Saturday, January 2, 2016

1657 - The "Flushing Remonstrance"

Freak of the Ocean
(Adam Willaerts - Dutch and English Ships in Choppy Waters)

January 20, 1657 - the Narragansett sachems grant their land of Pettaquamscutt (later Kings Town - Rhode Island) to John Porter and a group of colonists mostly Quaker sympathizers. The will be called the Pattaquamscutt Purchasers.

February 1, 1657 - the direction of the New Netherlands introduces a class distinction by creating great and small citizenship to avoid foreign traders to get too much power.

This distinction was set up among the people of New Amsterdam. The 216 “small burghers” kept right to trade and to belong to the various guilds while only the 20 “great burghers” had privilege to lead a company, obtain official positions, inherit and purchase. This system had the effect of legalizing a new aristocratic caste. 

February, 1657 - Mary Dyer and Ann Burden arrive at Boston from Barbados. They are immediately arrested as Quakers.

Ann Burden was coming back further to the death of her husband to settle down on her estate and Mary Dyer joined her family of Newport after five years spent in England. Both thought to land with no problem at Boston without suspecting the ruthlessness of the new laws against the Quakers. They were going to remain more than two and a half months locked up in a dark cell, an inconceivable treatment in England.
Mary succeeded however to send a letter in Rhode Island to her husband William Dyer. Himself was not Quaker and enjoyed moreover a sound reputation throughout New England. He went to Governor Endecott and secured her release on condition that she leaves Massachusetts without saying a single word.

Mary Barrett Dyer (c. 1611 - June 1, 1660) - native of London, she moved to Boston with her husband in 1634. She chose to side with Anne Hutchinson during the controversy that opposed her to the Puritan church of Massachusetts, claiming that God did not need the clergy to address the people. She went to the creation of settlers groups eager to study the Bible outside the current theocratic law in Massachusetts. After Anne Hutchinson’s trial, Mary Dyer was, like her, sentenced to the banishment and had to leave Boston for Rhode Island where she was greeted by Roger Williams. She had previously given birth to an abnormal child who had survived only a short time and whom she had secretly given a grave, but after being informed of this event, Governor John Winthrop had exhumed the body of the child, describing the defects as proof that his mother was a heretic.
In 1652, Mary Dyer and her husband William accompanied Roger Williams and John Clarke in England. It is during this journey that she embraced George Fox's ideas, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends, considering that they were in concordance with those she had preached a few years earlier together with Anne Hutchinson. 

Ship at sea
March 8, 1657
– After losing her way, the Prince Maurits, a Dutch ship sailing from Amsterdam to the New Amstel colony wrecks off Fire Island, south of Long Island.

It was originally a 4-vessel fleet that left Texel on December 26, 1656, including furthermore The Geldersee Bloom, the Bever and the Beer. But a series of storms and harsh weather dispersed it and the Prince Maurits had to pursue her trip alone. To prevent any new risk, the captain followed the southern course before sailing north along the American coast since mi-February. But after such a grueling journey and ill-informed about the coastal gĂ©ography, he sailed mistakely beyond the bay of Manhattan to wreck a few miles ahead Fire Island.

Safe and sound, the crew and the passengers managed to reach the shore on a lifeboat but had to wait several days in the cold until Director Peter Stuyvesant, alerted   by Indians, sent a sloop to pick them up.
The Prince Maurits had been chartered by the West India Company to transport supplies and new emigrants to the Delaware colony. Among the passengers were Jacob Alrichs, Director of New Amstel and lieutenant Alexander D’Hinojossa

After a stopover in New Amsterdam, the Bever set sail on April 16 to Delaware Bay with 125 passengers on board. Owing to space constraints, 38 soldiers went on foot from New Amsterdam to New Amstel.
Fortunately, the other 3 ships arrived the same month safe and sound at New Amsterdam. 

John Winthrop, Jr.
April 12, 1657 - John Winthrop, Jr. is elected governor of Connecticut.

