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The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut by M. Louise Greene, Ph. D.

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from public worship, provided "that they did not gather into
assemblies within the colony or make any disturbance." How long this
law was operative is uncertain, but probably until about 1702. It, is
omitted in the revision of the laws of that year, and Gough, in his
"History of the People called Quakers," says that the persecuting
spirit died away, but was renewed by Connecticut in 1702.[f] We know
some of the causes that probably led to its revival, such as the
extravagances of the Rogerines, the increase of the Baptists, and the
general feeling that the Congregational churches were inherently weak
among themselves before this threatening increase of external
foes. Moreover, in this same year, there began a very definite
propaganda in behalf of an American episcopate. The attempt to revive
persecution against the Quakers was unfortunate. They believed in
liberty of conscience as a natural, inalienable right, and its
practical exercise they meant to have. Their leaders were constant in
their loyal addresses and dignified petitions to the throne. The great
English Toleration Act had befriended them, and the Act of 1693 had,
by substituting affirmation for oath, allowed them to take full
advantage of the toleration measure. Such religious liberty as they
enjoyed in England, they meant to possess in England's colonies; and
when Connecticut, in 1702, again put on the thumb-screws of
persecution, these dissenters at once sent a protest across the seas.
Their great leader, William Penn, was again in favor at court and with
the Queen, who, in Privy Council, October 11, 1705, favorably heard
their petition and promptly annulled the Connecticut law of 1657
against "Heretics, Infidels and Quakers," declaring it void and
repealed. "The repealing of this Act put a final period to the
persecuting of Quakers in New England." [73] To be more exact, it put
an end to persecution, but not to occasional fines or to legalized
taxes which the Quakers still considered unjust. But as Connecticut
had many serious problems on her hands at this time, she thought it
prudent to follow the lead of the Crown, and repealed the law of 1657,
in so far as it applied to the Quakers.

The year that the Quakers scored this victory, the Episcopalians
lodged with the home government a serious complaint of the intolerance
that Connecticut showed towards members of the Church of England. They
complained that--

they have made a law that no Christians who are not of their
community, shall meet to worship God, or have a minister without
lycence from their Assembly; which law even extends to the Church
of England, as well as other professions tolerated in
England. [74]

This was not the first time that such a complaint had been carried to
England. As early as 1665 [g] it had been made, within a year after
Connecticut had satisfied the Commissioners of Charles II, sending
them home convinced that the Church of England services would be
allowed in the colony as soon as there were settlers who desired
them."[h] As there were no Episcopalians in the colony then, nor for
nearly thirty years afterwards, and as Connecticut was in high favor
with the Stuarts, little heed was paid to the complaint at the time,
nor until long years afterwards, when it was coupled with graver

Back of the personal affront to the sovereign in the persecution or
oppression of members of the Church of England, there were graver
causes of offense such as the Crown regarded as mistakes, or even
misdemeanors. For many years Connecticut had been virtually an
independent and sovereign state within her own borders. Her charter
was a most liberal one. She had sought approval for it from the
sovereigns, William and Mary, and, while she had been unable to obtain
for it the crown's expressed approval, she had secured from the best
legal talent a judgment declaring it still valid. She continued to be
practically exempt from external interference with her domestic policy
for a number of years after the Revolution of 1688, yet from that time
on there was always at the English court a party, at first largely
influenced by Sir Edmund Andros and his following, who were either
jealous of Connecticut's charter or envious of her prosperity. They
were always scheming and ready to prejudice the king against his
colony, or to antagonize the Board of Trade.

Within her own borders, Connecticut was peaceful, prosperous, and
contented. For the most part, she was free from the harassing danger
of Indian war. She readily contributed her share for the common
defense of the colonies, and sent her loyal quotas to fight for
England's territorial claims. For many years, Connecticut was shrewd
enough to steer clear of the disastrous inflation of paper currency
which overtook her sister colonies. Many strangers were attracted by
her prosperity, so that, notwithstanding frequent emigrations of her
people, she trebled her population about once in twenty years all
through the first century of her existence.[i] With this increasing
population came, in the latter part of the seventeenth century,
members of the Church of England, who settled in Stratford and in the
towns adjacent to New York.[j] They quickly found that their previous
impressions were erroneous, and that Connecticut would not tolerate
their religious services. Consequently, a report of the religious
condition in Connecticut was made in England, in 1702, at about the
time the Quakers complained of renewed persecution and at a time when
the enemies of the colony were extremely active in charging her with

A report of Connecticut's ecclesiastical constitution and of her
oppression of dissenters was made to the Bishop of London by John
Talbot, who, with George Keith, had traveled through Connecticut on
his way from New York to Boston. These men were missionary priests of
the Church of England. In New London, Governor Saltonstall, then the
minister of that town, knowing that there were a few Church-of-England
men in the place, had met the travelers, "civilly entertained them at
his house," and "invited them to preach in his church." [75] The
Governor might not, the magistrates certainly did not, feel so kindly
disposed toward Talbot a year or so later, when it was found that,
upon his return to New York, he had written home to his superiors in
England, earnestly advocating an American episcopate. True, he urged
that the American bishop should have ecclesiastical powers only, and
that those ecclesiastico-civil in character, such as the probating of
wills, granting of marriage licenses, and the presentation of livings,
should remain in the hands of the colonial governors. But the
Connecticut authorities were not forgetful of Laud's purpose in 1638
to appoint a bishop over New England, and its frustration by the
political unrest at home. They recalled that the revival of such a
project had floated as a rumor about those royal commissioners of 1664
to whom they had given such satisfactory, if evasive,
answers. Moreover, an Order in Council of 1685, of which there is
external evidence, though the order itself is not recorded, had vested
ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the colonies in the Bishop of
London. [76] Connecticut knew also that four years later, in 1689 (the
year that Episcopacy erected King's Chapel, Boston, with its royal
endowment of L100 per year), the first commissary had been dispatched
to Virginia to superintend the churches there. The Crown, as yet, had
deemed it unwise to thrust an episcopate upon its dissenting colonies,
and, except for a short time before Queen Anne's death, it was to take
no interest in the plans for the American episcopate until some forty
years later, when the King thought to discern in it some political
advantage. But early in 1700, when complaints were lodged against
Connecticut, there was a strong party within the English Church itself
who were most anxious to see the episcopal bond between the mother
country and her colonies strengthened. For this purpose, they had sent
to America, in 1695, the Reverend Thomas Bray to report upon the
conditions and churchly sentiment within the colonies. His report was
published under the title, "A Memorial representing the State of
Religion in the Continent of North America." It was an appeal for
episcopal oversight, and resulted in the formation in England, in
1701, of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign
Parts. To this organization belonged all the English bishops with all
their influential following. The Society regularly maintained
missionary churches and missionary priests throughout the colonies.
Candidates for this priesthood were required to submit to a thorough
examination as to their fitness. Before sailing, they were required to
report to the Bishop of London as their Diocesan and to the Archbishop
of Canterbury as their Metropolitan. They were required to send full
semi-annual reports of their work and to include in them any other
information that promised to be of interest or advantage to the
Society. John Talbot and George Keith were two of these missionaries.

Talbot's appeal for the American episcopate was seconded in 1705 by
fourteen clergymen from the middle colonies who convened at
Burlington, N. J., to frame a petition to the English archbishop and
bishops. In it they set forth the necessity in America of a bishop to
ordain and to supply other ecclesiastical needs. The petitioners
added that a bishop was also necessary to counteract "the
inconveniences which the church labors under by the influence which
seditious men's counsels have upon the public administration and the
opposition which they make to the good inclinations of well-affected
persons." [77] In this appeal for a bishop stress was laid upon the
cost and dangers of a trip to England for ordination, [78] and also to
the frequent loss of converts from the independent ministry because of
the lack of ordination privileges in America. These references, and
also that to the "counsel of seditious men," could not be agreeable to
large numbers of dissenting colonists. They would not be viewed with
favor in Connecticut, where, by 1705, Episcopalians had become so
numerous that a wealthy New Yorker, Colonel Heathcote by name, and a
man thoroughly acquainted with his New England neighbor, undertook to
look after the Church-of-England men as unfortunate brethren of a
common faith. He appealed to the English Society for the
Propagating[k] of the Gospel in Foreign Parts to extend its missions
into Connecticut. He asked that Rector Muirson be stationed at Rye,
New York. Colonel Heathcote's idea was:--

to first plant the church securely in Westchester on the border of
Connecticut; and secondly, from that point to act upon
Connecticut, which was wholly Puritan and withal not a little
bigoted and uncharitable.

Naturally, whatever of tolerance the Connecticut people might have
shown two traveling preachers would turn to opposition when they saw
the deliberate and well-organized attempt of this proselyting church,
this old enemy of their forefathers, to invade their colony and
undermine their own Establishment. Consequently, when, in company with
Mr. Muirson, Colonel Heathcote began itinerating through southwestern
Connecticut, ministers and magistrates frequently opposed and
threatened them. The people occasionally welcomed them. They did not
object to hear and to criticise the strangers, and were sometimes
willing to have their good neighbors, if they chanced to be
Church-of-England men, enjoy the ministrations of these passing
visitors. In some places, however, the civil officers went so far as
to go about among the people, even from house to house, to dissuade
them from attending Mr. Muirson's services,[l] and, at Fairfield, the
meeting-house was closed lest it should be "defiled by idolatrous
worship and superstitious ceremonies." [79] The Episcopalians
themselves later acknowledged that, until 1709, they suffered little
persecution beyond "that of the tongue." [m] When they were not
permitted to organize churches, and were forced to pay taxes for the
support of Congregationalism, they complained bitterly to their
friends in England, and such oppression was listed among the many
other misdemeanors, which, at this time, were cited against the former
"dutiful colony of Connecticut."

One of the schemes that Connecticut's enemies sought to carry out,
both for their own advancement, and as a proposed punishment for an
unruly colony, was a consolidation of the New England provinces under
a royal governor. This consolidation was approached when Governor
Fletcher of New York was appointed military chief of Connecticut. His
attempt, in 1693, to enforce his military authority over Connecticut
troops engaged in protecting the northern frontier, resulted in his
failure, and in his angry report to the home authorities of
Connecticut's insubordination and disloyalty. The colony at great
expense sent Major Fitz-John Winthrop to England to answer these
charges. He was successful in proving that Connecticut had not
exceeded her charter rights in her determination to appoint her own
military officers; that, in the wars, she had faithfully contributed
her share to the common defense; and moreover, that it was essential
that she should have the immediate control of her own troops to quell
internal disorder, should it arise, or to repel the sudden approach of
an enemy upon her exposed borders. Major Winthrop also succeeded in
having the colony's military obligations defined as the furnishing to
the common defense of a number of her militia, proportionate to her
population and to be under their own officers, and in war time a
further draft of a hundred and twenty men to be under the direct
control of the governor of New York. Notwithstanding the splendid
success of Winthrop's mission, this same charge of insubordination was
repeated in a long and later list of grievances against the colony.

The consolidation scheme was revived by the appointment of Governor
Bellomont over New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and
as military head of Rhode Island and Connecticut; but the governor
never tried to enforce his authority in Connecticut. In 1701 and 1706,
bills aiming at this proposed consolidation were introduced into
Parliament. That of 1701 failed of consideration from "shortness of
time and multiplicity of issues." In 1704 an attempt was made to
secure the appointment of a royal governor over Connecticut through an
Order in Council, but that body preferred to leave the matter to
Parliament,--hence the bill of 1706 favoring consolidation which
failed of passage in the Lords. It failed largely because of the
energy and eloquence of Sir Henry Ashurst, the Connecticut agent.

