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

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discharged from paying anything to ye support of Mr. Coggeshall,
or living under his ministry any longer than until they have
parish privileges granted them and are settled in church by
themselves according to ye order of ye Gospel, or are lawfully
released. [121]

At the repeal of the Toleration Act in 1743, a new method had been
prescribed for sober dissenters who wished to separate from the state
church, and who were not of the recognized sects. The method of
relief, thereafter, was for the dissenters, no matter how widely
scattered in the colony, to appeal in person to the General Assembly
and ask for special exemption. Moreover, they were promised only that
their requests would be listened to, and the Assembly was growing
steadily more and more averse to granting such petitions. As a result
of this policy, the Separatist church of Canterbury did not have a
very good prospect of immediate ability to accept the good-will of the
First Church, which went even farther than the resolution cited
above. The First Church offered to assist the Separatists in obtaining
recognition from the Assembly. This offer the Separatists refused,
preferring to submit to double taxation, and thus to become a standing
protest to the injustice of the laws.

After the expulsion of the Clevelands, Yale made one more pronounced
effort to discipline its students and to repress the growth of the
liberal spirit. She attempted to suppress a reprint of Locke's essay
upon "Toleration" which the senior class had secretly printed at their
expense. An attempt to overawe the students and to make them confess
on pain of expulsion was met by the spirited resistance of one of the
class, who threatened to appeal to the King in Council if his diploma
were denied him. His diploma was granted; and some years after, when
the sentiment in the colony had further changed, the college gave the
Cleveland brothers their degree.

The church in Enfield[122] had an experience somewhat similar to that
of Canterbury, to which it seems to have looked for spiritual advice
and example. The Enfield Separate church was probably organized
between 1745 and 1751, though its first known documents are a series
of letters to the Separate church in Canterbury covering the period
1751-53. These letters sought advice in adjusting difficulties that
were creating great discord in the church, which had already separated
from the original church of Enfield. In 1762, the Enfield Separatists,
once more in harmony, renewed their covenant, and called Mr. Nathaniel
Collins to be their pastor. They struggled for existence until 1769,
when they appealed to the General Assembly for exemption from the
rates still levied upon them for the benefit of the First
Society. They asked for recognition, separation, and incorporation as
the Second Society and Church of Enfield. They were refused; but in
May of the following year,--a year to be marked by special legislation
in behalf of dissenters,--the Enfield Separatists again memorialized
the Assembly, and in response were permitted to organize their own
church. [123] This permission, however, was limited to the
memorialists, eighty in number; to their children, if within six
months after reaching their majority they filed certificates of
membership in this Separate church; and to strangers, who should enter
the new society within one year of their settling in the town. The
history of the Enfield Separatists gives glimpses of the frequent
double discord between the New Lights and the Old and among the New
Lights themselves. The period of the Enfield persecution extended over
years when, elsewhere in the colony, Separatists had obtained
recognition of their claims to toleration, if only through special
acts and not by general legislation.

If churches suffered from the severe ecclesiastical laws of 1742-43,
individuals did also. Under the law which considered traveling
ministers as vagrants, and which the Assembly had made still more
stringent by the additional penalty "to pay down the cost of
transportation," so learned a man as the Rev. Samuel Finley,
afterwards president of Princeton, was imprisoned and driven from the
colony because he insisted upon preaching in Connecticut. Indeed, it
was his persistence in returning to the colony that caused the
magistrates to increase the severity of the law.[124] When the
ministers John Owen of Groton and Benjamin Pomeroy of Hebron, as well
as the itinerant James Davenport of Southold, criticised the laws, all
of them were at once arraigned for the offense before the Assembly.
There was so much excitement over the arrest of Pomeroy and Davenport
that it threatened a riot. All three men were discharged, but
Davenport was ordered out of the colony for his itinerant preaching
and for teaching resistance to the civil laws. Pomeroy, his friend,
had declared that the laws forbade any faithful minister, or any one
faithful in civil authority, to hold office. Events bore out his
statement, for ministers were hounded, and the New Light justices of
the peace, and other magistrates, were deprived of office. Pomeroy,
himself, was discharged only to be complained of for irregular
preaching at Colchester and in punishment to be,deprived of his salary
for seven years.[125] The Rev. Nathan Stone of Stonington was
disciplined for his New Light sympathies. Philemon Bobbins of Branford
was deposed for preaching to the Baptists at Wallingford. This last
procedure was the work of the Consociation of New Haven county, which
thereby began a six years' contest, 1741-47, with the Branford
church. In 1745 this church attempted to throw off the yoke of the
Consociation by renouncing the Saybrook Platform.

