Crime And Punishment in America (American Experience) by David Wolcott, Tom Head

By David Wolcott, Tom Head

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1670 • September 5: Future Pennsylvania governor William Penn is acquitted in London on charges of disturbing the peace. He had been arrested for meeting with other Quakers, a persecuted group in England at the time. 1674 • November 10: In the Treaty of Westminster, the Netherlands officially cedes New Netherland (now New York and New Jersey) to England. 1681 • April 2: The colony of Pennsylvania is founded. 1689 • May 24: The English Toleration Act is passed, promoting religious toleration in England and the colonies.

There were no prohibitions against general warrants nor against cruel and unusual punishment, no statements granting right to counsel, and none of the other protections that had gradually evolved during the state-by-state constitutional convention process. George Mason, the author of the original Virginia Declaration of Rights, refused to support the finished Constitution—as did many other veterans of the American Revolution. 10 North Carolina and Rhode Island still declined to ratify the Constitution.

Master Ambros Marten, for calling the church covenant a stinking carrion and a human invention, and saying he wondered at God’s patience, feared it would end in the sharp and said the ministers did dethrone Christ, and set up themselves: he was fined 10 pounds, and counseled to go to Master [Richard] Mather to be instructed by him. An account of a 1639 trial in colonial Massachusetts, quoted in Powers, Crime and Punishment in Early Massachusetts, p. 204. At this court one Margaret Jones of Charlestown was indicted and found guilty of witchcraft, and hanged for it.

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