Quakers vs. Puritans: America

Puritans founded the first church in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629, and from that point on asserted a need for the colony to be run by Puritan control. They wished for all to turn to the Church in order to save themselves from the sin of man. They, like the Quakers, thought that love must be given to all men, but unlike the Quaker definition of love being achieved through finding God within oneself, the Puritan definition of love involved saving each man from his natural sin.

When Quakers came to the Massachusetts Colony, their idea of there being an “inner light” to connect one with God became appealing in the sense that it was not so highly connected to attending¬†the Church frequently and reading scripture gave an appeal to the illiterate and working class populations in North America.

However, due to their lack of reliance on a church, and instead using things such as meetings, the Quakers were considered to be questioning in their faith, which was an insult to the Puritan beliefs. This was especially true when Puritans converted to Quakerism. Since the goal of the Puritans was to uphold the belief within their community, whenever someone moved toward another belief, this was dismantling the control that was held.

Quakers were considered to have “gone mad” and unable to be restrained by reason due to their interactions with religion, especially in comparison to the civil and quiet sermons of Puritan faith.

Eventually this led to a law being created in the Massachusetts Bay Colony that allowed for Puritans to execute Quakers for their beliefs. This was not popular when it was passed, and only won the majority by a single vote, but there were still Quakers put to death because of it, including Mary Dyer.

Mary Dyer was originally a Puritan wife and mother, but her and her husband both were converts to Quakerism. She  was hanged on June 1, 1660 for her religious convictions on the Boston Common, along with three others, the group of them later being known as the Boston Martyrs.

In the Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony 60 Quakers total were fined and imprisoned.