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such punishment as the Court shall think meet to inflict.” And although church-membership was never made a legal requisite to citizenship in the Plymouth Colony, yet indirectly the same thing was secured another way. The church governed the state. There was an established religion, which is the first condition and the inevitable precursor of persecution. Even the Separatists from Leyden brought over with them and planted in the soil of New Plymouth the seeds which afterwards bore a bitter harvest. Yet from the first we shall find a more tolerant spirit pervading its history than was true of Massachusetts. The Pilgrims were at a wider remove both historically and in spirit from the old persecuting church. In the year 1646, three years after the Confederation, at a meeting of the General Commissioners (two each from the four colonies represented), it was recommended
That Anabaptism, Familism, Antinomianism, generally all errors of like nature which undermine ... the Scriptures, ... and bring in unwarrantable revelations, inventions of men, or any carnal liberty, under a deceitful color of liberty of conscience, may be seasonably . . . suppressed, though they wish as much forbearance and respect may be had of tender consciences seeking light, as may stand with the purity of religion and peace of the churches.
Here it is added in parenthesis (“The Commissioners of Plymouth desire further consideration concerning this advice given to the General Courts"). Thus we see the more tolerant Plymouth shrinking from the severe measure approved by the other colonies.
The Baptists first came into collision with the Plymouth government about 1650. They were Separates in fact-a name familiar to the Pilgrims—from a Separate or Independent Church in Rehoboth; and having, as they thought, discovered the new light which Robinson had declared would break forth out of the Word, they had been led to embrace Baptist views, and to submit to what their opponents denominated rebaptism. This proceeding alarmed the churches of the established order, and petitions froin Rehoboth and Taunton, and from the collective ministers of the colony, with two exceptions, were sent to the General Court, urging the suppression of this schism. The General Court of Massachusetts, also, not content with looking after its own heretics, forwarded to their neighbor a letter, in which, after chiding the Plymouth government for having "connived at ” the Anabaptists, and manifested a “patient hearing” with them, it urged prompt and decisive measure to prevent "the infection of such diseases.” When the dissenters were brought before the Court, the Governor, William Bradford, “a person of a well-tempered spirit," and one of the original Pilgrims, charged them to desist from their meetings, and then dismissed them without any punishment! One of the number, Obadiah Holmes, was soon to experience real persecution as a Baptist in the shape of fines, imprisonment, and scourging at the hands of Massachusetts Puritans, as we have already narrated. But no Baptist was ever whipped in the Plymouth Colony for his religious opinions. In 1663 a second attempt to found a Baptist church was made in Rehoboth, several persons separating from the “orthodox” church for that purpose; and it was not till 1667 that they were summoned before the General Court and fined for
establishing public meetings without the knowledge and approbation of the Court, to the disturbance of the peace of the place.” It was suggested to them that their close proximity to the established churches was not agreeable, and a separate township was granted them on condition of their removing thither; and in Swansea, on the border of Rhode Island, they lived without further molestation. And this completes our history of the persecution of Baptists in Plymouth Colony. A refresing contrast with Massachusetts intolerance. While the Baptists of Boston and vicinity were subjected to manifold cruelties, some of their number languishing in prison or hiding theinselves from the constable, their more fortunate brethren in the Pilgrim Colony were enjoying comparative peace, and were even assigned a territory for their habitation. Pray, what harm ever came to Plymouth for her superior tolerance ?
It only remains to consider the treatment of the Quakers in the two colonies. These people first appeared in New England in 1656. The government, both in Massachusetts and Plymouth, set itself instantly in the attitude of bitter intolerance. Massachusetts took the lead, in the year 1656, the General Court urging the General Commissioners to recommend to the several colonies the adoption of severe measures against the Quakers, and itself beginning a course of barbarous legislation, which extended through several years, by imposing a heavy fine for bringing in Quakers, “the cursed sect of hereticks," and ordering that every Quaker who arrived should be sent to the House of Correction, severely whipt and kept at hard labor, no person being allowed to have any intercourse with him; also imposing a fine of five pounds for bringing in, spreading, or concealing Quaker books or “writings concerning their devilish opinions"; a fine of forty shillings for receiving such books or embracing their sentiments, the penalty for the second offence being four pounds; and for further persistence, confinement in the House
of Correction, and banishment. The next year a fine of forty shillings was imposed for every hour's entertainment of a Quaker, and imprisonment till the fine was paid; and any Quaker who came into the jurisdiction was to have one ear cut off and be put to work in the House of Correction, the penalty to be repeated for the second offence. Any Quaker who had before “suffered the law" and returned, was to be severely whipt and sent to the House of Correction, and for the third offence his tongue was to be bored with a hot iron, besides his being imprisoned. The next year a fine of ten shillings was imposed upon any one professing Quakerism, or meeting with the Quakers; for speaking in their meetings a fine of five pounds. A little later it was enacted that every Quaker found within the jurisdiction, and any person who defended Quaker doctrines, was to be committed to prison, and if found guilty, after trial by a special jury, to be banished on pain of death; and every "inhabitant” who should favor Quakers was to be imprisoned for one month and banished on pain of death.
pain of death. In carrying out the sentence of banishment, even women, stripped to the waist, and tied to a cart's tail, were whipped from town to town, and carried two days' journey into the wilderness among wolves and bears. To cap the climax of intolerance, Quakers were hanged in 1659, 1660, and 1661. Governor Endicott was among the most vindictive enemies of these “hereticks," and when in 1661 the Court hesitated to pass sentence of death, he said, “You that will not consent, record it; I thank God I am not afraid to give judgment.” He had previously said to certain Quakers: “Take heed ye break not our ecclesiastical laws, for then ye are sure to stretch by a halter.”
