascended 
the throne, she had the pleasure, as youthful as she was, 
of giving her official sanction to an act of Parliament, 
settling nearly $2,000,000 a year upon herself for life ; 


at the same time, the allowance to her mother was in- 
creased to $40,000 a year. The Queen now draws from 
the civil list of Ireland and Scotland, poor and wretched 
as they are, the sum of $1,415,000, in addition to the 
amount voted her by Parliament, making an annual in- 
come of $3,340,000. Besides all this, the income fixed 
by Parliament for the maintenance of Albert, the hus- 
band of the Queen, is $150,000 annually; and the Queen 
has heaped upon him lucrative appointments to such an 
extent, that the aggregate of their entire income is now 
$4,988,650 every year, simply for personal and domestic 
expenditure. So that the cost of the government of Eng- 
land, for the maintenance of the Queen, her royal hus- 
band and royal children, is at least five millions of 
DOLLARS A YEAR ! Look at that now, and consider that 
while $800,000 are appropriated annually to replenish 
the table and wine cellar of the Royal Family, there are 
in the city of London, and almost within sight of the 
Royal Palace, 30,000 professional beggars, and more than 
50,000 widows, orphan children, and toiling poor, who 
are slowly wasting into their rude graves for the want of 
a sufficiency of wholesome food. Look at that, and con- 
sider that while the Queen has three magnificent palaces 
appropriated to her use, within the borders of her realm 
there are millions existing in wretched shantees, cellars 
and garrets, in filth and vermin, with disease which fes- 
ters and rankles within them, many of whom are ready 
at any moment, to " curse God and die." Look at that, 
and remember that the Queen of England is a professed 
Christian, and at the head of the Church of England, 
which professedly is the Church of Christy the friend of 
the poor. Look upon the splendor of her throne, the 
gold and purple and costly jewels which glitter and flash 
upon her person, and then think of Christ, her great 


spiritual King, with his tattered robe all covered with 
the dust of rich men's chariots, and his unsandalled feet, 
torn and bruised by the road-side flint, as he hastened 
from place to place " to preach the Gospel to the poor, 
and bind up the bleeding heart." How dissimilar, when 
contrasted, do they appear. The one in poverty and 
rags, but comforting and protecting the "little ones and 
the weak" of God's earth — and the other, clothed with 
wealth, glittering with fashion and splendor, but with 
her heel treading upon the necks, and pressing the life's 
blood from the hearts of these same perishing ones. 
And the Church and Parliament and aristocracy of 
Great Britain sanction, sustain and perpetuate this con- 
dition of things: which shows that the Church worships 
power, fashion, national pride, rather than Christ.^ 

So with any nation in Christendom. France, for in- 
stance, Christian though she professes, with her 180,242 
regular and secular clergy and nuns, and $700,000,000 
of Church property, while she enslaves her poor and 
grinds them to powder, makes gods of her rich and in- 
fluential. Nothing can exceed the extravagance of her 
court. More than $500,000,000 are expended annually 
for ornament and show, by the people of Paris, and yet 
France has nearly 5,000,000 of paupers and beggars 
within her borders. At the birth of the royal Prince, a 
short time since, presents to the amount of nearly 
2,000,000 francs were forwarded to the Empress for the 
royal infant; while the starving and perishing of the 

* The Queen of England is unquestionably a benevolent woman, natu- 
rally. The facts presented above show the love of power and the force 
of education. The sin of Great Britain in lavishing so much upon the 
crown, while it starves its poor, is enormous. A few months since the 
Queen called on Parliament for an appropriation of $32,000 a year, to 
maintain the stables of the young Prince ; which is $7,000 more than is 
appropriated annually by the United States to maintain the White 
ffouse at Washington. 


nation were forgotten * Prof. Paul Dubois, the attending 
physician, received 30,000 francs for his services, and the 
public demonstrations of joy at the event cost $500,000. 

