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were averse to introducing them into their promising Colony in New Netherland ; whatever may have been the reasons given for the refusal. Whether the story of bribing the master of the May Flower be true or not,—which Secretary Morton affirms, and is in itself natural enough though it is not capable of actual proof,—yet no sooner had the Puritan Colonies become established in New England, than a bitter opposition began to manifest itself against the Colony of New Netherland, and the same spirit was shown after that Colony passed under English rule. Here was a constantly occurring source of trouble with old Wouter Van Twiller, Director General of the Dutch Colony, as also his successors in office, Petrus Stuyvesant and Willem Kieft. The Union of the New England Colonies, in 1643, had opposition to the Dutch as one of its leading objects; and when the Dutch, at New Netherland, in that same year, in imminent danger of extermination by the Indians, implored assistance from the New Haven Colony, that assistance was cruelly and inhumanly refused.* And yet all this is ignored, or glossed over, by Puritan historians. A writer says :
“It can scarcely be believed, that men so conscientious that they considered themselves in duty bound not to make the least concession in any disputed point about religious rituals,-men, so highly revering the Holy Scriptures, that they considered themselves in duty bound to distinguish their cities and villages and children] by Biblical names, should so little care about their Netherland neighbors of the same religious profession; should so little respect their anterior possession." +
With this brief episode of Puritan history, and which has its bearing on what is to follow, we come now to the special point of present consideration. On the 22d of December last, the descendants of the Puritans in the city of New York, assembled to celebrate their “Forefathers' Day.” That was all well enough. New York is too cosmopolitan in its character not to comprise of course great numbers of the sons of those who first landed on the bleak sterile shores of New England. We would do full justice to the shrewdness and thrift which this race of men exhibit wherever they go. It is proper also to say, that not a few of the sons of New England, under the more genial influences which prevail here, lose utterly that intense petty provincialism which characterizes New England Puritanism, and become, as among the most successful and honored, so also among the noblest in their various spheres ; as merchants, bankers, lawyers and literary men ; thoroughly American, and large hearted, in sympathy and influence. But when the sons of the old Puritans, on their “Forefathers' Day,” here in the city of New York, meet to attribute virtues, and excellencies, and influences, to those men, which did not belong to them, to ascribe principles to them which they grossly belied, and to hold up those men for the exclusive admiration of us modern New Yorkers, and all this to the disparagement of the early founders of the New York Colony, and the principles and policy which they established, then we have something to say. It was this nauseous, fulsome adulation of Puritanism, and this studied disparagement of the Church under whose auspices the English New York Colony was so long conducted, and on a “Forefathers' Day,” that brought the departed and amiable Wainwright to his feet, and led to a discussion which ought to have taught those men to be more truthful, more modest, and better mannered. American Free Institutions, founded by Puritans! Freedom of Conscience, a legacy from Puritanism ! Our Free Civil Institutions, so far from owing their origin to Puritans, on the contrary, were moulded by a body of men of whom New England furnished but a small minority ; and the leading spirits of those illustrious men were born and nourished in the very bosom of that Church which these assailants would hold up to the odium of the world. Who were such men as Washington, and Madison, and Jay, and Hamilton, and King, and Marshall, and Rutledge, and the Pinckneys, and Monroe, and the Lees, and Nelson, and the Harrisons, the Randolphs, and Livingston, and Morris, and Duer, and Troup, and hosts of others, but Churchmen? And who was the first man ever officially invited to spread our country's cause before the God VOL. XVII.
* O'Callaghan's History of New Netherland, Vol. I, Ch. iv. | Lambrechtsen's New Netherland, in N. Y. Hist. Coll., Vol. I, p. 98.
of battles, but a minister of the Altar of that Church, now charged as being allied to the very genius of despotism ?
The persistence with which this intense egotism and selfconceit cling to the descendants of the Puritans, is really something wonderful. No facts of history seem in the slightest degree to check it. It stands always unabashed; ever ready, with cheek distended, to trumpet its own praise. It has had control of the making of most of our modern histories and school books, used in our Common Schools, and it has not failed either to give them a Puritan hue, or to fill them with such untruthful and slanderous statements.
At the last “Forefathers' Day in New York, in speaking to the toast,“ the State of New York," a gentleman remarked, “that he would congratulate the audience that in ten days New York would have a governor who understood the principles of the Puritans, and would not hesitate to avow them.” And he then read a letter from an officer of the army, who thus delivered himself concerning the early Puritans :
“ It could hardly have required prophetic vision to have seen that, before such indomitable spirit and hard enterprise, the wildness of the new world, and its savage occupants, must give way and disappear; that when the mother country, from whose persecutions they filed, should stretch out her hand to impose new oppressions, these sturdy adventurers would protest, battle, and conquer; that when the foundation of a new nation was to be laid, the largest civil and religious freedom should be secured to all.”
