A Tale of Two Protests (1950–1960)

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:
A Tale of Two Protests (1950–1960)

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  • History of the Americas


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The most notable protests against executions during the twentieth century had been led by working class organizations and their affiliated political parties, which was prior to the Caryl Chessman case. The comparison of the Wells and Chessman defense campaigns clarified the broader shift in opposition to the death penalty in the mid-1950s. Like Chessman, Ells faced execution for a crime other than murder. From death row, Wells helped direct the campaign to save his life through frequent correspondence with Civil Rights Congress leaders, attorneys, and labor unions. To be part of California's expanding middle class hardly translated into fixed political sympathies, and a fraction of this stratum would reject ideas of therapeutic criminal justice. Their views can in no way be considered less middle class.

Keywords: Wells; death row; civil rights; protest; campaign

Chapter.  18038 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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