Chapter

Introduction

Theodore Hamm

in Rebel and a Cause

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780520224278
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925236 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520224278.003.0001
Introduction

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In assessing postwar death penalty abolitionism, the whole content of the book focuses on the popular controversy surrounding the 1960 execution of Caryl Chessman. The Chessman case was interpreted by liberal intellectuals, prison reformers, and activists as uniquely representative of the period's larger movement against capital punishment. The content of this book also marks an initial attempt both to place the Chessman debate in its historical context and to assess the larger movement against the death penalty during the late 1950s. After this, there are still questions about whether Chessman committed the crimes for which he was executed. The historical issues of why so many postwar citizens embraced Chessman's cause form the core of this study.

Keywords: Caryl Chessman; liberal intellectuals; death penalty; capital punishment; abolitionism

Chapter.  4137 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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