Sir Henry also succeeded in getting a copy of the various charges
against the colony, which were thought to justify annulling her
charter, and in obtaining a grant of time to submit them to the
Connecticut General Court for a reply. The colony found that it was
charged with encouraging violations of the Navigation Laws; with
holding in contempt the Courts of Admiralty; with failing to furnish
troops and to place them under officers of the Crown; with executing
capital punishment without any authority in her charter; with
encouraging manufactures, contrary to the known wishes of the Crown;
with irregular and unjust court proceedings; with treating
contumaciously the royal commissioners sent to settle the Mohegan land
controversy; with injustice to the Quakers; with forbidding services
of the Church of England; and with disallowing appeals to
England. These were the more important complaints. In behalf of the
colony, Sir Henry appeared before the Privy Council, and in able
argument showed that many of the charges were without foundation; that
some of the colony's acts which were complained of as unlawful were
well within her charter privileges; and that the decisions of her
courts, far from being illegal, had, in nearly every case, when
brought to the attention of the English government, been approved by
it. Further than this, the Connecticut agent obtained a stay in the
proceedings of the Mohegan case,[n] though it was soon reopened and
seriously menaced the colony until the settlement in her favor in
1743. In the famous Liveen or Hallam case, Connecticut opposed an
appeal to the Crown, because such an appeal would give the Privy
Council the right to interpret the charter and pass upon the colony
laws.[o] Though Sir Henry Ashurst had succeeded in having many of the
charges dropped, the danger had been so great to the colony that he
privately advised the government to conciliate the Crown by protesting
its immediate readiness to fulfill all military obligations, and, as a
further proof of loyalty, to repeal at once the old law of 1657
against heretics which Queen Anne had just annulled (October 11, 1705)
at the request of the Quakers. The General Court, as we have seen,
followed his advice, and repealed the law in so far as it concerned
Quakers. But this was not enough to satisfy other dissenters in the
colony. The Rev. John Talbot had arrived in England in 1706 to plead
in person [80] for an American bishop, and Colonel Heathcote in 1707
wrote [81] with respect to the Episcopalians in Connecticut that it
would be absolutely necessary to procure an order from the Queen
freeing the Church of England people from the established rates, or
they would always be so poor as to be dependent upon the Society for
Propagating the Gospel. He further asked the repeal of the law
whereby the Connecticut magistrates "refuse liberty of conscience to
those of the established (English) church." Colonel Heathcote adds
that it would not be much more than had been granted to the Quakers,
and that it "would be of the greatest service to the Church than can
at first sight be imagined."

So great was the importunity of the Connecticut Episcopalians, that,
in 1708, Governor Saltonstall wrote to England to disarm their
complaints against the colony. It looked as if religious discontent
might become a dangerous thing. Royal disfavor certainly would be. It
might be better to condone the lack of religious uniformity among a
few scattered dissenters, differing among themselves, and to endure
it,--obnoxious as it was,--than to suffer the loss of the Connecticut
charter. Moreover, this tendency to the spread of nonconformity might
be controlled by judicious legislation. Furthermore, it would be
politic to have upon the colony lawbook some relief for dissenters
from its Establishment similar to the English statutes relieving
nonconformists there from adherence to the Church of England. Hence
the Toleration Act, and, of necessity, the proviso in the act of the
following session of the General Court whereby it approved the
Saybrook Platform.

The Toleration Act was of no benefit to Rogerine or Quaker, who by
their principles were forbidden to take the oath of allegiance that it
demanded. It was of little practical advantage to Baptist or
Episcopalian, but it was a move in the right direction. According to
its terms, dissenters, before the county courts, could qualify for
organization into distinct religious bodies by taking the oath of
fidelity to the crown, by denying transubstantiation and by declaring
their sober dissent from Congregationalism. They could have such
liberty, provided that it in no way worked to the detriment of the
church established in the colony,--that is, the law did not exclude
any dissenter "from paying any such (established) minister or town
dues as are or shall hereafter be due from him."

At best, such toleration would provide a rigorous test of a
dissenter's sincerity. He would have nothing of worldly advantage to
gain and much to lose as a "come-outer" from the Establishment.
Social prestige would remain almost entirely within the state
church. It would be to a man's pecuniary advantage to stay within its
fold. Without it, he would be doubly taxed; by the State for the
support of Congregationalism, by his conscience to maintain the church
it approved. If he lapsed in duty toward his own, he would easily
become a marked man among his few co-religionists. If he failed to
attend regularly the church of his choice, the ancient law of the
colony would hale him before the judge for neglect of public worship,
and fine him for the benefit of a form of religion which he viewed
with aversion as unscriptural, if not also anti-Christian. In a new
and thinly settled country where life was hard and money scarce, this
double taxation was of itself almost prohibitive of dissent. And yet
this Toleration Act, notwithstanding its meagre terms, and which,
considered in the light of the twentieth century, implies one of the
worst forms of tyranny, was a measure of undreamed-of and dangerous
liberality if looked at from the point of view of the sixteenth
century, or even from that of many princes of the eighteenth. The very
summer following the passage of this act saw London crowded with
refugees from the religious tyranny of the Palatinate, whose Elector
was determined to force the people, after over a hundred and thirty
years of Protestantism, back to Rome because he was himself a
Romanist, and IMPERII RELIGIO RELIGIO POPULI. The Connecticut
law-makers had a good deal of faith in this same principle, though
they never had resorted, and did not wish to do so, to extreme
penalties to secure religious uniformity. The solidarity of the people
and the geographical position of the colony had contributed largely to
a uniform church life. Far from the usual ports of entry, the early
dissenters had for the most part passed her by. But at the beginning
of the eighteenth century, watching the signs of the times elsewhere,
and aware of the cosmopolitan element creeping into her population,
the Connecticut authorities were ready to admit that soon it might be
necessary to modify somewhat the old dictum that the religion of the
government must be the religion of all its people. England had seen
fit to make such modification, and her test of roughly twenty years
had shown conclusively that religious toleration and civil disorders
were not synonymous, as had formerly been believed. The Connecticut
colony had no particular desire to follow in England's steps. If it
had, after-history would have associated it in men's minds less with
the Puritanical narrowness of New England and more with such tolerance
as was shown in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Rhode Island. Tolerance,
Connecticut thought, might work well under a government like that of
England, but her leaders were not convinced that it would be
altogether wise for their own land. They, therefore, had preferred to
postpone as long as they could the possible evil day. Now that
toleration could no longer be delayed, they had admitted it most
guardedly, and at once had proceeded to strengthen their own church
foundations by the establishment of the Saybrook system of
ecclesiastical government.


[a] "For the ease of such as soberly dissent from the way of worship
and ministrie established by the ancient laws of this government, and
still continuing, that if any such persons shall at the countie court
of the countie they belong to, qualifie themselves according to an act
made in the first year of the late King William and Queen Mary,
granting libertie of worshipping God in a way separate from that which
is by law established, they shall enjoy the same libertie and
privilege in any place in this colonie without let, or hindrance or
molestation whatsoever. Provided always that nothing herein shall be
construed to the prejudice of the rights and privileges of the
churches as by law established or to the _excluding any person from
paying any such minister or town dues as are or shall hereafter be due
from him_." (The italics are mine. M. L. G.)
_Conn. Col. Rec_. v, 50.

Failure to comply with the law was punished by a heavy fine, and in
default thereof, by heavy bail or by imprisonment until the time for

[b] Later in 1707, Mr. Wightman and Mr. John Bulkley,
Congregationalist minister of Colchester, by permission of the
authorities, who were troubled by the rumor that the Baptists and
Seventh-day Baptists were about to begin proselytizing in earnest in
Connecticut, entered into a public debate as to the merits of their
respective religious beliefs. Not much came of it to the
Congregationalists, who had expected to see Mr. Wightman's arguments
annihilated, while the Baptists had a fine opportunity to publish
broadcast their views. Such a discussion was steadily forbidden Browne
and Barrowe in 1590. A century had developed sufficient toleration to
make interesting, as well as permissible, a public discussion of
divergent beliefs.

[c] The report to the Commission of Trade and Foreign Plantations made
in 1680 gave:

"26 Answ. Our people in this colony are some strict Congregational
men, others more large Congregational men, and some moderate
Presbyterians, and take the Congregational men of both sorts, they are
the greatest part of the people in the colony.

"There are 4 or 5 Seven-day men, in our Colony, and about so many

"17 Answ. (1) Great care is taken for the instruction of ye people in
ye X'tian religion, by ministers catechising of them and preaching to
them twice every Sabbath daye and sometimes on lecture dayes; and so
by masters of famalayes instructing and catechising the children and
servants being so required by law. In our corporation there are
twenty-six towns and twenty-one churches. There is in every town in
the colony a settled minister except in two towns newly begun."--This
was equivalent to one minister to 460 persons, or to about 90
families.--_Conn. Col. Rec._ iii, 300. Trumbull's _Hist. of
Conn._ i, 397.

[d] Humphrey Norton in the New Haven colony was whipped severely,
burnt in the hand with the letter "H" for heretic, and banished for
being a Quaker. The next year, for testifying against the treatment of
Norton, William Bond, Mary Dyer, and Mary Whetherstead were
apprehended by the same authorities, and forcibly carried back to
Rhode Island.--H. Rogers, _Mary Dyer_, p. 36. For the Quaker Laws
of both colonies see Note 69.

[e] The notorious William Ledra of later Massachusetts fame was one of

[f] This year a law was passed requiring every person to carefully
apply himself on the Lord's day to the duties of religion. See _New
Haven Hist. Soc. Papers_, ii, 399.

[g] "Articles of Misdemeanor vs. Connecticut, July, 1665. "They deny
to the inhabitants the exercise of the religion of the church of
England; arbitrarily fining those who refuse to come to their
congregational assemblies."

Law Book of Conn, printed 1670. "It is ordered that when the ministry
of the word is established according to the Gospel, throughout this
Colony, every person shall duly resort and attend thereunto
respectively upon the Lord's day, upon public fast days and days of
thanksgiving as are generally kept by appointment of authority; and
any person ... without necessary cause, withdrawing himself from the
public ministry of the word, he shall forfeit for his absence from
every such meeting five shillings."--_Conn. Col. Rec_. iii, 294.

[h] They reported that the colony would "not hinder any from enjoying
the sacraments and using the common prayer book, provided that they
hinder not the maintenance of the public minister."--Hutchinson,
_Hist, of Mass._, p. 412.

Dr. Beardsley suggests that influential citizens may have assured them
that the laws would be modified to accommodate
Episcopalians.--E. E. Beardsley, _Hist. of the Episcopal Church_,
i, p. 116.

[i] Population in 1656, 800; 1665, 9000; 1670-80, 10,000-14,000; 1689,
17,000-20,000; 1730, approximately, 50,000; 1756, 130,000; 1761,
145,000; 1776, 200,000; 1780, 237,946--F. B. Dexter, Estimates of the
Population of the American Colonies, in _American Antiquarian
Society Proceedings_, 2d series, vol. 5.

[j] Up to 1680, there was only one Episcopal clergyman in New England,
Father Jordan, of Portsmouth, N. H. There was an Episcopal clergyman
at the fort in New York, and outside of Virginia and Maryland only two
others in North America. There were a few Episcopal families in
Stratford in 1690.

[k] Or "Propagation,"--as it is most frequently called.

[l] Mr. Muirson's report after his first visit to Stratford was that
he had had "a very numerous congregation both forenoon and afternoon."
He continues, "I baptized about twenty-four persons the same
day.... "The Independents threatened me and all who were instrumental
in bringing me thither, with prison and hard usage. They are very much
incensed to see the Church (Rome's sister, as they ignorantly call
her) is likely to gain ground among 'em, and use all stratagem they
can invent to defeat my enterprise,"--_Church Doc. Conn._, i,
p. 17.

Colonel Heathcote wrote, "The Ministers are very uneasy at our coming
amongst them, and abundance of pains were taken to persuade and
terrify the people from hearing Mr. Muirson, but it availed
nothing;"--not even the threat to jail the rector for holding services
contrary to the colony law which the magistrates had read to him at
his lodgings.--_Church Doc. Conn._, i, p. 20.

[m] "We received no persecution than that of the tongue until
December, 1709."--_Ibid._, i, p. 42.