During these years of persecution, the opposition to the Old Light
policy was gradually gaining effective power, although the college had
expelled Brainerd, and Mr. Cook, one of the Yale corporation, had
found it expedient to resign because of his too prominent part in the
formation of the North Church of New Haven. The Old Lights in the
legislature of 1743 passed the repeal of the Toleration Act because
the New Lights had no commanding vote; but they were increasing
throughout the colony. Fairfield East Consociation had licensed
Brainerd the year that Yale expelled him. Twelve ministers of New
London and Windham county had met to approve the revival,
notwithstanding the repeal of the Toleration Act and the known
antagonism of the Windham Association to the Separatists. Windham
Consociation and that of Fairfield East favored the revival. Large
numbers of converts were made in these districts, and many also in
Hartford county. In the New Haven district the spirit of antagonism
and of persecution was strongest.

It was in accordance with the laws of 1742-43 that Mack, Shaw, and
Pyrlaus, Moravian missionaries, on a visit in 1744 to their mission
stations among the Indians in Connecticut, were seized as Papists and
hustled from sheriff to sheriff for three days until "the Governor of
Connecticut honorably dismissed them," though their accusers insisted
upon their being bound over under a penalty of L100 to keep the law.
"Being not fully acquainted with all the special laws of the country,
they perceived a trap laid for them and thought it prudent to retire
to Shekomeko" (Pine Plains, Dutchess County, N. Y.). Missionaries sent
out from Nazareth and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, had established this
sub-centre for work in New York and Connecticut, and in the latter
colony, in 1740-43, had made Indian converts at Sharon, Salisbury
Indian Pond, near Newtown, and at Pachgatgoch, two miles southwest of
Kent. Here was their principal station in Connecticut. They had made,
in all, some twenty converts among the Indians, and had reclaimed
several of their chief men from drunkenness and idleness. Moravian
principles forbade these missionaries to take an oath. Consequently,
the greed of traders, the rivalry of creeds, together with the belief
that there was something wrong about men who would not swear
allegiance to King George,--notwithstanding their willingness to
affirm it, and notwithstanding their denial of the Pretender,--gave
rise to the conviction that they must be Papists[d] in league with the
French and their Indian allies. Accordingly both magistrates and
ministers arrested the missionaries, and hurried them before the court
at Poughkeepsie or at New Milford. Though the governors of both states
recognized the value of the mission work, popular feeling ran so high
that New York, in September, 1744, passed a law requiring them to take
the oaths prescribed or to leave the country, and also commanding that
"vagrant Teachers, Moravians, and disguised Papists should not preach
or teach in public or private" without first obtaining a license. In
Connecticut, as has been said, the laws of 1742-1743 were enforced
against them; later, when during the Old French War groundless rumors
of their intrigues with hostile Indians were circulated against them,
a vain hunt was made for three thousand stands of arms that were said
to be secreted in their missions. The severe persecution in New York
had driven these missionaries into Pennsylvania and into Connecticut,
but these rumors of intrigue broke up their work and caused the
abandonment of their stations in the latter colony. Some of these,
such as Kent, Sharon, and Salisbury, were revived in 1749-1762, at the
request of the English settlers as well as of the Indian

Returning to the main story of the progress of dissent, we find that
in 1746 the General Court of Connecticut felt obliged to safeguard the
Establishment by the passage of a law entitled, "Concerning who shall
vote in Society Meetings."[127] Its preamble states that persons
exempted from taxes for the support of the established ministry,
because of their dissenting from the way of worship and ministry of
the Presbyterian, Congregational, or Consociated churches, "ought not
to vote in society meetings with respect to the support or to the
building and maintaining of meeting houses," yet some persons,
exempted as aforesaid, "have adventured to vote and act therein," as
there was no express law to the contrary. The new law forbade such
voting, and limited the ecclesiastical ballot to members of the
Establishment who "were persons of full age and in full communion with
the church," and to other unexempted persons who held a freehold rated
at fifty shillings per year, or personal property to the value of
forty pounds. This law was just, in that it excluded all dissenters
who had received exemption from Presbyterian rates. It included all
others having the property qualification, whether they wanted to vote
or not. That it was felt to be a necessity is a witness to the
increasing recognition of the strength of the dissenting element.