And all this was read and rapturously applauded, in the presence of educated gentlemen, and passed unrebuked. With the general history of Paritanism, either in the Old World or the New, we are not now concerned. We have given, above, a brief sketch of what Puritanism was in England ; and if any body believes that the Puritans in New England can be acquitted of the charge of the grossest duplicity, hypocrisy, and cruelty, we shall not discuss that question at the present time. But let us see what these “principles of the Puritans” really were ; what this “LARGEST CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
* See Goodrich's History, with Emerson's Questions; Smith's Geography; Frost's United States; Parley's First Book of History; Pierpont's National Reader.
was, which, on the late “Forefathers' Day,” was commended to our grateful commemoration. Here are specimens of the Colonial Laws of Connecticut:
“ This Court orders that henceforth no persons in this Jurisdiction shall in any way embody themselves into Church estate, without consent of the General Court and approbation of the neighboring Churches."
“This Court orders that there shall be no ministry or Church administration by the inhabitants of any plantation in this Colony, distinct and separate from, and in opposition to, that which is openly and publicly observed, and dispensed by the settled and approved minister of the place, except it be by approbation of the General Court and neighboring Churches." +
For behaving contemptuously “towards the word preached or the messengers thereof”-it was ordered—“And if a second time they break forth into the like contemptuous carriages, they shall either pay five pounds to the public treasure, or stand two hours openly upon a block or stool, four feet high, upon a lecture day, with a paper fixed on his breast, written with capital letters, AN OPEN AND OBSTINATE CONTEMNER OF GOD'S HOLY ORDINANCES." I
"It is ordered and decreed by this Court, and authority thereof, that wheresoever the ministry of the word is established, according to the order of the Gospel throughout this jurisdiction, every person shall duly resort and attend thereunto respectively upon the Lord's day, and upon such public fast days, and days of Thanksgiving, as are to be generally kept by the appointment of authority. And if any person within this jurisdiction, shall, without just and necessary cause, withdraw himself from hearing the public ministry of the word, after due means of conviction used, he shall forfeit for his absence from every such public meeting, five shillings."
For the support of this Puritan establishment, it was ordered as follows, — " And do order that those who are taught in the word, in the several plantations, be called together, that every man voluntarily set down what he is willing to allow to that end and use: And if any man refuse to pay a meet proportion, that then he be rated by authority in some just and equal way; and if, after this, any man withhold or delay due payment, the civil power to be exercised as in other just debts." ||
Now let us see what these Puritans in Massachusetts really meant by this “natural right to liberty of conscience.”
“It is ordered that henceforth no man shall be admitted to the freedom of this Commonwealth, but such as are members of some of the Churches within the limits of this Commonwealth.”
* 1657.–Trumbull's Colonial Records of Connecticut. 1636–1655. p. 311. + 1657.-Ib., | 1650.-Ib., p.
524. § Ib., p. 524. | Id., p. 545. [ May, 1631.-Mass. Bay Col. Laws, Ch. xlix, Sec. i.
“ It is therefore ordered by this Court, and the authority thereof, that whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing labor, feasting, or any other way, upon any such account as aforesaid, every such person so offending, shall pay for every such offense, five shillings, as a fine to the County.”
This Court doth order and enact that every person or persons of the cursed sect of the Quakers, who is not an inhabitant of, but found within this jurisdiction, shall be apprehended (without warrant, where no Magistrate is at hand) by any Constable, Commissioner, or Selectman, and conveyed from Constable to Constable, until they come before the next Magistrate, who shall commit the said person or persons to close prison, there to remain without bail until the next Court of Assistants; where they shall have a legal trial by a special jury, and being convicted to be of the sect of the Quakers, shall be sentenced to banishment upon pain of death."
“Every inhabitant of this jurisdiction, being convicted to be of the aforesaid sect,
and refusing to retract and reform the aforesaid opinions and practices, shall be sentenced to banishment upon pain of death." +
The method of executing the banishment was as follows: The Quaker was to be “directed to the Constable of the town wherein he, or she, is taken, or in absence of the Constable to any other meet person, be stripped naked from the middle upwards, and tied to a cart's tail, and whipped through the town, and from thence immediately conveyed to the Constable of the next town towards the borders of our jurisdiction, as their warrant shall direct; and so from Constable to Constable, till they be conveyed through any the outwardmost towns of our jurisdiction." I
add that this law was soon after made much more intolerable.
Any Quaker, after the first conviction, if a man, was to lose one ear, and the second time the other; if a woman, each time to be severely whipped; and the third time, man or woman, to have their tongues bored through with a red hot iron.” §
Hildreth also gives an account of “the young husband of one of them following the cart to which his wife was tied, and from time to time interposing his hat between her naked and bleeding back and the lash of the executioner !” |
1661.-Col. Laws, Ch. li, Sec. X.
* 1b., Ch. 1, Sec. ii. + 1b., Ch. li, Sec. ix. S Haliburton's Rule and Misrule, p. 102.
Hildreth's United States, vol. i, p 473.