[n] The Mohegan Indians had sold certain lands to the colony in 1659,
Major John Mason acting as agent. These lands had been conveyed to
English proprietors. John Mason, the major's grandson, representing
his own and other interests, pretended that both his grandfather and
the Indians had been overreached and wronged by the colony in the
transaction; that the colony had taken more land than agreed upon from
the Indians, and had also seized some that belonged by private
purchase to the Mason heirs. For the sake of peace and the credit of
magnanimity, the government offered to the chief, Owaneco, who
represented the Indians, to pay them again for the land, but Mason and
his party resolved to prevent such a settlement. One of them went to
England with a false report of extortion practiced upon the savages,
and a commission was sent out to investigate. Connecticut was willing
to answer the commissioners if they sought facts for a report, but
when they assumed the right to decide the question judicially, the
colony could only protest against their pretensions. The commissioners
adjudged the land in dispute to the Indians and the Mason party, and
charged the colony nearly L600 and costs. The colony appealed to the
Crown and won the case in 1743; but it was again appealed by Mason,
and in this fashion dragged along until after the Revolution, when the
Indians were content to accept the reservation allotted by the State
to them.--C. W. Bowen, _Boundary Disputes_, pp. 25-27.

[o] John Liveen of New London in 1689 left property to the "ministry
of the town." Major Fitz-John Winthrop and his brother-in-law Edward
Palmes were executors. Major Winthrop was absent with the army on the
northern frontier, but made no objection to the probating of the will
at a special court in New London in 1689. This probating Major Palmes,
a former friend of Andros, declared void, since Andros had ruled that
all wills should be probated at Boston. Upon special application of
Mrs. Liveen, in 1690, the county court probated a copy of the will,
since Palmes held the original. To this probating the latter also
objected on the ground that, though the court had been again
legalized, the "ministry" referred to must be that recognized by the
English law and not the Congregational ministry of the town,--the only
one then existing. The colonial courts decided against him, and John
and Nicholas Hallam, the widow's sons by a former marriage, virtually
accepted the terms of the will and the court's decision by being
parties to the sale of a portion of the Liveen estate, the ship
"Liveen." The estate could not be wholly settled; so the town
continued to receive a regular dividend until after the widow's death
in 1698. Then the sons attempted to contest the will. The Court of
Assistants confirmed the proceedings of the lower courts. Not
satisfied with this decision, Nicholas Hallam went to England in
1700-1702, and was allowed to plead his case before the Privy
Council. Sir Henry Ashurst held that the charter gave the right of
final decision, but the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations
thought otherwise, and it looked as if Hallam was to win his case,
when he was ordered to return to America and, because of
technicalities, to retake all the testimony. In 1704, because of his
acknowledged signature in the sale of the "Liveen," the suit was
decided in favor of the colony.--F. M. Caulkins, _Hist. of New
London_, pp. 222-228.



Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear
thy God; for I am the Lord your God.--Leviticus, xxv, 17.

The dissenters found the terms of the Toleration Act too narrow; the
conditions under which they could enjoy their own church life too
onerous. Consequently, they almost immediately began to agitate for a
larger measure of liberty, and persisted in their demands for almost
twenty years before obtaining any decided success.

Foremost among the dissenters pressing for greater liberty, for
exemption from taxes for the benefit of Congregational worship, and
for the same privileges in the support of their own churches as the
members of the Connecticut Establishment enjoyed, were the
Episcopalians. The year following the passage of the Toleration Act
witnessed the first persecution of these people beyond that of tongue
and pen. Fines and imprisonments began in earnest and were continued,
more or less frequently, for many years. Even as late as 1748, the
Episcopalians of Reading were fined for reading the Prayer-book and
for working on public fast-days. Still later, in 1762, there was
occasional oppression, as in the case of the New Milford
Episcopalians. They desired to build a church, but had to wait for the
county court to approve the site chosen. The court was averse to the
building of the church, and accordingly was a long time in complying
with this technicality. Meanwhile, the Episcopalians could not build,
neither would they attend Congregational worship, and the magistrates,
refusing to recognize the services held in private houses, fined them
for absence from public worship. This treatment was abandoned as soon
as it became known that the rector had counseled his people to submit,
as he intended to send a copy of the court's proceedings to England to
be passed upon as to their legality. It was such petty, yet costly,
persecution as this that became frequent after 1709, and from which
the Episcopalians were determined to escape.

These Church-of-England men were increasing in numbers in the colony,
and, at the passage of the Toleration Act, were quite hopeful that the
Rev. John Talbot's mission to England to secure a bishop for America
would prove successful. Although he was not successful in obtaining
the episcopate, his mission received so much encouragement from those
in high places that, upon Talbot's return, a home for the prospective
bishop was purchased, in 1712, in Burlington, New Jersey. It was known
that Queen Anne was much interested in the proposed bishopric, and
letters were exchanged between the leaders of the movement in England
and the prominent Independent clergymen in the colonies, in order to
sound the state of public opinion. A bill for the American expansion
of the Church of England, as a branch to be severed from the
jurisdiction of the Bishop of London and to be planted in the colonies
under a bishop with full ecclesiastical powers, was prepared and was
ready for presentation in Parliament when the Queen's death, August 1,
1714, caused its withdrawal, and felled the hopes of Churchmen. George
I had too many temporal affairs to occupy his mind to burden himself
with the intricate rights, powers, and privileges of a new episcopate,
sought by a few colonials scattered through the American
wilderness;--too many vexatious secular affairs in the colonies, and
too heavy war-clouds darkening his European horizon. The Society for
the Propagation of the Gospel, in 1715, made one futile attempt to
interest the king, and then gave up any hope of the immediate
appointment of an American bishop.

In the Connecticut colony, the Episcopalians had so increased that, in
1718, there was in Stratford a church of one hundred baptized persons,
thirty-six communicants, and a congregation that frequently numbered
between two and three hundred people. They were ministered to by
traveling missionaries of the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel. When these Stratford people appealed to the Society for a
settled minister, they complained that "there is not any government in
America but has our settled Church and minister, but this of
Connecticut." [82] Still all the Society could then do was to send a
missionary priest, and to keep alive in England, among the powerful
Church party there, so keen an interest that it would seize upon the
first opportunity to use its great influence and to compel the English
government to force the Connecticut authorities to comply with the
demands of the colonial Churchmen for the unrestricted enjoyment of
their religion. Such an interest was kept up by the regular, full
reports which the Society required of all its missionaries. And these
reports, be it remembered, were expected to contain news of any kind,
and of everything that happened in the colony of Connecticut, or
elsewhere, that could possibly be turned to advantage in influencing
the home authorities, in pushing the interests of the English
Establishment in America, and in strengthening its membership
there. Although, after the death of Queen Anne, the king's
indifference checked the movement for the American episcopate, its
friends did not abandon it, and a persistent effort for its success
was soon begun. One of its prime movers was the Rev. George Pigott,
missionary to Stratford, Connecticut, in 1722.

Under Mr. Pigott, the Church of England in Connecticut made a most
encouraging and important gain, when, in 1722, Timothy Cutler, Rector
of Yale College, and six of his associates proclaimed their
dissatisfaction with Congregationalism, or, as they termed it, "the
Presbyterianism" of the Connecticut established church. They asserted
that "some of us doubt the validity, and the rest are more fully
persuaded of the invalidity of the Presbyterian ordination in
opposition to the Episcopal."

Three of these men remained in "doubt," and continued within the
Congregational church.[a] Four of them, Rector Timothy Cutler, Tutor
Daniel Brown, Rev. James Wetmore of North Haven, and Rev. Samuel
Johnson of West Haven, went to England to receive Episcopal
ordination.[b] The story of their conversion is to Churchmen an
illustration of the scriptural command, "Cast your bread upon the
waters and it will return to you after many days." The Connecticut
authorities had chosen the Rev. Timothy Cutler because of his
eloquence, and had sent him to Stratford to counteract the early
successes of the Church-of-England missionary priests, who were at
work among the people there. Later, in 1719, Cutler, because of his
abilities, was chosen President, or Rector, of Yale, as, in the early
days, the head of the college was called. The seeds of doubt had
entered his mind during his Stratford pastorate. He and his associates
found many books in the college library that, instead of lessening,
increased their doubts. After presiding for three years over the
greatest institution of learning in the colony, which had for its
object the preparation of men for service in civil office and, even
more in those days, for service in religion, Rector Cutler, together
with his associates, announced their change of faith. The colony was
taken by storm, and there spread throughout its length and breadth,
and throughout New England also, a great fear that Episcopacy had made
a _coup d'etat_ and was shortly to become the established church
of her colonies as well as of England herself. Naturally, among the
colonial Churchmen, it excited the largest hope "of a glorious
revolution among the ecclesiastics of the country, because the most
distinguished gentlemen among them are resolutely bent to promote her
(the Church's) welfare and embrace her baptism and discipline, and if
the leaders fall in there is no doubt to be made of the people." [83]

These hopes were in a degree confirmed by the conversion of one or two
more ministers, and by the Yale men that the classes of 1723, 1724,
1726, 1729, and 1733 gave to Episcopacy. By the impetus of these
conversions, within a generation, "the Episcopal Church under a native
born minister had penetrated every town, had effected lodgment in
every Puritan stronghold, and had drawn into her membership large
numbers of that sober-minded, self-contained, tenacious people who
constitute the membership of New England to-day."[84] After the
conversions of 1722, the movement for the apostolic episcopate in
America became more determined, and never wholly ceased until the
consecration of Samuel Seabury as bishop of Connecticut in 1784.

A decided change took place in Connecticut's policy upon the death of
Governor Saltonstall in 1724, and under his successor in office,
former Lieutenant-Governor Joseph Talcott. The new governor was a
Hartford man, more liberal in his ecclesiastical opinions and opposed
to severe measures against dissenters. Hardly had Governor Talcott
taken office when Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London, wrote him, urging
in behalf of the Episcopalians a remittance of ecclesiastical
taxes. "If I ask anything," wrote the Bishop, "inconsistent with the
laws of the country, I beg pardon; but if not, I hope my request for
favors for the Church of England will not appear unreasonable." The
Bishop accompanied his letter with a paper, a copy of a circular
letter to the different colonial governors, in which, among other
matters relating to his clergy, he professed his readiness to
discipline them if necessary "in order to contribute to the peace and
honor of the government." This proposal was due, in part, to the
scandalous reputation in New England which the southern settled clergy
bore. Because of this reputation, the Society for the Propagation of
the Gospel had from the first made a special point of the morals of
their missionary priests. Indeed, these priests, themselves, had
warned the Society that, if it expected any returns from its missions
in New England, it would have to take great pains to send out a
superior class of men. Governor Talcott replied to Bishop Gibson,
under date of December 1, 1725,[c] "that there is but one Church of
England minister in this colony, [d] and the church with him have the
same protection as the rest of our Churches and are under no
constraint to contribute to the support of any other minister." After
reflecting upon the number and character of the few persons in another
town or two "who claim exemption from rates," Governor Talcott quotes
the colony law for the support of the ministry in every town, and adds
that, upon the death of an incumbent, the townspeople "are quickly
supplied by persons of our own communion, educated in our public
schools of Learning; which through divine blessing afforded us, we
have sufficiency of those who are both learned and exemplary in their
lives." This was a polite way of informing the bishop that Connecticut
preferred to do without his missionaries. It was one thing for the
tolerant governor to grant exemption from Congregational taxes in the
case of an influential church like that of Stratford, and quite
another to extend the same toleration to every scattered handful of
people who might claim to be members of the Church of England, and who
might welcome the coming of her missionary priests.

The Episcopalians, however, were not content to rest their privileges
upon their numerical power in each little town, or upon the personal
favor of the magistrates. They therefore continued their agitation for
exemption from support of Congregationalism and from fines for
neglecting its public worship. Under the lead of the wardens and
vestry of Fairfield, they obtained favor with the General Court in
1727,[e] when an act was passed, "providing how taxes levied upon
members of the Church of England for the support of the Gospel should
be disposed of," and exempting said members from paying any taxes "for
the building of meeting houses for the present established Churches of
this government." The law further declared that if within the parish

there be a Society of y'e Church of England, where there is a
person in orders, according to y'e Canons of y'e Church of
England, settled and abiding among them and performing divine
service so near to any person that hath declared himself of y'e
Church of England, that he can conveniently and doth attend y'e
public worship there, then the collectors, having first
indifferently levied y'e tax, as aforesaid, shall deliver y'e
taxes collected of such persons declaring themselves, and
attending as aforesaid, unto y'e minister of y'e Church of
England, living near unto such persons; which minister shall have
power to receive and recover y'e same, in order to his support in
y'e place assigned to him.

