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The Trial and Execution, for Petit Treason, of Mark and Phillis, Slaves of Capt. John Codman   By: (1831-1914)

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In "The Trial and Execution of Mark and Phillis, Slaves of Capt. John Codman," Abner Cheney Goodell delves into a long-forgotten chapter of American history. By examining the true story of the trial and subsequent execution of two enslaved individuals, Goodell provides a thought-provoking and somber account of the injustices committed against African Americans during the Colonial era.

The book meticulously reconstructs the events surrounding the murder of Captain John Codman in 1755 and the subsequent legal proceedings that followed. Goodell's attention to detail is commendable, as he skillfully weaves together primary documents and testimonies to present an accurate and captivating narrative. Through these sources, we gain insights into the lives of Mark and Phillis, two individuals who were cruelly caught up in the web of slavery and the judicial system.

One of the book's strengths lies in its exploration of the legal aspects of the trial. Goodell illustrates the disparities between the trial processes of enslaved individuals and their white counterparts, shedding light on the deeply ingrained racism of the time. The author also raises important questions about the legitimacy of the evidence presented, as well as the motives of those involved in the prosecution. By doing so, he challenges readers to reflect on the integrity of the justice system and its inherent biases.

Goodell's narrative is not solely focused on the legal aspects of the case. He also delves into the social and cultural dynamics of Colonial America, offering readers a comprehensive understanding of the broader context in which these events unfolded. Through his writing, he paints a vivid picture of the geographical, political, and racial landscape of the time, allowing readers to grasp the powerful forces that shaped the lives of Mark and Phillis.

However, it is important to note that Goodell's work is not without its flaws. At times, the author's prose can become dense and overly academic, potentially alienating readers less familiar with historical texts. Additionally, some readers may find the book's reliance on primary sources and legal documents somewhat repetitive, seeking a more cohesive and narrative-driven approach instead.

Overall, "The Trial and Execution of Mark and Phillis, Slaves of Capt. John Codman" is a valuable contribution to the field of American history. Goodell's meticulous research and comprehensive analysis shed light on a little-known aspect of our nation's past while highlighting the profound injustices inflicted upon enslaved individuals. Through captivating storytelling and scholarly examination, the author offers a compelling account that demands attention and reflection.

First Page:

[Transcriber's Note: This e book contains extensive passages from 18th Century documents. Spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, and capitalization are preserved as they appear in the original (including "goal" for "gaol"). Superscripts are rendered as normal letters. Macrons over consonants are rendered in brackets with an equal sign, e.g., [=c].]

THE

TRIAL AND EXECUTION,

FOR PETIT TREASON,

OF

MARK AND PHILLIS,

SLAVES OF CAPT. JOHN CODMAN,

WHO MURDERED THEIR MASTER AT CHARLESTOWN, MASS., IN 1755; FOR WHICH THE MAN WAS HANGED AND GIBBETED, AND THE WOMAN WAS BURNED TO DEATH.

INCLUDING, ALSO,

SOME ACCOUNT OF OTHER PUNISHMENTS BY BURNING IN MASSACHUSETTS.

BY

ABNER CHENEY GOODELL, JR.

CAMBRIDGE: JOHN WILSON AND SON. University Press. 1883.

[200 copies printed.]

THE TRIAL AND EXECUTION

OF

MARK AND PHILLIS,

IN 1755.

[The following pages are, with slight changes, a reprint from the Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, of a paper read before that Society, March 8, 1883, in answer to a question propounded at a previous meeting, relative to the authenticity of the tradition that a woman was burned to death in Massachusetts in the year 1755. As this case is the only known instance of the infliction of the common law penalty for petit treason, in New England, and is not known to have been elsewhere reported, the printers have, at the author's request, struck off, in pamphlet form, a limited number of impressions for the use of persons interested in the history of our criminal jurisprudence, who may not have convenient access to the serial from which it is taken, or who may desire to preserve it separately... Continue reading book >>




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