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The Flushing Remonstrance
1657

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Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Amsterdam With the exception of a few adventurers and fortune-seekers, the majority of the early settlers who came to America's wilderness shores were seeking the right to worship God as they saw fit. In Europe, established churches were the norm, and those who sought the path to Heaven in an even slightly different manner were shunned, ostracized or even imprisoned.

Unfortunately, too many of our early settlers, perhaps not so averse to religious persecution as they were to the specific church doing the persecuting, continued to demand obeisance to a specific form of religion. So it was in New Amsterdam (New York City) in the mid-1600s.

Under the rule of Governor Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch Reformed Church reigned supreme and Quakers, specifically, were banned from worshipping. However, the incorporated village of Flushing had been founded by English settlers who saw liberty, not oppression, in the Word of God. Thirty of them signed this petition to Stuyvesant, requesting that Quakers be allowed to meet and worship in peace.

The result was predictable for the time: The Remonstrance was refused, and four of the signers were arrested. Two were kept in prison on bread and water for a month. In 1662, one John Browne allowed Quakers to meet in his house, was arrested by Governor Stuyvesant and banished to Holland. There he managed to convince the Dutch West Indies Company to order Stuyvesant to cease religious persecution.

The colony was turned over to English rule in 1664.



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The Flushing Remonstrance
1657
Remonstrance of the Inhabitants of the Town of Flushing
to Governor Stuyvesant,
December 27, 1657

Right Honorable

You have been pleased to send unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be, by some, seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them, for out of Christ God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Wee desire therefore in this case not to judge least we be judged, neither to condemn least we be condemned, but rather let every man stand or fall to his own Master. Wee are bounde by the law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith. And though for the present we seem to be unsensible for the law and the Law giver, yet when death and the Law assault us, if wee have our advocate to seeke, who shall plead for us in this case of conscience betwixt God and our own souls; the powers of this world can neither attach us, neither excuse us, for if God justifye who can condemn and if God condemn there is none can justifye.

And for those jealousies and suspicions which some have of them, that they are destructive unto Magistracy and Ministerye, that cannot bee, for the Magistrate hath his sword in his hand and the Minister hath the sword in his hand, as witnesse those two great examples, which all Magistrates and Ministers are to follow, Moses and Christ, whom God raised up maintained and defended against all enemies both of flesh and spirit; and therefore that of God will stand, and that which is of man will come to nothing. And as the Lord hath taught Moses or the civil power to give an outward liberty in the state, by the law written in his heart designed for the good of all, and can truly judge who is good, who is evil, who is true and who is false, and can pass definitive sentence of life or death against that man which arises up against the fundamental law of the States General; soe he hath made his ministers a savor of life unto life and a savor of death unto death.

The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage. And because our Saviour sayeth it is impossible but that offences will come, but woe unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title hee appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to doe unto all men as we desire all men should doe unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Saviour sayeth this is the law and the prophets.

Therefore 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.

Written this 27th of December in the year 1657, by mee.

Edward Hart, Clericus


Additional Signers:
Tobias Feake
The marke of William Noble
William Thorne, Seignior
The marke of William Thorne, Jr.
Edward Tarne
John Store
Nathaniel Hefferd
Benjamin Hubbard
The marke of William Pidgion
The marke of George Clere
Elias Doughtie
Antonie Feild
Richard Stocton
Edward Griffine
John Townesend

Nathaniell Tue
Nicholas Blackford
The marke of Micah Tue
The marke of Philip Ud
Robert Field, senior
Robert Field, junior
Nich Colas Parsell
Michael Milner
Henry Townsend
George Wright
John Foard
Henry Semtell
Edward Hart
John Mastine
Edward Farrington
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