16 Pro Death Penalty Quotes by Presidents of the U.S.A

“I don’t think you should support the death penalty to seek revenge. I don’t think that’s right. I think the reason to support the death penalty is because it saves other people’s lives.”

“I support the death penalty because I believe, if administered swiftly and justly, capital punishment is a deterrent against future violence and will save other innocent lives."

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) served as the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 and the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions. ("Excerpts of a Speech by Governor Ronald Reagan, Republican National Convention, Platform Committee Meeting, Miami, Florida," July 31, 1968)

Americans "[…]Are not going to tolerate intimidation, terror and outright acts of war against this nation and its people. And we are especially not going to tolerate these attacks from outlaw states run by the strangest collection of misfits, Looney Tunes and squalid criminals since the advent of the Third Reich […] There can be no place on earth where it is safe for these monsters to rest,or train or practice their cruel and deadly. We must act together – or unilateraly, if necessary – to ensue that these terrorists have no sanctuary, anywhere." (A speech to the American Bar Association after the TWA Flight 847 hijacking. James Bovard, Terrorism and Tyranny, page 23)


President Ronald Reagan proclaimed April 19, 1981, as part of Victims’ Rights Week, "For too long, the victims of crime have been the forgotten persons of our criminal justice system."

In 1982, Reagan established the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime, which reported, "The victims of crime have been transformed into a group oppressively burdened by a system designed to protect them."


"Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose."       

We Americans are slow to anger. We always seek peaceful avenues before resorting to the use of force -- and we did. We tried quiet diplomacy, public condemnation, economic sanctions, and demonstrations of military force. None succeeded. Despite our repeated warnings, Qadhafi continued his reckless policy of intimidation, his relentless pursuit of terror. He counted on America to be passive. He counted wrong. I warned that there should be no place on Earth where terrorists can rest and train and practice their deadly skills. I meant it. I said that we would act with others, if possible, and alone if necessary to ensure that terrorists have no sanctuary anywhere. Tonight, we have. (Address to the Nation on the United States Air Strike Against Libya April 14, 1986)

After a highly publicized execution, Reagan received a letter that began, "Governor thanks for saving my life." The rest of the letter, Reagan recalled went something like this: "I run a liquor store. Last week, a thug broke in. He intended to rob us, but I resisted him. He wrestled me to the floor and poised his knife above my throat. I shouted out, 'Go ahead and kill me! You'll get the death penalty and be executed, just like the guy last week.' "

The letter continued, "He dropped the knife and ran from the store. Thank you, Governor. Your fortitude and resolve saved my life."

Reagan added, "In case anybody asks you about my position on capital punishment, you can tell them I favor it; and if they want to know why, you can tell them this story." In the end, capital punishment saves lives. [Source: Lessons From a Father to His Son, by John Ashcroftp.138-139 , May 5, 1998]

Reagan had faced the dilemma [of a governor's role in capital punishment] while serving as governor of California, Reagan recalled the demonstrators who regularly paraded in front of the governor's mansion. With a slight chuckle, the president mentioned how some Christian ministers began tolling their bells in anticipation of the execution. "I told them, 'If you toll your bells every time somebody is murdered, I won't mind if you do it every time the state executes a killer." [Focus on murder victims while considering capital punishment (Source: Lessons From a Father to His Son, by John Ashcroft p.138-139 , May 5, 1998)]

Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911 – June 5, 2004) was the 40th President of the United States (1981–1989), the 33rd Governor of California (1967–1975), and prior to that, a radio, film and television actor. Reagan was born in Tampico in Whiteside County, Illinois, reared in Dixon in Lee County, Illinois, and educated at Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and sociology. Upon his graduation, Reagan first moved to Iowa to work as a radio broadcaster and then in 1937 to Los Angeles, California. He began a career as an actor, first in films and later television, appearing in over 50 movie productions and earning enough success to become a famous, publicly recognized figure. Some of his most notable roles are in Knute Rockne, All American and Kings Row. Reagan served as president of the Screen Actors Guild, and later spokesman for General Electric; his start in politics occurred during his work for GE. Originally a member of the Democratic Party, he switched to the Republican Party in 1962. After delivering a rousing speech in support of Barry Goldwater's presidential candidacy in 1964, he was persuaded to seek the California governorship, winning two years later and again in 1970. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election, defeating incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980. As president, Reagan implemented sweeping new political and economic initiatives. His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics", advocated reducing tax rates to spur economic growth, controlling the money supply to reduce inflation, deregulation of the economy, and reducing government spending. In his first term he survived an assassination attempt, took a hard line against labor unions, and ordered an invasion of Grenada. He was reelected in a landslide in 1984, proclaiming that it was "Morning in America". His second term was primarily marked by foreign matters, such as the ending of the Cold War, the 1986 bombing of Libya, and the revelation of the Iran-Contra affair. Publicly describing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire", he supported anti-communist movements worldwide and spent his first term forgoing the strategy of détente by ordering a massive military buildup in an arms race with the USSR. Reagan negotiated with General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev, culminating in the INF Treaty and the decrease of both countries' nuclear arsenals. Reagan left office in 1989. In 1994, the former president disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease earlier in the year; he died ten years later at the age of 93. Although a polarizing figure to some on the American left, he often ranks highly in public opinion polls of U.S. Presidents. Moreover, as a popular conservative icon, he is credited for generating an ideological renaissance on the American political right.

