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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > An American Time Capsule

[Detail] Millions of acres, Iowa and Nebraska, 1872

Historical Analysis and Interpretation

One of the earliest documents in the collection is "The Capitall Lawes of New-England" published in 1643 and including such laws as the following:

"1. If any man after legall conviction, shall have or worship any other God, but the Lord God, he shall be put to death. Deut. 13. 6, &c. and 17. 2 &c. Exodus 22. 20.

2. If any man or woman be a Witch, that is, hath or consulteth with a familiar spirit, they shall be put to death. Exod. 22. 18, Lev. 20.27. Deut. 18.10, 11. ... (1)"

Read the listing of laws and identify the most important influence on the laws of New-England in the seventeenth century. What is the evidence of this influence? Can you find any evidence in other sources that this factor still influences laws today?

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