Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Early Laws

Marietta Intelligencer, September 5, 1839

I have been interested in looking over an old volume of the Territorial Laws, to notice the provision made by our early rulers for the prevention of certain misdemeanors, which, whether more or less prevalent at that period, are certainly too common at the present day. Whatever might be thought of the expediency of such a law in our times, we can only look back upon it with respect for those who were its authors. A more strict regard to its injunctions would be attended with positive good to this generation.     D.

The following is an extract from "A Law respecting Crimes and Punishments, published by his Excellency, Arthur St. Clair, Esquire, Governour, and the Honourable Samuel Holden Parsons, and James Mitchell Varnum, Esquires, Judges of the Territory of the United States northwest of the river Ohio, at the city of Marietta, the sixth day of September, in the thirteenth year of the Independence of the United States, and of our Lord on thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight."

Drunkenness

If any person shall be convicted of drunkenness before one or more Justices of the Peace, the person so convicted shall be fined for the first offence in the sum of five dimes, and for every succeeding offence, and upon conviction, in the sum of one dollar; and in either case, upon the offender's neglecting or refusing to pay the fine, he shall be set in the stocks for the space of one hour. Provided, however, that complaint be made to the justice or justices within two days next after the offence shall have been committed.

Improper and Profane Language

Wherever idle, vain and obscene conversation, profane cursing and swearing, and more especially the irreverently mentioning, calling upon, or invoking the sacred and Supreme Being, by any of the divine characters in which he hath graciously condescended to reveal his infinitely beneficent purposes to mankind, are repugnant to every moral sentiment, subversive to every civil obligation, inconsistent with the ornaments of polished life, and abhorrent to the principles of the most benevolent religion. It is expected, therefore, if crimes of this kind should exist, they will not find encouragement, countenance, or approbation in this territory. It is strictly enjoined upon all officers and ministers of justice upon parents, and others, heads of families, and upon others of every description, that they abstain from practices so vile and irrational; and that by example and precept to the utmost of their power, they prevent the necessity of adopting and publishing laws, with penalties upon this head. And it is hereby declared that government will consider as unworthy its confidence all those who may obstinately violate these injunctions.

First Day of the Week

Whereas, mankind in every stage of informed society, have consecrated certain portions of time to the particular cultivation of the social virtues, and the public adoration and worship of the common parent of the universe; and whereas a practice so rational in itself and conformable to the divine precepts is greatly conducive to civilization as well as morality and piety; and whereas for the advancement of such important and interesting purposes, most of the christian world have set apart the first day of the week as a day of rest from common labours and pursuits; it is therefore enjoined that all servile labour, works of necessity and charity only excepted, be wholly abstained from on said day."