it is a social compact by which the whole people covenants with each citizen, and each citizen with the whole people.”
Now, will any man undertake to show me how any government founded upon that as its cornerstone can claim the right to take life, unless the individual has a right to take his own life,--unless suicide be justifiable?
The defenders of the gallows all feel the necessity of meeting this objection, and they uniformly do it by rejecting the idea of compact.
They claim that government is something else,--that you get your rights somewhere else than from a compact.
and other writers on the same side undertake to say that this idea of compact is all a mistake; that it was derived from the French
infidelity of the eighteenth century.
They ignore it entirely, and they have a right to, for they are only writing books.
But you cannot; for you are sitting here as a legislature, and must respect the Constitution
you have sworn to support.
Let us look at another argument of Dr. Cheever
He says society gets the right to take life as the individual gets the right of self-defence.
What is the principle of the law.? The principle of the law is this: If a man is going to take your life, you have no right to take his immediately; you must retreat to the wall.
The rule of the common law says: You must retreat until you can retreat no farther; and then, when you must either die or kill him, you may kill him; but if you kill him at once, without retreating as far as you can, you are guilty of manslaughter.
Now, if Dr. Cheever
is going to get the right from this principle just alluded to, then society is bound to show, not that taking life is a good thing, but that it is an absolutely necessary
Society is bound to show that, in conformity with this rule, she has retreated to the wall,--that is, done everything she could before taking the life of the murderer.
Society has got