But if such proportion of any taxes be not sufficient in any
Society of y'e Church of England to support y'e incumbent there,
then such Society may levy and collect of them who profess and
attend as aforesaid, greater taxes, at their own discretion, to
y'e support of their ministers.

And the parishoners of y'e Church of England, attending as
aforesaid, are hereby excused from paying any taxes for y'e
building meeting houses for y'e present Established Churches of
this government.[85]

After the passing of this law, the magistrates contented themselves
with occasional unfair treatment of the weaker churches. They
sometimes haggled over the interpretation of the terms "near" and
"conveniently" as found in the law. They objected to the appointment
of one missionary to several stations or towns. They also did not
always enforce upon the Presbyterian collectors strict accuracy in
making out their lists, and when the Episcopalians sought redress for
unreturned taxes or unjust fines, they found their lawsuits blocked in
the courts. The magistrates, also, showed almost exclusive preference
for Congregationalists as bondsmen for strangers settling in the
towns, while the courts continued to frequently refuse or to delay the
approval of sites chosen for the erection of Episcopal churches.

Finally, there was a certain amount of political and social ostracism
directed against Churchmen. A notable attempt to defraud the
Episcopalians of a due share of the school money, derived from the
sale of public lands and from the emission of public bills, was
defeated in 1738 by a spirited protest, setting forth the illegality
of the proceeding, the probable indignation of the King at such
treatment of his good subjects and brethren in the faith, and by
pointing to the fact, as recently shown by a test case in
Massachusetts, that the Connecticut Establishment itself could not
exist without the special consent of the King. [86] The petition was
signed by six hundred and thirty-six male inhabitants of the
colony. They asserted in their protest that they had a share in equity
derived from the charter; that they bore their share of the expenses
of the government; and that the teaching of the Church of England made
just as good citizens as did that of the Presbyterian Church. The
public lands, from the sale of which the school money was derived,
were those along the Housatonic river. The money was appropriated
according to a law enacted in 1732 which distributed it among the
older towns as a reward for good schools. But, in 1738, the
legislature passed a bill by which a majority vote of the town or
parish could divert the money to the support of "the gospel ministry
as by law in the colony established." Naturally this new law operated
against all dissenters, who, equally anxious with the
Congregationalists to have good schools, were an ignored minority
whenever the latter chose to vote the money to the support of their
church. As a result of this spirited protest of the Episcopalians, the
enactment of 1738 was repealed two years later "because of
misunderstanding." Notwithstanding such hardships as the Episcopalians
suffered in Connecticut, their own writers declare that, at this
period of colonial history, the Churchmen in Connecticut had less to
complain of than their co-religionists in New York and in the southern

While the Episcopalians were agitating for a larger liberty than that
granted by the Toleration Act, the other dissenters, Rogerines,
Quakers, and Baptists, were not idle.

The efforts of the Rogerines were marked more by violence than by
success. They had become less fanatic, and persecution had died away
during the first ten years following the passage of the Toleration
Act. All might have gone smoothly had they not suddenly stirred
Governor Saltonstall to renewed dislike, the magistrates to fresh
alarm, and the people to great contempt and indignation. This they
accomplished by a sort of mortuary tribute to their leader, John
Rogers, who died in 1721. This tribute took the form of renewed zeal,
and was marked by a revival of some of their most obnoxious
practices. The Rogerines determined to break up the observance of the
Puritan Sabbath. Immediately, an "Act for the Better Detecting and
more effectual Punishment of Prophaneness and Immorality" was
passed. It was especially directed against the Rogerines. Its most
striking characteristic was that it changed the policy of the
government from the time-honored Anglo-Saxon theory that every man is
innocent until proved guilty, to the doctrine that a man, accused,
must be guilty until proved innocent. In so oft-recurring a charge as
that of being absent from public worship, it became lawful to exact
fines unless the accused could prove before a magistrate that he had
been present. But this first act did not dampen sufficiently the
renewed zeal of the Rogerines, and for two years there was a
continuance of sharp legislation to reduce their disorderliness. They
were fined five shillings for leaving their houses on Sunday unless to
attend the orthodox worship, and twenty shillings for gathering in
meeting-houses without the consent of the ministers. They were given a
month, or less, in the house of correction, and at their own expense
for board, for each offense of unruly or noisy behavior on Sunday near
any meeting-house; for unlawful travel or behavior on that day; and
for refusal to pay fines assessed for breaking any of the colony's
ecclesiastical laws. These laws [87] were enforced one Sunday in 1725
against a company of Rogerines who were going quietly on their way
through Norwich to attend services in Lebanon. The outburst of
religious fervor spent itself in two or three years. Governor Talcott
did not believe in strong repressive measures, and it was soon
conceded that the ignoring of their eccentricities, if kept within
reasonable bounds, was the most efficient way to discourage the
Rogerines. Summarizing the influence of this sect, we find that they
contributed nothing definite to the slow development of religious
toleration in Connecticut. If anything, their fanaticism hindered its
growth, and they gained little for themselves and nothing for the
cause. As the years went on and their little sect were permitted to
indulge their peculiar notions, and the props of the State were not
weakened nor the purity of religion vitally assailed, the Rogerines
contributed their mite towards convincing mankind, and the Connecticut
people in particular, that brethren of different creeds and religious
practices might live together in security and harmony without danger
to the civil peace.

During the seventeen years that Governor Talcott held office, 1724-41,
the life of the colony was marked by its notable expansion through the
settlement of new towns, [f] and by the dexterity with which its
foreign affairs--its relations to England and its boundary disputes
with its neighbors--were conducted. The last dragged on for years,
calling for several expensive commissions and causing much
confusion. The Massachusetts line was determined in 1713; that of
Rhode Island in 1728; and that of New York in 1735. Connecticut, in
all these cases, had to be wary lest the attempts to settle these
disputed claims should weary, antagonize, or anger the King.[88] Many
of the old charges were renewed, and Connecticut was no longer
regarded as a "dutiful" colony, but rather as one altogether too
independent, from whom it might be wise to wrest her charter,
subjecting her to a royal governor. As early as 1715, her colonial
agent had been advised to procure a peaceable surrender of the
charter. To this proposal, Governor Saltonstall had returned a
courteous and dignified refusal. But the danger was always cropping
up. Governor Talcott's English official correspondence is full of
details concerning Connecticut's increasing anxiety concerning the
attitude and the decisions of the home government; over the dangers
consequent to her institutions or to her charter. It was repeatedly
suggested that that charter should be surrendered, modified in favor
of the King's supervision, or annulled. In the Governor's letters, one
follows the intricacies of the boundary disputes, of the complicated
Mohegan case, and sounds the dangers to the colony from the
disposition and decisions of the Crown.[89]

One case in particular demands a passing consideration because of its
far-reaching effects, and because it paralleled in time the
legislation in the colony which broadened the Toleration Act. This was
the famous case of John Winthrop against his brother-in-law, Thomas
Lechmere, to recover real estate left by the elder Winthrop to his son
and daughter. The suit brought up the whole question of land entail in
Connecticut, and, with it, the possibility of an economic and social
revolution in the colony which would have been the death-blow to its
prosperity. Winthrop, by appealing the case to England, brought
Connecticut into still greater disfavor, and risked the loss of the
charter, together with many special privileges in religion and
politics which the colony enjoyed through a liberal interpretation of
that instrument. In the course of the suit, the constitutional
relations of Crown and colony had to be threshed out.

John Winthrop's father died in 1717, when, according to Connecticut,
but not English, law of primogeniture, Winthrop received as eldest son
a double portion of his father's real estate, and his sister, Thomas
Lechmere's wife, the rest. Winthrop's brother-in-law was not a man
wholly to be trusted to deal justly with his wife's property; but
this, in itself, was a very small factor in the suit. Winthrop was at
variance with the Connecticut authorities, and was dissatisfied with
his share both of his father's property and of his uncle's, whose heir
he was. No matter how much his own personal interests might endanger
the colony, Winthrop resolved to have all the property due him as
eldest son and heir under English law. He appealed his case to
England, taking it directly from the local probate court, and ignoring
the Court of Assistants, where he might have obtained some
redress. Moreover, to influence the decision in his favor he included
in his list of grievances many of the old offenses charged against
Connecticut. He did this, even while acknowledging that the colonial
Intestate Act, framed in 1699,[90] was but the embodiment of custom
that had existed from the beginning of the colony. While this case
dragged on, it was again intimated to Connecticut that the surrender
of her charter, or at least the substitution of an explanatory
charter, might be an acceptable price for the royal confirmation of
her Intestate Law. Finally, Winthrop went to England, and was given a
private hearing, at which no representative of the colony was present.
As a result of this hearing, an order in Council was issued February
15, 1728, annulling the Connecticut Intestate Act as contrary to the
laws of England and as exceeding charter rights. Moreover, the
colonial authorities were ordered to measure off the lands, claimed by
Winthrop, and to restore them to him.

Of course, it would take some time to obey the order. Meanwhile, if
this restitution were made, if the decision were submitted to, it
would invalidate so many land titles as to threaten the very existence
of Connecticut's economic structure. The colony sought the best legal
talent obtainable. For seventeen years Connecticut continued this
expensive lawsuit, urging always her willingness to comply in the case
of Winthrop, if only the decision be made a special one and not a
precedent,--if only an order in Council, or an act of Parliament,
would reinstate the Connecticut Intestate Law. Her agents in England
were instructed to demonstrate how well the colonial division of
property had worked, and that under the English division, where all
real estate went to the eldest son, if it were practiced in a new and
heavily wooded country, whose chief wealth was agriculture, the rental
of lands would yield income barely sufficient to pay taxes and repair
fences, and there could be no dowry for the daughters. A still further
result would be, that the younger sons would be driven into
manufacturing or forced to emigrate. In each case the Crown would
suffer, either by the loss of a colonial market for its manufactured
products, or by an impoverished colony, incapable of making
satisfactory returns to the royal treasury. [91] Moreover, in the case
of emigration, when Connecticut, lacking men to plow her fields, could
no longer produce the foodstuffs the surplus of which she sold to the
"trading parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island" to supply the
fisheries, the Crown would feel still another baneful effect from its
attempt to enforce the English law of entail. Again, there was another
aspect from which to view the annulment of the Connecticut Intestate
Law. Its annulment would render worthless many past and present
land-titles. Creditors who had accepted land for debt would
suffer. Titles to lands, held by towns, as well as individuals, would
become subject to litigation; the whole colony would be plunged into
lawsuits, and its economic framework would be rent in pieces. The
Intestate Law was in accordance with custom throughout New
England. When in 1737 a similar statute in Massachusetts was sustained
by the King in Council in the appeal of Phillips _vs._ Savage,
Connecticut, notwithstanding the renewed and repeated suggestions to
give up her charter, took courage to continue the contest.

