Chapter Six
MORAL AND SUMPTUARY LAW

A state that promotes fairness and thrift in economic life is likely to express similarly a paternalism in relation to personal conduct.

The Pilgrims, of course, did not invent moral and sumptuary laws; they are as old as human society and reached a wide range in the medieval towns and particularly in the reformed city-states of the Reformation period. The Plymouth settlers were as liberal as any people of their time, and sumptuary legislation affecting manners and customs (for example, the wearing of apparel), as found in Massachusetts and other colonies, was totally absent in Plymouth. Nevertheless, to maintain piety and order and to bring out the greatest good in each person, it was considered necessary to restrict pleasure and wantonness in the lives of individuals.

Discipline over private conduct during the early years was exercised chiefly by the church; but, as church authority waned, not only was responsibility entrusted more to the civil government, but regulations and prosecutions in the area of individual conduct increased. The reasons for the expansion of governmental concern

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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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