The Story of Religion in America


William W. Sweet

Table of Contents:














Titles of Chapters 13 through 24 are Listed Below:

To Read Chapters 13 through 24

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THE last census of religious bodies reveals the fact that there are in the United States more than three hundred denominations of Christians, presenting a more complicated religious pattern than exists among any other people in Christendom. What are the forces which have been responsible for such seeming confusion? Is there a common thread which runs through the three hundred years of American religious history binding these divergent elements into a whole? It is the purpose of this introductory chapter to point out some of the outstanding factors which have been responsible for the distinctive trends in the history of American religion, and to find, if possible, that magic strand which brings understanding out of confusion.

One element which has contributed to this seeming religious chaos is the fact that American religious history has been written by the denominational historian and in denominational terms. The history of each denomination has been told as a complete story in itself, taking little account of other denominations, or of economic, social and political influences. Too frequently it has been written in a denominational spirit for the purpose of exalting the denomination or of praising its leaders. But facts relating to one denomination are not enough. Taken by themselves, all the incidents which go to make up the life of a denomination do not mean much in gaining an understanding of the total religious life of the nation. Indeed, the history of one church, taken by itself, may be actually misleading. To gain complete under understanding it is needful to take into consideration what all the churches have done, as well as every other influence which has entered into the moral and religious life of the people.

The one fact, more than any other, which explains American religion in the period of the colonies is that the colonial churches were largely planted by religious radicals.1 With hardly an exception, the leaders in the establishment of the American colonies were liberal and even radical in both their religious and political views. Political and religious radicalism naturally went hand in hand. A revolution in politics and religion was in progress at the very time American colonization was under way. The old political faith as well as the old ecclesiastical establishments were under attack from every quarter; the parliamentary party not only opposed the divine right of kings; they likewise contested the divine right of bishops. "Not only were many of the first American colonists dissenters from the established religion, leaving the English shores just as the old political faith was being insistently questioned, but they were in a large majority poor men, dissatisfied with the existing order and easily lured by radical ideas."


"There never was," declared Increase Mather in 1677, "a generation that did so perfectly shake off the dust of Babylon, both as to ecclesiastical and civil constitution, as the first generation of Christians that came to this land for the Gospel's sake." The Puritan colonial leaders from the beginning had visions of a new social order, and they gloried in their escape from the bounds and restrictions of the old. The middle colonies and Rhode Island especially offered asylum for the religious radical. William Penn and his associates were generous in inviting other persecuted radicals, such as Mennonites, Dunkers, Moravians, Schwenkfelders, to come to their colonies, and they came, rejoicing in. their escape from the bitter persecutions of the homeland.

The principles of the "Baptists and the Quakers struck at the very foundations of the seventeenth century state and ecclesiastical organization, and were considered in the more conservative colonies, such as Virginia and Massachusetts, as dangerously radical. To a certain degree also the Scotch-Irish, swarming to America in the first half of the eighteenth century, to escape their political and religious grievances, were both religious and political radicals and once settled in their new home they were not slow in asserting themselves religiously as well as politically. No group in America were more determined "to find a new heaven and a new earth" than they, and these "bold and indigent strangers" from Ireland, as they were termed by James Logan, the secretary of William Penn, were soon found in every colony in sufficient numbers to make their influence felt.

1 See William W. Sweet, The American Churches: An Interpretation (London, 1946; New York, 1947), Chap. I, "Left Wing Protestantism Triumphs in Colonial America."


If many of the colonists were religious radicals on leaving their European homes, their radical tendencies were likely to become even more pronounced after they reached America. In the new world there were few restraining forces. If they had remained in Europe, their radical tendencies would doubtless have been somewhat held in check by tradition, by the presence of high church and civil officials; indeed, conservative forces and influences would have been all about them; but three thousand miles away across the Atlantic--then a much greater than today--these restraining forces were not present, "and men moved forward rapidly, even recklessly, on the path of ... experiment." All classes in America felt this liberation from the restraint of long established institutions, social, political and religious. Throughout the entire colonial period there was no church official of high rank in America, not an Anglican or Catholic bishop, or any other ecclesiastical official who might have exercised a restraining influence. By the time of the Revolution the people of America possessed a larger degree of freedom in religion than was to be found among any other people. They had carried on the freest debate on all religious questions without regard to bishops, priests, councils or creeds, thus encouraging an individualism in religion such as existed nowhere else.



The greatest accomplishment of America is the conquest of the continent, and the greatest achievement of the American churches has been the extension of their work westward across the vast stretches of the continent, keeping abreast with the restless and ever moving population. The first task of the American churches after the Revolution was to follow this westward-moving population over the Alleghanies, thence across the Ohio and Mississippi basins, on over the plains and the western mountains to the Pacific. Throughout this whole period the churches were in continuous contact with frontier conditions and frontier needs, and no single fact is more significant in its influence upon American religion.

The pioneer is always an independent individualist, determined to go his own way in religion as well as in politics, and therefore the frontier was fruitful in the multiplication of new sects. Denominations such as the Dunkers and Mennonites, which were of European origin, when transplanted to America divided and redivided as they moved westward into the undeveloped frontier, and recent studies have shown that the multiplication of the small sect since 1880 has been largely confined to the Middle and Far West. Good examples of the division of the larger churches caused by frontier conditions are those which resulted in the formation of the Disciples and the Cumberland Presbyterians. In both instances it was frontier liberalism contending against the narrow control of the older settled regions.

The multiplication of small colleges under church control is another result of frontier conditions. Indeed, most of the American colleges have been founded on a frontier. The general poverty of a new country made it impossible to send young men east for their training; therefore, the only alternative was to bring education to the ministerial student on the frontier. The same process of college founding has characterized practically every American frontier, from the founding of Harvard and Dartmouth to the establishment of the newest college in Montana and Wyoming. Besides these far-reaching influences the frontier supplied that challenge to the heroic without which Christianity seems never to have been able to perform its best work. It was the need of the frontier, also, which when brought to the knowledge of the East was largely responsible for the beginning of the modern Missionary interest, which has supplied one of the chief influences in the life of the American churches.


The most important and far-reaching of the schisms in the American churches were caused by Negro slavery, and the effects of that bitter contest in the churches are still with us. This fact has given to the history of American Christianity a peculiarity all its own, and any attempt to understand American church history must of necessity give large attention to the institution of slavery. Apart from its moral and religious aspects, nowhere can there be found a better example of the influence exerted upon organized Christianity by economic conditions than is furnished by a study of the relation of the churches to slavery. Parties in the churches for and against slavery did not begin to form until cotton growing had developed into a vast industry. It was not until church members had become wealthy cotton growers, that the churches ceased to denounce the institution. At the adoption of the Constitution all the churches were unanimous in their opposition to slavery; by the opening of the Civil War the churches had become a bulwark of American slavery.

Since the Civil War numerous attempts to heal the slavery schisms have been made, but, with one notable exception, in vain. Failure seems to have been largely due to such causes as memories of former bitterness and denominational and sectional pride, while Negro membership in white churches has led to complications. The rapid rise of large Negro churches since the Civil War has been a development peculiar to the United States and must be studied in connection with the slavery background.


Up until the third decade of the eighteenth century the lower classes in the American colonies were little influenced by organized religion and only a small percentage of the population were members of the colonial churches. On the other hand, in the nations of western Europe, where state churches commonly existed church membership came about as a matter of course. Even in the Puritan colonies only a comparatively small proportion of the total population were members of the church, while in Virginia at the opening of the eighteenth century not more than one in twenty were church members, and the proportion was undoubtedly smaller in the other southern colonies. Thus there came to be more unchurched people in America, in proportion to the population than was to be found in any country in Christendom. It was this situation which made necessary the development of a new technique to win people to the church, and this new method, peculiar to America and to other newly settled areas, was revivalism. The Great Awakening was the first religious movement which made any serious impression upon the common people of the American colonies, and marks the beginning of an aggressive American Christianity.

From that time until the end of the nineteenth century revivalism has manifested itself at frequent intervals in America. In its earlier phases revivalism grew largely out of frontier conditions, and performed its best work in the newer sections of the country, and here also it often produced unfortunate excesses. But whatever may be said in criticism of frontier revivalism, this much must be said in its behalf: it was perhaps the only method by which the frontier could receive any of the benefits of Christianity, warped though it often was, almost beyond recognition. The camp meeting, one of the by-products of frontier revivalism, served a very large social and religious need and developed into community Chautauquas and summer assemblies. This peculiar phase of American Christianity has been gradually passing, just in proportion as frontier conditions have been disappearing, while the more adequate academic training of the ministry has lessened the emotional appeal in modern preaching.


In the national period our religious development cannot be understood apart from the economic, social and political changes. In other words, the same set of influences has produced similar results in both church and state, and each has exercised a constant influence on the other. The parallels between American political and religious history are both numerous and striking. "The complete separation of church and state in America, and our division into numerous denominations, should not blind us to the fact that there is after all a certain unity in American church history, as well as frequent connection between it and the Civil history of the nation."

The American churches were engaged in forming national organizations at the very time our constitutional fathers were formulating the Federal Constitution. Nationalism was in the air, manifested not alone in the political activities of the nation, but in the religious organizations as well. Between 1784 and 1800 Methodists, Protestant Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and the Reformed Churches were engaged in breaking Old World controls and in nationalizing their ecclesiastical organizations. This same emphasis is likewise indicated in the formation of organizations among the churches to carry on certain phases of philanthropy. Thus in the early years of the nineteenth century the American Bible Society, the American Tract Society and a whole group of similar organizations were formed, which indicate that the churches were viewing their task as one of national scope. "Thus the church and the nation felt themselves called at the same period to grapple with the same problem," that of securing harmonious cooperation among the states and among the churches.

The period of nationalism was followed by the period of the growth of sectionalism. In this era slavery divided the nation, and it also divided the Church. Churches began to emphasize their own denominational interests at the expense of interdenominational and national interests. Loyalty to the denomination came now to be the great emphasis, as loyalty to the North or South came to be characteristic in politics. Interdenominational societies gave way to denominational; churches were divided into antislavery and proslavery groups, while doctrinal schisms added to the confusion.

In the great American wars, the Revolution, the Civil War and the two World Wars, the American churches supported the program of government and were affected by postwar influences. The new nationalism and the new centralization in government and in business arising after the Civil War found expression in the churches in the formation of the Federal Council, the rise of new interdenominational organizations, as well as in the emphasis upon centralization and efficiency within the individual churches. During World War I the churches and nation became international-minded and built great world programs, to be followed by postwar reaction and a return to a narrow nationalism. During and following World War II, the American churches become once again world conscious, and took the lead in world rehabilitation and in the formation of a World Council of Churches. Thus has the same set of influences produced similar results in church and state while each has exercised a constant influence on the other.

This introductory chapter may well close with these words of de Tocqueville from his Democracy in America, written more than a hundred years ago:

In France I had almost always seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom marching in opposite directions. But in America I found they were intimately united and that they reigned in common over the same country.2


2. Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America. Reeve text revised. edited by Phillips Bradley (New York. 1945). p. 308.




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IT WAS long the custom of Protestant ministers in the United States to speak of the discovery and colonization of North America as a providential event. The facts seemed perfectly clear. Just twenty-five years after Columbus made his famous voyage of discovery, Martin Luther nailed his ninety-five theses to the church door at Wittenberg. Thus the beginning of Protestantism and the discovery of America were contemporaneous events. In other words, God appeared to have saved America for Protestantism. To them it seemed that a divine wisdom and a controlling providence had kept the very existence of America a secret until the fullness of time. But whether providential or not, it is a significant fact that these two great historic events, taken together, contain the key which explains to a large degree the establishment of the English colonies in America.

England was more than a century behind Spain and Portugal in founding colonies. At the opening of the period of discovery the majority of Englishmen were little interested in establishing an England beyond the seas, and as late as the opening of Queen Elizabeth's reign (1558) there were, perhaps, not more than a few hundred Englishmen outside the British Isles. But within a hundred years, following the close of that long reign, English trade had gone out in every direction, and English colonies were to be found in America, in Africa, in Asia and in the islands of the sea. England had succeeded Spain as the mistress of the seas and the foundations of the British Empire had been permanently laid. All this was the accomplishment of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The sixteenth was the century of English pioneering on the sea; in the seventeenth every English colony in America was planted except Georgia. These were also the centuries par excellence of the English trading companies. But what were the reasons which made these centuries a period of such feverish activity on the part of Englishmen? The economic historian would attempt to explain it by saying that a new set of economic forces were at work, while the political historian would mention the political rivalries between Spain, France, Holland and England as the most important contributing factor. But neither of them, nor both together, can explain adequately the establishment of the majority of the English colonies in America. It is true that economic stress was, very probably, responsible for bringing the majority of colonists to America during the whole period of the colonies, but religion was responsible for the founding of more colonies than any other single factor.

To understand this sweeping statement it will be necessary to examine the religious situation in England and also in the several European countries which contributed so largely to the peopling of the English colonies. It is, therefore, the purpose of this chapter to explain the European conditions out of which came the several groups of religionists which migrated to America in the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, and were responsible for laying the foundations of the American churches.

The first English colonies in America were founded by Englishmen, and throughout the whole period of colonization colonists from the British Isles made up the largest part of every colony. We will, therefore, first consider the religious situation in England, Scotland and Ireland, which accounts for the coming of the Puritans, the Cavaliers, the Quakers, the Catholics and finally the Scotch-Irish. Out of these groups came Congregationalism, the Established Church, the English Catholic Church, the Baptists, the Friends and the Presbyterians. These were the most important of the colonial churches, though the Dutch and German elements in the middle colonies particularly were not far behind in numbers and influence. From these elements came the Reformed Churches. the Dutch and German, and the Lutherans, besides the Mennonites, the Dunkers and the Moravians.

"England passed through the Reformation without a Civil War, yet no country in Europe found greater difficulty in coming to a religious equilibrium after that change." Led by the strong-minded Henry VIII--motivated largely by personal ends--and taking advantage of a strong nationalistic movement already under way against foreign control, the English Church broke away from Rome and formed a national church, with the king as the supreme governor, who appointed the bishops and otherwise controlled the ecclesiastical system. Aiding the king in the government of the church was the English parliament, which embodies in statute law the forms of worship and theological tests, which, however, were framed by the clergy. Though the church thus established was limited by king and parliament, yet it possessed some privileges which tended to offset these restrictions. For instance, the Bishops sat in Parliament while the church received tithes charged upon the land and rates payable by all the people. The national church was the only form of religion possessing legal standing and all the people were required to attend its services.

This national church, as long as Henry VIII lived, was Catholic in forms of worship and in its theology, but just as soon as Henry's son, Edward VI, came to the throne a movement got under way at once to make the English Church Protestant in its forms and theology. Edward at his ascension to the throne was a mere boy, so the government was carried on by a council of regency, and this council from the beginning was under the control of the reform party. Immediately radical changes were made in the national church. The result was the publication of Prayer Books, the first in 1549, the second in 1552, which transformed the worship of the English Church from Catholic to Protestant forms. Latin gave way to English as the language of the service; the sermon was given a place of much larger importance; congregational singing was introduced; while both the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper were henceforth to be administered to all communicants, the term "altar" was to give place to "table" and the term "priest" to "minister." Thus the English Church became definitely Protestant.

The swing of the English Church toward Protestantism during Edward's short reign came to a sudden halt with the coming to the throne of the Princess Mary, daughter of the much-wronged Catharine of Aragon. Naturally her consuming desire was to vindicate her mother and restore her mother's faith. To make things worse for the Protestant party she had married the bigoted Philip II of Spain, the archenemy of Protestantism throughout Europe. Immediately a Catholic reaction began, only to stop with the death of the queen five years later. Those who had been chiefly responsible for making the English Church Protestant were driven from office. Some fled the country and found a refuge among the Protestants of Switzerland or in southern Germany, while others were imprisoned. These were years of horrible persecution which have stained indelibly the memory of Mary Tudor and have fastened upon her, justly or unjustly, the name "Bloody Mary." The total number of her victims was about three hundred, a number greater than in Henry VIII's reign of thirty-eight years or of Elizabeth's of forty-five.

The death of the saddened queen--for it is said that Mary died of a broken heart--and the coming to the throne of Elizabeth, the daughter of the sprightly Anne Boleyn, meant the triumph of the Protestant party once more. In 1559 the Act of Supremacy declared the queen the Supreme Governor of the church, and a new revised Prayer Book, following that of 1552, was introduced, while the use of all others was prohibited. At once the Catholic party registered their opposition, not alone to the Acts of Parliament, but to the new queen whose legitimacy they refused to recognize. The results were Catholic plots on the one hand and anti-Catholic legislation on the other, and in the struggle for supremacy which ensued the great majority of the people of England rallied about their queen, and thus Protestantism and patriotism came to mean one and the same thing in sixteenth century England.

The English Protestants who had fled to the continent to escape the wrath of Queen Mary now returned, bringing with them the more extreme Protestant notions which prevailed among the reformed congregations in Switzerland and southern Germany. These and other influences were responsible for increasing the Protestant feeling in the country, and as the sixteenth century wore on, it became evident that the English people were being led farther and farther along the path of reformation. The Thirty-Nine Articles adopted in 1563 expressed the views of Calvin, and in the Convocation of that year the proposal to simplify the rites of the church received strong support, and there was even a petition presented to do away with the use of the surplice. These are but straws which indicate the direction in which the religious winds were blowing, and if it had not been for the queen's liking for stately ceremony, which caused her to prevent more radical changes, it is probable that the English Church might have been purified in the Puritan sense, at this very time, and thus the whole Puritan movement, in both England and America, might have been radically changed. But the old medieval ritual triumphed and was prescribed for all Englishmen. No liberty of worship, whatever, was permitted, and any clergyman who deviated from it was liable to be treated as a criminal, while all nonconformists might be excommunicated and were liable to be imprisoned.

By the death of Queen Elizabeth the Anglican had become the national church in a sense in which it had never been before. At the beginning of her reign the people of England, religiously speaking, were a fluid mass, ready to change from Catholicism to Protestantism and back again, at the bidding of their sovereign. But now a new generation had grown up, which knew no other religion, and the fact that it had the authority of law gave Anglicanism a patriotic sanction which no other church possessed. But in spite of these strong urges toward the national church, it failed to obtain the allegiance and affection of all of the English people. There were, first of all, the Catholics, a small group, it is true, but made up of many wealthy and influential people, the type which generally holds to the old and is slow to take up with the new. Their religion was outlawed, because Catholicism was considered the deadly enemy of the Elizabethan state, although the queen had no antagonism to Roman Catholicism as such, and long lists of anti-Catholic laws were placed upon the statute books by the English Parliament. Such laws were not only passed during the reign of Elizabeth; but even in the reign of James I--from whom the Catholics had expected more lenient treatment because of his Catholic mother, Mary Queen of Scots--the severity of anti-Catholic legislation was increased, because of the fright the king experienced over the Gunpowder Plot, at the very opening of his reign. During the reign of Charles I the Catholics received better treatment, but from 1640 to 1660, the period of the triumph of extreme Protestantism under the Commonwealth, the Catholics were bitterly persecuted.

All this would seem to indicate that there would be a large Catholic exodus from England, yet few Catholics left England, and no English colony remained Catholic for any length of time. Perhaps the chief reason for this fact has already been suggested. The English Catholics were not of the emigrating class. They represented the nobility and the landed gentry, and the conservative tendency which held them to the old religion would hold them to the old home. Then, being of the higher class, they had a better chance to escape the severity of the laws, and we know that the laws against them were largely unenforced, and they were never so badly treated as the anti-Catholic legislation might indicate. Nor were they ever without hope of a bettering of their condition, while toleration in the colonies was always as uncertain as in the homeland.

Of far greater importance, from the standpoint of English colonization of America, was the second group of Englishmen who were dissatisfied with the newly established Church. These were the Puritans. It has been suggested that if the English government had not interfered, England would have divided naturally into two religious camps--the Catholic on the one hand and the Puritan on the other. The Anglican system was the artificial medium between the two extremes.

Throughout Elizabeth's reign the Puritan party was growing in influence and numbers. During the first two decades to 1578, they were particularly concerned about purifying the English Church of all its Catholic practices, such as the use of vestments by the clergy, the using of the sign of the cross in baptism, the celebration of saints' days, kneeling to receive the communion, and the use of certain formulas in the service. Failing to accomplish their ends in Convocation, many Puritan ministers began to disregard the law prescribing these formulas and practices, and changed the service to suit their puritanical taste, while some resigned their pastorates. It was at this time that the term "puritan" came into use as a term of opprobrium, signifying those who insisted on an ultrapure ritual. The next stage in the development of English Puritanism began about 1570, and took the form of agitation to change the government of the church. In 1572, in their "Admonition to Parliament" they declare that "the names archbishops, archdeacons, lord bishops, chancellors, etc., are drawn from the Pope's shop, together with their offices, so the government which they use . . . is anti-Christian and devilish, and contrary to the Scriptures." The system of church government which they advocated was the Presbyterian, which had been introduced from Scotland by the Book of Discipline of 1560. So strong was the movement in this direction that it appeared, for a time, as if the Church of England would be reorganized along Presbyterian lines, but through the stern opposition of the queen and the rigorous administration of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Whitgift, the movement was held in check. Toward the close of Elizabeth's reign the Puritans were emphasizing such matters as strict Sabbath observance, and attacked the immoralities and extravagances of the times.

The great body of the Puritans had no wish to destroy the Established Church, or to divide it. They were dominated by the ideal of a united national church, a church which would be one in form of worship, organization and doctrine. The queen herself was not more tenacious of this ideal than were the great majority of the Puritan party, but there were a few among them, who might be termed Puritan radicals, who advocated a return to the simplicity of organization of the early New Testament times. They advocated the plan of church government which they thought was to be found in the Scriptures, namely, the absolute independence of each congregation of believers. This group came to be called Separatists, because they held that there was no chance at purifying the church by their remaining within it, and they looked upon themselves as did the early Christians, as "saints, sacred and set apart from a wicked and persecuting world."

The Separatists were never numerous, never numbering more than a few thousand. Their congregations generally met secretly, but some defied the law and met openly. Their attitude toward civil government is well summed up in a contemporary letter:

Nevertheless, this is out of doubte, that the Quenes highnes hath not authoritie to compel anie man to beleeve any thing contrary to God's Word, neither may the subject geve her Grace the obedience. Our bodyes, goodes, and lives be at her commandement, and she shall have them as of true subjects. But the soule of man for religion is bound to none but unto God and his holy word.


Naturally the wrath of civil government soon fell upon this little group. Their congregations were broken up; their members were imprisoned; they were deprived of their property, and many of them died under harsh treatment. By the end of the reign of Elizabeth these radicals, or Separatists, had either been driven into exile, or were silenced. We are to hear again of them, when in 1620, discouraged by their ten years of exile in Holland, a little group of them sailed away in the Mayflower to found the first Puritan colony in America.

The radical Puritans, however, were relatively unimportant as compared with the great and growing body of Puritans who remained within the Church of England. As this party within the church became more numerous, and their criticisms of the church more outspoken, a self-conscious High Church party arose, defending the church, asserting the divine appointment of episcopacy and upholding the symbolic ceremonials and ritual. Gradually the breach between these two parties widened, as the attitude of each became more and more dogmatic. Besides their original differences they began to develop doctrinal divergences, for the Puritans held to the doctrines of Calvin, while the High Church party more and more came to accept the newly advanced views of the Dutch theologian Arminius.

Such was the situation when James VI of Scotland became James I of England, in 1603. The Puritans, now advocating Presbyterian organization, and denouncing Episcopal, looked to James to favor their position, since he had been trained a Calvinist under Scottish Presbyterianism. Even before he reached England a petition was presented to him signed by several hundred English clergymen, praying for a change in the Prayer Book in the direction of a simpler service. Their hopes, however, were doomed to early disappointment, for at a great conference called to discuss church matters in 1604, known as the Hampton Court conference, King James angered the Puritans by declaring: "Scotch Presbytery--it agreeth as well with monarchy as God and the devil," and he concluded a long speech before the conference with the words: "If this be all your party hath to say, I will make them conform themselves or else I will harrie them out of the land, or else do worse."

When King James began his reign the people had been divided and discontented, and as his reign drew to its close it was clear that discontent and division had increased. The new king, Charles I, unlike his father, was young and full of vigor. But the royal energy instead of being used wisely, only served to widen the breach between the religious parties in England. Charles had married a French princess, the sister of Louis XIII. Before his marriage he had promised to secure toleration for English Catholics; this, together with the tactless methods employed by Archbishop Laud in enforcing uniformity, cost him the favor of the moderates in his own party, and swelled the ranks of the Puritans.

The stronghold of Puritanism was the region in east-central England between the Thames and the Humber. This was the wool-growing district in close touch with the continent, and especially with the United Netherlands, which had become one of the chief centers of Calvinism. The University of Cambridge was the intellectual center of this region, and many a congregation became completely Puritan under the influence of clergymen educated at Cambridge. It was from this region also that Puritan migration to New England began. Here was located the village of Scrooby, the English home of the Plymouth colonists. It was in Lincolnshire that the Massachusetts Bay Company was born, formed by wealthy and influential Puritans of the region. The New England leaders were Cambridge men. Thus it was but natural that the first Puritan college in America should be located in the village which they named Cambridge, since their infant institution was modeled after one of the colleges at Cambridge University, and named after a young Puritan minister, a graduate of Cambridge, John Harvard. It was mainly from this region that some twenty to thirty thousand of England's strongest and most intelligent citizens left, between the years 1628 and 1642, to make their homes in the New England across the sea.

By 1642 Puritanism in England was completely triumphant. Seven years later the king was beheaded, and for the next decade England was governed without a king or a House of Lords. The Anglican Church was now under a cloud. The Puritans in turn became persecutors, and the Anglicans, who had fought, during the Civil Wars, on the king's side, began to leave in great numbers for Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas. They came to escape conditions at home just as intolerable as those which had caused the migration of the Puritans to Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay.

The period of the Commonwealth was one of religious disintegration in England. The breaking down of the old organizations and the disappearance of the old authority presented a glorious opportunity to the individual religious leader, and as a result numerous small religious bodies began to appear. Among the better known of these were the Anabaptists, the Millenarians, or Fifth Monarchy men, who went about preaching the millennial kingdom of Christ on earth and the Friends, or Quakers. From the standpoint of their importance in the colonization of America, the Quaker was by far the most interesting and significant of these individualistic religious movements of the seventeenth century.

Fortunately there have always been mystically-minded people. Such an individual was George Fox, a weaver's son and an apprentice to a shoemaker, with little book learning beyond the Bible, but blessed with spiritual insight. After years of inner struggle, during which he wandered about through the Midlands of England, Fox became by 1647 an apostle of a new reformation. He rejected all the conventional beliefs and taught that there was direct illumination from God within every man's inner being; that there was no need for a priest or minister, since religion is something that begins in the soul of man, and is not primarily concerned with books, creeds or institutions. In the propagation of these ideas Fox met with abuse and violence. Sixty times was he brought before magistrates, and was imprisoned eight times, for longer or shorter periods. By 1652 others began to join his movement, especially in the northern counties, where Swarthmore Hall became the center of their increasing activities. By 1654 there were sixty people proclaiming the principles of the Quakers, some of them women, and by 1659 there were probably thirty thousand Quakers in England.

This rapid increase in numbers, and the enthusiasm with which they preached their peculiar notions, together with their intrusion into the churches, where they denounced the paying of tithes, the taking of oaths, and every other practice which they disapproved, brought down upon them such harsh treatment as only seventeenth century England knew how to impose. They were ridiculed by the clergy, fined and imprisoned by the magistrates and subjected to every indignity by their jailers. Nor did the coming of Charles II to the throne in 1660 relieve their distresses. The Church of England, now once more restored to its place of influence, asserted its despotic power as vigorously as in the time of Laud. By 1662 more than four thousand Quakers were to be found in the jails of England, and in the homeland there seemed no immediate hope for better treatment.

Meanwhile conversions to Quakerism were going on apace. At first the appeal had been largely to people of the lower middle class, but now they began to gain converts from among those of family and fortune. In 1667 William Penn, the son of Admiral William Penn, was "convinced" and soon became one of the most active champions of the persecuted sect. The claim of 16,000 pounds against the king, which was a part of the considerable fortune which Penn inherited from his father, was repaid by Charles II in the shape of a great land grant in America, toward which the tide of Quaker emigration soon set in, and within an incredibly short time a great Quaker commonwealth was created. From 1656 to the end of the colonial period Quakerism was an expanding force in America, for the New World presented favorable opportunities for the carrying out of the Quaker ideals of life which were not to be found in the mother country. There is evidence that America had a prominent part in the thoughts and plans of George Fox almost from the inception of his movement, for the New World presented to him what seemed a providential field to be won for his truth. By 1750 there were more Quakers in America than in Great Britain and they had played the largest part in the making of three of the thirteen colonies, and a prominent part in the making of three others.

One of the largest single racial elements in the American colonies at the opening of the American Revolution was the Scotch-Irish. Their coming marks the real beginning of Presbyterianism in America. What were the causes back of this last great wave of immigration in the colonial period?

The Scottish reformation began somewhat later than did the English, though once under way it swept forward with irresistible force. The Roman Church in Scotland had been largely under the control of the Scottish nobility, who managed to place their younger sons in the highest offices. The lower clergy were generally ignorant, indolent and incapable, but in spite of these handicaps the majority of the Scottish people were faithful to the old church. Gradually, however, Lutheran ideas filtered into the eastern towns along the coast, and by 1535 a reform party was forming in Scotland. Soon Scotland was divided between two religious parties, the Catholic favoring a continuance of the alliance with France, the Protestant desiring to draw more closely to England. At first the Catholic party was the stronger, and under the able leadership of Cardinal Beaton, archbishop of St. Andrews and primate of Scotland, Protestants were persecuted and several of their leaders burned at the stake. The execution of George Wishart, one of the most famous of the Scottish Protestant preachers, in 1546, was followed by the assassination of the Cardinal by some of Wishart's followers. From this time forward the Protestant party became more aggressive and ten years later were strong enough to take the offensive in a war for their new faith.

The next phase of the Scottish reformation gathers about the name John Knox, Wishart's favorite apostle. Soon after Wishart's execution Knox was taken prisoner by a French fleet, and for almost two years was a French galley slave. Through the instrumentality of the English government he was released in 1549, when he took up his residence in England, where for five years he preached in three English towns, including London. When Mary Tudor came to the throne Knox was one of those who withdrew to the continent, and first at Frankfort and later at Geneva, he preached to Reformed congregations, where he came in contact with the great Calvin, who was then the controlling force in church and state.

Meanwhile affairs were moving rapidly in Scotland. In 1557 Scottish Lords favorable to the Reformation organized themselves into "Lords of the Congregation," and two years later open war began between the two religious parties. In the midst of this war Knox returned from Geneva. The Scottish reformers, up to this time, had favored a system of church government resembling that of the Church of England, but the appearance of John Knox turned the scale in favor of strict Calvinism, and a Presbyterian system was the result.

The next turn in the course of events which accounts for American colonial Presbyterianism is the Scottish colonization of Ireland. From the time of Henry VIII onward the English rulers attempted to extend their control over the whole of Ireland, a policy which was valiantly resisted by the Irish clan leaders. To help in their plan of controlling the country, Irish land was given to English and Scottish landlords, and gradually English and Scottish settlements were formed, especially in the north of Ireland. This policy was carried forward most vigorously by James I, and large numbers of Scottish settlers from western Scotland were soon residing in the four northeastern counties of Ulster. Coming largely from Scotland, these settlers were chiefly Presbyterians. They made excellent colonists, and it was not long until their section became the most prosperous part of Ireland, and their chief city, Belfast, the most important port.

Streams of Scotch-Irish emigration to the American colonies began in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and by the middle of the century they were coming in great waves. This migration was largely due to economic causes. The English government at this time was, with other European nations, under the delusion that in order to bring prosperity to the mother country it was necessary to restrict the economic activities of colonies. The colonies in North Ireland were treated just as were those in America, and Navigation Acts were passed, restraining exports of live stock and woolen manufactories. This legislation ruined the woolen trade and thousands of weavers left Ireland for other countries. As the economic distresses increased a great stream of migration set in toward America. Added to the economic distresses were religious grievances. A strong and aggressive Presbyterian organization had been built up in North Ireland with the coming of the Scottish colonists, with an efficient ministry, trained largely in Scottish universities. These stanch Presbyterians, supporting their own churches voluntarily, were, in addition, compelled to pay tithes for the support of the Church of Ireland, an Anglican organization, which represented only a small minority of the people. By 1750, it has been estimated that 100,000 people of this racial group had found homes in America.

So far the English, Scottish and Irish background of the American religious groups has been traced; it remains to discuss the Dutch, German and French background.

When the Reformation began, the Low Countries were linked with Spain, under the rule of Charles, the grandson of Ferdinand and Isabella. Since the Netherlands were thus united to the most Catholic country in Europe, it was but natural that vigorous attempts should be made to keep out Lutheran ideas from the beginning. Proclamation followed proclamation, edict followed edict, forbidding open or secret meetings, against printing unlicensed books, against the reading of the Scriptures. Long lists of prohibited books were posted while the penalties for the violation of these prohibitions became increasingly severe. But in spite of all these precautions the number of heretics rapidly increased. Persecution followed, attended by harrowing atrocities, and it is estimated that 30,000 people had been put to death in the Netherlands when Charles abdicated the throne in favor of his son in 1556.

If Charles V had scourged the reformers of the Netherlands with whips, Philip II lashed them with scorpions. For four years Philip remained in the Netherlands to administer the edicts against the heretics, but heresy continued to spread in spite of all he could do. Even the Catholics of the Netherlands opposed the enforcement of the most severe edicts, or "Placards" as they were termed, and sent a petition to Philip asking for a change of policy allowing a degree of religious freedom. To this the king responded by introducing the Spanish Inquisition (1565), which only served to increase the number of Protestants within the provinces. Finally, two years later, open rebellion broke out. The Duke of Alva, of dreadful memory, came with his veteran troops, his unlimited powers and "Council of Blood," and 10.000 more victims were added to the already long list of martyrs for conscience sake, while Dutch and Walloon refugees, estimated at 400,000, were to be found in England and southern Germany. William Prince of Orange, himself a Catholic, and recognized as their leader by both Dutch Catholics and Protestants, led the revolt against Spanish rule, and one by one the cities drove out their Spanish governors and placed themselves under his banner. In 1576 came the Pacification of Ghent, in which Holland and Zealand and the fifteen southern provinces agreed to unite to expel the Spaniards. Three years later, after the southern, French-speaking provinces had returned to Roman Catholic uniformity, the Union of Utrecht was formed, uniting the seven northern provinces, which three years later renounced allegiance to the King of Spain and constituted themselves an independent republic. Religious toleration was one of the glories of the new Republic of United Netherlands, for one of the provisions of their union was that no one should be questioned on the subject of divine worship.

The long bitter struggle against the Spaniard had intensified Dutch Protestantism, and it was in the midst of their terrible trials that their churches were organized. Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, all had their followers in the Netherlands, but in the end the Calvinist influence proved the stronger, and the Dutch Church became Calvinistic in discipline and doctrine. Both the Lutheran and Zwinglian systems were closely related to the civil government, but when the Dutch churches were deciding on their form of government, the Duke of Alva was the ruler of the Netherlands and thus the favor of government was entirely out of the question. The Presbyterian system, therefore, which had been the form of government adopted by the Church in the early centuries, when it was under the ban of the Roman Empire, seemed the form best suited for a "Church under the Cross."

The first one hundred years following independence were the greatest in the history of the Dutch people. In the long struggle against the Spaniard the Sea Beggars had played a prominent and heroic part. Again and again they had routed the clumsy Spanish ships, and whenever the Beggars appeared, the Spaniards had learned through bitter experience that the best thing to be done was to flee. The terrible struggle through which they had come, instead of exhausting their energies, seemed but to have awakened them to a more vigorous life. Having achieved independence, they became at once one of the great commercial and maritime powers of Europe, and Dutch ships were soon finding their way into every port. Those were great years in the history of the Dutch people. Rubens was engaged in painting his glorious pictures; Hugo Grotius was writing his matchless treatises on the freedom of the seas, laying the foundation for international law; while Dutch trading companies, both east and west, were establishing the foundations of the Dutch colonial empire.

The Dutch colonies, wherever founded, were primarily trading centers. The Dutch people did not migrate in great numbers to their colonies, largely because the population of the mother country was small, having been sorely depleted by the long, bloody wars. But those who did settle in America were of such sturdy stuff and the institutions they established, including their church, were so highly developed that they continued to exercise an influence far larger than their actual numbers would seem to warrant.

It has been estimated by painstaking students that in 1750 at least 100,000 Germans were to be found in the English colonies in America. The largest share of them were in Pennsylvania, where they numbered perhaps 70,000, though Germans were also to be found in New York, in the western counties of Virginia and the Carolinas and in Georgia.

To account for this large migration of Germans to the New World it will be necessary to recall some of the effects of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). There is little doubt but that this war was one of the most cruel and brutal in modern history. Seventy-five percent of the population throughout Germany were killed, while the property loss was even greater, and it is an accepted fact, based upon carefully gathered statistics, that the war set back German material development by two hundred years. Southern Germany, or the Palatinate, was the region which suffered most. But so fertile was the soil and so great was the recuperative power of the people, because of their industry and agricultural skill, that soon after each invasion the country was transformed from a desert into a garden, only to attract other plunderers. But as though the sufferings of the Thirty Years' War were not enough, Louis XIV of France, on three different occasions (1674, 1680, 1688) in the last quarter of the seventeenth century, sent his armies into the Palatinate to burn and to plunder. The greed and the cruelty of the French, we are told, exceeded even that of the "Landsknechte" of the Thirty Years' War, who drove nearly 500,000 Palatines from their burning houses and devastated fields.

Added to the terrible conditions produced by the wars and invasions were the religious persecutions. The Treaty of Westphalia (1648), which marked the end of the Thirty Years' War, provided for some degree of toleration. Catholics, Lutherans and Reformed were to have equal rights in the Empire, though the individual princes could still restrict the religious freedom of their subjects. But neither Catholics, Lutherans nor Reformed respected the rights of the small sects, such as the Mennonites, Dunkers and German Quakers. Thus religious persecution, the tyranny of petty rulers, destructive wars and general economic distress produced the background out of which came German emigration to the American colonies.

In 1671 and again in 1677 William Penn visited the continent and the lower Rhine region. Penn's sympathies were aroused by the distresses of the Palatines, and when he had become the possessor, a few years later, of his great American province, he appointed agents to solicit settlers from among the Palatines. Penn's pamphlet, "Some Account of the Province of Pennsylvania in America" was translated into German in 1681, the first of a series of pamphlets and tracts by which the people of the Palatinate and the regions outside were made acquainted with the "Holy Experiment" which William Penn was fathering in America. And one may well imagine the joy with which these simple people read Penn's essay on "Religious Liberty" which was appended to his advertisements.

Still another group of persecuted Germans, some of whom eventually found their way to the English colonies in America, were the Salzburgers. These were German Lutherans, driven from the Austrian archbishopric of Salzburg by the fanatical zeal of the archbishop in 1731. More than 30,000 of them were exiled from their native land, and the cruelty of their sufferings soon aroused the indignation of all Protestant Europe. Seventeen thousand of them eventually found homes in Prussia, where they were received by the king, Frederick William I. Just at this time the colony of Georgia was being planned by a group of philanthropic Englishmen, and they, cooperating with the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge in London, provided a haven for some of the most daring of the Salzburgers on the soil of the new colony of Georgia. Their first settlement in America was called Ebenezer--the stone of help--for, said they, "hitherto hath the Lord helped us" (I Sam. 7:12).

It only remains, in this chapter, to recount the background which brought to the American colonies the religious exiles driven from France by the revocation of the famous Edict of Nantes--the French Huguenots. While they did not come to America in great numbers, yet in proportion to their numbers no single group made so rich a contribution to the English colonies.

The period of the Wars of Religion in France was from 1562 to 1598. There were, all told, eight separate wars during these years. They were ferocious wars indeed, for both Protestants and Catholics were imbued with an extreme fanaticism. Both sides drew allies from the outside. Massacres and assassinations characterized the long struggle; the massacre of St. Bartholomew (1572); the assassination of the Guises (1588); and finally the assassination of Henry III (1589) brought Henry of Navarre, the leader of the Protestant forces, to the throne, as Henry IV. As the only means of bringing peace to his distracted kingdom, Henry resolved to become a Roman Catholic. By this act conditions all over the kingdom changed as if by magic. Nobles, provinces and towns now came forward with offers of their allegiance, and the long wars were at last at an end.

The laws against Protestants, however, were still in force, but the king had given his word to his former companions in arms that all would be well with them. The French Protestant Church was now well organized, with a General Assembly, meeting year by year, and they were demanding equal rights with their Roman Catholic fellow subjects. The king was true to his word and out of the negotiations, carried on by delegates representing the Protestant party, there came finally the Edict of Nantes (1598), the charter of French Protestantism. This granted liberty of conscience throughout the kingdom, state payment for their ministers, while they were given equal entry to all schools. universities and hospitals, and all public offices were open to them.

For nearly a hundred years after the issuing of this famous edict the French Protestants lived under its protection and did their part in resuscitating "the corpse of France." Under Louis XIII, by the aid of his crafty minister Richelieu, France became the ascendant nation in western Europe. It was during these years of returning greatness and wealth that France began the establishment of her colonies in the New World. The early attempts to establish colonies as places of refuge for Huguenots, as in Florida and Brazil, were all failures, while the later colonies founded in the valley of the St. Lawrence, under the administration of Richelieu, were all orthodox Roman Catholic.

Finally in 1685 came the revocation of the edict. This was preceded by twenty years of persecution and forced conversion of the Protestants, and the revocation was but the culmination of a policy of suppression and "jesuitical interpretation of the terms of the edict." Such are the causes for the great migration of French Huguenots which set in toward the close of the seventeenth century and continued until France had lost a large proportion of her best people.