During these years the question of the constitutional relation of
colony and Crown was frequently raised, and Connecticut was called
upon to show that her laws were not contrary to the laws of
England. She had to prove that they were not contrary to the common
law of England; nor to the statute law, existing at the founding of
the colony; nor to those acts of Parliament that had been expressly
extended to the colony. This was the most commonly held of the three
interpretations of "not contrary to the laws of England." The most
restricted interpretation was that all colonial laws higher than
by-laws, and "which even within that term touched upon matters already
provided for by English common or statute law, were illegal" or
"contrary." Under this interpretation, "the colonies were as towns
upon the royal demesne." Connecticut herself held to a third
construction, maintaining that, as her own charter nowhere stipulated
that her administration should accord with the civil, common, or
statute law of England, she, at least, among the colonies was free to
frame her own laws according to her own needs and desires. Holding to
this opinion, which had never been corrected by the Crown, Connecticut
maintained that "contrary to the laws of England" was limited in its
intent to contrary to those laws expressly designed by Parliament to
extend to the plantations. Moreover, Connecticut insisted that the
colonies were not to be compared to English towns, because, unlike the
towns, they had no representation in Parliament. The Connecticut
Intestate Act was opposed to the English law according to the first
two interpretations, but not according to the third. Further, the
Connecticut authorities felt that if the conditions which had given
rise to the law were fully realized in England, the apparent
insubordination of the colony would disappear in the light of the real
equity of the colonial statute. In Governor Talcott's letter, dated
November 3, 1729, under "The Case of Connecticut Stated," there is a
summary of the reasons why the colony hesitated to appeal directly to
Parliament for a confirmation of the Intestate Act. She was afraid of
exciting still greater disfavor by seeming to ask privileges in
addition to those already conferred upon her in her very liberal
charter. She was afraid of courting inquiry in regard to her
ecclesiastical laws, her laws relating to the collegiate school, and
also sundry civil laws. The colony feared that the result of such an
investigation would be that she would thereafter be rated, not as a
government or province, but as a corporation with a charter permitting
only the enactment of by-laws. Moreover, she dreaded to be ranked with
"rebellious Massachusetts," and thus further expose herself to a
probable loss of her charter.

After contesting the decision against her for many years, at last in
1746 she virtually won her case through a decision given in England in
the suit of Clarke _vs._ Tousey,[92]--a suit which had been
appealed from the colony, and which presented much the same claim as
Winthrop's. The decision in favor of Clarke was equivalent to a
recognition of Connecticut's Intestacy Law. It has been pointed out
that, important as the Winthrop controversy was from the economic
standpoint, it was equally important as fore-shadowing the legislation
of the English government some thirty years later, and as defining the
relation of colony and Crown. Moreover, in 1765, as in 1730, "economic
causes and conditions," writes Professor Andrews in his discussion of
the Connecticut Intestacy Law, "drove the colonists into opposition to
England quite as much as did theories of political independence, or of
so-called self-evident rights of man."

It was during the continuance of this troublesome Winthrop suit, while
boundary lines were still unsettled, while as yet the Mohegan titles
remained in dispute, while the most grievous charge of encouraging
home manufactures, and many other complaints were brought against
Connecticut,--it was in the midst of her perplexities and conflicting
interests that the dissenters within her borders sought greater
religious liberty. They sought it, not only through their own local
efforts, but through the strength of their friends in England, who
brought all their influence to bear upon the home government. With
such help Episcopalians had won exemption in 1727, and within two
years Quakers and Baptists were accorded similar freedom.

Connecticut Quakers, though few in numbers, were very determined to
have their rights. From 1706, the Newport Yearly Meeting had
encouraged the collecting and recording of all cases of "sufferance."
In 1714, at the close of Queen Anne's War (1702-13), the Newport
Yearly Meeting reported to that of London that "there is much
suffering on account of the Indians at the Eastward, yet not one (of
ours) had fallen during the last year, Travelling preachers having
frequently visited those parts without the least harm.... Friends in
several places have suffered deeply on account of not paying
presbyterian priests, and for the Refusing to bear Armes, an Account
of which we Doe herewith Send." In 1715, the English law had granted
them the perpetual privilege of substituting affirmation for oath. The
Quakers were determined to have the same freedom in the colonies as in
England. Accordingly, they watched with interest the test case between
the Quaker constables of Duxbury and Tiverton,--both, then, under the
jurisdiction of Massachusetts,--and the authorities of that
colony. Fines and persecutions were so much alike in Connecticut and
Massachusetts that a dissenter's victory in one colony would go far
towards obtaining exemption in the other. The Quaker constables had
refused to collect the church rate, and for this refusal were thrown
into prison. Thereupon a petition, with many citations from the colony
law books, was sent to England, begging that the prisoners be released
and excused from their fines, and that such unjust laws be annulled.
The Privy Council ordered the prisoners released and their fine
remitted. This decision was rendered in 1724, and, with the success of
the Episcopalians three years later, still further encouraged both
Quakers and Baptists to seek relief from ecclesiastical taxes and
fines. Two years later, in May, 1729, the Quakers appealed to the
Connecticut Court for such exemption, and were released from
contributing to the support of the established ministry and from
paying any tax levied for building its meeting-houses, provided they
could show a certificate from some society of their own (either within
the colony or without it, if so near its borders that they could
regularly attend its services) vouching for their support of its
worship and their presence at its regular meetings. [93]

Turning to the Baptists, the oppressive measures employed to make them
violate their conscience ceased on the inauguration of Governor
Talcott in 1724. Thereafter, those among them who conformed to the
requirements of the Toleration Act received some measure of freedom.
To the neighborly interest of the Association of Baptist Churches of
North Kingston, Rhode Island, and to the influence of leading Baptists
in that colony, including among them its governor (who subjoined a
personal note to the Association's appeal to the Connecticut General
Court), was due the favor of the Court extended in October, 1729, [94]
to the Baptists, whereby they were granted exemption upon the same
terms as those offered the Quakers.

Thus in barely twenty years from the passage of the Toleration Act,
Episcopalian, Quaker, and Baptist had driven the thin edge of a
destroying wedge into the foundations of the Connecticut
Establishment. Each dissenting body was pitifully small in absolute
strength, and they had no inclination toward united action. Quakers
and Baptists were required to show certificates, a requirement soon to
be considered in itself humiliating. The new laws were negative, in
that they empowered the assessor to _omit_ to tax those entitled
to exemption, but they provided no penalty to be enforced against
assessors who failed to make such omission. Indeed, in individual
cases, the laws might seem to be scarcely more than an admission of
the right to exemption. However, it was an admission that a century's
progress had brought the knowledge that brethren of different
religious opinions could dwell together in peace. It was an exemption
by which the government admitted, as well as claimed, the right of
choice in religious worship. It was a far cry to the acknowledgment
that a man was free to think his own thoughts and follow his own
convictions, provided they did not interfere with the rights of other
men. The new laws were a concession by a strongly intrenched church to
the natural rights of weaker ones, whose title to permanency it
greatly doubted. They were a concession by a government whose best
members felt it to be the State's moral and religious obligation to
support one form of religion and to protect it at the cost, if
necessary, of all other forms,--a concession, by such a government, to
a very small minority of its subjects, holding the same appreciation
of their religious duty as that which had nerved the founders of the
colony. It was a concession by the community to a very few among their
number, who were divergent in church polity and practice, but who were
united in a Protestant creed and in the conviction, held then by every
respectable citizen, that every man should be made to attend and
support some accepted and organized form of Christian worship.


[a] The Rev. John Hart of East Guilford, Samuel Whittlesey of
Wallingford, and Jared Ellis of Killingworth. These men were always
friendly to the Churchmen.

[b] The Rev. Daniel Brown died in England. In the next forty years,
one tenth of those who crossed the sea for ordination perished from
dangers incident to the trip.

[c] This year the home influence of the Church of England had been
brought to bear with sufficient pressure to forbid the calling of a
general synod of the New England churches which had been desired, and
towards which Massachusetts had taken the initial step. See
A. L. Cross, _Anglican Episcopate_, pp. 67-70.

[d] Stratford.

[e] This same year, George I granted to Bishop Gibson a patent
confirming the jurisdiction which, as Bishop of London, he claimed
over the Church of England in the colonies. George II renewed the
patent in 1728-29.

[f] Between 1700 and 1741 more than thirty new towns were organized,
making twice as many as in 1700.



Wake, awake, for night is flying:
The watchmen on the heights are crying,
Awake, Jerusalem, arise!--Advent Hymn.

The opposition of Episcopalian, Quaker, and Baptist to the Connecticut
Establishment, if measured by ultimate results, was important and
far-reaching. But it was dwarfed almost to insignificance, so feeble
was it, so confined its area, when compared to that opposition which,
thirty-five years after the Saybrook Synod and a dozen years after the
exemption of the dissenters, sprang up within the bosom of the
Congregational church itself, as a protest against civil enactments
concerning religion. This protest was a direct result of the moral and
spiritual renascence that occurred in New England and that became
known as the "Great Awakening." History in all times and countries
shows a periodicity of religious activity and depression. It would
sometimes seem as if these periodic outbreaks of religious aspirations
were but the last device of self-seeking,--were but attempts to find
consolation for life's hardships and to secure happiness
hereafter. Fortunately such selfish motives are transmuted in the
search for larger ethical and spiritual conceptions. An enlarged
insight into the possibilities of living tends to slough off
selfishness and to make more habitual the occasional, and often
involuntary, response to Christlike deeds and ideals. But so ingrained
is our earthly nature that, in communities as in nations, periods
alternate with periods, and the pendulum swings from laxity to
morality, from apathy to piety, gradually shortening its arc. So in
Connecticut, numbers of her towns from time to time had been roused to
greater interest in religion before the spiritual cyclone of the great
revival, or "Great Awakening," swept through the land in 1740 and the
two following years. The earlier and local revivals were generally
due to some special calamity, as sickness, failure of harvest,
ill-fortune in war, or some unusual occurrence in nature, such as an
earthquake or comet, with the familiar interpretation that Jehovah was
angry with the sins of his people. Sometimes, however, the zeal of a
devoted minister would kindle counter sparks among his people. Such a
minister was the Rev. Solomon Stoddard, who mentions five notable
revivals, or "harvests,"[a] as he calls them, during his sixty years
of ministry in the Northampton church. A few other New England towns
had similar revivals, but they were brief and rare.

Notwithstanding these occasional local "stirrings of the heart," at
the beginning of the second quarter of the eighteenth century a cold,
formal piety was frequently the covering of indifferent living and of
a smug, complacent Christianity, wherein the letter killed and the
spirit did not give life. This was true all over New England, and
elsewhere. Nor was this deadness confined to the colonies alone, for
the Wesleys were soon to stir the sluggish current of English
religious life. In New England, the older clergymen, like the Mathers
of Massachusetts, conservative men, whose memories or traditions were
of the golden age of Puritanism, had long bemoaned the loss of
religious interest, the inability of reforming synods to create
permanent improvement, and the helplessness of ecclesiastical councils
or of civil enactments to rouse the people from the real "decay of
piety in the land," and from their indifference to the immorality that
was increasing among them. This indifference grew in Connecticut after
the Saybrook Platform had laid a firm hold upon the churches. Its
discipline created a tendency, on the one hand, to hard and narrow
ecclesiasticism, and, on the other, to careless living on the part of
those who were satisfied with a mere formal acceptance of the
principles of religion and with the bare acknowledgment of the right
of the churches to their members' obedience.[b]

It is a great mistake [writes Jonathan Edwards] if any one imagines
that all these external performances (owning the covenant, accepting
the sacraments, observing the Sabbath and attending the ministry), are
of the nature of a _profession_ of anything that belongs to
_saving grace_, as they are commonly used and
understood.... People are taught that they may use them all, and not
so much as make any pretence to the least degree of _sanctifying
grace_; and this is the established custom. So they are used and so
they are understood.... It is not unusual ... for persons, at the same
time they come into the church and pretend to own the covenant, freely
to declare to their neighbors, that they have no imagination that they
have any true faith in Christ or love to Him.[95]

The General Court, relieved from the oversight of the churches, had
bent itself to preserving the colony's charter rights from its enemies
abroad, and to the material interests involved in a conservative,
wise, and energetic home development. The people's thoughts were with
the Court more than with the clergy, who had fallen from a healthy
enthusiasm in their profession into a sort of spiritual deadness and
dull acceptance of circumstances. [96] As a sort of corollary to
Stoddard's teaching that the Lord's Supper was itself a means toward
attaining salvation, it followed that clergymen, though they felt no
special call to their ministry, were nevertheless believed to be
worthy of their office. The older theology of New England had tended
to morbid introspection. Stoddard, in avoiding that danger, had thrown
the doors of the Church too widely open, and the result was a gradual
undermining of its spiritual power. The continued acceptance of the
Half-Way Covenant, "laxative rather than astringent in its nature,"
helped to produce a low estimate of religion. The tenderness that the
Cambridge Platform had encouraged towards "the weakest measure of
faith" had broadened into such laxity that, in many cases, ministers
were willing to receive accounts of conversions which had been written
to order for the applicants for church membership. The Church,
moreover, had come directly under the control of politics, a condition
never conducive to its purity. The law of 1717, "for the better
ordering and regulating parishes or societies," had made the minister
the choice of the majority of the townsmen who were voters. This
reversed the early condition of the town, merged by membership into
the church, to a church merged into the town. [97] There was still
another factor, often the last and least willingly recognized in times
of religious excitement, namely, the commercial depression throughout
the country, resulting from years of a fluctuating currency. This
depression contributed largely to the revival movement, and helped to
spread the enthusiasm of the Great Awakening. Connecticut's currency
had been freer from inflation than that of other New England
colonies. But her paper money experiments in the years from 1714 to
1749 grew more and more demoralizing. Up to 1740, Connecticut had
issued L156,000 in paper currency. At the time of the Great Awakening
she had still outstanding L39,000 for which the colony was
responsible. Of this, all but L6000 had been covered by special
taxation. There still remained, however, about L33,000 which had been
lent to the various counties. Taxation was heavy, wages low and
prices high, and there was not a man in the colony who did not feel
the effect of the rapidly depreciating currency.[98] This general
depression fell upon a generation of New Englanders whose minds no
longer dwelt preeminently upon religious matters, but who were, on the
contrary, preeminently commercial in their interests.