In 1747, the Consociation of Windham sent forth a violent pamphlet
describing the Separatists as a people in revolt against God and in
rebellion against the Church and government. But the tide of public
opinion was turning, and popular sentiment did not support the writers
of this pamphlet. Moreover, the secular affairs of the colony were
calling minds away from religious contentions as the stress of the Old
French War was more and more felt. In 1748, venturing upon the
improvement in public sentiment, Solomon Paine sent to the legislature
a memorial signed by three hundred and thirty persons and asking for a
repeal of such laws as debarred people from enjoying the liberty
"granted by God and tolerated by the King."[128] It was known to these
memorialists that a revision of the laws, first undertaken in 1742,
was nearing completion, and their desire was that all obnoxious or
unfair acts should be repealed. The petition met with a sharp rebuff,
and, as a punishment, three members were expelled from the Assembly
for being Separatists. But by such measures the Old Lights were
overreaching themselves. A mark of the turning of public opinion was
given this same year, when, upon the request of his old church in
Hebron, the church vouching for his work and character, the Assembly
restored to his ministerial rights and privileges the Rev. James
Pomeroy. The unjust laws of 1742-43 and of the following years were
never formally repealed, but were quietly dropped out of the revision
of the laws issued in 1750.

Thenceforth the people began to tolerate variety in religious opinions
with better grace, and the dominant authoritative rule of the Saybrook
Platform began to wane, though for twenty years more it strove to
assert its power. In 1755, the Middletown Association advised
licensing candidates for the ministry for a term of years. The idea
was to prevent errors arising from the personal interpretation of the
Scriptures and indifference to dogmatic truths of religion from
creeping into the churches. About the same time, the Consociation of
New Haven invited their former member, Mr. Bobbins of Branford, to sit
with them again at the installation of Mr. Street of East
Haven. Conciliatory acts and measures such as these originated with
both the Old and New Lights, and did much to lessen the division
between them. Discussion turned more and more from personal opinions,
character, and abilities, to considerations of doctrinal points. The
churches found more and more in common, while worldly interests left
the masses with only a half-hearted concern in church discussions.

To summarize the effect of the Great Awakening as evidenced by the
great schism and its results thus far considered: The strength of the
revival movement, as such, was soon spent. The number of its converts
throughout New England was estimated by Dr. Dexter to be as high as
forty or fifty thousand, while later writers put it as low as ten or
twelve thousand, out of the entire population of three hundred
thousand souls. The years 1740-42 were the years of the Great
Awakening, and after them there were comparatively few conversions
during any given time. Even in Jonathan Edwards's own church in
Northampton there were no converts between 1744 and 1748. The
influence of the Great Awakening was not, however, transient, nor was
it confined to the Congregational churches, whether of the Cambridge
or the Saybrook type. Baptist churches felt the impetus, receiving
many directly into their membership, and also indirectly, from those
Separatist churches which found themselves too weak to
endure. Episcopalians added to their numbers from among religiously
inclined persons who sought a calm and stable church home unaffected
by church and political strife. The Great Awakening created the
Separatist movement and the New Light party, revitalized the
Established churches, invigorated others, and through the persecution
and counter-persecution that the great schism produced, taught the
Connecticut people more and more of religious tolerance, and so
brought them nearer to the dawn of religious liberty. Such liberty
could only come after the downfall of the Saybrook, Platform, and
after a complete severance of Church and State. The last could not
come for three quarters of a century. Meanwhile the leaven of the
great revival would be working. On its intellectual side, the Great
Awakening led to the discussion of doctrinal points, an advance from
questions of church polity. These themes of pulpit and of religious
press led, finally, to a live interest in practical Christianity and
to a more genial religion than that which had characterized the
Puritan age. The Half-Way Covenant had been killed. Education had
received a new impulse, Christian missions were reinvigorated, and the
monthly concert of prayer for the conversion of the world was
instituted. [129] True, French and Indian wars, the Spanish
entanglement with its West Indian expedition, and the consuming
political interests of the years 1745-83, shortened the period of
energetic spiritual life, and ushered in another half century of
religious indifference. But during that half century the followers of
Edwards and Bellamy were to develop a less severe and more winning
system of theology, and the fellowship of the churches was to suggest
the colonial committees of safety as a preliminary to the birth of a
nation, founded upon the inherent equality of all men before the
law. This conception of political and civil liberty was to develop
side by side with a clearer notion of the value of religious freedom.


