Life Imprisonment vs. the Death
THE DEATH PENALTY
To the Honorable Members of the Senate and Lower
House of the Fifty-eighth General Assembly
and to the Chairman and Members
of the Judiciary Commit-
THE BRIEF OF DUKE C. BOWERS, Et Als., Advocates
Sciwtc Bill \o. 242 (/;/(/ House Bill Xo. 235. Untitled ".in
.'let to Abolish the Death Penalty in the State of Tennessee,
and to Substitute Life Imprisonment Therefor."
HISTORY OF CAPITAL Pl'NISHMENT.
In the early stages of society the man committing homicide
was killed by the "Avenger of Blood" on behalf of the family of
the man killed, and not as representing the authority of the State.
That was the custom for centuries, till the mischief of this prac-
tice was mitigated by the establishment of cities of refuge, and in
pagan and Christian times of the recognizing of the sanctuary
of the temple and the churches. In the laws of Khamurobi. King
of Babylon (2285-2241 B. C.) the death penalty was imposed for
many offenses ; the modes of execution specially mentioned are,
drowning, burning and impalement.
See Capital Punishment. Vol. 5, Enc. Britanica.
Draco, the first compiler of the Penal Code of Greece, made
death the penalty for all offenses. When asked why he did so.
replied : "The least offenses deserve death, and I can impose no
worse for the higher crimes."
Under the Mosaic Code the law of vengeance was personified
in the then prevailing doctrine of "EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A
TOOTH FOR A TOOTH," in many instances that rule being
carried out literally. In the dark ages of the United Kingdom,
under the rule of the Saxon and Danish Kings, the modes of cap-
ital punishment most common were: "Hanging, beheading,
drowning, burning, stoning, and precipitation from rocks."
William the Conquerer would not permit the execution of the
death sentence by hanging but by mutilation. (5 Vol. Enc.
Death was the penalty for the most trivial offenses; for ex-
ample, the cutting of a tree or poaching deer. In 1800 there were
over 200 capital crimes in Great Britain and t8o in 1819. Men
were hung and quartered for oft'enses which now would be re-
garded as nn'sdemeanors, while the learned clergy and statesmen
looked on with approval and apjilause. During the reign of
— 2 —
Henry the \'III, 72,000 persons were executed. The first allevi-
ation came from the extension of the benefit of clergy to all per-
sons who coiilfl read the "Xeck-verse" (Ps. Li. 5, i ).
"At the end of the eighteenth century the criminal laws of all
Europe were ferocious and indiscriminate," says the author of
"Capital Punishment," in Vol. 5, page 279, Enclycopedia Britanica,
in its administration of capital punishment for almost all grave
crimes. yet such forms of crime were far more numer-
ous than they are now." The best blood of England drenched
the execution block, and "Kech." the legal executioner, became
more infamous than Rob Roy. the banflidt. Death was a panacea
for all ills.
The States of our Union adopted the common law of England
replete with capital offenses, but Tennessee, by statute, has finally
limited the number, in practice at least, to two, murder and rape ;
but the statute names other oflfenses. and hanging is the mode of
In Belgium no execution hasf taken place since 1863 ; in Fin-
land since 1824; in Holland since i860, and was totally abolished
in 1870. Xo executions in Norway since 1876. abolished in 1905 ;
abolished in Portugal in 1867; in Roumania in 1864. Russia
abolished capital punishment, except for military ofiFenses, in
T750. but later restored it for a short period, only to again abolish
it in 1907. Only 7 out of 22 Cantons in Switzerland have it, and
Italy revoked the law in 1888.
In the United States the number of capital crimes has been re-
duced in recent years to only four, and the following States have
abolished it : Maine, in 1876, restored it in 1883, but again re-
pealed the law in 1887 on the recommendation of the Governor
of said State; Rhode Island, in 1853; Wisconsin, in 1853. and
Kansas, in 1901, but there have been no legal executions in
Kansas since 1872; Michigan in 1847.
— 3 —
BRIEF AXD ARGUMENT.
It is now proposed to repeal the law of blood and vengeance
in Tennessee, and make life imprisonment the maximum punish-
ment in ^aid State.
The two main objects in enforcing our criminal laws are (a)
to protect society, (b) to reform the criminal. Some would add
a third reason for punishing criminals, namely, to punish the
criminal himself, but in this day of brotherly love, when we are
taught lo love our enemies, and when charity and love have
irium])hcd over vengeance and hatred no one would seri(nisly
Insist that the State any more has the right to kill a man to
avenge the death of his victim than has an individual.
Every man will agree with us on this one point: if social con-
ditions will not be made worse by the abolition of the death pen-
alty, then it should be abolished. The only way we have to
determine this question is by taking the statistics from the States
with and without the death penalty.
According to the mortality statistics compiled by the United
States Bureau of Statistics, and published in 1912. in table 5,
page 376, the number of homicides per 100,000 poindation for the
eighteen States composing the registration area was as follows :
State. 1900 '01 '02 '03 '04 "05 '06 '07 '08 '09
Cities 9.0 13.2 10.6 10.2
Rural 6.8 8.3 12.1 9.8
Cities 10.4 7.4 18.7 9.0
Rural 13.9 18.0 15.6 12.4
Cities 0.3 0.5
— 4 —
Cities . . .
Rural . . .
Maryland — •
Rural . . .
New Hampshire —
New Jersey —
New York —
Rural 4.5 4.8 4.9 4.1
— 5 —
Kliodc Island —
Cities .... 2.5 2.8 2.7 2.3 3.5 2.5 3.9 5.5 4-2 30
Rural J.X 0.7 4.0 1.9 1.9 0.6 2.3 i.i 3.3 2.1
South Dakota —
Cities 74 7-2
Uinal 2.1 2.6 3.8 2.2
\ rnnoiit —
Cities 2.0 2.0 .. 3.9 3.8 3.8
Riiral 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3 2.0 I.O 1.3 2.3 3.8
\\ asliington —
Cities II-7 8.1
Rural 6.3 4.2
Cities 31 1-9
Rural 1.6 1.7
It will thus be seeu by reiorriug to the statistics quoted above
that for the ton-year period, beginning- with 1900, the average
number *>l" homicides in the States where capital punishment has
been alx^lished per hundred thousand population was : Maine.
2.5; Michigan. 3.8; Rhode Island. 5: and for the two years.
i<)t">8 and H)c>). for which Wisconsin retorted her homicides, she
averaged 4.1. but decreased in 1900 over the previous year. In
si^mo of the States where capital punishment prevailed we find
that for a ten-year period, beginning with the year 1900. the aver-
age number of homicides per 100.000 population was : Indiana,
(>.4; New Jersey, .4; New York, 4.8: and for the four years
reiH^rted by Tennsylvania an average of 9.8. Ohio reports for
the year ux'*!) only, giving 10.2: California for a four-year period
.-bows twenty homicides per Ii.k">.o.x"> jx^pnlation. While Massa-
chusetts only shows an average of 2:57 for each 100.000 popula-
tion, tlie increase in that State from ux>5 to 190*) was 100 per
cent. It will bo further seen that California. Connecticut. Ma5isa-
— 6 —
chusetts. Indiana, New Jersey. New York, Fenniiyhania and
\'emK»nt, where capital punishment obtains, and where it is en-
forced rigidly, shows an increase in the ninnber ot homicides
for the period reported in the above statistics, while of the four
States that have abolished the death penalty, only Michigan sIk^ws
an increase, which is sligiit. but her general average lor .» ten-
year period is less tlian either of the States that have retained the
death penaltj-, with the exception of X'ermont and \ew Hamiv
shire : ahd that they have increased their homicide rate per annum
continually, while Michigan shows a decrease in nx>) over the
preN-ious year. Besides, the record shows that the death penatly
has been abolished in Wmiont and Xew Hampshire !>v pn»oiioo
for twent}' years.
The general average for the j^eriod re^x^rted in ilic aUne tabic
of statistics for the four States where the death ^xMialty has been
revoked is 3.85 per 100.000 population, while for the States in-
flicting the death penalty, for the period rejx>rtevl. the general
average is S.25. or nearly 115 per cent greater. The avcrai;\? hom-
icidal rate in Tennessee was five times greater than in either of
the abolition States.
While we were unable to got the statistics on this ciuestioil
from Kansas, we arc reliably informed that the number 01 homi-
cides in that State per capita is comparatively small, and in a
recent letter from the secretary of the presem Governor of tliat
State he informs us that the pa^ple there arc universally pleasoil
with the workings of tlic now law abolisliin>^ tlu- lioath penalty,
and that there is no disposition to restore capital punishment in
that State. It will be rcmemborod that tlioro has novor boon a
legal execution in that State since 187J. tlio liovornors in their
discretion failing to sign the death warrants at ilic end oi one
year's imprisonment, as the law required.
THE RESULTS DRTAIXED IN FOREIGN Gt^^N-
TRIES FROM THE ABOLITION OF rill-. Dl-. A III
PENALTY ARE NO LESS BENEIHGTAT, Til \\ IM Ol'k
— 7 —
We take the folic )\viiii,^ facts and statistics from Report No.
io8 on capital crimes of the Fifty-fourth I'nited States Conj^ress,
first session, printed January 22, 1896, by order of the House of
BELGIUM. — "The penalty of death has not been abolished
in IJeigium, but since 1866 it has not been executed. In order
for one to appreciate the results, the following statistics are
given: For the period from 1831 to 1890, in the first thirty-five
years there were 321 capital condemnations, which was at the
rate of 9.17 per year. In the twenty-five years following the
cessation of executions there were 201, which was at the rate of
8.004, showing a decrease of 1.1696."
COSTA RICA. — "The results of the abolition of capital pun-
ishment for all offenses in Costa Rica are considered very favor-
able, thus confirming public sentiment against capital punish-
IIATI. — "The Constitution of 1879 abolished the death pen-
alty for political ofTenses. Since the period of said abolition
political crimes have not been more frequent."
HOLLAND. — "There has been no increase of crime since
the abolition of the death penalty."
ITALY. — "Since the abolition of the death penalty by the
new Common Penal Code, which went into force January i, 1890,
the results obtained up to this present time have fully realized
the expectations cherished by Parliament, by public opinion, and
by students of criminal matters ; that is to say, social security has
not been (listurl)C(l or diminished by it, and consequently the con-
ditions of high criminality have not been rendered worse."
NORWAY. — "Since 1874 it is made discretionary with the
Courts, of death or hard labor for life, since which time a ma-
joi^ity of the latter cases have been imposed, and no bad conse-
quences, so far as public safety is concerned, have been observed."
PORTITIAL.— "The death penalty was abolished bv the law
on the first of July, 1867, and the number of homicides to which
this penahy was apphed lias diminished durins^ the succeedino^
SWITZERLAND. — "Since 1874 capital punishment has been
abolished in fifteen of the twenty-two Cantons in Switzerland."
The only light we have to guide our advancing footsteps in
enacting ])rogrcssive legislation is the unerring light of experi-
ence. The record shows that the death penalty has been abolished
in Michigan for sixty-six years; in Rhode Island for sixty-one
years; in Wisconsin for sixty years; in Maine for thirty-seven
years, and in Kansas by i)ractice for about fifty years, and re-
cently by statute, and yet those enlightened and progressive States
have discovered no good reason for repealing these laws that have
been in force for over a half century in most instances. That
alone should be sufficient to convince that the abolition statutes
have vindicated their existence. Besides, is it a mere coin-
cidence that the States that have so long foregone the death pen-
alty have less than one-half the number of homicides of the States
that foster executions ? Is it only a coincidence that homicides in
Connecticut, Massachusetts, \'ermont and New Hampshire have
increased over previous years, while in their sister State of
Maine, where life imprisonment is the highest penalty, the num-
ber of homicides have decreased in the same period. In 1909 the
three States named above registered a total of homicides per
100,000 population as follows : Massachusetts, 4.8 ; Connecticut,
7.9 ; Vermont, 7.6, while in Maine, for the same period, 2.2 for the
same ratio is shown.
Making further comparisons for the year 1909, we find reg-
istered homicides per 100,000 as follows: Michigan, 4.4; Wis-
consin, 3.6, and Rhode Island, 5.1, as against the death penaltv
■States as follows: Indiana, 10.7; Ohio, 10.2; Pennsylvania, 8.8;
New York, y.y; New Jersey, 7.6; Colorado, 21.4; California, 20;
Maryland, 7.2; New Hampshire, 2.9; South Dakota, 9.4; Wash-
ington. T2.3. Can all of the above facts, so favorpbic \^ tho
— 9 —
States that have abolished the death penalty, be attributed to
In the same year the number of homicides per million people
in the four abolition States was thirty-five; there were eighty-
five in the death penalty States per million population. While in
1904, taking the whole United States, the ratio was 104.4 per
million, while Maine, for the same year, registers 24 for each
million inhabitants; Michigan, 20, and Rhode Island reports 51,
or nearly one-half the general average for all the States.
The record further shows that from 1885 to 1904 homicides
increased from 32.2 per million people to 104.4 for the same
ratio. This is the face of the facts that capital punishment was
in full force in every State in the Union but four or five.
The foreign States that have abolished it not only refuse to
reinstate it, but the reports above quoted show that criminal con-
ditions are in all instances as good, and in some reported better,
than before the abolition of the death penalty.
After centuries of observation and experience, the learned
Judges of England and America established a rule making a pre-
ponderance of evidence in civil cases the guide for tliemselves
and juries in deciding questions of disputed facts. That is the
only true rule. Then, have we not proven our case by an over-
whelming preponderance of the proof? The evidence based on
actual experience in our States and in foreign States is so near
unanimous in favor of its abolition that it is a mere exception
to a general rule that a fact militates against it.
BUT YOU ASK, "WHY WOULD LEGAL EXECUTIONS
INCREASE CAPITAL CRIMES?
Because crime is largely a disease, and the demoralizing eflfect
of a legal execution, and the example thus set by the State ■
arouses the criminal natures and cheapens life in the estimation
of the criminally inclined. Like begets like in this respect, as
sure as night follows day. We cannot put it better than to
— 10 —
quote from Mrs. Ella Wheeler Wilcox's beautiful poem on cap-
ital punishment :
"And last the people, frenzied o«r dejjressed
By sight or sound, or knowledge of the deed.
Are wronged and injured by the law's effect ;
Crime follows executions ; thought breeds thought,
And as from thistledown new thistles s])ring.
So violent actions to disorders lead.
That vengeful God of Hebraic Lore
Has blocked the progress of the world too long.
When Science seeks the cause, and Love the cure,
Then crime will vanish from the human race."
Did you ever for a moment contemplate the moral wrecks,
and devastation, and depravity that follow in the wake of war and
of active armies? If anything, it is worse than the active warfare
itself. Notwithstanding the guerrilla, if caught either by the
Federal or Confederate, knew he would be shot by his captors,
hundreds of formerly honorable men, or at least apparently so,
became sutlers, ghouls, horse thieves and common robbers, and
even little value or respect was placed on the virtue of our wom-
anhood. Some of the women themselves were contaminated by
the general moral stagnation, and many yielded to the degen-
eracy of the times. Human life, especially, became so cheap, in
the estimation of the people, that murder became the rule instad
of the exception.
The Government itself was engaged in the vocation of killing;
the citizen, or at least the criminally inclined, put no higher value
on life than his Government, and that is always true.
If we are to teach our citizenship that life is sacred we must
not take it by law, nor even by law sanction it. As an example,
the Quakers even refuse to go to war or for any reason take life,
and they do not commit nmrders.
But you may say it deters others from committing crimes.
If that is so. why have States that do not kill the smallest homi-
— 11 —
cidal rate per capita? Why are such crimes increasing while
the death penahy is beings enforced?
If it deters to kill by hanging- or electrocuting, it would cer-
tainly act as a much stronger deterrent if you would, as of old.
torture and mutilate the murderer? You say that would be too
cruel and barbarous and would demoralize the public and even
brutalize men. Well, the majority of the people think inflicting
the death penalty is too cruel and barbarous, and that the ma-
jority of people think so is proven by the fact that the great
majority of the people want the condemned man cummuted to
'ife imprisonment in each instance. Our descendants a century
hence will look back on our legal executions with the same aver-
sion and horror, and denounce us as we do our ancestors who
burnt at the stake and mutilated the body of the condemned, or
caused it to hang, for weeks, as a warning.
Dr. A. B. Martin, Dean of the Lebanon Law School of Cum-
berland L^niversity, gives a demonstrative illustration from his
own observations, that hanging does not deter others from com-
A man was to be hanged on the Public Square, in Lebanon,
Tenn., and the gallow^s was erected; two enterprising (we think
infamously so) young men erected an arena around the scaffold,
and on the day of the hanging were present and collected a
great deal of money for their seats. W^tihin one and a half years
both of the men were hanged for the same offense for which
the victim that they had exploited was executed.
Some of the most shocking crimes follow closely the most
notorious executions. For example, the Aliens murdered Judge
Massey and four others in the Court House at Hillsville, Va.,
while the papers of said State were heralding the news of the
execution of the noted wife murderer, H. C. Beattie.
The assassination of Rosenthal in New York City followed
closely on tlie heels of the execution of four men in \ew York
State within one hour.
— 12 —
Instances are reiJ(jrtc(l in which the spectators at a hanging
in luigland for picking pockets committed the same ofifense for
which the victim was being executed.
ANOTHER REASON WHY CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
SHOULD BE ABOLISHED IS, THAT INNOCENT MEN
ARE SOMETIMES EXECUTED.
Says Horace Greely : "I dread human frailty. Men are
prejudiced, passionate, and too often irrational. Today they
shout. 'Hosanna,' and tomorrow howl' 'Crucify him.' I would
save them from the harsher consequences of their frenzy. Our
.Savior is by no means a solitary example of the unjust execution
of the innocent and just. Socrates, Cicero, Sir Walter Raleigh,
Algernon Sidney. John Huss. Michael Servetus, Louis XVI,
the Due d'Enghine, Mar.shal Xey. Riego, Xagi Sandor, ]\Iaxi-
milian. are among the conspicuous instances of victims of the
law of blood. We have recorded instances of innocent men con-
victed of murder on their own confession, of men convicted,
sentenced and hanged for offenses whereof they were in no wise
guilty. Men may suffer unjustly, even though death be stricken
from the list of penalties, but to be imprisoned and stripped of
property is quite endurable compared with the infliction of an
ignominious death in the presence and for the delectation of a
howling mob of exulting human brutes. So long as man is
liable to error I w^ould have him reserve the possibility of correct-
ing his mistakes and redressing the wrong he is misled into per-
Mr. B. Paul Newman, writing for the Eortnightly Review,
September. 1889, says: "Some time ago Sir James Mcintosh, a
most cool and dispassionate observer, declared that, taking a long
period of time, one innocent man was hanged in every three
years. The late Chief P>aron Kelley stated as the result of his
experience that from 1802 to 1840 no fwer than twenty-two inno-
cent men had been sentenced to death, of whom seven were actu-
ally executd. These terrible mistakes are not confined to Eng-
land ; Mittermaier refers to cases of a similar kind in Ireland,
— 13 —
Italy, France, and Germany. In comparatively recent years
ther have been several striking instances of the fallibility of the
most carefully constituted tribunals. In 1865, for instance, an
Italian named Pelizzioni was tried before Baron Martin for the
murder of a fellow countryman in an affray at Saffron Hill.
•After an elaborate trial he was found gfuilty and sentenced to
death. In passing sentence, the Judge "took occasion to make
the following remarks, which should be remembered when the
acumen begotten of 'sound legal training' and long experience is
relied on as a safeguard against error: 'In my judgment, it is
utterly impossible for the jury to have come to any other con-
clusion. The evidence was about the clearest and most direct
that, after a long course of experience in the administration of
criminal justice, I have ever known. I am as satisfied as I can
be of anything that Gregorio did not inflict this wound, and that
you were the person who did.'
"The trial was over. The Home Secretary would most cer-
tainly, after the Judge's expression of opinion, never have inter-
fered. The date of the execution was fixed. Yet the unhappy
prisoner was guiltless of the crime, and it was only through the
exertion of a private individual that an innocent man was saved
from the gallows. A fellow countryman of his, a Mr. Negretti,
succeeded in persuading the real culprit (the Gregorio so ex-
pressly exculpated by the Judge) to come forward and acknowl-
edge the crim-e. He was subsequently tried for manslaughter and
convicted, while Pellizioni received a free pardon.
".Vgain. in 1877, two men named Jackson and Greenwood
were tried at the Liverpool Assizes for a serious offense. They
were found guilty. The Judge expressed approval of the verdict
and sentenced them to ten years' penal servitude. Subsequently
fresh facts came to light and the men received a free pardon.
"Once more, in 1879. Hebron was tried for the murder of a
lK>liceman. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. An
agitation for a reprieve immediately followed. The sentence was
commuted to penal servitude for life. Three )'ears after, the
— 14 —
notorious Peace, just before his execution for the murder of Mr.