Spain, so far as her means will permit, shows that her 
Christianity is in keeping with that of France and Eng- 
land, though more superstitious. She never legislates 
for the poor, but always agaiiist them. A short time 
since the Queen of that country, forgetting the wants of 
her suflfering subjects, gave a new cloak, ornamented 
with garnets to the value of 200,000 reals, to a statue of 
the Virgin Sonons. In this strange act is exhibited the 
character not only of her charity, but her Christianity. 
Famishing and perishing human beings, by thousands, 
are at her very feet begging for aid, and she passes by 
them all to bestow her gifts on a cold, lifeless statue. 

In our own country, the inconsistency of our Christi- 
anity is apparent, though not of the same character. 
Our form of government is more republican. The White 
House in Washington is not so gorgeous as the Queen's 
Palace in London; and the Presidential Chair yields but 
$25,000 a year, instead of $5,000,000, for which we 
should be duly grateful to God and the wisdom of our 
ancestors. Yet such is the character of our government, 
the want of true Christian sentiment, and the spirit of 
patriotism among the leading politicians and law-makers 
of our nation, that while we economize in the President's 
salary, we permit millions of the public moneys to be 
squandered in electioneering purposes. How much effort 
is made, and time and means spent by legislative bodies, 
to aggrandize " the party," extend the borders of the 
Republic, and build up personal and selfish interests ; 
but how little in aid of any cause of real humanity. We 

* With honor be it remembered, that the Emperor had many of the 
presents, or an eqaivalent, appropriated to the wants of the poor. 


have no money for benevolence ; no time to pass laws for 
the improvement of the homes of our poor, or benefitting 
the social condition of the unfortunate — but time enough 
to annex new States, to quarrel with our neighbors, leg- 
islate ourselves into bloody wars with them, and millions 
at command to defray all expenses. 

By thus glancing at the ruling motives of some of the 
leading nations in Christendom, in the administration of 
government, we behold the inconsistency of our Christi- 
anity. The truth is, there is no government on earth 
that is, in the slightest degree, entitled to the name 
Christian. The plea offered both by nations and indi- 
viduals, for the neglect of the doomed millions of our 
earth, is a want of means to assist them. England, France 
and Russia have always presented this ostensibly as an 
apology for their apathy ; and yet France herself ac- 
knowledged that the Russian war, while it raged during 
the last two years, cost in the aggregate the enormous 
sum of one million of dollars per day^ or over one thousand 
millions during the war. If this money had been ex- 
pended for the moral, intellectual, social and physical 
improvement of the 50,000,000 beggars and paupers of 
Europe, how vast the amount of happiness would it have 
secured. But instead, it paid for cutting men's throats, 
blowing them to atoms — plundering, pillaging, burning 
towns, and destroying public buildings: in a word, it 
paid for all the horrid evils of a bloody and terrible war, 
during which more than 300,000 Christians loere slain hy 
their brother Christians. And this is the Christianity of 
the nineteenth century. We have no means to educate 
the ignorant, feed the starving, clothe the naked, and 
improve the dwellings of our millions of perishing 
brethren and sisters of the human race; but means 
enough to press them into the national serviccj and grind 


them to powder ! means enough to lay waste green fields, 
destroy dwellings, and drench whole towns in the blood 
of our brethren ! 

And this is not all ; the Christianity of social life is 
even more inconsistent than that which pervades national 
governments. Consider, a moment, the extravagance of 
fashion in London, Paris, New- York, Philadelphia and 
Cincinnati. We have already glanced at this subject. 
"iVb means to assist the poor;^' and yet what millions are 
annually expended by the rich and fashionable of the 
Church, for mere show. What sumptuous dwellings, 
rich furniture, splendid carriages and costly churches! 
Visit the church* of Bishop Bloomfield in London, on 
the Sabbath, and you will behold gold and jewels suffi- 
cient to purchase all the poor of London good houses, 
food, clothing and fuel for twenty years to come. One 
of the leading journals of Paris, in speaking of the grow- 
ing disposition to extravagance in that city, says : 

