Front Page Titles (by Subject) 48: Capitall Lawes of Connecticut, Established by the Generall Court the First of December, 1642 - Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History
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48: Capitall Lawes of Connecticut, Established by the Generall Court the First of December, 1642 - Donald S. Lutz, Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History 
Colonial Origins of the American Constitution: A Documentary History, ed. Donald S. Lutz (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1998).
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Capitall Lawes of Connecticut, Established by the Generall Court the First of December, 1642
The text is taken from The Blue Laws of New Haven Colony, compiled by “An Antiquarian” (Hartford: Case, Tiffany & Co., 1838), 102–4. The spelling is the original.
The text is a portion of a longer ordinance passed on that day by the legislature. This document should be compared with the equivalent section in The Massachusetts Body of Liberties . To some people today these lists of capital laws look harsh. Colonial codes of law, however, usually had such lists, and they are important for several reasons. For one thing, they expressed fundamental values. It is worth knowing that blasphemy was considered a more serious crime than theft. For another thing, in Britain theft could, at that time, be punishable by death, whereas in Connecticut it could not. The list of crimes for which one could possibly be put to death in the mother country was extremely long, so colonial lists are a radical departure from the common law. This attitude was not only in accord with Christian redemptive theology but also was prudent in the colonies, where putting people to death for common crimes made no sense given the serious, chronic shortage of labor. Finally, these lists are part of what today we might consider bills of rights. The death penalty was severely limited in scope, and everyone knew the limits. Also, the person had to be properly convicted in court, which probably explains why the death penalty was rarely used in colonial America. Instead, blasphemers, for example, were likely to be told to leave town permanently. The infamous witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts, occurred in large part because normal government, including the regular court system, had broken down. When effective government was restored the “trials” stopped overnight.
1. Yf any man after legall conviction, shall have or worship any other God but the Lord God, he shall be put to death. Deu. 13; 6, and 17. 2 Ex. 22; 20.
2. Yf any man or woman be a Witch, (that is) hath or consulteth w’th a familliar spirit, they shall be put to death. Ex. 22; 18. Lev. 20; 27. Deu. 18; 10, 11.
3. If any p’son shall blaspheme the name of God the ffather, Son or Holy Goste w’th direct, expres pr’sumptuous or highanded blasphemy, or shall curse God in the like manner, he shall be put to death. Lev. 24; 15, 16.
4. Yf any p’son shall comitt any willfull murther, w’ch is manslaughter comitted vppon mallice, hatred or cruelty, not in a mans necessary and just defence, nor by mere casualty against his will, he shall be put to death. Ex. 21; 12, 13, 14. Num. 35; 30, 31.
5. Yf any person shall slay another through guile, ether by poysonings or other such Devlish (devilish) practices, he shall be put to death. Ex. 21; 14.
6. Yf any man or woman shall ly w’th any Beast or brut creature by carnall copulation, they shall surely be put to death, and the Beast shall be slayne and buried. Lev. 20; 15, 16.
7. Yf any man lye w’th mankind as he lyeth w’th a woman, both of them have comitted abomination, they both shall surely be put to Death. Lev. 20; 13.
8. Yf any p’son comiteth Adultery w’th a married or espoused wife, the Adulterer and the Adulteres shall surely be put to Death. Lev. 20; 10 and 18, 20. Deu. 22; 23, 24.
9. Yf any man shall forcibly and w’thout consent rauishe any mayd or Woman that is lawfull married or contracted, he shall be put to Death. Deu. 22; 25.
10. Yf any man stealeth a man or mankind, he shall be put to Death. Ex. 21; 16.
11. Yf any man rise vp by false witness, wittingly and of purpose to take away any man’s life, he shall be put to Death. Deu 19; 16, 18, 19.
12. Yf any man shall conspire or attempte any Inuasion, Insurrection or Rebellion against the comonwelth, he shall be put to Deth.
13. Yf any childe or children aboue sixteene yeers old, and of sufficient understanding, shall curse or smite their natural father or mother, hee or they shall bee put to Death; unlesse it can bee sufficiently testified that the parents have been very vnchristianly negligent in the education of such children, or so provoake them by extreme and cruel correction that they have beene foreced thereunto to preserve themselues from Death or maiming. Ex. 21; 17. Lev. 20. Ex. 20; 15.
14. Yf any man have a stubborne and rebellious sonne, of sufficient yeares and vnderstanding, viz., sixteene yeares of age, which will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and that when they haue chastened him, will not hearken vnto them; then may his father and mother, being his naturall parents, lay hold on him and bring him to the Magestrates assembled in courte, and testify vnto them, that theire sonne is stubborne and rebellious, and will not obey their voyce and chastisement, but lives in sundry notorious crimes, such a sonne shall bee put to Death. Deu. 21; 20, 21.