Such were the general conditions throughout New England and such the
low state of religion in Connecticut, when, in the Northampton church,
Solomon Stoddard's grandson, the great Jonathan Edwards, in December,
1734, preached the sermons which created the initial wave of a great
religious movement. This religious revival spread slowly through
generally lax New England, and through the no less lax Jerseys, and
through the backwoods settlements of Pennsylvania, until it finally
swept the southern colonies. At the time, 1738, the Rev. George
Whitefield was preaching in Carolina, and acceptably so to his
superior, Alexander Garden, the Episcopal commissary to that
colony. Touched by the enthusiasm of the onflowing religious movement,
Whitefield's zeal and consequent radicalism, as he swayed toward the
Congregational teaching and practices, soon put him in disfavor with
his fellow Churchmen. Such disfavor only raised the priest still
higher in the opinion of the dissenters, and they flocked to hear his
eloquent sermons. Whitefield soon decided to return to England. There
he encountered the great revival movement which was being conducted,
principally by the Wesleys, and he at once threw himself into the
work. Meanwhile, he had conceived a plan for a home for orphans in
Georgia, and, a little later, he determined upon a visit to New
England in its behalf. Upon his arrival in Boston in 1740, the
Rev. George Whitefield was welcomed with open arms. Great honor was
paid him. Crowds flocked to hear him, and he was sped with money and
good-will throughout New England as he journeyed, preaching the
gospel, and seeking alms for the southern orphanage. His advent
coincided in time with the reviving interest in religion, especially
in Connecticut. Interest over the revival of 1735 had centred on that
colony the eyes of the whole non-liturgical English-speaking
world. Whitefield's preaching was to this awakening religious
enthusiasm as match to tinder.

The religious passion, kindled in 1735 by Edwards, and hardly less by
his devoted and spiritually-minded wife, had in Connecticut swept over
Windsor, East Windsor, Coventry, Lebanon, Durham, Stratford, Ripton,
New Haven, Guilford, Mansfield, Tolland, Hebron, Bolton, Preston,
Groton, and Woodbury. [99] The period of this first "harvest" was
short. The revival had swept onward, and indifference seemed once more
to settle down upon the land. But the news of the revival in
Connecticut had reached England through letters of Dr. Benjamin
Coleman of Boston. His account of it had created so much interest that
Jonathan Edwards was persuaded to write for English readers his
"Narrative of the Surprising Work of God." Editions of this book
appeared in 1737-38 in both England and America, and all Anglo-Saxon
non-prelatical circles pored over the account of the recent revival in
Connecticut. Religious enthusiasm revived, and was roused to a high
pitch by Whitefield's itinerant preaching, as well as by that of
Jonathan Edwards, and by the visit to New England of the Rev. Gilbert
Tennant, one of two brothers who had created widespread interest by
their revival work in New Jersey. A religious furor, almost mania,
spread through New England, and the "Great Awakening" came in earnest.

The Rev. George Whitefield reached Newport, Rhode Island, in
September, 1740. Crowds flocked to hear him during his brief visit
there. In October, he proceeded to Boston, where he preached to
enthusiastic audiences, including all the high dignitaries of Church
and State. During his ten days' sojourn in the city, no praise was too
fulsome, no honor too great. Whitefield next went to Northampton,
drawn by his desire to visit Edwards. After a week of conference with
the great divine, Whitefield passed on through Connecticut, preaching
as he went, and devoted the rest of the year to itinerating through
the other colonies. Already his popularity had been too much for him,
and he frequently took it upon himself to upbraid, in no measured
terms, the settled ministry for lack of earnestness in their calling
and lack of Christian character. This visit of Whitefield was followed
by one from the Rev. Gilbert Tennant, who arrived in Boston in
December, and spent his time, until the following March, preaching in
Massachusetts and Connecticut. Tennant was also outspoken in his
denunciations, and both men, while sometimes justified in their
criticisms, were frequently hasty and censorious in their judgments of
those who differed from them.

Ministers throughout New England were quick to support or to oppose
the revival movement, and a goodly number of them, as itinerants, took
up the evangelical work. Dr. Colman and Dr. Sewall of Boston, Jonathan
Edwards and Dr. Bellamy of Connecticut, were among the most
influential divines to support the Great Awakening,--to call the
revival by the name by which it was to go down in
history. Unfortunately, among the aroused people, there were many who
pressed their zeal beyond the reverent bounds set by these
leaders. The religious enthusiasm rushed into wild ecstasies during
the preaching of the almost fanatic Rev. James Davenport of Southold,
and of those itinerant preachers who, ignorant and carried away by
emotions beyond their control, attempted to follow his example.

During this religious fever there were times when all business was
suspended. Whole communities gave themselves up to conversion and to
passing through the three or more distinct stages of religious
experience which Jonathan Edwards, as well as the more ignorant
itinerants, accepted as signs of the Lord's compassion. Briefly
stated, these stages were, first, a heart-rending misery over one's
sinfulness; a state of complete submissiveness, expressing itself in
those days of intense belief both in heaven and in a most realistic
hell, as complete willingness "to be saved or damned,"[c] whichever
the Lord in his great wisdom saw would fit best into His eternal
scheme. Finally, there was the blessed state of ecstatic happiness,
when it was borne in upon one that he or she was, indeed, one of the
few of "God's elect." [100] The revival meetings were marked by
shouting, sobbing, sometimes by fainting, or by bodily contortions.
All these, in the fever of excitement, were believed by many persons
to be special marks of supernatural power, and, if they followed the
words of some ignorant and rash exhorter, they were even more likely
to be considered tokens of divine favor,--illustrations of God's
choice of the simple and lowly to confound the wisdom of the
world. The strong emotional character of the religious meetings of our
southern negroes, as well as their frequent sentimental rather than
practical or moral expression of religion, has been credited in large
measure to the hold over them which this great religious revival of
the eighteenth century gained, when its enthusiasm rolled over the
southern colonies. Be that as it may, any adequate appreciation of the
frequent daily occurrences in New England during the Great Awakening
would be best realized by one of this twentieth century were it
possible to form a composite picture, having the unbridled
emotionalism of our negro camp-meetings superimposed upon the solid
respectability and grave reasonableness of the men of that earlier
day. As the lines of one and the other constituent of this composite
picture blend, the momentary feeling of impatience and disgust
vanishes in a wave of compassion as the irresistible earnestness and
the pitiless logic of those days press, for recognition, and we
realize the awful sufferings of many an ignorant or sensitive soul. It
was not until the religious revival had passed its height that the
people began to realize the folly and dangers of the hysteria that had
accompanied it. It was not until long afterward that many of its
characteristics, which had been interpreted as supernatural signs,
were known and understood, and correctly diagnosticated as outward
evidence of physical and nervous exhaustion.

Such, outwardly, were the marked features of the Great Awakening. Yet
its incentives to noble living were great and lasting. Its immediate
results were a revolt against conventional religion, a division into
ecclesiastical parties, and a great schism within the Establishment,
which, before the breach was healed, had improved the quality of
religion in every meeting-house and chapel in the land and broadened
the conception of religious liberty throughout the colony.


[a] At Northampton in 1680, 1684, 1697, 1713, and 1719.

[b] As early even as 1711, the Hartford North Association suggested
some reformation in the Half-Way Covenant practice because it noted
that persons, lax in life, were being admitted under its terms of
church membership.

[c] This "to be saved or damned" was, later, a marked characteristic
of Hokinsianism, or the teaching of the Rev. Samuel Hopkins,



If a house be divided against itself.--Mark iii, 25.

From such a revival as that of the Great Awakening, parties must of
necessity arise. Upon undisciplined fanaticism, the Established church
must frown. But when it undertook to discipline large numbers of
church members or whole churches, recognizedly within its embracing
fold and within their lawful privileges, a great schism resulted, and
the schismatics were sufficiently tenacious of their rights to come
out victorious in their long contest for toleration.

The proviso of the Saybrook Platform had arranged for the continued
existence of churches, Congregational rather than Presbyterian in
their interpretation of that platform; yet, as late as 1730, when but
few remained, the question had arisen whether members of such
churches, "since they were allowed and under the protection of the
laws," ought to qualify according to the Toleration Act. The Court
decided in the negative, [101] arguing that, although they differed
from the majority of the churches in preferring the Cambridge Platform
of church discipline, they had been permitted under the colony law of
May 13, 1669, establishing the Congregational church, and had been
protected by the proviso of 1708. The Court in its decision of 1730
seems also to have included a very few churches that had revolted from
the religious formalism creeping in under the Saybrook system, and
that had returned to the earlier type of Congregationalism. After the
Great Awakening, churches "thus allowed and under the protection of
our laws" were found to increase so rapidly that the movement away
from the Saybrook Platform threatened to undermine the ecclesiastical
system, and to endanger the Establishment. Seeing this, the Court, or
General Assembly,[a] began to enforce the old colony law that with it
alone belonged the power to approve the incorporating of churches. And
shortly after it began to harass these separating churches, and to
enact laws to prevent the farther spread of reinvigorated
Congregationalism unless of the Presbyterian type. Soon after 1741,
the churches that drew away from the Saybrook system of government
became known as Separate churches, and their members as
Separatists. When these people found that the Assembly would no longer
approve their organizing as churches, they attempted, as sober
dissenters from the worship established in the colony, to take the
benefit of the Toleration Act. The Assembly next "resolved that those
commonly called Presbyterians or Congregationalists should not take
the benefit of that Act." [102]

Here was a difficulty indeed. There was no place for the Separatist,
yet there was need of him, and he felt sure there was. Furthermore,
there were others who felt the need to the community of his strong
religious earnestness, though they might deplore his
extravagances. His strong points were his assertion of the need of
regeneration, his reassertion of the old doctrines of justification by
faith and of a personal sense of conversion, including, as a duty
inseparable from church membership, the living of a highly moral
life. The weakness of the Separatist lay in his assertion, first, that
every man had an equal right to exercise any gifts of preaching or
prayer of which he believed himself possessed; secondly, of the value
of visions and trances as proofs of spirituality; and finally, of
every one's freedom to withdraw from the ministry of any pastor who
did not come up to his standard of ability or helpfulness. It followed
that the Separatists insisted upon the right to set up their own
churches and to appoint their own ministers, although the latter might
have only the doubtful qualification of feeling possessed with the
gift of preaching. The Separatists organized between thirty and forty
churches. Some of them endured but a short time, suffering
disintegration through poverty. Others fell to pieces because of the
unrestrained liberty of their members in their exhortations, in their
personal interpretation of the Scriptures, and in their exercise of
the right of private judgment, with the consequent harvest of
confusion, censoriousness, and discord that such practices created. In
years later, many of the Separate churches, tired of the struggle for
recognition and weighed down by their double taxation for the support
of religion, buried themselves under the Baptist name. Indeed they
"agreed upon all points of doctrine, worship, and discipline, save the
mode and subject of baptism." A few Separatist churches, a dozen or
more, continued the struggle for existence until victory and
toleration rewarded them. After the teachings of Jonathan Edwards had
purified the churches and had driven out the Half-Way Covenant,
against which the Separatists uttered their loudest protests, many of
these reformers returned to the Established church.

