In 1622, the first legal execution took place in Virginia with the execution of Daniel Frank. Frank was hung for theft. Back then, there were 13 crimes punishable by death, including idolatry and witchcraft. During the seventeenth century, a great number of women executed. Between 1608 and 1708, 24% of the executions performed legally in the early American colonies were women. In the eighteenth century, 48% of the performed executions were African American people. Beside murder, the crime most African Americans were executed for was slave revolt.
Over the next two centuries, the numbers would increase but the percentages would remain about the same. From 1709 to 1808, a total of 1,554 people were recorded as being legally executed. From 1809 to 1908, 6,630 people were legally executed.
Since 1976, 976 convicted murderers have been executed in the United States. Of those executed, 565 (58%) were white and 328 (34%) were black. 10 were female.
Over the years, rules and standards were set for execution but it was never completely prohibited. In 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified and the Eighth Amendment stated that cruel and unusual punishment was illegal. In 1793, Pennsylvania created degrees of murder to help stipulate which offenses should be punishable by death. In 1833, Rhode Island becomes the first state to require private hangings. Through the...