Today in History, December 27, 1657:
The Flushing Remonstrance.
Director-General of New Netherland Peter Stuyvesent had banned the practice of any religion other than that of the Dutch Reform Church.
Flushing, New Netherland, now Queens, New York, was then a Dutch colony. Stuyvesent diligently enforced his edict, imprisoning or banishing those that dared practice their own religions, including Quakers.
On this date 26 English colonists in Flushing signed a written protest and sent it to the Director-General protesting the mistreatment of the Quakers, though none of the signers were Quaker.
Four of them were arrested and/or banished for their trouble, and the law remained in place. The remonstrance is considered a pre-cursor to our own religious freedoms, and is remarkable for it’s eloquence and because none of the signers stood to personally gain by their acts. Stuyvesent would eventually be ordered by the Dutch home government to end his persecution of other religions.
In part…”Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing.”