14. The Puritans had a variety of penalties for violating the law
Punishments for violating the various laws enacted in Puritan New England varied in accordance with the class of the transgressor and the nature of the crime. New England magistrates considered the nature of the sin behind the violation. A stint in the stocks and the public humiliation they caused was often sufficient, at least for first time offenders. Recidivists faced more stringent penalties. They could include branding of hand or face, the lopping off of ears, whipping, banishment, and even death for especially hardened offenders. As in Virginia, the death penalty for relatively minor offenses was possible. It was a harsh time.
Gradually, as the colonies matured, laws restricting manner of dress and other community standards were eased, or simply fell into disuse. But laws restricting behavior and activities on the Sabbath remained in force. They too, gradually eased but in the 19th century many concerning commerce on the Sabbath remained in force, not only in New England, but across the country. And laws concerning the purchase and consumption of alcohol on Sundays – as well as throughout the rest of the week – remained, in many cases becoming even more restrictive. The temperance and labor movements gained momentum, and both supported blue laws.