January 5 – Happy Birthday Marvin Bovee


$_35Here’s a few excerpts from my story about this Amsterdam-born anti-capital punishment crusader which appears in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order a copy, click here.

Marvin Bovee was born on January 5, 1827 into one of Amsterdam, New York’s earliest and most politically prominent families. His father was Matthias Bovee who had been elected to Congress as Amsterdam’s representative in 1834. His Uncle Benedict Arnold (no not that Benedict Arnold) had held the same Congressional seat eight years earlier. When Bovee turned sixteen, his father decided to move the family westward to Wisconsin …

…Marvin Bovee, who was a devout Christian, led the successful fight in the state Senate to outlaw capital punishment. The bill then cleared the state House and was signed into law by the governor. Bovee then became obsessed with getting the death penalty universally abolished. He wrote a book condemning the practice and began a lifelong crusade devoted to eradicating its use.  …

…He made over 100 such speeches throughout Indiana, Ohio, New York and New Jersey on behalf of Grover Cleveland during his first campaign for the White House…


One thought on “January 5 – Happy Birthday Marvin Bovee

  1. He is actually my great great great uncle. My dad, Mark Bedard Bovee(6-4-41), is the son of Marvin Burleigh Bovee(3-31-1897) who is the great nephew of Marvin Bovee, the man who wanted to abolish capital punishment. And what i found interesting is that while i am all for finding, arresting and prosecuting the ones responsible for terrible acts of violence, the act of killing them never set well with me.
    Noticing this pretty clear and fairly strong feeling made me sit and analyze what it’s all about. It did not take me long to mathematically look at the statistical fact that all jails and all prisons have people in them who, for whatever reason, are there by way of “framing” “mistaken identity”, “wrong-place wrong-time“, “some beef” or whatever, IT HAPPENS, and not so rarely! And it is bad enough to have an innocent man rot away, unable to enjoy the freedom he never should have lost…But it is quite another to kill him systematically. And that was the easy reason for my being strongly opposed to capital punishment. Plus the purpose of the prison is to separate the innocent from the criminals, and capital punishment doesn’t add to that because they have already been removed from the playing field. Point being that the public is no more or less safe whether the convicted prisoner is killed or not, so err on the right side.
    This is the real world breakdown:
    You are risking the killing of an innocent person in trade for implementing one’s perceived proper “justice”, when no one is safer by doing so(of course this does not account for someone breaking out of prison successfully and seeking immediate revenge on someone)
    So no one is safer, but we just wanna kill them because we will feel like ”all is right in the world now”. But that “feeling of justice” comes with such a heavy toll, a toll that falls WAY WAY short of justifiable, which is the inevitability that an innocent person will be executed for a crime they did not commit, plain and simple!!! The upside versus downside is glaringly obvious, in my opinion!!


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