"An eye for an eye" is something that many people do believe in, but will likewise allege that they do not trust in the death penalty, or as some people call it capital punishment. I for one do believe in the death penalty. It has been in existence for centuries throughout the world. People think that it is morally wrong, leads against the Constitution, and many other reasons why it should not be practiced today. I will talk over these things along with the history of capital punishment in the United States.
When European colonists came to the new world, they instituted the practice of capital punishment. The first recorded performance in the new settlements was that of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608. Kendall was put to death for being a spy for Spain. In 1612, Virginia Governor Sir Thomas Dale enacted the Divine, Moral and Martial Laws, which provided the death punishment for even minor crimes such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, and trading with Indians. Laws involving the death penalty changed from colony to colony. The Massachusetts Bay Colony had its first execution in 1630, even though the Capital Laws of New England did not go into effect until years after. The New York Colony instituted the Duke's Laws of 1665. Under these laws, crimes such as striking one's mother or father, or traversing the "true God," were punishable by death. (Randa, 1997) Cesare Beccaria's 1767 essay, On Crimes and Punishment, had an especially strong impact throughout the world. The essay gave abolitionists an authoritative voice and renewed energy, one result of which was the abolition of the death penalty in Austria and Tuscany. (Schabas, 2002) American intellectuals were influenced by him as well. Thomas Jefferson was the foremost to try to reform the death penalty by proposing a measure to revise Virginia's death penalty laws. The bill proposed that capital punishment only is the sentence in cases of murder or treason.