In the little commonwealth there were no waves of protest -- certainly not riots, insurgency, or other extralegal action by a large segment of the community, as took place in most of the other colonies at one time or another. But the interlocking of civil authority and religious obligation was bound to create disaffection. The Plymouth state inevitably confronted the right to conscience and its concomitant freedom, the right to expression.
Although the Pilgrims tended to regard criticism against public policy or officials as seditious conduct, unlike Englishmen at home, they did not confuse sedition with treason. Although treason was a capital crime in Plymouth, in no instance was anyone ever charged with this crime because of sedition or any other reason.
Isolated cases of blasphemy and seditious conduct occurred throughout the colony's history. Six grave confrontations, which affected the shaping of a greater toleration in religion and liberalization of civil liberty, were the Lyford, Morton, Williams, Vassall, Gorton, and Quaker affairs.