The Death Penalty, Slavery, and Abolition in Brazil and the United States 1830–1900

Saturday, January 9, 2010: 2:30 PM
Manchester Ballroom F (Hyatt)
Peter M. Beattie , Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Brazil abolished the death penalty in its 1890 Republican Penal Code, but Emperor Pedro II had brought a de facto end to capital punishment in Brazil in 1876, even for slave convicts.  Since the 1890s, the death penalty has never been a serious political issue in Brazil in stark contrast to its almost continual practice before and after abolition in most American states.  The different public and political attitudes toward the death penalty in these two nations certainly cannot be attributed to a history of African slavery.  Rather, this paper argues that the main difference sprang from diverging paths toward slavery’s abolition and different Anglo- and Luso-legal traditions and political cultures.
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