Report of the Committee on the Abolishment of Capital Punishments
by [LAWÑRHODE ISLAND].
Providence,1838.. Single sheet, printed on both sides OCLC lists four holding libraries: Yale, Harvard Law, Brown, and Rhode Island State Library. This is a minority report of the committee, signed in print by two of its members: William Read Staples and Samuel Y. Atwell. Interestingly one of the arguments for abolishing the death sentence is that "the severity of such punishments favors the escape of the guilty. There are many persons in our community who will not complain or prosecute for a crime punishable with death...[these are] murder, rape, robbery, arson burglary and petit treason [petit treason is the murder of a person by someone who owes that person allegiance, i.e. the murder of a master by his servant; or that of a husband by his wifeÑsee O.E.D.] Some of these remotely affect property, some endanger life, and some are the destruction of life. Yet the same punishment awaits them all."After rebutting the likely responses to the abolition of capital punishment, the report ends: "We appeal now to the Legislature of Rhode-Island to try another experimentÑone which is approved by the philosophy of a Franklin, the philanthropy of a Rush, and the research of a Livingston. By adopting it before any of her sister States, Rhode-Island will show that she still possesses that independence of feeling, sentiment, and action, which characterized her first settlers, and will regain that proud pre-eminence among them, which she only lost by their imitating her example (Inventory #: 2008)