Colonial Law was based on two main influences - the English law and culture at the time, and the religious beliefs of the colonists. Many sources of law in England influenced Colonial Law, such as the Magna Carta, Petition of Right, and English Bill of Rights. All of these laws in England guaranteed certain rights and freedoms to the people, and defined their culture.

The governor of the Jamestown, Virginia colony Sir Thomas Dale arrived in 1611, and brought with him a new set of laws that would set precedent in the colonies. The laws were termed "Divine, Morall, and Martial" because they applied to all aspects of life. It assigned specific duties to all residents of the colonies, and punished severly those who did not comply. This set a precedent for the culture of the colonies.

The colonists that settled in New England were mostly Pilgrims or Puritans who believed in "purifying" the Anglican church. The first Pilgrim laws were in the Mayflower Compact, the first written colonial plan of 1620. The Pilgrims decided to choose their own leaders and make their own laws. The Mayflower Compact stated that they would "(pledge) and combine (themselves) together into a Body Politick, for (their) better Ordering and Preservation and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid..." This was the first set of laws that colonists used, and it broke from England in that the colonists wanted to govern themselves.

The Puritans began settling in 1629, and in 1636 created a system of laws called the Great Fundamentals. In 1639, Puritans in Connecticut created the first constitution called the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. It was based on the Massachusetts laws, but allowed non-church-members the right to vote. This was a key difference because it had less of a religious influence than the Puritan laws of Massachusetts. Both the Rhode Island and Connecticut charters were so democratic that they continued to serve as state constitutions after the formation of the United States.

Blue laws are laws that are still in effect that have their origins in these colonial systems of law. Because many of these colonial laws were based on the religious beliefs of the Puritans or other groups, those beliefs carry into our modern legal system. In some parts of the country, businesses are not allowed to be open on Sunday because it is the Sabbath; only drugstores and certain other businesses are exceptions because they provide necessary medical supplies and other vital things. That is why drugstores carry milk and other convenience items - they can be open on Sunday when many other stores are not.

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