Diason, confessed that he had committed the murder for which
Hebron had been sentenced."
Mr. Charles Burleig^h Galbraith, writing for Friend's IntelH-
gencer for October 6, 1906, says : "Juries and Judj^es are still
falliable." Maud Ballington Booth, writing- under date of Sep-
tember, 1908, gives details to two interesting cases: "A man was
sentenced to life imprisonment and served sixteei, and a half
years. Most of the evidence had been purely circumstantial and
he was convicted mainly on the testimony of one witness. He
was saved from the gallows only by the earnest efforts of those
who had known of his previous good character. Last winter the
woman who had been the main witness against him came to whal
she believed was her death bed, and, sending for a priest, con-
fessed that she had committed perjury. The matter was brought
to the attention of the Governor, and the man at once liberated.
He still lives. The State took sixteen years of his liberty, but did
not shed his innocent blood."
"At present I know a man." continues Mrs. Booth, "who has
served nine years and is still in prison, where he has been visited
by the boy whom he was supposed to have murdered.
"The fact that, in our day, justice may thus miscarry, must
give men constant pause before they seek remedial vengeance in
the death penalty."
Mr. Buttram, present .Attorney-General for the Second Judi-
cial District of Tennessee, in talking to me recently, said : "I am
against capital punishment because men are too liable to err. Be-
fore I was elected Attorney-General, a white man was convicted
in my county of murder in the first degree. He pleaded acci-
dental killing. He v.as a ]xwr fellow, and the C<nirt had ap-
pointed a lawver to defend him. I thought at the time the verdict
was rendered that the jury had erred. The peoj^le were bitter
against him and had threatened to lynch him. Some of the jury
wanted to hang him outright, but they finally reported mitigating
— 15 —
circumstances as a pari of their verdict and tlic juds^e sentenced
the i)ris(»ner to hfe imprisonment, l-'rom later developments it
became evident that the man was innocent, and tor that reason
riovernor ncM)per pardoned him recently.
Mr. Scruggs, former Secretary to ex-Governor Patterson,
states on his honor that, while he was serving as said ex-Gov-
ernor's Secretary, an innocent negro was hanged, as it developed
subsequent to the hanging.
.Mr. Duke C ilowors had a cousin convicted on a charge of
murder and sentenced to be hanged, but his sentence was com-
muted to life imprisonment by the Governor of Texas, through
the intervention of the prisoner's w'ife. After serving twelve
\ears. the man who had committed the murder for which the
prisoner was sentenced confessed on his dying bed that he had
committed said offense, and the prisoner was released.
From experience and observation, we know that manv men
who are innocent are convicted of various grades of crime, and
that the greater the crime tlu' more it arouses the passions of
men. and the more a])t to ])rocure an unjust \'erdict through
iM'ejudice. Every lawyer knows how eas\' it is to convict the
poor and friendless fellow charged with crime, and how hard to
convict the man who has the influence and "pull." The present
laws and practice foster extremes in both of said instances.
Thus in the name of Justice, in order to vindicate -a barbarous
law. the State itself commits murder.
S( )rTOT/)GIC.\T. RKAS( )N.
There is another reason, almost fundamental, why society
.^hould not execute its befallen uiembers. That rea.son is a
sociological one. Experience shows that the great niajoritv of
criminals are either born criminals or their invironment pro-
moted criminal instincts and even criminal traits. Had organzed
government done its duty towards him. he never would have
been a criminal. .\n investigation of the penitentiaries shows
— 16 —
that the majority are illiterate. Many of them have had no moral
or religious training, and, of course, none of them arc criminals
from choice. They are "weak vessels," depraved degenerates,
and. in manv instances, monomaniacs. Yet they hollo, "PTang
It is estimated by sociologists who have scientifically studied
the question that 90 per cent of the crimes would have been pre-
vented had care, and prudence, and charity been exercised by the
State and muinicpal governments. For example, the four gun-
men of New York City sentenced to be hanged. They are vic-
tims of environment. They had been agents for gambling houses
and houses of ill-fame, and divided their spoils with the officers
of the law elected by the people of a great city. In that manner
the agents of society educated them in crime, and yet the State
says they must forfeit their blood to the State that trained them
in vice. They had been trained in ihe underworld from infancy
to commit crimes till they became callous and did not scruple in
No State has the right to kill men when it contributes
to their downfall. It owes them the duty to educate them and
throw nothing but moral influences around them, and when it
fails, organized society is at fault. You may ask, "What will we
do with them?"
Why, do your duty towards them, by placing them in a prison,
reformatory in its character, and teach them morality, and, if
necessary, give them mental training, and allow them the right to
expirate their crimes and prepare for the hereafter. Make men
out of them, and give them in the most, if not all instances, the
hope that they will be rewarded if they will reform
and become worthy of again taking their places among their
THK FALLACY L\ Till-: PLEA KOR "RETRIBUTIVP:
But a few will say in this enlightened day even, that the
criminal should be punished measure for measure for his crime.
That is the old spirit of blood and vengeance that perished
nearly two thousand years ago. That was a failure even under
the old Jewish law. under which the penalty for every offense
but one was death. Cain. Moses, Lamech. David, Simon and
Levi were all murders, yet none were deprived of their lives on
that account. Under that old law of revenge, the wife who be-
lieved in a different God from her husband forfeited her life,
and slavery and polygamy were as much sanctioned by God as
the law of murder, and yet no one would say it was not right
to abolish them.
When Christ came and died for his enemies, he impliedly
forbade us to kill our enemies. He forgave his murderers, say-
ing, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
F'ather Mathew says: "I have been in the ministry for thirty
years, and I have never yet discovered that the founder of Chris-
tianity has delegated to any man any right to take away the life
of his fellow-man." I did not intend going into that phase of
the case, but refer you to the articles printed in the appendix
. ABOLITION WOULD NOT INCREASE LYNCHING.
It is claimed by the advocates of the death penalty that if
it is abrogated, it would increase lynching. Here again statistics
come to our aid. In the State that have abolished the death
penalty there has not been a lynching in several years, while
there were eighteen men in the United States last year who were
executed for rape, from January i, 1912. to November 15, 1912;
fifteen were lynched, leaving only three. We do not think con-
ditions would be made worse.
A learned statesman and criminologist has said : 'The death
penalty as inflicted by governments is a perpetual excuse for
mobs. The greatest danger in a republic is a mob, and as long
— 18 —
as States inflict the penalty of death, mobs will follow the ex-
ample. If the State does not consider life sacred, the mob. with
ready rope, will strangle the suspected. The mob will say :
"The only diflference is the trial ; we know he is guilty. Why
should time be wasted in techincalities?"
In other words, why may not the mob do quickly what the
law does slowly?
PARDONING LIFE PRISONERS.
Some members of the Legislature have said they would be
for'the bill if the Governor did not have the pardoning power.
. The records s how that 89 ^r cent of thqsj given a life sen-
^7 tence die in the penitentiary; that only 5 3-10 per cent are par-
] doned, and 5 7-10 are commuted, and not a single life prisoner
has ever escaped from said prison. We know that a large per
cent of the few who were pardoned were pardoned so they could
die out of the prison walls, as was Lee Holder. Besides, when
you assume they will be pardoned wrongfully, you assume you
will elect corrupt Governors, which is not likely to occur.
Out of 150 life prisoners received at the State prison within
the last ten years, only seven have been pardoned, some to die
outside the walls, and one because it developed that he was inno-
I want to say that it is no "maudlin sentiment," nor misplaced
sympathy, that moved the parties whom I represent to work
for the passage of this measure. We have no interest except
the best interest of the old "\^olunteer State" and her hospitable
For the foregoing reasons, we respectfully but earnestly re-
quest you. and each of you. to use your vote and influence for the
passage of this bill.
R. L, SuDDATH, Attorney,
On Behalf of Himself, Duke C. Boivers, Et Ah.
— 19 —
OPINIONS OF OTHERS.
The following opinions are taken from diflferent periods
of thought relative to this subject:
Andrew J. Palm: '"It needs no extraordinary judgment to
comprehend the truth that if government wishes to teach that
life is sacred it must not set the example of deliberately destroy-
ing it. As well might it steal from the thief or burn the house of
the incendiary as to snufif out a human life to teach that human
life is sacred and should be held inviolable. The evil force of bad
example is the strongest argument that can be made against the
death penalty, and in itself should be sufficient to the law of life
for life in every civilized country. .. . . The man who has
a high regard for life needs no law to restrain his hand from
Mr. B. Paul Neuman says: "Lord EUenborough predicted
chaos if men were not to be hanged for petit larceny, and Lord
Eldon heartily agreed."
G. Raleigh Vicars : "The obstacles in the way of determining
the mental condition of a man makes hanging a dangerous and
unjust method of punishment, and is a major objection to the
Lafayette : "I shall insist on having the death penalty abol-
ished until I have the infallibility of human judgment demon-
strated to me."
Elizabeth Cady Stanton: "You ask me if I believe in capital
punishment. Indeed, I do not. When men are dangerous to the
public they should be imprisoned ; that done, the remaining con-
sideration is the highest good of the prisoner. Crime is a dis-
ease; hence our prisons should be moral seminaries, where all
that is true and noble in man should be nurtured into life. Our
jails, our prisons, our whole idea of punishment is wrong, and
will be until the mother soul is represented in our criminal legis-
lation. It makes me shudder to think of the cruelties that are
inflicted on criminals in the name of justice, and of the awful
— 20 —
waste of life and force — of the crushing out of hundreds and
thousands of noble men and promising boys in these abominable
bastiles of the present country. "As to the gallows, it is the tor-
ture of my life. Every sentence and every execution I hear of
if- a break in the current of my life and thought today. I make
my son the victim. I am with him in the solitude of that last
awful night, broken only by the sound of the hammer and the
coarse jeers of men, in preparation of the dismal pageant of the
coming day. I see the cold sweat of death upon his brow, and
weigh the mountains of sorrows that rest upon his soul, with
its sad memories of the past, and fearful fore-bodings of the
world to come. I imagine the mortal agony, the death struggle.
and I know ten thousand mothers all over the land weep and
pray and groan with me over every soul that is lost. Woman
knows the cost of life better than man does.
"There will be no gallows, no dungeon, no heedless cruelty in
soiitiude when mothers make the laws."
William Cullen Bryant: "I am heartily with you. as you
know, in your warfare against the barbarous practice of punish-
ment by death, and my prayer is that your labor may be crowned
with perfect success. Sooner or later T am confident that the
infliction of the punishment of death by the law will become as
obsolete to the civilized world as torture by the rack."
John r.. Whittier: "I have given the subject of capital pun-
ishment much consideration, and have no hesitation in saying
that I do not regard the death penalty essential to the security
and well-being of society ; on the contrary. I believe that its total
abolition, and the greater certainty of conviction which would
follow, would tend to diminish rather than increase the crimes it
is intended to prevent."
Alice Carey : "I cannot, probably, add anything to the force
of what must have been already said by your contributors against
the crime of crimes — capital punishment. As I regard it. the sec-
ond murder is worse than the first; for the first may have been
attended with extenuating circumstances — not so the second."
Henry \\\ Longfellow : "I am, and have been for many
years, an opponent of capital punishment. It would be useless to
— 21 —
state my reasons. They are, in the main, the same, doubtless, as
those w hich influence the other opponents to the death penalty."
Horatio Seymour: "I do not know exactly how far we shall
agree with regard to capital punishment. 1 am decidedly in favor
of softening our criminal code for many reasons. By so doing
we shall secure greater certainty of conviction in cases of guilt.
I am a strong believer in the influence of hope, rather than fear.
The longer I live and the more I see and learn of men, the more
I am disposed to think well of their hearts and poorly of their
Dr. Benjamin Rush: "The power over human life is the
sole prerogative of him who gave it. Human laws, therefore, are
in rebellion against this prerogative when they transmit it to
human hands. I have said nothing of the punishment of death
for murder, because I consider it an improper punishment for
Father Matthew : "I have been about thirty years in the min-
istry and T have never yet discovered that the founder of Chris-
tianity has delegated to man any right to take away the life of his
Henry Ward Beccher: "In our age, and with the resources
which Christian civilization has placed within reach of civil gov-
ernments, there is no need of the death penalty, and every con-
sideration of reason and humanity pleads for its abolition. It
does not answer well the ends of justice, and often defeats them.
.\s an example, it tends rather to brutify than to quicken the
moral sense of .spectators, and yet, while the fear of hanging does
not deter men from crime, the fear of inflicting death deters many
a jury from finding a just verdict and favors the escape of crim-
inals. It is the rude justice of a barbarous age. We ought, long
ago. to have done with it."
Wendell Phillips : "The gallows should be abolished alto-
gether. It never could have been defended, except on the ground
of absolute necessity, in order to protect society. It would be
absurd to make any such plea for it now, since we all know that,
within the resources of modern times, we can keep a man within
four walls as long as we see fit. That guards the community, and
we have no right to punish him in order to deter others from fol-
— 22 —
lowing in his footsteps. The moment a man violates law he for-
feits his civil right. This gives society the right, and it imposes on
it the duty, of subjecting hm to the best moral nfluences it can
command, as long as it needs to make him a good citizen. That
is all the right society acquires over him, and this does not justify
'-.y Victor Hugo : "The law that dips its finger in human blood to
write the commandment, 'Thou shalt not murder,' is naught but
an example of legal transgression against the precept itself."
Robert Burns : "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless
William Shakespeare :
"The jury, passing on the prisoner's life,
May, in the sworn twelve, have a thief or two
Guiltier than him they try."
Cicero : "Away with the executioner and the execution, and
the very name of its engine. Even the mere mention of them is
unworthy of a Roman citizen and a freeamn."
Francis Bacon : "There is no passion in the mind of man so
weak that it mates and masters the fear of death. Revenge
triumphs over death, love slights it. honor aspireth to it. and grief
fleeth to it."
Arthur C. Mellette, a former Governor of South Dakota, has
this to say of capital punishment: "T have long been of the opin-
ion that capital punishment fosters crime and murder, and that
imprisonment for life, without power of pardon, would better
subserve the interest of society."
Former Justice of the United States Supreme Court Samuel F.
Miller, on the day before his death, wrote as follows : "I have
only to say that I am now, and have been for many years, a
disbeliever in ihe merits of capital punishment as a means of pre-
venting crime. A long judicial experience has impressed me more
and more with the force of the argument against the policy of
such punishment, but I have not abandoned my original belief
against the moral right of taking life as a judicial proceeding.
"You would, perhaps, be interested to know that the following
— 23 —
sentence is a part of a judgment delivered by me in the Circuit
Court of the United States for the District of Iowa, 1867. and is
to be found in the case of United States vs. Gleason, Woolworth
" 'The penahy which the law attaches to your offense is one
which my private judgment does not approve, for I do not believe
that capital punishment is the best means to enforce the observ-
ance of the laws, or that, in the present state of society, it is
necessary for its protection, but T have no more right, for that
reason, to refuse to obey the law than you have to resist it. '"
By W. T. Rolling, D.D.
Has man any moral right to take the life of his fellow-man,
under any circumstances, except to save his own life? I think
not, because the divine law says : "Thou shalt not kill, and when
God says this He either means it, or indulges in grim humor,
which would destroy the confidence of man in the sincerity of the
Great Lawmaker, and practically would destroy the entire deca-
logue as of binding force, and excuse all crime. '
If God made jjrovision to depart from this commandment,
He provided for the abrogation of every commandment under
certain conditions. "Thou shalt not steal" would mean that thou
shalt not illegally steal, but may steal when the human law pro-
vides for it. So might we deal wnth every commandment and
nullify all of thenL I take it for- granted that God meant what
He said when He gave the moral code to Moses at Sinai, and if
so,'man has no right to amend the divinely made and given law,
and therefore has no right to take the life of his fellow-man.
under any cc^ndition, unless it be to preserve his own life, and
prevent its being taken by another.
Xo man or body of men caul justly claim the right to take
what he or they cannot restore, and because human-made law
provides for conditions under which man may take the life of
man, in no wise alters the moral crime involved in doing so.
— 24 —
It is urj^ed tliat capital punishment is necessary in order to
maintain government, but this is a mere assumption without
proof, for g-overnment in States and counties which have aban-
doned capital inmishment is as good, if not better, than in those
States which still use this mode of punishment. To take a man's
life is no punishment, so far as this life is concerned, and man
has no power to punish in the world to come. Really punishment
is only in relation to this life so far as man can inflict or suffer
it, and to claim that the State takes the life of a man to punish
him is sheer folly. Life imprisonment would be real punishment,
and with man living and yet alone in self-communion, and in the
presence of his crime and folly, would far surpass death as a
punishment fr)r the taking oi the life of his fellow-man.
Many a man. under the burden of his sin and shame, has
taken his own life, because death is far preferable to being com-
pelled to live in presence of conscious crime and remorse for
having committed it. True, many a man has petitioned for the
commuting of the death sentence to life imprisonment, but in
nine cases out of ten it is done under the hope of pardon : and
take away this hope, and the same men would prefer death to
life imprisonment, for then death would be the least of the two
The taking of criminal life is but a relic of heathenism, and
utterly antagonistic to the law of God and Christian civilization.
It does not bring back the dead ; and, in humanity, satisfies only
the low spirit of revenge in the living — a spirit murderously crimi-
nal within itself, and severely rebuked by the Christ himself. "'Ye
have heard it said, in olden times, an eye for an eye, and a tooth
for a tooth, but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray
for them that dispitefully use you." and the taking of human life
is out of harmony with this teaching.
lmj)risonment for life gives the criminal some opportunity for
reformation, and at the same time puts the seal of contamination
upon his crime beyond any that can be put by depriving him of
life. Add to this the withdrawal of the power of pardon from
the Governor, making a life sentence be for life, unless it can
be shown that an innocent man has been wrongfully condemned,
and this through a board of pardons, and then we would have
punishment for the guilty and vindication for the innocent, meet-
ing the design of all just law, which is not for taking revenge
— 25 —
upon the i^uilty. hut to punish the guilty in order to protect
society and to vindicate the innocent. Since the individual nor
the State cannot give life, neither has any right to take it, as that
right is alone lodged in the Great Giver of all Life, and the
province of the State is to deal with the living along the lines
of life, punishing for the present only, with no power to deal with
the things and conditions of the future life. What adequate sat-
isfaction to the individual or the State can there be in the taking
of a human life, unless it be to satisfy a spirit of revenge, which
has no place in the divine law, and should have none in human
law. To imprison for life, depriving man of his liberty and all
citizen privileges, while at the same time protecting society, is
reasonable, just and even humane, and beyond this is but a
usurpation of power upon the part of the State in the exercise
of the power of life or death, which alone belongs to God.
If we are to judge by the past, the taking of human life by
the State is no remedy for crime, for in the face of possible
death murder is alarmingly on the increase, and human life was
never so cheap as it is at present, and certainly there is a demand
for .some other deterring preventive of crime, for capital punish-
ment is a failure. With capital punishment the penalty for
crime, it is difficult to get a jury to convict, because the taking
of human life is repugnant to even the coarsest type of mankind,
and utterly out of all harmony with refined nature, so that even
unconsciously men recoil from the idea of taking human life —
men who would readily give a verdict for life imprisonment com-
l^romise on acquittal.
iJi course, I am aware that many will disagree with me, for
I have never been able to get everybody to see my way and be
right in their view, but I am sure that, as men grow more civil-
ized, capital punishment grows less poi^ular and wholesale mur-
der, in the shape of war, is regarded as the last resort by the
civilized nations of earth, and the time will come when human
life will be rightly valued and war shall be no more.
If this is not to be the case Christianity will have proved a
failure, to become an efifete religion, cast by intelligent humanity
upon the religious scrap-pile of the ages.
Is it not time to put aside the unwarranted penalty of capital
punishment and adopt the more humane and effective punishment
— 26 —
by life imprisonment, put beyond the reach of one-man pardon?
The capital punishment experiment has proved a faihire, so
far as it bein,^ a remedy for crime is concerned, and we cer-
tainly should cease to officially commit the crime for which we
han.e^ the other fellow. — Mfiiipliis Commercial Appeal, January
DETECTIVE AGAINST IT.
Stout Says Capital Punishment Should Re Abolished.
"Capital punishment does not act as any benefit in deterring
crime," said J. T. Stout. Chief of the Stout Detective Agency,
talking with a reporter for The Democrat yesterday.
"I think that the principle of taking a life for a life is entirely
wrong, and should be abolished. My long experience as a de-
tective has shown me that it does not carry out the fullest aims
"We have capital punishment in this State today and yet
crime still continues, especially murder. I believe in giving every
man a chance if possible, and I think that imprisonment for life
would at least give a man a chance to lead a decent life in prison,
where otherwise he would be dead. Then if in prison he is of
that much value to the State as a laborer, whereas dead men
can't work." — Nasln^iUe Democrat.
By H. W. Lewis.
