Thank you for stopping by for a visit. You are invited to read and comment on anything posted on this blog. I advocate the maximum amount of Personal and Economic Liberty, consistent with the defense of individual rights. I am fiscally conservative yet socially tolerant, I favor lower taxes, free trade, individual rights, strong national defense and limited government. I subscribe to the Freedom Fighters Creed: I am an American Patriot, defender of the Constitution, First Principles and Essential Liberty.

I believe that buried deep down inside every Conservative you'll find a Libertarian - And Inside Every Liberal Is A Totalitarian Screaming To Get Out.

"One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors" - Plato

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Decline of the Plymouth Colony

What, in all this time, was happening to Plymouth, the mother colony of all New England? Succinctly, it was rapidly and irretrievably declining. As we have seen, its fur trade had virtually disappeared by 1640. And for the next 20 years, only further decline ensued. By the mid-1640s the town of Plymouth was virtually a ghost town; and economically the colony had become a backwater of Massachusetts Bay.
By the 1640s Plymouth, like Massachusetts, found the intensity of its religious zeal on the wane, and heresy and "moral" laxity were increasing. Plymouth faced a crossroads on how to react to this development: by liberty and toleration or by following Massachusetts' path of persecution? The critical point came in 1645 when William Vassall, a leading merchant, presented to the General Court of Plymouth as well as to that of Massachusetts Bay a petition for complete religious liberty — to grant "full and free tolerance of religion to all men that will preserve the civil peace and submit unto the government." "All men" meant exactly that, including Familists, Roman Catholics, and Jews. There was great sentiment in the General Court in favor of the Vassall petition. It commanded the support, in fact, of a majority of the chamber of deputies, and even of such an old roustabout as Capt. Miles Standish. But the ruling oligarchy of the colony, headed by Governor Bradford, Thomas Prence, and Edward Winslow, strongly opposed religious liberty and was able to block its approval.
This was the turning point and for the next two decades Plymouth accompanied its economic decline by following the lead of Massachusetts in increased theocracy and religious persecution. The colony proceeded to impose fines for failing to attend church, corporal penalties for denying the scripture, and denial of the rights of citizenship to all critics of the laws of Plymouth or of the "true religion."
One of the persistent troubles of Plymouth was a shortage of ministers, aggravated by its poverty, decline, and increased intolerance. To deal with this scarcity, Plymouth took another fateful step down the theocratic road: it established a state church supported by taxation. Protests against this new establishment were led by Dr. Matthew Fuller, of the town of Duxbury, who for his pains was denounced as "wicked" by the Plymouth authorities and forced to pay a steep fine.
Despite this establishment, the Pilgrim ministers remained poor, as they had to collect the pulpit taxes themselves and the parishioners were usually far in arrears.
Religious persecution continued to tighten. The colony did not believe itself too poor to afford inspectors of youth; one was appointed in each parish to supervise and birch any boy unruly in church. When this procedure failed, the inspectors intensified their birching penalties and included girls in this corporal punishment as well. CONTINUE READING 

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