" The Parisian ladies seem to be afflicted this season 
with a perfect mania for magnificent toilettes ; indeed, 
extravagance and sinful profuseness are carried to the 
extreme. An instance of this is furnished in the prepa- 
ration of a 'layette,' (a new-born infant's trousseau.) in- 
tended for a private family. The robe for the baptismal 
ceremony is of white silk, covered with three flounces of 
deep point d'angleterre lace; the body and, sleeves of 
the same material, and the whole ornamented with bows 
of broad white ribbon. The cloak is gorgeously em- 
broidered with silk, with a deep lace flounce, and the 
hood is composed of silk lace and feathers. The whole 
of the child's toilette is in the same style of magnifi- 
cence, and probably will not cost much short of eighteen 
or twenty thousand dollars I 

* Where the Roval Household attend. 


Even the fans in use this season are marked by 
elaborateness of workmanship, and cost as high as $2,000 
each. Twenty or thirty dollars is considered the merest 
trifle for one of theise highly decorated, carved, and en- 
riched articles." 

And yet, these fashionable Christian ladies havn't the 
means of assisting some starving wretch with a crust of 
bread ; but if he should apply at their sumptuous estab- 
lishments for aid, would drive him oflf with dogs or send 
him to the watch-house — indignantly exclaiming : "Why 
are these pests of society permitted to trouble honest 
people? Do they think we are made of gold?" 

In New-York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati the same 
extravagance exists. The duties on imported silks, lace, 
artificial flowers and other articles of ornament, are suffi- 
cient alone to relieve and maintain all the poor of our 
land. In New- York it is no uncommon thing for a lady 
— member of the Church — to expend $10,000 a year in 
dress and ornament ; while she has not a dollar for the 
poor, and screws down her servants^ wages to the lowest mill. 
That is our Christianity. 

In that city bridal presents have become fashionable. 
Sometimes gifts to the amount of $20,000 are bestowed, 
on the nuptials, in articles that can never be used, while 
the money with which they are purchased is wrung from 
the blood and sweat of perishing oneSj who are doomed to 
foil early and late^ as we have seen, for a mere pittance 
Here is the Christianity of the nineteenth century. 

Says the Philadelphia Ledger: " A fashionable dry- 
goods dealer advertises a lace scarf worth fifteen hundred 
dollars. Another has a bridal dress, for which he asks 
twelve hundred dollars. Bonnets at two hundred dollars 
are not unfrequently sold. Cashmeres from three hun- 
dred dollars and upward are seen by dozens in a walk 


along Broadway. A hundred dollars is quite a common 
price for a silk gown. In a word, extravagance in dresa 
lias reached a height which would have frightened our 
prudent grandmothers and appalled their husbands. A 
fashionable lady spends annually on her milliner, man- 
tua-maker and lace-dealer a sum that would have sup- 
ported an entire household, even in her own rank in 
life, in the days of Mrs. Washington. Add to this the 
expenditure for opera tickets, for a summer trip to the 
springs, and for a score of little inevitable et ceteras, and 
the reader gets some idea of the comparatively wanton 
waste of money, carried on year after year, by thousands, 
if not tens of thousands, of American women." 

Yes, and while millions of toiling poor are suffering 
all around them for the common necessaries of life. We 
repeat, this is our Christianity I 

" In Cincinnati, we havn't the means to do a work of 
humanity." Last Christmas a great and general effort 
was made by the friends of the Cincinnati Orphan Asy- 
lum, (an excellent Christian institution,) to obtain aid 
for the further usefulness of the institution. All the 
Protestant clergymen in the city were appealed to, who 
in turn appealed to the hearts and pockets of their 
fashionable Christian hearers, on the Sabbath previous 
to Christmas, and called upon them in the name of all 
that was beautiful and divine, to assist in this good work 
to the utmost. Collections were taken in everi/ Church; 
and the entire aggregate amounted to just one-fifth of the 
annual expenditure of a single fashionable Christian lady 
of our city, for dress,"^ viz: $1,013.69. From all the 
merchants on Pearl street,f there was collected $374.00. 

* We have been informed, from a source we have no reason to doubt 
that the expense of some ladies in this city for personal decoration, is not 
less than $6,000 a year. 

t Wholesale Dealers. 