There are many persons who do not want to investigate pro-
gressive ideas in the treatment of crime and criminals, those
who believe in blood for blood, and who do not want to believe
anything else can find the sum total of the argument in its favor
in the Pentateuch.
An ignorant conscience is an uncertain guide. Slavery was
an institution of so long standing that it was assented to as right
and proper without investigation on the part of the great major-
itv. Arguments in favor of slavery were drawn from the Scrip-
tures, and it was defended from the pulpit as a divine institution
because Moses held it to be such. Many persons are displeased
with the idea of doin gaway with the death penalty, and charge
— 27 —
the origin of such ideas as a disbeHef in the Sacred Word.
These people have a strong sentiment for the Bible, but it is
mostly a mere sentiment. The two verses, "Whoso sheddeth
man's blood by man shall his blood be shed," and the one like
•imto it, "Pie that spareih the rod hateth his son," constitute the
sum total of their knowledge of the Old Testament, while their
respect for the new is based largely on Paul's advice to Timothy,
to take a little wine for his stomach's sake. They are just as
firm in the faith of hanging, whipping and moderate drinking
as if they had much more authority for their position. Many
persons, usually in the rear of the van of progress, want "Thus
saith the Lord" for everything they undertake, and while waiting
for the '.'still small voice" to come with sufficient force to set
them in action, others grasp the situation, go ahead, on the prin-
ciple that the Lord helps those that help themselves, set the
wheels of reform in motion, and these obstructionists come up
just in time to say "amen" and thank the Lord that the victory
was won by faith and prayer.
Tt will not be denied that slavery was defended from the pul-
pit less than seventy years ago, North and South.
The tendency on the part of the clergy to be conservative
may be accounted for on the ground that they draw their in-
spiration, and the principles by which they are governed, largely
from what has been aptly called the "carpenter" theory of crea-
tion. They make no allowances for the race to grow, but think
that what was good enough for Abraham and ^Moses four or five
thousand years ago is good enough for I'ennesseans in this, the
It is hardly necessary to add that ministers, as a body, are
ardent advocates of the law that demands blood for blood, and
they can justly claim the credit, whatever it may be, for having
kept the old law so long in force. Some of their ablest men.
however, who, by the way, are usually the most liberal, are op-
posed to overcoming evil with evil, and have had the courage so
to express themselves.
\\'hen ministers become convinced that it is their duty to fight
a custom they go into the contest in earnest. As soon as the
preachers were satisfied that slaverv in Tudea did not make
slavery right in Tennessee, they went at it "tooth and nail," and
— 28 —
(lid much to create the impression that banished slavery from
existence. If the time comes when they outgrow another Jewish
custom, when they believe what they preach — that the vilest sin-
ner may return, that forgiveness, mercy, and amity are better .
than vengeance, retaliation, and blood — then death as a punish-
ment for crime will be relegated to its proper place among the
relics of a lower degree of civilization. Suppose we found our
criminal jurisprudence on the Mosaic code, what crimes or of-
fenses would be punishable with death? Here is a list that in-
cludes many of them : Murder, kidnaping, eating leavened bread
during the Passover, allowing a cross ox to kill a person, witch-
craft, bestiality, idolatry, oppression of widows and orphans,
making holy ointment, violation of the Sabbath, striking father
or mother, sodomy, eating the flesh of the peace offering with
uncleanliness, eating any manner of blood, offering children to
Moloch, screening an idolator, going after familiar spirits, un-
chastity before marriage, when charged by the husband or un-
chastity of a priest's daughter, blasphemy, forbearing to keep the
Passover, uncleanliness, stranger coming near the tabernacle, and
a number of others.
No matter how great any man's respect for the Old Te ta-
ment may be, the most that he can say for the ceremonial and
criminal law of the Hebrews is that it was adapted to men in a
very crude condition, who wxre making their first advances in
the rudiments of moral and religious truths : that it taught them
only as much as they were prepared to receive, with a promise
of something better to come after. Ministers admit that the
ceremonial law of the Jews is no longer binding, and that the
criminal code has no force except in case. of numbers. They in-
sist that God's covenant with Xoah, in which occurs the verse.
"Whoso sheddeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed."
is binding for all time and upon all nations. They do not un-
derstand that it is repealed, both in the language and the
spirit of the New Testament, li they believe as firmly as they
pretend that killing the murderer is pleasing to God and a duty
sacredly enjoined upon man. they should act as executioners :
they certainly should not hesitate to pull the string or cut the
rope that sends the soul of a murderer to the answering bar of
The prinicples of the Jewish law of penal jurisprudence are so
diametrically opposed to the spirit of Christianity that there can
— 29 —
be no compromise between them. Either Christ's command when
He says, "Ye have heard that it hath been said an eye for an
eye, and a tooth for a tooth, but I say imto you, that ye resist not
evil," must prevail, or the very thing He forbids must be ac-
knowledged as right. Moses put his enemies to death, Christ
died for them ; Moses was sinful, Christ was sinless ; Moses in-
sisted on sacrifice, Christ required mercy; Moses was a law-
giver and teacher for a single nation, Christ gave a gospel for the
H Jesus had not given His thought on this law of Moses,
as found in the Sermon on the Mount; if he had not set up a
standard immeasurably higher, then we might pretend that this
law of Moses for the punishment of murder was a statement for
all generations and all forms of civilization. But His teaching
is actually as much or more in advance of Moses' law as that
was in advance of the ideas and practices of men when it was
given. But this law of Moses is all there is in the Bible which
can be pleaded as an exception to the commandment, "Thou
shalt not kill." Jesus did enforce this law against killing, but
He did not, directly or indirectly, recognize any exception to it.
"Thou shalt not kill" is more a command than God's covenant
with Noah. It is binding on nations as well as on individuals,
for there are no exceptions provided. What right have we to
make any? — Nashville Banner.
THE FEAR OF DEATH.
Government statistics show an average of i,6oo homicides
committed per year, for the past ten years, in the United States
and 5,500 suicides per year during the same time.
Which conclusively proves that the fear of death does not
deter when desperation takes hold of a man.
Putting people to death did not deter the Christian religion,
but, on the other hand, made it the most powerful religion in
Christ, who was put to death by a howling mob, and who had
the power to save himself, exemplified and proved the correct-
ness of the doctrine which He preached. "Vengeance is mine,
saith the Lord." "Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil
with good." — Duke C. Bozuers.
— 30 —
BOVVERS, OPPOSER OF DEATH PENALTY, MAKING
Duke C. Bowers, retired grocery merchant of Aleniphis,
has returned to Xashville to resume liis fight for the
passage of a bill in the Legislature abolishing capital punishment
in Tennessee. Mr. Bowers is entering into the fight with great
enthusiasm, and is making a telling campaign among the legis-
lators and with the public. Largely through his eflforts the issue
of capital punishment has been brought before the people of
Tennessee, and will be kept before them until after the bill in
the Legislature is passed or defeated.
Mr. Bowers has made the abolition of capital punishment his
study for many years, and is thoroughly familiar with the sub-
ject. The following interview was given out by him Monday
"Capital punishment has been abolished in five States. In
each of these States, with one exception, homicides have been on
the decrease, while in the neighboring States, in almost every
instance, homicides are on the increase.
"The government reports regarding the States on which tab
is kept as to homicides and so forth showed that, taking the
whole as an average, there are almost two and one-half times as
many homicides in those States that have the death penalty as
against those that have done away with it.
Mob Law Argument.
"Some argue that mob law will increase if the death penalty
is abolished. Statistics show that from June i, 1912, to November
15, 1912, there were eighteen people killed in the United States
for rape, of which number fifteen were lynched and three were
executed, which refutes the above argument, because fifteen out
of eighteen are already being lynched.
"Others argue that so long as the pardon power remains with
the Governor that they are against the abolishing of the death
penalty. There have been received at the Nashville penitentiary
in the past ten years 151 life-time prisoners, and during that time
— 31 —
only seven have been pardoned. Some of them having been so
as to let them die at home with their people, one of them because
the jury and court that tried the man decided he was not guilty,
and anyone with a heart in him would have done what the Gov-
ernors did in these cases.
"The old doctrine of 'an eye for an eye' was done away with
by that Great Teacher who said, 'Be not overcome of evil, but
overcome evil with good.' 'Vengeance is mine, saith the T.ord.'
Fear of Death,
"The fear of death does not deter homicides. For the past ten
years there have been an average of about i,6oo homicides and
5,500 suicides per year, showing that when desperation takes hold
of a man the fear of death does not deter him from taking even
his own life. The fear of death did not prevent our ancestors
from joining the army in defense of our country. If the fear of
death had prevailed, then our State would not bear the name of
the Volunteer State.
"The death penalty is ghastly, inhuman, unchristlike, barbarous
and absolutely inexcusable from statistical standpoints as well as
from all other standpoints.
"Part of the taxes you pay, I pay, and all of us pay, is being-
paid someone in this State for the purpose of having him take
some poor, weak, misguided, unfortunate human being out and
hang him by the neck until he is dead, dead, dead.
"Who is able to know that we would not have committed the
same crime for which this God-given human soul was put to
death, had we have sprung from the same ancestry, been thrown
in the same environment and have been cursed with the same
devils? Who knows but what in the sight of God we commit as
great a wrong when we take His name in vain as does the
vilest lawbreaker in his misdeeds ?
"Help us to be merciful unto others as we would have God be
merciful unto us."— Ka^hvil I c Tcnncsscan and American.
— 32 —
DR. PAYNE AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
Educator Dixlakks Barbarous Custom Does Not Act as
"All of my feelings are against capital punishment, and always
have heen." said Dr. lirnce R. I'ayne, President of the George
I'eabody College, talking with a reporter for The Democrat last
"Even the thought of capital punishment is cruel, and I think
that such method of punishment is unnecessary. It is rather a
barbarous custom, and theoretically does not reach its ends.
"When a State punishes a criminal and at the same time re-
pairs a broken life. I think it is far better than snuffing life out,
thereby neither helping in reformation nor deterring crime."
When asked if he thought the bill introduced yesterday was
a good one. and should be passed. Dr. Payne replied:
"Well. yes. it is a good thing, and should be passed. Capital
punishment doesn't seem to get anywhere, so to speak. If a
criminal is dangerous to society, then lock him up.
"Frequently the very lowest type of criminals represented in
the South by the negroes considers it not dishonorable, but rather
distinguishing, for members of his class to die the ostentatious
death on the scaffold.
"On the other hand, the example of long years of imprison-
ment, or enforced labor on pubilc works proves a much stronger
deterring influence than capital punishment." — The Democrat.
DR. PARRISH AGAINST CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
"I am totally against capital punishment in any form," said
Dr. H. P). Parrish, one of Nashville's prominent physicians, and
the Councilman from the Twentieth Ward, talking with a re-
porter for The Democrat. "And I am willing to do anything
in reason to do away with it.
"Capital punishment is barbarous, and inhuman, and any-
thing but the right thing. 1 do not think that it is the correct
thing for a civilized community to have such a law on its statute
— 33 —
"No man has a right to take something which he cannot re-
store, as I see it, and therefore the State has no right to take the
Hfe of a man which it cannot give back.
"1 think that the bill introduced by Charles C. Gilbert and
others in the Legislature is an excellent one. and I certainly hope
that it will go through.
"From the standpoint of humanity, civilization and Chris-
tianity, we should do away with capital punishment." — The
POPUL.AR PASTOR AGAINST LEGAL KILLING.
"I prefer to learn towards mercy's' side,'' said Dr. Carey E.
Morgan, one of the most popular ministers in the city, and pastor
of the Vine Street Christian Church, when asked last night if
he was for the abolishment of capital punishment.
"My whole nature rebels against it, and, really, I'm with you
for the abolishment. It does seem to me that, under the influ-
ence of Christianity, there should be some method of reformation
as well as punishment.
"We are not under the ancient Mosaic law of "an eye for an
eye, and a tooth for a tooth,' but under the gospel of the grace
of God. We are taught to 'love om- enemies and do good to
them that despitefully use us.'
"It seem that some method looking toward the reformation
rather than the sheer punishment would be more Christian, and.
perhai)s, finally would serve as a surer ijrotection for society."
— The Democrat.
PROMINENT RECTOR OPPOSES DEATH PENALTY.
"I am heartily opposed to capital punishment," said Rev.
Nicholas Rightor, assistant rector of St. Ann's Episcopal Church,
"I have always i^ecn against capital punishment, for I think
that civilization and humanity demands reformation rather than
punishment from a criminal, and when a man's life is napped out
there is no opportunity for reformation, as far as the outer world
"Capital i)unishment is a barbarous custom, for in this day
and age we are not under the ancient law. of Mosaic days, call-
— 34 —
ing" for an 'eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' — The
"I have never been in fav(^r of this method of punishing^ a
criminal or makinj^ it an example for society, and I think it would
be a good thing to abolish it.
"In this christian dispensation it is not for any man to usher
another into tlie other life before his time." — 7 he Democrat.
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT.
To the Editor of The Democrat :
Of real crime, all crimnologists affirm : l^irst, that it is a
social disease like insanity, of which it is really a form; and,
second, that it is the result or effect of definite causes, and is not
effected in the slightest degree by the infliction of punishment
upon the criminal.
Government deals with this matter in a blundering, unscien-
tific manner, the basis of which is the stupid and savage idea of
revenge, the idea that crime is to be restrained, if nnt prevented,
by examples of punishment.
Those who have made this problem a study very generally
agree that punishment not only does not prevent or lessen crime,
but tends, rather, to propagate it. This is so well understood ta-
day that the death penalty is no longer made a public exhibition
because of its demoralizing effects.
In those districts where the death penalty has been abolished
no one is less safe than elsewhere. Since crime is a social dis-
ease, its cure or prevention can only be effected by the removal
of the generating causes. The chief cause of crime is unnatural
social conditions, such as poverty on the one hand and opulence
on the other. Wealh, with its idleness, creates vice, for vicious
living is characteristic of all aristocratic classes whose members
are not obliged to labor and are compelled to find some way to
amuse themselves in order to prevent ennui. Poverty, with its
enforced idleness, tends also to dissipation and vicious propen-
In a social system where neither of these extremes of poverty
and wealth exists, and in which all are employed in some form
of rational and useful activity, the incentive to vicious living
will no longer exist, and vice and crime will naturally vanish
tor want oi conditions to produce iheni. The establishment of
rational social conditions will thus in time eliminate all crime,
which is unnatural and would not exist under perfectly natural
Elviko D. Lai'ra.
Xashville. Februar\- 2.
Tlll<: TREND OF CAPErAL riWlSl EMEXT.
Editor I'cnnesscan and American :
The taking of life in punishment for offenses aJ2^ainst society
is as old as the human race. It is very natural the idea of such
punisiimont would suggest itself to ])rimitive and barbarous peo-
ple. To put the offender out oi existence was the first way
thought of. Thus we find in both sacred and profane history
the death penalty inflicted for countless offenses. In dark days
we find it caused very little disgust even to the most sensitive
Early writers speak lightly of it. What is ghastly impression
is made when we find Ovid, at a time when the sexes were seated
together at Rome to witness the executions of criminals, speak-
ing of this as a "fit place for a lover to prosecute his suit !" In-
creased intensity of seriousness may be observed with the growth
of literature. Strange that Nero, "the monster of cruelty,"
should say during the first few years of his reign, when death
warrants were presented him to sign, that he regretted he had
ever learned to write, so averse was he to shedding human blood.
Later, when he became brutalized, he could sign them without
pain, and put his own mother to death without remorse. In the
middle ages the church, the Christian church, put to death thou-
sands who refused to acept its theological dogmas.
In the reign of George III of England, only a century and a
half ago, above 300 offenses were capital. Goldsmith and his
disciples began to recast the public conscience. A few years later
Sir Samuel Romilly, slavery and law reformer, fought vigorously
for abolition of the death penalty. Himiane societies played
their part. One crime after another has been stricken from the
list till only two are left — high treason and first degree murder.
In 1864 the question of complete abolition was considered by a
royal commission. They reported two years later differing on
expediency, and recommending that it be confined to first degree
murder. English juries now seldom give a first degree verdict,
— 36 —
and when they do, the sentence is not often carried out, for the
crown reserves the riij;ht to chant^e sentence, and fre(|uen;ly does.
In continental Europe, perhaps Beccaria. philanthropic writer
of the eighteenth century, was foremost in diminishing^ capital
punishment. Norway. Roumania. Portugal. Holland, and fifteen
of the twentv-two cantons of Switzerland, have comnle^^elv abol-
ished it. while the larg^er countries have reduced capital offenses
to a few. In France, when death sentence is i)ronounced. mercy
is g^reatly exercised by the president.
In our own country four state*-" — Maine, Michi.sfan, Wisconsin
and Rhode Island — no lon,s^er inflict the death penalty. The capi-
tal offenses of the states retaining? it vary from one to four.
Others have considered, and are still considcrins^. abolition. In
\'ir_s^inia's last General assembly the subject received no little at-
tention. Recently in Orejjon we find Governor \\'est urfjin.c^ the
people to abolish it by vote.
Xext. the methods of infliction. Naturally, when the death
penalty would sutjgest itself to the race in its infancv, the most
cruel and torturing- means would be thought of. The trend is
significant — burning, crucifixion, impalement, i)recipitation from
rocks, stoning, beheading, poisoning, hanging, electric shock.
In early ages executions were public, the community taking part.
Today only the morbidly curious or the brutally disposed would
care to witness an execution. Only a few would hold that a
puldie execution frightens the criminally inclined. Second to
a free lynching in demoralizing a community is a free execution.
Hence UK^st Christian countries debar the public. Hence secular
newspapers that arc inclined to swell their columns with grue-
some details to gratify the morbidly curious are debarred. Such
is a very meagre account of the subject. It is significant. Com-
menting is in order.
Who do people sanction capital jiunishment when it is so gen-
erally accepted as a relic of barbarism that it has become a tru-
First, it is an ingrained habit. It is a case, of persistent racial
habit developing almost into an instinct.
Secondly, lawmakers (\o not err. A good citizen will honor
and res];eet the sacred charge of a legislative body. A citizen
— 37 —
is not necessarily bad if he does not agree with every expression.
Thev sometimes hold that the licensed saloon is for the best in-
terest of the State. Many are not persuaded.
Thirdly, some accept every expression as they do Chicago
canned labeled goods. They swallow and think no more.
Fourthly, the brutality of crime justifies it. Yes, some crimes
are brutal — brutal beyond conception of the ordinary mind. But
to balance brutality and play the part of a savage is unworthy of
a great and humane people.
Fifthly, it is a great deterrent of crime. If so, records of the
foreign countries, the States in our own country that have abol-
lished it .and the personal testimony of Governors and officials
are meaningless. Some States and nations have abolished and
restored. It is noteworthy that in the majority of such instances
no difference in rate of crime could be observed.
Sixthly, Scri])ture justifies it. With all reverence, passages
can be transposed literally to fit either side, strained and distorted
to carry points. Most of the passages justifying it are found in
the shady portions of the history of the race. We do not expect
for men to see as well at mi f night as at noonday. I cannot har-
monize the taking of human life for ofifenses with the heart of
Seventhly, the law gives ample time for a condemned person
to prepare for eternity. If there is a future existence of the soul,
what person can say, what person would dare say, when a soul
is ready to meet its God? We do not live by the click of a clock.
Preparation for eternity is not a rnechanical process having a
common measure. A pliant heart may prepare in a brief period.
-An obdurate heart may require years. Surely the person who
commits a capital ofifense is most likely to be the latter. Hence
the power to settle a person's fate irrevocably can be exercised
ju.stly only l)y the Omniscient.
Personally. w<ire I to take the life of the vilest human being
conceivable. I should be guilty of his blood. And according to
Christ's teachings to sanction the same by others T must be
equally as guilty. Pardon the sentiment, but if my life were
taken by another, I should only want my avengers to confine my
slayer in some place where the light from heaven could serve to
— 38 —
transform him more into the likeness of his Maker.
Above is the trend ; following, the comment. I believe, with
many others, I can repeat, feeling innocent of maudlin sentiment,
or of being an enemy of the common weal, the closing lines of
Myra Townsend's poem on the subject :
"Cease not from striving, till our law
Is clear from bloody stain.
And reformation — not revenge —
Tn principle sustain."
L. W. Hexdrickson.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IS MURDER!
The following news item from Special Correspondent W. G.
Shepherd appeared in The Memphis Press, February 17, 1912.
Chtcwgo. February 17. — "How did my boy die?"
It wasn't a mother or a father asking a question. It was a
deputy sheriff, who stood on the gallows looking down at the
swinging form of an 18-year-old boy about whose neck he had
fastened a rope five minutes before.
"Wasn't his neck broken?" insisted the deputy, talking to one
of the dozen doctors who were examining the boy's body. When
the doctor answered in the affirmative the deputy stepped back
from the trap-hole, satisfied.
What you see at a hanging is one thing: it shows you what
society is doing to criminals. But what you hear at hangings
shows you what society is doing to itself when it takes the life
of a human being.
