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[81] except what the people have given them. The people have no right to take their own lives, and of course they cannot give you the right to take their lives. If your Constitution is correct, therefore, you have no right to take life. I do not say the Constitution is right. I know there are theories which repudiate the idea of compact, and claim that government derives its authority directly from God. Your Constitution says that government is a “compact” among the people; and a government founded on that basis cannot have the right to take life, unless the individual has the right to take his own,--unless suicide is justifiable. The reverend gentlemen who have appeared before you in opposition to the petitioners, would not allow for a moment that I have the right to commit suicide; but if I have not the right to take my own life, how can I give that right to Governor Gardner, or to a jury of twelve men?

Beccaria, Dr. Rush, and all the most eminent writers on this subject deny the right of society to take life, on the ground that it conflicts with the republican form of government. These gentlemen escape from this by throwing overboard the whole theory of American society. They say society is not a compact. They upset the Declaration of Independence and the Massachusetts Constitution, and maintain that government is derived from God; and in that way they get the idea of capital punishment from the Bible: for you cannot get it any where else,--it must be got from the Bible, if got at all. Overthrowing the Massachusetts Constitution, they erect you into a government by the ordinance of God. It is in fact the old divine right to govern, and having introduced that theory into American society, they give you the right to take life. And when they give you this right, they give it to you in a Hebrew verse of the Old Testament, which, they say, not only

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