The General Court of the Plymouth Colony instituted a legal code, the first composed in North America, on October 4, 1636. It guaranteed citizens a trial by jury and stipulated that all laws were to be made with the consent of the freemen of the colony.
The Library’s American Treasures exhibition highlights one of the first published versions of this code, The Book of the General Laws of the Inhabitants of the Jurisdiction of New-Plimouth. This 1685 edition includes a reprint of the first edition, published in 1671, as well as the laws that were enacted between 1671 and 1684.
The Plymouth Colony was founded by Pilgrims, Protestant dissenters from the Church of England who fled their native country in search of religious freedom. After a brief sojourn in Holland, they sailed for North America on the Mayflower arriving at Plymouth Rock in December 1620. The colony, located in the southeastern corner of present day Massachusetts, was soon surpassed in population and wealth by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, centered in Boston.
- Panoramic Photographs includes a series of photographs of Plymouth’s 300th anniversary festivities in 1921. Search the collection on Plymouth Tercentenary to see more images from this series.
- Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920 contains fifteen images related to the New Plymouth colony including several of the tablet rock and a photograph of a painting of pilgrims embarking from Delft-Haven in Holland in 1620.
- Visit Religion and the Founding of the American Republic. This online exhibition explores the role that religion played in the founding of the American colonies and the shaping of early American life and politics.
- Search on the term church in Early Virginia Religious Petitions to see a number of petitions submitted to the legislature of Virginia between 1774 and 1802. These petitions concern such topics as the historic debate over the separation of church and state championed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the rights of dissenters such as Quakers and Baptists, the sale and division of property in the established church, and the dissolution of unpopular vestries.