The Puritans and Sex
In the 1630s, the Puritans established the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the North to detach themselves from the Church of England, and to pursue religious tolerance. Puritans lead lives that emphasized hard work and discipline, which caused them to be perceived as narrow-minded, and very strict in religion and morals. Despite what early colonists then and citizens of America today believe, some Puritans did not comply with their stereotypical lives of high morals and no sex. “The popular assumption might be that the Puritans frowned on marriage and tried to hush up the physical aspect of it as much as possible…” but the Puritan society endured the troubles of fornication, adultery, and additional sins. (1-7) “Though the Puritans established a code of laws which demanded perfection- which demanded in other words strict obedience to the will of God, they nevertheless knew that frail human beings could never live up to the code.” (4-5) The appearance of fornication, adultery, rape, and illegitimate children were no surprise to the Puritans, yet they still enforced forms of punishment to create some order within the community. For example, when the female servant Elizabeth Dickerson complained that her master took advantage of her, the court accepted her claim “and ordered her master to be whipped twenty stripes.” (4) The problem of child care arose with so many cases of fornication and adultery. “In 1668, the General Court of Massachusetts ordered: that where any man is legally convicted to being the father of a Bastard childe, shall be at the care and charge to maintain and bring up the same, by such assistance if the Mother as nature requireth…” (4) This law was among many actions taken to discourage such distasteful decisions; instead the law set the bar to increase temptations to sin among young women. Therefore, women, like Elizabeth Tuft, created false claims of who the father of their child was to have someone who was rich enough to...
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