[a] This term came with the royal charter of 1662, but only gradually
displaced the familiar "General Court."

[b] The Milford church, like that of New Haven, suffered for many
years from unjust exactions and taxation.

[c] Commencement then came in September.

[d] And this notwithstanding their willingness to include in their
affirmation a denial of Mariolatry, purgatory, and other vital Romish



That house cannot stand.--Mark iii, 25.

The times change and we change with them.--Proverb.

The omission of all persecuting acts from the revision of the laws in
1750 was evidence that the worst features of the great schism were
passing, that public opinion as a whole had grown averse to any great
severity toward the Separatists as dissenters. But the continuance in
the revised statutes of the Saybrook Platform as the legalized
constitution of the "Presbyterian, Congregational or Consociated
Church," and the almost total absence of any provision for exempting
Congregational Separatists from the taxes levied in its behalf,
operated, notwithstanding the many acts of conciliation between these
two types of churches, to revive at times the milder forms of
persecution. And such injustice would continue until the Separatists
as a body were legally exempted from ecclesiastical rates, and until
the Saybrook Platform was either formally annulled or, in its turn,
quietly dropped from the statute book. But henceforth, the measure of
intolerance would be determined more by local sentiment and less by
the text of the law, more by the proportion of Old Lights to New in a
given community. And the measure of toleration must eventually take
the form of legalized rights rather than of special privileges, and
this through a growing appreciation of the value of the Separatists as
citizens. The abrogation of the Saybrook Platform might follow upon a
reaffiliation of all Presbyterians and all Congregationalists in a new
spirit of mutual tolerance and helpfulness. Whatever the events or
influences that should bring about this reaffiliation, the new bonds
of church life would necessarily lack the stringency of the palmy days
of Saybrook autocratic rule. Consequently when such a time arrived,
the Platform, at least in its letter, could be dropped from the
law-book. The old colonial laws for the support of religion would
still suffice to protect and exalt the Establishment, and to preserve
it as the spiritual arm of the State. It so happened that toleration
was granted to the Separatists at the beginning of the Revolutionary
struggle, and that the abrogation of the Saybrook Platform followed
close upon its victorious end. Many influences, both religious and
secular, had their part in bringing about these progressive steps
toward religious freedom, toward full and free liberty of conscience.

The revision of the laws completed in 1750 had been under
consideration since 1742. At the beginning of the great schism, the
important task had been placed in the hands of a committee consisting
of Roger Wolcott, Thomas Fitch, Jonathan Trumbull, and John Bulkley,
Judge of the Superior Court. The first three names are at once
recognized as Connecticut's chief magistrates in 1750-54, 1754-66,
1769-1783, respectively. During the eight years that the revision was
in the hands of this committee, the church quarrel had passed its
crisis; the Old Lights had slowly yielded their political, as well as
their ecclesiastical power; and their controlling influence was
rapidly passing from them. The Old French War, with its pressing
affairs, had so affected the life of the colony as to lessen religious
fervor, weaken ecclesiastical animosities, and, at the same time, to
develop a broader conception of citizenship.

English influence, moreover, had modified the ecclesiastical laws in
the revision of 1750. The Connecticut authorities, when imbued with
the persecuting spirit, did not always stop to distinguish between the
legally exempt Baptist dissenters and the unexempted Separatists. This
was due in part to the fact that many of the latter, like the church
of which Isaac Backus was the leader, went over to the Baptist
denomination. The two sects held similar opinions upon all subjects,
except that of baptism. It was much easier to obtain exemption from
ecclesiastical taxes by showing Baptist certificates than to run the
risk of being denied exemption when appeal was made to the Assembly,
either individually or as a church body, the form of petition demanded
of these Separatists. The persecuted Baptists at once turned to
England for assistance, and to the Committee of English Dissenters, of
which Dr. Avery was chairman.