I'm going to put down what I heard — the talk of men — at
the haneing of Ph'llip Summerling. 34 years: Thos. Schultz, 18
years: Ewald Shiblawaski. 24: Ewald's brother, Frank, 21. and
Thos. Jennings, negro, 35.
For two hours and ten minutes there were gathered in the
— 39 —
vast, liigh-ceilinged room forty-five physicians, thirty-five guards
and twenty ne\vsi)ai)er men. They were the representatives of
society, and 1 want to show by the thin^s^s I heard them say what
hanging does to the men who are not hanged.
In his office, before we went into the death chamber. I asked
Deputy Sherifif I^eters how many men he had hung.
"Whv. young fellow." he said. "I hung men before you were
born. Ihu'ng the Haymarket rioters. And I've hung forty men.'"
he added proudly.
■'Have a smoke." some one said to Peters.
"Xo. No smokes, eats or drinks until this job is done. Then
I'll go out and take a stifT drink of whisky. I always have a re-
action after a hanging. It always makes me tired and sick."
"Doctors ! Doctors !" exclaimed some one in the hallway.
We looked out of Peter's office and saw a double line of
deputy sheriffs, leading from the main door of the jail. Between
then was passing a line of forty-two physicians, who wore being
admitted to the death chamber.
Peters went to the telephone and called up the State's At-
"There's a fellow who's trying a four-fiush in Judge Landis'
court to make us put ofif this hanging. It's a piece of hocus-
pocus.. The fellow just wants to get into the limelight. I want
you to understand that I am going right along with this busi-
When he had hung up the receiver. Peters said to the deputy:
"Fix up the sawbones! Get them in their chairs, and then
we'll get busy."
"Press ! Press !' 'a deputy called. That meant that the dozen
newpaper men were to go into the death chamber.
A doctor tried to sc|ueeze in with us.
"Xo. no; you can't go with these fellows. Sit down with
the doctors. You can examine the corpse with them."
The doctors all sat in cliairs, at the foot of the high scaf-
I heard one doctor with whiskers talking to another.
"Hanging is all damn fooli.shness," he said. "Xow here are
— 40 —
four good strong men. One of them has a penniless wife and
hahy. Tlie murdered man left a penniless wife and bahy. Why
don't they put these four men in jail somewhere for life, and
make them work to support the two penniless women and their
babies? .Ain't it daiun foolishness to kill them?"
"I heard the guard say:
"There's a fellow in Xew "S'ork City who's the best executioner
in the country. He's killed 140. and he never makes a miscue.
Must have nerve, huh ?"
"What'll you have to eat?" one reporter asked another when
they sat down at a reporters' table that was covered with a
"Yow ! yow ! pow ! pow !" These noises came from the cell.
Inmates of the jail were rattling their bars, yelling and ])ounding
tin cups. The death march had begun.
■■Tiiey"ll show uj) around that corner in a minute." said one
reporter. "I'm an old hand in this hanging room. I've seen 17
hangings here." There was a huffle of feet on the iron floor and
the procession walked onto the gallery from an upper tier. There
was a priest, in white, officers in blue, and two men roughly
drssed — the Shiblawski brothers.
All you could hear was the murmur of the i)riest'£ prayer
and the murmur of the men. who re])eated his words in low tones.
What were they saying]^ \\'hat kind of a i)rayer do men make
on a gollows?
No one could hear their words. The brothers kissed the
cross which the priest held- to them. While this was going on
their legs and arms were being strapped. We tried to hear
what they were saying as the deputies put a white shroud about
their bodies, but we stopped trying when the white cajis were
tied over their heads. Rverybofly seemed to be working slowly
on the gollows. ( )ne brother turned his muffled head toward
another. We heard the nuirmur of his voice.
"Crash!" that was the next sound. Then came the scuffling
of the feet of 14 doctors, as they walked to the two bags, their
contents twitching, which hung from the swaying ropes.
The reporters rushed to a back room, where their telephone
and telegraph wires had been placed. 1 caught these bits of
news as they talked : "Just as the writhing body of the boy stop-
— 41 —
ped swaying." "Strangled, gurgled." "Twitched like cats in
a bag." "Oh, is that yon taking my stuff. Bill? Great show!
(jreat show. Three more to come."
"What, in Christmas, was that prayer?" said one reporter.
"I don't know. Tell your office to look it up in the prayer
hook. They can copy it from that."
Two men were fixing up two other ropes. They carried out
two bodies on a wheeled table, covered with a white cloth.
"Both of their necks were broken." said a doctor, coming to
the reporters' table.
During the lull I talked to seven of the 14 doctors wIkj had
examined. T wanted to know whether they believed in capital
pimishment. Not a one of them did.
"Capital punishment doesn't keep people from committing
murder, unless you hang men on a high gallows, in a big space,
where all the folks in the city can see it." said Dr. A. C. Koethe.
"This is my first hanging, and my last." said Dr. I. E. Huff-
man. "After this T don't believe in capital punishment. I can see
a patient die. but to see sane men kill a well man. in cold blood —
All of this talk was sort of "between the acts."
"Hats off! No smoking," called a man in overalls, from the
The next sound was that of the prison inmates, who w^ere
watching the death watch. Then we heard the shuffle of feet,
and again the priest and the deputies in bhie brought two poorly
dressed men onto the scaffold.
"Well, the other two got across in time for lunch, said one
deputy in a seat near me. looking at his watch.
"These fellows'll eat with them." answered another guard.
"But I guess they'll all get there too soon to please them."
The two men in poor clothes stood on the trap where the
denuties placed them. One of them wasn't a man. but a boy.
John Schultz, 18 years old, son of immigrants, who. as one re-
ported said, "hadn't done anything but get into bad company."
And now we know what the nrayer was. for John raised his head
and Iroked up. he fixed his blue eyes on the high ceiling, he re-
peated the words which the priest murmured.
"Oh, Christ: have mercy on my soul!" His words rang out,
clear and distinct as a bell. "Holy Mary, intercede for me !
Pray for me ! Brings me to everlasting life."
The deputies were tying the straps about his arms and legs.
Another of them tied the white shroud about the boy's neck.
"Savior, save me. Forgive me niy sins!"
"Listen to that young fellow pray." said a reporter.
"Christ. T love Thee!" said the boy. Tn the white covering
he looked like a choir boy.
"Grant me to live wtih Thee. Forgive me my sins."
While he said these words, still looking upward, William
Davies. the jailer, put the noose over his head and tightened
the knot under the boy's ear.
Another deputy was doing the same thing to Summerling.
"Forgive me my sins! Forgive me my sins!" rang out the
voice of the boy. His voice was growing louder : there was a
tone of wildness in it.
"Holy ]\Iary !" — "Crash!" Tt was an awful thing to hear in
the same moment those words from the mouth of that boy, and
that sound. But they came together. Again the feet of fourteen
doctors scuffled over the cement floor to the white, swaying,
There was another intermission.
"Xow. if this nigger'll only confess before he's hung, you
fellow'll get a fine top-off for your day's story." said a deputy
sheriff to the reporters.
"We've got a good early start in the dav's work." said a re-
porter. "Are you going out for lunch ? Whv don't you sheriffs
go out now and then coiiie back for the afternoon's work? You
can fini.sh a lot of men at this raet."
"Ciee," said a young doctor, coming up to Jailer Davies. "I
thought you'd left your handcuffs on that young fellow. I lifted
up his hand, and I didn't see that another doctor was holding
it by the elbow. I thought his hands were locked together, be-
cause I couldn't move his arms."
"They don't suffer," another doctor was telling the reporters.
"But isn't there some easier way to kill a man?" asked a re-
— 43 —
"I sboukl sav so," said the dnctor. "They could put a tiny
drop of hydrocyanic acid in his soup some day, and in an instant
he would he stone dead, without a twitch or a pain. Or they
could kill a man with morphine, and he would die pleasantly, in
leautiful dreams. But this hanging! It's the crudest thing in
"I saw a voung doctor put young Schultz's neck back into
place in fine shape." said a deputy — "iust grabbed his head, gave
it a twist and it snapped right back where it belonged."
I saw plenty of smiles during the two hours and ten minutes.
1 heard plenty of attempted jokes and commonplaces, among the
42 doctors and the reporters and deputies. Why did we smile and
try to talk of everyday things?
Because hanging is so awful that a man who witnesses it
dare not admit to himself how awful it is. He knows in his heart
of hearts, that the cold, deliberate killing of a man by his fellow'-
man brutalizes the killers — and that is all society — just as much
as it ends human life. Perhaps the killers suffer more harm than
the killed. — The Memphis Press.
MOORE IS .\GATXST C.\PITAL PUNISHMENT.
"Capital punishment is a relic of the days when men were
forced to trod red-hot ploughshares to prove their innocence,"
said John Trotwood Moore, Tennessee's distinguished novelist,
talking on the subject last night.
"I (1(^ not believe in taking a man's life for having commit-
ted a crime. That is a barbarous custom, a relic of ancient days.
We must he progressive, and more humane toward our fellow-
"It seems to me that in a Christian land, with all our boasted
Christianity, we should practice such, and abolish this terrible
method of punishment.
"Ca])ital punishment does not prevent crime. We make use
of it in Tcnnesseee. yet murders are continually committed. Why
not try the other method?
"\yhen a man's life is taken at the end of a rope, or in the
electric chair, his usefulness is done for. He is of no value to
the State, or to society.
— 44 —
'"Xow it such men were placed in the penitentiary they would
have to work for the State, and he of concrete value to the State.
In the same time such a man might reform while in prison, and
be a factor for good in that institution.
"There is the case of Cole Younger. When a boy his father
was killed by bushwhackers, and he entered into killing others.
When surrender was declared they refused to let Cole Younger
surrender. Later he was placed in the penitentiary. There he
proved to be a model prisoner, and won the love of all about him.
"In fact he was so industrious, and so perfect in conduct that
he won the sympathy of all wardens under whom he served, until
the mater was called to the attention of the Chief Executive of
that State, and when put to the people as to whether Cole
Younger should be pardoned, after having served twenty-five
years for the State, it was overwhelmingly decided that he should
have his life and liberty.
Today that man is a good citizen, and has even become the
president of ;'. railroad. He gave twenty-five years of his life
to the State — was that not enough? Now, isn't he of better
use to humanity in general than if his, life had been snapped out?
"I think that we should allow our women to vote, for by so
doing our laws would become more humane. I think that if
women had the ballot in Tennessee this barbarous custom would
be speedily abolished. And I sincerely hope that this session of
the Legislature will work to that end. — Xaslii'ille 7 emiessean. and
American, January 26. 1913.
JUDGE R. H. PRESCOTT, ONE OF THE LEADING
CRIMINAL LAWYERS OF THE SOUTH.
Mr. Duke C. Boiccrs, Dresden. Tcnn.:
Dear Sir : — I am in receipt of your request that I give you
my views concerning Capital Punishment, as now provided by
the statutory enactments of our State.
In reply will say that as a penalty for the infraction of the law
I believe it to be a failure. In the very face of the most extreme
punishment more murders are committed yearly in the United
States than ever before, especially in the history of the large
American cities and the territory adjacent to them. It does not
— 45 —
prohibit; it never has; it never will. The man who kills with
cool, deliberate purpose and premeditation moved by malice does
not pause to reflect upon the consequences of his act, and the fact
that it is written in the law that murder in the first degree shall
be punished by death by hanging is no deterrent or restraint to
him. In fact, I am constrained from many years' practice in the
Criminal Court to believe that punishment of all kinds do not
restrain from an infraction of the law, except in the rarest in-
stances. I am of the opinion that the impulse to commit crime
is in the blood, like some dissease that lurks in the human body,
and is nurtured by the infirmities and frailties of hu man nature.
On the other hand, often a good citizen is impelled, by sudden
impulse of passion, to perpetrate violence against the person
of his fellowman. Not one criminal in ten thousand stops to con-
sider the consequences of his act.
After all there is no law or its enforcement save that reposed
in and reflected by the virtues and patriotism of the masses of the
people. And capital punishment does not add to or stimulate
either of these characteristics. To take life, even by authority of
law, is abhorrent to the better feelings and ideas of justice of
the average man. Down in his heart he has an idea that it is
wrong — that it is a bloody, cruel, surviving relic of the past ages
wherein men were sought to be ruled by power of might and
not right. Humane methods of government have advanced with
civilization. As a rule, men are more humane, kind and gentle.
I do not touch on the moral right to take human life by opera-
tion of law. That is a question that must appeal to each indi-
vidual. I do not believe we have the right as a government to
execute one of our citizens. History teaches that it had its origin
in revenge. In the early history of England the next of kin to
the deceased had the right to pursue and kill the assailant. This
give way to a kind of tribal court.
It is interesting to study the origin of capital punishment.
The Mosaic Law. as to that, is but a reflection of the custom of
the times, and but an expression of the customs of previous
ages. In my opinion there was no divine sanction for it.
Again, mistakes have been made and clearly demonstrated,
in verdicts of guilt, but too late to do any good, because the de-
fendant had paid the unjust penalty.
— 46 —
I am enclosing a copy of a poem, by Ella \\ heeler Wilcox,
on the subject of capital punishment. It is the best I have seen.
Wishing you success in your movement, I remain yours
very truly, R. H, Prescott.
To the Editor of the Banner
In your issue of January 30, you publish, in your Forum of
the I'eople. a letter from A. A. Xorth. I woukl thank you to
publish this reply, hoping that he will see it, and that it will con-
vince him that there is logic as well as sentiment in the proposed
movement to do away with capital punishment in Tennessee.
Mr. North apparently thinks that we should not be controlled
by sentiment and sympathy, yet if he will investigate all of the
great movements that have done more to civilize all nations he
will find that these two great motive powers have had much to
do with it.
But I am willing to discount these considerations and place
my argument before him on a sound basis of logic, reason and
statistics. Many men believe that one fact is worth a hundred
analogies, and, like Mr. North, insist on knowing "how it works"
before they will give up the old for the new. And some are even
so constituted that offering undeniable facts to controvert their
position will even then fail to put their minds in harmony with
the spirit of progress. The idea of the abolishment of the death
penalty is no new theory, and has been in practice for a number
of years in many States and countries. Former Warden Hatch,
of the Michigan State prison, said : ''Michigan is a poor shib-
boleth for capital punishment advocates, for it is about the only
State in the Union that shows a decided falling ofT in the crimi-
nal populations. / believe it impossible to reinstate the lazv au-
thorising the death penalty in this State. The civilized world
is tending toward the abolition of the law of death for crime, and
the number of executions is constantly decreasing. In this coun-
try the States of Kansas, Maine. ^Iichigan. Rhode Island and
Wisconsin have abolished the death penalty, and the statistics
show that in those States for the last decade and more crimes
and criminals have been on a decrease.
In the State of Rhode Island, according to the statistics of
the Bureau of Census, there was but five homicides in that State
— 47 —
to each loo.ooo population ; while in the State of Connecticut,
which is an adjoining State, and similar in conditions, there were
eight homicides to every 100,000. In the State of :Maine there
were only 2.2 homicides to a population of 100,000, while in the
State of N'ermont, which is very similar to the State of Maine,
there was 7.6 homicides to every 100,000 population. These same
statistics hold good throughout the entire list of the States that
have abolished capital punishment.
Again, when people are imbued with the value of life as
taught them by the example and precept of the State that human
life is sacred, they will themselves appreciate that value more
than ever. To show the effects of the two methods of dealing
with murderers, statistics have been compiled as to the number
of convictions in Rhode Island, as compared with Massachusetts
and Connecticut, for various periods. In Connecticut it was
shown that from the year 1850 to 1880 there were ninety-seven
persons tried for murder in the first degree, and but thirteen
of that number or a little over 13 per cent, wre convicted as
charged. In Massachusetts from 1862 to 1882, a twenty-year
period, the number tried for murder in the first degree was 170,
with twenty-nine convictions, or 17 per cent of the number tried.
But the convictions in Rhode Island, in thirty years after the
abolishment of the punishment of death, numbered 6}^ per cent
of the number tried. Thus experience speaks with no uncertain
voice as to the advisability of abolishing the penalty of death.
Reason adds her plea to mercy in demanding a more sensible and
humaiie method of dealing with felons, and there seems to be
no good reason why every man should not work to have our
present Legislature pass the enactment amending the present
law of the death penalty.
Mr. North makes the statement that the fear of death is a
strong deterrent for crime, but this apparently has not proven
true in Tennessee, for capital crimes in this State are not on the
decrease, but on the increase. Every man knows before he com-
mits any crime that there is a penalty attached, but that appar-
ently does not deter him. In order to arrive at a correct con-
clusion to Mr. North's argument, we must try to see the case
from the viewpoint of the nnirderer himself. If any man takes
the time necessary for deliberation to make his crime murder
in the first degree, what is likely to be his line of thought? Will
— 48 —
the penalty attached as a punishment enter at all into his consid-
eration of the case?
That depends upon the character of the man, the degree of
his malignity, or the intensity of his purpose. There are some
men so constituted that they would scarcely give a serious
thought to the probable result of their actions. A determina-
tion to have revenge, or whatever their object might be, would
overcome every other consideration, and they would carry out
their evil purpose, no matter whether the punishment be burning
at the stake, or simply a fine and imprisonment.
Others, and perhaps the large majority, would think of the
threatened punishment. Suppose they do, knowing that a severe
penalty is attached will not remove their evil desire to commit
the deed. It isniply puts them to devising ways and means to
escape detection. When they have settled this to their satisfac-
tion, they will no more hesitate to perpetrate the deed than they
would if there were no punishment, because they have convinced
themselves that they can escape the legal penalty. Today many
of our jurors have a personal prejudice against capital punish-
ment, and many men who would have been convicted for life im-
prisonment as the penalty, are dismissed without punishment.
The man who has nothing but the fear of punishment between
him and murder, has only the chance of escape to consider.
When he has this arranged to suit himself, the act will be com-
mitted, because what matters it to him whether the punishment
be light or severe, so long as he confidently expects to escape the
penalty entirely? One of the greatest criminologists the world
has known, Beccaria, says :
"Perpetual slavery has in it all that is necessary to deter the
most hardened and determined as much as has the punishment
of death. I say it has more. There are men who can look upon
death with intrepidity and firmness, some through fanactism,
others through vanity, which attend us even to the grave, others
from a desperate resolution to get rid of their misery, and cease
Life has strong claims upon the healthy, the industrious, the
happy and the good, but to the diseased, the indolent, the poverty-
stricken and the vicious, it is oftentimes a sad mixture, with more
— 49 —
misery than pleasure, and is frequently regarded more as a curse
to be thrown off, than as a blessing to be cherished. Lord Byron
is said to have decleared that he had never known more than
twelve happy days in all his life. The United States mortality
statistics show that in the cause of death the annual average for
homicides from the year 1900 to 1909 was 1608, but the annual
average from suicides 5,560, thus showing that the fear of death
is no argument to those who have the intention of committing
The sentiment of every enlightened people is against the in-
fliction of the death penalty, whether they are conscious of the
fact or not, they will raise doubts not testified by the evidence,
to avoid assuming the responsibility of condemning a fellow-
creature to death, a responsibility which most men feel is too
great for erring man to take upon himself. It has been estimated
that in Chicago one man out of every fifty-four tried for murder
in the first degree is made to suffer the penalty.
Mr. North brings in the argument of mob law. I would like
to quote him Horace Greelye's objection to capital punishment
on this point. "I dread human fallibility. Men are prejudiced,
passionate, and too often irrational. Today they shout 'Hosanna,'
and tomorrow howl 'Crucify Him.' I would save them from the
harsher consequences of their own frenzy. Our Savior is by
no means a solitary example of the unjust execution of the inno-
cent and just. We have recorded instances of innocent men con-
victed of murder on their own confession, of men convicted, sen-
tenced and hung for oft'enses whereof they were in on wise guilty.
Men may suffer unjustly, even though death be stricken from
the list of our legal penalties. So long as man is liable to error,
I would have him reserve the possibility of correcting his mis-
take, and correcting the wrong he has been led into perperating."
In speaking of life imprisonment, Mr. North says: "Prison
bars may be sawed in two, pardons may be obtained." If Mr.
North will investigate the statistics of our own State prison he
will find that eighty-nine per cent of those given a life sentence
die in that institution; that only five and three-tenths per cent
are pardoned, and five and seven-tcnlhs per cent of life terms
are coiumuted. He will also find that in the history of that in-
stitution that there has never been a life prisoner to escape.
— 50 —
Therefore he has based much of his letter on statements that
he cannot substantiate, and I personally would like to meet Mr.
North and submit to him even more statistics; and many more
arguments, against capital punishment than I can place in this
letter because I know that 1 have even now imposed on your
good nature and have occupied a bit more space than I should.
Henry W. Lewis.
SIX REASONS. ^^
Why Capital Punishment Should Be Abolished.
reason no. i.
