Thursday, December 1, 2011

quote of the day: law and labor in early america

Law hung old women in Salem because it was proved, said the courts of law, that they were witches. Law hung the Quakers in Boston, because they wore strait coats and broad brimmed hats. Law whipped the members of the same sect, at the cart tail, from town to town in New Hampshire. Law bared the backs of the Baptists in Boston, and lashed them until the skin was flayed off, because they said 'every man has a right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience;' and law in Connecticut compelled every body to cut their hair in a particular manner and prosecuted men for kissing their wives on the first day of the week. Law laid the stamp tax, and the tea tax, and our fathers resisted those unjust laws even unto blood.... Must we be told to submit in silence to law, merely because it is law, without reference to its constituent principles? No law will ever command the respect of any, not even a slave in every sense, unless that law is just.
From An Address delivered before the Mechanics and Working-Men of the City of Brooklyn, on the Celebration of the Sixtieth Anniversary of American Independence (1836) by Seth Luther, quoted in Tomlins, Law, Labor, and Ideology in Early America.

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