In the practice of--their principles, the Separatists, both as
churches and as individuals, were often headstrong, officious,
intermeddling, and censorious. They frequently stirred up ill-feeling
and often just indignation. The rash and heedless among them accused
the conservative and regular clergy of Arminianism, when the latter,
influenced by the Great Awakening, revived the doctrines of original
sin, regeneration, and justification by faith, but were careful to add
to these Calvinistic dogmas admonitions to such practical Christianity
as was taught by Arminian preachers. The Separatists feared lest the
doctrine of works would cause men to stray too far from the doctrine
of justification by faith alone, and they were often very intemperate
in their denunciation of such "false teachers." It was a day of freer
speech than now, and at least two of the great leaders in the revival
had set a very bad example of calling names. Mr. Whitefield considered
Mr. Tennant a "mighty charitable man," yet here are a few of the
latter's descriptive epithets, collected from one of his sermons and
published by the Synod of Philadelphia. Dr. Chauncey of Boston quotes
them in an adverse criticism of the revival movement. Mr. Tennant
speaks of the ministers thus:--hirelings, caterpillars, letter-learned
Pharisees, Hypocrites, Varlets, Seed of the Serpent, foolish Builders
whom the Devil drives into the ministry, dead dogs that cannot bark,
blind men, dead men, men possessed of the devil, rebels and enemies of
God. [103]

Naturally, party lines were soon drawn in New England. There were the
Old Calvinists or Old Lights on the one side, and the Separatists and
New Lights on the other. The New Lights were those within the churches
who were moved by the revival and who desired to return to a more
vital Christianity. In many respects they sympathized with the
Separatists, although disapproving their extravagances. In many
churches, hounded by the opposition of the conservatives, the New
Lights drew off and formed churches of their own. Thus while the
Separatists may be compared to the early English Separatists, the New
Lights would correspond more to the Puritan party that desired reform
within the Establishment. In the eighteenth century movement, in
Connecticut, the Old Lights held the political as well as the
ecclesiastical control until, in the process of time, the New Lights
gained an influential vote in the Assembly. Always, there was a good,
sound stratum of Calvinism in both the Old and the New Light parties,
and also among the Separatists, and the latter were generally included
in the New Light party, especially if spoken of from the point of view
of political affiliations. The idiosyncrasies of the Separatists
softened down and fell away in time. The Calvinism of Old and New
Lights became a rallying ground whereon each, in after years, gathered
about the standard of a reinvigorated church life; and then the terms
Old Light and New, with their suggestions of party meaning, whether
religious, or political, passed away. The term Separatist was retained
for a while longer, merely to distinguish the churches that preferred
to be known as strict Congregationalist rather than as
Presbyterianized Congregationalist, or, for short, Presbyterian.

From the time of the Great Awakening, there were nearly forty years of
party contest over religious privileges, many of which had been
previously accorded but which were speedily denied to the Separatists
by a party dominant in the churches and paramount in the legislature;
by a party which was determined to bring the whole machinery of Church
and State to crush the rising opposition to its control. Accordingly,
it was nearly forty years before the Separatists received the same
measure of toleration as that accorded to Episcopalian, Quaker, and
Baptist. It was ten years before the New Lights in the Assembly
could, as a preliminary step to such toleration, force the omission
from the revised statutes of all persecuting laws passed by the Old
Light party.

The keynote to the long struggle was sounded at a meeting of the
General Consociation at Guilford, November 24, 1741. This was the
first and only General Consociation ever called. It was convened at
the expense of the colony, to consider her religious condition and the
dangers threatening her from the excitement of the Great Awakening,
from unrestrained converts, from rash exhorters, and from itinerant
preachers, who took possession of the ministers' pulpits with little
deference to their proper occupants. The General Consociation

that for a minister to enter another minister's parish, and preach
or administer the seals of the Covenant, without the consent of,
or in opposition to the set tied minister of the parish, is
disorderly, notwithstanding if a considerable number of the people
in the parish are desirous to hear another minister preach,
provided the same be orthodox, and sound in the faith and not
notoriously faulty in censuring other persons, or guilty of any
scandal, we think it ordinar rily advisable for the minister of
the parish to gratify them by giving his consent upon their
suitable application to him for it, unless neighboring ministers
advise him to the contrary. [104]

This was not necessarily an intolerant attitude, but it was hostile
rather than friendly to the revival. It left neighboring ministers,
that is, the Associations, if one among their number seemed to be too
free in lending his pulpit to itinerant preachers, to curb his
friendliness. Intolerance might come through this limitation, for the
local Association might be prejudiced. If its advice were disregarded
and disorders arose, the Consociation of the county could step in to
settle difficulties and to condemn progressive men as well as
fanatics. In its phrasing, this ecclesiastical legislation left room
for the ministrations of reputable itinerants, for among many, some of
whom were ignorant and self-called to their vocation, there were
others whose abilities were widely recognized. Foremost among such men
in Connecticut were Jonathan Edwards himself, Dr. Joseph Bellamy of
Bethlem, trainer of many students in theology, Rev. Eleazer Whelock of
Lebanon, Benjamin Pomroy of Hebron, and Jonathan Parsons of
Lyme. Among itinerants coming from other colonies, the most noted,
after Whitefield and Tennant, was Dr. Samuel Finley of New Jersey,
later president of Princeton. Naturally men like these, who felt
strongly the need of a revival and believed in supporting the "Great
Awakening," despite its excitement and errors, did not countenance the
rash proceedings of many of the ignorant preachers, who ran about the
colony seeking audiences for themselves.

The measures of the General Consociation were mild in comparison with
the laws passed by the legislature in the following May. Governor
Talcott, tolerant toward all religious dissenters, had recently died,
and the conservative Jonathan Law of Milford was in the chair of the
chief magistrate. Governor Law had grown up among the traditions of
that narrow ecclesiasticism which had always marked the territory of
the old New Haven Colony. Moreover, the measures of the Consociation
had been futile. One of the chief offenders against them was the
Rev. James Davenport of Southold, Long Island, who not only went
preaching through the colony, stirring up by his fanaticism, his
visions, and his ecstasies, the common people, and finding fault with
the regular clergy as "unconverted men," but who pushed his religious
enthusiasm to great extremes by everywhere urging upon excitable young
men the duty to become preachers like himself. He had introduced a
kind of intoning at public meetings. This tended to create nervous
irritability and hysterical outbursts of religious emotionalism, and
these, Davenport taught his disciples, were the signs of God's
approval of them and their devotion to Him. The government, watching
these tumultuous meetings, concluded that it was time to show its
ancient authority and to save the people from "divisions and
contentions," the ecclesiastical constitution from destruction, and
the ministry from "unqualified persons entering therein." Accordingly,
in May, 1742, the Assembly passed a series of laws, [105] so severe
that even ordained ministers were forbidden to preach outside their
own parishes without an express invitation and under the penalty of
forfeiting all benefits and all support derived from any laws for the
encouragement of religion ever made in the colony. The new enactments
also forbade any Association to license a candidate to preach outside
its own bounds or to settle any disputes beyond its own
territory.[106] These laws also permitted any parish minister to lodge
with the society clerk a certificate charging that a man had entered
his parish and had preached there without first obtaining
permission. Furthermore, there was no provision for confirming the
truth or proving the falsity of such a statement. In connection with
the certificate clause, it was also enacted that no assistant, or
justice of the peace, should sign a warrant for collecting a
minister's rates until he was sure that nowhere in the colony was
there such a certificate lodged against the minister making
application for this mode of collecting his ministerial dues. [107]
Finally, the laws provided that a bond of L100 should be demanded of a
stranger, or visiting minister, who had preached without invitation,
and that he should be treated as a vagrant, and sent by warrant "from
constable to constable, out of the bounds of this Colony."[108]

These laws restrained both _ordained Ministers_ and
_licensed candidates_ from preaching in _other_ Men's
Parishes without _their_ and the _Church's_ consent and
wholly prohibited the _Exhortations of Illiterate Laymen_.

These laws were a high-handed infringement of the rights of
conscience, and in a few years fell and buried with them the party
that had enacted them. These were the laws which he (Davenport)
exhorted his hearers to set at defiance; and seldom, it must be
acknowledged, has a more plausible occasion been found in New
England to preach disregard for the law.

The laws were framed to repress itinerants and exhorters through loss
of their civil rights. By them, a man's good name was dishonored and
he was deprived of all his temporal emoluments. By many, in their own
day, the laws were regarded as contrary to scriptural commands, and to
the opinion and practice of all reformers and of all Puritans. These
laws, with others that followed, were not warranted by the
ecclesiastical constitution of the colony, and could find no parallel
either in England or in her other colonies. Trumbull calls them--

a concerted plan of the Old Lights or Arminians both among the
clergy and civilians, to suppress as far as possible, all zealous
Calvinistic preachers, to confine them entirely to their own
pulpits; and at the same time to put all the public odium and
reproach upon them as wicked, disorderly men, unfit to enjoy the
common rights of citizens. [109]

Yet for these laws the Association of New Haven sent a vote of thanks
to the Assembly when it convened in their city in the following fall.

Jonathan Edwards opposed both the spirit of the General Consociation
and also the legislation of the Assembly. He expressed his attitude
toward the Great Awakening both at the time and later. In 1742 he

If ministers preached never so good a doctrine, and are never so
laborious in their work, yet if at such a day as this they show
their people that they are not well affected to this work [of
revival], they will be very likely to do their people a great deal
more hurt than good.

Six years later Edwards wrote a preface to his "An Humble Inquiry into
the Qualifications for Full Communion in the Visible Church of God," a
treatise severely condemning the Half-Way Covenant, and urging the
revival of the early personal account of conversion. In this preface
he excuses his hesitation in publishing the work, on the ground that
he feared the Separatists would seize upon his arguments to encourage
them and strengthen them in many of their reprehensible
practices. These, Edwards reminds his reader, he had severely
condemned in his earlier publications, notably in his "Treatise on
Religious Affections," 1746, and in his "Observations and Reflections
on Mr. Brainerd's Life." In his preface Edwards repeats his
disapproval of the Separatist "notion of a _pure church_ by means
of a _spirit of discerning_; their _censorious outcries_
against the standing ministers and churches in general, their _lay
ordinations_, their _lay-preaching_ and _public
exhortings_ and administering sacraments; and their
self-complacent, presumptuous spirit." Edwards believed that
enthusiasts, though unlettered, might exhort in private, and even in
public religious gatherings might be encouraged to relate in a proper,
earnest, and modest manner their religious experiences, and might also
entreat others to become converted. He maintained that much of the
criticism of an inert ministry was well founded, that much of the
enthusiastic work of laymen and of the itinerants deserved to be
recognized by the regular clergy, and that they ought to bestir
themselves in furthering such enthusiasm among their own
people. Edwards urged also his belief in the value of good works, not
as meriting the reward of future salvation, but as manifesting a heart
stirred by a proper appreciation of God's attributes. Jonathan Edwards
held firmly to the foundation principles of the conservative school,
while he sympathized with and supported the best elements in the
revival movement.