The desire of Louis XIV was not to drive the Huguenots away, but to force their conversion, and for this reason emigration was prohibited. Soldiers were quartered in their houses, but some of them left their homes in the night, "leaving the soldiers in their beds," and abandoning their homes with the furniture. Every wise government in western Europe was eager to offer them a refuge, for they brought with them an industrial skill which represented the best that Europe had to offer. Thus they introduced manufacturing in north Germany, a suburb of London was filled with them, while the Prince of Orange soon had regiments of soldiers recruited from among them. Many went to the Dutch colony in South Africa, while every colony in America, from Massachusetts to South Carolina, extended them a welcome.



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IN LIEU of cargoes of gold and silver for which the early Virginia colonists diligently searched but failed to find in the bays and inlets of the Chesapeake, the ships of the Virginia Company were loaded with ship timbers, cedar, black walnut and clapboards. For Jamestown, the first permanent English colony in America, was the child of a commercial company and was established as a commercial enterprise. Much of the hardship endured by the Jamestown colony was due to the fact that most of the early colonists were gentlemen, unaccustomed to such hard labor as was required to obtain such cargoes. Though primarily concerned with trade the members of the company were from the first interested in promoting religion among the colonists as well as in the conversion of the Indians. Undoubtedly the example of Spain was ever before the early promoters of English colonization. Spain, the chief Roman Catholic nation of the whole world, had established her great colonial empire in the New World, and hand in hand with the Spanish conquerors had gone the Spanish Catholic missionaries, and tens of thousands of the natives of New Spain and Peru had been won to, at least, a nominal acceptance of Catholic Christianity. Should not England, the leading Protestant nation in the whole world, do as much? And thus, by planting colonies in the New World, England herself would not only be benefited but the cause of Protestantism would likewise be advanced, and the power of Spain might also be held in check.

Among the 105 colonists who landed on the low-lying shores of the James in Virginia, on May 13, 1607, was Robert Hunt the chaplain, a "clergyman of persevering fortitude and modest worth," in whose appointment Archbishop Bancroft had been consulted. Hunt seems to have exercised a wholesome influence over the notoriously quarreling members of the council and on more than one occasion, by his "good doctrine and exhortation" allayed the envy and jealousy so that, to quote Captain John Smith, "our factions were oft qualified, our wants and greatest extremities so comforted that they seemed easy in comparison of what we endured after his memorable death." It was on June 21 of that first year that Chaplain Hunt administered the first sacrament to Englishmen in America, under an old sail hung between three or-four trees, to keep off the hot sun of that first Virginia summer, while the worshipers were seated on unhewed logs, the chaplain's pulpit being a "bar of wood nailed to two neighboring trees." After this, we are told, there were daily prayers, morning and evening, while on Sunday there were two sermons and every three months the sacrament.

Just how long Chaplain Hunt lived is not known, but there is evidence that he continued his faithful ministrations at least through part of the year 1608, and then probably died, a victim to the famine and pestilence which swept away so many hundreds of the early Virginia colonists. During the first year a rude, barn like church was erected, which within a few months was destroyed by fire, together with most of the other buildings in the fort. and in the general destruction went the chaplain's meager library. But in the midst of all these distresses, the chaplain was never heard to repine.

In 1609 a new charter was granted to the Virginia Company, independent of the Plymouth Company. The stockholders in this new company numbered 765, among them numerous clergymen, including the bishops of London and Lincoln, as well as 21 peers and other individuals representing every "rank, profession or trade in England and included the merchant guilds of London." The old charter had placed the government in the hands of two councils, one in London, the other in America; the new charter abolished the council in Virginia and in its place was a governor. Lord De La Warr, or Delaware, was the first Virginia governor under the new charter, but not being able to come out immediately Sir Thomas Gates was sent as his deputy, and with Gates came the second clergyman to Virginia, Master Richard Bucke, successor to the lamented Robert Hunt. Bucke was an Oxford graduate and was recommended for the place by the Bishop of London who termed him "an able and painful preacher."

The increased number of shareholders in the Virginia Company bears testimony to a growing interest in colonization in England. As a result larger expeditions were soon in preparation, and for the first time sermons were preached in the churches of London to those about to leave for the New World, One such sermon was that by William Crawshaw, preacher at the Temple in London, before Lord Delaware and the council, which has been termed the first missionary sermon ever addressed by a priest of the Church of England to members of that church. Toward the close of his sermon he gives this sound advice:

A Christian may take nothing from a Heathen against his will, but in fair and lawful bargain. Abraham wanted a place to burie in, and liked a piece of land; and being a great man, and therefore feared, a just and meek man and therefore loved of the heathen, they bad him chuse where hee would, and take it. No, saith Abraham, but I will buy it, and so he paid the price of it; so must all the children of Abraham doe.

Further on, he says, referring to profits to be obtained by the members of the Company:

If there be any that come in, only or principally for profit, or any that would so come in, I wish the latter may never bee in, and the former out again. If the planting of an English Church in a heathen country; if the conversion of the Heathen, of the propagating of the Gospell, and the inlarging of the kingdome of Jesus Christ, be not inducements strong enough to bring them into this businesse, it is a pity they be in at all .... Let us therefore cast aside all cogitation of profit, let us looke at better things; and then I dare say unto you as Christ hath taught us, that if in this action wee seeke first the kingdome of God, all other things shall be added unto us.

Wise advice indeed, but the most casual reading of the story of the founding of Virginia will show how poorly that advice was followed.

At the arrival of Deputy Governor Gates conditions in the colony were discouraging in the extreme. In 1609 there had been more than 500 colonists, but by May, 1610, no more than 60 were alive. On landing, the new governor and the colonists who came with him proceeded at once to the church, now rebuilt after the fire, where the bell was rung and "the dispirited and starving people dragged" themselves to the house of God where Chaplain Bucke offered up a "zealous and sorrowful prayer," and at the close of service the governor's commission was read and the deputy assumed office. But conditions were too bad to be long endured, and very soon the governor, after consulting with Captain Newport and others, decided to abandon the colony. But before the ships with the colonists on board could leave the James, they were met by Lord Delaware coming up the river, who ordered the departing colonists to return. So affected was Lord Delaware by the terrible conditions in which he found the colony, that when the emaciated remainder were drawn up to receive him, he fell on his knees and prayed in the presence of all the people.

As long as Lord Delaware's personal administration lasted especial attention was given to the religious condition of the colony. There is evidence that there were several preachers in Virginia during his brief stay. The secretary and recorder of the colony under Delaware states that:

The Captaine Generall hath given order for the repairing of (the Church), and at this instant hands are about it. It is in length threescore foote, in breadth twenty-foure, and shall have a Chancell in it of Cedar, and a Communion Table of Black Walnut, and all the pews of Cedar, with faire broad windowes, to shut and open, as the weather shall occasion, of the same wood, a Pulpet of the same, with a Font hewen hollow, like a Canoa, with two Bels in the West end. It is so cast as to be very light within, and the Lord Governour and Captain Generall doth cause it to be kept sweete, and trimmed up with divers flowers, with a Sexton belonging to it; and in it every Sunday wee have Sermons twice a day, and every Thursday a Sermon, having true preachers, which take their weekly turnes, each man addresseth himself to prayers, and so at Foure of the clocke before Supper. Every Sunday, when the Lord Governour and Captaine Generall goeth to Church, hee is accompanied with all the Counsailers, Captaines, other officers and all the Gentlemen, with a guard of Holberdiers, in his Lordship's Liverey, faire red cloakes, to the number of fifty both on each side, and behind him: and being in the Church, his Lordship hath his seat in the Quier, in a greene velvet chaire, with a cloath, with a velvet cushion spread on a table before him, on which he kneeleth, and on each side sit the Counsell, Captaines, and Officers, each in his place, and when he returneth home againe, he is waited on to his house in the same manner.

But while the governor, with his regal show and guard in red coats were worshiping in the little church at Jamestown, conditions in the colony remained desperate and sickness and disease continued to take its toll from among the settlers. Lord Delaware was nominal head of the colony until his death in 1618, but the affairs of Virginia after 1611 were administered by a series of deputy governors. Sir Thomas Dale, whose title was High Marshal of Virginia, during the absence of Deputy Governor Gates, was in charge much of the time from 1611 to 1616. and this period marks the end of "the starving time" and the beginning of happier conditions. With Dale came the Rev. Alexander Whitaker, whose zeal in the cause of Christianity won him the title "Apostle to Virginia." About this time the Virginia Council issued a pamphlet cont.aining a declaration of the purpose and end of the colony, in which they state that religion is the "maine and cheefe purpose" of the plantation. They call upon their countrymen for help, asking them to "remember that what was at first but of conveniency, and for honor, is now become a case of necessity and piety." In conclusion they declare that only those of blameless lives and character should go out to the infant colony. But in spite of the expressed desire of the council, numerous "idle and wicked persons" continued to find their way to Virginia and were to prove "to bee payson to one so tender, feeble and yet unformed" as was the infant colony.

Sir Thomas Dale has left a reputation for cruelty which he does not fully deserve. He ruled with a strong arm, enforcing a code of laws characterized as "lawes, divine, morall and martiall" in which twenty crimes were punishable by death. But he brought order out of chaos, though the severity of the laws regulating the church tended to make it odious in the eyes of the settlers. In estimating Sir Thomas Dale it is but fair to remember that his punishments were no more cruel than were those practiced in Europe at the same time and as a whole he administered these savage laws with moderation. Through his energy new settlements were formed seventy miles up the James; one was given the name Henrico in honor of Prince Henry of Wales, while the other was called New Bermuda. Here churches were formed; Alexander Whitaker was in charge of the New Bermuda church while Henrico seems to have been in charge of a curate, Mr. Wickham, under Whitaker.

Of all the early ministers in Virginia we know most concerning Alexander Whitaker. He was the son of Dr. William Whitaker, Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge and one of the best known of the Puritan clergy of his day. Alexander Whitaker left a pleasant parish in the north of England, "without any persuasion (but God's and his own heart)" and "to the wonder of his own kindred, and amazement of all that knew him, undertook this hard but, ... heroic all resolution to go to Virginia and helpe bear the name of God unto the Gentiles." Seventy miles up the James from Jamestown in the midst of a group of new settlements he built his parsonage, "a faire framed house," and a hundred acres was impaled for a glebe. Thus Whitaker became the first country parson and missionary in Virginia.

In 1613 there was published in London a pamphlet entitled "Good Newes from Virginia, sent to the Counsell and Company of Virginia, resident in England, From Alexander Whitaker, Minister in Henrico in Virginia," which was a part of a sermon which he had preached from the text "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for after many days thou shalt finde it." To this is added a description of the country and the Virginia Indians, and a plea is made for men and money "who may venture their persons hither, and heere not only serve God but helpe these poore Indians." Young men, he states, are "fittest for this country, and we have no need either of ceremonies or bad livers." Some years later in writing to a friend in London Whitaker says: "I much more muse, that so few of our English ministers that were so hot against the Surplis and subscription, come hither where neither are spoken of," a clear indication that Puritan notions prevailed in Virginia. This good man, imbued with. an unselfish and tireless zeal for religion, worked faithfully until his death in 1617, which came by drowning in the James.

Through the influence and labors of Whitaker the first Indian convert was won to Christianity in the person of Pocahontas. All are familiar with the story of her rescue of Captain John Smith from death, to which he had been condemned after his capture by the tribes over which her father, Powhatan, was the ruler. Largely through her influence a treaty was made between the Indians and the English, and the princess became a familiar figure about Jamestown. After Smith's departure the Indians again became hostile, but Pocahontas retained her affection for her white friends, although she now was no longer permitted to visit them. In the spring of 1613 she was taken captive by Captain Argall and held as hostage for the release of some English captives which the Indians had taken in the course of the war. The princess was turned over to High Marshal Dale for safe-keeping, who evidently took her to his plantation on the upper James, where she was near Alexander Whitaker and from whom she received religious instruction. Within a few weeks she was willing to renounce her Indian superstitions and accepted Christian baptism, receiving the name Rebecca.

But Whitaker and Dale were not the only Englishmen who were interested in the Indian princess and in her progress in Christianity. John Rolfe, one of the most progressive of the young planters, and the first to produce tobacco for export, and withal a widower, was soon in love with the enchanting maiden and he confesses, that in her "my hartie and best thoughts are so entangled, and enthralled in so intricate a laborinth, that I was even awearied to unwinde myself thereout." Nor did he ever succeed in unwinding himself, for on the first of April, 1614, he and the princess Pocahontas were married at Jamestown, the old chief Powhatan giving his reluctant consent and sending a brother and two sons to witness the ceremony. Two years later, accompanied by her husband, her young son Thomas Rolfe and Sir Thomas Dale, Pocahontas sailed for England, together with some ten or twelve Indian youths who were to be educated in England. Here she was met by her old friend Captain John Smith; was introduced at court to the king and queen where we are told she, "carried herself as a daughter of a King" and was received everywhere with respect by "divers persons of honor." In the early part of 1617 she was about to return to Virginia with her husband who had been appointed secretary and recorder general of Virginia, when, in the language of the chronicler: "At her return towards Virginia she came at Gravesend to her end and grave, having given great demonstration of her Christian sinceritie, as the first fruits of Virginia conversion, leaving here a good memory and the hopes of her resurrection .... "

The year following the death of Lord Delaware (1619), Sir George Yeardley became the governor of Virginia and with him a new era began for the colony. The moving spirit in the company was now Sir Edwin Sandys, who was a man of liberal and progressive ideas, whose ambition was to make of Virginia a "free and popular state." He was a friend of the Puritans and an opponent of the arbitrary government of James I, and naturally his election to the treasurership of the company was opposed by the king, who advised the company to "chose the devil if you will, but not Sir Edwin Sandys." It was under the guidance of this liberal man, seconded by the wise Yeardley, that the first representative assembly in America was constituted. The old cruel laws were abrogated and provision was made that a General Assembly was to be held once a year, made up of "the Governor and Counsell, with two Burgesses from each Plantation freely to be elected by the inhabitants thereof." At this time there were four boroughs in the colony and a total population of about 1,000. The first assembly met in the "Quire of the Churche" at Jamestown on July 30, and sat for six days. Twenty burgesses were present. In their order of business, first came the prayer by Master Bucke when the assembly proceeded to business, and in the course of the first session passed thirty-four laws, and of this number twelve had to do directly or indirectly with religion.

The enactment of laws regulating activities of the Virginia clergy and prescribing specifically the religious duties of the colonists indicates that the English canon law as well as the civil law was in force. Early acts of the House of Burgesses (1620-1621) provided that the clergymen were to be paid in tobacco and corn, each receiving fifteen hundred pounds of the former and sixteen barrels of the latter, though accompanied with the statement that if the full amount could not be raised, "the minister was to be content with less." The religious enactments were extremely puritanical in character, prescribing church attendance twice each Sunday, while the other acts condemned "gaming, drunkenness and excess in apparel."

The visit of the princess Pocahontas to England, together with the coming of the Indian youths to be educated, evidently aroused a larger interest in the education and Christianization of the Virginia Indians. Even King James displayed interest and at about the time of the death of Pocahontas, sent a letter to the archbishops asking their assistance in raising funds for the erection "of some Churches and Schooles for ye children of those Barbarians wch cannot but be to them [the colonists] a very great charge." As a result of this appeal some £1,500 was subscribed through the several English bishoprics for a college in Virginia and the company instructed the governor to undertake the planting of a university at Henrico, at the same time setting aside ten thousand acres for its endowment. Judged from the number and generosity of other subscriptions, interest in the enterprise was widespread. A London merchant gave £300 for the university besides £24 which was to be distributed to three godly men who would "bring up three of the Infidal's children in the Christian Religion and some good course to live by." The Bishop of London, Dr. John King, manifested a great interest in the affairs of the colony at this time; was chosen a member of the Council for Virginia and the spiritual jurisdiction of the Bishop of London over the church in America seems to date from this period.! He collected £1,000 for the Henrico university; Sir Edwin Sandys, the company's treasurer, sent £500 for the education of Indian youth, while gifts of books, Bibles, Prayer Books, communion plate and linen were contributed for the godly work.


1 The question of the origin of the Bishop of London's colonial authority is an obscure question which has never been solved satisfactorily. For a discussion of this point see Arthur Cross. The Anglican Episcopate and the American Colonies (New York. 1902). especially Chap. I.



This was a period of great activity in Virginia. During the years 1620 and 1621 seven ministers came to the colony, while new colonists and servants were coming over in increasing numbers. Plans were made for increasing the number of tenants on the lands belonging to the company and "young single women of blameless reputation" were brought over to be the wives of the bachelor planters and tenants. At the same time the practice of sending convicts to Virginia was begun, a policy which was evidently distasteful to the company officials, and for which the king was responsible. About the same time some Virginia planters purchased twenty negro slaves from some Dutch traders and thus were introduced two most unfortunate elements in the population of the colony.

Meanwhile money was pouring in for the establishment of schools which were to be feeders for the new university at Henrico. One was to be established at Smythe's Hundred with funds sent to Sir Edwin Sandys by an unknown donor. Another was to be founded at Charles City with money raised by the chaplain of an East Indiaman, the Rev. Mr. Copeland, to which the company gave a thousand acres as an endowment, while books were promised and even a builder and apprentices were secured to erect the building and an usher was appointed. Prosperity at last seemed to have come to Virginia after the many dreary years of failure and suffering. During the year 1621 some twenty vessels had arrived with more than a thousand new colonists and' experiments in manufacturing iron, glass, silk and wines were under way with a fair prospect of success. So pleased was the company at the prospects of their colony that they arranged for a thanksgiving service, which was held April 18, 1622, at which the Rev. Mr. Copeland preached the sermon which was later published under the title "Virginia's God be Thanked."

Little did the Company or the preacher realize what havoc had been wrought in Virginia by a terrible massacre of the planters and their families nearly a month before. On the morning of March 22, 1622, the Indians, no longer held in check by Powhatan, fell upon the settlements on the upper James and within a few hours 347 persons had been killed in cold blood, without respect for age or sex. In this remote region the settlements were almost completely wiped out, among the slain being John Rolfe. The destruction was not so general, however, in the older settlements, because of the fact that here the Indians were more friendly and also because here the settlers had been warned by a young Christian Indian. The plantations on the upper James were now abandoned for the time being, while expeditions were organized to punish the Indians, but while many were driven into the deep forest, few were actually killed. The progress of the colony was only temporarily checked, but the most unfortunate consequence of the massacre was that it completely changed the attitude of the colonists toward the Indians as a whole. The opinion, previously held by only one of the Virginia ministers, that "till their priests and Ancients have their throats cut there is no hope to bring them to conversion," now, according to Captain John Smith, became general. As a result the elaborate plans for the education of Indian youth, which had been so nearly worked out, were now abandoned and it was to be many years before any further attempts were made to revive that interest.

In 1624, on June 16, the Virginia Company came to an end, and the control of the colony passed directly into the hands of the king. The alleged reason for this action was the misconduct of the company in its failure properly to propagate the Christian religion, increase trade and enlarge the Empire. The real reasons, however, were undoubtedly the refusal of the company to appoint the king's nominees to office; the king's dislike of the leaders; and his desire to please the King of Spain, whose daughter Prince Charles was at the time courting. For the next six years there was a rapid succession of royal governors until the arrival of John Harvey in 1630. Under the rule of this tyrant the church suffered greatly and was left largely to care for itself. Up to this time the ministers who had come out to Virginia were generally men of character and sincerely devoted to the advancement of true religion, but, from this period forward the type of ministers in the colony changed for the worse.

The fact that the church in Virginia was completely under secular control accounts largely for its weaknesses. The laws for its regulation were passed by the General Assembly: the appointment of ministers in each parish was in the hands of the vestry, while the removal of ministers was obtained on complaint of the vestry to the governor and his council. The vestries, after 1661, were closed corporations, empowered to fill their own vacancies, and the tendency was for the church to be controlled by a local aristocracy. These men as a whole, while thinking of the church as a necessary institution, were devoid of deep religious feeling. Each parish was responsible for the payment of its own minister, and after 1662 the ministers were to receive a uniform salary-16,000 pounds of tobacco. This worked a hardship on many of the Virginia clergymen, since the price of tobacco was tending downward through the eighteenth century. Another factor causing discontent was the fact that the varieties of tobacco differed in value. In certain counties where the best grade, the sweet-scented tobacco, was raised, the ministers received in actual value twice the amount received by ministers serving in districts where only the poorer grade, Aranoka tobacco, could be grown. The glebes provided by law for the clergy proved disappointing; in many instances the minister's tenure was so uncertain he was reluctant to spend time or money in keeping up his little plantation; in other cases the land was so poor it was not worth cultivation or placing buildings upon it.

Until the loss of the charter (1624) the Virginia Church was largely under Puritan control, but with the coming of the royal governors Puritan influence came to an end and acts were passed forbidding all non-Episcopal ministers from officiating in the colony. At the beginning of Sir William Berkeley's first administration (1641) seventy-one Virginia colonists signed an appeal asking the General Court of Massachusetts "to send ministers of the gospel into that region, that its inhabitants might be privileged with the preaching and ordinances of Jesus Christ." In response to this appeal three Puritan ministers were sent to Virginia, carrying letters of commendation from Governor Winthrop, but they were soon silenced, though one of them removed to Maryland where he ministered to some of the Virginia Puritans who had migrated to that colony.

During the period of the Civil Wars (1642-1649) and the Commonwealth (1649-1660), Virginia was greatly disturbed. Religion was at a low ebb and at the time of the restoration few of the parishes had ministers. When Governor Berkeley was restored to power in 1660, among the first acts passed by the Virginia Assembly was one providing "for the building and due furnishing of churches, for the canonical performance of the liturgy, for the ministration of God's 'Word, for a due observance of the Sunday, for the baptism and christian education of the young." It was in 1671 that Governor Berkeley included in his report to the Commissioners of Foreign Plantations the following account of the religious situation in the colony: "There are forty-eight parishes, and the ministers well paid. The clergy by my consent would be better if they would pray oftener and preach less. But of all commodities, so of this, the worst are sent us. But I thank God there are no free schools, nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years."

The picture of the Virginia clergy generally given is perhaps darker than they deserve. A recent historian of the Colonial Church of Virginia states that in a list of some one hundred and twenty Virginia clergy before 1700 hardly more than a dozen had anything recorded derogatory to their moral or religious character. On the other hand, there is much evidence to show that there were entirely too many incompetents and second-rate men in charge of the Virginia churches. In 1696 one of the Virginia rectors wrote to the Bishop of London that "Several ministers have caused such' scandals of late and have raised such prejudices amongst the people against the clergy, that hardly can they be persuaded to take a clergyman into their parish." One of the principal causes for the prevalence of inefficient clergymen was the practice, which prevailed throughout the entire colonial period, of vestries employing lay readers from year to year, instead of having their ministers inducted into office by the governor. A minister inducted into office held his place for life, a condition which would not find favor among the vestrymen. The Rev. Morgan Godwyn, a clergyman who had spent some time in Virginia, wrote to Sir William Berkeley in 1681 a brief description of religion there.

The Ministers [he says] are most miserably handled by their Plebeian Juntos, the Vestries: to whom the hiring ... and admission of Ministers is solely left. And there being no law obliging them to any more than procure a layreader (to be obtained at a moderate rate) they either resolve to have none at all, or reduce them to their own terms; that is, to use them how they please, pay them what they list, and to discard them whensoever they have a mind to it.

And again he states:

Two-thirds of the Preachers are made up of leaden Lay-Priests of the Vestries Ordination: and are both the shame and grief of the rightly ordained Clergie there.

Blame for the laxity of religion in Virginia during the colonial period must not be laid solely at the door of the colonial clergy. The great size of the parishes and the scattered population made regular attendance upon religious worship impossible for a great majority of the people. Some of the parishes were from fifty to a hundred miles in length. One is reported as "120 miles long and ten miles broad upon the River," while parishes twenty-five and thirty miles in length are but average. Says a contemporary writer (1661):

The families of such parishes being ... at such distances from each other, many of them are remote from the house of God, though placed in the midst of them ... and divers of the more remote Families being discouraged by the length or tediousness of the way, through extremities of heat in Summer, frost and snow in Winter, and tempestuous weather in both, do very seldom repair thither.

The minister on the Upper Parish reports in 1724 that:

This excessive length of my parish [60 miles long and 20 wide] I have found by long experience to be so incommodious that I could never perform my pastoral office as I ought altho' I have spared neither cost nor labor on the attempts and endeavours thereof.

An estimate of the church membership among Virginians at the close of the seventeenth century places the number at one in twenty. It is quite evident that the church did not reach the lower classes and a vast majority of the population had little interest in religion. But it must be borne in mind that during the same period religion was at a low ebb in England, as well as in the colonies, and the Established Church had settled down into a deathlike stupor, from which no power seemed to be able to arouse it. A fatal weakness of the Virginia Colonial Church was the lack of spiritual supervision, which was not entirely overcome until independence had been won and bishops were ordained for America.

Two events of great importance to the Virginia Church took place toward the end of the seventeenth century; one was the appointment of the Rev. James Blair as commissary of the Bishop of London for Virginia; the other was the establishment of William and Mary College, "that the church in Virginia may be furnished with a seminary of ministers of the Gospel, and that the youth may be piously educated in good manners and that the Christian faith may be propagated amongst the western Indians to the glory of almighty God."

James Blair was the leading Virginia clergyman of his day. A Scotchman, educated at Edinburgh, he came out to Virginia in 1685 under the appointment of the Bishop of London and became the minister at Henrico. He seems to have been a careful observer and a man of sterling character admirably suited to take the task of supervision which was soon assigned him. The bad condition of the Virginia Church had been brought to the attention of the Bishop of London by a pamphlet entitled "Virginia's Cure" prepared by one who had fled to Virginia during the period of the Commonwealth and "for the space of ten years" had been an eyewitness of the things he describes. Among the remedies proposed by this writer was the sending of a bishop to the colony, and there seems to have been an attempt to carry out this suggestion and a bishop was nominated for Virginia. When this attempt failed, James Blair was appointed commissary and was the first such official in any of the English colonies. His duty was to inspect churches, deliver charges, and to a limited extent administer discipline, though he could not confirm or ordain. Although greatly limited in authority, Blair performed an invaluable service to the church in Virginia.

The great massacre of 1622 had completely ended the early attempts at founding colleges in Virginia. But in 1661 at the first meeting of the Virginia Assembly after the restoration, an act was passed providing for a "colledge" "for the advance of learning, education of youth, supply of the Ministry, and promotion of piety." But it was more than thirty years before a college was finally established and this was accomplished through the energy and zeal of James Blair. At first he was unable to obtain the assistance of the legislature, but after he had obtained gifts from private givers, amounting to more than 2,000 pounds, he at last secured authority by legislative enactment to proceed to England to seek a charter for a college. King William and Queen Mary were not only cordial to the petition, but the king granted 2,000 pounds due the crown from Virginia quitrents to the project. But all the royal officials were not so cordial, for when Commissary Blair urged the attorney general, Seymour, to prepare the charter, with the admonition that the Virginians had souls to save as well as Englishmen, the haughty official answered: "Souls! Damn your souls! Make tobacco." But in spite of this contemptuous official the charter was soon forthcoming and was signed, February 8, 1693, and the same year the Virginia Assembly passed an act providing for the erection of a building at the place afterward selected as the site of Williamsburg.

The college was endowed with twenty thousand acres of choice land and was to receive the income from a tobacco tax as well as an export duty on furs and skins. But from the beginning the college encountered difficulties, one being the destruction of the building by fire in 1705 when it was but half completed. At first few students were in attendance and therefore it could not at once supply the demand for clergymen. Blair was the president of the college from its foundation until his death forty-nine years later. He died at the age of eighty-eight, having been commissary for Virginia fifty-three years.

In 1720 Virginia contained twenty-nine counties and forty-four parishes, large and small. In each parish there was a church either of stone, brick or wood, while in the larger parishes there were one or more chapels in addition. At first the churches were made of logs, to be followed in a few years with larger and more pretentious frame buildings accommodating from 150 to 300 worshipers. In most instances, in the more populous parishes, the frame buildings in the course of time gave place to brick churches, following in some instances the cruciform design, though the larger number were plain rectangular buildings, seating from 300 to 500 worshipers. The chancel was uniformly in the east end, the pulpit against the north wall, while the body of the church was filled with square pews, seating from twelve to twenty-five, each pew surrounded by high sides so that the worshipers could not see from one pew into another. The church stood in a yard of never less than two acres, in which there was always a good spring of water, and frequently there was a graveyard attached. Near the church was the vestry house, which was frequently used for the meetings of county officials.

The service of the church was according to the liturgy, though the clerk, being the only person in the congregation supplied with a Prayer Book, made all the responses alone. The clerk also lined out and led the "Psalms of David in Metre," generally with the aid of a tuning fork. The congregation was seated in order of social rank; the gentry in their own pews in front and others according to their social position. Considerable time was given to the sermon, which was apt to be dry and repetitious. On certain Sundays children and servants were catechized by the minister, as this was a part of the clergyman's duty.

Turning now from Virginia, brief attention will be given to the beginnings of the Established Church in Maryland. The early religious history of Maryland, however, belongs to another part of this story; that which relates to the first experiments in religious liberty in America.

It was not until near the end of the seventeenth century that the Established Church began to emerge in the colony of Maryland. The first official notice of it in that province was due to a letter written in 1676 by the Rev. Mr. Yoe, who seems to have been one of three Episcopal clergymen in Maryland at the time, addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury. The letter draws a picture of the deplorable religious conditions in the colony and implores the archbishop to provide some means for the better support of the Protestant religion in the province. The archbishop laid the letter before the Bishop of London. From this time forward official attention, to a limited degree, was given to Maryland and the number of Established Church ministers increased, though the quality of those sent out left much to be desired. The great majority of the people were undoubtedly Protestant and an increasing concern for a church and a settled ministry was manifest among the better settlers. The overturn of James II in 1689 in what is known as the Protestant Revolution furnished the Maryland Protestants with the opportunity to rid themselves of Roman Catholic rule, and in 1692 Maryland became a royal colony. One of the first acts of the assembly after this change was "An Act for the Service of Almighty God and the Establishment of the Protestant Religion."

The act divided the ten Maryland counties into thirty-one parishes and a poll tax of forty pounds of tobacco was levied for the building and repairing of churches and the support of the ministry. Two years following the Act of Establishment, Sir Francis Nicholson became lieutenant governor, a most important event for the Established Church in Maryland. Nicholson was a devoted friend of the church, incongruous as that may seem, for he was profane, arbitrary, conceited and lacking in self-restraint, and yet his interest and liberality were a prime factor in firmly establishing the church in the colony. It is stated on good authority that he did more for "the erection of Episcopal churches than all the other colonial governors combined," and thirty churches in various parts of the colony owed their existence to his efforts. The capital was now moved from St. Mary's to Annapolis where a new brick church was begun. All this activity on the part of the Establishment met with strong opposition from the Roman Catholics and Quakers, who opposed the poll tax for the support of the church and the other measures. This opposition, together with a large immigration of Irish Catholics which now set in, aroused fear on the part of the Protestants, of the reestablishment of Catholicism and the reinstatement of the old proprietors. The latter was actually accomplished in 1715, only, however, after the fourth Lord Baltimore had become a Protestant. It was during this period of great activity on the part of the Established Church, that agitation began for the appointment of a commissary for Maryland, a movement which was supported both by the governor and the assembly, and resulted in the fortunate selection of Dr. Thomas Bray who received the appointment from the Bishop of London in April, 1696.

Dr. Bray was a successful rector of a parish in Warwickshire, and is described as one of the first of the "working clergy." Four years elapsed after his appointment before he sailed for America, but these were years filled with plans and work for the American Church. He knew well the difficulty of securing suitable ministers for America, and also the handicaps under which they worked after reaching their distant parishes. Accordingly he exerted himself in securing missionaries and before he sailed for Maryland the number of clergymen in that province had been increased to sixteen. He likewise began the work of collecting libraries for the missionaries, and succeeded in establishing thirty-nine of these, the funds for which he collected, heartily assisted by many of the English bishops and others. This activity eventually resulted in the formation of the "Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge" (1698) which took form before he left England for America.

Commissary Bray reached Maryland March 12, 1700, and was warmly welcomed by Governor Nicholson. His first concern was to secure the passage of a law requiring every minister within the colony to use the Book of Common Prayer, which proved a most unwise measure as it aroused the bitter enmity of Catholics and the dissenting groups who now became a unit in opposing the Establishment. His next concern was to reform the clergy within the colony and bring to bear upon them effective discipline. At his own expense he visited all the parishes within the colony to observe the work and manner of life of the clergy. Two of the most flagrant clerical offenders against morals and decency were disciplined, though the Commissary's energetic attempts to better conditions frightened and offended the clergy and people as most of them would have preferred to have been let alone. The hot-tempered governor was likewise offended for he was jealous of his authority in appointing the incumbents.

At this juncture Dr. Bray returned to England, having heard that there was active opposition to the Act of Establishment in the English Parliament. The act was disapproved by the attorney general, though Bray succeeded in having another act presented, and passed which established the church in Maryland, but at the same time extended to the dissenters and Quakers the English Act of Toleration of 1689, though denying it to the Roman Catholics. This has been termed one of the sarcasms of history. Maryland, which had been founded for the sake of religious freedom by the toil and treasure of Roman Catholics, was now open to all who call themselves Christians save Roman Catholics.

During the agitation over this measure Dr. Bray published a "Memorial upon the State of Religion in America," which aroused great public interest. He declared there was need at once for forty missionaries in America and that the "refuse of the clergy in England would not do for American missionaries," and he submitted a scheme whereby young, learned, strong and able clergymen were to be obtained for America. The plan itself failed, but it soon resulted in the foundation of the "Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts." Dr. Bray never returned to America. For a while he continued to hold the office of commissary, but soon resigned in order that another might be sent, but his zeal for and interest in America never lagged and until his death in 1734 he continued to labor for the good of the Colonial Church. .

The founding of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts in 1701 was an event of prime importance for the future of the Established Church not alone in the American colonies, but throughout the world. At the time of its organization the Established Church had hardly made a beginning in the colonies outside Virginia and Maryland. King's Chapel in Boston, begun in 1688 through the influence of the royal governor of Massachusetts, was the only Episcopal church in the Puritan colonies; in North Carolina there were two church settlements but no minister; South Carolina had several congregations, but here also there was a dearth of clergymen; Pennsylvania had one Church of England minister; the Jerseys none; New York one only; while Rhode Island had a church but no minister, The work of planting and fostering the Established Church in these colonies was to be the great task of the venerable society in America during the first half of the eighteenth century.



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FOR about ten years the Pilgrims, as the Plymouth colonists came to be called, lived in Holland. Here they had failed to prosper economically as they had hoped, and there seemed to be no prospect of bettering their condition. Renewal of war was also threatening between Spain and Holland, but the chief reason which determined them to leave Leyden and to seek a new place of refuge was the painful realization that their children were being "drawne awaye by evill examples into extravagante & dangerous courses, getting ye raines off their neks, & departing from their parents . . . so that they saw their posterietie would be in danger to degenerate & be corrupted."

By the end of Queen Elizabeth's reign all of the Separatists or radical Puritans in England had either been driven underground or had gone into exile. It was the Scrooby congregation under the leadership of John Robinson, their pastor, that fled to Leyden, attracted by the liberal government of the Dutch. These radicals were no more acceptable to the great Puritan party within the Church of England than to the conservative Anglicans, for the great body of English Puritans were firm believers in the national church and looked upon the Separatists as schismatics, self-righteous and exclusive. But it was this little band of radicals, despised by all parties among their own countrymen, which was destined to lay the foundations of New England, and to furnish the model of church government which was afterward to be accepted and developed by the far more numerous and influential Puritans, the founders of Massachusetts Bay.

After considerable negotiation with the Virginia Company, they having been invited to the Virginia colony by Sir Edwin Sandys, the Puritan treasurer, an agreement was finally reached, granting the Leyden congregation land in what was termed the "northern parts of Virginia." The hired Mayflower, upon which the one hundred and two Pilgrims embarked for their new home, instead of bringing them to the territory for which they had negotiated, brought them, on November 11, 1620, to the barren shores of Cape Cod, a region belonging to the Plymouth Company. Here they were compelled to land without charter or grant of any kind, from any government, and the settlement which they were about to establish would therefore have no legal basis. It was once thought that the coming of the Pilgrims to Cape Cod was due to an act of treachery on the part of the captain of the Mayflower, who was supposed to have had a secret agreement with the Council of New England to land the colonists within their grant. This, however, has now been completely discredited and the good character of the Mayflower's captain, Christopher Jones, has been fully established. Contrary winds and inaccurate navigation charts were most probably the reasons for the miscalculation of the captain which brought the Pilgrim fathers to New England rather than to Virginia. Because of this, certain of their party began to talk of doing as they pleased, when they had landed, and it was to ward off this threatened rupture in their ranks that they gathered in the cabin of the Mayflower and there drew up the famous Mayflower Compact. This instrument, modeled after the agreement by which they had constituted the church at Scrooby, sixteen years before, was to serve as a model for other groups of New England colonists in the years to come. The Compact remained the basis of the Plymouth government until 1691, when the colony was united with Massachusetts.

For nine years the Pilgrims at Plymouth were without a pastor, for John Robinson had died before he could join them, but during these years they were led in their worship by William Brewster, the ruling elder. Brewster had been advised by Robinson not to administer the sacraments, but twice every Sabbath he "taught to ye great contentment of ye hearers, and their comfortable edification" and we are told that he had a "singular gift in prayer, both public and private ... and he always thought it were better for ministers to pray oftener, and divide their prayers, than to be long and tedious in the same." It was not, indeed, until 1629 that the Plymouth church secured a satisfactory minister, in the person of Ralph Smith, who had come first to Salem. It is true that their partners in England had sent over John Lyford to be their minister in 1624, but he proved entirely unworthy and was expelled from the colony. Though Lyford professed an interest in Puritan principles he was actually antagonistic to Puritanism and all it stood for. Adams calls him a "canting hypocrite, a sort of lascivious Uriah Heep," and his going was good riddance.

The Plymouth colonists had been too poor to pay for their transportation to America, nor were they able to meet the expense of maintaining themselves while building the colony. They were, therefore, forced to form a partnership with some London merchants, who advanced them £7,000. The merchants, of course, were primarily interested in profits, and wished to send over active young men who would make good fishermen and fur gatherers, while the colonists were anxious to bring over the remainder of the Leyden Pilgrims, and above everything else, desired to maintain their congregational institutions. The returns to the London merchants on their investment, were very small, and after the colony had rejected Lyford as their minister, the merchants became distrustful of the enterprise and after some negotiations the colony bought itself free from their unsympathetic partners, agreeing to pay £1,800 in nine annual installments. Soon after this the remainder of the Leyden colonists were brought out, and by skillful trading and hard work they were able within a few years to payoff their debt.

The colony, however, grew very slowly, no doubt, partly because of the poorness of the soil, but especially because the Separatists were few in number, while their strictness and exclusiveness was not attractive to outsiders. By 1630, however, the permanence of the colony seemed assured. In that year there were 300 inhabitants at Plymouth while in the years following new settlements were established, so that by 1643 there were 10 towns and about 2,500 people.

The heart and center of the Pilgrim colony at Plymouth was their church. A Dutch merchant of New Amsterdam, who visited Plymouth in 1627, thus describes the meetinghouse, with the order in which the people gathered for worship:

Upon the hill they have a large square meeting house, with a flat roof, made of thick sawn planks, stayed with oak beams, upon the top of which they have six cannons, which shoot iron balls of four and five pounds, and command the surrounding country. The lower part they use for their church, where they preach on Sundays and the usual holidays. They assemble by beat of drum, each with his musket or fire lock, in front of the captain's [Myles Standish's] door; they have their cloaks on, and place themselves in order, three abreast, and are led by a sergeant without beat of drum. Behind comes the Governor [William Bradford] in a long robe; beside him, on the right hand, comes the preacher [Elder Brewster], with his cloak on, and on the left hand the captain, with his side arms and cloak on, and with a small cane in his hand; and so they march in good order, and each sets his arms down near him.

Here they were free to carry out the type of church government in which they believed, and to worship according as their consciences dictated. To gain this was to them sufficient reward for all the untold sufferings through which they had come, and the "windswept graveyard" on the hill and the "rude street of hewn-plank houses bore mute witness" as to how much it had cost.

Of far greater importance historically than the Pilgrim colony at Plymouth were the settlements about Massachusetts Bay. A sober historian has stated that: "Probably no colony in the history of European emigration was superior to that of Massachusetts in wealth, station or capacity." In this respect it was in great contrast with the humble and poor people who settled Plymouth.

The first step in the great migration of English Puritans was undertaken through the influence of the Rev. John White, a Puritan minister at Dorchester, England. It was his idea to form a fishing company and found a settlement on the Massachusetts coast, part of whose purpose was to care for the moral and religious welfare of the many transient English fishermen who came to that region year by year during the fishing season. This enterprise proved a failure, but it served to arouse White's interest in the founding of a Puritan colony. Securing help from a group of Puritan capitalists, a company was formed and a grant of land obtained from the Council for New England. In September, 1628, the vanguard of the great Puritan migration arrived at what is now Salem. Here they found a few remnants of White's fishing colony, and it was after some differences between the two groups had been peacefully settled that they named the place Salem (peace). John Endicott, a rigid Puritan and a member of the company, was named governor and by the next year some three hundred people were living under his authority. This was the beginning of Massachusetts.

The next year (1629) twenty-six Englishmen secured a charter for the Massachusetts Bay Company. Although the original purpose of this corporation was primarily commercial, control soon passed from the hands of those chiefly interested in business to those whose interests were primarily religious. Just why King Charles I was willing to grant a charter to such a group has never been found out, but it is quite probable that he was not unwilling to have some of the more pestiferous Puritans leave England for his own peace of mind. In August, 1629, still another change took place in the corporation, when all those withdrew who did not intend to go to America. Thus the governing body of the company was removed to American soil, while at the same time they rid themselves of the absentee stockholder, thus minimizing the possibility of governmental interference from England. Such was the business arrangement of the great Massachusetts Bay colony.

