But times were "a-changing." The mass slaughters of the Second World War and the legacy of a century bloodied by revolutionary and counterrevolutionary violence had led to a modest reaction against state-imposed killing. In 1930, 155 Americans had been executed; by 1960 the total was down to 56. The territories of Alaska and Hawaii and the state of Delaware abolished capital punishment during the late 1950's.1 In Delaware, the first state to abolish since 1917, the legislative struggle was particularly well-publicized and stirred abolitionist activity elsewhere. In 1960 a small group of New Jersey citizens, outraged by attempts to execute several unrepresented blacks and by the legislature's indifference to abolition bills, held a week-long, Easter-time vigil before the Trenton State House. The controversy surrounding Caryl Chessman's interminable courtroom battles to upset his death sentence for kidnaping with bodily injury (stayed eight times by three California governors) commanded national and international attention, especially among the young.
In England, where a death sentence was mandatory after a murder conviction, abolitionists grew bolder. The imposing 1953 Report of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment, chaired by Sir Ernest Gowers, armed them with an