Massachusetts Body of Liberties

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MASSACHUSETTS BODY OF LIBERTIES. To curb the power of the magistrates, deputies in the Massachusetts General Court agitated for a code of laws. In November 1639 a committee adopted a code presented by Nathaniel Ward, formerly an English lawyer. The General Court submitted it to the towns for review, then shortened and adapted the code, which was adopted as law in 1641. Similar to bills of rights and based largely on English common law, the Massachusetts Body of Liberties invested the magistrates with considerable authority. Therefore, after a probationary period of three years, deputies replaced the code with The Book of the General Lawes and Libertyes.


Dufour, Ronald P. Modernization in Colonial Massachusetts,16301763. New York: Garland, 1987.

Kammen, Michael G., ed. Politics and Society in Colonial America:Democracy or Deference? New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1967; Huntington, N.Y.: Krieger, 1978.

Raymond P.Stearns/s. b.x

See alsoAssemblies, Colonial ; Colonial Councils ; General Court, Colonial .

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Massachusetts Body of Liberties

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Massachusetts Body of Liberties