At once the full tide of Puritan migration to America set in. In 1629 about 900 colonists arrived; in 1630, 2,000 and by 1640, it has been estimated that 20,000 had found their way across the Atlantic to take up their abode in New England. But we must not suppose that all the colonists were Puritans, nor were they all "gentlemen." It has been found that hardly a fifth of the Massachusetts Bay colonists were even professed Christians, though all the ministers were Puritans, as were the leading laymen. The majority were middle class people, small tradesmen, farmers or artisans.

The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay colony had, at the beginning, no intention of separating from the Church of England. One of the first two ministers to set foot on Massachusetts soil, Francis Higginson, is reported to have said, as the ship was bearing him out of sight of the shores of England:

We will not say as the separatists were wont to say at their leaving England, "Farewel, Babylon! Farewel, Rome!" but we will say "Farewel, dear England, Farewel the Church of God in England and all the Christian friends there!" We do not go to New England as Separatists from the Church of England, though we cannot but separate from the corruptions in it; but we go to practice the positive part of church reformation, and propagate the gospel in America.

And doubtless many, if not most, of the Puritans leaders on leaving England felt as did Winthrop and others who esteemed it an "honour to call the Church of England, from whom wee rise, our dear Mother .... "

How then did the churches of the powerful Massachusetts Bay colony come to be Congregational? This is one of the most important developments in the history of New England and marks a turning point of vast significance. One of the influences which led in the direction of Congregationalism was exerted by Dr. Samuel Fuller, a deacon in the church at Plymouth. During the first winter, Endicott's colony at Salem was soon in great distress because so many settlers fell ill and there was no doctor among them to care for the sick. The only physician then on the whole coast of New England was the deacon-doctor at Plymouth, Samuel Fuller. In desperation Endicott wrote to Plymouth asking that the doctor come to their aid. Fuller gladly responded and in spite of the lack of proper medicines did what he could to stay the ravages of disease. As Governor Endicott, who formerly had regarded the Separatists at Plymouth with suspicion, conversed with Dr. Fuller and saw him so faithfully laboring among the sick, his prejudices melted away and he is soon writing to Governor Bradford at Plymouth-in May, 1629- as follows:

Right Worthy Sir: It is a thing not usual that servants to one Master and of the same household should be strangers. I assure you I desire it not; nay to speak more plainly I cannot be so to you. God's people are marked with one and the same mark, and sealed with one and the same seal, and have for the main, one and the same heart, guided by one and the same spirit of truth: and where this is there can be no discord-nay here must needs be sweet harmony. The same request with you I make unto the Lord, that we may as Christian brethren be united by a heavenly and unfeigned love, bending all our hearts and forces to furthering a work beyond our strength, with reverence and fear fastening our eyes always on him that only is able to direct and prosper all our ways.

I acknowledge myself much bound to you for your kind love and care in sending Mr. Fuller among us, and I rejoice much that I am by him satisfied touching your judgments of the outward form of God's worship. It is as far as I can yet gather, no other than is warranted by the evidence of truth, and the same which I have professed and maintained ever since the Lord in mercy revealed himself to me, being very far different from the common report that hath been spread of you touching that particular. But God's children must not look for less here below, and it is the great mercy of God that he strengthens them to go through with it.

I shall not need at this time to be tedious unto you, for, God willing, I purpose to see your face shortly. In the meantime I humbly take leave of you, committing you to the Lord's blessed protection, and rest

Your assured loving friend and servant,

John Endicott.


The basic reason, however, for the adoption by the Salem Church of Congregational polity, which was to become the model for all the New England churches to be built about the Bay, was not so much the Plymouth example as the fact that the Massachusetts Bay leaders had already become convinced that the Congregational form of church government was the only true Scriptural form, and it would have been adopted had there been no previous Plymouth example. The principal difference between the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay churches lay in their differing attitudes toward the Church of England.! The Plymouth Pilgrims repudiated the Church of England in all its parts and would have nothing to do with it; the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay colony, following the lead of William Bradshaw and William Ames, the leading Puritan casuists, while accepting the Congregational form of church government as Scriptural, at the same time avowed their loyalty to the Church of England.

Meanwhile several ordained clergymen of the Church of England arrived in Massachusetts, and July 20, 1629, was set aside as the day for choosing a pastor and teacher for the Salem congregation. A church had already been formed at Salem; at least its first members had united into a covenant in the early spring. After prayer and preaching the two ministers under consideration, Francis Higginson and Samuel Skelton, were asked as to their views concerning a proper call to the ministry, and both stated that an inward sense of fitness and election by male members of "a company of believers . . . joined together in covenant" constituted such a call. Then they proceeded to take a vote by ballot, which resulted in the choice of Skelton as pastor and Higginson as teacher. Then "accepting ye choyce, Mr. Higginson, with 3. or 4. of ye gravest members of ye church, laid their hands on Mr. Skelton, using prayer therewith. This being done, there was imposission of hands on Mr. Higginson also." Thus was the Congregational principle, that every Christian congregation has the right to choose and ordain its own officers, inaugurated in Massachusetts Bay colony. At this time also a ruling elder and deacons were elected, though they were not ordained until later.


1 For a clear presentation of the two types of Puritanism see Perry Miller, Orthodoxy in Massachusetts (Cambridge, 1933). For a brief summary see W. W. Sweet, Religion in Colonial America (New York, 1942), pp. 73-76.


In June of the next year (1630) John Winthrop arrived with 840 colonists and a large number of cattle and horses, and new settlements were forming at Charlestown, Boston and Newtowne. By the end of the year there were eight settlements, each marking the beginning of towns. In July two churches were formed, one at Watertown, the other at Charlestown. Both drew up covenants and later elected their pastors and teachers and ordained them "by imposition of hands." In May the next year (1631) by the action of the Massachusetts General Court the franchise was limited to church members, and thus Congregationalism became the state church and the government of Massachusetts semi-theocratic. But the notion, often expressed, that the ministers in early New England were practically in control of the government is without basis in fact. It is true that they were highly respected and were usually consulted by the civil authorities, but public sentiment kept them from holding public office, and even the ultimate control of the churches was in the hands of the civil officials. The great political importance of the ministers in Massachusetts and New Haven was largely due to the fact that no one was likely to be admitted to church membership without their consent and as the suffrage was limited to church members they thus had indirect control over the voting members.

Massachusetts was far from being a democracy. The General Court was made up of Governor Winthrop and twelve freemen, with full legal authority. Governor Winthrop could find no basis in Scripture for democracy, stating that "Among nations it has always been accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of government," and in this opinion he was supported by leaders in both church and state. Nor was there religious toleration. It must be remembered that the Massachusetts leaders were Church of England men, nor were they opposed to a state church. 1hey never thought of establishing religious toleration, nor did they think of it as in the least desirable. "Tis Satan's policy, to plead for an indefinite and boundless toleration," declared one of their preachers in an election sermon, while another stated, "all familists, Antinomians, Anabaptists, and other Enthusiasts shall have free liberty to keepe away from us." It is true that others besides Puritans were welcomed into the colony, but with the full understanding that they were to accept what they found, and refrain from disturbance. It was not toleration which the Puritan sought, but rather the freedom to carry out his own religious notions, undisturbed.

Year by year, as the stream of immigration continued, new towns were established and new churches formed, following the Congregational practice established by Salem, Watertown and Charlestown. Thus in the course of about ten years the churches in New England had grown to thirty-three in number, all having adopted Congregational polity, though one or two of the pastors were somewhat inclined toward Presbyterianism.

The disturbers who arose among them were expelled. This practice was begun in 1629 at Salem, when two brothers, John and Samuel Browne, who had objected to the Congregationalizing of the Salem church, began to hold service, using the Prayer Book of the Established Church. This led to their expulsion from the colony. The most famous of those who were exiled from the Massachusetts Bay colony because they did not harmonize with the ruling element were, of course, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, whose story belongs to the establishment of Rhode Island and will be related in the following chapter.

Hardly had the first Puritan colonies been established before the restless spirit and land hunger, which were to prove so largely responsible for the ultimate conquest of the American continent, began to appear. The leader of the first movement westward was the Rev. Thomas Hooker. He had come to Boston in 1633 and soon became the minister at Newtowne. Almost at once he was irked by the autocracy of the government and protested against the limitation of the suffrage, but it was to no avail. In his controversy with Governor Winthrop he states that "in matters that concern the common good, a general council, chosen by all, to transact business which concerns all, I conceive most suitable to rule and most safe for the relief of the whole people." But autocracy was too firmly intrenched to be shaken, and very soon we find a petition before the magistrates, presented by Hooker's congregation, asking permission to migrate to the valley of the Connecticut. At first refused, permission was finally granted, providing they agree to continue under the government of Massachusetts. By 1636 three towns had been founded on the Connecticut River, Weathersfield, Hartford and Windsor, by colonists chiefly from Newtowne, Dorchester and Watertown. The Newtowne church, under the leadership of Hooker the pastor and Stone the teacher, made up the nucleus of the settlement at Hartford, while the minister at Dorchester, John Warham, with his congregation migrated to Windsor. Thus it was that two of the Massachusetts churches were practically transplanted to the Connecticut.

For a few years these Connecticut towns continued under the Massachusetts government, but in 1638 a constitution was adopted, called the "Fundamental Orders," which was based upon the popular consent. The government was somewhat less theocratic than was that of Massachusetts; as only the governor was required to be a church member, while the suffrage was granted to all who had taken the oath, and had been admitted to citizenship by the township. It seems quite probable, however, that in the elections to citizenship care was taken that only church members or those directly in sympathy with the religious aims of the constitution became "freemen."

At the very time the Connecticut settlements were taking shape, a new Puritan colony was being established directly from England. The chief instigators in this enterprise were the Rev. John Davenport, who had been vicar of a London church until Archbishop Laud's regulations had driven him to Holland, and one of his London parishioners, Theophilus Eaton, a wealthy and influential merchant. Their plan included both religion and trade, and attracted several other English Puritan ministers and their congregations. Accordingly a considerable group sailed for Massachusetts in the spring of 1637. The Massachusetts authorities would have been glad to have had them remain under their jurisdiction, but Davenport and Eaton had an independent colony in mind, and after some exploring they decided to locate in what is now the southern part of Connecticut, to which they gave the name New Haven. They had neither charter nor patent for the land, but after obtaining lands by treaty from the Quinnipiack Indians, whom they protected from the Mohawks, they proceeded during the years 1638 to 1640 to the founding of several towns In June, 1639, a government was framed, based on the Bible, and it was voted that "Scripturs doe hol de forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duet [ies ] .... "

In this Bible commonwealth the suffrage was restricted, as in Massachusetts, to church members. Annual elections were ordered and the first governor chosen was Theophilus Eaton, and year by year, for nearly twenty years, until his death, he was reelected to that office. The other towns founded in the vicinity, Milford, Guilford and Stamford, were at first independent of New Haven, but in 1643, at the formation of the New England Confederation, a central government was organized and the four towns were united. Twenty years later (1664) Connecticut and New Haven were united, and with this union the chief characteristics of New Haven disappeared, such as the limitation of the suffrage to church members and the Scriptural constitution.

With the large number of educated clergymen in the Puritan colonies, most of them graduates of Cambridge, it was but natural that there should be early agitation looking toward the founding of a college. Indeed, before 1647 one hundred and thirty ministers had arrived in New England and it is stated on good authority that "such a concentration of educated men in a new settlement, in proportion to the population, has never occurred before or since." Accordingly, on September 8, 1636, the General Court of Massachusetts advanced "four hundred pounds by way of essay towards the building of something to begin a Colledge." But, to quote the opinion of Cotton Mather, "that which laid the most significant stone in the foundation, was the last will of Mr. John Harvard, a reverend, and most excellent minister of the gospel, who dying at Charlestown, of a consumption, quickly after his arrival, bequeathed the sum of seven hundred, seventy nine pounds, seventeen shillings and two pence, toward the pious work of building a Colledge, which was now set on foot." Soon a society of scholars was lodged in the "New Nests," under the direction of Mr. Nathaniel Eaton, who proved such a tyrant, however, beating a young gentleman unmercifully with a cudgel, that he was fined by the court, and was dismissed. Under Eaton's direction Harvard was little more than a school, so that Henry Dunster who became the president in 1640, soon after his arrival in America, was really the first president of the college. In New England's First Fruits (1643) Dunster is described as "a learned, considerable and industrious man, who had so trained up his pupils in the tongues and arts, and so seasoned them with the principles of Divinity and Christianity, that we have, to our great comfort, and in truth beyond our hopes, beheld their progress in learning and godliness also." Dunster remained the president until his adoption of Baptist views caused his resignation in 1654.

In 1642 the first class had graduated, and by the end of the century a large majority of the ministers in both Massachusetts and Connecticut were her graduates; seventy-six of the eighty-seven in Massachusetts; and thirty-one of the thirty-five in Connecticut. Thus Harvard most admirably served its primary purpose, that of training young men for the ministry.

By the middle of the seventeenth century four Puritan colonies were firmly rooted in New England soil, in each of which the Congregational Church was the dominating influence. During these years of the rapid development of American Congregationalism, the Puritan party in England began to express concern as to their dangerous tendencies in the direction of separatism. This concern led to questioning, and in the answering of these questions the leading New England ministers formulated the Congregational system of church polity. The ministers particularly responsible for the exposition of the New England Congregational system were John Cotton of Boston, Richard Mather of Dorchester, John Davenport of New Haven and Thomas Hooker of Connecticut. This activity in defending the Congregational system against its English critics led finally to the calling of the "Cambridge Synod" (September I, 1646) by the General Court of Massachusetts, at which the churches of Massachusetts, Plymouth, New Haven and Connecticut were invited to send their ministers and their representatives, "there to discuss, dispute, & cleare up, by the word of God, such questions of church government & discipline ... as they shall thinke" needfull & meete." This synod adopted the Westminster Confession as an expression of the Congregational belief, and drew up what came to be known as the Cambridge Platform, which constitutes the Congregational constitution.

The Cambridge Platform is simply the gathering up of the administrative experience of the New England Congregational fathers. Each church was considered as autonomous, though dependent upon other churches for council and fellowship. A church was constituted by a group of Christians uniting into a voluntary agreement, known as a covenant. At first the forming of a church was more or less of a private matter, but later, in Massachusetts and Connecticut, the consent of the government and the neighboring churches was required. The early 'Covenants were simply promises to worship together, following the divine commandments and promising faithfulness to each other, and were largely free of doctrinal statements. This absence of doctrinal matter in the covenants was largely due to the creedal uniformity prevailing, rather than to any lack of concern in the matter of doctrine. The officials of a Congregational church were pastor, teacher, elders and deacons, but by the end of the seventeenth century, in most instances, the teacher and elders had disappeared, leaving the pastor and deacons as the sole officers. At first the officers were selected by the adult male members, and this continued to be the practice in choosing deacons, but later, all the voters in the township, since they were taxed to support the minister, obtained the right to a voice in his selection, whether they were members of the church or not.

At first the minister was ordained by the officers of the congregation, but as fellowship between the churches developed, it became the custom to call in neighboring ministers to perform this service. According to the Cambridge Platform Congregationalists do not attach as much significance to ordination as do other Protestant churches, considering it simply "the solemn putting of a man into his place & office ... whereunto he had right before by election, being like the installing of a magistrat in the common wealth." Nor did a minister without a church continue to hold his ministerial character. At first the ministers were supported by voluntary contributions, but within a few years laws were passed compelling all who had not given voluntarily to be assessed by the constables, and later in Massachusetts the county courts were directed to fix ministers' salaries and collect them. During the early eighteenth century, after other religious groups began to gain a foothold in New England, laws were passed allowing members of other churches to pay their assessments to their own clergymen, in towns where there were such ministers. Otherwise their assessments went to the Congregational minister.

Throughout the whole period of the colonies the meetinghouse was not only the place of worship, but it was likewise the social center for every New England community, as well as a meeting place for political discussion. The typical New England meetinghouse was a plain, rectangular, frame structure; sometimes with a tower and a bell if the congregation could afford it, with a pulpit at one end opposite the main door. In the early churches there were two pews, somewhat raised above the others, facing the congregation, for elders and deacons. The sexes were divided in the seating, men on one side, women and the smaller children on the other, while the boys and young men occupied the gallery or the back seats where they were under the watchful eye of the tithing man. This functionary was a township official who assisted the constable in watching over the morals of the community. There was one such official for every ten families, who besides keeping order at the services, was on the lookout for Sabbath breaking, tippling, gaming and idleness. Frequently the worshipers were seated according to their social rank, which remained true of a number of New England churches until well on in the nineteenth century. Except for little foot stoves, which were used for women and children, the churches were without means for heating.

The main service of worship of a New England congregation began at nine o'clock on a Sabbath morning. The people were summoned in the larger communities by the church bell, or in the smaller and poorer towns by a drum or conch shell. Services were opened by a long prayer in which the minister brought the immediate needs of the members and of the community to the Divine attention, and no matter how long the prayer, the congregation stood. Next came the Bible reading, the pastor expounding as he read, for "dumb reading," as reading without comment was called, seemed to smack of the ritualistic service of the Church of England. The sermon was the main element in Puritan worship, but contrary to the usually accepted notion, the sermons were generally not more than an hour in length, though there are instances of sermons two and three hours long. The sermon completed, a shorter prayer closed the service.

The musical part of New England worship consisted of Psalm singing, in which the Psalm was lined out by the ruling elder, or by one designated by the minister. The people knew few tunes and as late as the beginning of the eighteenth century New England congregations were rarely able to sing more than three or four. Even the few melodies commonly known became so corrupted that no two individuals sang them alike, so that a congregation singing sounded "like five hundred different tunes roared out at the same time" often one or two words apart. An eighteenth century New England minister states: "I myself have twice in one note paused to take breath." The story is told of a New England deacon who, because of failing eyesight, found difficulty in reading the first line of the Psalm and he apologized by observing:

"My eyes, indeed, are very blind."

The choir thinking this the first line of a common-meter hymn immediately sang it; whereupon the deacon exclaimed:

"I cannot see at all."

This the choir also sang. Astonished, the deacon cried out:

"I really believe you are bewitched"

and the choir responded, "I really believe you are bewitched," whereupon the deacon added, "The mischief's in you all," and after the choir had sung that, the deacon sat down in disgust.

The Plymouth colonists brought with them a Psalm book which had been prepared for their use in Holland by Henry Ainsworth in 1612. This the churches of the Plymouth colony used until they were merged with Massachusetts Bay in 1692. The more famous Bay Psalm Book, a new American book, was first published at Cambridge in 1640 and was many times reprinted.

A question of great importance, which arose in the last third of the seventeenth century, and which continued to agitate the New England churches for more than a decade, was that known as the "Half-Way Covenant." It was a question which had to do with church membership. The early New England Congregationalists maintained that only adult persons of Christian experience should be admitted to full membership in the church, but they also held that children shared in the covenant taken by their parents and were therefore members of the church on that ground. Because of this latter provision, there came gradually to be numerous people, belonging to the second generation, who were members of the church but who made no profession of an experience, but were living good lives, and of course desired that their children receive baptism. The stricter element among the ministers held that only the immediate offspring of believing parents could be admitted to baptism, while there arose a more liberal group contending that children of nonregenerate members, who owned the covenant, might receive baptism, but that they might not receive the Lord's Supper, nor were they to be allowed to vote in church affairs.

As the question became more and more agitated, the General Court of Connecticut proposed to settle the matter through a convention of ministers, representing the four Congregational colonies. Such a convention was called to meet in 1657, but only Massachusetts and Connecticut sent delegates. It went on record, however, as supporting the Half-Way Covenant. Their decision had little effect in allaying the discussion, and finally the Massachusetts General Court decided to try its hand in settling the matter, by calling a General Synod of all the Massachusetts churches, to meet in Boston in March, 1662. Here, after warm discussion, the Half-Way Covenant again won the day. Still the strife continued and pamphlets for and against were multiplied, while churches were split over the issue, as was the case of the churches in Hartford, Stratford and Windsor in Connecticut, while even the First Church, Boston, was torn asunder, and a congregation from the old New Haven colony migrated to northern New Jersey where they founded New Ark, in order that they might be free from such abomination as that established by this innovation, and where the old strictness might be maintained.

The adoption of the Half-Way Covenant marks the passing of the founders of New England and the beginning of the domination of the second generation. Among the ministers of the first generation John Cotton is the outstanding figure. Coming to Massachusetts in 1633, after twenty years as vicar of the church in Boston, England, he at once took first rank among the leaders of Massachusetts, and was chosen teacher of the First Church in Boston. His grandson, Cotton Mather, characterized him as "a most universal scholar, and a living system of liberal arts, and a walking library," and such confidence was reposed in him that many "believed that God would not suffer Mr. Cotton to err." While hating heresy, and an avowed enemy of democracy, he was likewise suspicious of all hereditary power, and, contradictory as it may seem, he at the same time "was verging toward progress in truth and in religious freedom." Cotton's ambition was to found a theocratic state modeled after that of the Hebrews, "in which political rights should be sub-ordinated to religious conformity," with magistrates to be chosen from a narrow group, whose authority was to be beyond the reach of the popular will, and "with the ministers serving as a court of last resort to interpret the divine law to the subject-citizens of Jehovah." In his philosophy there is no trace of the doctrine of natural rights; but freedom and righteousness were to go hand in hand, while the sinner was to "remain subject to the saint."

Standing out almost, if not quite, as prominently in the second generation, as did John Cotton in the first, is Increase Mather. Born in the Dorchester parsonage, the son of Richard Mather, he graduated from Harvard at seventeen in 1656, and at once sailed for Ireland, where he matriculated at Trinity College, then under Puritan control, for the master's degree. He undoubtedly intended to remain a pastor in England, but the ending of the Commonwealth drove him back to New England, where he became the teacher in the Second Church of Boston, remaining there until his death in 1723. After the division of the First Church, which we have noted, this was the most influential pulpit in Massachusetts, as well as perhaps in the whole of New England. At this influential post, Increase Mather became the stanch defender of the old order of things, both in state and in church. The last thirty years of his life his influence was foremost as an ecclesiastical leader, and well-nigh as great in politics and in education. From 1685 to 1701 he was the acting president of Harvard College, driving back and forth from his Boston parsonage to Cambridge every day in his carriage. In 1688, after the loss of the charter, he was sent to England, as the best-prepared man in Massachusetts, to plead the cause of the colony against Governor Andros. And so successful was he in this important mission that the new charter of 1691 was secured and Mather was granted the right to nominate those who should first bear office under it.

Increase Mather was the prime mover in securing the calling by the General Court of Massachusetts of the Reforming Synod of 1679. A series of disasters, such as the two fires in Boston, in 1676 and 1679, a smallpox scourge, King Philip's War, together with the threats against self-government, which finally resulted in the loss of the charter in 1684, seemed to indicate clearly to Mather that God's wrath was turned against New England for their sins. The purpose of the synod was to consider the condition of the New England churches and to adopt such measures as would remedy conditions which were considered the cause of the divine anger. Under Increase Mather's presidency the synod adopted a series of recommendations looking toward a more faithful administration of church discipline and calling for a strict execution of the laws. It also adopted a confession of faith, modeled after the Savoy Confession of the English Congregationalists, which had been formulated in 1658 and which remains the fullest and clearest statement of the faith of seventeenth century Congregationalists.

The disaster which came to Massachusetts in October, 1684, when she was deprived of her liberal charter has already been noted. It was the plan of King James II to unite the American colonies into one royal jurisdiction, and in December, 1686, Sir Edmund Andros came to Boston, first as governor of Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Plymouth, while later his jurisdiction covered Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York in addition. All popular rights were lost, and with them the freedom of the press and the power of taxation. Not the least of the accusations lodged against Andros was that he had introduced the Established Church among them. The governor had asked for the use of one of the meetinghouses at such a time when it would not interfere with the services of the owners. When this was refused Old South Meetinghouse was taken by force and Anglican services were held on Good Friday and Easter, 1687. The next year King's Chapel was begun, the first Anglican church in Massachusetts. The danger from Anglicanism soon passed, for when the news arrived in New England that James II had vacated the throne, the beating of drums on Boston Common summoned the militia; a town meeting was held, and Governor Andros and two other royal officials were soon in prison. A provisional government was at once formed which was to carryon until the new charter was obtained. The new charter, though distasteful to Increase Mather because of its limitations on the old privileges, nevertheless retained much that was dear to the New England Puritan. It put an end, however, to Puritan theocracy, by sweeping away all religious qualifications for the suffrage, substituting in its stead property qualifications. Local government was left unchanged, though the governor hereafter was to be an appointee of the crown, while only the lower house of the legislature was to be chosen by the direct vote of the people.

That the hanging of twenty witches at Salem and the execution of ten others at different places, in 1692, was the direct effect of the political and religious disturbances through which New England was passing at this time is perhaps an unwarranted conclusion. There is no doubt, however, but that the public mind was in a most feverish and disturbed state. It is quite the mode in these days to heap wholesale condemnation upon New England Puritanism, and such condemnation usually begins or ends with a description of the Salem witchcraft delusion. As a matter of fact and fairness, it needs to be said that witchcraft delusions were common all over Europe from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, and during these years the European witch fires were responsible for the death of at least five hundred thousand victims. Between 1645 and 1647 in England one notorious witch-finder alone was responsible for sending three hundred condemned witches to the gallows. This, however, is not a justification for the happenings at Salem, but rather an explanation of them.

The theory concerning witches, usually accepted, was that the witch had sold herself to the devil, to be used as his special instrument and agent, to carry out his evil purposes. Concern over strange apparitions and witches had been expressed previously by the New England ministers and in 1684 Increase Mather had written a book entitled An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences, in which he describes several cases of witchcraft. The craze at Salem began in March, 1692, when several children through their strange actions, were thought to be bewitched, and finally they named three old women who they said had bewitched them. These miserable old women were brought to trial in a court held in the Salem church, with the children as the chief witnesses, and all were convicted and condemned. The jails were now filled with accused witches. The royal governor, himself of New England birth, appointed a special court to try the cases, and by January, 1693, twenty-two persons had been condemned, two of whom died in prison and the remainder were hanged. Among the judges who sat in the special court was the high-minded Samuel Sewall.

The delusion passed almost as quickly as it had come, though belief in witches by no means disappeared. Soon critics of the proceedings began to make themselves heard, among them Increase Mather, who contended that other evidence should be required, since "a Daemon may, by God's permission, appear even to ill purposes, in the Shape of an innocent, yea, and a virtuous Man." The trials were stopped by Governor Phipps in October, 1692, and five years later the Massachusetts Court publicly repented and set apart a special day of fasting and prayer, that prayers might be offered asking for forgiveness for "the late Tragedy raised amongst us by Satan," while the twelve jurors published a declaration of sorrow for accepting insufficient evidence against the accused, and Judge Sewall rose in his pew in the South Church and made public confession of his sense of guilt.

Toward the close of the seventeenth century liberal tendencies began to make their appearance in some of the New England churches. Especially was liberalism noticeable at Harvard and in Cambridge where the tutors, William Brattle and William Leverett, began to advocate certain changes in the church. They contended that all baptized persons should have a part in selecting the minister; that no longer should admission to church membership depend upon the relation of a religious experience before the congregation; while they also wished to bring about certain changes in the conduct of the public services. This agitation finally led to the formation of Brattle Church, which was organized without the consent of the other churches, where these innovations were put into practice. This particular incident, which marked the waning influence of Increase Mather at Harvard, was also largely responsible for an attempt on the part of the conservatives, led by the Mathers, Increase and his son Cotton, to create new ecclesiastical machinery which would hold in check this growing radicalism. This led to what is known as the Massachusetts Proposals of 1705.

Ministerial associations had gradually come into existence toward the end of the sixteen hundreds, the first having been formed in 1690, made-up of the ministers of Boston and the surrounding towns. It met regularly in the college buildings at Cambridge. It was purely a voluntary affair, but it seemed to meet a real need, for it was not long until there were five such associations in Massachusetts. The next step was the "Ministerial Convention," made up of delegates from the several associations, which met once a year during the spring meeting of the General Court. In 1705, the convention, through a circular letter to the churches, began to advocate reforms in church administration. This led to the gathering of nine ministers, representing the associations of Massachusetts, at which a series of recommendations were formulated. the most important being that ministerial associations were to be formed where they did not now exist, and that these associations have the power to examine and license ministerial candidates, while churches without ministers were to apply to the associations for candidates. The second proposal was that there should be a "standing Council" in each association whose decisions were to be final. The first part of the recommendations were put into operation, but the second proposal, due to the strong opposition which arose, was never carried out.

Out of the welter of discussion which arose over the proposed changes in church government, there appeared an able defender of Congregational polity in the person of John Wise, the pastor at Ipswich, who "possessed the keenest mind and the most trenchant pen of his generation." In two brilliant little books, The Churches Quarrel Espoused (1710) and A Vindication of the Government of the New England Churches (1717), Wise defended the democracy of the old system, in which the democratic element was emphasized, not alone by an appeal to the Scripture, but also on the ground of natural rights. His books stirred the mind of New England profoundly, and so convincing was his argument that it was accepted as authoritative. He asserted that "Democracy is Christ's government in Church and State"; that "Power is originally in the people"; and further that "by natural right all men are born free." This philosophy of democracy was not alone to influence the affairs of the church, but fifty years later (1772) Wise's books appeared in a new edition, and played their part in the political discussion of the time.

Though partially defeated in Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Proposals were three years later (1708) embodied in the Saybrook Platform of the Connecticut churches, and were by them accepted. Thus, the Congregationalism of Connecticut and Massachusetts entered upon divergent courses, the Connecticut churches becoming more and more Presbyterian in their system of church polity. This made fellowship and cooperation with the growing Presbyterianism of the middle colonies natural, a fact which later was to have far-reaching influences in the adoption of the Plan of Union of 1801. The Massachusetts churches, on the other hand, continued to follow the old plan of independent Congregationalism.

The tendency of Connecticut Congregationalism to go its own way, more or less independently of the Massachusetts churches, is further evidenced by the founding of Yale College in 1701. The reason given for the establishment of Yale was that the Connecticut churches desired "a nearer and less expensive seat of learning," though undoubtedly the enterprise met the hearty approval of the more conservative ministers, who hoped that the new seat of learning might offset the more liberal and less orthodox tendencies which were developing at Harvard. At first the new college was located at Saybrook, but in 1716 it was permanently removed to New Haven, and two years later it received the name Yale in recognition of the gifts of Elihu Yale, who, though a son of one of the founders of New Haven, had amassed wealth in India where for a number of years he was governor of Madras under the East India Company. His interest in the college had been aroused by the London agent of the New Haven colony, and through a letter written him by Cotton Mather.

New England Congregationalism has now been traced through its first one hundred years and the changes which had gradually come about with the second and third generations have been noted. During the last years of the seventeenth century the question of church polity had occupied the chief attention of the New England ministers, an indication in itself that vital religion was at a low ebb. The religion of the Puritans had become unemotional, with a type of preaching unconducive to revivals and conversion. Out of this general situation had come the necessity for the Half-Way Covenant. The Puritan fathers had held that conversion was solely the work of God, but with the second and third generations, as the number of conversions decreased, gradually the idea began to emerge that there were certain "means" which might be used in putting the soul in a position to receive the regenerating influence of the Spirit of God. Such "means" were owning the covenant, attending divine worship, leading a moral life, reading the Scriptures and prayer. Thus there came to be more and more reliance upon the use of "means" and less and less upon the miraculous power of God, which led to a cold and unemotional religion. Such was the general religious situation in New England when through the preaching and personality of Jonathan Edwards a new and highly emotional reaction set in which we know as the Great Awakening.



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IT MAY appear to students of American history as unsound to bring together in one chapter two such divergent themes as Rhode Island and Maryland; one a New England and the other a southern colony; one founded by liberal Puritans and the other by Roman Catholics. But the thing which brings them together and makes it appropriate to discuss them in relation to each other is the fact that in each of these colonies, at about the same period, the principle of religious liberty was put into practice. The beginning of each colony centers about the name of an individual, each of great historic interest and importance, Roger WilIiams and the first Lord Baltimore, and to understand how the first experiments in religious liberty began in America it will be necessary to tell the story of each of these men.

To a large degree religious liberty, or at least a wide toleration, had come to prevail in America by the end of the colonial period. This achievement had come about mostly as a result of circumstance rather than because of any widely accepted principle propounded and urged by colonial leaders. Wide diversity of religious belief, due to the fact that the colonies had attracted numerous settlers fleeing from persecution in the Old World; the necessity of attracting settlers to the great proprietary grants to assure their success, resulting in the letting down of religious bars; and the fact that by the close of the colonial era the great majority of the people were unchurched, due to their long remove from Old World controls, were among the principal causes for this achievement. There were few colonials contending for religious liberty on the basis of principle, and Roger Williams was one of the few. His colony of Rhode Island was the only one to be established squarely on the principle of the separation of church and state, and was the first civil government in the world to achieve complete religious liberty.


Roger Williams and his wife embarked in the ship Lyon from the port of Bristol in the year 1630 bound for New England and on the fifth of February, 1631, after a tempestuous voyage landed at Boston. At this time Williams was about thirty years of age and is described as "a young minister, godly and zealous, having precious gifts." He was London born, of substantial middle-class parents. Early in his youth he manifested a tendency toward Puritanism, much to the displeasure of his parents, who were loyal Anglicans, members of St. Sepulchre's parish church. An early interest in legal matters led him to visit the Court of the Star Chamber in Westminster Hall, where he practiced shorthand by taking down the speeches in the court. This brought him to the attention of Sir Edward Coke, destined to become the leading figure in the defense of Parliamentary powers against the claims of the royalists. Sir Edward became young William's patron, secured for him an appointment to Charterhouse School (1621), of which Sir Edward was one of the governors, and two years later young Williams entered Pembroke College, Cambridge, which was Sir Edward's college, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1627. After leaving Cambridge he became the chaplain in the home of a Puritan member of Parliament, Sir Edward Masham, and here he found Mary Barnard, the maid of one of Mrs. Masham's daughters, who became Mrs. Roger Williams in 1629. Thus Williams in his youth had established friendships with influential Puritans, which were to stand him in good stead when he came seeking a charter for his colony of Rhode Island. Before coming to America he had already adopted liberal views in regard to both civil government and the Church and was an avowed Separatist, and possessed that type of mind which would not allow him to keep his views to himself. Indeed, he had hardly landed in the New World before he was in trouble with the authorities for advancing views out of harmony with the principles upon which the Massachusetts colony was established. He refused to join the congregation of the Boston church, for he considered that it had not yet completely separated itself from the corruptions of the English Church, a church which bore on its skirts the blood of saints and martyrs. Accordingly, when a few weeks later he received an invitation to become the pastor of the-more liberal church at Salem, he accepted, but on the very day he was to begin his ministry there, the General Court of the colony interfered--a flagrant violation of the Congregational principle of the independence of each congregation--and this interference on the part of the General Court led Williams to depart for Plymouth. Here for two years he resided, earning his living by farming and trading with the Indians. At the same time he served as an assistant to Ralph Smith, the minister, and, says Governor Bradford, "he was freely entertained, according to our poor ability, and exercised his gifts among us; and after some time was admitted a member of the church among us and his teaching well approved."

During his residence in Plymouth Williams became interested in the Indians living in the vicinity, and began a study of Indian languages, and gained an acquaintance with the Narragansett chiefs which was to prove so useful to him when finally he was banished from Massachusetts.

Again in September, 1634, the church in Salem invited Williams to be their pastor, their first minister, Mr. Skelton, having died the previous month. Here, it seems, he preached for two years and during this time won a number of adherents to his views, especially in reference to separation of civil and religious authority. It is difficult for us in this day to understand the controversy which now ensued between Roger Williams and the authorities of Massachusetts. Williams' chief opponent was John Cotton. Though a recent arrival in Boston, Cotton's advice was at once given great weight in arranging the civil and religious affairs of the colony. The charges against Williams were thus summed up by John Cotton, and acknowledged as correct by Roger Williams. He held:

First, That we have not our land by patent from the king, but that the native, are the true owners of it, and that we ought to repent of such a receiving it by patent.

Secondly, That it is not lawful to call a wicked person to swear, (or) pray, as being actions of God's worship.

Thirdly, That it is not lawful to hear any of the ministers of the Parish assemblies in England.

Fourthly, That the civil magistrate's power extends only to the bodies, and goods, and outward state of men.

Williams' position seemed particularly dangerous to the Massachusetts officials, for if the state had nothing to do with religion then, of course, the whole Massachusetts government was founded on a false basis. It is, therefore, clear why the Massachusetts authorities now proceeded against Williams and drove him into exile.

Called before the General Court in July, 1635, to answer to the charge against him, his opinions were declared to be "erroneous and dangerous," and the calling of him to Salem "was judged a great contempt of authority." Williams and the Salem church were given until the next session of the court to consider the matter. In the October session Roger Williams was sentenced to "depart out of our jurisdiction within six weeks." Meanwhile, Williams' health was declining, evidently because of his troubles, and it seems that on this account the court relented to the extent of granting him until spring to leave the colony. Williams withdrew at once from the Salem church, but his friends and followers gathered at his house, where he preached "even of such points as he had been censured for." This was too much for the magistrates, who took steps to have him sent out of the colony at once on a ship then at anchor in Boston bay. A pinnace was sent to Salem to bring him to Boston, "but when they came to his house, they found he had been gone three days before; but whither they could not learn." His wife and two children were left behind, while a mortgage had been placed on his property to raise money for his exile. He then plunged into the forest; being "denied the common air to breathe in, and a civil cohabitation upon the same common earth; yea and also without mercy and human compassion, exposed to winter miseries in a howling wilderness."

After fourteen weeks of wandering, during which he says he did not know "what bread or bed did mean," Williams found hospitality among the Indians and in the late summer of 1636 purchased from them a plot of ground at the mouth of the Mohassuck River where he founded the town of Providence. Shortly afterward these lands were reconveyed to his companions, for it was not long until a considerable number of his followers had found their way thither. In a deed of 1661 Williams thus states his purpose in establishing his colony: "I desired it might be for a shelter for persons distressed for conscience. I then considering the condition of divers of my distressed countrymen, I communicated my said purchase unto my loving friends ... who then desired to take shelter here with me." Williams and his associates adopted a "plantation covenant" in which they agreed to abide by the will of the majority but "only in civil things." The new colony, however, was without legal standing, for they had as yet no charter from any English authority.

One of the accusations which had been lodged against Roger Williams at Salem was that he was inclined toward Anabaptist views, but there is no evidence that he was a Baptist at this time. In 1638, however, a church was formed at Providence, made up of rebaptized members. A Mr. Holliman who had been a member of the Salem church was selected to rebaptize Williams, and then Williams rebaptized Holliman and ten others. Thus was formed the first Baptist church in America.1 Williams became pastor of the newly formed church, though only for a few months. He soon became disturbed as to his right to administer the ordinances of the church, conceiving that a true ministry must derive its authority from apostolic succession and, therefore, he could not assume the office of pastor. He, however, continued to hold Baptist views, though he finally came to the conclusion that the church was so corrupt that there could "be no recovery out of that apostacy till Christ shall send forth new apostles to plant churches anew."

A recent interpreter of New England thought has stated that "Roger Williams was the most provocative figure thrown upon the Massachusetts shores by the upheaval in England, the one original thinker among a number of capable social architects." His great contribution, however, was made in the realm of political philosophy rather than as a theologian and his was the first great blow struck at the theory of divine right, for which he substituted the "compact" theory of government. Government to Roger Williams was man-made and rested upon common consent of equal subjects. His idea of the position of religion in the state is thus clearly stated in the preface of his The Bloudy T'enent of Persecution.2


1 The usual contention that the members of the first Baptist church were baptized by immersion in 1638 is challenged by Professor R. E. E. Harkness in an article in the Crozer Quarterly (Vol. V, 1928, pp. 440·460) entitled "Principles of the Early Baptists of England and America," in which he contends that the rebaptizing which took place in 1638 was not by immersion and that Williams opposed the new manner of dipping when it was first introduced some years later.

2 VoL Ill, p. 76.


(I) God requireth not an uniformity of Religion to be inacted and inforced in any civill state; which inforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civill Warre, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Jesus Christ in his servants, and of the hypocrisie and destruction of millions of souls. (2) It is the will and command of God, that ... a permission of the most Paganish, jewish, Turkish, or Anti-christian consciences and worships, bee granted to all men in all Nations and Countries: and they are only to be fought against with the Sword which is one1y (in Soule matters) able to conquer, to wit, the Sword of Gods Spirit, the Word of God. (3) True civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or Kingdome, notwithstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile.

How different is our opinion of Roger Williams today from that of Cotton Mather who compared him to a certain windmill in the Low Countries, which whirling with such extraordinary violence, by reason of a violent storm then blowing; the stone at length by its rapid motion became so intensely hot, as to fire the mill, from whence the flames, being dispersed by the high winds, did set the whole town on fire. But I can tell my reader, about twenty-five years before this, there was a whole country in America like to be set on fire by the rapid motion of a windmill, in the head of one particular man. Know then that about the year 1630, arrived here one Roger Williams, who being a preacher that had less light than fire in him, hath by his own sad example, preached unto us the danger of that evil which the apostle mentions in Rom. 10-2. They have a zeal, but not according to knowledge.

The colony of Rhode Island was eventually made up of three elements, the first being Roger Williams' Providence plantation. A second element was made up of another group of religious exiles from Massachusetts-Anne Hutchinson, with her husband, her brother-in-law Mr. Wheelwright, and their followers-who settled what is now Portsmouth and Newport; while a third group, led by a well-educated but combative individual, Samuel Gorton, founded a colony on the west shore of Narragansett Bay to which was given the name Warwick. In 1644 Roger Williams was sent to England to secure authorization from the Puritan authorities for the Narragansett settlers to form a government. Three years later (1647) it was organized-embodying the principles advocated by Roger Williams-separation of church and state-no church membership qualification required for voters, while every man was to be protected in the "peaceful and quiet enjoyment of lawful right and liberty," ... not withstanding our different consciences touching the truth as it is in Jesus."

Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, like Williams, was born out of due time. In England she and her husband had been parishioners of John Cotton, and according to Winthrop was "a woman of ready wit and a bold spirit," who "brought over with her two dangerous errors." Some time after her arrival in Boston she began the practice of holding meetings at her house where the sermons preached the Sunday previous were discussed and the ministers criticized, and finally she seemed to have evolved a doctrine of her own in which she professed a direct divine inspiration. All the ministers in Boston, she contended, were preaching a covenant of works, except John Cotton and her brother-in-law, Mr. Wheelwright, who was at the time preaching as a supply minister in a branch of one of the Boston churches. Over against the covenant of works she set the covenant of grace, by which she meant that every man had direct communication between himself and his Maker, while the covenant of works meant conformity to a prescribed order as laid down by the minister.

At first Mrs. Hutchinson found powerful supporters in John Cotton and Sir Henry Vane, the governor, and the majority of the Boston church members were on her side. As long as Vane was governor Mrs. Hutchinson was safe, but in the midst of the excitement of the controversy an election resulted in victory for the conservatives and Winthrop once more became governor, though the three representatives from Boston to the General Court were favorable to Mrs. Hutchinson. Wheelwright was first brought before the court in March, but his case was deferred until November when he was declared guilty of sedition and contempt and was banished from the colony. Mrs. Hutchinson was next tried, and her conviction was a foregone conclusion. She too was banished from the colony and excommunicated from the church. The words of excommunication pronounced upon Mrs. Hutchinson by the Rev. John Wilson reveal the enormity of her offense in the eyes of the Massachusetts theocrats:


Forasmuch as you, Mrs. Hutchinson, have highly transgressed and offended and forasmuch as you have so many ways troubled the church with your errors and have drawn away many a poor soul, and have upheld your revelations; and forasmuch as you have made a lie, etc. Therefore in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the name of the Church I do not only pronounce you worthy to be cast out, but I do cast you out and in the name of Christ I do deliver you up to Satan, that you may learn no more to blaspheme, to seduce and to lie, and I do account you from this time forth to be a Heathen and a Publican and so to be held of all the brethern and sisters of this congregation and of all others; therefore I command you in the name of Christ Jesus and of his Church as a Leper to withdraw yourself out of the Congregation; that as formerly you have despised and contemned the Holy Ordinances of God, and turned back on them, so may you now have no part in them nor benefit from them.


With Mrs. Hutchinson into exile went numerous of her followers and others who were out of sympathy with the intolerance of the Massachusetts authorities. Most important of those who now went to Rhode Island and established Portsmouth and Newport was Dr. John Clarke. We know very little about the early history of this talented and interesting man, who had an intellectual outlook and a breadth of view unusual for his day, but he arrived in Boston in 1637 just at the time the excitement was at its height over Mrs. Anne Hutchinson. He immediately identified himself with the defeated supporters of the Covenant of grace and was at once recognized as their natural leader. The year Newport was founded (1638) a church was established with Clarke as teaching elder. Whether this was a Baptist church from the first cannot be determined, though by 1648 it is known that there was a Baptist church at Newport with fifteen members. In 1651 Clarke was sent to England by the colonists to secure a new charter, and there for twelve years he remained, finding it impossible to gain the charter under the Protectorate. Finally in 1663, under Charles II, a new charter was obtained which declared that no person should be "anywise molested, punished, disquieted or called in question for any differences of opinion in matters of religion" provided he did not disturb the "civil peace." Roger Williams was still living when the new charter was secured, embodying his great principle of "soul liberty." On Clarke's return to Rhode Island he served two terms as deputy governor, retiring to private life in 1676. During his long residence in England he wrote Ill News from New England in which he advocated liberty of conscience, a book which deserves to take rank with Roger Williams' The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution. His services to the colony and to the cause of religious liberty were quite as great, though less known, as were those of Roger Williams.

With the establishment of the first Baptist churches in Rhode Island, Baptist views began to make their appearance in the older Puritan colonies, and among the members of the Congregational churches. Cases of parents withholding their children from infant baptism became increasingly common so that in 1644 the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a statute providing that whosoever "shall either openly condemn or oppose the baptizing of infants, or go about secretly to seduce others from the approbation or use thereof, or shall purposely depart the congregation at the ministration of the ordinances, etc .... shall be sentenced to banishment." The most conspicuous case of this kind was that of Henry Dunster, the president of Harvard College from 1641 to 1654.

About 1650 Dunster had become convinced that infant baptism was wrong, and in 1653 when his fourth child was born he failed to present it at the proper time for baptism. His new views he now set forth in several sermons, which naturally caused much excitement. Dunster had been so successful in conducting the affairs of the college that the assistants were reluctant to proceed against him. In 1654 nine of the leading ministers held a conference with Dunster and a few months later the General Court issued an order commanding the overseers of the college not to permit any to teach "that have manifested themselves unsound in the faith." In June Dunster offered his resignation, but expressed his willingness to continue the work "for some weeks or months" until his successor could be secured. His resignation was not accepted at this time, but in the autumn he interrupted the service in the Cambridge church to make a statement as to his position on infant baptism, which he gathered under five points. This was the last straw. His resignation was now accepted and he was indicted for disturbing worship, was tried and condemned to receive an admonition from the General Court. Dunster spent the last five years of his life as pastor of the church at Scituate in the Plymouth colony and was succeeded at Harvard by Charles Chauncy who had been the minister at Scituate.

The most notable case of persecution of Baptists by Massachusetts authorities occurred in 1651 near Lynn, where John Clarke and Obadiah Holmes had gone to minister to an aged Baptist, William Witter, and also perhaps to encourage others who where inclined toward Baptist principles. Here on a Sabbath they were holding services in Witter's home when two constables broke into the house, arrested Holmes and Clarke, who were haled before the court, where they were fined, and in default of which they were to be whipped. A friend of Clarke's paid his fine and he was set free against his protest. Holmes, however, was "whipped unmercifully" in the streets of Boston. There were numerous other cases of persecution, though it must be said in some justification of the Massachusetts authorities that much of what both Baptists and Quakers did would, if done today, have brought them before the police court. Thus Witter had been before the court in 1643 for saying that infant baptism was a "badge of the whore," and three years later he was again in trouble for saying that "they who stayed while a child is baptized doe worshipp the Dyvell."

The first Baptist church in Massachusetts was formed at Rehobeth in 1663, by John Myles, a Welsh Baptist minister who had been driven to America by the Act of Uniformity of 1662. No attention was given to this church by the authorities until 1667 when Myles and James Brown were haled before the court "for setting up a public meeting without the knowledge and approbation of the Court, to the disturbance of the peace of the place." They were assessed a fine of £5 and required to remove their church to a distance from the church of the standing order, so as not to disturb the peace of the church and town. The same year a place was set aside for them by the court near the Rhode Island border, which was called Swansea after their Welsh home. Here the church prospered and has maintained an uninterrupted existence to this day. A Baptist church was formed in Boston in 1665 under the leadership of Thomas Gould, who like his friend President Dunster had refused to present his child for baptism. In the above year a church was formed in his house which almost immediately fell under the wrath of the officials. Three of its members, Gould, Turner and Forman were tried and convicted and sentenced to leave the colony, and if they were found in the colony after a certain time they were to be imprisoned without bail. The church was forbidden to assemble again on pain of imprisonment and banishment. In spite of such harsh measures the number of Baptists increased and in 1678 a Baptist meetinghouse was begun in Boston. In answer to this bold step the General Court ordered the marshal to nail up the doors, which he proceeded to do. This proved to be the last serious persecution of Baptists in Boston, and the doors remained closed but one Sunday.

The controversy over the Half-Way Covenant served to further the development of Baptist sentiment in New England, since the question under discussion was the matter of allowing children of unconverted is to be baptized. Many began to ask what is the use of infant baptism since it confers no special privilege? Why not, therefore, postbaptism until after a personal confession is possible?

As the seventeenth century neared its close persecution of Baptists gradually died out. The English Congregational ministers protested against the intolerance of Massachusetts, stating that dissenting interests in England were greatly injured by it, and even Charles II rebuked the Massachusetts authorities for their cruel persecutions. By the end of the century the Puritan theocracy had proven to be an impossible form of government and the new charter of 1691, uniting Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay, granted "Liberty of conscience to all Christians, except Papists," but "liberty of conscience was so interpreted as to allow the taxation of dissenters for the support of Congregational ministers." It was not until 1728 that an act was passed exempting Anabaptists and Quakers "from being taxed for and toward the support of" ministers, but in order to secure exemption Baptists were required to obtain certificates signed by "two principal members of that persuasion" which must be presented to the town officials.

The most important Baptist center during the colonial period was not in New England, however, but in the middle colonies and especially in Pennsylvania and New Jersey where a large degree of religious freedom was allowed from the first. Philadelphia was the center of this group of churches, and in 1707 the first Baptist Association in America met at Philadelphia with five churches represented. In 1742 this body adopted a strong Calvinistic confession of faith which is considered a turning point in the history of the American Baptists. Up to this time the Arminian Baptists had been more numerous, especially in New England, but from this time forward the majority of American Baptists have been Calvinistic in their theology, and the Philadelphia Association became and remained the strongest and most influential Baptist body. In the southern colonies Baptist churches were barely getting started by the middle of the eighteenth century; the rapid extension of the Baptists into the southern colonies, therefore, belongs to a later period in this story.

In 1740 there were but eight Baptist churches in Massachusetts, four in Connecticut and eleven in Rhode Island. In the Philadelphia Association in 1762 were twenty-nine churches, embracing Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and Maryland; while a Baptist church had been formed in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1684. Most of these churches owed their origin to small groups of men and women who had been Baptists before corning to America, most of whom were either English or Welsh. To term Roger Williams the founder of the Baptist Church in America, and the church he founded "the venerable mother of American Baptist churches," as is often done, is historically incorrect, for after all the part played by Williams in American Baptist history is extremely small, and the church he founded bore no living children. The relation of Roger Williams and the American Baptists to the beginnings of the fight for religious liberty in America, however, has a deep significance, for standing first among the five principles of all American Baptists is "Complete separation of Church and State," and the part they played in the triumph of that great principle is of greatest importance.


It is a strange anomaly that the first colony in America to be established embodying the principle of religious toleration should have been founded by a Roman Catholic. It must be understood, however, that the founding of Maryland was not due in any way whatever to the Roman Catholic Church, but was solely the result of the plan and intention of one Roman Catholic nobleman-a recent convert-George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore.

Lord Baltimore's purpose in establishing a colony embodying the principle of religious liberty was vastly different from that of Roger Williams in the establishment of Rhode Island. Roger Williams was a political philosopher, and based his position on great fundamental truths. To him a great principle was at stake, and for that principle he was willing to and did undergo every danger and hardship. Roger Williams was a prophet of the coming of the new day of religious liberty and the separation of church and state; Lord Baltimore was neither a political philosopher nor a prophet. He was rather a practical and hardheaded investor in a great land venture, in which his whole fortune was at stake. He founded Maryland upon the principle of religious toleration in spite of his religion rather than because of it. He knew well enough that ruin would come speedily to his vast enterprise in Maryland if his colony were planted in the interests solely of his church and his coreligionists. It has already been noted that Catholics in England of his day did not belong to the migrating class, and if Baltimore were to sell his land he must depend upon the non-Catholics, and he evidently did not propose to allow his "religious predilections to interfere with business."

George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore, was a man of importance in the government of England in the reigns of James I and Charles I, and was greatly interested in all colonization and trading enterprises. He was a member of both the London and Plymouth companies as well as the East India Company; was a member of Parliament and one of the Secretaries of State. His political career, however, was closed when be became a Catholic, since the oath taken by officeholders required renunciation of the authority of the Pope. He succeeded, however, in spite of his conversion to Catholicism, in retaining the good will and friendship of Charles l who made him an Irish peer as Lord Baltimore.

His first attempt at colonization was in Newfoundland in 1620, which after nine years of hardship and the loss of £30,000 he abandoned with the thought of trying again in Virginia. Here his conversion to Catholicism blocked his way, for in answer to the announcement of his intention to "plant and dwell" among them, the authorities of Virginia welcomed him on the same terms with themselves, that is, they presented for his acceptance the oath of supremacy, to which as a true Catholic he could not subscribe. He now sailed back to England, where his influence at court finally' was successful in securing from the king a separate province, granted as a hereditary possession, and thus this Catholic nobleman became the founder of the first proprietary English colony, a type of grant which was to become most common by the end of the century. The territory given Baltimore was claimed by Virginia, but the loss of its charter in 1624 left it no legal grounds for procedure.

Death ended the first Lord Baltimore's colonization venture, but his eldest son, Cecil Calvert, inherited his father's title and proceeded with the enterprise. The second Lord Baltimore was even more hard-headed and practical than his father and with a high degree of tact carried out the colonization scheme, and for forty years ruled the colony at long range with skill and economic success. By far the largest part of the settlers from the very first (1634) were Protestants, and in the instructions to his brother Leonard who came out as the first governor his religious plans are made clear. Care was to be taken by the officials "to preserve unity & peace among all the passangers" while "no scandall nor offence" was "to be given to any of the Protestants." They were to be careful not to parade the Roman Catholic religion before the non-Catholics and as far as practicable their peculiar practices were to be conducted "as privately as possible." From the above instructions it is easy to infer that the Lord Proprietor knew well enough the difficulties he faced and desired to run no unnecessary risk of losing his charter.

Maryland prospered moderately from the first, for Leonard Calvert went about the work in hand in a very orderly way; and he was wise enough also to profit by the mistakes of Virginia. The first year corn and tobacco were planted in some Indian fields which they had purchased, and other land was cleared. The location of the settlement was healthy and well drained and at the end of the first summer they were able to send a shipload of corn to New England in exchange for fish.

The colony was thrown open to all religious groups-Anglicans, Puritans and Catholics-the charter stating that "all liege subjects of the king" might freely transport themselves and their families to Maryland, though the government was largely under Catholic control, since most. of the large manors were owned by the Catholic friends of the proprietor. On the first expedition two earnest Jesuit priests were quietly added "as it passed the Isle of Wight," and for some time were the only representatives of religion in the colony. These priests ministered faithfully to the settlers and among the neighboring Indians, and soon most of the Protestants in the colony were Roman Catholic, and even converts were won from among the Indians. This surprising success on the part of the Jesuits was soon reported to the English Protestant authorities, which brought a rebuke from the proprietor, who now proceeded to limit the authority of the priests, annulled the grants of land made to the missionaries by the Indian chiefs, and finally had the Jesuits replaced by secular priests, and a few years later (1643) even made overtures to secure Puritan immigration from Massachusetts.

The oath prescribed by Lord Baltimore in 1636, to be taken by the Maryland governors, shows plainly his insistence upon maintaining religious toleration in the colony:

I will not myself or any other, directly or indirectly, trouble, molest, or discountenance any person professing to believe in Jesus Christ, for or in respect to religion: I will make no difference of persons in conferring offices, favors, or rewards, for or in respect of religion: but merely as they shall be found faithful and well deserving. and endued with moral virtues and abilities: my aim shall be public unity, and if any person or officer shall molest any person professing to believe in Jesus Christ, on account of his religion. I will protect the person molested, and punish the offender.3

3 Tiffany. p. 58.


While the religious toleration authorized in Maryland by Cecil Calvert was quite evidently primarily based upon practical and business reasons, yet undoubtedly "it was also the outcome of his convictions and kindly nature."

As the number of Protestants in the colony increased, they naturally tended to become more aggressive, which was especially true of that group of Puritans who had been given refuge in Maryland when they were driven from Virginia. Soon they had become bitter antagonists of the proprietor and all his Catholic subjects. The religious troubles brewing in Maryland were brought to the point of explosion by the breaking out of the Civil Wars in England. With the triumph of the Parliamentary party and the establishment of the protectorate, the Maryland situation was bound to be profoundly affected. At this juncture, in order to avoid criticism and allay suspicion of his colony, Lord Baltimore appointed a Protestant governor (1649), William Stone, with instructions to continue the policy of religious toleration, and urged upon the Maryland Assembly the passage of an Act of Toleration. The assembly passing the measure was composed of both Catholics and Protestants, though the proprietor's wish in the matter was quite probably the deciding factor.

Since the passage of this act marks an important epoch in the history of religious liberty, it is well to consider it in some detail. The act does not go far enough to be accounted ideal, since it provides toleration only for Christians, while those who deny "the Holy Trinity or the Godhead of any of the Three Persons etc. was to be punished with death, and confiscation of lands and goods." The great variety of religious groups in Maryland at the time may be inferred by the third provision of the act, which promises punishment by fine or whipping and imprisonment for any person who "in a reproachful manner" calls any person within the Province a "Heretic, Schismatic, Idolater, Independent, Presbyterian, Popish Priest, Jesuit, Jesuited Papist, Lutheran, Calvinist, Anabaptist, Brownist, Antinomian, Barrowist, Roundhead, Separatist, or any other Name or term, in a reproachful manner." The fifth is the most important provision of the act, which reads:


And whereas the enforcing of the conscience in matter of religion, hath frequently fallen out to be of dangerous consequence in those common wealths where it has been practiced, and for the more quiet and peaceable government of this Province, and the better to preserve mutual love and unity among the inhabitants, etc. No person or persons whatsoever, within this Province, or the Islands, Ports, Harbours, Creeks, or Havens, thereunto belonging, professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall from henceforth be in any ways troubled, molested, or discountenanced, for in respect of his or her Religion, nor in the free exercise thereof, within this Province, or the Islands thereunto belonging, nor any way compelled to the belief or exercise of any other religion, against his or her consent, so as they be not unfaithful to the Lord Proprietor, or molest or conspire against the civil government established, or to be established, in this Province, under him or his heirs.


The punishment for the violation of this act was treble damages to the wronged party and fine for each offense, to be divided between the proprietor and the damaged person, and in default of payment, whipping and imprisonment.

But unfortunately the passage of this act did not satisfy the aggressive Puritans, and their dissatisfaction was the more intensified when, in the absence of the Protestant governor "his Catholic deputy" issued a proclamation declaring allegiance to King Charles II, then in exile. This untactful move brought things to an immediate crisis and a Parliamentary Commission took over the management of Maryland affairs, and when Governor Stone refused to recognize the Parliamentary title to the province, he was removed and the government placed in the hands of a committee. The Protestant party were now in complete control in Maryland and proceeded at once to change the Act of Toleration "excluding from its benefits practically everybody except the Puritans." In this, however, the Maryland Puritans failed to receive the support of the Lord Protector Cromwell, now in power in England, and in 1657, when the proprietor once more regained control, the Toleration Act was again put in effect. Thus the Protestants again became the aggrieved party, claiming that although the Act of Toleration was in effect they failed to receive their share of the offices.

The overthrow of James II in the revolution of 1688 brought Maryland affairs to a new crisis. Though the new king and queen, William and Mary, were proclaimed in Maryland by the proprietor's government, yet the whole general situation was favorable to the Protestants, the trend of events played into their hands. A Protestant Association was now formed under the leadership of a cheap agitator, John and soon an insurrection was under way which succeeded in the government. Justification for the insurrection was placed on ground that a Protestant government was needed in view of an impending war with a Catholic nation. A convention made up of members of the insurgent group was held in 1690 in which a committee was appointed to carryon the government until a royal governor could be sent over. For two years Sir Lionel Copley, a member of the Established Church, was governor and two years later (1692) Maryland was declared a royal colony and the same year the Maryland Assembly passed an act establishing the Church of England in the colony. This act was not approved by the Board of Trade and Plantations, and it was not until 1702 that the establishment act became a law.

At the time of the establishment of the Anglican Church in Maryland the Protestant element made up more than three-fourths of the population. In 1669 there were but two Catholic priests in the colony to minister to perhaps two thousand communicants. In 1673 two Franciscans founded a mission in Maryland and four years later three other Franciscans and three Jesuits arrived. This increase in the Catholic forces soon led to the establishment of a Jesuit school in the colony, while Catholic work expanded somewhat into Pennsylvania and in the seaboard settlements north of Maryland. These feeble Roman Catholic beginnings give little indication of the vast expansion of Roman Catholicism in America, which was to proceed largely from Maryland, in the two centuries to follow.




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THE middle colonies, from the very first, contained a great mixture of people. At the time of the colonization of America, Holland was the most liberal country in the world and became a refuge for persecuted sects. Representatives from almost every country in Europe had taken up their residence in this little free country, as had the English Pilgrims in 1607, and when Holland began to obtain colonies of her own it was but natural that the population of her colonies should resemble that of the mother country. When the English captured New Netherlands in 1664 it was reported that fourteen languages were spoken on Long Island, and ten years later eighteen nationalities were to be found in the colony of New York. William Penn's colony of Pennsylvania and the other Quaker colonies, New Jersey and Delaware, dominated as they were by the liberal ideas of Penn and his associates, likewise attracted a great variety of peoples. The Dutch, the Swedes, the Welsh, English Quakers, and the several German groups, and last of all the Scotch-Irish, were attracted to the middle colonies. Out of this great variety of people a corresponding variety of religious bodies. The most important of religious groups was the Dutch Reformed, which was the state of the Netherlands; the English Quakers, the Swedish Lutherans, the German Reformed, Mennonites, Dunkers, Schwenkfelders, Welsh Baptists, German Lutherans, Moravians and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. It is the purpose of this and the following chapters to tell of beginnings in America of these several religious bodies.

The Dutch colony of New Netherlands, like several of the early English colonies, was established by a trading company known as the Dutch West India Company. This company received its charter in 1621, giving it the privilege of trading and founding colonies in America. Two years later, in spite of the protests of the English against the Dutch invasion of territory which they claimed, thirty families of Dutch and Walloon Protestants came out to America and two posts were established. One near the present site of Camden, New Jersey, was called Fort Nassau and the other, where Albany now stands, received the name Fort Orange. By 1625 there were two hundred people in the colony and in 1626 Peter Minuit, the first and the best of the Dutch governors, was sent out as director general. Soon after his arrival he made the famous purchase of Manhattan Island from the Indians, and a third fort was built on the southern tip of the island which was named New Amsterdam.

The Dutch came primarily as traders and the fur trade with the Indians was their chief interest. For the carrying on of such trade peace had to be maintained with the Indians and the Dutch were necessarily scattered over a large area. Nor did the Dutch come out to America in great numbers, largely for the reason that the long wars with the Spaniards had depleted the population of the Netherlands and the great East Indian trading and colonizing interests of the Dutch left comparatively few people for their American enterprise. When the Dutch colonies passed into English hands they contained not more than seven thousand inhabitants. Throughout the entire period of Dutch control of New Netherlands trade and commercial interests dominated the colony, to the neglect of education and religion.

It was not until 1628, five years after the coming of the first colonists, that a minister was brought out, though two years before (1626) two comforters of the sick came in response to the plea of a few anxious souls. These two lay workers not only visited among the people, but also held informal services in a large room above the horse mill which had been fitted up by its owner to serve as a place of worship. This building even boasted a tower in which were placed bells captured by the company's fleet in the Spanish colony of Porto Rico.

The Dutch West India Company declared the Reformed religion established in their colonies, and ministers, schoolmasters and sick visitors were maintained at their expense. The ministers sent out from time to time were approved by the Classis, or Presbytery, of Amsterdam and the Classis continued to exercise ecclesiastical authority over the Reformed Church in America throughout most of the period of the colonies.

The first Reformed minister to arrive in New Amsterdam was the Rev. Jonas Michaelius (1628), who has left us an interesting account of religious conditions in the colony at the time of his coming. He says:


Our coming here was agreeable to all, and I hope, by the grace of the Lord, that my services will not be unfruitful. The people for the most part, are free, somewhat rough, and loose; but I find in almost all of them both love and respect toward me. . . .


Michaelius organized a church the year of his arrival, with the director of the company, Minuit, and the storekeeper as elders. The minister thus describes the first communion service:

We have had at the first administration of the Lord's Supper full fifty communicants-not without great joy and comfort for so many-Walloons and Dutch; of whom a portion made their first confession of faith before us and others exhibited their church certificates. Others had forgotten to bring their certificates with them, not thinking that a church would be formed and established here; and some who brought them had lost them, unfortunately, in a general conflagration; but they were admitted upon the satisfactory testimony of others to whom they were known, and also upon their daily good deportment, since we cannot observe strictly all the usual formalities in making a beginning under such circumstances.


Michaelius found that the French-speaking Walloons understood very little of the service in Dutch and he accordingly arranged to administer the Lord's Supper to them in the French language using the French mode. He tells us that the discourse preceding the sacrament he had before him in writing for, he says, "I could not trust myself extemporaneously."

Just how long Michaelius remained in New Amsterdam is not known. In 1637 he was in Holland, as the Classis was then discussing sending him back to America. It is probable that he had left New Netherlands previous to the coming out of Everardus Bogardus in 1633, who was the second minister to arrive in the colony, coming in the same ship with the second governor, Van Twiller.

Bogardus remained in the colony under the incompetent and corrupt administrations of the next two governors--Van Twiller (1633-1638) and Kieft (1638-1647)--and it is to his lasting credit that throughout the whole time he was in constant conflict with them both, because of his outspoken denunciation of their corruption and mismanagement. During these years of discord, however, two meetinghouses were built, the first a barnlike structure of wood, while under Kieft (1642) a stone church was erected within the fort. This building was seventy-two feet long by fifty wide and its cost was two thousand five hundred guilders. A contemporary has left us the following account of how the director took subscriptions for this church:

The Director then resolved to build a church, and at the place where it suited him; but he was in want of money and was at a loss how to obtain it. It happened about this time that the minister, Everardus Bogardus gave his stepdaughter in marriage; and the occasion of the wedding the Director considered a good opportunity for his purpose. So after the fourth or fifth round of drinking, he set about the business, and he himself showing a liberal example let the wedding guests subscribe what they were willing to give towards the church. All then with light heads subscribed largely, competing with one another: and although some well repented it when they recovered their senses, they were nevertheless compelled to pay-nothing could avail to prevent it.


A few years after the establishment of New Amsterdam the West India Company, in order to stimulate Dutch settlement of America, issued what was known as the "Charter of Freedoms and Exemptions." This provided that anyone bringing over fifty adult colonists within a space of four years was to become a "patroon" or lord of the manor, and would receive a great landed estate on one of the two great rivers of the colony. Each "patroon" was to support a minister, and several ministers were brought out under this arrangement. The best known of all the patroons was Killian Van Rensselaer, a wealthy Amsterdam jeweler whose patroonship was a vast estate near the present city of Albany. And of all the ministers brought over by the patroons John Van Mekelenburg, better known as Megapolensis, the minister at Rensselaerwyck, is the best and most favorably known. Van Rensselaer agreed to provide the minister with a residence and guaranteed him a salary of one thousand guilders a year for six years and two hundred guilders additional for the three following years, if his services were satisfactory. Megapolensis worked faithfully among the Indians as well as with the settlers. The second year after his arrival a church was built. He learned the Mohawk tongue and was able to preach to the Indians, some of whom joined his church, and the Claim is made that he was the first Protestant missionary to the Indians.

During Megapolensis' stay as the minister at Rensselaerwyck he was largely instrumental in saving the life of Father Jogues, a French Jesuit missionary, who had been captured by the Mohawks and brought to Fort Orange. Here the Dutch commander and Megapolensis befriended him and kept him concealed until they could send him to New Amsterdam. We are indebted to Father Jogues' stay at Fort Orange and New Amsterdam for a particularly interesting description of New Netherlands. Concerning the religious situation at New Amsterdam, he says: "No religion is publicly exercised but the Calvinist, and orders are to admit none but Calvinists. But this is not observed, for there are, besides Calvinists, in the colony, Catholics, English Puritans. Lutherans, Anabaptists,--here called Mennonists." Of the colony at Fort Orange Father Jogues says: There is "a colony sent here by this Rensselaer, who is the patroon. This colony is composed of about a hundred persons, who reside in some twenty-five or thirty houses, built along the river. In the principal house resides the patroon's agent; the minister has his part, in which service is performed .... "

Under the incompetent administrations of Van Twiller and Kieft the affairs of the West India Company had gone from bad to worse and the company was on the verge of bankruptcy with assets of five millions of ftorens less than its liabilities. The last governor, Peter Stuyvesant, was of different stripe from his two predecessors, for he was an earnest and capable man and an elder in the Reformed Church, though inclined to be arbitrary in his administration. It was during his administration that the people rose and demanded a share in the government, and the governor was compelled to yield, though much against his will. Under Stuyvesant the affairs of the company began to revive; trade increased and people began to come in from surrounding colonies, some of them driven from New England by the exclusive religious policy there. These new settlers were promised "liberty of conscience according to the custom and manner of Holland," with the result that the religious groups became even more numerous than the racial elements in the colony.

During the latter part of Stuyvesant's administration, probably without the knowledge of the directors of the company, a policy of religious exclusiveness was adopted and there was some persecution, especially of the Dutch Lutherans and the Quakers. In this policy Stuyvesant was supported by the ministers of the Dutch Church, who in 1656 made a formal complaint to the governor against the great increase of sects, which led to the passage of an ordinance forbidding preaching by unqualified persons and the holding of conventicles. The law was enforced by fines and imprisonment, which led to complaints directly to the West India Company and to the States-General. The net result of the whole matter was that the company finally disapproved Stuyvesant's action, though their reason for so doing was based on their desire not to hamper the economic welfare of the colony nor discourage settlers.

The company's rebuke to Stuyvesant was brought about through his attempt to put a stop to Quaker worship at Flushing, Long Island. John Bowne, a Friend, had built a new house at Flushing and he and his wife called in their fellow members of the Society of Friends to worship. Bowne was arrested and finally banished. He went to Holland and appeared before the directors of the company who were, by Bowne, so fully convinced that Stuyvesant's policy was wrong that they wrote a letter to him stating, among other things:

Wherefore it is our opinion that some connivance would be useful; and that the corisciences of men, at least ought to remain free and unshackled. Let everyone be unmolested as long as he is modest, moderate, his political conduct irreproachable, and as long as he does not offend others or oppose the government. The maxim of moderation has always been the guide of our magistrates in this city, and the consequence has been that people have flocked from every land to this asylum. Tread thus in their steps, and we doubt not you will be blessed.


This put an end to Stuyvesant's policy of persecution, and when two years later (1665) Bowne returned to America and met Stuyvesant as a private citizen, the old ex-governor seemed heartily ashamed of what he had done, as well any self-respecting Dutchman might, in the face of the two hundred year record of religious toleration in the Netherlands.

While the Dutch were busy with their American colony on the Hudson, a rival colony appeared on the Delaware, or South, River. These rivals were the Swedes. Like the Dutch, the Swedes proceeded in their colonizing project through the medium of a commercial company, which had been chartered in 1626, but because of the participation of the great Swedish king, Gustavus Adolphus, in the Thirty Years' War, and finally his tragic death, they were not able to send out colonists until 1638. Peter Minuit, the first governor of the Dutch colony, offered his services to the Swedes and it was under his leadership that the first expedition of fifty colonists set out. Land was purchased of the Indians, though it was already claimed by the Dutch, and a fort was built near the present site of Wilmington, Delaware, and called Fort Christina. Altogether the Swedes sent out twelve expeditions, but New Sweden never became a numerous or prosperous colony. With the first group of Swedish settlers came the Rev. Reorus Torkillus, who has the distinction of being the first Lutheran minister in North America. Torkillus died in Christina in 1643 of a sickness that swept away great numbers of the settlers.

The Rev. John Campanius came out the year Torkillus died, and he not only ministered faithfully to the settlers, but also undertook the work of Christianizing the Indians in the vicinity. His work among the Indians was probably induced by a regulation of the great Swedish chancellor, Oxenstiern, which stated:

The wild nations, bordering upon all other sides, the Governor shall understand how to treat with all humanity and respect, that no violence or wrong be done to them by Her Royal Majesty or her subjects aforesaid; but he shall rather, at every opportunity, exert himself that the same wild people may gradually be instructed in the truths and worship of the Christian religion, and in other ways brought to civilization and good government, and in this manner, properly guided.


Campanius learned the Delaware tongue and translated Luther's Small Catechism, though it was not printed until 1696 and then at the personal expense of King Charles XI. On Campanius' return to Sweden other ministers came out, and at the time of the Dutch capture of New Sweden in 1655, at least two Lutheran churches had been established. Nearly thirty years later when William Penn founded his colony of Pennsylvania he found from five to seven hundred Swedes living on the Delaware. They were an honest, industrious and religious people, and today two of their churches still stand as monuments to the honorable part they played in the early religious history of America, old Gloria Dei Church in South Philadelphia and Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, Delaware, at the southern end of which lie the remains of the first Lutheran pastor, Torkillus.

The Dutch capture of the Swedish colony was followed a few years later (1664) by the English capture of New Amsterdam, and the complete overthrow of Dutch authority. In March, 1664, King Charles II had granted all the territory which the Dutch claimed in America to his brother, the Duke of York, and during the summer the new proprietor

sent a fleet to seize the territory from the Dutch. Governor Stuyvesant was completely unprepared to defend the colony, though he vowed he would never surrender, but he finally was persuaded to listen to the advice of the ministers and others, and the colony was turned over to the English without striking a blow. Article VIII of the terms of surrender reads:

The Dutch here shall enjoy the liberty of their consciences in divine worship and in church discipline.

The Dutch minister at New Amsterdam informed the Classis of Amsterdam of the surrender in a letter dated September 15, 1664. Toward the end of his letter he states:

It is stipulated in the articles [of surrender] that the religion and doctrine shall continue as heretofore, and the ministers shall remain. We could not abandon our congregations and hearers. We judged that we must continue with them, for a time at least, and perform our offices, lest they should become entirely scattered and grow wild.

Nor did he forget to add:

The West India Company owes me quite a sum, which I hope and desire will be paid.


At the time of the surrender of the colony there were six Dutch ministers in America and thirteen churches. Altogether thirteen ministers had come out from 1628 to 1664. For many years the Dutch Reformed Church remained the strongest religious group in the colony, though, of course, it no longer received special recognition from the government and could not be classed as a dissenting body. From the time of the surrender until 1696 the status of the Dutch Reformed Church was uncertain. The early English governors seemed to consider the Dutch ministers as entitled to receive support from taxation. In 1670 the governor guaranteed a salary to any Dutch minister who would come over to assist the Dutch minister, Drisius, at New York, and in response to this promise the first recruit after the surrender arrived from Holland.

The best of all the early English governors of New York was the Irish Roman Catholic, Governor Dongan (1682-1688). He was an honest and broad-minded man and on his arrival announced to the Dutch minister at New York, upon whom he called, that the Duke intended to allow liberty of conscience. During this administration numerous French settlers arrived, driven to America by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Several of the Dutch pastors who could preach in French occasionally ministered to the Huguenots, though the French were soon numerous enough to form their own congregations and have their own ministers. It has been stated, with justice, that religious toleration was almost perfect during the administration of Dongan, though instructions were sent out to the governor by James II, who we will remember was himself a Catholic, establishing the Church of England in the colony. The list of instructions contains the following:

You shall permit all persons of what Religion soever quietly to inhabit within your Government without giving them any disturbance or disquiet whatsoever for or by reason of their differing Opinions in matters of Religion, Provided they give no disturbance to ye public peace, nor do molest or disquiet others in ye free Exercise of their Religion.


This liberality of King James was, of course, due to the fact that he was anxious to gain toleration for Catholics.

In 1687 Governor Dongan made a report of conditions in the colony which include a summary of the general religious situation:

Every town ought to have a munster. New York has first a Chaplain belonging to the Fort of the Church of England; secondly a Dutch Calvinist; thirdly a French Calvinist; fourthly a Dutch Lutheran. Here bee not many of the Church of England; few Roman Catholocks, aboundance of Quaker; preachers, men and Women especially; Singling Quakers; Ranting Quakers; Sabbatarians; Anti-Sabbatarians; some Anabaptists; some Jews; in short, of all sorts of opinions there are some, and the most part of none at all. The Great Church which serves both the English and the Dutch within the Fort, which is found to be very inconvenient. Therefore I desire that there may bee an order for their building another; ground being already layd out for that purpose, and they not wanting money in store wherewithall to build it. The most prevailing opinion is that of Dutch Calvinists. It is the endeavor of all persons here to bring up their children and servants in that opinion which themselves profess; but this I observe, that they take no care of the conversion their slaves.


A notion was prevalent at this period that baptism of slaves would facto free them, and to the credit of King James he insisted that be baptized, and instructions to governors frequently contained admonitions. In the Dutch churches this seems to have been the as the records of the churches show.

At the overthrow of James II the people of New York rose in revolt and Lieutenant Governor Nicholson fled. A Committee of Safety was chosen to take over the government until the new Dutch king, William III, could appoint a new governor. At the head of the revolutionary government was Colonel Jacob Leisler, who was generally considered as the representative of William and Mary and Protestantism. But, strange to say, the Dutch ministers in New York refused to recognize him or his authority. As a result the people refused to hear the ministers preach, nor would they pay their salaries. Undoubtedly the ministers were wrongly advised in this whole affair, although they no doubt thought Leisler unfit for the position he held, and were also very probably influenced by social reasons.

When the new governor, Sloughter, arrived in the colony, he brought instructions from King William, "to permit a liberty of conscience to all Persons (except Papists), so they be contented with a quiet and Peaceable enjoyment of it, not giving offence or scandall to the Government." The new governor was also instructed to require of the officeholders in the province the oaths and tests required in the Test Act of 1673, which required, besides the oaths of allegiance and supremacy to the king, the taking of the sacrament according to the form of the Church of England, as well as the signing of a declaration against the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. These instructions seemed to favor the establishment of the English Church, and the next step on the part of the governor was to suggest the passage of the "Ministry Act," providing for the "proper maintenance of a minister in every town where there were forty families or more." Proposed first in 1691, similar bills were introduced in 1692 and again in 1693, though when finally adopted the application of the measure was limited to the City of New York, and the counties of Richmond, Westchester and Queens.

This measure by no sense established the English Church, though Governor Fletcher, who urged it, attempted so to interpret it. The act provides that "there shall be called, inducted, and established, a good sufficient Protestant minister" in the counties indicated. The several dissenting groups claimed equal benefit from the act, and in every place outside New York City the dissenters were able to maintain their own ministers under the act. When called upon to interpret the meaning of the act in 1695, the New York Assembly stated, "Vestrymen and church-wardens have power to call a dissenting Protestant minister, and that he is to be paid and maintained as the law directs." The governor, on the other hand, refused to accept this interpretation, stating that "there is no Protestant Church admits of such officers as Church wardens and Vestrymen but the Church of England." It seems to have been assumed in later legal documents adopted from time to time that the Church of England had been established in New York, and many came to believe it. To hold to this legal fiction may have given satisfaction to the royal governors, but it had little effect upon the stubborn Dutchmen, who made up the majority in the assembly.

The Anglican chaplain of the English troops in New York wrote a description of conditions in the colony in 1695 for the information of the Bishop of London. He speaks of the lack of churches and ministers, though, he says, there are many pretended ministers, Presbyterians and Independents. He urges the necessity of a bishop for America, who he suggests might be a suffragan of the Bishop of London. He adds a table of churches, ministers and families. In New York City there are 6 churches including the chapel at the fort where the chaplain presided, The Dutch Calvinists had 475 families, the French 200, the Dutch Lutherans 30, the Jews-already beginning to appear in some numbers in New York-20, while the families to whom he ministered numbered but 90. Summarizing the figures for the whole province, the Dutch had 1,754 families; the English dissenters, 1,365; the French, 261; the Lutherans, 45; the Anglicans, 90; and the Jews, 20.

The passage of the Ministry Act as described above greatly disturbed the Dutch minister at New York concerning the legal status of his church, for he felt that the privileges which they then enjoyed might very easily be taken away. This led to a petition for a charter. At first unsuccessful, a charter was finally granted May 11, 1696, which was the first church charter granted in New York. After conceding to the church the right to hold property, the charter explains the reasons for granting the same, and then declares:

That our royal will and pleasure is, that no person in communion with the said Reformed Protestant Dutch Church within our city of New York, at any time, hereafter, shall be in any ways molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question for differences of opinion in matter of the Protestant religion, who do not disturb the civil peace of our said province; etc.


With the securing of the charter the Dutch minister in New York City, Domine Selyns, now felt that their position was secure, and in reporting to the Classis of Amsterdam he says referring to the charter: "This is a circumstance which promises much advantage to God's Church, and quiets the formerly existing uneasiness." Other Dutch churches from time to time sought and received charters. The only other churches in New York, however, to receive charters were the Anglican churches, and the first of these was granted to Trinity Church in 1697. This charter made Trinity Church the established church in New York City, while the churchwardens and vestrymen instead of being chosen by the freeholders of the city, according to the act of 1694, were now to be chosen by those in communion with the Church of England alone. The explanation of this fact seems to be that the Dutch members of the assembly were so elated over receiving their own charter that they were willing to allow Trinity Church to claim all its charter allowed. For the next century and more the Dutch and the English churches and their ministers lived together in peace and harmony, though the Dutch Church was more or less static until aroused through the activities of Theodore J. Frelinghuysen, and the Great Awakening.


Within ten years after George Fox had begun his new reformation in England (1647) his disciples made their appearance in America, and by the end of the century they were to be found in every colony under British rule. They were imbued with a dauntless missionary spirit, for as one of them wrote "the Lord's word was as a fire and a hammer in me."

The first Quakers to appear in America were two women, Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, who landed in Boston in 1656. From the beginning, women had been active as Quaker missionaries and these women were but doing what numerous others were attempting in other parts of the world. Already they had conducted a successful mission to Barbados, where influential converts had been won. In Boston, however, they were to have no opportunity to preach the new gospel. Before they could land. orders were received from the lieutenant governor that they should be kept on shipboard. and their effects searched. Later they were imprisoned for five weeks, the windows of the jail boarded up so they could not see or be seen. and among the indignities heaped upon them. they were stripped and subjected to an examination for "tokens" of witchcraft on their bodies while their books were burned by the common hangman in the market place. The captain of the vessel which had brought them to Boston was now compelled to return them to Barbados, evidently at his own expense, while the Boston jailer had to content himself with their bedding and their Bibles in lieu of fees. But Boston was not done with the Quakers so easily, for hardly was the vessel bearing Mary Fisher and Ann Austin out of sight before another ship landed eight more Quaker missionaries. After eleven weeks' imprisonment they were also sent out of the colony, so fearful were the Puritan fathers that the new heresy would contaminate their people.

