December 3, 1658

Quakers Outlawed in Plymouth

Regions:
Greater Boston
Southeast

On this day in 1658, Plymouth Court ordered that any boat carrying Quakers to Sandwich be seized to prevent the religious heretics from landing. A year earlier, Quakers in Sandwich had established the first Friends‘ Meeting in the New World. Magistrates in both Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies were alarmed by Quaker teachings that individuals could receive direct personal revelations from God. To protect orthodox Puritanism, the courts passed a series of laws forbidding residents from housing Quakers. Quakers themselves were threatened with whipping, arrest, imprisonment, banishment, or death. But driven by conscience, some Quakers repeatedly returned to Massachusetts to preach; four of them, including Mary Dyer, went to the gallows before a shocked King Charles ordered an end to the hanging of Quakers in 1661.

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