28 June 2010
God Blesses John Alexander and Thomas Roberts, 1637
GOD BLESSES JOHN ALEXANDER AND THOMAS ROBERTS, 1637
Japanese woodblock (moku hanga)
Paper size: 20.5" x 14.5" (52 x 37 cm)
Image size: 17.75" x 11.5" (29.2 x 45 cm)
6 shina plywood blocks
9 hand-rubbed impressions
In 1637 two Plymouth Colony men, John Alexander and Thomas Roberts, were brought to trial and found guilty of performing ongoing homosexual acts with each other. Although by law homosexuality was punishable by death, the two received less severe punishments. (Apparently Massachusetts magistrates have always been soft on gays!) John Alexander, a free man, was whipped, burned on the shoulder with a branding iron, and banished from the colony. Thomas Roberts, an indentured servant, was whipped and returned to his master but forbidden to ever own any land within the colony.
In a way, one could say that their trial and punishment was a blessing of sorts. The court records "immortalized" the two, allowing us in the 21st century to at least know the existence as well as the names of two Puritan homosexual lovers at the founding of our nation.
I'm glad I went ahead and reprinted this piece a second time as I like it much better in green.