Nor is it at all strange that the New England Puritans should have looked upon the coming of the Quakers as a real peril. The ideals and practices of the Quakers were flatly antagonistic to those of the religious leaders of Massachusetts. "The Quaker aimed at a complete separation between Church and State"; while "the government of Massachusetts was patterned after the ancient Jewish theocracy in which State and church were identified. The Quaker was tolerant of differences in doctrine; the Calvinist regarded such tolerance as a deadly sin." Laws were now passed in Massachusetts against the Quakers--for Ann Austin and Mary Fisher had been imprisoned before there were laws providing for their punishment-=the first passed in 1656 fixing penalties for bringing Quakers into the colony; the second in 1657 increasing the penalties; the third in 1658 forbidding Quakers from holding meetings under penalty of heavy fines, while the same year a law was passed imposing the death penalty upon Quakers who should return after having been banished. These laws were vigorously enforced, and by 1661 had brought to the gallows four victims. one of whom was Mary Dyer. But in spite of this cruel array of legislation against them the Quakers continued to come, and gradually their treatment became less and less severe, especially after Charles II had sent a letter (1661) to Governor Endicott forbidding further proceedings against the Quakers and directing that in the future they be sent to England for trial. Twenty years later the laws against Quakers were suspended, though numerous Friends were imprisoned thereafter for their refusal to pay tithes. The Connecticut and New Haven colonies passed laws similar to those of Massachusetts, and even in liberal Rhode Island the aged Roger Williams entered the lists against them, and challenged Fox to debate and later produced a pamphlet called "George Fox digged out of his Burrows" which was characterized by Fox as "a very envious and wicked book." It needs to be said, however, that there was no persecution of Quakers in Rhode Island, even though Roger Williams was opposed to their teaching and practice. When in 1657 the Commissioners of the New England Confederation--which had refused membership to Rhode Island--protested that the Quaker pests were finding a refuge in Rhode Island the governor, Benedict Arnold, replied: "As to the dammage that may in likelyhood accrue to the neighbor collonys by their being here entertained, we conceive it will not prove so dangerous as the course taken by you to send them away out of the country as they come among you."

Quakers appeared in New York about the same time as in New England and at first were well treated by the Dutch, but as we have already noticed, during the administration of Governor Stuyvesant, there was a period of persecution, and Quaker missionaries were imprisoned and sent out of the colony. This period of persecution, however, lasted but a short time, and was brought to an end (1663) by the appeal of John Bowne to the directors of the Dutch West India Company against the policy of Governor Stuyvesant. In the southern colonies Quaker missionaries early made their appearance; in Virginia as early as 1656, in Maryland in 1657, and in the Carolinas at least as early as 1672. Everywhere they were persecuted, outside the so-called Quaker colonies, except in Rhode Island and the Carolinas.

The first Monthly meetings formed in America were those of Sandwich and Scituate in Massachusetts, both founded before 1660, while the New England Yearly Meeting, established in 1661, is likewise the oldest organization of its kind in America.

Of great importance in the early history of the Quakers in America was the visit of George Fox. Fox landed in Maryland in the spring of 1672, whence after a short period he went to Rhode Island where he was entertained by the governor, Nicholas Easton, who was himself a Quaker, and who traveled with Fox through the colony. Later Fox visited Long Island, where he held a number of meetings, thence into New Jersey, where new meetings were established. In November he visited Virginia and under his preaching the number of Friends in that colony was doubled. Of his trip into the Carolinas he has left us a graphic account in his Journal, where on one occasion he says:

Wee passed all day, & saw neither house nor man through ye woods & swamps, & many cruel boggs & watery places, yt wee was wet to the knees most of us, & at night wee tooke up our Lodginge in ye woods, & made a fire.


He traveled more than a thousand miles southward from Boston, "all of which wee have traveiled by land & downe bayes & over Rivers and Creeks & boggs & wilderness."

The center of Quaker activity in America, however, was in New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, which are sometimes called the Quaker colonies.

The great Quaker experiment in America had its beginnings in New Jersey. The early political history of this colony is in great confusion. It was included in the grant made to the Duke of York in 1664, who soon gave it to two of his friends, Sir John Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. The governors of New York, however, claimed jurisdiction over the territory, which claim was resisted by the proprietors, who in the end were upheld by the king. The proprietors were anxious for settlers, and made liberal concessions to induce colonists to come to their province. In response to their invitation a considerable number of Puritans came from New England. Some Quakers settled early along the Raritan River, and by 1670 a meeting was formed at Shrewsbury and a meetinghouse built. In 1674 Berkeley sold out his rights to two Quakers, Fenwick and Byllingy, who made an agreement with Carteret to divide the province into East and West Jersey, and it was accordingly in West Jersey, in the region bordering on the Delaware River that the first important Quaker experiment in government began. Later the two Quaker proprietors sold out their rights in West Jersey to a number of Quaker gentlemen, among them being William Penn, which marks the beginning of Penn's personal interest in America. The Quaker proprietors now drew up a liberal constitution and towns and settlements sprang up along the Delaware.

The spirit of the charter of West New Jersey, which was drawn up in 1676 and called "Concessions and Agreements," is characterized by this statement of the Quaker proprietors:

Thus we lay a foundation for after ages to understand their liberty as men and Christians, that they may not be brought into bondage but by their own consent; for we put the power in the people. No person to be called in question or molested for his conscience or for worshipping according to his conscience.

By 1681 more than a thousand immigrants had come to West Jersey, most of them Quakers. Burlington, founded in 1677, became the most important Quaker center. At first, worship was conducted under a tent made of sailcloth, and here in July, 1678, a Monthly Meeting was set up. In May, 1680, the Burlington Quarterly Meeting was established and the next year it was determined to establish a Yearly Meeting. The next turn in the affairs of the Quakers in the Jerseys was brought about by the death of Sir George Carteret, the proprietor of East Jersey, whose heirs sold out their rights to another group of twelve Quakers; among whom also was William Penn. Soon after, the number of proprietors was increased to twenty-four, among them being several Scotchmen. Under the influence of the Scottish partners numerous Scottish immigrants came out to East New Jersey, many of whom were Presbyterians. Thus was the Presbyterian element introduced into New Jersey. Other immigrants came from New England, as well as numerous Scotch-Irish from North Ireland, and later these Calvinistic elements combined to make Presbyterianism the outstanding religious force in the colony.

It was in 1681 that William Penn was granted Pennsylvania in consideration of a debt of £16,000 which was due him from the crown. The beginnings of William Penn's interest in American colonization has already been noticed. The next year the Duke of York gave to Penn what is now Delaware, which was called "the territories." This was governed as a part of Pennsylvania until 1702 when it secured its own assembly and eventually became a separate colony. The long-drawn-out boundary dispute, especially between Maryland and Pennsylvania, is hardly a part of this story, though it kept Penn in England when he might have been with his people in America.

No single Englishman engaged in colonization made such a success of his enterprise as did William Penn. He termed it "an Holy Experiment" and thus explains his intention in planting the colony:

My God that has given it me through many difficulties, will, I believe, bless and make it the seed of a nation .... I have so obtained it and desire to keep it, that I may not be unworthy of His love; but do that which may answer His kind providence and serve His Truth and people; that an example may be set up to the nations. There may be room there, though not here, for such an experiment.

In April, 1682, he issued his Frame of Government, which soon proved too complicated to be used, but which clearly shows Penn's desire to establish the principles of English liberty. In October of the same year Penn arrived in his colony and by 170 I the government had been greatly simplified and popular freedom increased.

The outstanding reason for the success of Pennsylvania was the religious freedom which the proprietor not only guaranteed but also widely advertised. His guarantee of religious freedom included all lawabiding citizens who "acknowledged one Almighty and Eternal God to be the Creator, Upholder and Ruler of the world," which would include Protestants, Catholics and Jews. Later Catholics were excluded from officeholding through pressure from the home government and officeholding was limited to Christians, which, of course, is a limitation which would not be made today in a country where there is complete religious liberty. In spite of these limitations Pennsylvania proved an attractive haven for numerous religious sects and no colony gave them a larger opportunity of working out their own theories.

The majority of the early colonists were English and Welsh Quakers. By 1683 the population was reported as 4,000 and six years later Delaware and Pennsylvania contained not less than 12,000 people. But this was just the beginning of the great inflow, not only from the British Isles, but from Germany, France and Holland. In 1685 Penn estimated that only about half of the people in the colony were English.

At first the Pennsylvania Quakers held their meetings in the homes of the people, but it was not long until meeting-houses began to be built. The first Monthly Meeting was held in January, 1682, and "within three months nine meetings for worship and three monthly meetings had been set up." In 1683 the Pennsylvania Friends attended the Yearly Meeting at Burlington and the same year a Yearly Meeting was held in Philadelphia. The absurdity of holding two separate Yearly Meetings so close together led in 1685 to an agreement that Yearly Meetings should be held alternately in Burlington and Philadelphia. The number of Friends continued to increase and by 1700 there were forty meetings or congregations in Pennsylvania. By 1760 the number of Quakers, or Friends, in America was near 30,000. The size of some of the Pennsylvania meetings particularly was very large, several numbering as many as 1,500 members each.

But as numbers increased spiritual life seemed to decline. This condition was inevitable with the establishment of what is known as birthright membership. This meant that increasing numbers of Friends became members of the Society through birth rather than through any conviction of their own. The increase of wealth among the Quakers was undoubtedly another reason for their spiritual decline, as is pointed out by an aged Friend in 1760, looking back over a period of about sixty years. In the early days, he says:

Friends were a plain lowly-minded people, and that there was much tenderness and contrition in their meetings. That at 20 years from that date, the Society increasing in wealth and in some degree conforming to the fashions of the world, true humility was less apparent, and their meetings in general not so lively and edifying. That at the end of 40 years many of them were grown very rich; and many made a specious appearance in the world, that marks of outward wealth and greatness appeared on some in our meetings of ministers and elders, and as such things became more prevalent so the powerful overshadowings of the Holy Ghost were less manifest in the Society. That there had been a continual increase of such ways of life even until the present time, and that the weakness that had now overspread the Society and the barrenness manifest among us is a matter of much sorrow.


Traveling Friends in the eighteenth century speak of "a dry lifeless state" in many of the meetings; "excessive drinking" on the part of some of the members; some who are living "in' open profaneness and are riotous in conversation"; while some of the young Friends take part in shooting matches, games of "hustlecap" and are prone to do much drinking, carousing and fighting. The question of drink caused much concern among the Friends of the eighteenth century. Among the first rules adopted by the Friends was one prohibiting the selling or giving away of strong drink to the Indians. The custom of serving liquor at burials became common which led the Yearly Meeting in 1729 to recommend that "When wine or other strong liquors are served (which many soberminded people think needless) that it be but once."

The Quakers from the beginning were a loosely organized body, and what little organization there was among them in America was brought over from England. George Fox was responsible for the establishment of the Monthly and Quarterly Meetings "for better ordering the affairs of the Church; in taking care of the poor; and exercising a true gospel discipline for a due dealing with any that might walk disorderly under our name; and to see that such as should marry among us did act fairly and clearly in that respect." At the First Yearly Meeting held in London in 1668 there was drawn up what is known as the Canons and Institutions, of which Fox was the probable author. Here are listed under nineteen heads, advices and regulations concerning all matters which might arise in the church, and these served as the model for the regulations of the early meetings in America. The first regular Books of Discipline did not appear in America until 1759, and then only in manuscript, but with the appearance of these rules of conduct Quakerism tended more and more to become a matter of observing the outward regulations and less and less that of establishing that vital relationship with God, which characterized the earlier years. It was during these years that the "Birth right membership" arose. This came from the legislation of the London Yearly Meeting in 1737 which stated that "All Friends shall be deemed members of the Quarterly, Monthly and Two-Weekly Meeting within the compass of which they inhabited or dwelt the first day of the Fourth Month, 1737"; and "the wife and children to be deemed members of the Monthly Meeting of which the husband or father is a member, not only during his life but after his decease." This act, in the words of a Quaker historian, "changed the Society of Friends from a church of believers, at least in theory, to a corporation or association of persons some of whom would be among the unconverted."



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THE first German settlement in America was Germantown, ten miles north of Philadelphia, and the first German settlers were Mennonites. After Penn's first visit to Germany (1671) a Frankfort Land Company was formed, which eventually purchased 25,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania. A young lawyer, Francis Daniel Pastorius, became the agent of the company, and under his direction, on October 6, 1683, the ship Concord arrived in Philadelphia bringing thirteen Mennonite families, which marks the beginning of German migration to America. These first arrivals were from Crefeld on the lower Rhine and were a thrifty and industrious people, mostly weavers. Eventually many of them became members of the Society of Friends, though in 1688 a Mennonite congregration was formed, and in 1708 the first Mennonite church erected. Later immigrations brought Mennonite settlers into Bucks, Berks and Northampton Counties and by 1712 there were 200 Mennonites in Pennsylvania and a church membership of at least 100. Perhaps the largest Mennonite community in America before the Revolution was in what is now Lancaster County, which was made up largely of Swiss immigrants. Some of these were Amish Mennonites, which represented the most conservative branch of that body. By the end of the colonial period it has been estimated that there were 2,000 Mennonite families in America, most of them in Pennsylvania.

The Mennonites were the direct descendants of the Anabaptists of the Reformation. They receive their name from Menno Simons, a Dutch Catholic priest, who at forty years of age renounced the Catholic faith and cast in his lot with the humble Anabaptists, and it seems that his followers adopted the name "Mennonites" to escape persecution which was everywhere meted out to Anabaptists. The outstanding features of the Mennonite faith correspond to the Baptists as to accepting the Bible as the only rule of faith, and the rejection of infant baptism. They did not, however, always insist upon immersion. They taught that the office of magistrate cannot be held by a Christian, though a Christian must be obedient to his rulers and pray for them and pay taxes to sup· port the government. They also held that a Christian cannot take up the sword; that Christians must live secluded from the world; and that it is wrong to take an oath. In many respects the Mennonites were similar to the Quakers and were well treated as long as the Quakers were the ruling element in the colony. They took up good agricultural lands and their settlements soon became prosperous and even wealthy communities.

Another small German religious sect which made its appearance in Pennsylvania in the early eighteenth century was the Taufers, or Dunkers (German Baptists) as they came to be known in the colonies. The first Dunker immigration to America came from the same. locality from which had come the first Mennonite settlers, Crefeld on the lower Rhine, and in response to the same set of influences, namely, the advertisement of Penn's agent and the Frankfort Land Company. Peter Becker, one of the ministers of the Crefeld congregation, led out the first settlers in 1719, numbering about 120 persons. They came to Germantown, but soon scattered into several settlements in the vicinity. It was not, however, until 1723 that their first congregation was formed, though worship was held from the beginning in the homes of some of the leaders. In 1729 a second group from West Friesland, numbering 126 people and under the leadership of Alexander Mack, came to Pennsylvania, while four years later a third company, but smaller than the first two, arrived under the leadership of John Naas. Within a few years these settlers were scattered widely, some migrating into Maryland and Virginia, and by the end of the colonial period some 19 congregations had been formed, 12 of them numbering 200 members or more.

Among the early Dunker ministers in America is Conrad Beissel who holds particular interest because he became the founder of the Ephrata community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This was a schismatic movement and was not the main Dunker interest in the colonies, as is frequently inferred. Beissel from the beginning of his ministry was an advocate of "strange doctrines," such as the denunciation of the marriage state and the advocacy of the seventh day as the Sabbath, Eventually Beissel and his followers withdrew from the Dunkers and a community was established known as Ephrata, where by 1745 a large group of buildings had been erected and prosperous industries had been established. Here the "brothers" and "sisters" lived in separate houses and practiced a kind of monasticism. Several of the early Dunker congregations went over; completely to Ephrata, but it was never entirely Dunker, since it drew Germans from other groups particularly the Reformed.

Like the Mennonites and Quakers, the Dunkers were fundamentally opposed to war and advocated nonresistance. It is probable that at first they did not wear a distinctive dress as later became the practice, but the influence of the Quaker hat and bonnet made plainness of dress the symbol of the nonresisting people. The Dunkers held strictly to trine immersion, face forward, and for adults only. They were strictly Congregational in their form of church government and it was not until 1742 that their "Great Meeting" was formed, which soon became a vital factor in the expansion of the "Church of the Brethren."

The most important Dunker leader in the colonial period was Christopher Saur, who was the first German printer in America and the first to edit and print a German newspaper. It is true that Benjamin Franklin had done some printing for the Germans, previous to the establishment of the Saur press, but he used roman type and his attempt to publish a German weekly paper proved a failure. Saur began his publications in 1738 and on his death his son, Christopher Saur, Jr., carried on the work. Of great significance to the religious life of early German settlers in America of all creeds was the Saur German Bible, the first edition of which appeared in 1743, with other editions in subsequent years. This was the first Bible to be printed in America in a European language. The Saurs were undoubtedly the most influential Germans in the colonies, and Germantown, through their activities, was the cultural center for the colonial Germans.

Another small German sect, which also, about this time found refuge in Pennsylvania, were the Schwenkfelders. Their founder, Kasper Von Schwenkfeld, a German nobleman, was a contemporary of Luther, though he was anti-Lutheran as well as anti-Catholic in his theology, and his followers were persecuted by both Lutherans and Catholics. It was in Silesia that they had their greatest success and here they became, after the death of their founder, a distinct sect. In 1720 a movement to convert them to Catholicism by force was begun, which caused most of them to flee into Saxony, Holland, England and America. Their migration to America took place largely in 1733-1734. Previously a group of them had been received on the Saxony estate of Count Zinzendorf where they remained eight years, but the Saxon government would not allow them to stay longer and from thence they migrated to Pennsylvania, some by way of Denmark and others from Holland. The two groups arrived in Philadelphia in September and October, 1734, and settled mainly in the Pennsylvania German counties of Montgomery, Bucks, Berks and Lehigh. Like the Mennonites and Dunkers, they were a simple and industrious people and made a worthy contribution to colonial Pennsylvania.

Among those connected with the German settlement of Pennsylvania, none are more interesting than Nicholaus Ludwig Zinzendorf, a Saxon nobleman and a religious and social reformer, who was chiefly responsible for the Moravian migration to America. Zinzendorf had been raised amidst Pietistic influences, his parents being followers of Philipp Jakob Spener, and accordingly he was sent to the University at Halle. His parents planned that he would prepare himself for a diplomatic career, but his great interest in religion caused him to abandon this plan and led him to settle down on his great estate at Berthelsdorf in Saxony, as a Christian landlord. and attempt to carry into practice the Pietistic ideas of his godfather Spener. In 1722 he offered an asylum to a number of persecuted wanderers from Bohemia and Moravia known as the "Moravians" and built for them on a corner of his estate, a village which was called Herrnhut.

The Moravians trace their origin back to the Hussite movement in Bohemia. At first they were an organization within the Bohemian Church, but later they broke away entirely from the papacy and formed a Church of their own which they called "Unitas Fratrum." The Unitas Fratrum became an episcopal church. consecration of their first bishop being received from the bishop of the Austrian Waldenses, who traced his ordination back to the Roman Catholic bishops at the Council of Basel. Throughout the sixteenth century they grew rapidly and were particularly active in printing and distributing books, among them a translation of the Bible into Bohemian. During the Thirty Years' War the Unity of the Brethren were driven from their homes and for almost a hundred years were nearly extinct, but during much of this period their bishop, John Amos Comenius (1592-1672), held a remnant together. The revival of the Brethren in the eighteenth century was largely due to a humble carpenter, Christian David, and it was under this new leader, when persecution broke out afresh, that they came as refugees to the estate of Count Zinzendorf in Saxony. Zinzendorf and his wife devoted themselves to these refugees and finally brought order and unity out of confusion and differences. Zinzendorf, who was a Pietistic Lutheran, at first tried to lead the Moravian refugees to accept the Pietistic principles and for a time they attended the parish church at Berthelsdorf and considered themselves as Lutherans. Gradually, however, the Moravian Church began to emerge, and with the approbation of the Count, a bishop was consecrated for the Herrnhut group in 1735 and two years later Zinzendorf himself was consecrated a bishop. The formation of the Herrnhut Moravians into a separate church now brought persecution upon them, which accounts for the beginning of their migration to America.

With the beginning of the Georgia enterprise under the leadership of General Oglethorpe, Count Zinzendorf took steps to obtain a refuge for some of the persecuted people who were living upon his Saxon estate. In 1733 he received a promise from the Georgia trustees of land and a free passage for the Schwenkfelders. After the Schwenkfelders left Saxony, however, they changed their plans and proceeded to Pennsylvania instead. Zinzendorf now proceeded to secure the Georgia tract for the Moravians, and in April, 1735, a company of nine, under the leadership of Spangenberg who had recently joined the Moravians, arrived in Georgia. The next year twenty additional colonists arrived. On shipboard with this latter group was John Wesley, coming out as chaplain to General Oglethorpe, who has left us in his Journal a memorable account of his impressions of the Moravian Brethren. The Moravian colony in Georgia failed to prosper, because of sickness and death of the settlers and also because of misunderstanding with the authorities when they refused to bear arms in the war with Spain. Accordingly, when in 1740, George Whitefield offered them free passage on his sloop to Philadelphia, they accepted, and thus the first American Moravian colony was transplanted to Pennsylvania.

At this time Whitefield had a plan to erect a colony for destitute Englishmen at the forks of the Delaware, which he called Nazareth, and had negotiated for the purchase of 5,000 acres of land. He now proposed to the Moravians that they come into his employ to erect the buildings for his enterprise. This they agreed to do. All went well until doctrinal disputes arose between Whitefield and Bohler, the Moravian leader, and the Moravians were dismissed and ordered to quit the land at once. The next spring, however, Whitefield found himself unable to pay for the land he had purchased, because of the death of the man who had agreed to loan him the money, and Whitefield was now more than willing to sell out his interest to the Moravians whom he had so recently expelled. Thus the Moravians acquired the region which was to become their chief center in America.

The chief interest of the Moravians in coming to America was to carryon missionary work, both among the German settlers and also among the Indians. By this time Herrnhut had become a great foreign missionary center, and Moravian missionaries from 1732 on were going to various parts of the world. The destitute religious situation of the various German settlers of Pennsylvania was well known. Thousands who had flocked to the New World were living without schools and churches, and their children were growing up in ignorance and without spiritual instruction. It was the knowledge of this condition of affairs that led to the sending out of the first Moravian missionaries to Pennsylvania. In December, 1741, Zinzendorf himself arrived in Philadelphia on a great missionary enterprise. Just before Christmas he reached the Moravian settlement at the forks of the Delaware, and on Christmas eve he named the place Bethlehem, "in token of his fervent desire and ardent hope that here the true bread of life might be broken for all who hungered."

The thirteen months of Zinzendorf's stay in America were filled with activity. His first great project was an attempt to bring about unity among numerous German groups in Pennsylvania. Altogether seven synods were held within six months, to advance this worthy project, and in the first four every German religious body in Pennsylvania was represented. But after the fourth synod all withdrew except the Lutherans, the Reformed and the Moravians, and Zinzendorf's dream of union soon came to naught- Later the Lutherans of Philadelphia requested him to become their pastor, and he accepted for a time, but the coming of Henry M. Muhlenberg put a stop to that arrangement, and Zinzendorf, at his own expense, built a stone church for those who were willing to continue under his leadership, and this became the first Moravian church of that city.

With the failure of his project to unite the German denominations in America Zinzendorf turned to the work of promoting missions among the Indians, and during the latter half of his stay in America made three missionary tours into the Indian country. In the first of his visits he obtained permission, from the chiefs of the Six Nations, for the Moravian Brethren to pass through their country and to live as friends within their domains. In his second journey Zinzendorf visited the Mohican town of Shekomeko, between the Housatonic and the Hudson, where a Moravian missionary had been at work since 1740, and here he formed the Christian Indians into a congregation. His third journey, from September 24 to November 9th, was to Shamokin the most important Indian village in the Susquehanna valley. Two months after his return from this latter journey Zinzendorf departed for Europe. The following is a summary of his accomplishments while in America: "He inaugurated the first form of government for the Moravian Church in America," giving to Bishop David Nitschmann the oversight of the Indian missions, while to Peter Bohler was given the oversight of the "itineracy"; seven congregations had been either established or aided in Pennsylvania, and two in New York, while four schools had been founded.

Bethlehem and Nazareth became semicommunistic communities; there was community of labor but the holding of personal property was allowed. Their common labor was for the support of the great missionary activities of the church, and the two communities became veritable hives of industry. By 1747 thirty-two different industries were in operation, besides several farms, and they were supporting about fifty missionaries and itinerants, besides furnishing the necessities for the workers and their children.

Zinzendorf, who during his last years lived in London, was in virtual control of the Moravian activities in both Europe and America until his death, which occurred in 1760. Just before his death, however, a board of directors had been formed, which now took over the control. In 1764 the Zinzendorf heirs were paid $90,000 and the church became the owner of the Zinzendorf estates, assuming all debts which had been contracted for the church by the count, which amounted to $773,162.

Meanwhile the Moravians continued to extend their Indian missions. Under David Zeisberger, their best-known missionary leader, a Christian village was established on the north branch of the Susquehanna in 1765 which was called Friedenshutten--"tents of peace." Two years later another mission was begun in western Pennsylvania on the left bank of the Alleghany. Persecution drove Zeisberger and his associates farther westward, and in 1770 he accepted a tract on the Tuscarawas River in Ohio and Schonbrunn and Gnadenhutten were established and later Salem. Here for a time all was peaceful and prosperous. Numerous converts were made; hundreds of acres were brought under cultivation and cattle multiplied into great herds. Tents gave place to log cabins, while the churches were unable to accommodate the great number of Indian worshipers. Such was the situation in the great Moravian Mission when the American Revolution began.


So far only the smaller German religious groups in the colonies have been noted. These groups have attracted much more attention than their actual numbers warrant, because of the fact that they are more picturesque than were the more numerous German Reformed and Lutheran bodies.

In most instances the large number of German immigrants who swarmed into Pennsylvania, especially from 1727 to 1745, came without ministers or schoolmasters, and several of the earliest German Reformed congregations were formed without pastors. The first German Reformed church was that at Germantown, built in 1719, but there was evidently no settled pastor at the time, for the cornerstone was laid by a Swedish minister. By 1725 three German Reformed congregations had been established, at Falkner's Swamp, Skippack and White Marsh; and in that year they asked John Philip Boehm, who had been a schoolmaster at Worms and had come to America in 1720, to act as their minister. After some hesitation he consented, though he warned the people that it was a violation of the order of the Reformed Church. Boehm, in spite of his lack of ordination, performed a useful service to the scattered German communities, baptizing hundreds of children and preaching in outlying districts. In 1729 Boehm was ordained. After asking the advice of the Dutch Reformed ministers of New York, he and his friends communicated with the Classis of Amsterdam, explaining the situation which had led him to undertake the work of a minister before he had received proper ordination. The Classis in its reply wisely stated that "under the circumstances all the transactions of the said Boehm--his teachings, even his administration of the Lord's Supper--must be deemed lawful," but that now he must receive ordination. This was the beginning of the close relationship between the German Reformed churches in America and the Dutch Church, which lasted for many years.

From 1725 to the middle of the century several German Reformed ministers came out to the colonies, though the great majority of the Reformed people in the colonies were still without ministers and conditions generally were deplorable. Among the most useful of these early ministers was George Michael Weiss who arrived in America in September, 1727, having been sent by the Classis of the Palatinate. Weiss organized a church in Philadelphia, but also preached in the surrounding territory, where he came into contact and conflict with Boehm. Later when Boehm was ordained, Weiss was present and from this time on the two worked in perfect harmony. Between 1730 and 1736 there was a large Swiss immigration, which came largely to the region between the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. Two young Swiss pastors, John Henry Goetschius and Conrad Wirtz, labored among these people and formed several congregations.

A special interest is attached to the arrival in 1730 of John Peter Miller, who at twenty years of age was sent to America by the Classis of Heidelberg, with special authority to administer the sacraments. Soon after his arrival he was ordained by the Presbyterian Synod of Philadelphia, upon whom he made a most notable impression. Becoming the pastor of the church at Tulpehocken (Reading), he labored among his people with great success. But at the end of four years he came under the influence of Conrad Beissel, who visited Tulpehocken, with the result that Miller and his elders with several of the members of his church joined Beissel and removed to the community at Ephrata. On the death of Beissel, Miller became the head of the community, where he died in 1796. Miller was a linguist of note, and during the Revolution was engaged by the Continental Congress to translate the Declaration of Independence into several European languages.

The most important name in the formative period of the German Reformed Church in America is Michael Schlatter. Schlatter was a native of the town of St. Gall in Switzerland and came out to America in 1746 under the Synods of Holland. The poor German emigrants passing through the Dutch ports on their way to America had aroused the sympathy of the leaders of the Dutch Church, and when an appeal was made to them to take over the care of the German Reformed congregations in America they finally consented. Hearing of this, young Schlatter went to Holland and presented himself as a candidate for the proposed mission. He was accepted, and set sail for Boston in June, 1746. Schlatter's chief mission was to organize the American congregations into a synod. He was a young man of great energy and zeal and by October he had visited all the more important German Reformed centers, and had made plans for the formation of a synod, or Coetus, which held its first meeting in Philadelphia in September, 1747. In 1751, at the request of the Coetus, Schlatter went to Europe, and in a short time had raised £12,000 to be invested for the benefit of the churches in America, under the condition that the Coetus was to remain under the Classis of Amsterdam. The next year he returned to America bringing with him six young ministers and seven hundred Bibles for free distribution.

A rather curious result of Schlatter's success in Europe was a kindred movement begun in England to raise money to establish schools for the Germans of Pennsylvania. "A Society for the Promotion of the Knowledge of God among' the Germans" was formed in England and a large sum of money raised. Charity schools were now established in the German communities with this fund, but the management of the enterprise was so untactful that it aroused the resentment of many of the leading Germans, among them Christopher Sauro Schlatter unfortunately consented to become the superintendent of these charity schools which resulted in bringing to him great unpopularity, and he became the main object of attack. Finally, saddened by the attacks he resigned and went into retirement.

The German Reformed Church was, of course, Presbyterian in its form of organization, though there developed a number of independent Reformed churches in the colonies. In most respects the Lutheran and German Reformed people were much alike in doctrine and worship and lived and worked harmoniously together. Schlatter and Muhlenberg were close friends, and were engaged in similar tasks in America, and in many places the two congregations, Lutheran and Reformed, worshiped in the same church.


Most important, at least from the standpoint of numbers, of all the German religious bodies in the American colonies, were the Lutherans. Lutheranism, however, had its beginning in America in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, and among the Swedes along the Delaware. The Lutheran congregation formed at New York, as has already been noted, was greatly retarded by the intolerant policy of Governor Stuyvesant and it was not until near the end of Dutch rule that they secured a regular pastor. From the beginning this congregation was extremely cosmopolitan in its make-up, for the majority of the members were Danes, Swedes, Norwegians or Germans, although the language used was Dutch. The story of the early Swedish Lutheran churches has already been related. While the Dutch and Swedish Lutheran beginnings have considerable interest, yet historically they are more or less unimportant, as compared to the German Lutherans who began to swarm across the Atlantic from 1720 onward.

Like the German Reformed settlers the early German Lutherans generally came without pastors or schoolmasters and they were desperately poor. The story of the exploitation of the poor German immigrants during the eighteenth century by the Neulanders, or immigrant agents, and the ship captains has been well told by Faust in his German Element in the United States.1 Many of them were too poor to pay their passage and when they arrived in America were sold for a period of years to the person who agreed to pay the shipmaster. Thus many of them became indentured servants for their passage money, and not alone was this true of artisans and tillers of the soil, but students and schoolmasters were not infrequently sold in this labor market. The following is a description of what took place when a ship laden with German immigrants arrived in Philadelphia:

Before the ship is allowed to cast anchor in the harbor, the immigrants are all examined, as to whether any contagious disease be among them. The next step is to bring all the new arrivals in a procession before the city hall and there compel them to take the oath of allegiance to the king of Great Britain. After that they are brought back to the ship. Those that have paid their passage are released, and the others are advertised in the newspapers for sale. The ship becomes the market. The buyers make their choice and bargain with the immigrants for a certain number of years and days, depending upon the price demanded by the ship captain or other "merchant" who made the outlay for transportation, etc. Colonial governments recognize the written contract, which is then made binding for the redemptioner. The young unmarried people of both sexes are very quickly sold, and their fortunes are either good or bad, according to the character of the buyer. Old married people, widows, and the feeble, are a drug on the market, but if they have sound children, then their transportation charges are added to those of the children, and the latter must serve the longer. This does not save families from being separated in the various towns or even provinces. Again, the healthiest are taken first, and the sick are frequently detained beyond the period of recovery, when release would frequently have saved them.

1 Chap. IV and V.


This description of the conditions of German immigration will help explain why the German Lutherans, as well as the German Reformed, were slow in organizing churches. Their spiritual destitution was acute, in spite of the fact that a few devoted pastors were active among them. Among the earliest of these ministers were Daniel Falkner, Anthony Jacob Henkel, the Stoevers, father and son, and John Christian Schulz. Falkner was the "first regular pastor of the first German Lutheran congregation in America." Henkel was active in visiting the German settlements and was probably the founder of the congregations in Philadelphia and Germantown. The Stoevers were earnest missionaries; the elder Stoever worked among the Germans in Virginia while the younger stayed in Pennsylvania, preaching in all the German settlements, but especially in Lancaster and Montgomery counties. The last important name among these earliest German Lutheran pastors is John Christian Schulz, whose chief importance lies in the fact that he ordained the Stoevers and after a brief stay in America, as pastor of the congregations in Philadelphia, the Trappe and New Hanover, of less than a year, returned to Germany with two laymen from his congregations to collect funds and to secure ministers and teachers for America.

At this time (1733) a German king (George II) was on the English throne, and the court chaplain was Dr. Ziegenhagen, a Lutheran pastor. Naturally appeals from the American Germans were made to him, as well as to Lutheran leaders in Germany, especially to Professor Francke at the University of Halle. Both were sympathetic and were anxious to do something for the destitute colonists, and efforts were made to secure funds and pastors. Ten years were to elapse, however, before the proper man was secured in Henry Melchior Muhlenberg. The delay was caused largely by a dispute over the matter of a fixed salary for the pastor. Ziegenhagen and Francke insisted that a definite arrangement be made as to the support of a minister, while the Pennsylvania Lutherans steadily refused to bind themselves. The Germans were of course, accustomed to a state church in the Old World, where the salary of the ministers was paid by the state authorities.

While this dispute over the matter of a fixed salary was going o. between these Pennsylvania Lutherans and their European friends, another group of Lutherans were finding their way to America, and were settling in the new colony of Georgia. These were the Salzburgers, who a few years before had been driven from their homes in Austria by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Salzburg, who had stated in 1728 that "he would drive the heretics out of the country, even though thorns and thistles should grow upon the fields." In 1731 all Protestants were commanded to leave Salzburg and in the midst of winter thousands set out toward Prussia whose king, Frederick William I, had offered them a refuge on his estates. Fourteen thousand passed through Berlin alone, and their sufferings and simple faith aroused the sympathy of every Protestant nation in Europe. The new societies but recently organized in England for "Promoting Christian Knowledge" and for "Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts" became interested, and provision was soon made to send some of the Salzburgers to Georgia. Free passage and provision in Georgia for a full year were provided, and land for themselves and children, free of all quitrent for ten years was promised, as well as freedom of worship and the privileges of native Englishmen.

The first of the Salzburgers arrived in Georgia in March, 1734; the next year others came; in 1736, 150 arrived and with them John and Charles Wesley and a group of Moravians. And so year by year others arrived until their new settlement of Ebenezer, 25 miles up the Savannah River, contained some 1200 colonists. Almost at once the colony prospered, for piety and industry generally go hand in hand.

The Salzburgers were provided with religious leaders from the beginning, for Francke had sent over two young Halle instructors as pastors, John Martin Boltzius and Israel Christian Gronau. Both labored faithfully and harmoniously among the colonists, and Boltzius was not alone the spiritual leader but became the business head of the colony as well.

The colony continued to prosper until the outbreak of the Revolution, when the British destroyed the place and the people were scattered to the surrounding settlements, where they joined Lutheran congregations in the other southern states.

The coming of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg in 1742 marks the beginning of a new epoch in the history of American Lutheranism. The Germans were more numerous than any other non-English element in the colonies, but they were widely scattered and disorganized, and were divided into numerous religious groups, though undoubtedly the Lutherans were the most numerous. The coming of Zinzendorf to America in 1741 and his attempt to unite the several German religious bodies into one church stirred the Halle authorities to immediate action, and Muhlenberg was sent to America to save American Lutheranism.

When Muhlenberg came to America he was a young man of thirty-one, educated at Gottingen with fifteen months' teaching experience gained at the Halle Orphanage. Urged by Francke to accept the call to America, he consented and in the fall of 1742 landed at Charleston, South Carolina. After spending some time among the Salzburgers in Georgia he sailed for Philadelphia, where he arrived November 25. He had come as the pastor of the three congregations of Philadelphia, New Hanover and the Trappe, but he had come unannounced and affairs were in confusion. Zinzendorf was busy with his scheme of union, and the majority of the Philadelphia congregation was favorable to that plan, while the other congregations were presided over by unworthy preachers. It took the energetic Muhlenberg but one month to "gain full possession of his field" and before the year ended was installed as pastor of the three congregations by the Swedish pastor at Wilmington.

Muhlenberg, however, conceived of his task as much larger than merely the care of the three congregations of which he was the pastor. The year of his arrival he took over the care of the Germantown church and later Lancaster, Tulpehocken and then York. Soon calls for help began to reach him from many places, to which he responded whenever possible. During these years Muhlenberg sent regular reports of his activities to the authorities at Halle. These were published from time to time, and served to keep the needs of the American brethren before the people of Germany. As a result men and money were soon forthcoming to aid in the work. In 1745 three helpers arrived from Halle, with funds to help build new churches. Schools were established in each of the churches, and the new helpers enabled Muhlenberg to give more attention to the general field.

By the year 1748 Muhlenberg was ready to form a synod. There were now several strong congregations and able ministers in America; new churches had been erected, and candidates for the ministry were seeking ordination. In response to this necessity six ministers and twenty-four laymen representing ten congregations met in the new St. Michael's Church in Philadelphia and there formed the first Lutheran synod in America, which came to be known as the Ministerium of Pennsylvania. At the time of the formation of the synod there were perhaps seventy Lutheran congregations in America. The synod exerted a strong influence over American Lutherans in general and greatly aided in the growth of the church. At the outbreak of the Revolution it is estimated that there were seventy-five thousand Lutherans in Pennsylvania alone, though no doubt a great majority of these were outside churches. By the end of the colonial period there were seventy Lutheran congregations in Pennsylvania and Maryland and some thirty in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia. Many German communities in the colonies were without religious leadership of any kind, and it is probable that there were more unchurched among the Germans than were to be found among any other racial group in the colonies.

The most pressing problem which faced the German churches in America was to find suitable pastors. Muhlenberg was soon convinced that it was futile to depend upon an Old World supply. Too frequently, disreputable pastors running away from bad reputations in the Old World secured congregations in America where they consistently wrought havoc. Muhlenberg encouraged the raising up of a native ministry and several candidates were trained in his own home. The Swedish pastor, Charles Mangus Von Wrangle, the Provost of the Swedish Lutheran churches on the Delaware, gave private instruction to three young German candidates, among them one of Muhlenberg's sons. The most able Lutheran pastors in colonial America were Pietists, as were both Muhlenberg and Von Wrangle, and a mild type of Pietism was a continuing influence among the colonial Lutherans.



+ + +




COLONIAL Presbyterianism stemmed from two main sources; first, from the Presbyterian phase of English Puritanism, transplanted to the colonies by way of New England in the great Puritan migration of the seventeenth century; second, from Scottish Presbyterianism, coming to America mostly by way of North Ireland, in the great Scotch-Irish immigration of the eighteenth century, although a few came directly from Scotland. Presbyterianism of Scotch-Irish origin accounts for the major proportion of the rank and file of the colonial Presbyterian membership, but the principal Presbyterian colonial leadership came from the second and third generation New England Puritanism. English Puritanism finally broke into two distinct bodies, the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists, but this break did not come until after the great Puritan migration to New England from 1628 to 1640, so that there were some among them who had Presbyterian leanings from the beginning. Even after the division had taken place, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists were in agreement on most doctrinal matters, but differed in their conception as to what constituted the Church and also in regard to church polity.1

1 For a concise statement as to the differences between the Presbyterians and Congregationalists on these matters see L J. Trinterud, The Forming of an American Tradition-A Re-examination of Colonial Presbyterianism (Philadelphia. 1949). pp. 16-21.


Political, economic and religious factors all played their part in bringing Scotch-Irish colonists to America. The people who had colonized North Ireland had come largely from the Lowlands of Scotland and had brought to Ireland with them "the strenuous Protestant spirit of Scotch Presbyterianism." Since their coming there had been little intermarriage with the native Irish, and therefore their religious and social beliefs and practices had undergone little change and the Presbyterian Church was there well organized with an able and aggressive ministry, largely educated in Scottish universities.

This emigration from North Ireland to the American colonies began in the early eighteenth century, and continued until well past the middle of the century. Between 1714 and 1720 it came largely through the port of Boston, and during these years fifty-four ships landed immigrants at the principal New England ports. New England attracted them, at first, because of their common Calvinism with the New England Puritans. Settlements were established in central Massachusetts, in southern New Hampshire and what is now Vermont and in Maine. The two villages of Londonderry in both the present states of New Hampshire and Vermont are living testimonies of that early immigration. The Scotch-Irish soon found, however, that they did not mix well with the New England Puritans, and after 1720 they began to find their way into New York, where they gave the names "Orange" and "Ulster" to two of the counties on the west side of the Hudson. But by far the largest part of this immigration landed at the several Delaware river ports and found its way into central Pennsylvania, then the farthest frontier, where they took up land in the valleys of the parallel mountain ranges of the Alleghanies, and gradually moved southward into western Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia.

