It is said that the right to life is the most basic right that all humans share. Taking away this right due to a gruesome or harsh crime is called capital punishment. Capital punishment is defined as the legally authorized killing of someone as punishment for a crime. (Koosed) Capital punishment is a controversial issue and is a basic choice that a person has to make for him or herself. As with most controversial issues, the death penalty has a long history. Capital punishment came about around during 18th Century B.C. in Babylon. King Hammurabi made a code known as “The Code of Hammurabi” which set out certain crimes that were, at least in the eyes of the king, punishable by death. (“The History of Capital Punishment”) This was the first known and documented time that death was the punishment for a crime. From this point many civilizations adapted this type of punishment into their judicial system.
In 15th Century B.C. Rome the punishment was used in outlandish ways. It is said that just for stealing crops or writing slanderous words towards a leader was suitable for death. (“The History of Capital Punishment”) The death sentences at this time were not like the “humane” means we kill today. An article titled “The History of Capital Punishment” in Current Events, a Weekly Reader Publication states, “Common death sentences included crucifixion, drowning at sea, and being buried alive. For the murder of a parent, or parricide, the condemned was placed in a sack along with a dog, a rooster, a poisonous snake, and an ape and then submerged in water until dead.” These death sentences were not based on the most humane way to punish someone, but a death fitting the nature of the crime committed.
Capital Punishment was used in such harsh and outlandish ways for quite sometime and continued. Many Kings of England were fans of the death penalty and enforced it with an iron fist in the 1500’s to 1700’s. (“The History of Capital Punishment”) At the same time as England, France was enforcing capital punishment even more forceful than England. This time in the French history is known as The Reign of Terror. Millions of people were killed just for supporting the reform and petty crimes such as stealing bread. Around this time a new more “humane” way of performing an execution was created known as the guillotine.
The years before the guillotine was invented the most common way of executing someone was the use of an axe and hanging. Many times when an axe was used it took multiple swings to actually get through someone’s neck and when hung it could take several drops or several minutes of suffocation before the alleged criminal was killed. The guillotine could get through someone’s neck in one quick chop making it not as messy and it also quicker. The guillotine quickly became a symbol of The Reign of Terror. Through the work of reform movements for many years, the death penalty finally became outlawed in England as well as France in the 1800’s leaving the...