From various other persons and associations, $180.00. 
Total, $1,567.69 — for which the managers of the institu- 
tion "returned their grateful acknowledgments;" more 
than intimating that notwithstanding the great need of 
the "institution for a much larger sum," this "far ex- 
ceeded their most sanguine expectations :" and yet the 
sum total was not equal to what some one of our fashion- 
able Christians throws away every year for extravagance, 
or expends in a single ornament for the person or the 

A few years since, the fashionables from different 
parts of the country, stopping at Newport, R. I., during 
the warm season, had a "Grand National Fancy Ball." 
It was styled " a magnificent affair." The Ocean House 
hall was decorated for the occasion, at an expense of 
$1,200. The tickets of admission were $18 each, and 
there were six hundred persons present. The whole 
expense of " this glorious occasion," said the reporters, 
" could not have been less than $30,000. The helJe of 
the party was the youthful, elegant and fascinating 
Madame Laverte, of Alabama. Her dress was a superb 
satin, ornamented with pearls and gold embroidery, and 
cost $6,000. Many other dresses were equally beautiful 
and costly. What a magnificent entertainment ! How 
brilliant! — how enchanting!" To be sure. And we 
make no war upon the custom of social life that sanc- 
tions such displays. This is not the design of this book. 
But while we look upon an entertainment so magnificent, 
we would not forget the thousands in our country, 
clothed in rags and starving for bread; and above all, we 
would not have the participators in all the extravagance 
we have described, repeat that they, and Christian society 
generally, have no means to assist the poor. It is false! 
We have means enough ; all we want is the disposition. 


Tell me not tliat Cincinnati, where the hardiest enterprise 
prevails, and which has the means to build a thousand 
miles of railroad, dig down or tunnel mountains, fill 
valleys, build steam-ships and bridges and stores, and 
expend $5,000,000 annually in extravagance, has no 
means to assist the poor. What she needs is the will. So 
of other cities. States, and the nation. God has given 
us the most plentiful land on the globe. We have an 
abundance. Let us cultivate a disposition, and the per- 
ishing classes will rise up and call us blessed. 



Oneness of the Human Family— Dependence of all Classes mutual— Appeal to Heml)en 
of our National Councils- To Christian Ministers, Lawyers, Doctors, Teachers, Art- 
ists, Farmers. Mechanics, Traders, the Old and Young, Learned and Ignorant, to help 
in the good Work— Brighter Day dawning— Conclasion. 

In conclusion, we affectionately appeal to our fellow- 
creatures of all classes and both sexes, especially to pro- 
fessed Christians, to assist in the furtherance of the 
principles advocated in this volume, so far as you believe 
them to be in harmony with true Christian philosophy, 
and for the happiness and well-being of the human fam- 
ily. " Grod hath created of one blood all the nations of 
men to dwell on all the face of the earth." The depen- 
-dence and happiness of all classes are mutual. " As we 
have many members in one body and all members have 
not the same office, so we being many are one body in 
Christ Jesus, and every one members one of another.""^ 
Here the human form is made to represent the human 
race. The head, the eyes, the hands, the feet, are all 
members of the same body, and though each has its dis- 
tinct office, all are but one body, and every one members 
one of another. Some men operate by skill; others, by 
capital; and others still, by labor: but each of these 
classes is necessary to the others' happiness. Infinite 
Wisdom hath appointed this diversity for the general 
good, as the apostle declares : " Now hath God set the 
members every one of them in the body as it hath 

* Rom. 12: 4—5. 



pleased him, * ^ and tempered them together. The eye 
cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor 
again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, 
even those members of the body which seem to be more 
feeble, are necessary ; and those which we think are less 
honorable, are worthy of more abundant honor." 