By the opening of the American Revolution the Scotch-Irish were to be found in every colony in sufficient numbers to make their influence felt. Of all the races which had colonized the American colonies, they were the only one with a uniform religion. In contrast to this uniformity, note the great diversity of the German immigrants. Scotch-Irish distribution through the several colonies at the opening of the Revolution was as follows: in New England there were 70 communities; in New York from 30 to 40; in New Jersey from 50 to 60; in Delaware and Pennsylvania 130; in Virginia and Maryland and over the mountains into what is now east Kentucky and Tennessee more than 100; in North Carolina 50; in South Carolina and Georgia near 70.

To a large degree American Presbyterianism owes its rapid growth to the coming of the Scotch-Irish, though, as has been noted, there were feeble beginnings previous to this immigration. Several of the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay colony were Presbyterian in theory, and Presbyterian ideas of church polity were put into operation in several of the New England churches. John Eliot, the apostle to the Indians, was a supporter of Presbyterianism, and as has already been seen, Increase and Cotton Mather were advocates of what was really the Presbyterian system, when at the Ministerial Convention of 1705 they urged the adoption of the Massachusetts Proposals. In this contest Congregationalism won the day in Massachusetts, but in Connecticut the movement was strongly in the direction of Presbyterianism. With the adoption of the Saybrook Platform (1708) a modified Presbyterian system came into operation in Connecticut and the names Presbyterian and Congregational came to be used there interchangeably.

With the movement of New England Puritans into the middle colonies, especially into New York, where they came into an atmosphere strongly charged with Presbyterian ideas, their transformation into Presbyterians was but natural. Thus there came to be several Presbyterian congregations of New England origin on Long Island, by the middle of the seventeenth century. The beginning of Scottish migration to East New Jersey in the latter sixteen hundreds has already been mentioned, so that here also was a nucleus for Presbyterian organization. Indeed, in practically all the colonies, by the end of the seventeenth. century, there were small bodies of Scottish or Scotch-Irish settlers, and in such localities Presbyterianism would naturally have the right of way.


The father of the Presbyterian Church in America, the one who, more than any other, deserves the honor for laying the foundations of organized American Presbyterianism, is Francis Makemie. Makemie was an Ulsterman, a licentiate of the Presbytery of Laggan who had come to the Island of Barbados in 1683 and from there had proceeded to Maryland where he established preaching stations among the several Scottish and Scotch-Irish communities on the eastern shore. In 1684 he formed a church at Snow Hill, and for the next several years he journeyed from place to place, preaching in the scattered settlements in Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas. Impressed by the great need in America for ministers, he crossed the Atlantic and made his appeal to the Independent and Presbyterian Ministers' Union of London, and in 1703-1704 John Hampton and George McNish came with him to Maryland with promise of support from the London Union. By this time the Anglican Church had been established in Maryland, and in the very year Hampton and McNish arrived, South Carolina likewise had adopted the Anglican as the state church, and the progress of Presbyterianism in these colonies as well as in Virginia was hampered by persecution and intolerance. By 1706, however, a number of congregations had been gathered, under the direction of Makemie and his helpers, and in that year six ministers met in Philadelphia and there formed the first American presbytery, with Makemie as moderator. The men who made up the membership of this first presbytery well illustrate the several elements which went into the making of colonial Presbyterianism. Francis Makemie, the moderator, was a Scotch-Irishman; Samuel Davis, the minister at Lewes, Delaware, was also, probably, from North Ireland; Jedediah Andrews of the Philadelphia church was a native New Englander and a graduate of Harvard College; likewise also was John Watson a New Englander, as well as a protege of Increase and Cotton Mather. A third New England man was Nathaniel Taylor, pastor of a church in Maryland. Of the two men sent over by the Presbyterian and Congregational Union of London, George McNish and John Hampton, the first was a Scotchman, the second a Scotch-Irishman, and both were educated at the University of Glasgow. The congregations over which these several ministers presided were made up of members as diverse in their backgrounds as were their ministers, while the principal encouragement and assistance came from Boston and London rather than from North Ireland or Scotland.

An example of the kind of persecution which the Presbyterian ministers met at this period is that experienced by Makemie in New York in 1707. After a called meeting of the presbytery in Freehold, New Jersey, in December, 1706, Makemie and Hampton set out for New York, where Makemie was invited to preach in a private house. From thence they proceeded to Newtown, Long Island, intending to preach there. The next day they were both arrested on a warrant of the governor, Lord Cornbury, on the ground that they had preached without a license. The charges against Hampton were dropped, but Makemie was brought to trial the following June. He was defended by three able lawyers and was acquitted on the ground that he had complied with the English Toleration Act in that he had secured a license under that act while in Barbados which was recognized as valid throughout the queen's dominions. Though he had won his case, Makemie was compelled to pay the cost of his prosecution, which amounted to more than £83. This travesty on English justice caused reverberations which soon brought about the recall of Lord Cornbury. It also brought the' Presbyterians to the favorable attention of the growing number of Dissenters throughout the colonies. The long imprisonment and the harrowing experiences connected with the trial doubtless hastened Makemie's death which came the following year.

From year to year the number of preaching places increased, and by 1716, the year in which the first synod was formed, the number of ministers had grown to seventeen, recruited from Scotland, Ireland and New England. In the minutes of 1707 is found this item:

[let] every minister of the Presbytery supply neighbouring desolate places where a minister is wanting, and opportunity of doing good offers.


At each meeting of the presbytery petitions were presented by communities asking that ministers be sent them. Thus in 1708 the minutes record that

a letter sent by the people of and about White Clay Creek, in New Castle County, importing their desire and petition to the Presbytery, to have the ordinances of the gospel administered with more convenience and nearness to the place of their abode, for the greater advantage and ease to their several families, promising withall due encouragement to the minister that shall be appointed thus to supply them.


Although such petitions were numerous and the need for ministers great, yet there was a serious attempt to maintain educational standards for ministers. In 1710 information came to the presbytery that a certain David Evan, "a lay person," was preaching and teaching among the Welsh settlers in the Great Valley, and they consider that Evan "had done very ill." But evidently recognizing the need of just such men as David Evan they suggested that "he lay aside all other business for a twelve month, and apply himself closely to learning and study" under the direction of two members of the presbytery. Year by year Evan was examined by the presbytery as to his progress and it was not until 1715 that he was finally ordained.

The presbytery corresponded with the Dublin Presbytery; with Sir Edwin Harrison, an eminent dissenter of London; with the Synod of Glasgow; with Cotton Mather, and with others from whom they hoped to obtain assistance. In a letter addressed to the Presbytery of Dublin in 1710 is this description of American Presbyterianism within the bounds of the Philadelphia Presbytery:

In all Virginia there is but one small congregation at Elizabeth River, and some few families favouring our way in Rappahanock and York. In Maryland only four, in Pennsylvania five, and in the Jerseys two, which bounds with some places of New York makes all the bounds we have any members from, and at present some of these be vacant.

Much of the business of the Philadelphia Presbytery and later of the synod had to do with quarrels between congregations and their ministers and moral offenses of both ministers and people. Van Vleck, a minister of Dutch extraction, was accused and found guilty of bigamy; there were "unhappy jarrings among the people of Woodbridge" and with their minister, Mr. Wade. In 1720 a minister is brought before the synod for fornication which he confessed "with great seriousness, humility, and signs of true repentence" and his attitude was so satisfactory to the synod that after a suspension of four Sabbaths he was permitted "again to preach the gospel." Another minister "had been diverse times overtaken with drink" and was accused of using "abusive language, and quarreling and stabbing a man." Still another is charged "with a lie relating to a bargain of a horse," and also with "folly and levity unbecoming a gospel minister," while a Mr. Laing is rebuked and suspended "for violating the Lord's day, by washing himself in a creek." All of which seems to bear out the characterization of the Scotch-Irish settlers made by James Logan, the secretary of William Penn, who termed them "bold and indigent strangers" from Ireland, and who occupied land without legal title on the ground that it was "against the laws of God and Nature, that so much land should be idle while so many Christians wanted it to labour on."

It was the great migration of Scotch-Irish settlers into the middle colonies which so increased the number of Presbyterians that it became necessary in 1716 to divide the Presbytery of Philadelphia into four presbyteries and organize a synod. The presbyteries now organized were the Long Island, which included the churches in New York and eastern New Jersey; the Philadelphia, which embraced the churches in eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey; the New Castle which at its formation had six ministers and was made up of churches in Delaware, and the Snow Hill Presbytery in Maryland and Virginia. The territory covered was from eastern Long Island to Virginia, and the number of ministers at the formation of the synod was nineteen.

The Presbyterian Church naturally grew in proportion to the migration from North Ireland, and this was particularly large from 1720 onward. By 1730 the number of ministers had increased to thirty, the largest share coming from New England, though Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales contributed a considerable number. Jonathan Dickinson, a graduate of Yale College, destined to playa prominent part in the affairs of the church for forty years, came from Massachusetts; Thomas Craighead, the first of a long list of Craigheads, was the son of an Irish minister, who worked first in New England, where Cotton Mather became his loyal friend. But perhaps the most significant name to be added to the list of ministers in these early years was that of William Tennent. Tennent had been a priest of the Church of Ireland, though born in Scotland and educated at Edinburgh, and had previously been licensed by a Scottish presbytery. On his arrival in Pennsylvania, he was admitted to membership in the Presbyterian synod in 1718, after he had given six reasons why he dissented from the Established Church in Ireland. Perhaps no single minister in the synod at that time was to have so large an influence upon the Presbyterian church in America.

During these years of rapid growth in the middle colonies, the few Scotch-Irish who had remained in New England were engaged in forming congregations and in 1729 organized a presbytery, known as the Presbytery of Londonderry, or as it was called by their neighbors, "the Irish Presbytery." In communities where this new migration mingled with the native New Englanders they encountered strong prejudice, and in most cases were compelled to support the Congregational minister. Persecution was particularly severe in Boston and Worcester. In the latter town a small body of Presbyterians attempted to erect a meetinghouse, and the building was in process of construction when a mob, some of whom were persons of "consideration and respectability," gathered at night and demolished the structure. In a few places, however, such as Londonderry, New Hampshire, the new Irish settlers were in the great majority and conducted the affairs of their town to suit themselves. In a few instances also an older community was dominated by the new arrivals from Ireland, with the result that the Congregational Church became Presbyterian. But as a whole Presbyterianism remained weak in New England throughout the whole colonial period and has since remained so.


Of great importance to American Presbyterianism was the passage by the synod of the Adopting Act2 of 1729. This provided that all ministers and licentiates must subscribe to the Westminster Confession. The New Castle Presbytery was the first to require subscription. The issue arose out of the unwillingness of the Presbyterians to discipline ministers guilty of scandalous immoralities. The movement for subscription to the Confession was led by the New Castle Presbytery, where a particularly notorious case of ministerial moral laxity had been glossed over, and the guilty minister permitted to continue after a short suspension, the inference seemingly being that doctrinal orthodoxy would automatically correct moral laxity-a dubious inference to say the least. The purpose of the act was to protect the American Presbyterians against the "many pernicious and dangerous corruptions in doctrine" which have "grown so much in vogue and fashion," such as "Arminianism, Socinianism, Deism, Freethinking, etc." Such a proposal had already split the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and its adoption was much opposed in America, particularly by the New England and Welsh ministers. Jonathan Dickinson stated that it would neither "detect hypocrites, nor keep concealed heretics out of the church," and occurrences which soon followed proved this to be true. Eventually, however, the Adopting Act was passed, though not until a concession had been made allowing ministers and licentiates to express any scruples they felt as to any article in the Confession while the presbytery, or synod, were to judge whether such scruples were "essential and necessary articles of faith." With the great increase in the number of Scottish and Irish ministers, however, the tendency was to override the scruples any minister might have, and to demand strict adherence to the Confession "without the least variation or alteration." Thus the early attempts to introduce liberality into the Presbyterian Church in America on the part of the New England group met with prompt and decisive defeat at the hands of the Scotch-Irish. But the provision permitting a candidate to express scruples to any article in the Confession provided a way for liberalizing influences to gain a hearing.


2 For an understanding of the agitation which led to the passage of the Adopting Act see W. W. Sweet, Religion in Colonial America (New York, 1942), pp. 263·265; also Trinterud, op. cit., Chap. II, pp. 38-52.


The feeble attempts to gather Presbyterian churches in Virginia by Makemie and his helpers resulted in no permanent organization. In fact by Makernie's death in 1708 the Presbyterian Church ceased to exist in Virginia. But within a few years from that time Scotch-Irish immigrants were moving into the region west of the Blue Ridge in considerable numbers. Governor Gooch, himself a Scotchman, began his administration in 1727. He knew the Scotch-Irish and welcomed their coming. Indeed, he instituted the policy of granting patents to all applicants without reference to their religious belief, but only with the provision that within the required time a sufficient number of settlers should be found upon the grants. This generous policy attracted not only the Scotch-Irish but the Germans and English as well, and there soon came to be representatives of numerous religious bodies in the Great Valley of Virginia. In 1738 two new counties were formed west of the Ridge, Augusta and Frederick, the former being almost exclusively settled by Scotch-Irish people. At the same time the new counties were formed into parishes of the Established Church and provision made to elect vestries. In Augusta the vestry was composed largely of dissenters and when an Established Church minister was sent them, he preached without a surplice, while the congregation received the sacrament standing according to Presbyterian usage, and eventually the congregation dwindled away.

As early as 1719 occasional preachers visited the Valley from the Synod of Philadelphia and several of these visiting ministers organized congregations. Indeed, by 1738 there had come to be four or five congregations in western Virginia, and in that year application was made to the Synod of Philadelphia for aid, with the result that John Craig was sent as the minister over two congregations, Tinkling Spring and Augusta. The same year the synod sent a representative to Governor Gooch of Virginia in the interest of certain Presbyterians who were considering settling on the Virginia frontier. The synod's representative brought with him an address to the governor asking that the settlers be allowed "liberty of consciences and of worshipping God in a way agreeable to the principles of their education." In his reply the governor stated:

And as I have always been inclined to favor the people who have lately removed from the provinces to settle on the western side of our great mountains: so you may be assured that no interruption shall be given to any ministers of your profession who shall come among them, so as they conform themselves to the rules prescribed by the Act of Toleration in England, by taking the oaths enjoined thereby, and registering the place of their meeting, and behave themselves peaceably toward the government.s

From this time forward Presbyterianism made rapid progress in western Virginia, though the greatest impetus to southern Presbyterianism was to come from Hanover County in central Virginia. This, however, is a part of the story of the Great Awakening, and will be told in that connection.

With the coming to the throne of William and Mary, English dissenters for the first time obtained legal recognition and toleration, with the passage of the Toleration Act of 1689. The act suspended the penal laws against those who attended other places of worship besides the Established Church, provided they took the oath of allegiance and supremacy and subscribed to a declaration against transubstantiation. Dissenting ministers, however, had to subscribe to thirty- five of the Thirty-nine Articles and a greater part of two more. Papists and those who did not believe in the Trinity were excluded from the benefits of the act.



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THE latter seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were crowded with disturbing influences for the New Englander. First of all it was a time of almost continuous warfare. The hundred years' struggle between France and England for the Mississippi Valley began in 1689 with the War of the Palatinate, known in America as King William's War. Within four years after the treaty was signed closing this war, the War of the Spanish Succession, or Queen Anne's War, began (1701), which did not end until 1713 with the signing of the famous Treaty of Utrecht. Then after a considerable period of peace there followed in rapid succession the War of the Austrian Succession (1739-1748) and the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). In all of these intercolonial wars New England bore the brunt of the struggle, and since the Indians played a conspicuous part in them, the New England frontier was never out of danger from Indian forays. Thus the whole atmosphere of the New England frontier, for years together, was filled with alarm. It was also a period of political unrest. From 1660 on to the end of the century the political status of the New England colonies was uncertain, and this served to occupy the attention of the Puritan leaders at the expense of moral and religious affairs.

The intensity of New England religion had considerably cooled by the end of the seventeenth century. The second and third generation Puritan was much less "religious" than had been his father and grandfather. It has been noted that by the adoption of the Half-Way Covenant unawakened persons were permitted to become "half-way" church members, and thus there came to be large numbers of people in every church whose relation to the church was merely formal. It is true that the Calvinistic doctrine of conversion was still theoretically held by the majority of the ministers-that is that conversion was the work of God alone-but it was now recognized by many ministers that there were certain "means" which might be used to put the soul in position to receive the regenerating touch of God's spirit. In other words, a new doctrine of conversion was evolving which laid increasing emphasis upon human responsibility. It was the combination of these two influences--the presence among the people of a "tremendous amount of latent fear" and the doctrine of human responsibility in conversion that largely accounts for the Great Revival which began in central Massachusetts in the fourth decade of the eighteenth century.


At the very center of this great religious movement stands Jonathan Edwards, the minister of the church of the standing order at Northampton, at that time the most important inland town in the colony. In many respects Jonathan Edwards is the outstanding intellectual figure of colonial America and has been generally recognized as one of the greatest minds America has produced. "In Edwards there was a rare combination of fervor of feeling, of almost oriental fertility of imagination, and intellectual acumen."

Jonathan Edwards was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, where his father, Timothy Edwards, was the minister. He graduated from Yale in 1720 at seventeen years of age and after several years of further study and some preaching, and teaching at Yale, became the minister at Northampton, where for sixty years his maternal grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, had been the pastor. Soon after coming to Northampton he married Sarah Pierpont, the daughter of the Rev. James Pierpont of New Haven, and throughout her husband's great career her name was intimately associated with his. Indeed, she has been termed the ideal New England minister's wife. Hers was a joyous piety, while she saved her husband from all the troubles of household affairs, training and disciplining the numerous children, maintaining a genial and attractive hospitality until her home became like a sanctuary to multitudes. To understand Jonathan Edwards, Sarah Pierpont must not be left out of the picture. The town of Northampton at the opening of the great revival contained about two hundred families and generally speaking the people were intelligent and religious. During Solomon Stoddard's long ministry there had been five periods of religious awakening, an unusual condition for those years. This better spiritual condition at Northampton was due to the wise, common-sense position of Stoddard, in regard to the birthright members. It was his practice to admit them to the sacrament, as a means of leading them to conversion. The standard of regenerate membership was well enough for an age of deep religious emotions, "but it was too exacting in a period when such deep emotions were lacking."

Young Edwards came to Northampton in 1727, at a time "of extraordinary dullness in religion." He thus describes certain conditions in the town just before the revival began:

Licentiousness for some years greatly prevailed among the youth of the town; there were many of them very much addicted to night walking and frequenting the tavern, and lewd practices wherein some by their example exceedingly corrupted others. It was their manner to get together in assemblies of both sexes, for mirth and jollity, which they called frolics; and they would often spend the greater part of the night in them, without regard to order in the families they belonged to: indeed family government did too much fail in the town.


It was not long, however, until a change in the general religious atmosphere began to be manifest under the preaching of this tall, slender, grave young man. Edwards was by no means what might be called a popular preacher. He lived the life of a student, spending thirteen hours daily in his study, writing two sermons each week, one to be preached on Sunday, the other at the weekly lecture. To him sermon preparation and study were far more important than pastoral ministration, for he seldom visited among his people. In the pulpit he was quiet, speaking without gesture, and in a voice not loud, but distinct and penetrating. It was the content of his sermons, filled as they were with fire and life, combined with the remarkable personality and presence of the preacher, which accounts for the results which now began to be manifest among his hearers.

The revival began in December, 1734, while Jonathan Edwards was preaching a series of sermons on justification by faith alone. The sermons were intended to meet the growing tendency toward Arminianism which was considered by Calvinists as a matter for alarm. They felt that when men once began to trust in human measures for salvation they would cease to depend on Christ. Indeed, they were sure that Arminianism was a long step in the direction toward popery, and could only end in complete acceptance of a salvation won by good works, such as penance and offerings prescribed by priests. So sure were the Calvinists that Arminianism led to popery that even John Wesley, the great advocate of Arminian principles in the eighteenth century, was accused of being a Jesuit in disguise. In his sermons Edwards denied that any action "however good in itself, done by an unconverted man" could avail in procuring salvation. Salvation was the gift of God alone. With terrible vividness and earnestness Edwards depicted the wrath of God from which his hearers were exhorted to flee. Although Edwards' sermons were doctrinal, his way of presenting the old themes caused the members of his congregation to feel singled out. To use Miss Winslow's phrase, it was as though he were walking up and down the village street, pointing his accusing finger "at one house after another, unearthing secret sins and holding them up for all to see."1 Soon religion became the chief topic of conversation throughout the town among people of all ages.

1 Ola Elizabeth Winslow. Jonathan Edwards. 1703-1758 (New York. 1940). Chap. VIII and IX


Again, Jonathan Edwards relates the happenings attendant upon the beginning of the revival:

Presently upon this a great and earnest concern about the great things of religion and eternal world became universal in all parts of the town, and among persons of all degrees and all ages; the noise among the dry bones waxed louder and louder; all other talk but about spiritual and eternal things was soon thrown by; all the conversation in all companies, and upon all occasions, was upon these things only, unless so much as was necessary for people carrying on their ordinary secular business. Other discourse than of the things of religion would scarcely be tolerated in any company.


"Soon," he tells us, "a glorious alteration" was to be noted in the town, "so that in the spring and summer following, anno 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God: it was never so full of love, nor so full of joy, and yet so full of distress as it was then." "There was scarcely a single person in the town, either old or young, that was left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world."

During the first year of the revival in Northhampton more than three hundred professed conversion, among both the aged and the young, though by May, 1735, the excitement began to die down, probably because the "physical power to endure excitement was exhausted." Through the next several years revivals, independent of each other, began to appear in various parts of New England, especially in the Connecticut valley, until by 1740 the movement could be described as general throughout New England. Meanwhile a similar revival was in progress in New Jersey, especially among the Presbyterians, produced by the fervid preaching of the Tennents, particularly Gilbert Tennent. This revival seems to have begun entirely independent of the New England awakening, though the movements were in a sense brought together through the influence of George Whitefield, who began his first extensive evangelistic tour of America in 1740.


In 1737-1738 Jonathan Edwards wrote his Narrative of the Surprizing Work of God, which was soon being read on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time the Methodist revival was just beginning in England, under the preaching of the Wesleys and Whitefield.

The Wesleyan revival may be said to have begun in 1737 when a little group of Oxford students, who had formed at that ancient university a Holy Club, whose members had been nicknamed "Methodists," removed to London and began the work of carrying religion and morality to the masses: "Their voice was soon heard in the wildest and most barbarous corners of the land, among the bleak moors of Northampton, or in the dens of London, or on the long galleries, where in the pauses of their labor the Cornish miners listened to the sobbing of the sea." Never had England heard such preaching; never had England witnessed such results. It was from this little group that the greatest preacher of the century sprang in the person of George Whitefield.

Whitefield was the son of a tavern keeper in Gloucester, and spent his childhood amidst the scenes common in the English public houses of that degraded time. Fortunately in Gloucester there was an endowed school, and here Whitefield was admitted as a pupil. Here he was prepared for Oxford, and in 1732 entered Pembroke College as a "Servitor," where he earned his way waiting on the tables of Fellows and Gentlemen Commoners. When he entered Oxford the "Holy Club" had been organized for three years, and the next year he became identified with this one spiritual oasis in the university. His conversion he dated from Easter Week, 1735. Graduating in 1736 he was ordained to the priesthood of the Church of England by the Bishop of Gloucester and began to supply churches in Oxford and London, at the same time offering himself to go to Georgia to take up the work there at which the Wesleys had failed.

Within a year after his graduation, and while he was waiting to set out for Georgia, Whitefield leaped into fame as the greatest preacher of his day: From Gloucester to Bristol, thence to Bath, England's most fashionable resort, thence to London, everywhere pulpits were opened to him and the people flocked to hear him. He could not begin to meet the calls which poured in upon him, though he preached nine times each week. "On Sunday morning," he tells us, "long before day, you might see streets filled with people going to church, with their lanterns in their hands, and hear them conversing about the things of God." So dense were the crowds which filled the churches: that "one might, as it were, walk upon the people's heads," and thousands were turned away, unable to enter even the largest churches.

In 1738 Whitefield made a brief visit to Georgia to look over the ground preparatory to the beginning of his work there and the founding of his orphanage. The next year, in August, he again landed in America at Lewes, Delaware, and this marks the real beginning of his American evangelistic tours. He visited the Tennents, in whose work he took great delight; he was in Philadelphia in November, where throngs came to hear him every day in Christ Church. From Philadelphia he went to New York, where he heard Gilbert Tennent preach the most searching sermon he had ever heard; thence back to Philadelphia and then southward to Georgia, passing through Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas. Returning in April in his own sloop, he again visited Philadelphia and New Jersey, thence back to Georgia. On September 14, 1740, he landed in Rhode Island and the next month was given to a tour of New England, already filled with religious excitement by the events of the last several years. Everywhere he was received with enthusiasm. Newport and Boston gave him an immense hearing. The students at Harvard heard him and under the spell of his matchless oratory men wept, women fainted and hundreds professed conversion.

Leaving Boston in October, Whitefield journeyed toward Northampton, preaching as he went, drawn by the fame of the great revival that had begun there six years before. Whitefield's four sermons at Northampton greatly moved both Edwards and his congregation, and a new revival broke which was to continue for two years. Whitefield in turn was so favorably impressed with Edwards and especially with Sarah Pierpont that he wrote in his diary "she caused me to renew those prayers which for some months I have put up to God, that He would send me a daughter of Abraham to be my wife."

Whitefield's short visit to New England caused a renewal of evangelistic activity. From December, 1740, to March, 1741, the New England revival reached high tide. A number of the more successful revivalist preachers, among them Jonathan Edwards, Eleazer Wheelock and Joseph Bellamy, became for the time being itinerant evangelists, and under their preaching, physical demonstrations were common in many communities; strong men fell as though shot, and women became hysterical. When Jonathan Edwards preached, at Enfield, Connecticut, in July, 1741, taking as his theme "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," "there was such a breathing of distress, and weeping, that the preacher was obliged to speak to the people and desire silence, that he might be heard." These bodily exercises were defended, even by such men as Edwards, and it is not strange that some among the ministers went to even greater extremes in their appeal to the emotions, and adopted extravagant methods to arouse the people. Such a minister was James Davenport of Long Island, who "more than any other man ... embodied in himself and promoted in others, all the unsafe extravagances into which the revival was running," and who declared "that most of the ministers of the town of Boston and of the country are unconverted, and are leading their people blindfold to hell."

During the years from 1740 to 1742 there was a wonderful ingathering of members into the New England churches. Out of a population of 300,000, from 25,000 to 50,000 were added. The general moral effect of the revival upon New England communities was clearly manifest. Speaking of Northampton in 1743, Jonathan Edwards states: "I suppose the town has never been in no measure so free from vice--for any long time together--for these sixty years, as it has this nine years past." Similar testimonies of moral changes in other communities are numerous and there is no doubt but that the whole moral and religious life of New England was raised to a higher plane, and the revival amply deserves the name generally given it--the "Great Awakening."


Out of the New England awakening came several influences of great significance. In the first place, the revival definitely divided the New England ministers into two groups. One heartily supported the revival and its methods: the other condemned it and looked upon its results as but temporary. At the head of the first group stood Jonathan Edwards; the leader of the latter was Charles Chauncy the liberal pastor of First Church; Boston, who in 1743 published an attack upon the revival called "Seasonable Thoughts on the State of Religion in New England." Those favoring the revival were soon known as "New Lights," those opposing it were designated "Old Lights," and it was not long until these two opposing parties were filling New England with controversy. In Connecticut a General Consociation of ministers condemned itinerant ministers and later the legislature passed an act forbidding the practice. Congregations split over the question, the revivalists withdrawing and forming themselves into separate churches and becoming known as "Separatists." For attending a Separatist meeting two students were expelled from Yale College in 1744. The Ministerial Convention of Massachusetts likewise condemned the revival, especially "its errors in doctrine, and disorders in practice," though a strong minority gathered in Boston to affirm "that there has been a happy and remarkable revival of Religion in many parts of the land."

Under these conditions it is not strange that the revival interest passed away almost as quickly as it had arisen. According to Jonathan Edwards' own statement, the church at Northampton from 1744 to 1748 was utterly dead, not a single application for membership being made during those years. When in the fall of 1744 Whitefield began his second tour of New England he met with opposition on every hand. Many pulpits were now closed to him; associations took action against him, while both Harvard and Yale colleges issued declarations opposing his conduct and methods. But thousands flocked to hear him and he still had stanch friends among the ministers who supported him to the last. Altogether he made five tours of New England, the last three in 1754, 1764 and 1770, dying in Newburyport in the latter year, where he lies buried under the pulpit of the Old South Presbyterian Church. Whatever limitations Whitefield may have had, he was undoubtedly one of the chief "human factors in the greatest religious overturning that New England has ever experienced."


It will now be necessary to consider the doctrinal discussion which arose in New England following the Great Awakening, and which resulted in the forming of two distinct doctrinal schools. These ultimately led to the division of Congregationalism into two wings, orthodox and liberal, or Unitarian, though the actual severance did not take place until the opening years of the nineteenth century.

The liberal doctrinal school had its roots in the tendency, already noticed, to emphasize the use of human "means" in salvation. At the same time, there was a rising tide of Arminian views among certain English writers whose works began to be read in America. Two of these writers were the Rev. Daniel Whitby, an Anglican clergyman, and the Rev. John Taylor, a Presbyterian. Both Whitby and Taylor made attacks upon Calvinism, Whitby's discourse upon the five points of Calvinism being considered an unanswerable argument by the Arminians. Taylor inveighed chiefly against the imputation of Adamic sin upon the race and advanced a new theory of the atonement in opposition to the limited atonement held by Calvinists. These views were soon adopted by a few New England ministers who in turn began to write in defense of what was termed the Liberal Theology. Thus Experience Mayhew, in 1744, published a treatise entitled "Grace Defended" in which he advocated the use of means of grace in obtaining pardoning grace, though he affirmed himself essentially a Calvinist. This publication aroused little interest compared to the furor caused by a published sermon of a young minister, Lemuel Briant, in 1749 on "The Absurdity and Blasphemy of Depreciating Moral Virtue." Sermons were preached in reply and tracts were issued attempting "to put a stop to the prevailing contagion of Arminian errors and other loose opinions ... which threaten to banish vital piety out of the land." Eastern Massachusetts especially was now in the midst of a "general doctrinal ferment" which was to continue with little let-up until the in the church was consummated two generations later. The churches and ministers holding the liberal views were generally those which had opposed the revival, and this opposition was confined largely to Boston and its immediate vicinity.

At the opposite pole from this liberal school stood Jonathan Edwards and those associated with him, who were responsible for what has come to be known as the New England Theology. In 1750 Edwards was dismissed from Northampton amidst bitterness and slander, after he had announced his change in view regarding the admission of the unconverted to participation in the sacrament. Turned out of his pastorate at the age of forty-seven, with ten living children, it was at once necessary that he find a new field of labor. Finally in December, 1750, he received a call to the frontier village of Stockbridge, in western Massachusetts, where he was to be the missionary to the Housatonic Indians. Here he came in the summer of 1751 and here he remained until January, 1758, when he was called to the presidency of the college at Princeton. He took up that office, however, only to lay it down, for in March of the same year he died of inoculation for smallpox at the age of fifty-five.

The period which Edwards spent at Stockbridge "was the harvest time of his intellectual activity." Altogether twenty-seven publications of Edwards' appeared during his lifetime and nine were published after his death. The most important of his publications, the one on which his fame as an original thinker principally rests, is his treatise on "The Freedom of the Will," which was written during his Stockbridge residence and made its appearance in 1754. Edwards maintained that man had the power to act in accordance with the choice of his mind, but with the origin of the inclination man has nothing to do. This left some room for moral responsibility and for human choice. Four years later he published a book defending the doctrine of Original Sin against attacks by Charles Chauncy and the Rev. Samuel Webster and the English liberals. Edwards departed somewhat from historic Calvinism, though his chief aim was to defend it against the Arminian school. He always held stanchly to the sovereignty of God, but was at the same time convinced that larger recognition must be given to man's responsibility. He thus became chiefly responsible for the establishment of what came to be known as the "New Divinity," or the Edwardian school.

Edwards was a man of warm friendships and soon loyal disciples were defending his views from the attacks of the liberals on the one hand and the Old Calvinists on the other. Among the most influential of these Edwardian leaders were Joseph Bellamy and Samuel Hopkins who were companions of Edwards' later life, while in the next generation the chief supporters of the New Divinity were Stephen West, John Smalley, Jonathan Edwards the younger, Nathaniel Emmons and Timothy Dwight. Bellamy and Hopkins were controversialists of great power, and were responsible for adding certain important features t~ the New Divinity. Among these new features was their assertion of a general atonement, though Edwards himself was inclined to a limited theory of the atonement. Hopkins, especially, developed Edwards' teachings beyond Edwards and put his own stamp upon them so fully that he often is considered as the founder of a new school of thought called Hopkinsianism.

The development of this ultra-Edwardian school headed by Hopkins and others led to a heated pamphlet warfare between the Old Calvinists and the advocates of the New Divinity, while both Old Calvinists and the supporters of the New Divinity united in their attacks upon the liberals in and about Boston, who were inclining more and more toward Universalism and Unitarianism. Thus Charles Chauncy in 1782 came out boldly on the side of Universalism in a tract published anonymously called "Salvation for all Men Illustrated and Vindicated as a Scripture Doctrine" which was ably answered by Edwards the younger. This, however, was a development which came largely after the Revolution.

It is an interesting fact, and one of considerable importance for an understanding of later developments, that the Edwardian school came to be the dominant party in Connecticut and western Massachusetts. The struggle between Old Calvinism and the Edwardian party long continued in these sections, but by the end of the century the New Divinity had won the victory. These views of modified Calvinism also spread among the Presbyterians of the north middle region, a fact which was to have large significance in the Presbyterian Church in the nineteenth century. Though Calvinism in its modified form triumphed in western Massachusetts and Connecticut, the liberal theology won the day in eastern Massachusetts, especially in and about Boston. The cleavage between the two parties was destined to grow deeper and deeper until a complete separation was to be the result. The account of this separation, however, belongs to a later period in our story.

The fifty years following the Great Awakening may be characterized as one of spiritual deadness, a period of religious and moral indifference throughout New England. The bitter doctrinal controversy was undoubtedly one of the causes, but there were other causes, among them two wars including the American Revolution, and a long period of great political unrest.



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THE series of great religious awakenings which swept over the American colonies in the middle of the eighteenth century were in many respects the most far-reaching social movements of the whole colonial period. They influenced all the churches, either directly or indirectly. In New England, of course, the Congregationalists were the ones primarily affected, though the indirect influence upon the Baptists was large. In the middle colonies it was a movement largely among Presbyterians, though it began among the German sectarians and the Dutch Reformed churches of central New Jersey. In the southern colonies the revival manifested itself first among the Presbyterians, especially in Virginia; in its second phase it was largely a Baptist movement, while it continued in a third phase as a Methodist movement.

The great variety of racial and religious groups to be found in colonial Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York have been noticed. Many of the German colonists, though representing several religious sects, were Pietists. The founder of the Pietists was Philip Jacob Spener who advocated the establishment of devotional groups within the Lutheran churches of Germany for the purposes of Bible study and of promoting true piety. The new university at Halle became the center of the Pietists and it was to Francke, the successor of Spener at Halle, that the Lutherans in America looked for aid, and the great Lutheran leader Muhlenberg came out to America from this Pietistic center. There were Pietists also among the German Reformed leaders in the colonies, but the Pietistic, or evangelical, influence was particularly strong among the smaller German groups, such as the Mennonites, the Dunkers and the Moravians. This Pietistic emphasis among the Pennsylvania Germans was one of the sources of the great revival movement in the middle colonies, though it was an indirect rather than a direct influence.


Of much greater importance was the revival among the Dutch Reformed churches begun under the influence of Theodore J. Frelinghuysen,1 a German born near the Dutch border and ordained in the Dutch Church, who came out to America in 1720 to be the pastor of some Dutch churches on the New Jersey frontier. From the moment of his landing in America Frelinghuysen began to fight against formality and dead orthodoxy which he found completely permeating the Dutch churches in America. In his first sermon, preached in New York soon after landing, Frelinghuysen struck such an evangelical note that he at once aroused the opposition of some of the Dutch ministers. He became the pastor of four churches in the Raritan valley in New Jersey, and his earnest preaching, in which he laid emphasis upon the necessity of conversion, so astonished his Dutch congregations that many were outraged, and soon parties began to develop, one opposing, the other accepting the new doctrines. At the end of three years his new gospel had disrupted his churches. The disaffected published their Complaint against him in a book of 246 pages, and an answer was soon forthcoming prepared by two of Frelinghuysen's friends, and thus the Dutch ministers were divided into hostile camps.

1 Trinterud states that there is no clear evidence connecting Frelinghuysen with German Pietism; there is every evidence, however, that his emphasis upon religion as an inner experience was of a piece with the German Pietists. (See Trinterud, op. cit., pp.54·56.)


Meanwhile Frelinghuysen's fervid evangelical preaching was bearing fruit and numerous conversions were taking place. In 1726 the ingathering of new members was particularly large, and invitations to visit other churches began to pour in upon him. Some of these he accepted and soon the revival was spreading beyond the Raritan valley. Of particular importance is the fact that the revival spirit began to manifest itself among some English-speaking Presbyterians scattered through the region, who in 1726 called a young Presbyterian licentiate, Gilbert Tennent, to be their pastor. Frelinghuysen gave every assistance to this young Presbyterian minister, encouraged his own members to subscribe toward his salary, permitted him to use the Dutch meetinghouses, and sometimes held joint services with him. All this was abundantly helpful to the cause of Christianity in central New Jersey, but it brought down increased maledictions upon the head of Domine Frelinghuysen, whose enemies objected to the use of English in Dutch churches.


Gilbert Tennent, the young Presbyterian minister welcomed so heartily by Domine Frelinghuysen, was destined to be the heart and center of a revival movement among the Presbyterians of much greater significance than that among the Dutch Reformed. Gilbert Tennent was the son of William Tennent, whose admission to the synod in 1718 has already been noted. In 1726 the elder Tennent became the Presbyterian minister at Neshaminy, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and here he established what came to be known as the "Log College."

William Tennant had four sons, Gilbert the eldest having already been trained for the ministry under his father's care. To better facilitate the education of his younger sons a log cabin was built in his yard to serve as a school and here three of his own sons and fifteen other young men received their training for the ministry. The elder Tennent not only drilled his students in the languages, logic and theology, but he imbued them with an evangelical passion which sent them out flaming evangelists. The sons of William Tennent-Gilbert, William Jr., John and Charles-all became ministers of Presbyterian churches in central New Jersey, while Samuel Blair, also a graduate of the Log College, became the pastor of several small churches centering at Shrewsbury. Thus there came to be a group of ministers, evangelical in sentiment, settled near New Brunswick, and in 1738 the New Brunswick Presbytery was formed of these five evangelical ministers. At their first meeting the presbytery licensed John Rowland, another graduate of the Log College, and later ordained him. The conservative ministers, most of whom were of Scottish and Scotch-Irish background, educated in Scottish universities, objected to this action, as they were fearful lest the Presbyterian ministry would be deluged with half-educated enthusiasts. This fear led the synod to pass a regulation permitting presbyteries to examine and ordain only those candidates who were graduates of New England or European colleges. This action, of course, was intended to check the activities of the Log College and the admission of its graduates.

The real motive back of this action was bitter opposition of the conservative ministers to the revival. Thus the Presbyterian ministers in New Jersey were soon divided into two parties. Meanwhile a great revival was getting under way induced by the fervid preaching of the Log College evangelicals. Especially was John Rowland's preaching effective in stirring his people, and religion became the single topic of conversation in the little rural communities where he ministered. The revival spirit was now manifest in many centers. At Newark, where Aaron Burr was the minister, the revival attained its height in 1739 and 1740; in the highlands of New York and on Long Island the revival flame burst forth, while a group of Yale graduates, among them Jonathan Dickinson, now came over to the evangelical party and took their part in the revival. Even some of the conservative Scotch-Irish congregations in Pennsylvania responded to the revival preaching of Samuel Blair and a revival broke out at Fagg's Manor, where he had become the pastor in 1739, which soon spread to other places in Pennsylvania. Here was the very center of the opposition to the revival, but so strong was the movement among the people that even unfriendly ministers were constrained to invite the evangelists to visit their communities.


Such was the general situation among the Presbyterians in the middle colonies when George Whitefield arrived in America on his first evangelistic tour. Whitefield was one of the most catholic-spirited ministers of his time, and could cooperate with Quakers, Baptists, Lutherans, Moravians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Dutch Reformed and all others so long as they, like himself, advocated vital religion and preached conversion. On one occasion, preaching from the balcony of the courthouse in Philadelphia, Whitefield cried out: "'Father Abraham, whom have you in Heaven? Any Episcopalians?' 'No.' 'Any Presbyterians?' 'No.' 'Have you any Independents or Seceders?' 'No.' 'Have you any Methodists?' 'No, no, no!!' 'Whom have you there?' 'We don't know those names here. All who are here are Christians-believers in Christ--men who have overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of his testimony.' 'Oh, is this the case? Then God help us, God help us all, to forget party names, and to become Christians in deed and in truth.''' On this first tour Whitefield spent several days in Philadelphia and then passed through central New Jersey toward New York. He met the aged elder Tennent in Philadelphia; at New Brunswick he preached in Gilbert Tennent's meetinghouse, and from thence to New York Gilbert Tennent accompanied him. In New York he preached in the Presbyterian church, as well as in the fields where great throngs assembled. Journeying back to Philadelphia, Whitefield was invited by Jonathan Dickinson to preach at Elizabethtown, and coming again to New Brunswick he met Domine Frelinghuysen and several of the evangelical leaders.

