1660 June 1

No Quakers Allowed in Massachusetts: Mary Dyer Hung for Her Religious Beliefs


Mary Dyer was hung by Puritan authorities in Massachusetts on this day for being a Quaker, in violation of a law banning Quakers from the colony. On July 9, 1959, to atone for the execution, the state of Massachusetts erected a statue of Mary Dyer in front of the State House in Boston. It is part of the Freedom Trail, commemorating important events  in the history of liberty in Contrary to what most Americans believe, religious tolerance was not a part of early American history.

The Massachusetts ban on Quakers from the colony was typical of the intolerance that prevailed. Religious tolerance did not really develop until the 20th century, in large part because of civil liberties litigation over the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment of Religion Clause of the First Amendment.

The most famous — or notorious — example of religious intolerance in Colonial America was the Salem Witch Hunt (June 10, 1692), which many Americans in the 1950s saw as the model for the anti-Communist witch hunt of the Cold War (see Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, January 22, 1953).

Read: Ruth Talbot Plimpton, Mary Dyer: Biography of a Rebel Quaker (2011)

Visit the Mary Dyer Memorial Statue on Boston” Freedom Trail:

Learn more about religious liberty at the First Amendment Center: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/category/religion

Learn more about the Quakers: Thomas D. Hamm, The Quakers in America (2003)

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