This committee had been appointed to look after the interests of all
dissenters, both in England and in her colonies, for the English
dissenting bodies were growing in numbers and in political
importance. To this committee the Connecticut Baptists reported such
cases of persecution as that of the Saybrook Separatist church, which
in 1744 suffered through the arrest of fourteen of its members for
"holding a meeting contrary to law on God's holy Sabbath day." These
fourteen people were arraigned, fined, and driven on foot through deep
mud twenty-five miles to New London, where they were thrust into
prison for refusing to pay their fines, and left there without fire,
food, or beds. There they were kept for several weeks, dependent for
the necessaries of life upon the good will of neighboring
Baptists.[130] The Separatists could report the trials of the Separate
church of Canterbury, of that of Enfield, of the First Separate church
of Milford, hindered in the exercise of its legal rights for over
twenty years, and they could also recount the persecution of churches
and of individuals in Wethersfield, Windsor, Middletown, Norwich, and
elsewhere. Upon receiving such reports, Dr. Avery had written, "I am
very sorry to hear of the persecuting spirit which prevails in
Connecticut.... If any gentleman that suffers by these coercive laws
will apply to me, I will use my influence that justice be done them."
The letter was read in the Assembly, and is said to have influenced
the committee of revision, causing them to omit the persecuting laws
of 1742-44, in order that they might no longer be quoted against the
colony. Governor Law replied to Dr. Avery that the disorders and
excesses of the dissenters had compelled the very legislation of which
they complained. To which Dr. Avery returned answer that, while
disorders were to be regretted, civil penalties were not their proper
remedy. This was a sentiment that was gaining adherents in the colony
as well as in England. Among other instances of persecution among the
Baptists was that of Samuel, brother of Isaac Backus, who in 1752,
with his mother and two members of the Baptist society, was imprisoned
for thirteen days on account of refusal to pay the ecclesiastical
taxes.[131] Another was that of Deacon Nathaniel Drake, Jr.,[132] of
Windsor, who, in 1761, refused to pay the assessment for the Second
Society's new meeting-house. For six years the magistrates wrestled
with the Deacon, striving to collect the assessment. But the Deacon
was obstinate, and rather than pay a tax of which his conscience
disapproved, he preferred to be branded in the hand. Outside of
Baptist or Separatist, there were other afflicted churches, such as
that of Wallingford,[133] where the New Lights could complain that, in
1758, the Consociation of New Haven county had refused to install the
candidate of the majority, Mr. Dana; and had attempted to discipline
the twelve ministers who had united in ordaining him; and that as a
result the twelve were forced to meet in an Association by themselves
for fourteen years, or until 1772.

The Separatists attempted to obtain exemption through petitions to the
Assembly, trusting that, as each new election sent more and more New
Lights to that body, each prayer for relief would be more favorably
received. One of the most important of these petitions was that of
1753, when more than twenty Separatist churches, representing about a
thousand members, united in an appeal wherein they complained of the
distraining of their goods to meet assessments and taxes for the
benefit of the Established churches; of imprisonments, with consequent
deprivation of comforts for their families; and of the danger to the
civil peace threatened by these evils. The Assembly refused
redress. Whereupon the petition was at once reconstructed,[a] and,
with authentic records and testimonies, to which Governor Fitch set
the seal of Connecticut, was sent, in 1756, [134] to London. The
Committee in behalf of Dissenters were to see that it was presented to
the King in Council. The petition charged violation of the colony's
charter, excessive favoritism, and legislation in favor of one
Christian sect to the exclusion of all others and to the oppression,
even, of some. The English Committee thought that these charges might
anger the King and endanger the Connecticut charter. Accordingly, they
again wrote to the Connecticut authorities, remonstrating with them
because of their treatment of dissenters. At the same time, they sent
a letter advising the petitioners to show their loyalty to the best
interests of the colony by withdrawing their complaint. These
dissenters were further advised to begin at once a suit in the
Connecticut courts for their rights, and with the intent of carrying
their case to England, should the colony fail to do them
justice. Legal proceedings were immediately begun, but were allowed to
lapse, partly because of the press of secular interests, for the
colonial wars, the West India expedition, and other affairs of great
moment claimed attention, and partly because there were indications
that the government would regard the Separatists more favorably.

