Sunday, January 5, 2014

Massachusetts Mandatory Church Attendance Law, Passed 1782

This is part of a very long and detailed Massachusetts law designed to keep the Sabbath holy, passed in 1782.


No surprise here; the 1780 state constitution directed the legislature to pass a mandatory church attendance law.  There is also a 1785 Massachusetts statute providing for punishment of adultery, polygamy, and lewdness.  (I think of this as the Hollywood law.)


3 comments:

SJ said...

Is this usage of the gallows intended to be capital punishment, or public humiliation?

Clayton Cramer said...

It is a reminder that this crime was formerly capital, and public humiliation. Connecticut's somewhat similar law required those convicted, along with the other punishments, to wear a "halter" (or noose) around the neck when appearing in public for life. A somewhat similar punishment was used in Massachusetts at one time for a guy who was convicted of molesting little girls -- but because there was no penetration, he was not actually guilty of rape.

SJ said...

Interesting.

I guess Nathanael Hawthorne didn't think the imagery of wearing a halter/noose for life was as shocking as a large red "A" for life.