Letter to Henry L Pierce and others (6 April 1859):

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it.”


Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) served as the 16th President of the United States from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, preserving the Union, ending slavery, and rededicating the nation to nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, he was mostly self-educated and became a country lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives, but failed in two attempts at a seat in the United States Senate. He was an affectionate, though often absent, husband, and father of four children.
“As regards capital cases, the trouble is that emotional men and women always see only the individual whose fate is up at the moment, and neither his victim nor the many millions of unknown individuals who would in the long run be harmed by what they ask. Moreover, almost any criminal, however brutal, has usually some person, often a person whom he has greatly wronged, who will plead for him. If the mother is alive she will always come, and she cannot help feeling that the case in which she is so concerned is peculiar, that in this case a pardon should be granted. It was really heartrending to have to see the kinfolk and friends of murderers who were condemned to death, and among the very rare occasions when anything governmental or official caused me to lose sleep were times when I had to listen to some poor mother making a plea for a criminal so wicked, so utterly brutal and depraved, that it would have been a crime on my part to remit his punishment.”
"The pacifist is as surely a traitor to his country and to humanity as is the most brutal wrongdoer."
Theodore Roosevelt (October 27, 1858 – January 6, 1919) was the 26th President of the United States.

“I support the death penalty. I think that it has to be administered not only fairly, with attention to things like DNA evidence, which I think should be used in all capital cases, but also with very careful attention. If the wrong guy is put to death, then that’s a double tragedy. Not only has an innocent person been executed but the real perpetrator of the crime has not been held accountable for it, and in some cases may be still at large. But I support the death penalty in the most heinous cases.”

Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. (born March 31, 1948) served as the 45th Vice President of the United States from 1993 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election. Gore is currently an author, businessperson, and environmental activist.

In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. - Madison, et al., The Federalist Papers No. 51, (Rossiter ed., Kesler intr., Mentor Books 1999) p. 290 [originally published in 1788].

James Madison, Jr. (March 16, 1751– June 28, 1836) was the fourth President of the United States. He is widely regarded as the “Father of the Constitution” and the author of the Bill of Rights. He has been called the chief architect of the most important political experiment in human history. As with Thomas Jefferson, his most significant contributions to American history came before his presidency. The United States Constitution is the world’s oldest written constitution, and is considered to be the most important document ever written in the history of freedom. The Constitution has been a model for other constitutions around the world ever since, and many of them read remarkably like America’s Constitution. Madison wrote over a third of the Federalist Papers, which was a series of 85 newspaper articles, which were published throughout the 13 states, and explained to the public how the proposed Constitution would work. Thomas Jefferson referred to the Federalist Papers as “the best commentary on the principles of government, which ever was written”. They are still the primary source today for jurists and legal scholars interested in the original understanding of the Constitution. Madison served in the first Congress under the new Constitution, and was considered to be the expert on the Constitution. George Washington frequently sought out Madison’s advice on the Constitution and matters of precedent. As Jefferson’s Secretary of State (1801–1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the nation’s size. As president, after the failure of diplomatic protests and an embargo, he led the nation into the War of 1812, in response to England’s impressment of American seamen. Despite going up against a superpower of the day (England), and being a young nation without much of a military, America did better than might have been expected in this war. Despite the American Revolution, England had been treating America as if it were still a colony. After successfully standing up to England, in this war, which has been called a second war for independence, celebrations resounded throughout America. Americans felt that their nationhood and honor had been vindicated, and a new era of growth, trade and prosperity began.Madison's most distinctive belief as a political theorist was the principle of divided power. Madison believed that "parchment barriers" were not sufficient to protect the rights of citizens. Power must be divided, both between federal and state governments (federalism), and within the federal government (checks and balances) to protect individual rights from the tyranny of the majority. Although blocked by his foes from the Senate he became a leader in the new House of Representatives, drafting many basic laws. In one of his most famous roles he drafted the first ten amendments to the Constitution and thus is known as the "Father of the Bill of Rights". Madison worked closely with the President George Washington to organize the new federal government. Breaking with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton in 1791, Madison and Thomas Jefferson organized what they called the Republican Party (later called by historians the Democratic-Republican Party) in opposition to key policies of the Federalists, especially the national bank and the Jay Treaty. He co-authored, along with Thomas Jefferson, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions in 1798 to protest the Alien and Sedition Acts.
“I think people would be alive today if there were a death penalty.”
Nancy Davis Reagan (born Anne Frances Robbins on July 6, 1921) is the widow of former United States President Ronald Reagan and served as an influential First Lady of the United States from 1981 to 1989.