Chapter Five
THE LEGAL SYSTEM

The organization of power in a small community is more likely to be visibly statist, if not materially, than in a government over a large territory and population. The smaller the community the more centralized the power structure: the mitigating forces of federal distribution of power, separation of powers among the agencies of government, and checks and balances are at a minimum. In Plymouth Colony, all power was derived from the center. This is perhaps best evidenced by the legal system, which, in the formulation and administration of law, was thoroughly statistic. Yet, what is intriguing, is that we also find the ennoblement of the individual. Such a contradictory development could only be possible in a little colony, compact and poor but whose citizens were imbued with the ideals of individual dignity and equality.

Statism is best measured by the status of individual freedom, which is bound to be encompassed by enlightened authoritarianism in a small as well as in the large state. The types of law and courts, the procedural and substantive guarantees of the individual when confronted by the authority of the state, and

-70-

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Statism in Plymouth Colony
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Chapter One - Community 3
  • Chapter Two - Democracy 18
  • Chapter Three - Mercantilism 36
  • Chapter Four - The Religious Corporation 52
  • Chapter Five - The Legal System 70
  • Chapter Six - Moral and Sumptuary Law 91
  • Chapter Seven - Dissent 108
  • Chapter Eight - Militarism 128
  • Chapter Nine - Territorial Imperative 148
  • Abbreviation in Notes 169
  • Selected Bibliography 170
  • Index 188
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