John Winthrop, Jr. (Groton, Suffolk, February 12th, 1605 - Boston April 5, 1676) - Eldest son of John Winthrop, iconic founder and governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, he studied first at Trinity College in Dublin (Ireland) before becoming the secretary of a captain whom he accompanied during military campaigns in Turkey, Italy and Holland. With the rest of his family, he joined his father in Boston in October, 1631 where he was appointed assistant of the colony. Further to the untimely death of his wife and his son, he chose to return to England in 1634. There, he married the following year Elizabeth Reade and befriended Lord Brooke and Lord Saye and Sele who hired him to found a colony at the mouth of the Connecticut River.
He left to Boston in October, 1635 and sent about twenty men to take over this territory named "Say-Brook" in honor of his employers. In March, 1636, Lion Gardner began to oversee the construction of a fort and newly appointed governor John Winthrop, Jr. arrived there a month later. Back in Massachusetts after the expiry of his term, he was, in 1640, allocated a land not far from the mouth of the Thames which had belonged to Pequot Indians. He founded the settlement of Nameaug which would later become New London. John Winthrop, Jr. was certainly a wise administrator but mostly a scientist, a chemist and a renowned physician. He had been in particular the source of the first ironworks of Massachusetts, he had contributed to the development of mining and had conceived a process to get salt by evaporating sea water. Settled in Connecticut since 1650, he practiced there as a doctor, treating nearly 500 families. Once elected governor, he moved from New London to Hartford.

April 20, 1657 - Jan Pauwel Jaquet the director of the Dutch West India Company in Delaware is dismissed by order of Peter Stuyvesant. Accused of mismanagement, he is recalled to New Amsterdam and arrested.
The new director Jacob Alrichs arrives in the colony accompanied with 117 colonists and 50 soldiers.

Fort Christina took at that time the name of Altena and became the administrative centre of the colony.
Mostly Finnish, the residents were especially farmers and had never built a town as such. They lived scattered over a fairly large area along the Schuylkill. They changed, however, their minds in spring, 1657 and sent their sheriff in New Amsterdam to request permission to found a new city. The agreement was for less taken for granted since the directors of the Dutch West India Company had in turn made the same commitment.

May 9, 1657 - Governor of Plymouth William Bradford dies at the age of 67. Thomas Prence is appointed to his place.
Governor William Bradford

So much John Winthrop had been the founding soul of Massachusetts, William Bradford was that of Plymouth. He served thirty years as governor but his hope to build an ideal society based on religious principles gradually diluted in the harsh realities of life and ended in disappointment. While more fertile lands attracted the settlers towards new horizons and Boston harbor experienced a strong growth, Plymouth saw its population decrease. Bradford wrote so from 1644 that, like an ancient mother grown old and forsaken by her children, she helped a lot to become rich and she is poor today.

May 19, 1657 - Benedict Arnold is elected President of the Rhode Island Plantations. He succeeds Roger Williams and Nicholas Easton.

Benedict Arnold (December 21, 1615 - June 19, 1678) From Dorset, he had arrived at the age of 20 in the Massachusetts Bay colony in company of some of his family under the authority of his father William Arnold (1587-1675). They had settled in Hingham, a few miles south of Boston where they were respected as very wealthy people. At the time of the controversies that affected the colony in the late 1630s, the Arnolds sided with minister Roger Williams and appeared among the founders of the city of Providence, Rhode Island. Benedict Arnold, who spoke Indian languages, served as negotiator in 1645 and was subsequently active in the reconciliation of the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations sealed in 1647. He was elected in 1653 assistant at Newport where he had moved.

Street-preaching in New Amsterdam
June 1, 1657 - the first Quakers thrown out from Boston arrive in New Amsterdam.

Among them were two women, Dorothy Waugh and Mary Witherhead. These began to walk the streets of New Amsterdam by preaching new doctrine to people gathered. Governor Peter Stuyvesant ordered to arrest them and put them in jail where during eight days, they had their hands tied amid vermin before being driven on the boat who had to transport them to Rhode Island. One of the members of their group, Robert Hodgson, a 23-year-old young man, decided to stay in the New Netherlands and moved to Hempstead where already lived members of the Society of Friends. He was soon pursued by Peter Stuyvesant and got locked up. Heavily condemned, he had to suffer the worst humiliations and real persecution before the rebellious population says "enough!”

