SECTIONS: I. America as Refuge - II. 18th Century America
III. American Revolution - IV. Congress of the Confederation - V. State Governments
VI. Federal Government - VII. New Republic
I. America as a Religious Refuge:
Execution of Mennonites
This engraving depicts the execution of David van der Leyen and Levina Ghyselins, described variously as Dutch Anabaptists or Mennonites, by Catholic authorities in Ghent in 1554. Strangled and burned, van der Leyen was finally dispatched with an iron fork. Bracht's Martyr's Mirror is considered by modern Mennonites as second only in importance to the Bible in perpetuating their faith.
Murder of David van der Leyen and Levina
Ghyselins, Ghent, 1554
A Jesuit Disemboweled
John Ogilvie (Ogilby), Societas Jesu, 1615
|The religious persecution that drove settlers from Europe to the British North American colonies sprang from the conviction, held by Protestants and Catholics alike, that uniformity of religion must exist in any given society. This conviction rested on the belief that there was one true religion and that it was the duty of the civil authorities to impose it, forcibly if necessary, in the interest of saving the souls of all citizens. Nonconformists could expect no mercy and might be executed as heretics. The dominance of the concept, denounced by Roger Williams as "inforced uniformity of religion," meant majority religious groups who controlled political power punished dissenters in their midst. In some areas Catholics persecuted Protestants, in others Protestants persecuted Catholics, and in still others Catholics and Protestants persecuted wayward coreligionists. Although England renounced religious persecution in 1689, it persisted on the European continent. Religious persecution, as observers in every century have commented, is often bloody and implacable and is remembered and resented for generations.|
The Expulsion of the Salzburgers
On October 31, 1731, the Catholic ruler of Salzburg, Austria, Archbishop Leopold von Firmian, issued an edict expelling as many as 20,000 Lutherans from his principality. Many propertyless Lutherans, given only eight days to leave their homes, froze to death as they drifted through the winter seeking sanctuary. The wealthier ones who were allowed three months to dispose of their property fared better. Some of these Salzburgers reached London, from whence they sailed to Georgia. Others found new homes in the Netherlands and East Prussia.
Engraving by David Böecklin from Die Freundliche Bewillkommung Leipzig: 1732
Rare Books Division. The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations (7)
A Pair of Salzburgers, Fleeing Their Homes
Engraving from [Christopher Sancke?], Ausführliche Historie derer Emigranten
oder Vertriebenen Lutheraner aus dem Erz-Bistum Salzburg, Leipzig: 1732
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (8)
Persecution of Huguenots by Catholics
Lithograph in A. Challe, Histoire des Guerres du Calvinisme et de la Ligue dans l'Auxerrois,
le Sénonais et les autres contrées qui forment aujourd'hui le département de l'Yonne
Auxerre: Perriquet et Rouille, 1863
General Collections, Library of Congress (2)
Persecution of Catholics by Huguenots
Engraving from Richard Verstegen, Théâtre des Cruautez des Hérétiques de notre temps
Antwerp: Adrien Hubert, 1607
Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C. (3)
Drowning of Protestants
Engraving from Matthew Taylor, England's Bloody Tribunal: Or, Popish Cruelty Displayed . . . .
London: J. Cooke, 1772
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (5)
Persecution of Jesuits in England
from Mathias Tanner, Die Gesellshafft Jesu biss zur vergiessung ihres Blutes
wider den Gotzendienst Unglauben und Laster . . .
Prague: Carlo Ferdinandeischen Universitat Buchdruckeren, 1683
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (6)
Martyrdom of John Rogers
Engraving from John Fox, The Third Volume of the Ecclesiastical History
containing the Acts and Monuments of Martyrs. . . .
London: Company of Stationers, 9th edition, 1684
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (9)
Rogers Portrayed in New England
Woodblock print from The New-England Primer Improved
Boston: A. Ellison, 1773
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (10)
CROSSING THE OCEAN TO KEEP THE FAITH:
Puritans were English Protestants who wished to reform
and purify the Church of England of what they considered
to be unacceptable residues of Roman Catholicism. In the
1620s leaders of the English state and church grew increasingly
unsympathetic to Puritan demands. They insisted that the Puritans
conform to religious practices that they abhorred, removing
their ministers from office and threatening them with "extirpation
from the earth" if they did not fall in line. Zealous Puritan laymen
received savage punishments. For example, in 1630 a man was sentenced
to life imprisonment, had his property confiscated, his nose slit,
an ear cut off, and his forehead branded "S.S." (sower of sedition).
Beginning in 1630 as many as 20,000 Puritans emigrated to America from England to gain the liberty to worship God as they chose. Most settled in New England, but some went as far as the West Indies. Theologically, the Puritans were "non-separating Congregationalists." Unlike the Pilgrims, who came to Massachusetts in 1620, the Puritans believed that the Church of England was a true church, though in need of major reforms. Every New England Congregational church was considered an independent entity, beholden to no hierarchy. The membership was composed, at least initially, of men and women who had undergone a conversion experience and could prove it to other members. Puritan leaders hoped (futilely, as it turned out) that, once their experiment was successful, England would imitate it by instituting a church order modeled after the New England Way.
Richard Mather (1596-1669), minister at Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1636-1669, was a principal spokesman for and defender of the Congregational form of church government in New England. In 1648, he drafted the Cambridge Platform, the definitive description of the Congregational system. Mather's son, Increase (1639-1723), and grandson, Cotton (1663-1728), were leaders of New England Congregationalism in their generations.
Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts (11)
Cottonus Matherus S. theologieae doctor regia societas
Londonensis. . . .
Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress (12)
THE BIBLE COMMONWEALTHS
The Geneva Bible
The Geneva Bible was published in English in Geneva in 1560 by English reformers who fled to the continent to escape persecutions by Queen Mary. Their leader was William Whittingham, who married a sister of John Calvin. The Geneva Bible was used by the Pilgrims and Puritans in New England until it was gradually replaced by the King James Bible. According to one twentieth-century scholar, "between 1560 . . . and 1630 no fewer than about two hundred editions of the Geneva Bible, either as a whole or of the New Testament separately, appeared. It was the Bible of Shakespeare and of John Bunyan and of Cromwell's Army and of the Pilgrim Fathers."
The Bible and Holy Scriptures Conteyned in the
Olde and Newe Testament.
The New England colonies have often been called "Bible Commonwealths"
because they sought the guidance of the scriptures in regulating all aspects
of the lives of their citizens. Scripture was cited as authority for many criminal
statutes. Shown here are the two Bibles used in seventeenth-century
New England and a seventeenth-century law code from Massachusetts
that cites scripture.
The King James Bible
The first edition of the King James Bible, also called the "Authorized Version," was composed by a committee of English scholars between 1607 and 1611. The first copy of the King James Bible known to have been brought into the colonies was carried by John Winthrop to Massachusetts in 1630. Gradually the King James Bible supplanted the Geneva Bible and achieved such a monopoly of the affections of the English-speaking peoples that a scholar in 1936 complained that many "seemed to think that the King James Version is the original Bible which God handed down out of heaven, all done up in English by the Lord himself."
London: Robert Baker, 1611
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (15)
Seventeenth-Century Laws of Massachusetts
Revised and Reprinted [right page] [left page]
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Samuel Green, 1672
Law Library, Rare Book Collection, Library of Congress (16)
The Bay Psalm Book
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Stephen Daye, 1640
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (17)
Eliot's Algonquin Language Bible
Translated into the Indian Language. . . . [left page] [right page]
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson, 1663
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (18)