| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
HOW QUAKERS FIRST CAME TO NEW ENGLAND
 IT was about the middle of the seventeenth century when a new kind
of religion arose. This was the religion of the Quakers. George
Fox was the founder of this sect, and they called themselves the
Friends of Truth. The name Quaker was given to them by their enemies
in derision because they "trembled before the Lord."
The Quakers were a peace-loving people; they tried to be kind and
charitable; they refused to go to law; and they refused to fight.
They also gave up using titles of all kinds. For, "my Lord Peter
and my Lord Paul are not to be found in the Bible." They refused
to take off their hats to any man, believing that that was a sign
of worship which belonged to God only. They refused also to take
oath of any kind, even the oath of allegiance to the King, because
Christ had said, "Swear not at all." They used "thee" and "thou"
instead of "you" in speaking to a single person (because they thought
it more simple and truthful), and they refused to say "good-night"
or "good-morrow," "for they knew night was good and day was good
without wishing either." There was a great deal that was good in
their religion and very little, it would seem, that was harmful,
but they were pronounced to be "mischievous and dangerous people."
Men did not understand the Quakers. And, as often happens when men
do not understand, they became afraid of them. Because they wore
black clothes and broad-brimmed hats they thought they must be
Jesuits in disguise. So
 ignorance bred fear, and fear brought forth
persecution, and on all sides the Quakers were hunted and reviled.
They were fined and imprisoned, scourged and exiled, and sold into
slavery. Then, like other persecuted people, they sought a refuge
in New England across the seas. But the people there were just as
ignorant as the people at home, and the Quakers found no kindly
The first Quakers to arrive in New England were two women. But
before they were allowed to land officers were sent on board the
ship to search their boxes. They found a great many books, which
they carried ashore, and while the women were kept prisoner on board
the ship the books were burned in the market place by the common
hangman. Then the women were brought ashore and sent to prison,
for no other reason than that they were Quakers.
No one was allowed to speak to them on pain of a fine of £5, and
lest any should attempt it even the windows of the prison were
boarded up. They were allowed no candle, and their pens, ink, and
paper were taken from them. They might have starved but that one
good old man named Nicholas Upshal, whose heart was grieved for
them, paid the gaoler to give them food. Thus they were kept until
a ship was ready to sail for England. Then they were put on board,
and the captain was made to swear that he would put them ashore
nowhere but in England.
"Such," says an old writer, "was the entertainment the Quakers first
met with at Boston, and that from a people who pretended that for
conscience' sake they had chosen the wilderness of America before
the well-cultivated Old England."
The next Quakers who arrived were treated much in the same fashion
and sent back to England; and a law was made forbidding Quakers
to come to the colony. At this time the same good old man who had
already befriended them was grieved. "Take heed," he said, "that
 not found fighting against God, and so draw down a judgment
upon the land." But the men of Boston were seized with a frenzy of
hate and fear, and they banished this old man because he had dared
to speak kindly of the accursed sect."
It is true the men of New England had some excuse for trying to keep
the Quakers out of their colony. For some of them were foolish, and
tried to force their opinions noisily upon others. They interrupted
the Church services, mocked the magistrates and the clergy, and
some, carried away by religious fervour, behaved more like mad folk
than the disciples of a religion of love and charity.
Yet in spite of the law forbidding them to come, Quakers kept on
coming to the colony, and all who came were imprisoned, beaten,
and then thrust forth with orders never to return. But still they
came. So a law was made that any Quaker coming into the colony
should have one of his ears cut off; if he came again he should
have a second ear cut off; if he came a third time he should have
his tongue bored through with a hot iron.
But even this cruel law had no effect upon the Quakers. They heeded
it not, and came in as great or even greater numbers than before.
The people of Boston were in despair. They had no wish
to be cruel;
indeed, many hated, and were thoroughly ashamed of, the cruel
laws, made against these strange people. But they were nevertheless
determined that Quakers should not come into their land. So now
they made a law that any Quaker who came to the colony and refused
to go away again when ordered should be hanged. This, they thought,
would certainly keep these pernicious folk away. But it did not.
For the Quakers were determined to prove to all the world that they
were free to go where they would, and that if they chose to come
to Boston no man-made laws
 should keep them out. So they kept on
coming. The magistrates knew not what to do. They had never meant
to hang any of them, but only to frighten them away. But having
made the law, they were determined to fulfil it, and five Quakers
were hanged, one of them a woman. But while the fifth was being
tried another Quaker named Christison, who had already been banished,
calmly walked into the court.
When they saw him the magistrates were struck dumb. For they saw
that against determination like this no punishment, however severe,
might avail. On their ears Christison's words fell heavily.
"I am come here to warn you, he cried, "that you should shed no more
innocent blood. For the blood that you have shed already cries to
the Lord God for vengeance to come upon you."
Nevertheless he too was seized and tried. But he defended himself
well. By what law will you put me to death?" he asked.
"We have a law," replied the magistrates, "and by our law you are
"So said the Jews to Christ," replied Christison: " 'We have a law,
and by our law you ought to die.' Who empowered you to make that
law? How! Have you power to make laws different from the laws of
"No," said the Governor.
"Then," said Christison, "you are gone beyond your bounds. Are you
subjects to the King? Yea or nay?"
"Yea, we are so."
"Well," said Christison, "so am I. Therefore, seeing that you and
I are subjects to the King, I demand to be tried by the laws of
my own nation. For I never heard, nor read, of any law that was in
England to hang Quakers."
Yet in spite of his brave defence Christison was condemned to
death. But the sentence was never carried out.
 For the people had
grown weary of these cruelties; even the magistrates, who for a
time had been carried away by blind hate, saw that they were wrong.
Christison and many of his friends who had lain in prison awaiting
trial were set free.
The Quakers, too, now found a strange friend in King Charles. For
the doings of the New Englanders in this matter reached even his
careless ears, and he wrote to his "Trusty and well-beloved" subjects
bidding them cease their persecutions, and send the Quakers back
to England to be tried. This the people of Massachusetts never did.
But henceforth the persecutions died down. And although from time
to time the Quakers were still beaten and imprisoned no more were
put to death. At length the persecution died away altogether and
the Quakers, allowed to live in peace, became quiet, hard-working
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