The Quakers (literally those who quake on hearing the divine word) appeared in the early 1650s as a breakaway movement of the Church of England and Roman Catholicism. Even if traditionally attributed to its major figure George Fox, the foundation of the Quaker doctrine would be actually more complex. It seems that a number of radical Puritans like James Nayler and Edward Burrough had exchanged their views and developed a common preaching.
The Quakers believed that the experience of God was accessible to all and that the intermediaries as the minister or sacraments were useless. They expressed their faith by asserting that "God is in each of us" similar to an inner light.
Fox began to preach in 1648 in a time when Puristanism was dominant in England. He attracted attention with peremptory arguments condemning state-funded pastoring and church building, considering on the contrary rightful any place where Christians chose to gather. Without service nor liturgy, the Quakers met in a silence that was disturbed only when one of theirs heard the Spirit speaking to him. Their absence of ceremonial moved them closer to another splinter group, the Seekers who were convinced that there was no true church on earth and were just waiting for the advent of the kingdom of God.

A Quaker Meeting
Egbert Van Heemskerck (1634-1704)

June, 1657 - John Endecott is renewed as governor of Massachusetts.

June 18, 1657 - one year after his appointment by Cecilius Calvert 2nd Lord Baltimore, the new governor of Maryland Josias Fendall, departing for England, chooses Luke Barber to act for him during his absence.

Luke Barber (1615-) native of Yorkshire, this doctor and surgeon served under Cromwell before leaving for Maryland in 1654, granted by Lord Baltimore a land of 1000 acres for bringing 5 new settlers and supplies to the colony.

June 21, 1657 - Asser Levy van Swellem, the first Jewish policeman of New Amsterdam also becomes its first Jewish citizen.

He was the first to benefit from the decree instituting equal rights between Jews and Dutch. Director Peter Stuyvesant had nevertheless deeply opposed that the Jews acquire the citizenship.
Levy had complained about the fact that his right to trade was restricted by a law requiring him a burgher-status which was denied. He had appealed to the Director of the West India Company who had just reached his request.

July, 1657 – Quaker missionary Elizabeth Harris leaves for London after a year spent in Providence (present-day Annapolis), Maryland.

She managed to attract new followers among whom captain William Fuller, one of the commissioners appointed by the English Parliament until then better known for his puritan views.

Quaker preacher
August, 1657 - Expelled from Boston, Quakers reach New Amsterdam. Several of them are arrested from their arrival. Young preacher Robert Hodgson succeeds in holding a meeting in Gravesend at Lady Deborah Moody’s but he is arrested and whipped for refusing hard labor.

He was hung by the hands and beaten for several days. It was the own sister of governor Peter Stuyvesant, Anna widow of Samuel Bayard who urged him until she gets his release. Two weeks later, it was Henry Townsend's turn to be sentenced and banished for having organized a Quakers' meeting at his home.

August 20, 1657 - Forced to flee Massachusetts, both Quaker missionaries Christopher Holder and John Copeland, arrive at Sandwich, in the Plymouth colony where they are rather welcome.

They had been condemned the previous year and sent back to England but Holder was resolved to return to America. He got from George Fox a place on another ship and sailed again towards Massachusetts together with Copeland.
They went first to Salem where they disturbed the holding of a service of worship in the congregational church of which Governor John Endecott was himself the minister. Furious, the latter sent his men to seize Holder. They even tried to stifle him by pressing a tissue into his throat when he was saved by the interposition of Samuel Shattuck, a member of the local church. Both Quakers were arrested, sentenced to receive thirty lashes and finally released a few months later. They went first to the island of Martha's Vineyard but the Rev. Thomas Mayhew refused to meet them. Disappointed, they sailed back to Sandwich.
As well as they had previously welcomed Nicholas Upsall, another preacher of the Society of Friends expelled from Boston, the people of Sandwich were for some receptive to the message of these two new Quakers and adopted their practices and their faith. Their activities were not however suitable to the authorities which preferred to send them to prison. The Quakers chose from then to meet secretly in a place called Chistopher’s Hollow in honor of Holder.

