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[123]

Upon this petition the General Court passed the following order, eminently worthy of men professing to rule in the fear and according to the law of God,—--a terror to evil-doers, and a praise to them that do well:—

‘The General Court, conceiving themselves bound by the first opportunity to bear witness against the heinous and crying sin of man-stealing, as also to prescribe such timely redress for what has passed, and such a law for the future as may sufficiently deter all others belonging to us to have to do in such vile and odious courses, justly abhorred of all good and just men, do order that the negro interpreter, and others unlawfully taken, be by the first opportunity, at the charge of the country for the present, sent to his native country, Guinea, and a letter with him of the indignation of the Court thereabout, and justice thereof, desiring our honored Governor would please put this order in execution.’

There is, so far as we know, no historical record of the actual return of these stolen men to their home. A letter is extant, however, addressed in behalf of the General Court to a Mr. Williams on the Piscataqua, by whom one of the negroes had been purchased, requesting him to send the man forthwith to Boston, that he may be sent home, ‘which this Court do resolve to send back without delay.’

Three years after, in 1649, the following law was placed upon the statute-book of the Massachusetts Colony:—

‘If any man stealeth a man, or mankind, he shall surely be put to death.’

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