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The Common Law of Colonial AmericaVolume I: The Chesapeake and New England 1607-1660$
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William E. Nelson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327281

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327281.001.0001

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The New England Satellites

The New England Satellites

The Common Law of Colonial America

William E. Nelson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Like Massachusetts, the smaller New England colonies of Connecticut, New Haven, Plymouth, and Rhode Island all possessed a distinctively Puritan legal regime. Of course, there were differences among them—differences elaborated in this chapter. Unlike Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Haven, Rhode Island, for example, did not support its churches through taxation, and Plymouth tried, unsuccessfully, to do the same. Nonetheless, as in Massachusetts, the law of God was the foundation of New England law, was judicially enforced, and served to restrain the exercise of power by the strong against the weak. As in Massachusetts, debt collection was never the main stuff of adjudication; more important was building the infrastructure of the interior towns essential for civilized community living.

Keywords:   churches, Connecticut, debt collection, infrastructure, law of God, New Haven, Plymouth, Rhode Island, poor, Puritan

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