September 2, 1657 - The governor and judges of Massachusetts declare that they consider the Quakers as instruments in the service of Satan and they will hold them in prison until they can be sent back where they come from.

September 2, 1657 - the first autopsy is practiced in Maryland on the body of a slave probably killed by his master.

The surgeon received a " hogshead of tobacco to have dissected and observed the corpse ".
John Dandy, the owner of this slave, had been already in trouble with the law in the province for the murder of a young Indian committed in 1643. He was then sentenced to hang but as he was also the best gunsmith of Maryland, his judgment had been cancelled. The autopsy was not conclusive but Dandy was however convinced of murder and condemned to be hanged. He managed first to escape to Virginia, but caught up, he was handed over to his judges and executed on October 3, 1657.

Thomas Mayhew and the
Narragansett Sachem
Autumn, 1657 - Minister Thomas Mayhew, Jr. leaves for England to raise funds for the missionary company he has started since 1649 on Martha's Vineyard. His boat will be lost at sea. 

He brought with him a young Indian preacher, a son of Miohqsoo whom he expected to be the living proof of the work achieved on the island. They left Boston aboard the 400 - ton vessel Garrett who carried about fifty passengers including some prominent figures  The ship was last seen sailing off Cape Cod before disappearing with all hands.

The death at 36 of his only son devastated Thomas Mayhew, Sr. but he made significant efforts for perpetuating his work with the Indians.He found however no missionary able of speaking the Indian language interested in settling on the island. He was thus forced at 60 to resume his trader's business and to preach every week in the Indian camps. 

October, 1657 - The people of Stonington (then Pequot Plantation) sign a petition asking to be placed under the Massachusetts jurisdiction. They have wanted for over three years to separate from the church of New London but face fierce opposition of its leader, the Reverend Blinman.

October 14, 1657 - The General Court of Massachusetts enacts a law sentencing to a 100-£ fine and imprisonment until payment of this sum, anyone who would introduce into the colony a Quaker or a heretic blasphemer.

Prescribed corporal punishment was bloodcurdling. A repeat offender Quaker was condemned to have an ear cut off, two if he persisted and after the third time, he had the tongue pierced with a hot iron, both a man and a woman.

November 30, 1657 - Lord Baltimore is confirmed in his rights on Maryland.

This was undoubtedly a humiliation to the Puritan commissioners who hoped to keep control over the province they had seized with consent of the Parliament since Cromwell took the power. However, the British authorities had just agreed with Lord Baltimore. The latter dispatched his younger son, Philip Calvert to the colony, with the appointment of secretary, counselor and judge at the Provincial Court.

Signers of the Flushing Remonstrance
December 29, 1657 - Sheriff Tobias Feake and city Clerk William Hart of Vlissingen, Long Island, assisted by two magistrates deliver a petition (Flushing Remonstrance) to Peter Stuyvesant, the director of New Amsterdam, signed by thirty freeholders who refuse to apply the ban imposed on Quaker meetings just because they do not belong to the Reformed Church of Holland.

The Flushing Remonstrance (Flushing being the name given afterward to the city of Vlissingen) constituted probably the first declaration of religious tolerance drafted by a group of American citizens. It was about a real message of peace and religious freedom that radically broke with the stiff speeches and only repressive laws of the Dutch as well as English colonial governments.

It claimed in particular “Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker….. if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing. »
Even if the events had later shown that it was only a dream, it was part of a Dutch tradition of tolerance derived from the Treaty of Utrecht (1579) spread when the Netherlands tried to unify the Calvinist northern provinces to the southern Catholic ones.

The signers were arrested but quickly released whereas five Quakers who had just landed in New Amsterdam were expelled to Rhode Island.

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