Rev. John Norton, minister at Boston, urged extreme measures against the Quakers. When John Winthrop, Governor of Connecticut, strongly opposed the shedding of blood, which carried much weight with the Massachusetts deputies, Norton encouraged them to decree the death penalty.
The Plymouth Government followed, but haud pari passu, in the same course of persecution. In 1657, it was made a crime to entertain Quakers, or to invite persons to hear them preach. One Quaker was ordered to be whipped and to depart out of the jurisdiction, for saying that the head and knees of one of the magistrates (John Alden) trembled when several of the sect were arraigned before him; and two Quakers, for being “men of a turbulent spirit and forward to abuse men with the tongue,” were whipped. Laws were passed against Quaker meetings, imposing a fine of forty shillings upon each speaker, ten shillings upon each hearer, and forty shillings upon the
owner of the house. Persous becoming Quakers were to be disfranchised. A special marshal was appointed to execute the laws against Quakers. A prominent citizen, for encouraging some of these people to occupy his house, was sentenced to find sureties for his good behavior; another, for entertaining such men and for “ unworthy speeches,” was laid under bonds. Two Quakers who had been whipped, refusing to pay the officer a fee for the lashes he had inflicted, were remanded to prison till they should promise to leave the jurisdiction. Mr. Cudworth, one of the Commissioners of the United Colonies for Plymouth, for refusing to sign their letter to the Governor of Rhode Island, urging him to take measures against the Quakers, was displaced. The next year, Mr. Cudworth and Mr. Hatherly, for opposing the several laws against these people, were dropped from the Board of Assistants, and Mr. Cudworth was removed from his military command. Many Sandwich people, for disapproving of the government proceedings, were summoned to appear before the Court, and fined, and a special order was afterwards issued relating to the town of Sandwich, for having entertained and encouraged Quakers. Laws were also passed against bringing them within the limits. The General Court, moved by the “signes of God's displeasure,” such as “sickness and weakness, and also by letting loose in those freeting gangrene-like doctrines and persons commonly called Quakers," etc., appointed a general day of humiliation. To his credit, be it stated, Mr. Winslow, the Commissioner for Plymouth this year, refused to sign the recommendation of his associates to the General Court, to put Quakers to death.
In 1659 and 1660 it was ordered that certain houses be searched for Quaker papers and writings; that “all Quakers and encouragers of them, and all persons convicted of speaking contemptuously of the laws against Quakers," should lose their freedom. Several Deputies to the Court were rejected because of their tolerant views; Isaac Robinson (son of John) and James Cudworth were dismissed from the civil employment and disfranchised for the same reason. The former, says Freeman, removed to the Cape, to be “among more congenial spirits." It was enacted that every Quaker on his arrival should be committed to jail. Six Quakers were ordered to depart on pain of death. One man, "for rescuing a strange Quaker from the Marshal,” was publicly whipped. More than twenty persons, for being at Quaker meetings, were fined ten shillings each; one person, for entertaining Quakers at his house, four pounds; Quakers were imprisoned, whipped, and sent out of the precincts; the penalty for harboring Quakers was increased to five pounds, and in case of failure to pay, whipping was to be inflicted. It was ordered that all wives, children and servants found at Quaker meetings should be put by the constable into the stocks or cage, to remain according to discretion, only not over two hours in winter nor four in summer, and if in the cage, only till night in winter, nor longer than the next morning in summer. Horses found with Quakers, whether their own or loaned to them, whereby they “have the more speedy passage from place to place to the poisoning of the inhabitants with their cursed tenetts,” were to be forfeited to the colony. Any person who acted as guide to a Quaker was fined ten pounds, and any man who refused to serve as constable, in execution of the laws, was to pay a fine of four pounds. All this while, Quakers were coming into the colony, and were apprehended, imprisoned and whipped. In 1661, Charles II, forbade legislation against Quakers, and the Court was restrained in its action, public sentiment, also, being more generally opposed to oppressive measures. In the Plymouth Colony no Quaker was ever put to death.
It is proper, in regard to both colonies, to distinguish between the government and the people. The former would naturally be more conservative; and as, in Massachusetts wholly, in Plymouth largely, it was in the hands of the church, we should expect to see its power exerted in the maintenance of the established order. There was a large and constantly increasing outside population, which was restless under the theocratic restrictions, and even in the church itself there were not a few persons who desired a more liberal treatment of dissenters.
In both colonies, strong resistance was manifested to the action of the government, in its persecution of the Quakers. In Massachusetts, the penalty of death was carried by only one majority, in the General Court, and then after earnest opposition, and its actual infliction upon Robinson and Stevenson aroused so general an indignation among the people, that the prisoners had to be guarded by a company of soldiers, the peace preserved by sentinels posted in different parts of the town, and an elaborate vindication of its conduct put forth by the government. In the Plymouth Colony, the opposition to the government was still more decided. Isaac Robinson, the worthy son of the patriarch of the settlement, Thomas Hatherly, a Plymouth merchant, who came over in 1623, and Captain, afterwards General Cudworth, who, says Scott, probably came in 1632—all of them prominent men; Hatherly having been assistant for thirteen years, treasurer of the colony, and Commissioner of the Confederation, and Cudworth having also been an aosistant, and at the time