Philadelphia, January 17, 1844 [1845?]. Stampless cover, single page letter on an unlined folio, 9.88 x 7.63 inches, approx. 250 words. A little foxed and soiled, with some darkening to the cover; a few small holes along the folds, but no real loss of text; in very good condition. Item #20033
“The question of the abolition of capital punishment being again before the legislature of your state it is the desire of the friends of that measure to bring as wide and powerful an influence as possible to bear upon the members, in hope of succeeding at the present session. We are informed by Mr. Tustin of this county, who has introduced the Bill, that there is a good reason to think that it will pass if handled with sufficient energy and activity.” The physician Henry S. Patterson (1815-1854) would become physician at the Philadelphia almshouse, and he spent his relatively brief life active agitating against capital punishment; he here writes as one of the corresponding secretaries of the recently-formed Society for the Abolition of Capital Punishment to a physician in Bucks County to urge him to convene meetings of local citizens to put pressure on legislators to advance the bill introduced by Philadelphia representative Thomas Tustin. Pennsylvania had at least pioneered the abolition of public executions in 1834; the efforts to outlaw capital punishment in the commonwealth remain unrealized.