This attitude of Edwards eventually cost him his pastorate, for he
judged it best to resign from the Northampton church, in 1750, because
of the unpopularity arising from his repeated attacks upon the
Half-Way Covenant and the Stoddardean view of the Lord's
supper. Nevertheless, it was the influence of Jonathan Edwards and of
his following which gradually brought about a union of the religious
parties, after the Separatists had given up their eccentricities and
the leaven of Edwards' teachings had brought a new and invigorated
life into the Connecticut churches. This preacher, teacher, and
evangelist was remarkable for his powerful logic, his deep and tender
feeling, his sincere and vivid faith. These characteristics urged on
his resistless imagination, when picturing to his people their
imminent danger and the awful punishment in store for those who
continued at enmity with God. Of his work as a theologian, we shall
have occasion to speak elsewhere.

Some illustrations of church life in the troublous years following the
Great Awakening will best set forth the confusion arising, the
difficulties between Old and New Lights, and the hardships of the
Separatists. Among the colony churches, the trials of three may be
taken as typical,--the New Haven church[110], the Canterbury
church,[111] and the church of Enfield.[112] Nor can the story of the
first two be told without including in it an account of later acts of
the Assembly and of the attitude of the College during the years of
the great schism.

The pastor of the New Haven church was Mr. Noyes, whom many of his
parishioners thought too noncommittal, erroneous, or pointless in
discussing the themes which the itinerant preachers loved to dwell
upon. Moreover, Mr. Noyes had refused to allow the Rev. George
Whitefield to preach from his pulpit while on his memorable pilgrimage
through New England. Mr. Noyes had also forbidden the hot-headed
James Davenport to occupy it. As a result of their minister's actions,
the New Haven church was divided in their estimate of their
pastor. There were the friendly Old Lights and the hostile New.
Neither party wished to carry their trouble before the Consociation of
New Haven county, for that had come at last to be a tribunal "whose
decision was at that time considered _judicial_ and
_final_." Moreover, at the meeting of the General Consociation at
Guilford in November, 1741, it was known that Mr. Noyes had been a
most active worker in favor of suppressing the New Light
movement. Consequently the New Lights, though at the time in the
minority, sought to find a way out from under the jurisdiction of the
Saybrook Platform and its councils by declaring that the church had
never _formally_ been made a Consociated church. This was
literally true, but the weight of precedent and their own observances
were against them. Like other churches in the county, which had come
slowly to the acceptance of the Saybrook councils as ecclesiastical
courts, it had finally accepted them in their most authoritative
character. Such being the case, the New Lights hesitated to appeal
against their minister before a court presumably favorable to
him. After the New Lights had declared the church not under the
Saybrook system, Mr. Noyes determined to take the vote of his people
as to whether they considered themselves a Consociated church. But as
he was a little fearful of the result of the vote, he secured the
victory for his own faction by excluding the New Lights from
voting. Thereupon, the New Lights took the benefit of the Toleration
Act as "sober dissenters," and became a Separate church. The
committee, appointed for the organization of the new church, declared
that "they were reestablished as the original church." The benefit of
the Toleration Act accorded to these New Light dissenters in New
Haven, to some in Milford,[b] and to several other reinvigorated
churches in the southern part of the colony, roused the opposition of
the Old Lights in the Assembly, and, as they counted a majority, they
repealed the act in the following year, 1743. Three or four weeks
after the New Haven New Lights had formed what was afterwards known as
the North Church, the General Assembly met for its fall session in
that city, and, as has been said, the New Haven Association
immediately sent a vote of thanks for the stringent laws passed at the
May meeting. The Court, moved by this indication of the popular
feeling, by the importance of the church schism and its influence
throughout the colony, by the conservative attitude of Yale College,
and also by having among its delegates large numbers of Old Lights,
proceeded to enact yet more stringent measures than those of the
preceding session. The result was that the North Church could hire no
preacher until they could find one acceptable to the First Church and
Society, because the pastor elected by the First Church was the only
lawfully appointed minister, since he owed his election to the
majority votes of the First Society. Furthermore, the Court, in 1743,
refused a special application of the North Church for permission to
settle their chosen minister, and it was some five or six years before
it ceased this particular kind of persecution and permitted the church
to have a regular pastor.

The story of this New Haven church extends beyond the time-limit of
this chapter, but it is better completed here. The stringency of the
laws only increased the bitterness of faction. In 1745, feeling ran so
high that a father refused to attend his son's funeral merely because
they belonged to opposing factions, and an attempt to build a house of
worship for this Separate church resulted in serious disturbances and
in the charge of incendiarism. The New Lights preferred imprisonment
to the payment of taxes assessed for the benefit of the First
Church. At last, in 1751, the October session of the General Assembly
thought it best "for the good of the colony and for the peace and
harmony of this and other churches" infected by its example, to advise
that the differences within it be healed by a council to be composed
of both Old and New Lights.[113] The suggestion bore no fruit, and a
year later the New Lights themselves again asked for a council, even
offering to apologize to the First Church for their informality in
separating from it, and for their part in the heated controversy that
followed; but Mr. Noyes induced his party to refuse to accede to the
proposed conference. As the North Church had grown strong enough by
this time to support a regular pastor, Mr. Bird accepted its call; yet
for six years longer, because the Assembly refused to divide the
society, the New Lights were held to be members of the First Society
and taxable for its support. But in 1757, the New Lights gained the
majority both in church and society, a majority of _one_. At
once, the New Lights were released from taxes to the First Church. Now
the dominant party, they attempted to pay back old scores, and
accordingly demanded a division of both church and society
property. The claim to the first was unfair, and they eventually
abandoned it. The church quarrel finally ceased in 1759, after a
duration of eighteen years, and in 1760 Mr. Bird was formally
installed with fitting honors.

In the early days of the Great Awakening, the Canterbury church became
divided into Old Lights and New, and a separation took place. Before
the separation, a committee, who were appointed to look up the church
records, gave it as their opinion that the church was not and never
had been pledged to the Saybrook Platform. Nevertheless, the very men
who gave this decision became the leaders of the minority, who
determined to support the government in carrying out its oppressive
laws of 1742. These laws had been passed while the committee were
searching the church records. The majority of the church, incensed at
having their liberty curtailed, proceeded to defy the law by listening
to lay exhorters and to itinerants just as they had been in the habit
of doing ever since the church had felt the quickening influences of
the Great Awakening. This majority declared that it was "regular for
this church to admit persons into this church that are in full
communion with other churches and come regularly to this." This
decision the minority characterized as unlawful according to the
recent acts of the Assembly. The majority proceeded to argue the
right of the majority in the church as above the right of the majority
in the society, or parish, to elect the minister and to guide the
church. In an attempt to satisfy both parties, candidates were tried,
but they could not command a sufficient number of votes from either
side to be located permanently. A meeting in 1743 of the Consociation
of Windham (to whose jurisdiction the Canterbury church belonged),
together with a council of New Lights, brought temporary peace. A
candidate was agreed upon; but in a few months the New Lights became
dissatisfied with him because of his approval of the Saybrook system
of church government, his acceptance of the Half-Way Covenant, and
other opinions. Controversy revived. The majority of the church
withdrew, and for a while met in a private house for services, which
were conducted by Solomon Paine or by some other layman. As a result,
the Windham Association passed a vote of censure against the
seceders. Paine wrote a sharp retort, for which he was arrested,
although ostensibly on the charge of unlawfully conducting public
worship. He refused to give bonds and was committed to Windham jail
in September, 1744. Such crowds flocked to the prison yard to hear him
preach, and excitement ran so high, that the officer who had conducted
his trial appeared before the Assembly to protest that such legal
proceedings did but tend to increase the disorders they were intended
to cure. Accordingly, Paine was released in October.

The interest of the whole colony was now centred on the defiant and
determined Canterbury Separate church, and the November meeting of the
Windham Association had the schism under consideration, when Yale
expelled two Canterbury students whose parents were members of that

In October, 1742, in order to protect the college and the ministry and
to deal a blow at the "Shepherd's Tent," a kind of school or academy
which the New Lights had set up in New London for qualifying young men
as exhorters, teachers, and ministers, the General Assembly had
decided that no persons should presume to set up any college, seminary
of learning, or any public school whatever, without special leave of
the legislature.[115] The Court had also enacted that no one should
take the benefit of the laws respecting the settlement and support of
ministers unless he were a graduate of Yale or Harvard, or some other
approved Protestant university. It had also given explicit directions
for the supervision of the schools throughout the colony and of their
masters' orthodoxy,[116] and had advised Yale to take especial care
that her students should not be contaminated by the New Lights. The
Congregationalists had reported the "Shepherd's Tent" as a noisy,
tumultuous resort, because it was occasionally used for meetings, and
had added that it was openly taught in that school that there would
soon be a change in the government, and that disobedience to the civil
laws was not wrong. The Assembly, fearing that it might "train up
youth in ill practices and principles," sought to put an end to it. As
to the advice to the college, Yale was only too eager to follow it,
and the same year expelled the saintly David Brainerd[117] for
criticising the prayers of the college preachers as lacking in
fervor. His offense was against a college law of the preceding year
which forbade students to call their officers "hypocritical, carnal or
unconverted men." The college, as the New Light movement increased,
came to the further conclusion that--

since the principal design of erecting this college was to train
up a succession of learned and orthodox ministers by whose example
people might be directed in the ways of religion and good order
... it would be a contradiction to the civil government to support
a college to educate students to trample upon their own laws, to
break up the churches which they establish and protect, especially
since the General Assembly in May 1742, thought proper to give the
governors of the college some special advice and direction upon
that account, which was to the effect that proper care should be
taken to prevent the scholars from imbibing those or like errors;
and those who would not be orderly and submissive, should not be
allowed the privileges of the college.

Solomon Paine made answer to this law. With fine irony, he assured the
people that in effect it forbade all students attending Yale College
to go to any religious meeting even with their parents, should they be
Separatists or New Lights, because--

no scholar upon the Lord's day or other day, under pretence of
religion, shall go to any public or private meeting, not
established or allowed by public authority or approved by the
President, under penalty of a fine, confession, admonition or
otherwise, according to the state and demerit of the offence, for
fear that such preaching would end in "Quakerism," open
infidelity, and the destruction of all Christian religion, and
make endless divisions in the Christian church till nothing hut
the name of it would be left in the world.

The two Cleveland brothers, John and Ebenezer, had spent the fall
vacation of 1744 [c] with their parents at their home in Canterbury,
and by request of their elders had frequented the Separatist church
there. On their return to Yale, the boys were admonished. They
professed themselves ready to apologize, but not in such words as the
authorities thought sufficiently submissive, for the latter considered
that the boys had broken the laws "of God, of the Colony and of the
College."[119] The boys very ably argued that, under the
circumstances, there had been nothing else for them to do but to go to
church with their parents when requested to do so, and held to their
position. Yale expelled them, and there followed a sensation
throughout the colony.[120]

The leaders of the New Light party in the church of Canterbury were
the nearest relatives and friends of the Cleveland boys, who came to
be regarded as martyrs to their religion. Their treatment opened the
question as to whether the steadily increasing numbers of New Lights
were to lose for their children the benefit of the college, that they
helped to support. Must they, in order to send their sons to college,
deprive them for four years of a "Gospel ministry" and lay them open
to consequent grave perils? Why should New Lights be required to make
such a sacrifice, or why, in vacation, should their children be
required to submit to the ecclesiastical laws of the college? If
Episcopalians were permitted to have their sons, students at Yale,
worship with them during the vacations, why should not the same
liberty be granted to equally good citizens who differed even less in
theological opinions?

Because of this college incident the difficulties in the Canterbury
church attracted still more attention, but the end of the schism was
at hand. In the month that witnessed the expulsion of the Clevelands,
the minority of the original First Church voted that they were "The
Church of Canterbury," and that those who had gone forth from among
them in the January of the preceding year, 1743, as Congregationalists
after the Cambridge Platform, had abrogated that of
Saybrook. Consequently, to the minority lawfully belonged the election
of the minister, the meeting house, and the taxes for ministerial
support. Having thus fortified their position, they by a later vote

That those in the society who are differently minded from us, and
can't conscientiously join in ye settlement of Mr. James
Coggeshall as our minister may have free liberty to enjoy their
own opinion, and we are willing they should be released and

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