It does not deter the commission of murder. There are
fewer murdes per capita in states which have abolished the death
sentence — as in Maine and Wisconsin — than in New York and
Pennsylvania, which still retain it.
REASON NO. 2.
Innocent individuals are occasionally executed, which makes
the State a murder of the worst kind. Capital punishment pre-
vents reparation in cases of subquently proven innocence.
REASON NO. 3.
Two or more men, organized under a form of government,
have no more right to take life than one man has. It is murder in
either case, and brutalizing in both.
REASON NO. 4.
It is certainly a relic of barbarism. To abolish it would be
a step forward. As civilization has advanced, punishment has
always become less severe and crime has also become less com-
REASON NO. 5.
Capital punishment usually deprives the criminal of the one
due which civilized society owes its unfortunate children of this
class — the chance for spiritual reformation and expiation to pre-
pare for the hereafter.
REASON NO. 6.
Life improsionment is a severer and juster punishment for a
murderer than to be given early his earthly quietus. Those States
which sanction legal murder do more — they murder civilization.
— 51 —
Because the m^ijority of men sentenced to death petition for
a commutation to life iiuprisonment, is not by any means, con-
chisive evidence that death is a more severe punishment, nor that
it acts as a stronger deterent. As a whole, I am inclined to think
to give a life sentence would do more good than the infliction
of "the death penalty. I.ike extracting a tooth, we put
it oft' as long as possible and really suffer more than if we had
had the tooth pulled when it first pained us. So with a life
prisoner, as a deterent. ITe takes the life sentence in preference
to hanging. Had he been hanged the matter would have been
forgotten, but while in prison he is a continuing example to keep
others from committing crime and meeting a like fate. Besides
if it devclopes he is innocent he can be freed and at all events
he will be given time to reform and expiate his crime and pre-
pare for the hereafter.
.... Prisoners Do Not Contemtlate Any Punishment
As a matter of fact, criminals who commit infamous crimes,
commit them under circumstances, by which they expect to escape
detection or capture entirely. I remember within i6 months,
four men who had committed murder, in Weakley County, Tenn.,
escaped and neither has ever been apprehended. We should
have better facilities in Tennessee for catching criminals and
make the law against procuring and carrying the means with
which to commit murder, adequate to restrict the use of deadly
weapons; then have Jury Commissions for each County and make
punishment swift and certain for crimes in Tennessee and crimes
— 52 —
EXTRACT FROM AGUMENT AGAIXST THE DEATH
While we submit that where the equities are equal, the ele-
ment of mercv should hold the balance of power in decidins: this
question, we would not have appealed to you on that s^round. had
not a ce''tain Attorney-tieneral, with a master hand pictured, in an
article in the Nashville papers of the ist inst., the awful suffer-
ing and remorse of the family o fthe vicitm of a homicide. Now
we agree that it is hard on the family of the deceased and our
sympathy goes out to them, whether his death was the result of
an assassination or a justifiable homicide it is all the same to
them in either case. But for that reason would you have two
widows, two sets of orphans and two sorrowing parents ? Why,
the family of the prisoner are just as innocent of an offense as
the family of the deceased, and are just as much entitled to com-
passion and sympathy. For example, a man commits murder.
He probably got drunk or was by environment made a criminal.
He has a good wife and also children; a good mother and father
and a large number of relatives, all innocent people and pro-
foundly grieved that the offense was committed. The accused
is tried and convicted and sentenced to be hanged. The very
thoughts of taking the life of the husband, father, brother and
son breaks a multitude of hearts. The time has healed the wounds
that grief for the victim rent, but as the days roll by and the
time approaches for the execution of the prisoner the heart
of the mother and father all but breaks ; the affectionate and
tender cord of love that stretches from the altar to the scaffold
is cnished but not broken, and the heart of the wife once ,gay is
burned to its very socket. She goes to and from the awful death
sell. Little innocent hearts of children are crushed like the ten-
der blades of grass, beneath the angry wheels of cannon on the
Turkish battlefield, yet they are all innocent. The brother and
sister suffer for his sins, and see his ghost-like form in their
dreams of repose. As the day draws near the father and mother
with tottering footsteps visit the death cell, and their minds won-
der back to the time when a little boy said his prayers at his
mother's knee and whistled the tune that his father carrolled and
they ask God "why they have this affliction to bear." The wife,
children and relativ^es and friends all bid him goodby and leave
with breaking hearts, "bitterly thinking of tomorrow." With
— 53 —
heart-breaking despair, the mother prays God to spare her child,
and as the time Ayes by the height of heaven could not measure
her sorrow. The father's hair turns gray over night, and the
very souls all are scarred and forever seared over by the thought
of the vengeance visited on their unfortunate relative, son and
husand and father. The parents are hurried to their graves of
broken hearts, the wife tries to forget, but cannot forgive and
the hearts of the children, relatives and friends are hardened
by the harrowing example of killing by the State. Two families
are in mourning and the prisoner's family crushed and heart
broken by a protracted suspense, and that amounts to cruelty to
the innocents. Then why make two families instead of one deso-
late? Then supix)se he was innocent ? The State cannot retract
what it has done. If life imprsonment would serve the same
purpose, would you not prefer it to the death penalty.
The French painter has depicted a weired but striking pic-
ture. In the dreary hours of night Napoleon's drummer boy
is made to arise and sound the march. The ghost of Napoleon
comes forward and stands attention ; and then the Grand Army
and the Old Guard pass by in solemn review before the "Arch
Angel of War." They come from Areola, from Lodi, from
Australitz, from Waterloo. As you are considering the passage
of this law, the blood of the luany martyrs of the block, the gil-
lotine and the gibet appeal to you to abolish the law that is
founded on vengeance and destruction instead of mercy and
CRIMES AND THEIR PENALTIES.
Compiled From the Codes or Revised Statutes of the Sev-
eral States as Amended rv SunsEouENT Legislation.
Murder in the first degree, in the table below, may be gen-
erally defined to Ije the unlawful, intentional and premeditated
killing of a human being, or such a killing resulting from the
commission or attempt to commit one of the graver crimes, such
as arson, burglary, rape or robbery.
Alabama — For murder, first degree, deatli or life -mprisonment : rob-
bery. death or not less than lo years; rape, death or not less than lo
years ; arson, first degree, death or not lessi than lO years.
— 54 —
.'vlaska — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment; robbery.
1 to 15 years; rape, 3 to 20 years; arson, first degree, 10 to 20 years.
Arizona — For murder, first degree, death or hfc imprisonment; rob-
bery, not less than 5 years ; rape, not less than 5 years and up to life ;
arson, first degree, not less than 2 years.
Arkansas — For murder, first degree, death ; robbery, 3 to 21 years ;
rape, death to 10 years ; arson, first degree, 2 to 10 years.
California — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment;
robbery, not les than i year; rape, rot less than 5 years; arson, first de-
gree, not less than 2 years.
Colorado — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment ; rob-
bery, 3 to 14 years ; rape, i to 20 years ; arson, first degree, t to 10
Connecticut — For murder, first degree, death; [robbery, nolt over 7
years ; rape, not over 30 years ; arson, first degree, not over 10 years.
Delaware — For murder, first degree, death; robbery, not over 12 years;
rape, death or life imprisonment ; arson, first degree, death.
Florida — For murder, first deeree. death; robbery, not over 20 years;
raoe, death or life imprisonment ; arson, first detrree, any term up to
Georg'a — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment; rol)-
bery. 4 to 20 years; rape, death or i to 20 years; arson, first degree. 5 to
Idaho — For nuirdcr. first degree, death or life imprisonment ; robbery,
not less than 5 years and up to life; rape, not less than 5 vears and up
to life; arson, first degree, not less than 2 years and up to life.
Illinois — For murder, first degree, death or not less than 14 years and
up to life; robbery, i year and up to life; rape, i year and up to life:
arson, i to 20 years.
Indiana — For murder, first degree, death or life imnrisonment ; robbery.
2 to 14 years, $1,000; rape 2 to 21 years; arson, first degree, 2 to 21 years.
Iowa — For murder, first degree, death or I'fe imprisonment; robbery.
10 to 20 years: rape, any term up to life; arson, first degree, any term
up to life.
Kansas — For murder, first degree, life imprisonment ; robbery, 10 to 21
years; rape. 5 to 21 years; arson, first degree. 10 to 21 years.
Kentucky — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment; rob-
bery, 2 to TO years ; rape, death or 10 to 20 years : arson, first degree.
TO to 20 years.
Louisiana — For murder, first degree, death ; robbery, not over 14
years ^ rape, death; arson, first degree, death.
Maine — For murder, first degree, life imprisonment ; robbery, any
term of years; rape, any term of years; arson, first degree, life.
— 55 —
Maryland— For murder, iirsl degree, death; robbery, 3 to 10 years;
rape, death or 18 months to 21 years; arson, first degree, death or not
over 20 years.
Massachusetts — For murder, first degree, death ; robbery, life im-
prisonment ; rape, life imprisonment or any term of years ; arson, first
degree, life imprisonment or any term of years.
Michigan— For murder, first degree, life imprisonment ; robbery, life
imprisonment or any term of years ; rape, life imprisonment or any term
of years ; arson, first degree, life imprisonment or any term of years.
Minnesota — For murder, first degree, death; robbery, 5 to 40 years;
rape, 7 to 30 years ; arson, first degree, not less than 10 years.
Mississippi — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment;
robbery, not over 15 years; rape and first-degree arson, death or life im-
Missouri — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment; rob-
bery, not less than 5 years ; rape, death or not less than 5 years ; arson,
first degree, not less than 5 years.
Montana — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment; rob-
bery, I to 20 years ; rape, not less than 5 years ; arson, first degree, not
less than 5 years.
Nebraska — For murder, first degree, death or life iniorisonment ; rob-
bery, 3 to 15 years; rape. 3 to 20 years; arson, first degree, i to 20
Nevada — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment; rob-
bery, not less than 5 years; rape, not less than 5 years and up to life;
arson, first degree, not less than 2 years and up to life.
New Hampshire — For murder, first degree, death or life imprison-
ment; robbery, not over 30 years; rape, not over 30 years; arson, first
degree, not over 30 years.
New Jersey — For murder, first degree, death; robbery, 15 years or
$1,000, or both; rape, $5,000 or both; arson, first degree, $2,000 or both.
New York — For murder, first degree, death ; robbery, not over 20
years; rape, not over 20 years; arson, first degree, not over 40 years.
North Carolina — For murder, first degree, death ; robbery, no statutory
definition ; rape, death ; arson, first degree, death.
North Dakota — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment;
robbery, not less than i year ; rape, not less than 10 years ; arson, first
degree, not less than 10 years.
Ohio— For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment; robbery,
I to 15 years; rape, 3 to 20 years; arson, first degree, not over 20
Oklahoma— For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment;
robbery, not less than 10 years; rape, not less than 10 vears; arson, first
degree, 20 to 30 years.
— 56 —
Oregon — For murder, first degree, death; robbery, not less than lo
years and up to life ; rape, 3 to 20 years ; arson, first degree, lo to 20
Pennsylvania — For murder, first degree, death ; robbery, not over 10
years and $1,000; rape, not over 15 years and $1,000; arson, first degree,
not over 20 years and $4,000.
Rhode Island — For murder, first degree, life imprisonment ; robbery,
not less than 5 years and up to life ; rape, not less than 10 years and up
to life ; arson, first degree, not less than 10 years and up to life.
South Carolina — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment ;
robbery, no statutory definition; rape, death or life imprisonment; arson,
first degree, death or not less than 10 years.
South Dakota — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment;
robbery, 10 to 20 years; rape, not less than 10 years; arson, first degree,
not less than 10 years.
Tcnn2ssee — For murder, first degree, death; robbery, 5 to 15 years;
rape, death or not less than 10 years and up to life ; arson, first degree,
5 to 21 years.
Texas — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment ; robbery,
not less than 5 years and up to life ; rape, death or any term over 5 years
up to life; arson, first degree, 5 to 20 years.
Utah — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment; robbery,
not less than 5 years and up to life; rape, not less than 5 years; arson,
first degree. 2 to 15 years.
Vermont — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment ; rob-
bery, not over 20 years; and $1,000; rape, not over 20 years or $2,000, or
both; arson, first degree, any term up to life.
Virginia — For murder, first degree, death ; robbery, death or 8 to 18
years ; rape, death or 5 to 20 years ; arson, first degree, death.
Washington — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment ;
robbery, not less than 5 years ; rape, not less than 5 years ; arson, first
degree, not less than 5 years.
West Virginia — For murder, first degree, death or life imprisonment;
robbery, not less than 10 years ; rape, death or 7 to 20 years ; arson, first
degree, death or life imprisonment.
Wisconsin — For murder, first degree, life imprisonment; robbery. 3 to
10 years; rape. 10 to 30 years; arson, first degree, 7 to 14 years.
Wyoming — For murder, first degree, death; robbery, not over 14 years;
rape, not less than i year and up to life ; arson, first degree, not over
— 57 —
LYNCHINGS AND LEGAL EXECUTIONS.
Lyiichings — The total number of ^nchings in the United States from
1S85 to November 15, 1912, was 3,413. In 19T2, to November 15, there
were 52 lynchings, of which 49 occurred in the South and 3 in the North ;
49 were males and 3 females. Of the Ijnched, 50 were negroes and 2
whites. The offenses for which they were lynched were: Rap,, 10;
nnirdcr, 26; attempted rape, 2; insults to white women, 3; unknown
causes, i ; robbery and assault, i ; race prejudice, i ; arson, 3 ; complicity
in murder, 3; murderous assaults, 2. The States in which the lynch-'ngs
occurred and the number in each were as follows : Alabama, 5 ; Arkan-
sas. 3; Florida, 3; Georgia, 11; Louisiana, 4; Mississippi, 5; Montana, i;
North Carolina, i ; North Dakota, i ; Oregon, i ; Virginia, i ; West Vir-
g'nia. i; Wyoming, i; Oklahoma, i; Pennsylvania, 5; South Carolina, 5;
Legal Executions — In 1908, to November 15, there were 92; in 1909
there were 107; in 1910 there were 104: in 191 1 there were 61; and in
1912. to November 15, there were 128, of which 62 were in the North
and 66 in the South ; 89 were whites and 39 were colored ; 127 were males
and I female. The crimes for which they were executed were : Murder,
125; rape, 3. The States in which the executions in 1912, to November 15.
took place, and the number in each, were as follows: Alabama. 4;
Arkansas. 8; Calofirnia, 4; Connecticut. 2; Colorado, i; Florida, 3;
Geoi..da, 9; Ilhnois, 6; Kentucky, 4; Massachusetts, 5; Maryland, i:
Mississippi. 7; Missouri, i; New York, 21; New Jersey, 4; North Caro-
lina. 4; Nevada, 2; Ohio, i; Pennsylvania. 6: South Carolina. 5; Tennes-
see, 9; Texas, 4; Utah, 6; Vermont, i; Washington, 2; Wyoming, 2;
Virginia. 6.—Fmm a table prepared by Geo. P. Upton, Chicago, III.
TO ABOLISH DEATH PENALTY.
C. C. GILBERT. OF D.WIDSON.
".-\s long^ as the human race will be called to sit in judj^ment
over a fellow creature and are sworn to decide whether he must
die, the death, penalty must be a question of urg^ent interest and
one upon which every man should form an intelligent opinion."
The above statement was made by the Hon. C. C. Gilbert, mem-
ber of the Legislature from Davidson County, who will. Tuesday,
introduce a bill to abolish the death penalty.
"The more I study this problem, the more I am convinced
that to punish murder by death is wrong." continued Mr. Gilbert.
"If a man's judgment c.')ul(l possibly be infallible then a remote
excuse for caj^ital punishment might exist. Looking at this sub-
ject from one viewpoint it seems incredible that in this wonderful
age. when civilization is reaching its highest point in the history
of man, that the same spirit of revenge that existed when the
human race was still in its infancy should still control the people
of Tennessee in their treatment of its most unfortunate class.
".Ml that is needed to erase the punishment of death from
our statutes is to get our citizens to throw aside their prejudice
long enough to examine the case fairly and intelligently. As
Wendell Phillip says: 'To get men to listen is half the battle, and
the hardest half in all reforms.' Many persons never investigate
a subject with any other jjurpose than to strengthen the opinions
and prejudice they already hold. It is a fact that a large majority
of those who have studied this subject fairly are impressed with
doubts of the righteousness of the death penalty, sufficient, at
least, to excuse them from service on juries for murder trials —
if, indeed, they are not fully convinced that hanging men for crime
is in itself a crime.
"In the most primitive state of sttcieiy retaliation was the
method of punishing offences, and this was inflicted b}- the one
who suffered the injury or by some of his friends the punishment
of death, according to Agassiz, Darwin, Humboldt, and other
noted scientists, is of heathen and savage origin and it is a lament-
able fact that Tennessee still adheres to this barbarian idea.
Among primitive people the death penalty was most likely in-
flicted by stoning, as stones were about the most convenient and
effective death dealing weapons they possessed. After stoning,
came burning, and it was long years after before an instrument
was made by which a man could be beheaded.
"In the days of Blackstone. there were in England one hun-
dred and sixty offences punishable by death, and at one time
they reached two hundred and twenty-three, ^^'ithin the memory
of many yet living it was the law of England to hang persons
convicted of stealing goods to the value of five shillings from a
store, warehouse or stable, while the person convicted of trea-
son should have his bowels torn out and burned while he w^as
"Imprisonment for debt was the law in every state of the
union e.xcept five as late as 1845. A case in the Pennsylvania
reports is cited to show where a man was actually imprisoned
thirty days for two cents. It is hardly necessary to speak of the
nineteen persons who were executed in this country under the
law because they had gone into league with satan and practiced
witchcraft. The early history of Tennessee relates such a case
occurring in this state.
"There are many goofl men and women in Tennessee who are
constantly agitating the work of reform in penal jurisprudence
and great progress is being made toward humane, sensible and
effective means of dealing with those who are in danger of fall-
ing into the criminal class. And today there is a growing senti-
ment among law-makers to hold a post-mortem over antiquated
and obsolete methods and statutes. Laws, when outgrown by civi-
lization should be declared legally dead.
"Without any apology for crime or unworthy sympathy for
the criminal, it can be said that justice as well a's mercy should
make great allowance for human conduct. Xo human mind is
able to decide how far any man may justly be held for his acts.
Every man who has been immuned in prison walls or suffered
— 60 —
death at the hand of hi> fellow was once an innocent, helpless
babe. His whole life may have been one continuous stru.fjf^le
against disease, against poverty and tning circumstances, against
temptation thrown in his way by society and perhaps against his
own natural inclination to do evil.
"Reason speaks with no uncertain voice as to the advisability
of abolishing the dealh penalty and in demanding a more humane
method of dealing with felons, and it seems to me there can be
no good reason why every man should not oppose the cruel law
and why this present Legislature should not erase it from the
statute books of Tennessee. Capital punishment is a disgrace to
our age. to our race, to our civilization. When society insists
that it must still strangle some of its members in order to im-
press others with the value of life, that it must teach peo])le the
sacredness of life by maintaining a school of murder, it con-
fesses itself a lamentable failure and a jM-etentious fraud. I. for
one. will give the best of my ability to aid in amending our pres-
ent laws on the death penalt} ." — Xashznlle Tennesscan and Ameri-
DUKE C. BOWERS' ARGUMENT AGAINST CAPITAL
The first case of nuirder of which we have any record was
that of Cain killing Abel. In this instance God himself was the
judge, the jury, and the whole court. He did not put Cain to
death, neither would he allow the people to do it.
In God's commandment to man he said : "Thou shalt not
kill." There were some man-made laws after this that stated :
"An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth ' — likewise a life for a
life; but these same Mosaic laws made it a capital offense to pick
up sticks on the Sabbath.
Christ came and changed the old law, "an eye for an eye."
declaring that vengeance belonged to God. He also taught that
it was better to do good than evil on the Sabbath. The difference
in the teaching of Moses and Christ was that Moses shed his ene-
mies' blood, while Christ shed His own blood for His enemies.
Imprisoning a person and trying to reform him exemplifies
the teachings of Christ to overcome evil with good ; while taking
— 61 —
one's life is wreaking vengeance, and vengeance is the Lord's so
Because we are Southerners is no reason why we should favor
lynching or hanging. Christianity should be the same all over the
countrv. Life belongs to God in the South as well as in the North.
"The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away' should apply to the
Ella Wheeler Wilcox says, "Thought breeds thought." and
this power of suggestion is strongly illustrated in a story ex-
Warden Rice tells. A hanging took place one morning at the
Xashville penitentiary; all was gloom about the prison; yet that
very afternoon a prisoner slipped up behind a fellow prisoner and
Who is able to say whether or not the murder committed in
the morning by the state did or not put the idea into the man's
head to commit the second murder ?
