The Body of Liberties of the Massachusetts Colony in New England

Excerpts from the Capital Laws*

1641

The free fruition of such liberties Immunities and privileges as humanity, civility, and Christianity call for as due to every man in his place and proportion without impeachment and infringement hath ever been and ever will be the tranquility and stability of churches and commonwealths. And the denial or deprival thereof, the disturbance if not the ruin of both.

We hold it therefore our duty and safety whilst we are about the further establishing of this government to collect and express all such freedoms as for present we foresee may concern us, and our posterity after us, And to ratify them with our solemn consent.

We do therefore this day religiously and unanimously decree and confirm these following rites, liberties and privileges concerning our churches, and civil state to be respectively impartial and inviolably enjoyed and observed throughout our jurisdiction for ever.

1. No mans life shall be taken away, no mans honor or good name shall be stained, no mans person shall be arrested, restrained, banished, dismembered, nor any ways punished, no man shall be deprived of his wife or children, no mans goods or estate shall be taken away from him, nor any way damaged under color of law or countenance of authority, unless it be by virtue or equity of some express law of the country warranting the same, established by a general court and sufficiently published, or in case of the defect of a law in any particular case by the word of God.…

94. Capital Laws.

  1. Deut. 13. 6, 10., Deut. 17. 2, 6., Ex. 22. 20: If any man after legal conviction shall have or worship any other god, but the lord god, he shall be put to death.
  2. Ex. 22. 18, Lev. 20. 27, Dut. 18. 10: If any man or woman be a witch, (that is hath or consulted with a familiar spirit) they shall be put to death.
  3. Lev. 24. 15, 16: If any person shall blaspheme the name of God, the Father, Son or Holy Ghost, with direct, express, presumptuous or high handed blasphemy, or shall curse God in the like manner, he shall be put to death.

* Note: spelling, punctuation, and capitalization have been modernized

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