Chief Seattle Thelma Dewitty Thomas Foley Carrie Chapman Catt Anna Louise Strong Mark Tobey Helene Madison Home
Search Encyclopedia
Advanced Search
Featured Essay
Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search
7100 essays now available      
Donation system not supported by Safari     Donate Subscribe


Cyberpedias Cyberpedias
Timeline Essays Timeline Essays
People's Histories People's Histories

Selected Collections
Cities & Towns Cities & Towns
County Thumbnails Counties
Biographies Biographies
Interactive Cybertours Interactive Cybertours
Slide Shows Slideshows
Public Ports Public Ports
Audio & Video Audio & Video

Research Shortcuts

Map Searches
Alphabetical Search
Timeline Date Search
Topic Search


Book of the Fortnight
Audio/Video Enhanced
History Bookshelf
Klondike Gold Rush Database
Duvall Newspaper Index
Wellington Scrapbook

More History

Washington FAQs
Washington Milestones
Honor Rolls
Columbia Basin
Walla Walla
Roads & Rails

Timeline Library

< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Washington abolishes the death penalty on March 22, 1913. Essay 5471 : Printer-Friendly Format

On March 22, 1913, Governor Ernest Lister signed into law the abolition of the death penalty in Washington. The act was sponsored by Seattle Representative Frank P. Goss. The death penalty will be enacted again in 1919.

Between 1904, when the state began handling executions by hanging, and 1911, 15 criminals had been put to death at the State Penitentiary at Walla Walla. After women were granted the right to vote in Washington in 1911, the Legislature was swept up in a wave of reform. Bills to enact an eight-hour day for coal miners, to ban red-light districts, and to establish vocational schools were offered.

Representative Goss first offered a bill to abolish capital punishment in 1911, but it was narrowly defeated. In 1913, Goss filed the bill again. The State House of Representatives debated the issue hotly for several hours before voting to limit the penalty for first-degree murder to life imprisonment. Goss proclaimed "in a masterful speech of over one hour," (P-I)) "I deny the abstract right of a government to take a life. I recognize only one right to kill and that is in self defense."

In 1919, a more conservative legislature reenacted the death penalty.

"Goss Wins Fight Against Hanging," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 21, 1913, p. 7; Sessions Laws of Washington, 1913; Richard Berner, Seattle 1900-1920 (Seattle: Charles Press, 1991, pp. 173-174.

Travel through time (chronological order):
< Browse to Previous Essay | Browse to Next Essay >

Related Topics: Crime | Government & Politics | Law |

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You

Home About Us Contact Us Education Bookstore Tourism Advanced Search is the first online encyclopedia of local and state history created expressly for the Internet. (SM) is a free public and educational resource produced by History Ink, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt corporation.
Contact us by phone at 206.447.8140, by mail at Historylink, 1411 4th Ave. Suite 803, Seattle WA 98101 or email