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Colonial New York and Connecticut History Questions

Colonial New York and Connecticut History Questions


Read the following two primary sources: “The Duke’s Laws in New York” (1664) and “Capital Laws of Connecticut” (1642), revealing aspects of governing and administering law, but also providing a glimpse into societal values of colonial America. When you feel you have comprehended the various laws, answer the following questions with insight and clarity. Each question should be answered within two-three solid well-developed paragraphs

.1. Give your assessment as to the kind of societies these laws wish to create in colonial New York and Connecticut. In other words, what do you believe is the underlying purpose of the law codes? Create a godly society? Foster extreme state order? Protect the weak against the strong? Obliterate the line between public and private? Take any of these positions or argue your own with sufficient evidence and support from the documents.

2. Both law codes list many offenses that warrant the death penalty. You’ll notice that some are strikingly similar between the two codes since many of these laws are based on biblical scriptures. These capital offenses include felonious criminal acts and moral transgressions. Which of these offenses strike you as intriguing, perplexing, or maybe even cruel and amusing? In addition, how do these capital crimes gives us a glimpse into what is revered or valued in New York and Connecticut?

3. In your opinion, do these law codes show any room for mercy, compassion or extenuating circumstances for the accused? If so what examples could you provide? Or do you believe the law codes are exceedingly strict, exacting and unmerciful? Support your view with examples from the documents.

4. Based upon the few times they are mentioned in these documents, do you believe women and children are treated fairly or unfairly in these law codes? Do these law codes help, protect or hurt them? Give your best interpretation based on the material found in the documents.

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