Some people argue that if capital punishment is abolished
crime will increase. Brand Whitlock tells in his lecture. "Thou
shalt not steal." that in the debate of the House of Lords on the
bill to abolish the death penalty for stealing from a dwelling to the
amoiuit of 40 shillings, Lord Chief Justice Ellenborough declared
that if the bill passed, the property of every householder in the
kingdom would be left wholly without protection, but his Lord-
^■•hip's fears have not been justified in England.
The experience of those of our states that have abolished
capital punishment proves that if anything deters capital of-
fenses, it is by the state not doing what it says its citizens shall
not do. Burning at the stake did not prevent the spread of the
Christian religion. If putting people to death could not stop a
righteous cause, how^ can you expect it to stop an unrighteous one?
From a statistical standpoint, as gathered from the United
States Mortality Report in the states reporting for ten years
previous to 1910, those in which capital punishment prevails show
one and one-half times as many homicides per 100,000 population
as against those states that do not have capital punishment. For
1909, the last year reported, those states that have capital pun-
ishment had two and one-fourth times as many homicides as did
the states in which capital punishment does not obtain.
Another, and perhaps the strongest argument against cajjital
punishment, is that the innocent are sometimes hanged. Follow-
ing is a letter I received a few days ago from a friend :
Columbus, Ky., Feb. 7, k^i.v
Mr. Duke C. Bonrrs, Drcsdent, Tenn. :
Dear Duke — I will try and state a case to you that
Mr. Otis Peehles told me happened in Milburn some
years ago. Two negroes by the name of Duvall and
Clapp were arrested for rape on a white woman by the
name of Warden. She could not state whether her
assailants were white or black. They tried, convicted
and hanged the two negroes at Blandville, Ky., Their
last words were that they were innocent of the crime.
Some years later a white man by the name of Gossop
moved to .Vrkansas from Milburn, and shortly after-
wards took sick, and on his deathbed made confession
to the crime. But two innocent lives' had gone to meet
Now, if life imprisonment had been the maximum punish-
ment in the above case, then these two men could have been given
their liberty and the state would not bear the stain of having mur-
dered two innocent men. Isn't it better that ninety-nine gnihy
ones' lives should be saved than for one innocent life to be taken?
Rev. J. O. McClurkan of this city told me that he had talked
with nearly every person that has been hanged here in the past
fifteen years, and that according to his judgment, there were only
about three or four cases out of the whole bunch in which there
were no mitigating circumstances.
Some people are against capital punishment because of the
pardoning power resting in the (k)vernor's hand. Warden Rim-
mer of the state penitentiary at Nashville wrote me that within
the past ten years 151 life prisoners have been received; of this
number only seven have been pardonerl and ten commuted, leav-
ing 88 4-5 per cent to serve out their time.
Anyone familiar with the courts of our state knows that a
great number of men who would make good jurors are disquali-
— 63 —
ficd from service on account of their conviction on the subject of
capital punishment. To aboHsh the death penahy would, to my
mind, give the speedier convictions, save money for the state,
be more in keeping with the progressive spirit of this era. and be
the best advertisement the State of Tennessee could procure.
There are people in the North who think that we of the South
are a lot of hot-heads, blood-thirsty murderers. Let us abolish
capital punishment and show these people that they are mistaken.
It will be the biggest boost Tennessee ever had. I believe it will
help to bring capital and investors into our midst. Let's quit em-
ploying a man to hang people — rather let us give them to under-
stand that we want them to take a man and reform him.
Believing that my judgment is right in this matter, I appeal
to you to rally to the support of Mr. Gilbert and his bill to abolish
capital punishment in Tennessee.
Duke C. Bowers.
Editor The News Scimitar :
The campaign being waged before the Tennessee Legislature
by Mr. Bowers, of Memphis, and others, has aroused much in-
terest throughout the state and elsewhere. In nearly every news-
paper in Tennessee communications are printed as often as the
papers themselves appear. All of which is well. So far as the
writer of this is concerned, he has never cared to go deeper in
his antagonism to capital punishment than the conviction long
held that no community of men has a right to go further than an
individual, and that neither community nor individual has a right
to take from a man that which God gave him, and which he is
entitled to retain until God's finger of finality touches him and
he gives it back.
Nearly two thousand years ago the Old Teatament became a
back number, an interesting but obsolete reminder of an era
when men were in the formative state, and needed the supreme
penalty for mundane misdeeds. Since that time there has come
the New Testament, God's latest pronouncement, making love
and mercy the basis of men's deeds. We have long been growing
away from capital punishment.
No more than four generations ago, in England, the world's
— 64 —
most progressive and advanced nation, there were a hundred or
more crimes which called by laws for the death penalty. These
have one by one been changed, until today only murder and trea-
son, save perhaps in war times, are punishable by death. In
many other countries, even the murder of a sovereign calls
for nothing severer than life imprisonment. A few years ago
in our Western States, when Isolated communities were their
own law-makers, horse and cattle thieves always left the country
by the noose route. Certain states have recently done what Ten-
nessee is considering, abolished the death penalty entirely. Sta-
tistics show that in those states the crime of murder has dimin-
ished instead of increased. The theory is that the convicted
criminal has the chance of being prepared for eternity. It also
secures to the convicted one the privilege of a restoration to
liberty in the event that exculpatory evidence later comes to light.
In 50 per cent at least of murder convictions there is the possi-
bility of juries' errors, either as to the guilt at all of the defend-
ant, or as to the actual degree of his guilt. This percentage of
uncertainty is itself sufficient to relegate the custom, were that
the only argument against it.
It is no surprise to find a majority of lawyers against Air.
Bowers in his fight. Lawyers, and there's a pity to it, become,
from their earliest legal training, inoculated wath the virus of
precedents and custom. I call it virus because it has been a
bane to society. There is as much wrong done society and the
law by the antiquated and obstinate adherence of the legal pro-
fession to precedents and procedures as by any one class of
criminals in the world. You may shake up the profession, but
you can't wake it up. It's for the people, with visions unre-
strained and minds free, to do the work of radicalism in law-
I don't know whether the present Legislature will abolish
capital punishment or not. ] do know that some future Legis-
lature will, if this one fails. And it will be for two reasons:
First, that it is not necessary as a preventive of murder ; and.
Second, because it is an unholy and a barbarous crime in
itself. Walter Cain.
Gen. N. AI. Curtis, in his speech before Congress to abolish
the death penalty, among other things, said : "Those who claim
— 65 —
it to be our duty to continue the law of past ages are of the
same class of men Sir Thomas More spoke of as those who
thought it a moral sin to be wiser than their grandfathers."
They have lived in every age. valiant defendants of established
customs and laws. They suppressed Galileo Galilei, and sent
him to a dungeon, 'guilty of having seen the earth revolve around
the sun.' "
AGAINST DEATH PENALTY.
Rev. Green P. Jackson Op|X)ses Capital Punishment.
"Capital punishment should never have been u-ed before the
coming of Christ, and it is an outrage to civilization that it has
been used since then." said Rev. Green P. Jackson, a Methodist
minister, who has been preaching in Middle Tennessee for fifty-
five years, while talking with a reporter for The Democrat
"Man has no right to take what he has not given — man has no
right to say to this man, 'Thou shalt die,' when God himself has
ordained, 'Thou shalt not kill.'
'When the Christ of Galilee came to earth it was to preach
the kingdom of God upon earth — and it was his wish that man
should not slay his fellow-man.
"The Son of God suflfered the excruciating tortures of capital
punishment. Is it not enough that the Son of Man was put to
death? Why should we wish U> kill men in this day of enlight-
"It is my hope and prayer that the bill against capital ]jun-
ishment will be passed in this session of the I.egislature."
Yesterday Mr. Jackson called upon Duke C. liowers, of
Memphis, who is here to trv to get the bill passed, and handed
Mr. liowers a petition signed by some of the most prominent men
of the city against capital punishment. — The Nashville Democrat.
AliOLISH BARBARISM, SAVS RABBI LKWINTHAL.
"The bill for repealing capital punishment in Tennessee may
pass or may not, but it is a good sign of the progress of humanity,
— 66 —
justice and civilization. This strujjgle is not merely a passing
sensation — it has been going on for a century, and even if the
bill is defeated, the agitation will be resumed." said Rabbi l.ew-
inthal of this city in a masterful sermon ag^ainst capital punish-
ment a day ago.
"To the credit of the human race it must be said that in every
generation and every clime people were anxious to practice jus-
tice. Their will was good and their heart craved justice, but
the trouble was they were not advanced enough intellectually to
know what justice was. They believed they were practicing
justice, but in fact they were practicing barbarism. In our days
we know better: therefore, let us drop all prejudices and refomi
our penal codes.
"Let us alK^lish capital pimishment. Just alx^lish it. and the
people of Tennessee will be satisfied. They will be satisfied be-
cause humanity demands it. justice demands it. experience de-
mands it, and civilization demands it. Away with capital punish-
ment, away with it now, and away with it forever." — 77;c Xash-
lUSIXESS Ml-.X FAVOR AROLITIOX OF DEATH
I'nanimous endorsement was given by the members of the
Nashville Business Mens Association, at the regular meeting
Monday night, of the campaign which is being waged before the
Legislature for the abolition of capital punishment. IL \V. Lewis.
M. S. Ross and other members of the association spoke in reganl
to the bill i^^nding before the Legislature, and told of the gixul
effects obtainetl where capital inmishment has been abolished. —
Xasln'illr 7V»/»t\\\\«'a;j and .hucricaii.
EDITORLXL FROM THE LEXINGTON PROGRESS.
Duke C. Howers. who has residence in the town of IVesden
since retirement from active and personal management of the
chain of groceries he established and conducted for several years
with signal success in the city of Memphis, has been in Xashville
since the convention of the Fifty-eighth General .\ssenibly for
the sole purpose of pushing to passage if possible a bill abolishing
the death }>enalty anil substituting therefor life imprisonment.
— 67 —
Mr. Bowers, prompted by humanily alone, is bearing; the
whole expense of this work and says that if he can be successful
in the Tennessee Legislature he is s2:oing to carry the fight before
the legislative bodies of all the states in the Union.
He is conducting a vigorous, persistent and intelligent cam-
paign and that his cause is gaining ground is known to all who
know the facts as they existed before the convention of the
Legislature and at present.
Air. Bowers shows by statistics that the number of homicides
per year is greatest in the states in which the death penalty is
inflicted, but he thinks his greatest argument was made by Judge
Greer, who spoke before the legislative committee, depicted a
legal hanging and at the close asked this question : "(Gentlemen
of the committee, if Jesus of Nazareth could have looked down
on that scene and spoken do you think he would have said, 'Well
done, thou good and faithful servant?'" Air. Bowers says that
if his bill passes and is amended by the exception of any crime,
it will be like a fellow saying, "Yes, I will get religion — with the
sole exception that I will keep on stealing." Air. Bowers has
the help of some of the best members of the Legislature and still
others suggest that his plan in the punishment of criminals
might safely be given a trial.
\IGOROUS FIGHT AGAINST CAPITAL PUNTSHAIENT.
An effort is being made to abolish capital punishment in the
State of Tennessee, which has brought out very conspicuously
that there is a large element of people who oppose the taking of
human life for any reason whatever, those holding to this view
contending that the individual crime of shedding blood does not
justify the shedding of blood on the part of the State as an ex-
piation. They contend that nothing should be taken from a
human being that cannot be restored ; that only the Giver of
Life has the right to take the life of a human being.
The discussion of this question has developed a lofty senti-
ment among the peoi:)le. It has shown that in their sober mo-
ments and mature judgment they look with horror on the legally
sanctioned i)ractice of killing those who kill.
It is commendable in those who are making this light for
— 68 —
the abolishment of capital punishment that their contention is
that the real and only object of the law in punishing^ criminals is
to prevent a repetition of of their crime, and to hold out the
punishment of them as object lessons to deter others from com-
mitting similar crimes.
These zealous and active opponents of capital punishment
take the position that confinement for life, without the hope of
j)ardon or esca])e. would be just as effective a deterrent to crime
as the death penalty. They contend that it is the certainty and
not the severity of punishment that is effective in preventing
crime, and that if this be true it is the duty of the State to do
away with the gallows altogether, and in its stead provide a mode
of punishment for atrocious crimes that would be free of the
horrors of the gibbet.
Though capital punishment has the sanction of the ages, there
is much to be said against it. Divested of all the moods and
pass'ons that inflame us in the presence of an atrocious crime, we
can with, good reason argue the wrong of legal death and show
that solitary confinement for life would serve the same end in
giving protection to society, but there is a spirit of resentment
and a passion for revenge, which, if aroused, leads us to invoke
the ^Fo^aic law of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."
Whatever policy, with respect to the solution of this problem,
may be determined on as wise and expedient for the Legislature
to follow, we feel sure the discussion of the question which has
been engaged in by a large number of people will have good re-
sults, for it has brought out the finest sentiments of the people,
showing that they not only want to be just, but merciful as well,
and that if they can be l)oth just and merciful in the abolishment
of the death penalty they will at least have soothed fheir own
consciences in deferring the taking of human life to a higher
])ower than that which has been created at the hands of man. —
.Xashfillc Tcnncsscan and American.
OPPOSES CAPIT.AL PTXISHMEXT.
Jiditor Tcnncsscan and American:
Allow me to say. T heartily approve of your stand against
capital punishment.. Of course. T am not surprised to find you
— 69 —
on this side, as you have always been for the right and against
Since I commenced to think about it I have been opposed to
capital punishment because, first, it is not the best correction of
crime ; second, it appears to me a savage practice — a relic of
savagery ; third, shall the state commit cold-blooded murder to
offset the same crime committed by the individual? The latter
commits his crime for some real or imaginary grievance ; the
state does it in the nanie of civilized law and decency ; fourth,
as I see it, there is nothing in Christ's teachings that sanctions
His prominent characteristic was that ''He did not resent
evil," and His example is to be taken as final.
I am praying that this Legislature' of Tennessee will do itself
the honor to pass a bill abolishing capital punishment.
Martin, Tenn. Rev. J- J- Thomas.
OPPOSES THE DEATH PENALTY.
Editor Tennessean and American:
As a mother and one who would be rejoiced to see capital
punishment done away with, let me say through your columns
that I heartily endorse what Mr. Duke C. Bowers and Rev. ]. J.
Thomas had to say on the subject.
As a people who believe in the religion of the Lord Jesus
Christ, let us unite in one strong battle array against capital
punishment. Have the lawmakers of a great commonwealth
the right to plunge immortal souls into hell — even if under
provocation one had committed murder? Give time for repent-
David, the man after God's own heart, committed murder,
and yet, after all, was restored in His sight. And then in the
name of her, who in the valley of the shadow of death bore the
son her heart cherished so dearly, and whose love can penetrate
prison walls, let our legislators do away with capital punishment.
"Am I my brother's keeper?" Yes, and as you seldom hear
of the rich, or well-to-do being electrocuted, and as justice sel-
— 70 —
clom reaches the influential; hut as the weak and erring-, un-
tutored and unprotected, are often the victims of injustice, we
pray that imprisonment, say without the chance of pardon, be
substituted for death penaUy. Life is sweet to even the lower
animals. And how much more precious must be the life even of
one imprisoned for a life sentence? There is chance of and op-
portunity for repentance. Mrs. Rodert E. Link.
Tllh: JI'DICIARV eO.M.MlTTEh: HEARINGS.
Judge Greer, of Memphis, opened for the Gilbert bill, the
first considered. "I state on the threshold," he said, "that a
private citizen of the State has been the most active recent mover
in this matter. I have been working on this matter for thirty
years. He has done more in thirty days to get it before the
Legislature. I wish, therefore, to ask Mr. Duke C. Bowers to
either read or make a statement of the faith that has moved
him in this humane work."
Mr. Bowers suggested that Judge Greer be heard, and that
the committee then postpone the hearing to Tuesday, when there
would be more time and other speakers to present the matter.
Mr. Bowers referred in this to K. T. McConnico, of Xashville,
who sat beside him.
.Mr. liowers' suggestion was followed by judge (ircer, who
said in part: "T have come away from the beside of a sick wife,
so deeply am I interested in this matter. It is therefore im-
perative that I must, if 1 am to speak at all, speak to you now.
"I have been so immensely gratified after all the weary years
of waiting at the assurance that there is a probability of this
measure, for which I longed since my childish eyes looked for
the first and only time on the judicial murder of a fellow-man.
becoming a law^
"It has been the longing that has caused me to send to each
Legislature a bill to do away with this relic of barbarism. I
have been turned down and turned down, but I have seen the
thing grow to a point where there is a proba])ility of passage.
— 71 —
"I am not going to put my reasons for this step as mere sen-
timental reasons. A little reflection will show that the object of
punishment is twofold, with a third and subsidiary consideration.
First, there is the reason of restraint, to protect society from the
man who has outraged it. The second is to deter crime by the
example of the punishment. The third has come of late years,
to reform the criminal and make him go forth a better man.
"There are some, indeed, who go back to the old law of
vengeance, or an eye for an eye, but every thinking man knows
that punishment can have but two reasons, protection by re-
straint and prevention by deterrents.
"If the killing of a man by law served either of these pur-
poses, I would say let them die. But if the figures show, as
they incontrovertibly do, that wherever that form of punishment
has been abolished and the experiment of milder punishment has
been tried, the percentage of homicides has decreased, the per-
centage of convictions increased. If this is true, gentlemen, that
the aim of punishment is better subserved by the milder form, is
there any shred of excuse for shedding human blood?
Tf this is not true, why have vou ]>rohibited public execu-
tions? If you wanted to deter by brutality you would see that
all saw the executions. If it is right to take life, always there
would be volunteers to cut the trap door from under criminals.
Can you imagine such a thing?
"You have no public execution because oi the norrf:>r of it
and because of the brutalization of other men witnessing it. If
you can deter without shedding blood, why shed it?
"I can tell you something of the horrors of it. I was only
a boy. I went to the jail and saw a man brought from ihe jail
in his shroud ; saw him sit on his cofiin in a wagon and ride a
mile through a glorious day to the place of execution.
"With bound arms, he half staggered up to the scaiTold. The
black cap was put on. The legs were bound. The trap dropjied,
and the figure dangled in space, arms and legs struggling to rise.
Can you imagine Jesus of Nazareth saying to )^ou and to me,
to the instruments of the law about that dangling fellow, 'Well
done, thou good and faithful servant!'" — Xashz'illc Tcnncsscan
— 72 —
ABOLISH PENALTY OF DKATII.
15y a vote of 8 to 3 the Judiciary Committee of the House
^^onday afternoon recommended for passage the Gilbert bill.
House bill Xo. 235, abolishing- the death penalty for all crimes
in Tennessee. This action was taken following a short address
by Duke C. Bowers and a powerful presentation of the objections
to capital punishment by K. T. McConnico. of the .\ashville bar.
and was taken on motion of Lee \\'inchester. of Shelby, who
himself had a bill before the House, leaving the death penalty in
effect for rape. Speeches against the bill were made by Repre-
sentatives Chamlee. Creswell and I'n'ant. who were the onlv
members of the committee opposing it.
-Mr. McConn:co's argument, which was so remarkable that
it actually convinced men who had made up their minds the other
way, was devoted almost entirely to the legal aspects of the
He based much of it upon reported cases in which actual
confessions had revealed, after men had been executed upon cir-
cumstantial evidence, that they were innocent. He had with him
a volume of 550 pages filled with such cases, and while he re-
ferred to only a few of them, the presence of such a volume,
which only covered the cases up to T()oi. was in itself a tre-
mendous argument for the passage of the bill.
"The main objection to capital punishment from the lawyers'
standpoint is the liability of judicial murder, of mistaken execu-
tion through the honest mistake of the courts and juries. This
book here is the graveyard of only those cases we know about.
How many others there are which have never come to light no
man may say."
The most |;owertul case cited by Mr. McL'onnico was the
l^urand case, from California. Uurand. ablv defended by Del-
phine M. Delmas. who afterward defended Harry K. Thaw, was
convicted of the murder of his sweetheart in the tower of a
church on what appeared, so far as human eye could tell, to be
an absolutely perfect and unbreakable case of circumstantial evi-
dence, and executed. One year later the pastor of the church
in which the murder occurred confessed the murder, when it
was too late.
— 73 —
"And vet." said Mr. McConnico, "we must use circumstantial
evidence in criminal cases. Were it otherwise, all a man would
have to do to go free would be to get his victim off by himself."
"Fifty per cent of the acquittals in homicide cases are due to
capital punishment. I am speaking now from my experience in
defending half a hundred homicide cases. I know that in cases
where the lawyer knows there will be no hanging, he lays his
plans from the beginning and fights to convince the jury that the
case is 'either hanging or nothing.' The jury naturally revolts
at hanging the man, and acquittal results. I have profited by that
"Capital punishment increases crime, for the state sets the
example of taking life. Not to go so far from home or so far
back as the days in England when men were hanged for 300
crimes, in the State of Tennessee, in 1858. men were still hanged
for burglary, robbery and arson. Do we have more of those
crimes now that capital punishment for them is done away with ?"
