"The General Court and death penalty" Top 5 Page for this destination Williamsburg Things to Do Tip by matcrazy1

Williamsburg Things to Do: 366 reviews and 607 photos

by matcrazy1

The guided tour inside Williamsbur's Capitol started from large and dark chamber in the western wing of the ground floor. It housed the General Court of British colonial Virginia. We were asked to sit down on numerous benches and our guide started to share a lot of information on the Capitol and the room.

The General Court or in fact the Supreme Court met with regular sessions in the spring and fall and dealt with all most serious crimes involving white men. Slaves were dealt with in the local courts. The court was called the "hanging court" because most felonies were hanging offences.

The death penalty has almost always been a feature of the criminal justice system, first in the American colonies and then, after independence, in the USA. Executions in the late eighteenth century were a popular public spectacle which attracted people coming from distant places to witness the hanging.

In 1612, Virginia Governor Sir Thomas Dale enacted the Divine, Moral and Martial Laws, which provided the death penalty for even minor offenses such as stealing grapes, killing chickens and trading with Indians. The number of crimes that constituted "capital crimes" was decreased in the USA in 1790s. 19th century brought the end of pulic executions.

Address: Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg, VA 23187
Directions: At the eastern end of the main avenue (Duke of Gloucester Street), approx. 0.8 mi east of the Bruton Church. From the Visitors Center take a blue line shuttle bus and take off on the second bus stop.
othercontact: +1 (800) 761-8331
Phone: +1 (757) 229-1000
Website: http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/Almanack/places/hb/hbcap.cfm

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 27, 2004
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