The year 1740-1741 marks the high tide of the revival in the middle colonies. Whitefield's preaching had stirred all classes and all the churches. Even the deistic Franklin became his admirer and lifelong friend, and the revival became exceedingly popular with the common people. But from the beginning the revival had aroused criticism, and unfortunately the revivalists themselves were partly responsible for it in that they tended to become censorious and critical of those who did not agree with them. Gilbert Tennent preached his famous sermon on "Danger of an Unconverted Ministry" in March, 1740, which did not help allay opposition, while others of the evangelical preachers were ready to indict all ministers who did not support the revival movement.



Opposition to the revival among the Presbyterians came to a head at the meeting of the synod in 1741. At this meeting a protest was presented against the action of the evangelical ministers in intruding uninvited into the bounds of other ministers; for their censorious judgments of those who did not walk with them; for violating the act of the synod in regard to the examination of candidates; for preaching the terrors of the law "in such a manner and dialect as has no precedent in the Word of God"; and for claiming that truly gracious persons are able to judge with certainty both of their own state and that of others. These were the grounds on which the New Side party, or the evangelicals, were now excluded by the Old Side, or conservatives, from membership in the synod. The ministers and elders of the New Brunswick Presbytery and others who were in sympathy with them now withdrew. The evangelical, or the New Side party however, did not form a new synod until efforts had been made to undo the action taken in 1741. This was in vain, however, and in September, 1745, the New Side party formed the New York Synod at Elizabethtown, New Jersey.

From 1745 to 1758 the Presbyterians in the colonies were divided into two main bodies. The New Side body embraced a large proportion of the able and fervent men of the church and grew rapidly in numbers and influence. On the other hand, the Philadelphia, or the Old Side, Synod made no progress during the years of separation. At the time of the schism the Old Side numbered twenty-five ministers, while the New Side numbered twenty-two. In 1758 at the time of the reunion the Old Side had decreased and numbered but twenty-two, while the New Side had grown by leaps and bounds and numbered seventy-two. "The New Side churches were active, growing and full of young people," while the heroism of their enthusiastic leaders, such as Rowland, Blair and Brainerd, all of whom burned themselves out while still young men, attracted other young and enthusiastic men to take their places. The members of the conservative group, on the other hand, were old men; while their opposition to the popular revival movement rendered them and their churches unpopular with the young people. These years of separation mark the unmistakable triumph of the revival party within the Presbyterian Church.

Fortunately for American Presbyterianism the schism caused by the Great Revival was soon healed. The first step in the direction of reunion was taken by the New York Synod in 1749. In that year Gilbert Tennent published his Irenicum in which he attempted to allay the bitterness caused by his earlier attacks upon those who opposed the revival. At first the Philadelphia Synod spurned these friendly gestures, but the New Side Synod persisted and refused to allow their own temper to be ruffled, while their reunion committee headed by Gilbert Tennent continued its negotiations. Finally in 1758 an agreement was reached. The question of the examination of candidates as to their learning and religious experience was left to the presbyteries, and nothing was said about synodical examination or college degrees. It was provided that ministers should not intrude into the parishes of other ministers uninvited, while the act of 1741 expelling the New Brunswick Presbytery was declared irregular. The reunited church now entered upon a period of great activity and rapid growth which was to continue up to the outbreak of the American Revolution.

It was during the period of the Great Awakening that two other branches of Presbyterianism found their way into the colonies: these were the Reformed and the Associate Reformed, representing the most conservative Scottish and Irish groups known as the "Covenanters." Naturally, representatives of these groups found their way to America in the great migration from North Ireland in the eighteenth century. At first they united with the larger body, but when the schism between the New and Old Side occurred the Covenanter ministers adhered to the New Side, upon whom they urged the necessity of renewing the Covenants. When this was refused an appeal was sent to the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland and eventually helpers were sent to minister to the scattered Covenanters of Pennsylvania. In 1644 a split had occurred among the Covenanters of Scotland, and the Associate Reformed Presbytery was formed, while this latter group divided (1746-1747) over the question of the lawfulness of the oath exacted of burgesses, into Burghers and Anti-Burghers.


The educational influence of the great revival in the middle colonies was particularly significant. William Tennent's school, called in derision the Log College, was the seed of a whole group of similar institutions, some of which have lived to this day. All of its sixteen or eighteen graduates were men of earnestness and zeal, more than half of whom became preachers of extraordinary power, and several became eminent as educators as well. Many of these Log College graduates established log colleges, or private schools, modeled after that of William Tennent at Neshaminy and out of these classical and theological schools came graduates destined to take a notable place in the leadership of American Presbyterianism. One such school founded on the model of the Log College was that established by Samuel Blair at Fagg's Manor in Chester County, Pennsylvania. The first graduate of this school was Samuel Davies, who was to become the leader of the Presbyterian Church in Virginia and finally president of the College of New Jersey. Other students at the Fagg's Manor school were John Rodgers, of New York, James Finley and Robert Smith, all of whom became leaders of distinction. Another such school was that established at Nottingham, Pennsylvania, by Samuel Finley. From this school came other noted leaders in both church and state, among them Dr. Benjamin Rush, while Finley himself succeeded Davies as president of Princeton. Pequea, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, was another such school, established by Robert Smith, a graduate of the Fagg's Manor school. From the Pequea school came John McMillan, one of the founders of Jefferson College who in turn conducted a Log College in connection with his work in the Redstone country of western Pennsylvania.

Of greater importance than these academies was the establishment by the New York Synod of the College of New Jersey. Tennent's Log College ceased with his death in 1746, and the same year a charter was obtained, largely through the efforts of Jonathan Dickinson, for a new college. The trustees selected Dickinson as the president and in May, 1747, the college opened in Dickinson's house at Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Dickinson's death occurred in the fall of the same year, and the trustees turned to Aaron Burr, the minister at Newark, to take up the work of education. The college was now removed to Newark. In 1755 the college was permanently established at Princeton, and on the death of Burr in 1757 his father-in-law, Jonathan Edwards, succeeded to the presidency. The revival leaders in New England had grown suspicious of the New England colleges, especially after their condemnation of the revival, which accounts for Edwards' willingness to accept the presidency, though he hardly lived to enter upon his office. The College of New Jersey, as Princeton was called in its early years, admirably served the purpose of its founding and poured a stream of zealous young men into the ministry of the Presbyterian Church.

The founding of the University of Pennsylvania came indirectly out of the Great Awakening. During Whitefield's several visits to Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin became his admirer and finally his stanch friend. Franklin states in his biography, "Our friendship was sincere on both sides and lasted to his death." At first the evangelist was permitted to preach in the Established Church in that city, but on his later visits this was denied him, and it became necessary for him to preach in the fields or from the courthouse steps. Finally Whitefield's Philadelphia friends conceived the idea of erecting a building to accommodate the great crowds who wished to hear him. Thus Franklin describes the erection of the building: "Sufficient sums were soon received to procure the ground and erect the building, which was a hundred feet long, and seventy broad. Both house and ground were vested in trustees," of whom Franklin was one, "expressly for the use of any preacher of any religious persuasion, who might desire to say something to the people of Philadelphia." Here Whitefield preached when he visited the city and here his friends, the Tennents, Blair, Rowland and others, occasionally ministered, and here for nine years the Second Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, of which Gilbert Tennent was pastor, worshiped. In 1751, largely through the efforts of Franklin, the building was used for an academy, and two years later it was chartered as the "College, Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia," which finally (1791) grew into the University of Pennsylvania. There now stands, appropriately, in one of the quadrangles of the university a life-size statue of George Whitefield, erected by the Methodist students and graduates of the University of Pennsylvania.

Shortly after the establishment of the Academy in Philadelphia steps were taken to found a college in New York. This was accomplished by royal charter in 1754, after Trinity Church had agreed to convey to the institution a part of the queen's farm which Queen Anne had given to Trinity parish. This was done with the express provision that the president of the college should forever be a member of the Established Church and that the liturgy of the church should always be used at the morning and evening service of the college. There was much opposition to these restrictions on the part of the Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian and Lutheran groups, who would have preferred that the college be established by an Act of the Assembly. The new King's college opened in a building belonging to Trinity Church, with President Samuel Johnson the entire faculty. The first advertisement of the college disclaims any intention of imposing "on the scholars the peculiar Tenets of any particular Sect of Christians; but to inculcate upon their tender Minds, the great Principles of Christianity and Morality, in which true Christians of each Denomination are generally agreed."

Since the beginning, the Reformed Church in the colonies had been completely dependent upon the Classis of Amsterdam, but the elder Frelinghuysen began to realize the necessity of training up young men in America for the ministry and was the first to favor some degree of independence for the American churches. This agitation finally culminated in the formation of an American Coetus, or presbytery (1747), subject, however, to the Classis at Amsterdam. Soon after the establishment of King's College certain Dutch Reformed leaders began to advocate the establishment of a Professorship of Theology for the Dutch Church, in the New York College, but this eventually failed. The Dutch Church was now divided into two parties, the one desiring to remain under the complete control of the Holland Class is, and to continue to depend upon Holland for its ministry; the other stood for an American trained ministry and a degree of independence for the American churches. The latter party was made up of the friends of the Great Revival, who were anxious to establish a college where the young men who had been stirred by the evangelical passion might receive training for the ministry. Eventually the opposers of the revival and of an American trained ministry withdrew from the Coetus and formed a body called the "Conferentie," and thus a schism similar to that in the Presbyterian Church was precipitated in the Dutch Church. The conservatives also insisted upon the use of the Dutch language in the churches while the evangelicals were more and more introducing English, and English preaching became very popular, especially among the young people in New York City. Eventually (1772) the disputes in the Dutch Church came to a happy end through the wisdom and tact of a young minister, John H. Livingston, a native of New York but educated for the ministry at the University of Utrecht, who now was called to a pastorate in New York. He brought with him a plan of union approved by the Classis of Amsterdam, which fully upheld every contention of the Coetus, and led to the establishment of Queen's College at New Brunswick in 1770, of which Livingston eventually became the president. The triumph of the evangelical party and the policies it advocated undoubtedly saved the Dutch Church from final extinction.

Dartmouth College and what is now Brown University grew out 01 the general educational interest created by the Great Awakening, as did also Liberty Hall, later known as Washington College, and Hampden-Sidney College in Virginia. The story of the beginnings of these institutions, however, will be related in another connection.

The coming of the Scotch-Irish settlers into the western valleys of Virginia and the suspension of the intolerant ecclesiastical laws in their favor soon led to the formation of several Presbyterian congregations in these new settlements. Itinerant missionaries and then pastors were sent them by the Synod of Philadelphia, so that by 1738 there came to be four or five congregations west of the Blue Ridge. But the greatest expansion of Presbyterianism into the South was to come from another source, namely, Hanover county in central Virginia. The churches and ministers in the Great Valley were generally opposed to the revival; and Hanover county. became the revival center of southern Presbyterianism. The revival in Hanover county began as a spontaneous movement among a small group of laymen of whom Samuel Morris was the leader. He and several others became interested in some religious books which fell into their hands, such as Whitefield's sermons and some of Luther's writings, and they met together in one another's houses where these books were read. Finally, the meetings attracted such crowds that their houses became too small to accommodate them, and special houses were built, the first such building being called Morris's Reading House.

In 1742-1743 William Robinson, a graduate of the Log College, was sent out by the New Brunswick Presbytery to visit Presbyterian settlements in western Virginia and North Carolina, and on this tour visited Hanover County. Other revival missionaries followed Robinson, and in 1748 Samuel Davies was sent to Hanover County as the first settled Presbyterian minister in the region. Here Davies, perhaps the most brilliant Presbyterian preacher of the colonial period, was so successful that within a few years the work was greatly extended and a presbytery was formed (1755), called the Hanover Presbytery, destined to become the "Mother" Presbytery of the South and Southwest.

Davies succeeded in winning the good will of Governor Gooch by his eloquent support of the cause of the colonies in the French and Indian War and his fame spread far and wide. He obtained concessions from the Virginia government in favor of increasing the number of Presbyterian chapels, winning his cause against the opposition of the attorney general of Virginia. Soon he was itinerating over seven counties, under a license issued by the colonial authorities, while all of his chapels were legally registered. Davies never proceeded on any new enterprise until he had won the legal right to proceed, and thus he gave Presbyterianism a stable legal status in Virginia, such as no other dissenting body had succeeded in gaining.2 The growing unpopularity of the Established Church, due to the Twopenny Acts (1755, 1758) and the Parson's Cause, aided the growth of Presbyterianism and numerous defections from the Establishment of Presbyterianism took place. Once the status of Virginia Presbyterianism was legally defined their churches entered upon a period of rapid growth and expansion. Revivals were of frequent occurrence and by the year 1758, in which the schism between the Old and New Side was healed, Presbyterianism was firmly established in central Virginia, and from then until the outbreak of the Revolution expanded rapidly both southward and westward.

2 For this phase of Samuel Davies' influence in Virginia see George H. Bost, Samuel Davies: Colonial Revivalist and Champion of Religious Toleration (Typed Ph. D. Thesis, University of Chicago, 1942).


Samuel Davies left Virginia in 1759 to accept the presidency of the College of New Jersey. He, with Gilbert Tennent, had previously visited England and Scotland to raise money for the support of the college, and their mission had proved most successful. After three times refusing the presidency on the death of Edwards, Davies finally was persuaded to accept, though his term of office lasted less than two years, he dying of a fever in February, 1761.

The Presbyterian revival in Virginia has more than a religious significance. Indeed, it was the "first mass movement that was to bring about a social and political upheaval in Virginia-the first breach in the ranks of privilege." But this movement received even greater impetus from the next two phases of the revival, in which Baptists and Methodists were to play the principal role.


To understand the Baptist revival and expansion into the South it is necessary first to glance at the influence the Great Awakening in the New England and middle colonies exerted upon them. At first the Baptists took little part in the New England revival, probably because of the fact that they had been so harshly treated by the Congregationalists that they felt little inclination to join them in this movement. But the Baptists reaped great indirect benefit from the revival through the controversies and divisions which soon appeared in many New England Congregational churches. In numerous instances those favoring the revival separated from those who opposed it and formed "Separate" congregations. Many of the Separate congregations became Baptist, though some of them returned to the older congregations, while others because of internal dissensions, were soon disintegrated. Thus the number of Baptist churches in Massachusetts grew from six to thirty; in Connecticut from four to twelve; in Rhode Island from eleven to thirty-six, while Baptist churches were established in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

While the growth of the Baptists in New England during the period of the Great Awakening was proportionately rapid, in the middle colonies there seems to have been but normal growth. This is accounted for by a Baptist historian with the statement that ground once preoccupied by Presbyterians is relatively irresponsive to Baptist effort. Though there were many schisms in Presbyterian churches in the middle colonies as a result of the revival, yet there seems to have been no Baptist church formed as a result.

The rapid increase of Baptists in New England and especially in Rhode Island, from about 1740 onward, and the appearance of a better educated leadership, led naturally to the establishment of educational institutions, first and chief of which was Rhode Island College. The idea of founding an institution to be controlled by Baptists originated with Morgan Edwards of the Philadelphia Association, though he soon obtained the cooperation of a brilliant young graduate of the College of New Jersey, James Manning. The idea once suggested was immediately taken up by the leading Baptists of Rhode Island and in 1764 a liberal charter was obtained. Baptists were to control the institution, but Quakers, Congregationalists and Episcopalians were to share in its government, while no religious tests were ever to be required and places on the faculty were to be open to all denominations of Protestants. The founding of the college of Rhode Island, however, had little to do with the expansion of Baptists southward.

While there were Baptist congregations in Virginia as early as 1714, yet they remained unnoticed and unmolested and had little part in Baptist expansion. Those responsible for the Baptist revival in Virginia and North Carolina came directly from New England and were the products of the great New England awakening. The leaders were Shubal Stearns and his brother-in-law, Daniel Marshall, who were Separate Baptists from Connecticut. Stearns was a convert of the Great Revival and was one of those who withdrew to form a Separate congregation. Becoming a Baptist, he began to preach and was ordained in 1751. Three years later he left New England and settled on Opekon Creek, Virginia, where there was already a Baptist church. Here he was joined by his brother-in-law, Daniel Marshall, who had gone through much the same experience as had Stearns, though he had come from Presbyterian ancestry. At first Stearns and Marshall preached as evangelists in Virginia, but here they met opposition from the Baptists as well as others, and they determined to remove to North Carolina, where they located in Guilford County, on Sandy Creek, in 1755.

Soon after their arrival in North Carolina a church was organized called the Sandy Creek Church and Stearns became the pastor. Soon Stearns, Marshall and other Baptist evangelists were traveling throughout a wide territory and Sandy Creek Church grew from 16 to 606 members. Other churches were formed, preachers were "raised up," among them James Reed, Dutton Lane and, most important of all, Samuell Harriss, a man of influence and education, who had held several offices, among them burgess of the county and colonel of militia Five years after the formation of the Sandy Creek Church (1760) the Sandy Creek Association was organized, which is called the Mother Association, as Sandy Creek Church became the "mother, and grandmother and great-grandmother of forty-two churches."

For the next ten years the progress of the Separate Baptists is almost unparalleled in Baptist history. Whole communities were stirred and strong Baptist churches established. The following is a description of the type of work performed by Harriss and Reed in Virginia:

In one of their visits, they baptized seventy-five at one time, and in the course of one of their journeys, which generally lasted several weeks, they baptized upwards of two hundred. It was not uncommon at one of their great meetings, for many hundreds to camp on the ground, in order to be present the next day .... There were instances of persons travelling more than one hundred miles to one of these meetings; to go forty or fifty was not uncommon.


In these meeting there were many excesses and the preaching of the Baptist evangelists undoubtedly encouraged extravagances. An eyewitness at one of their meetings saw multitudes, some roaring on the ground, some wringing their hands, some in extacies, some praying, some weeping; and others so outrageously cursing and swearing that it was thought they were really possessed of the devil.

Unlike the Presbyterians in Virginia, the Baptists were little inclined to conform to the letter of the law in securing licenses for their meetinghouses. They were also more open and extreme in their attacks upon the Established Church; and these facts, added to the fear aroused that their rapid increase constituted a menace to society, brought down upon them bitter persecution. The years from 1768 to 1770 are known as the Period of the Great Persecution. Baptist ministers were arrested as disturbers of the peace, and more than thirty, to use the phrase of one of their number, "were honored with the dungeon."


As is usually the case, persecution, instead of retarding, served to promote their cause, and when it became generally known that the Baptists held as one of their principles the separation of church and state many leading men came to favor them. The patient manner in which they bore persecution gave them a reputation for piety and goodness and "every month," to quote their chief historian, "new places were found by the preachers whereon to plant the Redeemer's standard." Although but few, perhaps, became Baptists in each place, yet the majority would be favorable. Such was the Baptist situation in Virginia and in the other southern colonies when the Revolution opened. Though still relatively a small body, the Baptists were strong enough to make it important for either side to gain their influence and support, an advantageous position which the Baptists were not slow in perceiving. More and more the religious issue became associated in men's minds with the political issue, and many came to see that Baptist notions were in harmony with the political philosophy of the American Revolutionary leaders, for was not the paying of taxes to support the Established Church taxation without representation?

Just as the Baptists were becoming well established in Virginia and North Carolina a third phase of the revival began under Devereux Jarratt, an evangelical Anglican minister, who was associated with the early Methodist preachers. Jarratt had been converted under Presbyterian influence and was thoroughly imbued with evangelical ideas. He became rector of the parish of Bath in Dinwiddie county in 1763 and his warm evangelical preaching soon filled his church to overflowing. He got very little sympathy or assistance from his fellow clergymen, however, in his attempt to evangelize the Establishment. Speaking of his isolation he says in his autobiography:

At that time I stood alone not knowing of one clergyman in Virginia like minded with myself; yea I was opposed and reproached by the clergy-called an enthusiast, fanatic, visionary, dissenter, Presbyterian, madman, and whatnot;-yet was I so well convinced of the utility and importance of the truths I declared and the doctrines I preached, that no clamor, opposition, or reproach could daunt my spirit, or move me from my purpose and manner of preaching ....



Organized Methodism first appeared in the American colonies in 1766 when Philip Embury began to hold meetings in his house in New York and soon afterward formed a society. Probably two years earlier Robert Strawbridge began to preach in Maryland and likewise formed a society near Sam's Creek where a log meetinghouse was erected. Three years later (1769) Mr. Wesley sent out two of his preachers from England, Mr. Boardman and Mr. Pilmoor, to the American colonies. A little later Robert Williams, a local preacher, arrived, having come of his own accord, though Wesley gave him a permit to work under the direction of the missionaries. Boardman and Pilmoor worked in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, while Williams went to Maryland and Virginia. Jarratt states that Williams was the first Methodist preacher he conversed with, and in 1772-1773 Williams was welcomed in Jarratt's parish, where he preached several sermons. Williams assured Jarratt that the Methodists were true members of the Church of England, and preachers did not assume to administer baptism or the Lord's Supper looked to the parish ministers to perform that service. With this assurance Jarratt welcomed the Methodist itinerants, seeing in them a means of reviving the Established Church in Virginia and the Carolinas.

Because of Jarratt's cooperation with the Methodist lay preachers Methodism grew more rapidly in Virginia than anywhere else in America. In 1775 Thomas Rankin, Wesley's assistant in America, visited Virginia and with Jarratt made a preaching tour of the southern counties and into North Carolina. They preached to great assemblies under the trees as well as in "preaching houses." So great was the demand for preaching that Rankin speaks of preaching almost to the point of exhaustion. Jesse Lee, the first American Methodist historian, was a Virginian and was a witness to many of the revival scenes. He states:

In almost every assembly might be seen signal instances of divine power; more especially in the meeting of the classes . . . Many who had long neglected the means of grace now flocked to hear . . . This outpouring of the Spirit extended itself more or less, through most of the circuits, which takes in a circumference of between four and five hundred miles. . . .

At a Quarterly Conference in May 1776 the power of the Lord came down upon the assembly, and it seemed as though the whole house was filled with the presence of God. A flame kindled and ran from heart to heart. Many were deeply convinced of sin; many mourners were filled with consolation, and many believers were so overwhelmed with love, that they could not doubt but God had enabled them to love him with all their heart ...

Such a work of God as that was, I had never seen, or heard of before. It continued to spread through the south parts of Virginia, and the adjacent parts of North-Carolina all that summer and aurumn.3


Devereux Jarratt's account of the revival is the most complete of all the contemporary descriptions, and was reproduced by Asbury in his Journal. The results of the revival are reflected in the statistics of the Virginia and North Carolina circuits. In 1774 there were but two circuits in the region, with a combined membership of 291; the following year there were 3 circuits with a membership of 935; in 1776 the number of circuits had increased, the Brunswich circuit alone reporting 1,611 members. The following year there were 6 circuits with a combined membership of 4,379. In this year the number of Methodists in America totaled 6,968, which meant that two-thirds of all the Methodists in the colonies were found in the vicinity of Devereux Jarratt's parish, a fact which would seem to indicate that this region was the cradle of American Methodism. Since none of Wesley's lay preachers were ordained, the Methodists in the great area were entirely dependent upon Jarratt for the sacraments. To meet this increasing demand Jarratt traveled continually, visiting in all 29 counties in the two colonies, for the purpose of ministering to the new Methodist converts.

The rise of these three large bodies of dissenters in Virginia in the years just preceding the Revolution helps to explain the part played by Virginia in that struggle. Their presence also explains why the struggle for the separation of church and state was won in Virginia.

The Presbyterians, with their emphasis upon an educated ministry, established educational institutions in Virginia as soon as they became strong enough to support them. Thus in 1776 Hampden-Sidney College was established in Prince Edward County, while west of the Ridge, Liberty Hall Academy was planted the same year. The Baptists, on the other hand, standing as they did for an unpaid and uneducated ministry, were naturally slow in establishing schools. The Methodists were too few before the Revolution to think of schools, though soon after the war steps were taken to establish a college.

3 Jesse Lee, A Short History of the Methodists in the United States of America, etc. (Baltimore, 1810), pp. 55-59.




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WHEN the Spaniard began the colonization of America he came with a strong and sincere desire to spread the Catholic faith and in the midst of his many and various activities he never lost sight of his religious purpose. With hardly an exception priests accompanied every colonizing or conquering expedition and no opportunity was ever lost for establishing Christian worship among the natives of America. At the end of the colonial period the religious establishments in the English colonies could not compare with those of Roman Catholicism in the Spanish colonies. When England began colonization the Spanish colonial empire in America had been in existence more than a hundred years, and through the efforts of Spanish missionaries thousands of natives had been brought to at least a nominal acceptance of Christianity,

Of all this the English were well aware, and one of the frequent arguments used to advance the cause of English colonization was that it would bring the Christian religion to the savages. Thus Sir George Peckham glowingly describes the great benefits which English colonization would bring to the natives of America; of these benefits

First and chiefly [he says, are those] in respect of the most gladsome and happy tidings of the most glorious gospel of our Saviour Jesus Christ, whereby they may be brought from falsehood to trueth, from darkness to light, from the hie way of death to the path of life, from superstitious idolatrie to sincere Christianity, from the devil to Christ, from hell to heaven. And if in respect of all the commodities they can yeelde us (were they many more) that they should receive this onely benefit of Christianity, they were more than fully recompenced. It is undoubtedly true that religion was frequently used as a disguise and a decoy to attract the religious-minded to the support of colonization, and much of what we read about the desire to convert the natives was but pious fraud, but at the same time there was undoubtedly a real missionary interest on the part of many of the leaders in the colonizing enterprise.


The early interest in the Christianization and education of the Indians in the Virginia colony was destroyed by the great Indian massacre of 1622. The New England Puritans seem to have been genuinely concerned about the conversion of the Indians from the beginning. The charter of the Plymouth colony called for "the conversion of such savages as yet remain wandering in desolation and distress to civil society and the Christian religion." Likewise the Massachusetts Bay charter called upon the colonists to win the savages "to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Saviour of mankind," while the seal of the colony was the figure of an Indian with a label at his mouth representing him as saying "Come over and help us." In the Plymouth colony, even during the hard early years, the Indians in the neighborhood were not neglected by the ministers, and in 1636 laws were passed providing for the preaching of the gospel among them.

The work of Indian Christianization in early New England is generally gathered about the name of John Eliot, though the Mayhew family on Martha's Vineyard began their work among the island Indians, off the Massachusetts coast, at about the same time and with much the same degree of success. John Eliot, a graduate of Cambridge, came to Boston in 1631 and the next year became the teacher at the Roxbury Church, where he remained until his death in 1690. From the beginning of his ministry at Roxbury, Eliot began to prepare himself to work among the Indians. Through several years he studied the Indian language, aided by an Indian captured in the Pequot War, who lived with him and accompanied him on his visits to the Indians in the neighborhood.

Finally in 1646 he preached his first sermon in the Indian tongue five miles from Roxbury. These early efforts aroused the general interest of the Massachusetts ministers and a few weeks later, probably incited by what Eliot had already done, the Massachusetts Assembly passed an act ordering the ministers to elect every year two of their number to act as missionaries to the Indians. The work was now carried on with great success, and villages of Christian Indians were erected in the vicinity of Boston, which adopted simple regulations, on Eliot's advice, for their civil and religious regulation. Eventually there came to be a number of such Indian towns, all under the care of Eliot and his helpers. One of the most successful of these Indian towns was Natick. It was located on both sides of the Charles River and consisted of three streets of Indian wigwams and a meetinghouse fifty by twenty-five feet, which was used also for a school. Thus is its founding described by Cotton Mather:

Here it was that in the year 1651 those that had heretofore lived like wild beasts in the wilderness now compacted themselves into a town; and they first applied themselves to the forming of their civil government .... Mr. Eliot on a solemn fast, made a public vow; that seeing these Indians were not prepossessed with any forms of government, he would instruct them into such a form, as we had written in the word of God, that so they might be a people in all things ruled by the Lord. Accordingly he expounded unto them the eighteenth chapter of Exodus; and then they chose rulers of hundreds, of fifties, of tens ....

The little towns of these Indians being pitched upon this foundation, they utterly abandoned that polygamy which had heretofore been common among them; they made severe laws against fornication, drunkenness, and sabbath-breaking, and other immoralities ....

At length was a church-state settled among them; they entered as our churches do, into an holy covenant, wherein they gave themselves, first unto the Lord, and then unto one another, to attend the rules, and helps, and expect the blessing of the everlasting gospel. . . .


England learned of these early successes among the Indians through several pamphlets describing the Indian work. One such tract was that written by Eliot in 1647 entitled "The Day-Breaking if not the Sun Rising of the Gospel with the Indians in New England," while the next year "The Clear Sun-shine of the Gospel Breaking Forth Upon the Indians in New England," by the Rev. Thomas Shepard of Cambridge, appeared. So stirred was Cromwell's Parliament with this cheering in formation that a corporation was created by their act called "The President and Society for the Propagation of the Gospell in New England," which was given power to hold lands, goods and money. Collections were now ordered to be taken throughout England and by 1661 a sum producing £600 a year had been collected. The administrators of this fund were the commissioners of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven. With the assistance provided by this society the work of Christianizing the Indians went forward more rapidly, while the money furnished by the society was used not only for the salaries of missionaries but also for printing books and furnishing tools and clothing for the Indians.

When Charles II came to the throne, the Society for Propagation of the Gospel in New England went out of existence, since all the acts of the Long Parliament were now declared illegal. Fortunately, however, those in charge of the interests of the society were successful in catching the king when he was anxious to please all parties and succeeded in securing a royal charter. The society was now reorganized under this charter, with the name "The Company of Propagacion of the Gospell in New England, and the parts adjacent in America." The incorporators numbered forty-five and included both Anglicans and Nonconformists, among them some of the high officials of state.

One of the outstanding achievements of John Eliot was his translation of the Bible into the tongue of the Massachusetts Indians. Cotton Mather points out some of the difficulties in learning the Indian tongue; the strange harshness of pronunciation, the enormous length of many of the words, and its unlikeness to any of the languages of Europe, all of which rendered the task peculiarly difficult. In 1661 the society published at Cambridge Eliot's translation of the New Testament and two years later the whole Bible was issued from the same press. Other translations followed, including treatises by the Mathers and Baxter as well as the Cambridge Platform.

The very year Eliot began his work among the Indians of Massachusetts a similar work was begun among the Indians on the island of Martha's Vineyard by Thomas Mayhew, the minister on the island. Mayhew's father had been given these islands as a grant, they originally not being included in any of the New England governments. On this and the surrounding islands there was a native population of several thousands, and Mayhew, like Eliot, soon after his settlement as minister on the island began the study of the Indian tongue. In 1646 he began to preach to them, and four years later two of the principal powwows or medicine men professed conversion. This circumstance so amazed the natives that they began to flock to Mayhew by whole families, and soon two congregations of natives had been formed.

In 1657 Thomas Mayhew, Jr., lost his life while on a voyage to England to procure greater assistance for his Indian work. After this tragic loss, the elder Mayhew, though governor of the island and nearly seventy years of age, took up the work of preaching to the Indians. Two natives were now ordained to work with the elder Mayhew while he continued as an evangelist until his death. Shortly before his death one of his grandsons, John Mayhew, became the settled pastor on the island and he likewise took up the work among the Indians. A few years following his early death, his son, Experience Mayhew, continued the Indian work until his death in 1758. Experience Mayhew was considered especially skillful in the Indian language since he had been familiar with it from childhood, and published translations of the Psalms and the Gospel of John, and much of what we know of the Indian work is due to his account of thirty Indian converts.

The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in New England also gave some assistance to the Indian work on the islands. By 1674 there were four Indian congregations on the island of Martha's Vineyard made up of some eighteen hundred Indians. In eastern Massachusetts there were at the same time four congregations with more than two thousand Indians. The praying Indians, however, were mostly from the weaker tribes, located between the powerful and warlike rivals, the Narragansetts and the Mohegans. Eventually these Indian churches disappeared because of the almost complete dying off of these weaker tribes or their intermarriage with the Negroes, which caused the absorption of the Indians into the Negro population of New England.

King Philip's War (1675-1676) was a great blow to the New England Indian missions. Much to the distress of the missionaries a few of the praying Indians went back to their savage kinsmen during this terrible struggle, though most of the converts proved faithful to their Christian profession. When the war ended, work among the Indians was again vigorously carried on, though it was now a crippled enterprise. With the death of Eliot in 1690 the first period of New England Indian missions comes to a close, though there continued to be some interest manifested, even though the whole religious life of New England was at low ebb. It was the Great Awakening which aroused new interest in Indian Christianization, as well as in other humanitarian movements.

This reawakened interest in Indian missions is well illustrated by the work among the Housatonic Indians, a small tribe in western Massachusetts, begun in 1734 by the Rev. John Sargent, a former tutor at Yale. Here Sargent labored with success until his death in 1749. The Indians were gathered into a new settlement called Stockbridge where a plan was devised for the education and training of the Indian children. To help carry forward this plan for an Indian Charity School a subscription was begun in England, headed by the Prince of Wales, but the sum raised was not sufficient to put the plan into operation. A Baptist minister, however, the Rev. Mr. Hollis, established a small charity school in cooperation with Sargent. The work of Sargent resulted in the baptism, of 182 Indians, most of whom were living in houses built in the English style at Stockbridge instead of in bark wigwams, while a school was conducted with fifty or more children in attendance. On the death of Sargent (1749) Jonathan Edwards became the minister at Stockbridge, where we are told he labored "with no remarkable success," though his work was satisfactory to both the English and the Indians as well as to' the commissioners of the New England Society who had the direction of the mission. Edwards was succeeded at Stockbridge by a Mr. West and he in turn by John Sargent, the son of the founder of the mission. Following the Revolution the Stockbridge Indians, as they came to be called, were removed to the Oneida country, where New Stockbridge was built.

Upon the great seal of Dartmouth College are the words Vox Clamantis in Deserto, "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." To explain this motto it is necessary to recount the story of Moor's Indian Charity School conducted at Lebanon, Connecticut, by the Congregational minister, Eleazer Wheelock, who was one of the most active of the revival preachers during the course of the Great Awakening. The first graduate of this school was a Mohegan Indian, Samson Occom. To this school also came several Mohawk youths, among them Thayendanegea, known to history as Joseph Brant. This school also welcomed the sons of the colonists, and thus Samuel Kirkland, the son of the minister at Norwich, Connecticut, became a scholar there, where he was prepared for the College of New Jersey. In November, 1761, Wheelock sent young Brant and Kirkland into the Mohawk Valley to seek other Indian pupils, and in 1767 Samson Occom, who had become a minister after his conversion in the Great Awakening, was sent to England with Nathaniel Whitaker to raise money for the school at Lebanon. Occom caught the popular fancy in England, where he preached over three hundred sermons and raised more than £10,000. Previous to this Wheelock had received allowances from the Commissioners of the New England Society, as well as private gifts from both England and America, while the Scotch Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge also helped his school with appropriations for the support of Indian scholars.

As the school developed Wheelock conceived the plan of making it into a college, the primary purpose of which would be to train young white men for missionary work among the Indians. Accordingly, after having investigated several possible locations, it was finally decided to locate the institution in the province of New Hampshire where Governor Wentworth had made a generous offer of land and endowments. This was thought a proper location because it was near the Indian country, and its selection was recommended by Lord Dartmouth who had been made chairman of the trustees of the funds which had been collected in England and Scotland by Occom and Whitaker. It was George Whitefield who was responsible for Lord Dartmouth's interest in the new college, for it was he who had arranged for Occom and Whitaker to meet and dine with him. The college began at Hanover, New Hampshire, in the autumn of 1770. Wheelock had arrived in August to push forward the building operations, but before they were completed his family and twenty or thirty students arrived. His wife and the "females" of his family were placed in one hut, while his sons and students made booths and beds of hemlock boughs, "and in this situation," he says, "we continued about a month, till the 29th day of October, when I removed with my family to my house." The house for the students, eighty by thirty-two feet and two stories high, was finally completed and Dartmouth College thus was started upon its honorable and useful career.

Perhaps the best known of all the Indian missionaries, in the period following the Great Awakening, is David Brainerd. Brainerd was a convert of the Great Revival and, like many others, soon after his conversion (1739) felt the call to preach and entered Yale College to prepare for the ministry. Here he won distinction for his scholarship and was the leader of his class. His sympathy for the revival, to which the college had become opposed, caused him to make a disparaging remark concerning one of the tutors, which was overheard by several students. This, together with the accusation that he had attended a Separatist meeting, caused his expulsion. This act on the part of the college was strongly opposed by some of the ministers, who were led on this account to become greatly interested in Brainerd. In 1742 he was licensed to preach in the Congregational Church, and the same year was sent as a missionary to the Indians under the auspices of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. His first mission station was about halfway between Stockbridge and Albany, but here the Indians were few in number and he soon persuaded them to join the settlement at Stockbridge where they could be under the instruction of Sargent. After receiving ordination by the New Side Presbytery of New York in 1744, he took up his Indian work in New Jersey, where remarkable success attended his efforts. Since his student days Brainerd had suffered from tuberculosis and the terrible exposure which his work entailed soon brought the disease to a crisis. Several times he made long journeys to the Indians on the Susquehanna, which further drained his strength. Early in the year 1747 his health would no longer permit the continuation of his work and he died at the home of Jonathan Edwards at Northampton, to whose daughter Jerusha he was engaged to be married.

Brainerd's saintly character and his absolute obedience to duty in spite of bodily weakness and pain made a profound impression upon his generation. Soon after his death Jonathan Edwards published an account of his life together with his diary, which proved a tremendous stimulus in promoting the cause of missions. For many this little book was a manual of religious guidance and few books have had a larger religious influence. Indeed, David Brainerd dead was a more potent influence for Indian missions and the missionary cause in general than was David Brainerd alive.

In the years following the Great Awakening the Presbyterians began to take great interest in missions to the Six Nations, and succeeded in securing the cooperation of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge. In 1764 Samuel Kirkland, the former companion of Joseph Brant at Wheelock's school, on his graduation from the College of New Jersey began his work as a missionary, first to the Senecas and later to the Oneidas. Kirkland continued his work with considerable success to the outbreak of the Revolution, and even during the war made frequent visits to the Indian country and when the war was over returned to them. The Presbyterians also worked among the Indians on Long Island where the revivalist, James Davenport, began a remarkable work which was carried on by Simon Horton.

The most successful Protestant missions of the whole colonial period were undoubtedly those conducted by the Moravians. To the Moravian, missionary work was the most important thing in life, and Moravian industries at Nazareth and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, were carried on in order to give support to their missionaries.

The first Moravian missionary in America was Christian Henry Rauch who began work among the New York Indians in 1740. He took up his residence at the Mohegan town of Shekomeko and here he was visited by Count Zinzendorf in 1742 when the first Indians were baptized and admitted into the church. The number of missionaries was now increased and the work progressed rapidly. Settlers in the region, however, stirred up by false reports that the Moravians were allies of the French, finally secured the passage of an act prohibiting the missionaries from giving instructions to the Indians. This caused the withdrawal of the missionaries from Shekomeko and finally the Christian Indians were invited to remove from New York and settle in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Land was purchased about thirty miles distant from Bethlehem and here a town was built called "Gnadenhutten," or Tents of Grace. Here within a few years the Indian congregation grew to about five hundred.

The outbreak of the French and Indian War brought terrible suffering to the Moravian missionaries and their Indian converts. The Indian town of Gnadenhutten was attacked on November 24, 1755, and completely destroyed. Nitschmann was shot, other missionaries were burned to death, and but four out of fifteen remained to tell of the fate of their brethren. The Indians, however, escaped and fled to Bethlehem, and throughout that anxious winter were cared for by the Brethren. Later another town called "Nain" was built about a mile from Bethlehem, while some of the Indian converts were removed beyond the Blue Ridge where a second town was erected, called "Wechquetank." This isolated settlement was later destroyed by the infuriated Scotch-Irish settlers, though not until its Indian inhabitants had been removed to Philadelphia, where they were under the care of the English government.

On the return of peace it was determined to remove the Christian Indians to the Indian country since they could not live in the neighborhood of the whites without being continually molested by them. Accordingly in 1765, after a journey of five weeks, they came to the banks of the Susquehanna where "Friedenshutten" or Tents of Peace, was built, which soon became a prosperous community attracting visitors from many of the Indian tribes, all of whom were given generous hospitality. Under the leadership of David Zeisberger the Indian work now went forward rapidly. Other towns were founded on the Alleghany, but because of persecution of the Christian Indians by the non-Christian members of their tribe they again moved on. Finally in 1770 they accepted an offer of a tract of land in what is now Ohio on the Tuscarawas River, and here a group of villages was founded, the principal one being Schonbrunn. Here prosperity reigned and all was happiness and peace when the American Revolution began.

The Roman Catholics were active in the propagation of their form of Christianity throughout this whole period. The Spanish missionaries conducted missions in Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California; the French in New York, around the Great Lakes and along the rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. These missions were carried on by the several orders, by the Franciscans and Jesuits chiefly. Seventy years after the founding of St. Augustine the Christian Indians in Florida numbered from 25,000 to 30,000, distributed among 44 mission stations. The conquest and Christianization of New Mexico began in 1595 under Don Juan Onate, and after many hardships the Franciscan missionaries carried forward the work at a marvelous rate. In 1609 Santa Fe was founded and by the end of ten years 8,000 baptisms were reported and 60 friars were at work. Eighty years after (1680) the founding of this prosperous mission, however, an Indian uprising swept away, at one blow, all the Spaniards had accomplished and the cause of Catholic Christianity never completely recovered. Father Kino, a Jesuit from the Mexican province of Sonora, established the first mission work in what is now Arizona in 1687, while a Franciscan, Padre Hidalgo, planted the first mission in Texas at San Antonio in 1718. Mission work in California was not begun until 1769 when another Franciscan, Junipero Serra, founded the mission at San Diego; in 1776 the mission at San Francisco was established, and later Padre Serra founded nine other missions on the Pacific coast of what is now the United States.

