September 12

The early Baptists in Connecticut were persecuted by the state, especially in the area of ministerial taxes. Everyone, by law, was to pay an assessed amount for the support of the local Protestant minister. The Baptists, on principle, refused. They were often taken to jail and their properties were confiscated, forcing their compliance. On one occasion a whole congregation was arrested in the midst of their worship service, and taken to the New London gaol.

On this day in 1794, Jabez Clarke, a Justice of the Peace wrote to Samuel Perkins, a collector of Society Taxes. It read in part, “Greetings: By authority of the State of Connecticut, you are hereby commanded forthwith to leavy and collect of the persons named in the foregoing list herewith committed you, each one of his proportion as therein set down… If any person shall neglect or refuse to pay the sum at which he is assessed, you are thereby commanded to distrain the goods, chattels, or lands of such persons so refusing; and the same being disposed of as the law directs, return the overplus, if any, to the respective owners; and for want of such goods, chattels, or lands whereon to make distress, you are to take the body or bodies of such persons so refusing and them commit to the keeper of the goal in said county of Windham within the prison, who is thereby commanded to receive and safe keep them until they pay and satisfy the aforesaid sums…. Dated at Windham, this 12th day of September, 1794.