An Account Of The Persecution Of Friends Commonly Called Quakers In The United States

About the middle of the seventeenth century, much persecution and

suffering were inflicted on a sect of protestant dissenters, commonly

called Quakers: a people which arose at that time in England some of

whom sealed their testimony with their blood.

For an account of the above people, see Sewell's, or Gough's history of


The principal points upon which their conscientious nonconformity
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rendered them obnoxious to the penalties of the law, were,

1. The Christian resolution of assembling publicly for the worship of

God, in a manner most agreeable to their consciences.

2. Their refusal to pay tithes, which they esteemed a Jewish ceremony,

abrogated by the coming of Christ.

3. Their testimony against wars and fighting, the practice of which they

judged inconsistent with the command of Christ: "Love your enemies," &c.

Matt. v. 44.

4. Their constant obedience to the command of Christ: "Swear not at

all," &c. Matt. v. 34.

5. Their refusal to pay rates or assessments for building and repairing

houses for a worship which they did not approve.

6. Their use of the proper and Scriptural language, "thou," and "thee,"

to a single person: and their disuse of the custom of uncovering their

heads, or pulling off their hats, by way of homage to man.

7. The necessity many found themselves under, of publishing what they

believed to be the doctrine of truth; and sometimes even in the places

appointed for the public national worship.

Their conscientious noncompliance in the preceding particulars, exposed

them to much persecution and suffering, which consisted in prosecutions,

fines, cruel beatings, whippings, and other corporeal punishments;

imprisonment, banishment, and even death.

To relate a particular account of their persecutions and sufferings,

would extend beyond the limits of this work: we shall therefore refer,

for that information, to the histories already mentioned, and more

particularly to Besse's Collection of their sufferings; and shall

confine our account here, mostly to those who sacrificed their lives,

and evinced, by their disposition of mind, constancy, patience, and

faithful perseverance, that they were influenced by a sense of religious


Numerous and repeated were the persecutions against them; and sometimes

for transgressions or offences which the law did not contemplate or


Many of the fines and penalties exacted of them, were not only

unreasonable and exorbitant, but as they could not consistently pay

them, were sometimes distrained to several times the value of the

demand; whereby many poor families were greatly distressed, and obliged

to depend on the assistance of their friends.

Numbers were not only cruelly beaten and whipped in a public manner,

like criminals, but some were branded and others had their ears cut off.

Great numbers were long confined in loathsome prisons; in which some

ended their days in consequence thereof.

Many were sentenced to banishment; and a considerable number were

transported. Some were banished on pain of death; and four were actually

executed by the hands of the hangman, as we shall here relate, after

inserting copies of some of the laws of the country where they suffered.