It is generally agreed that the French exercised a greater influence among the Indians of America than did the English. Their first settlements were primarily based on the fur trade with the Indians, which led to the establishment of trading posts in widely separated regions. They also intermarried more readily with the natives, which gave them some advantages, but at the same time brought them into conflict with other tribes, such as the Iroquois, who served as an effectual check upon French expansion. At the opening of the French and Indian War (1756) the French had established posts down the St. Lawrence, around the Great Lakes, and along the Mississippi and its tributaries. When this vast region became English at the end of the French and Indian War (1763) there was little left of the mission work which had been carried on by the French Jesuits at various places. Successful work had been begun among the Iroquois, first by Father Jogues, and later (1667) by three other Jesuits. In ten years, more than two thousand baptisms had taken place, all among the Iroquois in New York, but by the end of the century this work had practically disappeared, because of the expulsion of the French missionaries. It is interesting to note that the expulsion of the French Jesuits came during the administration of the Catholic Governor Dongan who feared that the French priests were influencing the Iroquois against the English. He was, however, willing that English Jesuits should replace the French.

The Catholic missions about the Great Lakes were more successful than were those among the Iroquois, and their work has lasted until this day. The French Jesuits were intrepid explorers as well as devoted missionaries, and America is in their debt for making known to the world for the first time much of the region which now is included in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. By 1690 missions had been established at Mackinaw, Green Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, besides new missions on the St. Joseph and St. Croix rivers. In 1701 the mission at Detroit was established which twenty years later included three villages of Christian Indians. During the early eighteenth century French missionaries entered the region of the lower Ohio and Mississippi, following the French traders as they pushed southward, and missions were founded at Kaskaskia and even as far southward as the Tennessee.

The work performed by the great Anglican society, "The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts," remains to be noted. The Anglican Church in the American colonies has been judged very largely by the church and ministry of Maryland and Virginia. It is true the Establishment was stronger there than anywhere else in the colonies, but it is hardly just to judge the more than three hundred unselfish S.P.G. missionaries, who labored in the colonies from 1701 to 1785, by the worst class among the clergy to be found in America.

The society met popular approval from the start and received numerous subscriptions. Its incorporators included the noblest names in England, headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, while its first action was characterized by good sense. The instructions issued to applicants for appointment state that before embarking they shall call upon the Archbishop of Canterbury for instructions; on shipboard they shall conduct themselves so as to be examples of piety and virtue to the ship's company; that they shall try to prevail upon the captain to have morning and evening prayer and special services on Sunday; on arrival in the country where they are sent they shall "be circumspect; not board or lodge in public-houses; game not at all; converse not with lewd persons, save to admonish them; be frugal; keep out of debt; not meddle with politics; keep away from quarrels, say the service every day, when practicable, and always with seriousness and decency; avoid high-flown sermons; preach against such vices as they see to prevail; impress the nature and need of the Sacraments; distribute the Society's tracts; and visit their people." Their salary was to be £50 a year besides £10 for outfit.

The first representatives of the society to visit America were the Rev. George Keith and his friend, the Rev. Patrick Gordon, who were sent on a tour of inspection in 1702. Keith had previously been in America, where as a Quaker he had quarreled with that society and had separated from them, and was well endowed with energy and was now an enthusiastic churchman. Gordon died soon after landing, but Keith was joined by the ship's chaplain, John Talbot, who became his companion in his journey through the colonies. The tour lasted two years, and covered the territory from Boston to Charleston. "From this time until the War of Independence the History of the Church in America is to be looked· for in the records of the Venerable Society."

The following is a summary of the work of the society in the American colonies from its origin to the opening of the War for Independence:

It had maintained 310 ordained missionaries, had assisted 202 central stations, and had expended £227,454 or nearly a million and a quarter of dollars. It had stimulated and supported missions to the negroes and the Indians, as well as to the white colonists. Its labors were chiefly in those colonies where the church was not established.


The society's most successful mission to the Indians was that conducted by the Rev. Henry Barclay, who was appointed catechist to the Mohawks at Fort Hunter on his graduation from Yale College in 1734. Three years later he became rector of the church at Albany, but continued also his work among the Indians. In 1741 he reported to the S.P.G. that he had, besides his Albany congregation, five hundred Indians under his pastoral care, settled in two towns about thirty miles from Albany, and that only two or three out of the whole tribe remained unbaptized. When Barclay became the rector of Trinity Church, New York City, he continued his interest in the Indians, while at this period the society employed sixteen missionaries to work among the Indians and negroes in New York.


Considerable attention was given by the society to Negroes and its missionaries received instruction to work for their conversion. In 1741 the society made a special appeal for funds to promote this work and received a considerable sum for that purpose. These efforts met strong opposition at first among the slave owners, but the policy of the society was very definitely in favor of such work. Other societies closely allied to the S.P.G., such as the "Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge," the "Associates of Dr. Bray" and the "Society for Promoting Christian Learning," were likewise interested in Negro work. Negro schools were established by the Associates of Dr. Bray in New York, Newport, Rhode Island, and Williamsburg, Virginia, while the other two societies maintained missionaries for work among the Negroes and sent books and tracts to be distributed to the slaves.

Among the dissenting churches in the American colonies the Quaker was the only one to question the right of church members to hold slaves. But many Quakers, especially in the South, held slaves, though the Yearly Meetings generally manifested an interest in their religious welfare. In the New England Yearly Meeting (1769) slave owners were advised to take the slaves to their places of worship and give them instruction; as did also the Yearly Meetings in Virginia and North Carolina. This, however, was not the universal practice even among Quakers, and some ignored or completely neglected the Negro's religious welfare.

Among the other churches there was no uniformity of practice in regard to their treatment of the slaves. The clergy were frequently slave owners and in some instances slaves were accepted as a form of endowment. Here and there a minister is found who because of his personal opposition to slavery manumitted his slaves, which was true of Freeborn Garrettson. Samuel Davies during his ministry in Virginia gave particular attention to the Negroes and frequently preached to them and admitted them as communicants. Samuel Hopkins, the Congregational minister at Newport, was active in his opposition to slavery and the slave trade and fearlessly denounced both on every possible occasion in this most active center of the American slave trade. During the Baptist revival in Virginia and North Carolina many Negroes were converted and were frequently admitted with their masters to church membership, and there are instances of Negroes speaking in their meetings. As a whole the moral and religious condition among Negroes in America at the end of the colonial period left much to be desired. Writing of conditions toward the close of the Revolution, a contemporary states "One thing is very certain, that the Negroes of that country, a few only excepted, are to this day as great strangers to Christianity, and as much under the influence of Pagan darkness, idolatry and superstition, as they were at their first arrival from Africa."


Throughout the eighteenth century, especially after the Great Awakening, there were many educational and charitable projects begun in the American colonies, and their agents were frequently sent to England or the continent to solicit funds. Samuel Davies and Gilbert Tennent (175-1) collected considerable funds in Scotland, Ireland and England for the College of New Jersey. In London alone they received more than £1,200, while collections were ordered in all the churches in Scotland and Ireland by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and by the Synod of Ireland. When some twelve years later Morgan Edwards (1767) went to England to solicit funds for the College of Rhode Island, he was dismayed by the amount of begging going on, and despaired of raising any large sum. He secured only about £900, though Samson Occom, the Mohegan Indian, and Nathaniel Whitaker, the agents of Eleazer Wheelock's Indian School, who were in England at the same time, were successful in securing ten times that amount.

Michael Schlatter, the German Reformed minister, was active in raising funds on the continent for churches and schools among the destitute Germans of America. His appeal to the Synod of North Holland and to the German churches in the Palatinate (1751-1752) soon brought the sum of £12,000. His appeal was translated into English by the English preacher in Amsterdam who was a member of the Classis and was circulated widely in Scotland and England. So profound was the impression made that eventually £20,000 was raised and an English Society formed to manage this fund, known as the "Society for the Promotion of the Know ledge of God among the Germans." A scheme was then drawn up for the forming of Charity Schools which were to be open to Protestant youth of all denominations. Schlatter became the superintendent of these schools, which soon, however, became extremely unpopular among the Germans. Part of the German opposition was due to their injured pride in being represented as ignorant and "proper subjects to be civilized by a foreign charity." In 1760 there were eight of these schools maintained in several of the Pennsylvania German counties with an attendance of some six hundred students.

Perhaps the most widely known of all the American colonial benevolent enterprises and certainly the most widely advertised was George Whitefield's Orphan House in Georgia. While Charles Wesley was serving as secretary to General Oglethorpe, the governor of the colony, he had drawn up a plan for an orphanage at the request of the trustees. Both Charles and John Wesley had written Whitefield about joining the work in Georgia, and when he offered himself to the trustees he was accepted. In preparing for his first visit to the colony (1738), then but six years old, Whitefield collected from his friends more than £300 to be used for the poor of Georgia, which he used for the purchase of everything which he thought might be needed by the colonists from prayer books and spelling books to clothing, provisions of all kinds of hardware, including gunpowder. This first visit was brief, as it was necessary for him to return to England to obtain priest's orders, but during his stay of four months he had satisfied himself as to the need of an orphanage, and throughout the remainder of his life, it occupied chief place in his thoughts.

Returning to England, Whitefield spent the next nine months in raising funds and making other necessary provisions for the establishment of the Orphan House. The trustees granted him five hundred acres, for its location and support, and by the time he was ready to leave England he had collected about £1,000 besides large sums for English charities. Whitefield named the place where the orphanage was located -ten miles from Savannah-Bethesda, "a house of mercy," and here were begun in March, 1740, several brick buildings, which were completed early the next year. By the time the main building was completed forty-nine children had been collected, only twenty-two of them, however, orphans. So indefatigable was Whitefield in gathering children for his orphanage that he brought them from other colonies and in one voyage brought some from England.

The school maintained at the orphanage was at first vocational rather than classical, but within a few years, probably influenced by the founding of the College of Philadelphia and the College of New Jersey in which he had had a part, Whitefield conceived the idea of changing his Orphan House into a college. This plan, although it met the hearty approval of the governor and council, failed because of the insistence of the Archbishop of Canterbury that its charter require that the head of the college be a member of the Established Church and that the liturgy of the church be used in its services. Whitefield insisted that "it should be on a broad bottom and no other." The archbishop and the Earl of Dartmouth, President of the Privy Council, held to their position and the plan was ultimately frustrated.

Whitefield objected to the policy of the trustees in-prohibiting the use of slaves in the colony for the first fifteen years, and asserted that "Georgia never can or will be a flourishing province without negroes are allowed." He purchased a plantation and slaves in South Carolina in an attempt to reduce the costs of maintaining the orphanage and justified himself on the ground that the enslavement of Negroes made possible their conversion. Later when slavery was permitted in Georgia (1750), the South Carolina property was sold and a plantation near Bethesda was purchased for a similar purpose.

During the thirty years from 1740 to the death of the founder in 1770, there was a total expenditure of £15,000 for the maintenance of the orphanage, a large part of which had been raised by Whitefield-£3,300 had been contributed at various times by Whitefield from his own funds, to meet the debts. The classic example of the great evangelist's success as a money raiser is that related by Benjamin Franklin in his Autobiography:

I did not disapprove of the design, [of the orphanage] but as Georgia was then destitute of materials and workmen and it was proposed to send them from Philadelphia at a great expense, I thought it would have been better to have built the house here and brought the children to it. This I advis'd; but he was resolute in his first project, rejected my counsel and I therefore refus'd to contribute. I happened soon after to attend one of his sermons in the course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved he should get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeed I began to soften and concluded to give the coppers. Another stroke of his oratory made me asham'd of that and determiri'd me to give the silver; and he finish'd so admirably that I empty'd my pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all.


One of the immediate by-products of the great colonial awakenings was the rise of a new social consciousness and a broad humanitarianism, which manifested itself in a greater concern for the poor and the alleviation of distress and suffering. The central emphasis in the revivalistic theology of Samuel Hopkins was disinterested benevolence, or complete unselfishness in the interest of others. The theology gained a great vogue throughout New England Congregationalism. A part of Samuel Hopkins' theological system was a general atonement--that is, that Christ died for all, negroes, Indians and the underprivileged, as well for the privileged few. Samuel Hopkins may well be called the father of the antislavery movement in America. There was also a new attitude toward children manifest in the advertisements of toys for children in the almanacs throughout the colonies and the increasing number of portraits of children found in the homes of the people.



+ + +



THE political historian has failed to take adequate account of the influences which came both directly and indirectly from the Great Awakenings. For the first time the American people found, in the revival, a common intellectual and emotional interest; for the first time intercolonial leaders emerged, which broke over political as well as sectarian lines; "Whitefield, Edwards and Tennent preceded Franklin and Washington as rallying names for Americans irrespective of local distinctions." The leaders in the revival were the advocates of cooperation and union; the whole movement was the foe of denominational and racial prejudice. It was the direct and indirect cause of the movement of people from one colony to another which helped create a common American spirit. One of the ties binding the colonies to the mother country was the Anglican Church; the revival weakened that tie by winning over to the evangelical churches a considerable share of its nominal membership, while the Calvinistic churches-Congregational and Presbyterian-were drawn together in a combination against the Anglican body. In these respects the Great Awakening may be considered one of the important contributing factors in preparing the way for the Revolution.

The most recent attempt to enumerate the religious organizations in the American colonies at the close of the colonial period gives the total at 3,105, with about 1,000 each for New England, the middle colonies and the South. Of this total the Congregationalists had 658, most of which were in New England. Ranking next came the Presbyterians with 543, located largely in the middle colonies; then came the Baptists with 498, the Anglicans with 480, Quakers, 295, German and Dutch Reformed, 251, Lutherans, 151, Catholics, 50, and the Methodists with 37 circuits, mainly in Maryland and Virginia. In 9 of the colonies there were established churches. In Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire it was the Congregational that was supported by taxation and established by law, though since the beginning of the century other churches had been tolerated. In 6 of the colonies the established church was the Anglican, which included all the colonies south from Pennsylvania and New York, though in the latter it was only established in New York City and in 3 counties surrounding. In none of these colonies was the English Church in the majority, and in none of them did it include even half of the population, with the possible exception of Virginia.

A recent writer on the period of the American Revolution has stated that "the religious temper of America was one of the prime causes of the Revolution," which is borne out by the statement made by Edmund Burke before Parliament in his famous speech on "Conciliation." In America, he said, religious beliefs and practices were in advance of those of all other Protestants in the world. In America the people were accustomed to free and subtle debate on all religious questions, and there was among them little regard for priests, councils or creeds. Their church organizations were simple and democratic, as were those of the Congregationalists and Baptists, or republican as the Presbyterians, and they were accustomed to elect and dismiss their own religious leaders. In short, in America at the end of the colonial era there was a larger degree of religious liberty than was to be found among most of the people of the world, and possession of religious liberty naturally leads to a demand for political liberty.


One of the questions which came up for frequent discussion in the colonies in the two decades previous to the opening of the Revolution was that concerning the establishment in America of an Anglican bishop. John Adams states that this agitation contributed "as much as any other cause, to arouse the attention, not only of the inquiring mind, but of the common people, and urge them to close thinking on the constitutional authority of parliament over the colonies." In his discussion of this whole question, Professor Cross, in his Anglican Episcopate and the American Colonies, concludes that if the agitation of this question "did not contribute a lion's share in causing" American hostility to England, it was at least strongly involved and must "be regarded as an important part of it."

The Established Church in the colonies was undoubtedly greatly handicapped because of its complete dependence upon the Bishop of London and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The earnest missionaries of the S.P.G. were particularly concerned for an American bishop and at intervals throughout the first three-quarters of the eighteenth century were largely responsible for agitating this question. During Queen Anne's reign, in the early years of the century, the project came near succeeding, but George I and Robert Walpole were not interested in the project, though Thomas Seeker, Bishop of Oxford, and Sherlock, Bishop of London, later revived the issue in the middle of the century.

Beginning in 1763 a bitter attack was begun on the S.P.G. by Jonathan Mayhew, the minister at the West Church, Boston. He declared that the purpose of the S.P.G. was to "root out Presbyterianism," and he warned his countrymen that: "People have no security against being unmercifully priest-ridden but by keeping all imperious bishops, and other clergymen who loved to lord it over God's heritage, from getting their feet into the stirrup at all." A newspaper and pamphlet warfare now ensued which involved both sides of the Atlantic. Bishops were denounced as "Apostolical monarchs," or "right reverend and holy monarchs," who, once established in America, would introduce "canon law-a poison, a pollution." So real did this danger seem to the New England Congregationalists and the Presbyterians of the middle colonies that from 1766 to the opening of the Revolution they united in a series of annual conventions, the primary purpose of which was "to prevent the establishment of an Episcopacy in America." The conversion of President Timothy Cutler and Samuel Whittlesey--the whole teaching staff of Yale College--in 1722 to Anglicanism, together with five respected Congregational ministers, and the later conversion of others in Connecticut, including Samuel Seabury, Sr., "shook Congregationalism throughout New England like an earthquake, and filled all its friends with terror and apprehension."

Opposition to the S.P.G. and the establishment of an American episcopate was much stronger in those colonies where the S.P.G. missionaries were the most active. Thus opposition was largely confined to the New England and the middle colonies. But in Virginia and Maryland even among churchmen themselves there was no great desire for an American bishop. The Established Church in Virginia was under colonial control and the Virginia laity did not relish interference from the British government. Even some of the clergymen were fearful that agitation would "infuse jealousies and Fears into the Minds of the Protestant Dissenters," while Arthur Lee regarded the whole idea of an American bishop "as threatening the subversion of both our civil and religious liberties." The question of an American episcopate sharply divided the members of the Established Church in the colonies, and when the Revolution came those who had favored an American bishop went largely into the Loyalist party while those who had opposed it generally identified themselves with the patriots.1

In the autumn of 1776 the rector of Trinity Church, New York City, reported to the secretary of the S.P.G.:

All the Society's Missionaries, without excepting one, in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and, as far as I can learn, in the other New England Colonies, have proved themselves faithful, loyal subjects in these trying times; and have to the utmost of their power, opposed the spirit of disaffection and rebellion which has involved this continent in the greatest calamities.


He further states that the missionaries went about their duties in the midst of the tumult and disorder, preaching the gospel without touching on politics, but everywhere they were threatened and reviled and some of them were seized and confined for several weeks. After the Declaration of Independence the difficulties of the loyal clergy were increased and in many places they were compelled to close their churches. The Rev. Samuel Seabury, Jr., the Anglican minister at Westchester (New York) and later to become the first American bishop, whose father had been one of the Congregational ministers in Connecticut to enter the Established Church. was suspected of unpatriotic acts and of the authorship of the Westchester Farmer, was seized by a party of armed men and taken to New Haven where he was committed to prison. Later he was released, but after the battle of Long Island, Seabury fled to the British lines where he became a chaplain in the British army.

1 Richard J. Hooker, The Anglican Church and the American Revolution (Typed Ph. D. Thesis. University of Chicago. 1942) is a most competent treatment of the later phases of the Episcopal controversy.


Other prominent loyalist ministers in the Established Church were President Myles Cooper of King's College and Jonathan Boucher of Virginia. The Rev. Jacob Duche, the rector at Christ Church, Philadelphia, at first identified himself with the American cause, as also did Jonathan Boucher, and preached some notable sermons in its defense, but after the Declaration of Independence he left America because of his loyalty to the crown. He was succeeded by the Rev. William White, the assistant rector, who took the oath of allegiance to the United States, became a chaplain of Congress, and later was to take the leading part in organizing the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. Bishop Perry states that two-thirds of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were members of the Established Church and that six of them were either sons or grandsons of Anglican clergymen, while such leaders as ,George Washington, James Madison, John Marshall, Patrick Henry and Alexander Hamilton were counted among its members. It is incorrect to identify the Established Church in the American Revolution solely with either one side or the other, for it was much divided; in New England both clergy and laity were largely loyalist; in the southern colonies, especially Virginia and Maryland, it was strongly American, while in the middle colonies it was about equally divided. With these facts in mind it will not be surprising to learn that at the end of the War for Independence no American church was in so deplorable a condition as was the Anglican.


No church in the American colonies had so large an influence in the War for Independence as had the Congregational. Its ministry had been most influential in public affairs from the beginning, and although the political influence of the New England ministers in the eighteenth century was not so great as in the century previous, yet their opinions on all public matters were still of great weight. As a whole the New England clergy at the time of the Revolution were American trained and were graduates of Harvard or Yale. As early as 1633 in Massachusetts and 1674 in Connecticut the practice of preaching election sermons arose. These were delivered before the governor and assembly year by year. Frequently these sermons were printed at government expense and distributed among the towns, and the themes there discussed were rediscussed in the pulpits throughout New England. The first adequate study of these election sermons in their bearing upon the American Revolution has been made by Miss Alice M. Baldwin in a volume entitled The New England Clergy and the American Revolution. In these sermons she discovers the whole political philosophy of the American Revolution set forth many years before the opening of the war. They preached the doctrines of civil liberty as taught by Sidney, Locke and Milton. Civil government, they claimed, was of divine origin; rulers were God's delegates and derived their power from Him, not directly but through the people. They emphasized fundamental law and its binding quality. God and Christ, they claimed, always governed by fixed rules, by a divine constitution. There are certain great rights given us by nature and nature's God and no ruler may violate these rights, and rulers as well as people are strictly limited by law. Thus the Congregational ministers "gave to the cause of the colonies all that they could give of the sanction of religion."

At each crisis in the ten years from 1765, the passage of the Stamp Act, to 1775, the beginning of the war, the New England pulpits "thundered" and dwelt more and more on the right of resistance. When the news came in 1766 that the hated Stamp Act was repealed Charles Chauncy at First Church, Boston, preached from the text, "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." The ministers piously magnified the Boston Massacre and John Lathrop preached in Boston on the subject "Innocent Blood Crying to God from the Streets of Boston," while in the same year the Rev. Samuel Cooke in a sermon before Governor Hutchinson and the Massachusetts House of Representatives preached from the text, "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God," etc. The New England ministers, to quote Miss Baldwin, "With a vocabulary enriched by the Bible ... made resistance and at last independence and war a holy cause," and through their influence, perhaps more than any other, New England, and the Congregationalists particularly, gave to the Revolution overwhelming support.

When actual fighting began many New England ministers became fighting parsons." Ministers exerted their influence to raise volunteers sometimes marched away with them, as did Joseph Willard of Beverly, where two companies were raised largely through his influence. At Windsor, Vermont, David Avery, on hearing the news of Lexington, preached a farewell sermon, then called the people to arms and marched away with twenty men, recruiting others as they went. Many New England ministers became officers of troops raised among their parishioners. The fiery and sharp-tongued John Cleaveland of Ipswich "is said to have preached his whole parish into the army and then to have gone himself." Besides acting as recruiting agents, chaplains, officers and fighters, the New England ministers supported the war with their pens, and gave of their meager salaries to support the cause.


As noted earlier, the Presbyterians in the colonies at the opening of the Revolution were largely Scotch-Irish and represented the most recent immigration, that from North Ireland, and were still burning with hostility to England for the wrongs which had caused their migration. Scotch-Irish settlements everywhere throughout the colonies were strong supporters of the cause of liberty. The famous Mecklenburg Resolves of May 31, 1775, came from the Scotch-Irish of western North Carolina, while the battle of King's Mountain was won on October 7, 1780, by bands of Scotch-Irish frontiersmen. Joseph Galloway, a leading loyalist of Pennsylvania, stated before a committee of Parliament in 1779 that about one-half of the American army was made up of Irish, while five years before he had stated that the chief opponents of the British government were "Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Smugglers." A report (1776) to the S.P.G. by the rector of Trinity Church, New York, already referred to, states:

I have it from good authority that the Presbyterian ministers, at a Synod where most of them in the middle colonies were collected, passed a resolve to support the Continental Congress in all their measures. This and this only, can account for the uniformity of their conduct; for I do not know one of them, nor have I been able, after strict inquiry, to hear of any, who did not, by preaching and every effort in their power, promote all the measures of the Congress, however extravagant.


The Presbyterian leader of greatest influence during the Revolution was John Witherspoon, who in 1768 came from Scotland to accept the presidency of the College of New Jersey. Without delay he entered into the spirit of the new country, and soon won recognition as an educational and religious leader. In 1776 he was chosen a member of the New Jersey provincial congress to frame a constitution, and from then until the close of the Revolution, Witherspoon "was busy applying the Presbyterian theories of republicanism to the constitution of the new civil governments." He was chosen one of five delegates to represent New Jersey in the Continental Congress and was the only minister to sign the Declaration of Independence. He also signed the Articles of Confederation, and was particularly active and effective in his work on the finance committee of the Congress, in which he was associated with Robert and Gouverneur Morris, Elbridge Gerry and Richard Henry Lee.

A Tory Anglican minister, Jonathan Odell, who fled from his parish at Burlington, New Jersey, to the British lines in 1777, where he wrote numerous characterizations of leading patriot Americans, thus pays his respects to Witherspoon:


Known in the pulpit by sedicious toils,

Grown into consequence by civil broils,

Three times he tried, and miserably failed,

To overset the laws--the fourth prevailed.

Whether as tool he acted, or as guide,

Is yet a doubt--his conscience must decide.

Meanwhile unhappy Jersey mourns her thrall,

Ordained by the vilest of the vile to fall;

To fall by Witherspoon!--O name, the curse

Of sound religion, and disgrace of verse.

Member of Congress, we must hail him next:

"Come out of babylon:" was now his text.

Fierce as the fiercest, foremost of the first,

He'd rail at kings, with venom well-nigh burst,

Not uniformly grand-for some bye-end,

To dirtiest acts of treason he'd decend;

I've known him seek the dungeon dark as night,

Imprisoned Tories to convert, or fright;

Whilst to myself I've hummed, in dismal tune,

I'd rather be a dog than Witherspoon.

Be patient, reader--for the issue trust;

His day will come--remember, Heaven is just.


While John Adams was attending the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in the spring of 1775 he was frequently present at the services of the Third Presbyterian Church of that city, where George Duffield was the minister. In his letters to his wife Adams sometimes speaks of the minister's sermons, whom he describes as "a preacher in this city, whose principles and prayers, and sermons more nearly resemble those of our New England clergy than any that 1 have heard." During the summer of 1776 Duffield joined the patriot army as a chaplain and remained with it throughout the disastrous campaign in which Washington was defeated on Long Island and during his retreat across New Jersey. Returning to his pulpit in the fall, Duffield rebuked his congregation because there were so many men in the house and stated "there would be one less tomorrow, and no lecture on Wednesday evening." Another Presbyterian minister whose name has lived because of his sturdy support of the cause of independence is that of James Caldwell, pastor of the church at Elizabethtown and chaplain of a New Jersey regiment. During a skirmish at Springfield (New Jersey), when wadding for the muskets of the patriots was running low, Caldwell ran to the Presbyterian Church and returned with an armful of Watts' Psalm Books exclaiming "Now, boys, give them Watts!" an incident which Bret Harte thus describes:

…….Think of him as you stand

By the old church today; think of him and that band

Of militant ploughboys. See the smoke and the heat

Of that reckless advance, of that straggling retreat!

…….They were left in the lurch

For the want of more wadding. He ran to the church,

Broke the door, stripped the pews, and dashed out in the road

With his arms full of hymn-books, and threw down his load

At their feet. Then above all the shouting and shots

Rang his voice; "Put Watts into 'em! Boys, give 'ern Watts."


Later both Caldwell and his wife were killed by the British and his church was burned.

At the meeting of the Presbyterian Synod in 1783 the "Pastoral Letter" prepared by a committee of which Witherspoon was a member stated:

We cannot help congratulating you on the general and almost universal attachment of the Presbyterian body to the cause of liberty and the rights of mankind. This has been visible in their conduct, and has been confessed by the complaints and resentment of the common enemy .... Our burnt and wasted churches, and our plundered dwellings, in such places as fell under the power of our adversaries, are but an earnest of what we must have suffered, had they finally prevailed. The Synod, therefore, request you to render thanks to Almighty God, for all his mercies, spiritual and temporal, and in particular manner for establishing the Independence of the United States of America.


The Dutch Church supported the Revolution with almost as great unanimity as did the Presbyterian, although their chief churches were located in that region where the British were most active during the war, in the Hudson valley and in New York. As a result many Dutch congregations were driven from their churches, pastors and flocks were separated and much of their property was destroyed. One of their churches in New York was used by the British as a riding school while another served as a hospital. John H. Livingston in a sermon reopening one of these churches in 1790, that on Nassau Street, said:

I dare not speak of the wanton cruelty of those who destroyed this temple, nor repeat the various indignities which have been perpetrated. It would be easy to mention facts which would chill your blood! A recollection of the groans of dying prisoners, which pierced this ceiling; or the sacrilegious sports and rough feats of horsemanship exhibited within these walls might raise sentiments in your minds, perhaps, not harmonizing with those religious affections, which I wish, at present, to promote, and always to cherish.


The two largest German churches, the German Reformed and the Lutheran, were on the whole decidedly patriotic. There was some pro-British sentiment among the German Reformed body, as represented by one of the ministers in New York City, the Rev. John Michael Kern, who on the close of the war migrated to Nova Scotia. The most prominent loyalist among the Germans was Dr. John Joachim Zubly, of Savannah, Georgia. like several of the Anglican ministers, he at first supported the cause of the colonies and wrote and preached in its behalf. He was one of five representatives sent by Georgia to the Continental Congress and no man in that colony had greater influence. But the idea of separation from the mother country completely cooled his ardor for the cause and he was finally banished from Savannah. On the other hand, there was a large number of stanch patriots among the German Reformed ministers and people. At the opening of the war one of their ministers got into trouble for preaching on the text, "Better is a poor and wise child, than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished," while the Rev. C. D. Weyberg of Philadelphia suffered imprisonment because of his too great activity for the patriot cause. The Reformed minister at Lancaster preached to the Hessian prisoners there, taking for his text, "Ye have sold yourselves for naught; and ye shall be redeemed without money."

Although the Lutheran patriarch, Henry M. Muhlenberg, found it impossible to give outright support to the Revolutionary cause, because of conscientious scruples against violating his oaths of allegiance to George III both as Elector of Hanover and King of England, his sons were active in the cause, and few Lutherans were out-and-out Tories. The elder Muhlenberg at the opening of hostilities moved from Philadelphia to the country, where he maintained a cautious neutrality. To him war was an unspeakable sin and to sing the Te Deum after a military victory was like doing so after a man had committed adultery without being caught.2 Of the sons of the elder Muhlenberg, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg became a brigadier general in the Continental army, and at the close of the war was breveted major general. When the war began he was minister of a German Lutheran church at Woodstock, Virginia. Having accepted a commission as colonel of a Virginia regiment, he preached his farewell sermon to his congregation in January, 1776. In his sermon, after describing the situation in the colonies, he concluded by saying, "In the language of Holy Writ, there is a time for all things. There is a time to preach and a time to fight; and now is the time to fight." After the benediction he stripped from his shoulders his pulpit robe and stood before his congregation in a colonel's uniform, and then with roll of drums stood at the church door and enlisted his frontier parishioners. His brother, Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg, was a minister of Christ Lutheran Church in New York, but fled on the approach of the British. He later became a member of the Continental Congress and of the Pennsylvania Assembly; was a member of the state constitutional convention; president of the convention of Pennsylvania which ratified the Federal Constitution, and from 1789 to 1797 was a member of the lower house of the National Congress and had the distinction of being chosen the first speaker of that house. In New York City one of the Lutheran ministers was a stanch loyalist and when the city was evacuated by the British fled with a large part of his flock to Nova Scotia, while in Georgia there was also some pro-British sentiment among the Lutherans.

2 Theodore C. Tappert, "Henry M. Muhlenberg and the American Revolution," Church History. Vol. XI (1942). pp. 284·301. See also numerous references in the Journals of Henry M. Muhlenberg. Vol. II, 1765·1766 (Philadelphia, 1945).


Isaac Backus, the leader among the New England Baptists in the latter eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, has left us a detailed account of Baptist activities in the Revolution and in the period immediately following, in his History of New England Baptists. He tells us that the Baptists joined the Revolutionary cause because Baptists had suffered most from Episcopalians; because the "worst treatment received by Baptists comes from the same principles and persons that the American war did"; because the Baptists hold to the compact theory of government; because the British claims are unjust. and finally because the deliverance of America might regain for the Baptists their invaded rights. During the whole period of the war the Baptists kept up a continual fight for religious liberty. The Warren Association, made up of Baptist churches in New England, furnished the machinery for the assault while Isaac Backus, President Manning of Rhode Island College, John Gano and Morgan Edwards were the leaders in the movement. On every occasion the grievances of the Baptists were presented: first to the Continental Congress; then to the provincial congress of Massachusetts. But at this period their work was in vain, for as John Adams is reported to have said, "The Baptists might as well expect a change in the solar system as to expect that the Massachusetts authorities would give up their establishment." The Baptists, however, could not be completely ignored, for their support of the patriot cause was too whole-hearted and too valuable to lose. Accordingly in 1779 the Baptist minister at Boston was invited to preach the election sermon of that year, and in other ways the Baptists were given to understand that their support of the patriot cause was at least appreciated by the "Standing Order," even though they were not yet willing to give them all that they demanded.

Likewise in Virginia the Baptists used the principles of the Revolution to advance the cause of religious liberty and the separation of church and state. In Virginia they were an even more important factor, because of their support of the war, than they were in New England. In 1775 a concession was made in allowing them to hold services for their adherents in the army, while the next year the philosophy of religious liberty was incorporated in the organic law of the state.

Unfortunately for the Methodists in America during the Revolution, John Wesley, their great founder, was a stanch Tory and a loyal supporter of the policies of George III and his ministers. At the opening of the war Wesley was inclined to be critical of the government measures in regard to America, but the reading of Samuel Johnson's famous tract, "Taxation no Tyranny," completely converted Wesley to the king's side and from that time forward he was most active in his support of the king. Almost immediately Wesley printed under his own name an abridged edition of Johnson's pamphlet under the title, "A Calm Address to the American Colonies," which the English historian Trevelyan estimates as much more influential in shaping British public opinion than was Johnson's original tract. Later Wesley wrote other pamphlets bearing on the American war, and frequently preached on the question, which brought him the gratitude of the English governmental officials, but also brought down upon the heads of his followers in America the accusation of Toryism and persecution. Wesley advised his American preachers, when the war began, to remain free of all party, "and say not one word against one or the other side."

Soon all of Wesley's English preachers who were in America returned to England, except Francis Asbury, who determined to identify himself with the Americans. Some of the Methodist preachers were noncombatants from principle, as was Jesse Lee, and others refused to take the oath required in some of the states. This was true of Asbury, who on being required to take the oath in Maryland, refused, and on that account was forced to leave the state and seek refuge in Delaware, where the oath was not required of clergymen. Here he was practically in exile for two years, but finally, having become a citizen of Delaware, he was permitted to travel in other states under the protection of his adopted state. In Maryland the Methodists suffered great hardships because of their supposed Toryism. Here "some of the preachers were mulcted and fined, and others imprisoned" for preaching, while others "were bound over in bonds and heavy penalties, and surities not to preach in this or that county." Some were thrown into jail; some were beaten, while others were tarred and feathered. All the native ministers among the Methodists were loyal to the cause of liberty, as were Philip Gatch, Freeborn Garrettson and William Watters. In spite of handicaps, the Methodist revival reached its high point in Virginia at the opening of the Revolution, continued through the war, and by 1780 Methodist membership numbered more than 13,000 in the United States as compared to less than 4,000 in 1775.

The influence of the wealthy Carroll family of Maryland was largely responsible for determining the course of the small body of American Roman Catholics during the Revolution's Catholics, in recent years, have laid claim to a larger share in winning the Revolution than they deserve, as instanced by a recent book by Michael J. O'Brien entitled A Hidden Phase of American History: Ireland's Part in America's Struggle for Liberty, but there is no doubt but that the Catholics of Maryland and Pennsylvania did give practically unanimous support to the cause. Archbishop Carroll, himself an ardent patriot, wrote some years following the war,

They [Catholics] concurred with perhaps greater unanimity than any other body of men in recommending and promoting that government from whose influence America anticipated all the blessings of justice, peace, plenty, good order, and civil and religious liberty. The Catholic regiment, "Congress Own," the Catholic Indians from St. John, Maine, under the chief Ambrose Var, the Catholic Penobscots, under the chief Orono, fought side by side with their Protestant fellow colonists. Catholic officers from Catholic lands-Ireland, France, and Poland-came to offer their services to the cause of liberty.

Among the signers of the Declaration of Independence was Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a Catholic who at the time of signing pledged his fortune to the cause.

The first diplomatic representative sent to the United States was from France, and on July 4, 1779, the French minister plenipotentiary invited the American officials in Philadelphia to attend a Te Deum in the new Catholic Chapel in celebration of the independence of the United States of America. The presence of many French Catholic soldiers in America, with their Catholic chaplains, brought Roman Catholicism for the first time into many localities and introduced to the American people the solemn Catholic service of worship.

The American Revolution brought a radical change in the attitude toward Roman Catholics throughout the country. It probably had little effect in changing attitudes toward Catholicism as a religion, but it wrought a transformation toward Catholics as persons. The American people learned that Catholic people could be good citizens and good Catholics at the same time; and they could be good neighbors and good friends in spite of their Catholicism.4


3 For the part played by Charles Carroll of Carrollton in the American War for Independence see Ellen Hart Smith, Charles Carroll of Carrollton (Cambridge, 1942).

4 See Sr. Mary Augustana (Ray), American Opinion of Roman Catholicism in the Eighteenth Century (New York, 1936), pp. 318·323.


The effect of the Revolution upon the "Conscientious Objectors," located largely in Pennsylvania-the Quakers, the Mennonites and the Moravians particularly-makes a tragic chapter in the history of the War for Independence. Already a large number of Quakers, especially in Philadelphia, had adopted the principles of James Logan, the Penn family agent, who considered a defensive war Christian and justifiable. Many wealthy Quaker merchants in Philadelphia supported the preliminary non-importation measures, for such methods of passive resistance suited their principles. Two Quaker firms were the consignees of the tea sent to Philadelphia in 1773, both of whom agreed to the citizens's decree that the tea should not be landed. The Friends were not only opposed to war, but were also against revolution, the latter position based probably on the advice of George Fox that, "Whatsoever bustlings or troubles or tumults or outrages should rise in the world keep out of them." This seemed to put the Friends in opposition not only to the war but also to the new government, set up for the purpose of independence. Their opposition was not active, however, and many of them undoubtedly sympathized with the American cause, but likewise there were doubtless many who were loyalists at heart.

During the early years of the war many were expelled from the Monthly Meetings for paying war taxes, or placing guns for protection on their vessels; for paying fines in lieu of military service or in any way aiding in the war on either side. Thomas Mifflin, who later became a general and governor of Pennsylvania, was one of the first to be disowned. Altogether there were four or five hundred Quakers who came out for the American side, and probably not more than a half dozen who joined the British army. Some of the "disowned" Friends formed a society known as the Free Quakers, which followed the old Quaker customs as to worship and business but encouraged its members in the performance of their military duties. They built a meetinghouse on Arch Street in Philadelphia to which both Washington and Franklin subscribed. Among the original members of this society was Betsy Ross, but eventually their numbers dwindled and worship was discontinued (1836).

When the war came to Philadelphia in 1777 and 1778 the Quakers suffered from both sides. A number of leading Quakers accused of being friendly to the British were arrested on the approach of General Howe and sent to Winchester, Virginia, where they were confined during the winter. Nothing was ever proved against them, however, though some of them may have desired the success of the British. When the Americans reentered the city, extreme revolutionists gained control and the Quaker residents were made to suffer. Rufus M. Jones estimates the property loss to Quakers at not less than £50,000, from fines and distraits and foraging parties. Quaker school teachers were imprisoned for refusal to take a test of allegiance; others were arrested and confined to prison for months without trial; Friends were elected to offices which it was known they would not accept and were then fined for noncompliance. As is always the case in time of war, the position of the conscientious objector was misunderstood, though the courage required to maintain such a position is far greater and finer than that which sweeps men along with the popular current.

The Mennonites scattered through the Pennsylvania German counties held principles similar to that of the Quakers regarding war. Most of them, no doubt, sympathized with the American side, though there were a few out-and-out Tories among them who at the close of the war migrated to Canada. In 1776 the first split among American Mennonites occurred over the question whether Mennonites should pay the war tax. One group led by Christian Funk contended that the tax should be paid, stating that "Were Christ here, He would say, give to Congress that which belongs to Congress and to God that which belongs to God." The opposition party, however, were in the majority and Funk and his followers were expelled and formed their own congregations. As a whole, the Mennonites were treated leniently by the state authorities, since it was known that most of them were at heart patriots, though some of the horses and wagons of the rich Mennonite farmers were pressed into service by the quartermaster during the Pennsylvania campaigns.

Of all the nonresistant groups the Moravians suffered most in the American Revolution, though directly and indirectly they rendered great service to the American cause. Their buildings at Bethlehem were used as a general hospital for the American army during several years of the war while they cheerfully responded to numerous requisitions for supplies. It was through their Indian missions, however, that they rendered their greatest service. Zeiberger was responsible for keeping the Delawares from taking up the hatchet in the early years of the war, a service that later won generous recognition. Twice during the war Zeisberger and the other Moravian missionaries were taken to Detroit accused of being American spies, but in both instances he and his associates were successful in establishing their innocence. The war bore particularly hard upon the Moravian Indians. Frequently they persuaded Indian war parties to turn back, and on several occasions warned settlements of projected raids. This they did not do because of a preference for one side or the other in the contest, but because of their humanitarian principles. This, of course, was misunderstood by the British as well as the Americans and they were forced into the British lines, where they spent a dreadful winter, almost without food. Later they were allowed to return to their villages on the Tuscarawas in Ohio.

Here after hospitably receiving a company of American militiamen, who the Indians thought had come to assist them, they were herded into two buildings and butchered in cold blood, only two boys of the whole number escaping to tell the sad tale. Thus were they rewarded for their loyalty to what they had been taught was the teaching and will of Christ.