Provisions 1 and 2 presented in Liberties of New Englishmen state that a person cannot be killed and punished in those cases which are regulated by the law. Furthermore, any person, “whether inhabitant or foreigner”, should be treated according to the “same justice and law” (“Liberties of New Englishmen”). Following Provision 43, it is possible to understand what actions can be punished even if a person is a gentleman. Thus, any person can be punished for the crime which is “shameful” (“Liberties of New Englishmen”). However, the cruel bodily punishment is prohibited according to Provision 46. Referring to these provisions, it is possible to state that the authorities in Massachusetts guaranteed the protection from unjust punishment for all persons, including inhabitants and foreigners.
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Nevertheless, these principles work in a specific way while focusing on the issue of slavery. It is stated in Provision 91 that the bond slavery is prohibited, but “lawful captives taken in just wars”, strangers who sell themselves, and sold strangers are slaves, and slavery is a kind of punishment for these persons (“Liberties of New Englishmen”). That is why, the colonists promised “the liberties and Christian usages” to slaves as to any other criminals. While those bought, sold, and traded slaves had no rights, except the guarantee of the Christian attitude, servants were provided with limited rights according to Provisions 85-88. Servants were also bought and sold, but they could avoid the masters’ cruelty according to Provisions 85-88 and receive some revenue for their services. A difference between a servant and a slave is only in the opportunity to receive some benefits for the faithful service and become protected from the masters’ uncontrolled tyranny. Although foreigners also could not be punished, slaves as foreigners did no receive such rights because of being captured as ‘criminals’.
Liberties of New Englishmen. 2012. Web.