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As Alexander Hamilton observed, "[I]t is easy for men … The Court in Calder ruled that the Connecticut resolution did not constitute an ex post facto law because it did not affect a vested property right. However, in 1854, faced with another opportunity to define ex post facto, the Court retreated from Fletcher and limited the prohibition to retroactively applied criminal laws (Carpenter v. Since the Carpenter ruling, the Supreme Court has struck down some retroactive civil laws, but only those intended to have a punitive intent.
to be zealous advocates for the rights of the citizens when they are invaded by others, and as soon as they have it in their power, to become the invaders themselves." The desire to thwart abuses of power also inspired the Framers of the Constitution to prohibit bills of attainder, which are laws that inflict punishment on named individuals or on easily ascertainable members of a group without the benefit of a trial. In other words, no one had complete ownership of the property in the will, so depriving persons of the property did not violate the ex post facto clause. This construction of the Ex Post Facto Clause has done little more than raise another question: What is punitive intent?
The first recorded execution in the new colonies was that of Captain George Kendall in the Jamestown colony of Virginia in 1608. In 1612, Virginia Governor Sir Thomas Dale enacted the Divine, Moral and Martial Laws, which provided the death penalty for even minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens, and trading with Indians.
The first established death penalty laws date as far back as the Eighteenth Century B. in the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon, which codified the death penalty for 25 different crimes.