By Howard W. Allen

Examines either the criminal and unlawful makes use of of the loss of life penalty in American historical past.

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Extra resources for Race, Class, and the Death Penalty: Capital Punishment in American History

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A measure of instability, periodic conflict, and hardship were facts of seventeenthcentury colonial life, and these characteristics undoubtedly colored the use of capital punishment. Only a relatively small number of executions took place in the seventeenth-century colonies, as the preceding chapter indicates. Approximately 270 whites, Native and African Americans, and individuals The Colonial and Revolutionary Eras 29 of unknown ethnicity were executed during the years from the first execution at Jamestown through 1695.

Chapter 2 The Colonial and Revolutionary Eras The use of capital punishment underwent radical change over the course of American history. It also differed from one part of the nation to another, and for that matter, from one jurisdiction to another. The United States has never been homogeneous in cultural, demographic, economic, or even institutional terms. As would be expected, the use of the death penalty and the history of that use have reflected these differences. When the history of capital punishment is viewed in national perspective, in the preceding chapter, many of these differences are masked.

Execution rates, whether viewed at the regional level or at the level of individual colonies, tended to decline irregularly across the period. Few African Americans were put to death prior to 1695, however, the African American population also was very small. The small number put to death resulted in very high rates of execution, usually much higher than the rates for whites. In contrast to whites, African American execution rates showed no clear and consistent indication of decline. 2. Average annual rates of execution per 100,000 African American and white population by region, 1606–1695 32 Race, Class, and the Death Penalty The Colonial and Revolutionary Eras 33 African Americans and whites in 1700 to a little less than 3,000,000 in 1780.

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