We came down one when we gave up burning at the stake; we came down another when we gave up the tearing of the body to pieces with red-hot pincers; we came down another when we gave up the torture of the wheel.
You cannot tolerate these things now. Society has been forced, by the instinct of humanity, against its logic, to put away these cruel penalties.
Men have been crying out continually against this instinct of mercy which sought to make the dungeon less terrible; they feared to remove a cobweb from that dungeon's cruelty, lest the world should go to pieces.
Yet the world swept it down, and is safer to-day than ever before.
Now we ask you to abolish the gallows.
It is only one step further in the same direction.
has got up to the wall.
She has thrown it away for almost all offences; she only retains it for one or two.
We ask you to take one more step in the same direction.
Take it, because the civilized world is taking it in many quarters!
Take it, because the circumstances of the time prove you may take it safely!
Take it, because it is well to try experiments for humanity, and this is a favorable community to try them in.
These are the arguments, gentlemen of the Committee
, on which we ask you to abolish the punishment of death in this Commonwealth.