OTHER RELIGIOUS GROUPS

Anglicans and Puritans don't comprise the total American religious picture. Massachusetts and Virginia aren't America's only colonies. I've mentioned Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York, which was originally Dutch. I need to discuss three other religious groups and two other colonies. Let's give some attention to the Baptists, Quakers, and Roman Catholics. I also want to give some attention to Pennsylvania and Maryland.

I. The Baptists

Baptists like to trace their history back to Jesus Christ. Some Baptists try to link themselves to John the Immerser. A few recent historians erroneously tie the Baptists to the Reformation Anabaptists. The Baptists and Anabaptists do have some similarities and some indirect links, their differences are greater.

You can consider a certain John Smith the father of modern English and American Baptists. Smith studied at Cambridge University where he contacted Puritan teachings. He adopted separatist views identifying with that Puritan segment. Later he concluded that infant baptism lacked biblical warrant and he abandoned it. His study led him to doubt the validity of his own baptism. Smith subsequently sprinkled himself then baptized Thomas Helwys.

King James' effort to harass separatist Puritans in England also drove Helwys out. Mennonites immersed Helwys in Holland. This baptism provided the only Baptist link with Anabaptists. In 1612, Helwys reasoned that he erred in running from persecution. He returned to England and established Baptist Churches. By 1644, England had 47 Baptist congregations with 20,000 members.

Roger Williams receives credit for the first American Baptist congregation. This church met in Williams' Providence home beginning in 1639. A short time later Williams became a Seeker. After Williams' defection, Baptists faced numerous internal conflicts. The main issue came from the question of whether or not laying on of hands symbolized the reception of the Holy Spirit. "Six Principle Baptists" (largely Arminian) held that it did. "General Baptists" (largely Calvinistic) denied that it did not.

John Clarke established a Baptist Church in Newport, Rhode Island in 1641. By 1644, it had fully organized. The congregation prospered until the laying on of hands issue divided it in 1656. Then in 1671, a Seventh Day Baptist church also organized in Newport.

Baptist views appeared in Massachusetts from time to time, but the colony forced those holding them out until the Act of Toleration.

II. The Quakers

America's first Quakers were missionaries, not colonists. Quaker missionaries entered New England, particularly Massachusetts, several times. Colonial authorities repeatedly warned them to leave or face death. Massachusetts resorted to levying fines against ship's captains who brought Quakers to the colony. Once induced to leave, many Quakers headed for Rhode Island where they enjoyed freedom and could establish a "base camp." On one occasion, Massachusetts hanged four Quaker missionaries, one of whom was a woman.

A second period of Quaker immigration began when a few of their most influential missionaries came to America. George Fox, Quakerism's founder, made tremendous impact in the colonies. He arrived in Maryland on March 3, 1672, and immediately toured the eastern seaboard. He did his most effective work in Rhode Island. During his stay in Rhode Island, Fox debated the 70-year-old Roger Williams. In the process Williams, angered at Fox's effectiveness, identified 14 Quaker errors. Both sides claimed victory. The debate's only positive result was the fact that "both sides practiced freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, in which both equally believed." Quaker missionary work continued in the southern colonies, particularly North Carolina.

Quakers established their first colony in New Jersey. When New Netherlands became New York and transferred to English control, the crown granted New York and New Jersey to the Duke of York. The proprietor then sold his interest in New Jersey to George Calvert and John Lord Berkeley. Calvert and Berkeley sold it to two Quakers. In 1680, these men resold sections of Jersey to 12 men, mostly Quakers. Among them was William Penn. Quaker control in New Jersey didn't last long, and by 1692 Anglicans gained control. New Jersey's greatest Quaker significance is that it afforded William Penn an opportunity to become acquainted with America. It is also worth noting that while Quakers controlled New Jersey they allowed full religious liberty.

William Penn, the son of Sir William Penn, was born 1644. Penn first heard Quaker ideas at age 12 on his father's Irish estate. While a student at Oxford, Quakerism took full root in Penn's life. He and other Oxford students rebelled against the college chapel's "ritualistic services". His protests led to expulsion. His father, a good Anglican, hoped to cure his son by removing him from Quaker influence. Penn's father sent him first to the Continent and then to Ireland. In Ireland, however, Penn broke with Anglicanism and converted to Quakerism in 1667.