Mr. McConnico took up the arguments of those who base
their opposition to the bill on the pardoning power of the Gov-
ernor. One class, he pointed out, objected to it because the Gov-
ernor could, through the exercise of the pardoning power, correct
errors of the courts, while the other objected on the ground that
the Governor would have power to overturn the decrees of the
court. Mr. McConnico criticised both views, citing law and ex-
perience- on his side.
Tn regard to mob law, he pointed out tliat hanging does not
prevent the horrible crime for which lynching is committed in
the South, but that capital punishment really increases lynching
by furnishing an excuse for it. on the ground that the state
would take life. "We have all the lynchings that we can have
or are going to have as it is," he added.
Two impressive facts were brought out in Mr. Bowers'
speech for the bill, that homicide in six states which have abol-
ished capital punishment is only 48 ])er cent what it is in the cap-
ital ])unishment states, and that back in England two such great
authorities as Lord Elgin and Lord Ellenborough predicted ruin
and increase of crime if the death penalty was removed from petit
— 74 —
CHANGRD HIS VIEWS.
At the close of Mr. McConnico's speech Mr. Winchester, ex-
pressing^ his conversion and conviction, moved the ])assajje of
Mr. Gilbert's bill. Other members of the committee speaking for
the bill were Mr. Gilbert and .Albert E. Hill, who stated that
years ago he had three times voted against a similar bill, but
that he now realized that he had made a mistake in so doing.
Mr. Chamlee and .Mr. IJryant o])iK)sed the bill, particularly as
it removed the death penaltv for rape, and Mr. Creswell oj^posed
it on the ground that it removed the ])rotection from crimes of
violence. He cited the whitecappers of Sevier County, who. he
declared, had been checked only by the execution of two men.
Mr. Fuller somewhat took issue with Mr. Creswell on this point,
maintaining that the man really responsible was never punished.
The final vote of the committee follows:
For the bill — Bejach, Collier of Sumner, Fuller, .\bernathy,
Neely. Taylor of Jefferson, W'illiamson. Winchester.
Against the bill — Creswell, Chamlee, Bryant. — Xashville Ten-
nesscan and .luicrican.
EX-WARDFX SAYS "D( )X"T HAXc;."
"Relative to the bill now j^ending before the Legislature to
abolish capital punishment for any crime I wish to say that I
heartily endorse it and think the stand and work of C. C. Gil-
bert, Duke C. Bowers and others in endeavoring to effect the
abolition of capital punishment is highly commendable," said B.
M. Rice, former Warden at the main state ])rison, talking with
a reporter for The Democrat. ".After having been connected
with the state penitentiary for twenty years, I feel fully war-
ranted from this long experience and close touch with the crim-
inal class that any man of whatever vicious or criminal disjxisi-
tion can be cured under the rigid discipline observed by the
oflficers of the state. The rules imposed upon prisoners school
them to such obedience that their conduct necessarily becomes
changed from their former life. The mind meets these conditions
and accordinglv the influence of such environments changes the
"Under the merit svstem of commuiation of sentence over
— 75 —
seventy-five per cent earn this and not one per cent of the remain-
ing twenty-five per cent are convicted of oflfenses of such nature
that could have resulted in capital punishment — that is, they are
not capital crimes. The twenty-five per cent spoken of as not
meriting commutation are, as a rule, convicted of minor oflfenses.
"The record also shows that after a convict has served ten
or twenty years and has been released, he becomes a law-abiding
citizen, as a result of the rigid discipline imposed while in prison.
The practice of capital punishment was not inaugurated under
the old barbaric teaching of an eye for an eye, but solely as a pro-
tection to society. It is not to punish the oflfender. No man
wants the blood of his fellow-man on his hands, nor should I
think he would want it on the hands of his State, of which he is a
"The responsibility of the State is merel_\- the responsibility of
its citizens. Are you willing to assume this responsibility?
"Capital punishment is not a deterrent to crime. I have known
of murder being committed almost under the shadow of the gal-
lows. The rapist never reaches the hand of the law. The assassin
who lies in wait to kill reasons at the same time that this con-
cealment will avoid the discovery of his connection with the
crime. If capital punishment does not deter further crimes and is
not a protection to society in this respect, then confinement for
life in prison meets every demand of a Christian world." — Nash-
HITS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
'T am heartily opposed to capital punishment," said Dean A.
B. Martin of the Cumberland Law School, talking with a reporter
for The Democrat.
"It does not carry out the true aims of justice — the deterring
of the crime. Crime, to a large degree, is a disease, and should
be treated as such. When capital punishment takes place there is
no opportunity for reformation.
"I am further opposed to capital punishment because man is
not infallible. Mistakes are occasionally made, which, under the
present system, cannot be rectified.
"Finally, I am opposed to capital punishment because no man
has a right to take what he did not give." — Xaslwillc Democrat.
— 76 —
To the Editor of The Banner :
How a Christian minister, who has spent his hfe attem])tinj?
to preach Christianity, can favor capital puni'^hment is a mystery
to me. To cut the murderer off, behevins^ that he is doomed
to eternal punishment, seems to be committing- the same crime
that the murderer did, and i)erhaps he did it in the heat of pas-
sion, while state does it deliberately.
When Cain slew Abel. G(jd was the only arbiter between men.
He was both the political and moral governor of men. Did God
kill Cain? No; he gave him a life sentence. .\ fugitive and
a vagabond shalt thou be. and when thou tillest the earth it
shall not yield her strength, and added, in order to prevent an-
other murder, whosoever slayeth Cain vengeance shall be taken
on him seven-fold. Lamech also, one of Cain's descendants,
said to his wives : I have slain a man to my wounding, and a
young man to my hurt. If Cain shall be avenged seven-fold,
truly Lamech seventy and seven. God. who was all-wise and
merciful and changeth not, was not then in favor of capital pun-
ishment. Lamech confessed to murder, and Cain denied it.
When a man commits murder his own conscience is a con-
tinual tormentor while he lives.
When the state hangs a man she sets a bad example to her
citizens, and need not expect any better of them. Would it not
be far better to let a murderer be a servant to the state the
balance of his life, and give the proceeds of his labor to the
bereaved ones of the murdered man?
Think of eternal punishment ! Has the state or any indi-
vidual a right to send any one there? I can hardly see how
Lazarus could be so happy while he saw Dives and heard him
calling for water to cool his parched tongue. And how ministers
now can favor sending their fellow-men to hell does not agree
with the teachings of Christ who said: T say unto you that ye
resist not evil. If thine enemy hunger, feed him; and if he
thirst, give him drink ; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of
fire upon his head."
Now, was he only talking to his chosen twelve and allow-
ing all other to resist evil? This seems ridiculous; the New Tes-
— 77 —
tament was given to the world of men. When Cain slew his
brother would have been the ver\^ time for God to set an ex-
ample of capital punishment, if he had thought it best.
J. H. Ogilvie.
104 Neil Avenue, Nashville, Term.
JOEL B. FORT ON CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
To The Editor of The Democrat:
The article of Dr. G. A. Lofton in Tuesday's r)anner causes
me to come forth and make reply for the simple reason that such
sentiment as therein expressed by so good and devout a man
should not go unchallenged.
That the laws of the liible are bloodthirsty no one will deny;
that the rule of life for life prevailed then goes without dispute ;
but the question is not whether they were laws then, but should
such laws prevail now ?
If we are to be governed by the law of life for life, why not
also follow the rule of its execution? God gave the law, so the
Bible says, and told the Jews how to execute it.
Cities of refuge were set apart, and when a man committed
murder and outran the "avenger" and got in the city of refuge
safely, then he could have a trial ; otherwise the avenger was to
kill him. Does any one think such a law just or right? How
many oflfenses were punishable with death? Just think of the
horror of it. If a man and woman were caught in adultery it
was not a trial and death, but they were stoned to death by a
mob. If a man's wife thought to change her religion and wor-
ship any other God but the God of the Jews her husband was
directed to kill her. I might go at length into the horrible de-
tails of those old Jewish laws, but it is not necessary. Our own
ancestors brought a list of death penalties to this country that
would shock the sensibilities of an average Tennessean — put a
man in jail for preaching anything but the orthodox theory of
religion, had to go about on Sunday with a look of sanctity that
was frightful and forbidden to kiss his wife or babe under pen-
alty of the law.
Times have changed and laws to be wholesome and beneficial
must bf* changed to suit the times.
— 78 —
I care not what good men may think on this subject. After
practicing law in the courts of Tennessee for thirty years I know
that today human hfe is held more sacred than at any time in all
the history of the world. So true is this that it is hard to get a
jury that favors inflicting the death penalty.
Talk of England and her enforcement of the law. it has been
but a few score of years since there were more than a hundred
offenses punishable with death, and for years it was a nation of
king and queen killers, and the laws there are no better enforced
than here if you consider the difTerence in the poi)ulation. That
is an old, settled country, and immigration in that land is all emi-
gration ; from all lands come the lower classes to this country,
and of course we have a liardcr criminal proposition to deal with.
There is only one justification for taking the life of an indi-
vidual in our law, and in the great heart of justice as enthroned
in the present day civilization, and that is in necessary self-defense.
When the State kills a man. does she do it in necessary self-
defense? That is the great question. I don't suppose I am as
good a man as Dr. Lofton, but as weak and imperfect as I am,
there is nothing that so saddens and horrifies me as all the cir-
cumstances and details that are enacted from the Criminal Court
to the hangman's noose, an unfortunate creature with the day and
hour .set for his execution, manacled and carried to the dungeon,
with all the blood of his victim red on his hands and reeking
and rankling in his heart. Ministers are sent for to aid him in his
preparation for his last long journey. They open the Book and
tell him of the two roads, one leading to a blissful, eternal life,
and another leading to eternal hell fire and torment. He has got
to take one or the other, and always takes the heavenly route. A
few days of singing and praying and then the fatal hour, and he
is consoled by the good men while the black cap is fastened over
his eyes and he is sent shooting into eternity.
How a Christian man can see that this method of punishment
is just and Christian-like passeth my understanding. If the wolf
is not all out of humanity, and they still cry for blood incited on
by ministers of the go.spel of Christ, let them mob the culprit as
did the Jews of old, and let the State set the example of reforma-
tion by life imprisonment.
But the Doctor says: "Sickly sentimentalism is even trying
— 79 —
to change the penitentiary into a mere reformatory." Now,
doesn't that look strange for so good a man to condemn the
efforts of all the good people who are devoting time and talent
to alleviate the condition of the under-class of society? I have
never been a supporter of Governor Hooper, but every time he
does anything to relieve the distress of these unfortunates I feel
kinder to him. Sickly sentimentalism. Well, I am glad that I
am sentimental and I am glad that I have a forgiving heart, for
it is written "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who
trespass against us."
Most astounding of all I see in the article is this :
"Those who rail at capital punishment for those who murder
God's image, rail at God, and make Him out a liar and a tyrant
of archaic ignorance and stupidity" Now, what do you think of
A good man comes to Nashville at his own expense to beg
the Legislature to repeal this brutal law of Jewish barbarism, and
he, with all the good men, Dr Vance included, are "railing at God
and making him out a liar" But the pity of it is that the Doc-
tor sees that we are growing worse all the time, and says,
"and yet the twentieth century has not changed human nature
one whit. Vice and crime, murder, adultery, divorce, monopo-
listic robbery, gambling, political graft, the white slave trade, the
saloon and assignation house iniquity, maladministration of jus-
tice, lawlessness — all this and more is on the increase in the
I am afraid the Doctor is growing too pessimistic, for a truth
I can see that the world has grown better in my day. If what he
says is true, what profit has been all the efforts of good men and
good women? Away with such an idea! We are climbing higher
up the mountain and are leaving the putrid bogs farther behind
each year. Civilization has declared against war of concfuest, and
we have no nation which would stand for a moment to see a
Joshua go uj) and murder the people of Ai and plunder and burn
for no other motive than because those ])eople defended their
The banner of the Red Cross in the hands of Christian women
floats on every battlefield, and tender arms are outstretched to
every uunfortunate soldier on either side of the contest. Tt is
— 80 —
humanity that calls for help, and it is the glorious spirit of the
advancing age of civilization that is everywhere responding.
Physicians are struggling to stamp out the disease that num-
bers its victims by the thousands, and right in your own city is a
home for those who are in the grip of the great white plague.
The Governor and the prison officials and good men and women
are at work on the convicts in penitentiary, trying to make them
better. Consecrated men and women are baring their breast to
every danger in every clime, all working for the uplift of human-
ity ; everywhere orphan asylums managed and cared for by patri-
otic, Christian men and women, old women's homes, old soldiers'
homes, pensions for soldiers on their crutches. My ! my ! I am
glad I live in an age of humanity, when there is not so much
prating about the tortures of an endless hell of fire and brim-
stone, and more unselfish labor for the cause of suffering human-
The Doctor says further : "Love and law are correlatives :
love alone fulfills or keeps the law — it is love that insists on
vindicating the law." This kind of logic may well be advocated
in his theology, but I fear the Doctor cannot see daylight when he
puts his theories in practice in the criminal law of the State.
Keep the law from love ! Is that the way you expect the law
obeyed, just for love, and when a man doesn't love the law he
won't keep it, and| he outrages a beautiful woman, and then the
State from love hangs him higher than Ilaman.
It is this way : An honest man does not steal because he
stands above the law. It does not affect him. The thief is be-
neath, and if he refrains from theft it is not for love of the law,
but for fear of the law. So with nuirder. I love the life of my
fellow-man and do not murder. I am above the law, and all the
good people stand above the law and are trying to raise others
above it, and they are reaching down and helping those who are
in the underworld to a higher plane and to a new and better life;
and so the tendency is in prisons to make the culprit an honest
and good man. Is this sentimentalism. If it is, God bless all the
thousands of sentimentalists who are today fighting for the uplift
of humanity !
The minister stands every Sunday and teaches that though
the sins of man are "as scarlet" and of the darkest and deepest
dye, that repentance will bring forgiveness. So God will even
— 81 —
forgive the murderer and save him in the eternal haven of hliss,
the wise and merciful and g-ood God who knows the secrets of the
heart, will do this, but when it comes to the State of Tennessee,
she must not forgive, nor even confine the murderer for life that
he may have time to remedy and repent of his evil deeds, but
must cry for blood and must send the murderer from this to an-
other world in a disgraceful manner.
"And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye
for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot."
(Deut. xix.. Chap. 21.)
Why ! I do not believe if one should advocate such a horrible
and barbaric law as that one written, it is said, by the direction
of God, in this progressive age, on any inquisition for lunacy he
would safely land in the asylum for the insane. It is brotherly
love now ; it is pity for the unfortunate now ; it is mercy and
charity now ; and with such grand and powerful influences coming
from these virtues, the world is growing better and is becoming
a place where every man can have enjoyment in knowing there
is work for him to do in raising the fallen, cheering the faint and
ministering to the unfortunate. "Blessed are the merciful, for
they shall obtain mercy." Joel B. Fort.
Adams, Tenii,^ February 13.
(Editorial from the Nashville Banner.)
Mr. Duke C. Bowers, retired merchant, capitalist and hu-
manitarian, has brought into the present session of the Legislature
a unique interest apart from politics and not connected with other
public matters to which the attention of the solons has been
most deeply directed. Mr. Bowers has a deep conviction that
the taking of human life is wrong and not to be justified even
though it be in the form of legal execution, and he is making ^
very energetic efifort to have the Legislature pass a bill abolishing
The remarkable feature of his work is that it is purely an in-
dividual efifort and does not come from any humane society or
other organization after the manner that such movements are
usually fostered. Mr. Bowers makes the impression that he is
— 82 —
very much in earnest, wholly sincere, and there can be no doubt
that he is ahogether disinterested. The nature of the effort
would hardly permit an interested motive, and the man behind it
is so entirely dissociated with politics that no such motive can
be imag^ined. It is indeed rare that so determined an endeavor
is made in behalf of the supposed public good by an individual of
his own initiative, and it is this fact that gives Mr. Bower.-?' ex-
ertions in behalf of the bill he has caused to be introduced a
peculiar interest. He has at least succeeded in attracting public
attention to the measure and has brought about quite a warm
discussion of its merits through the daily press and otherwise.
The sixth commandment of the decalogiie very plainly says,
"Thou shalt not kill." This was given, engraved on stone,
directly from God to Moses in the thunders of Sinai, and seems
both explicit and imperative, but some liberal translators have
made it read, "Thou shalt do no murder," and this seems war-
ranted by the laws laid down in the next chapter, Exodus 21 :i2,
w'hich says, "He that smiteth a man so that he die. shall be surely
put to death." and the death penalty is also prescribed for lesser
offenses, concluding with the familiar citation, "Eye for eye,
tooth for tooth," etc. Still this was under the old dispensation.
The language of Jesus, who overthrew the doctrine of ven-
geance and taught non-resistance of evil, is used to refute it.
This is the manner in which the religious argument on the
subject has gone, but the position is presented in practical guise
and the gist of the whole matter is, can society adequately pro-
tect itself against crime if the terror of the death penalty be not
before the eyes of the evil-doer? As Sir Roger de Coverley was
wont to remark, "Much can be said on both sides." Much has
been said both pro and con, and the arguments are all interesting
and enlightening, if not wholly convincing.
This much is certain, the offenses for which capital punish-
ment is prescribed by civilized nations have very much diminished
in number, and crimes formerly so punished have not increased
under a lighter penalty. It was, for instance, once a capital
offense to steal a sheep in England, and more sheep were stolen
then than now.
In Tennessee the death penalty is prescribed only for two
offenses, murder and rape. Both certainly deserve the utter rigor
of the law. It has appeared to many that the law against mur-
— 83 —
der is now too lightly enforced. At least there have been too
many who escaped conviction where the crime was flagrant and
the evidence convincing. In England and other countries where
justice is surer, murder and all manner of homicides are much
more rare. It is arg-ued by those who oppose capital punishment
that the certainty of punishment rather than its severity prevents
crime. 'However that may be, assuredly nothing should be done
that would have any tendency to increase homicides in this state.
The record of such crimes here is now disgracefully high com-
pared with other parts of the world where the criminal laws are
The proposed abolition of the death penalty for rape presents
a problem peculiarly incidental to conditions in this section. If
it should be abolished lynchings would likely increase. The
same might be true in cases of very heinous murder.
Capital punishment is very revolting to refined sensibilities.
The world today will not permit the horrible spectacle of a pub-
lic execution on which in the past gaping crowds made gruesome
holiday. The military executions and pohtical death penalties
with which history abounds are, it is to be hoped, a barbarism
that is entirely past. There can hardly ever be a recurrence of
the horrors of the guillotine. Today neither Major Andre, Nathan
Hale or Sam Davis would be put to death. The world is advanc-
ing to higher thoughts and milder practice in matters of this kind,
Init the conclusion is not yet fixed that Tennessee can better its
condition by abolishing capital punishment.
To the Editor of The Banner:
In your editorial today, entitled "Capital ]\mishment," you
refer very kindly to me, but I was extremely disappointed when
I read on further and found that you do not concur with me
in my tight to abolish the death penalty.
Mr. Gilbert's bill to substitute life imi)risonment for the death
penalty is, to my mind, one of the most important bills before
the Legislature. The decision of this body will be to either dis-
continue this barbarous practice or else in effect say to the judges,
juries and officers of this state, you must continue murdering the
— 84 —
You state toi^ few escape conviction. If you will take the
trouble to look u]) statistics. y(3U will find those states that have
abolished the death ix-nalty secure, by far, more convictions than
do those states which as yet, luifortunately, have not abolished it.
If the abolishment of capital punishment would cause us to
have an increase in the number of homicides, then there might be
some argument in favor of retaining the death penalty. But no
one is able to say whether there would be an increase or decrease.
We can, however, take as an example those states that have abol-
ished the death penalty. In those states homicides have not in-
creased. And a fact very much in our favor is that during the
year 1909. which is the last one reported by the United States
Mortality Statistics, there were more than twice the number of
homicides in the states that retain the death penalty than in those
states that have abolished it. Now, if such a condition is a mere
"happen so," it is certainly a peculiar "happen so." It surely does
give us reason to at least 1)C willing to give the life imprisonment
proposition a trial.
As regards "lynchings would likely increase." That is an-
other proposition that can only be definitly determined by trying
the life imprisonment plan. To my way of thinking, individ-
uals will come nearer having respect for human life by precept
and example from the state than by the state's committing murder
and at the same time saying to its citizens, "Thou shalt not kill."
If such a thing as the fear of punishment deters rape, it is
the fear of the mob and not the fear of the gallows ; but I doubt
if the fear of the mob or the fear of the gallow^s, either, ever
enters into the heads of those of that vicious class.
Ex-Warden Rice states "that after having been connected with
the Tennessee penitentiary twenty years I feel that any man of
whatever vicious or criminal disj^osition can be cured under the
rigid discipline observed by the officers of the state." If there is
a chance to cure a man. then isn't it a crime to kill him and
deprive him of this chance.
