The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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Research and edited, Jim Allison

IN 1625, the English adventurer Thomas Morton established a plantation in the New England colony of Plymouth that soon proved to be the antithesis of the Pilgrim vision of life in the New World. Most migrants to early New England sought to create godly communities built upon the centrality of the family, a well-ordered and stable "little commonwealth." In contrast, the men and women who joined Thomas Morton at "Merry Mount" engaged in "profane and dissolute living," including sexual relations outside of marriage. In addition, while most European settlers expressed shock at the sexual habits of the native tribes and tried to convert them to what they believed to be a superior Christian morality, Morton and his followers welcomed Indians to Merry Mount and openly had sexual relations with them. In a further affront to Pilgrim values, Morton revived the pagan May Day festivities, complete with the erotically charged maypole. Merry Mount proved so threatening to the Pilgrims' vision of social order that in 1628 they deported Morton back to England. When he later returned to Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Puritan authorities there imprisoned him under such severe conditions—he was kept in irons, without adequate food and clothing, for a year—that Morton died soon after his release.' Libertinism, paganism, and sexual relations with the Indians clearly had no place within the Puritan scheme, based as it was upon reestablishing the Christian family in the wilderness. /gas Thomas Morton was a mere thorn in the side of Pilgrim and Puritan leaders, but during the seventeenth century, these English colonists faced more serious challenges to their goal of creating stable family life and implementing the values of marital, reproductive sexuality. First, the varied sexual practices of the native peoples of North America, which both fascinated and disturbed the settlers, offered possible alternatives to European traditions. Second, and more challenging, demographic conditions in the New World strongly affected family life. Climate and settlement patterns facilitated the reestablishment of a family-centered sexual life in New England but delayed it in the Chesapeake colonies of Maryland and Virginia. Only after several generations did social conditions in these two regions converge to the point that one may speak of a reproductive sexual system throughout the colonies. Thus, to understand the sexual values colonists brought with them and the obstacles to adopting them, it is important to begin this history by exploring the European, and especially English, influence on America, the native American cultures that confronted European migrants, and the regional variations that shaped diverse sexual systems in the seventeenth century. SOURCE: Intimate Matters A History of Sexuality in America. John D"emilio and Estelle B. FreedmanPerennial Library Harper and Eow Publishers (1989) pp 3 - 4

IN 1650, young Samuel Terry of Springfield, Massachusetts distressed his neighbors when, during the Sabbath sermon, he stood outside the meetinghouse "chafing his yard to provoak lust." Several lashes on the back may have dissuaded him from masturbating in public again, but in 1661 Samuel Terry endured another punishment for sexual misconduct. Now married, his bride of five months gave birth to their first child, clear evidence that the pair had indulged in premarital intercourse. A four-pound fine was not the last Terry would pay for defying the moral standards of his community. In 1673 the court fined Terry and eight other men who had performed an "immodest and beastly" play. Despite this history of sexual offenses, however, a sinner like Samuel Terry could command respect among his peers. Terry not only served as a town constable, but, in addition, the court entrusted him with the custody of another man's infant son.' In short, as long as he accepted punishment for his transgressions, Samuel Terry remained a citizen in good standing.

The case of Samuel Terry allows us to refine the stereotype of the American colonists as prudish, ascetic, and antisexual. This view has enjoyed so much popularity in modern America that the term puritanical has come to mean sexually repressive. Not all colonists were Puritans, those nonconforming, largely middle-class English men and women who attempted to establish a community of saints in seventeenth-century New England. Members of the Anglican and Quaker churches, and migrants from the Netherlands, Germany, and northern Ireland settled in the southern and middle colonies, especially during the eighteenth century. Even among the Puritans and their Yankee descendants, sexuality exhibited more complexity than modern assumptions about their repressiveness suggest. SOURCE: Intimate Matters A History of Sexuality in America. John D"emilio and Estelle B. FreedmanPerennial Library Harper and Eow Publishers (1989) :pp 15 - 16


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