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America's History in the Making

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Excerpted from the Remonstrance of the Inhabitants of Flushing

The Remonstrance of the Inhabitants of Flushing, Long Island, Against the Law Against Quakers and Subsequent Proceedings

Right Honorable. You have been pleased to send up unto us a certain Prohibition or Command, that wee shoulde not receive or entertaine any of those people called Quakers, because thay are supposed to bee by some seducers of the people; for our parte wee cannot condem them in this case, neither can wee stretch out our hands against them to punish, bannish or persecute the, for out of Christ, God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the handes of the liveing God; wee desire therefore in this case not to judge least wee be judged, neither to Condem least wee bee Condemed, but rather let every man stand and fall to his own . . .

The law of loue, peace and libertie in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered the sonnes of Adam, which is the glory of the outward State of Holland; so loue, peace and libertie extending to all in Christ Jesus, Condems hatred, warre and bondage; and because our Savior saith it is impossible but that offence will come, but woe be unto him by whom they Commeth, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones in whatsoever forme, name or title hee appreares in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker; but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them: desireing to doe unto all men as wee desire all men should doe unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Savior saith this is the Law and the Prophets; Therefore if any of these said persons come in loue unto us, wee cannot in Conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free Egresse into our Towne and howses as God shall preswade our Consciences; and in this we are true subjects both of the Church and State; for wee are bounde by the law of god and man to do good unto all men, and evill to no man; and this is according to the Pattent and Charter of our Towne given unto us in the name of the States Generall which we are not willing to infringe and violate but shall hold to our pattent and shall remaine your Humble Subjects the inhabitants of Vlishing; written the 27th of December in the Yeare 1657 by mee.

William Thorne and others, Remonstrance of the Inhabitants of the Town of Flushing to Governor Stuyvesant, December 27, 1657. Transcribed by Frank Mitchell in "Ecclesiastical Records of the State of New York" published by the State under the supervision of Hugh Hastings, State Historian. (Albany, NY: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1901), 412-13.

Creator Citizens of Flushing
Context This petition was written in response to a policy enacted by the Governor of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant. This policy banned all religions besides the Dutch Reformed Church from practicing in the colony.
Audience The government
Purpose To persuade the government to exercise religious tolerance

Historical Significance

Religious tolerance was a radical idea for seventeenth-century Europeans. In the 1650s, the Dutch colony of New Netherland was sparsely settled, so it encouraged people of varied faiths to settle there a move intended to bolster its small population. The colony was headed by Peter Stuyvesant and encouraged by the Reformed Dutch Church he banned the Quakers from settling in the colony. Henry Townsend, a resident of Flushing, was fined and banned for holding a Quaker meeting in his home. In response, thirty area residents protested this change in policy. The two leading petitioners were jailed; several later became Quakers.

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