If it is a crime to kill, then do we not. as citizens, almost
commit a crime if we neglect to raise our voice or make an effort
of some kind to tv}' and put a stop to this legalized murdering
of our fellow-citizens.
We may not win in this fight, but we shall at least be con-
soled with the thought that the blood of these pcx)r unfortunate
— 85 —
liiiman beings would not be on our bands if it was in our power
to sotp it. Duke C. Bowers.
p_ s. — A friend told me tbat Elbert Hubbard says "that so
long as the state continues to kill its enemies, individuals are going
to continue killing theirs." B.
Dresden, February 9, 1913.
(Editorial from The Public. Mr. Louis F. Post, Editor.)
Five men were strangled at a legalized hanging in Chicago
last week. The gallows-trap was s])rung by the peo])le of Illinois ;
for it is true, as one protestant writes to his newspaper, that
what we as citizens require of the Sheriff, in conformity with
the law upon our statute books against which we make no protest,
nor any attempt to alter or abolish it. we do ourselves — all of us
and each one of us.
Xot many reasons appear for perpetuating these barbarous
laws. One of them is that the hanging of murderers is neces-
sary as a deterrent of murder. The weakness of that excuse is
well illustrated in this very case. Swift and relentless was the
law's execution, and notorious the fact. Yet "hold-ups" with
deadly weapons, the very crime in committing which those
hanged men had resorted to murder as an incident, were perpe-
trated on an ambitious scale (and under circumstances which
made murder almost an incident in one and within the intention
of the criminals in both) twice within forty-eight hours after
these horrible executions and within the sphere of their influence.
Lesfal homicides do not prevent tho=e that are illegal. The former
foster the latter, if there is any influence. So completely is this
indicated bv experience with both, that it is difficult any longer to
consider the contrary contention as at once in good faith and
intelligent. As an argument it has become only an excuse for
that real motive for capital punishment which is rooted in the
spirit of revenee — an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. If
the vicious spirit of revenge were exercised, and love for morbid
excitement were given vent through some less brutal sport, all
arguments for capital punishment as a preventive of crime would
The sentimentality which pities the murderer on a gallows re-
— S6 —
gardless of his crime, is bad enough to be sure ; but the senti-
mentality which hangs him out of pity for his victim is worse.
If the one is spineless, the other is revengeful. Xever should it
be forgotten that the great fact which tells against capital punish-
ment is not that it is a disagreeable experience for the murderer,
but that where tolerated it is degrading to the community lx)th in-
dividuallv and collectivelv.
STATES OBJECTION TO DEATH PENALTY.
J. E. McCulloch. General Secretary of the Southern Sociologi-
cal Congress, has written the following reply to a query by Duke
C. Bowers as to his stand on the question of capital punishment :
"Dear Mr. Bowers : I hasten to reply to your query in re-
gard to my ideas on capital punishment, and state that I am
opposed to the death penalty ; first, because it is unworthy and
barbarous for a civilized state to practice revenge; second, because
statistics do not justify the conclusion that capital punishment de-
ters crime; third, because the state has no moral right to destroy
human life — only God. who gives life, has the right to take it;
fourth, because the chief function of the state is to save and im-
prove life — whereas capital punishment arbitrarily cuts off all
possibility of reform ; fifth, because crime at worst is a symptom
of social disease rather than simply the result of individual wrong-
doing — the real crime is in our social conditions that make it pos-
sible for a murderer to be reared at all." — Nashi'tllc Tcnncsscan
EDITORIAL FROM THE MARTIN MAIL.
All honor to Duke C. Bowers, the man that is not afraid to
do things. If the bill to abolish capital punishment in Tennessee
does not become a law he has not failed, for the work he has
done will be as bread cast upon the waters to return many days
hence. He has attracted the attention of the L'nion in his fight
for the uplift of humanity — the abolishing of capital punishment.
It has caused men to put on their thinking caps, and dig deep
into the history of capital punishment. It is true that there
are man that are opposed to the abolition, but there are more,
yea, hundreds to one. that favor the abolishing of capital punish-
ment. It is just and right. The old law. "an eye for an eye and
a tooth for a tooth," is of prehistoric days — the old Mosaic laws.
— 87 —
and none of those hold good today. Why take life — it is murder
— whether done by the law or the individual. It is better to for-
give them ninety and nine times. Men that in the heat of passion
have slain their fellow-man can and will become great and good
citizens if given a chance, but with a hangman's noose there is
no chance. Man's humanity to man cries out for the abolition of
the law. Will the gentlemen from Weakley County and every
other county in the state take notice?
During 1909 the average number oi homicides committed to
the one hundred population was :
Maine i.i No capital punishment.
Massachusetts 2.4 Capital punishment obtains.
Xew Hampshire 1.4 Capital punishment obtains.
Rhode Island . .' 2.6 No capital punishment.
Connecticut 3.9 Capital punishment obtains.
New York 3.8 Capital punishment obtains.
Michigan 2.2 No capital punishment.
Ohio 5.1 'Capital punishment obtains.
Indiana 5.3 Capital punishment obtains.
Wisconsin 1.8 No capital punishment.
South Dakota 4.7 Capital punishment obtains.
Colorado 10.7 Capital punishment obtains.
EDITORIAL FROM LAFALI.ETT S MACAZINP:.
"Do you believe in capital punishment?" asked a L'nited Press
reporter over the telephone a few days ago. The occasion for
the "interview" was that seven men were to meet death in the
electric chair at Sing Sing and that two prisoners were con-
demned to be hanged here in the District of Columbia.
Some way I cannot get accustomed to the fact that the law
and practice that prevails in the District of Columbia are so apt
to be an example of unenlightenment. They are subject to the
revision of Congress, and if there is a place where capital pun-
ishment should not exist, it is here in sight of the capital dome.
I do not object to the death penalty because I think it such
a terrible thing for the individuals to whom it is administered,
provided they are guilty of deliberate murder. Thousands of
— 88 —
innocent people die daily from wrecks, drowning, and catas-
trophes of all kinds, who snffer more, ilistory i^ives many ex-
amples of men and women wh(j-liave met the headsman with a
jest. And observers say that the average man. when he goes to
his execution usually keeps his nerve, even to eating a good break-
fast. Nature prepares us all for the inevitable end.
Rut capital punishment is a survival of barbarism and its
existence is contrary to the l)est thought and practice of modern
civilization. The old idea was that it was humanly possible to
retaliate a crime, and to mete out justice to the criminal; that
penalties of great severity served as a warning and were a
preventative of crime.
It is said we need go back only one hundred years to find
two hundred offenses punishable by death under the English
law. \\'ithin twenty years there were seventeen offenses sub-
ject to death i)enalty under the civil code of the I'nited States.
The extreme penalty did not obviate these lesser crimes nor
does it deter murder. Tn our country today the extremely small
number — something like two per cent 1 think il is — of executions,
as compared with the number of nuu-ders, must give the hard-
ened criminal great confidence in his chances of escape. .Vnd
as for those who commit murder in the heat of passion, they
take no thought of consequences ; the large number of those who
thus kill, who turn and commit suicide, or give themselves over
to the law, shows how little the fear of death influences their
If cai)ital punishment is to deter crime it should be admin-
istered in its most revolting form and given the widest possible
publicity. ( )nly a few vears ago. hangings were witnessed by
thousands of spectators. The practice no longer prevails. The
public is excluded. .Vnd whatever deterrent effect there is from
execution, is produced by the filtered newspaper accounts, rhere
is a growing sentiment against these news features. It is well
recognized that these recitals suggest many crimes where one is
prevented. The substitution of the electric chair for the gallows
was to lesson the horror of capital punishment. In that degree
it diminishes its deterrent effect.
In view of the change in sentiment which demands that execu-
tions shall be as i)rivate and free from terror as possible, the
only argument that remains for the death sentence, is that it
— 89 —
relieves society of the burden of support of the criminal and, per-
haps, that it is easier for one who has committed murder not to
have his life prolonged. But this reasoning applies equally to
many crimes, for which capital punishment has been abolished —
rape, for instance.
Some wardens say that life prisoners, particularly those who
have committed murder under extenuating circumstances, who
perhaps might never again violate the law, are much less a men-
ace than those habituated to lesser crimes — professionals so to
Broader understanding of the cause of crime and responsi-
bility for it, is tending slowly to revolutionize the plan of dealing
with it. The higher authorities recognize that the struggle is
social, not individual; that retaliation and retributive justice is
impossible and the attempt to administer it, does not lessen the
evil-doing. Anyone who stops to think, must realize that a
definite amount of punishment cannot be measured out for a speci-
fic ofifence and that there are many long sentences, even life
sentences that might be more safely suspended than to permit
the habitual ofifenders — the incurables— to go free at the ex-
piration of terms as fixed by inflexible statutes.
Investigation and experience have proved, what common sense
ought always to have told us, that solitary confinement, or worse,
promiscuous herding of criminals in idleness and under harsh
conditions, makes the savage more savage, and destroys the hope
of improving those not wholly degraded.
Humane and scientific conditions in places of detention — sun-
light, air, cleanliness, and methods of reformation — regular em-
ployment in healthful and varied and useful occupations, with
a degree of compensation as an incentive together with inde-
terminate sentences, boards for pardon, probation, are all indica-
tions of the changed attitude of society toward those convicted
of violations of the law. Society is beginning to recognize its
responsibility for crime and its obligation to at least administer
the law so that its operation will not further degrade the of-
fenders. It is wise economy — even though the first cost be
somewhat greater — to direct the effort formerly expended in
"punishment" of those imprisoned to fitting them to live and
to earn a living, so they may return to the world better prepared
to cope with temptation and with less likelihood of being a
further menace to society.
— 90 —
Editor Tennessean and American :
In The Tennessean and American of January 29 I see my old
friend McKinney and others have introduced a bill in the Senate
to abolish ca])ital punishment in Tennessee. I am sure this is a
step in the rig^ht direction, and will be encourajj^ed, and doubtless
will receive the full ajjproval of a majority of the best people
of the state. When a child at my mother's knee, beinij instructed
in the cardinal principles that enter into this life, the obedience or
the disobedience of which brinj^s lii(ht, joy and sunshine, or dark-
ness and shadow in our path, she pointed me to the law of which,
which says : "Thou shalt not kill."
Under her guidance I made u]) my mind in early life that
capital punishment was wrong, for if I did not have the right to
kill under God's law and also under the laws of my state, then
the state did not have the right to deliberately and coolly murder
one of her citizens.
Under the law of Moses it was "an eye for an eye and a tooth
for a tooth." but we are living in the light of the Christian era,
and God says, "vengeance is mine ; I will repay, sayeth the Lord
God."' Under the Jewish law a man was stoned to death for
picking up sticks on the seventh day of the week. Xow, in the
noonday splendor of the Christian dispensation, we tnay gather
all the brush on the Lord's day that we wish to, and we have done
no harm and have violated no principle. We are living under
the law of love, and should do unto others as we would have
them do unto us.
I shall be glad if Mr. McKinney gets his bill through the Leg-
islature and our dear old state will quit murdering her citizens,
and let those who commit first degree murder, repent all the rest
of their days.
J. C. Humphreys.
— 91 —
COPY OF A CIRCULAR I DELIVERED TO THE HOUSE
OF REPRESENTATRES THE MORNING OF
THE DAY THE BILL TO ABOLISH CAPITAL
PUNISHMENT WAS VOTED ON.
ADDRESS BY D. C. BOWERS.
To the Honorable Members of the Senate and House of Repre-
sentatives of the Fifty-eighth General Assembly of Ten-
In your hands today is placed the Hfe and death of the future
unfortunates accused of capital offenses in this state.
If you keep the death penalty on the statute books, the judge,
the jury and the executioner, if they keep sacred their oaths,
have got to follow your edicts.
An ex-sheriff told me he had to hang two men while he was
in office ; that he was opposed to capital punishment, yet he hanged
those men because it was the law.
A present attorney-general of this state, who believes in the
enforcement of all the laws made by you gentlemen and your
predecessors, says that he prosecutes capital offenses because
it is his duty, but he wishes that the death penalty was done
Gentlemen, there would be mighty little chance of any of us
getting to heaven if merit was the only route.
If we get there, there will have to be some mercy shown us.
We cannot afford to be merciful to only those who are guilty
of the same things we have been guilty of. God Almighty has
not been guilty of any of our sins, yet it is to be hoped that He
is going to be merciful unto us. .
Our sins are as horrible to Him as the criminal's are to us.
Don't you believe as we spare others He will spare us?
l^lease give this Anti-Capital Punishment Bill your most care-
ful consideration, and ask yourself if you can afford to take the
responsibility of voting to retain a law that means the taking of
a human life.
You don't want the stain of human blood on your hands, do
Duke C. Bowers.
— 92 —
PENALTY OF DEATH STANDS.
By a vote of 56 to 36 the House of Representatives yesterday
afternoon rejected the Gilbert bill to abolish the death penalt>
in Tennessee, and tabled a motion to reconsider their action. The
defeat of the bill in the House means, beyond doubt, that so far
as the present Legislature is concerned the death penalty will re-
main in force, in spite of the vigorous light waged against it by
Duke C. Bowers and others.
The decision of the House was reached after the longest de-
bate of the session, extending through both the morning and after-
noon sessions of the House.
The bill was taken up as a special order at 1 1 o'clock in the
morning, and a vote was not taken until nearly 4 o'clock in the
Mr. Gilbert, in moving the adoption of the bill, said crime had
been on the increase in Tennessee because of lack of law enforce-
Mr. Raulston declared that the advocates of the bill ap])eale(l
for sympathy for the criminals.
Dr. Boyer, who as sheriff of Cocke County hung two men, and
the only two men ever legally hung in that county, spoke for the
abolition of capital punishment.
"Those two men were, like ninety-nine out of every hundred
men, poor and without money. That is why I am opposed to
capital punishment — the law is not enforced, as it stands, equally
upon all classes alike, if there was equal enforcement of the law
I would support it. There is a law for the rich and one for the
Mr. Winchester spoke for the bill as a progressive measure.
Mr. Stone, of Lincoln, closed the argument for the bill. His
argument was general, covering the entire subject. He attacked
the theories in support of the practice, and cited the statistics,
showing that one innocent man is known to have been hanged
in the United States each three years.
At the afternoon session the discussion of the bill was re-
sumed. Mr. Mullens argued against the bill, and was followed
by Mr. Todd, also against the bill.
Mr. Todd declared that the fact that it was difficult to enforce
the law was no reason for abolishing it. He attacked Mr. Stone's
argument. Pie argued especially along the line of protection
— 93 —
j\Ir. Wilson, declaring that Mr. Todd had been appealing to
prejudice and passion and nothing else, strongly supported the
bill. i =i;
Mr. Spears made a powerful appeal against the bill. He de-
clared that sympathy for the criminal was obscuring the interests
of the state.
Mr. Rickman spoke against the bill, declaring for law en-
forcement. Doing away with the gallows would add ten-fold to
crime, he said.
The previous question was called for and carried.
The bill was defeated — 56 to 36. A motion to reconsider was
The detailed vote on tlie i)ill follows :
Aye — Abernathy, Bejach. Royer, Byroni, Chamlee, Childs.
Collier, of Sumner, Dannel. Dorsey, Emert, Fleeman, Fox. Gil-
bert, Hill, Kirkpatrick, LeFever, Link, Love, Malone, McCormick,
IMcFarland, ^filler, of Lauderdale, Mitchell, O'Brien, Park,
Parkes, Pierce. Royston, Shaw. Stephenson, Stone, of Lincoln,
Taylor, of Jefferson. Walker, Weldon, W^illiamson, Winchester.
No — Acree, Albright, Argo, Ausmus. Babb, Barnett, Bryant,
Bullard, Campbell, Cardwell, Cochran, Collier, of Humphreys,
Cox, Creswell, Davis, Denton, Drane, Duncan, Dunn, Fisher,
Fuller, Gallagher, Green, Harpole, Henderson, Hughes, Hunt,
Johnson, of Madison, Johnson, of Shelby, Long, Matthews,
Alayes, Miller, of Marshall, Moore, Morris, Mullens, Murphy,
Myers, Nichols, Ouenichet, Raulston, Rickman, Riggins. Roberts,
Robinson, Scott, Schmittou, Smith, Spears, Taylor, of Madison,
Testerman, Thompson, Todd, West, Wilson, Stanton. Total, 56.
— Nashville Tenncssean and American.
KILLING OF \.\\\ FROWNED UPON.
The Duke Bower's bill, which he worked so faithfully and so
hard for was killed in the House Wednesday, by a vote of 56 to
36, showing conclusively that Tennessee is not ready to join the
progressive states of the union. The Senate Judiciary Committee
recommended the rejection of the bill in the Senate. Thus flies
the hopes of good and true men, who worked indefatigably for
the abolition of capital punishment in Tennessee. — Editoral,
Mar tin Mail.
— 94 —
After an arduous and expensive campaign covering the whole
time the Legislature was in session from the first Monday in
January until the 226. of February, Mr. Duke C. Bowers, of
Memphis and Dresden, saw his bill to abolish capital punishment
in Tennessee defeated by much larger odds than he was prepared
Prompted by humanity alone, Mr. Bowers spent several weeks
in Nashv41e working to pursuade members of the Legislature that
legal murder is not good for the country, and at one time he
seemed considerably encouraged that our law-makers would abol-
ish what he considers but a relic of barbarism and substitute what
he considers a more effective means toward the redemption of
ihe bodies and souls of men. All honor to Mr. Bowers who has
done as noble and deserving work as though he had carried his
point in more legislatures than one. Unselfishly he spent his time
and his money laboring for that which he deeply believed would
meet the approval of Him who tempers justice with mercy, notes
the sparrow's fall and doeth all things well. In view of the fact
that the states having capital punishment show the greater num-
ber of homicides it seemed to us that a trial of Mr. Bowers' plan
might safely be tried in Tennessee. — Editorial, Lexington (Tcnn.)
FIGHT NOT ENDED. SAYS DUKE C. BOWERS.
Duke C. Bowers, who was behind the bill to abolish capital
punishment in Tennessee, which failed in the present General
Assembly, sends the Democrat the following letter :
To the Editor of The Democrat :
It seems a pity to me that presumably good men construe the
Scriptures in such a way as to cause them to believe that the
state is justifiable in taking a human life. The horribleness
of the thing itself is enough to condemn it, regardless of the
doctrine of the law of mercy and love as taught by Jesus.
As to whether the world is growing better or worse has noth-
ing to do with the awfulness of hanging or electrocuting a man.
He is some mother's boy ; he has sinned, that is true, yet to hang
him is only doing the worst thing the state can do to him. The
crime can't be undone by taking the offender's life; nothing that
— 95 —
society can do can heal the wounds of the hijured one ; hence
where is the common sense in making^ other wounds, in bring-
ing double disgrace on the parents, brothers, sister and possibly
wife and children of the offender?
Any man that reads the New Testament knows "for whoso-
ever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he
is guilty in all." How such a man can feel that he is able to sit
in judgment and cast the first stone is something beyond my un-
"There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and destroy : who
art thou that judgest another?"
Surely you are too enlightened to feel "God, I thank Thee
that I am not' as other men."
"Let not him which eateth not, judge him that eateth."
"Love worketh not ill to his neighbor, therefore love is the
fulfilling of the law."
"If we love one another God dwelleth in us."
"He that loveth not his brother whom he has seen, how can
he love God whom he hath not seen?"
To my mind the following scripture sums up nearly the whole
of Christianity, and there is no capital punishment taught in it.
Read carefully. "And as ye would that men should do to you,
do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you,
what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank
have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to
them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sin-
ners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye
your enemies and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again ;
and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be children of the
Highest ; for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be
ye therefore merciful, as your Father is also merciful. Judge not,
and ye shall not be judged; condenm not, and ye shall not be
condemned ; forgive and ye shall be forgiven : Give it and it shall
be given unto you ; good measure, pressed down, and shaken to-
gether, and running over, shall men give unto your bosom. For
with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured
to you again."
If I am wrong in my fight to abolish the death penalty, then
— 96 —
it is wronc; to be merciful. It my fiijht to save the criniiii:ir> life
is wronj^, then the law of love is wrous^.
If I myself was without sin then maybe I could see this ihiui,'-
differently, but I am weak; I try to be ^i>o(\. but it kxjks like the
harder I try the worse 1 fail. Hence my only hope for life eternal
is doino; good for others, helpino" the unfortunate and trying to
.save the lives of misguided men. Therefore my fight to al)olish
the death penalty is not ended, and the abusive language heajK-d
upon me by some of the opponents to the measure is not going
to stop me. "I am not bound to win. but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed, but 1 am bound to live up to what
light T have."
Di'Ki-: C. IJowi'.Ks.
Dresden. Tcnn., February 28.
cuse, N. Y
3 1158 00995 0766
University of Ca.
^ Southern Regi,