Three years after his conversion Penn became one of England's wealthiest men. He inherited his father's estate in 1670. He also gained wealth through friendly relationships with the Duke of York and the royal court. His friendship with the Duke of York led to the Pennsylvania grant in March 1681. The crown owed Penn's father money, so they granted him Pennsylvania in payment for the 16,000 Pound debt.

Penn quickly began preparations for colonizing his new territory. He sent a cousin to America to prepare settlements. He printed brochures in English and German to promote immigration and settlement. Proprietorship gave Penn the right to rule the colony as he wished. He established a very tolerant and representative form of colonial government. In 1681, two boatloads of Quakers sailed for Pennsylvania. Twenty-three more ships soon followed them up the Delaware River to place 2,000 settlers ashore. Penn himself arrived in 1682 to direct Philadelphia's planning.

Penn wisely established good relationships with the region's Indians and his treaties outlived him. Penn traveled often between Pennsylvania and England but his leadership established a colony with America's greatest religious diversity.

III. The Roman Catholics

Except for the period under "Bloody" Mary, the English Catholics were continually persecuted following Henry's reformation. Even during Mary's reign, good Englishmen did not trust Catholics. The English reformation pushed the nation towards broad toleration for everyone except Unitarians and Catholics. As the New World opened Catholics sought out a haven where they, too, could worship according to conscience.

George Calvert established English America's only successful Catholic colony. Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore, had only recently converted to Catholicism when he established Maryland, named for Queen Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine. Interestingly, Calvert not only converted from Protestantism, he once sat in Parliament, normally a Protestant bastion.

During his earlier years, Calvert worked to enforce conformity to the Church of England upon the Irish. He experienced firsthand the results of such high handed efforts. Long interested in American colonization -- he belonged to both the New England and Virginia companies -- Calvert hoped to establish a colony where Catholics could freely worship.

The Maryland charter gave Baltimore complete control over the colony's government as well as absolute control of land. The crown demanded from him the payment of two Indian arrows annually at Windsor.

Once settlement began, Calvert discovered he could induce few Catholics to leave for America. Frankly, some Catholics wanted to go, but the crown insisted they deny papal authority in England as a condition to permission to emigrate. English Catholics still insisted the Pope headed England's church. As a result, the government refused to allow them to leave. Initially those who set sail for Calvert's colony professed Protestantism. As a result, Maryland also tolerated various religious beliefs from its inception.

Calvert's openness to Protestant colonists got him into trouble with the Jesuits. Jesuits entering Maryland tried to undermine the Proprietor's authority by working a deal to accept land directly from the Indians. They also insisted that Canon Law governed any unsettled region so they would not answer to the civil government. Calvert worked to head this off. His successful effort left an indelible mark on Maryland law. To this day no one can acquire land for religious purposes in the state without an act of the Maryland legislature. Furthermore, no priest or clergyman can hold elected office in Maryland's state government.

Maryland provides the only example of a colonizing effort which settled Protestants next to Catholics. Conditions in England continually worked against such efforts. Parliament's Puritan minority between 1649-1660 tried to frustrate Calvert at every turn. Virginia, too, opposed Maryland's grant to Calvert. When the English Civil War erupted, Protestants pressured Parliament to revoke Maryland's charter.

In an effort to reduce the pressure, Calvert appointed a Protestant governor in 1648. He also invited Virginia Puritans to relocate to Maryland with the promise of political and religious freedom. These Puritans settled near Annapolis and in time became prosperous. Power accompanied their growing prosperity. When Puritan factions came to power in England, they encouraged the Maryland Puritans to assert themselves and take over the colony. In 1654, the Puritans succeeded and the Puritan Majority in Maryland's Assembly disenfranchised the Catholics. Calvert, in an effort to retain his Proprietary rights, resorted to military action. A brief "civil war" followed with a Puritan victory. Puritans immediately took revenge on their Catholic neighbors.

After the Restoration, Charles II reestablished Calvert's rights and reduced Puritan opposition. From that point on, Protestants and Catholics lived uneasily side-by-side. When James II announced his conversion to Catholicism Maryland thrived as Catholicism's New World bastion.

Let me conclude with just two statements about colonial religious toleration. First, make a distinction between the policies of individuals and those of ecclesiastical bodies. In other words, Calvert (Lord Baltimore) was tolerant but Catholicism was never tolerant. Second, take note of the fact that minorities always favor toleration regardless of their real principles.

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