With an execution moratorium in place, no executions this century, and declining public and political support, the death penalty is moribund in Pennsylvania. As it moves into history, this research documents and analyzes the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County. Focusing on the earliest chapter of that history, the pre-industrial era, two major patterns are observed. First is the role of the death penalty in early efforts to establish and legitimize federal, state, and military authority. Second, as that statemaking project brought a stable civil society into being, use of the death penalty focused more on protecting social relations.

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