Remember, then, my reader, that every other human 
being is a portion of the great body of humanity, of 
which you are a constituent member ; and that it is im- 
possible for you to wrong or oppress any brother or 
sister of the human race, however abject or culpable, 
without injuring yourself. " God hath tempered ^;±q 
whole body together, that the members should have the 
same care one of another. And whether one member 
suffer, all the members suffer with it ; or one member be 
honored, all the members be honored with it."* Quaint 
old Fuller says : " Let him who expects one class of 
society to prosper in the highest degree while the other 
is in distress, try whether one side of his face can smile, 
while the other is pinched. The thing is impossible!". 

Let members of our national council;^ and all our leg- 
islative bodies, then, in making laws for the punishment 
and suppression of crime, and for the government of the 
people generally, see to it, that while the criminal is 
punished as the nature of his deeds demands, that he is 
not utterly crushed, but, if possible, improved; and that 
the poor and ignorant — the toiling and suffering classes, 
are favored as their situation and a prudent wisdom may 
dictate. The happiest people on earth have been those 
who were governed by mild and humane sovereigns, who ' 
studied for the improvement and happiness of the weak 
ones of the body politic. Let the whole body be " tem- 
pered together," and all legislation be had with an eye 

*1 Cor. 12: 26-27. 


single to the welfare and happiness of every member of 
the body, and prosperity and a general elevation must 
be the result. 

To the ministers of the Gospel, we would appeal for 
their hearty co-operation in extending the principles 
advanced here, if in harmony with their convictions of 
the Christian religion. Let us not be Christians in name 
only, but " in deed and in truth." Let us study to apply 
the teachings of Christ to the wants of humanity, for this 
is the very object of the Christian religion. Take, then, 
thi great subject with you into the pulpit, my brother, 
and you have Christ there with out-stretched arms, 
blessing the poor, the unfortunate and sinful of our 

To all the generous, loving and hopeful, we appeal, 
whether in the Church or out, who have charity for the 
imperfections of humanity, and confidence in the moral 
power of goodness ; and we beseech you to give coun- 
tenance and favor to the principles we enforce. Make 
them practical as opportunity may offer, that they may 
be the more truly known and felt among men. What 
you need is a heart to work. God give it to you, for 
if you have hearts, you will work, and the world will be 
Christianized, which is what it needs. 

To men of all professions — the lawyer, the physician, 
the teacher, the farmer, the mechanic, the trader, the 
seaman, the artist — the young and the old — the learned 
and the ignorant — male and female, we appeal. Do not 
turn away from this subject as if of no importance, or 
condemn it without a faithful examination. The doomed 
classes of which we have spoken, are your brethren and 
sisters. To mitigate their sufferings and rectify the 
evils and errors of society, is so palpably your duty that 
you dare not deny it. Will you not, then, go about 


- your duty ? What hinders you ? It may be avarice, or 

ambition, or pride, or fashion. But these have no right 

^ to a place in your heart, to the injury of others, and 

should be rooted up. A few years, at most, and we shall 
all lie on a level, low in the dust of the earth ; — or 

» .* rather, be translated into a brighter world of immortality. 

Why not, then, work for Humanity while our day lasts? 

Is there anything better for us to do? Is there not 

something divine in lifting up the criminal and perish- 

*_^ ing classes? Was not Christ found in this very employ- 

T^*; ' ment? Ah! the day approaches when the true spirit 
/ . and design of Christianity will be known and felt. 
" Onward, upward irresistibly, shall move the spirit of 
Reform, abasing the proud, exalting the lowly, until 
Oppression and Tyranny, Sloth and Selfishness, Want 
and Ignorance, Cruelty and Inhumanity shall be swept 
from the face of the earth, and a Golden Age of Knowl- 
edge, of Virtue, of Plenty and Happiness shall dawn up- 
on our sinning and sufi*ering race." God help us to 
engage with alacrity in whatever labor is necessary to 
produce a consummation so hopeful. 

■); I ift. " A brighter morn awaits the human day, 
-* ' When every transfer of Earth's natural gifts 

Shall be a commerce of good words and works ; 
When poverty and wealth, the thirst of fame, 
The fear of infamy, disease, and woe, 
War with its million horrors, and fierce hell 
Shall live but in the memory of time, 
Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start, 
Look back, and shudder at his younger years." 


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