In the colony itself a change was taking place through which the
college was to go over to the side of the New Lights. In 1755,
President Clap had established the College Church in order to remove
the students from the party strife that was still distracting the
churches. In order to avoid a conflict over the matter, he refused to
ask the consent of the Assembly, claiming the right of an incorporated
college and the precedent of the English universities, since, in 1745,
the Assembly had formally incorporated "The President and Fellows of
Yale College," vesting in them all the usual powers appertaining to
colleges. In the same year, also, the initial step toward establishing
a chair of divinity had been taken, and it became the first toward the
founding of the separate College Church. President Clap always
maintained that "the great design of founding Yale was to educate
ministers in our way,"[135] and the chair of divinity had been
established in answer to the suggestion of the Court that the college
take measures to protect its students from the New Light
movement. President Clap was hurried on in his policy of establishing
the College Church both by his desire to separate the students from
the New Light controversy in Mr. Noyes's church, where they were wont
to attend, and by an appeal to him, in 1753, of Rector Punderson, the
priest recently placed in charge of the Church-of-England mission in
New Haven. The rector had two sons in college, and he asked that they
and such other collegians as were Episcopalians might be permitted to
attend the Church-of-England services. President Clap refused to give
the desired permission, except for communion and some special
services, and he at once proceeded to organize a church within the
college. The trustees and faculty upheld him, but the Old Lights, then
about two-thirds of the deputies to the Assembly, opposed his course
of action, and succeeded in taking away the annual grant that, at the
incorporation of the college, had been given to Yale. After this, they
regarded President Clap as a "political New Light," but as the latter
party increased in the Assembly, and became friendly to Yale, the
college gradually reinstated itself in the favor of the legislature.

If in his petitions the Separatist demanded only exemption, only that
much toleration, in his controversial writings he ably argued the
right of all men to full liberty of conscience. Unfortunately, the
ignorance and follies of many of the Separatists, when battling in
advance of their age for religious liberty, militated against the
logic of their position. Harmony among themselves would have commended
and strengthened their cause, and given it a forceful dignity. They
blundered, as did their English predecessors of a much earlier date,
by laying too much stress upon the individual, upon his
interpretations of Scripture, and upon his right of criticism. Much of
their work in behalf of religious liberty took the form of
pamphleteering. Again, it was their misfortune that the Establishment
could boast of writers of more ability and of greater training. Yet
the Separatists had some bold thinkers, some able advocates, and, as
time wore on, and their numbers were increased and disciplined, the
strength and quality of their petitions and published writings
improved greatly. Sometimes these dissenters were helped by the
theories of their opponents, which, when pushed to logical conclusions
and practical application, often became strong reasons for granting
the very liberty the Separatists sought. Sometimes an indignant member
of the Establishment, smarting under its interference, was roused to
forceful expression of the broader notions of personal and church
liberty that were slowly spreading through the community. A few
extracts from typical pamphlets of the time will give an idea of the
atmosphere surrounding the disputants.

In 1749, a tract was issued from the New London press by one
E. H. M. A. entitled, "The present way of the Country in maintaining
the Gospel ministry by a Public Rate or Tax is Lawful, Equitable, and
agreable to the Gospel; As the same is argued and proved in way of
Dialogue between John Queristicus and Thomas Casuisticus, near
Neighbors in the County." In answer to this, and for the purpose of
vindicating the religious practices and opinions of the Separatists,
Ebenezer Frothingham, a Separatist minister, took the field in 1750 as
the champion of religious liberty. His book of four hundred and fifty
pages had for its title "The Articles of Faith and Practice with the
Covenant that is confessed by the Separate Churches of Christ in this
land. Also a discourse." So influential and so characteristic was this
work, that rather long extracts from it are permissible, and, with a
few arguments from other writers, will serve to reflect the thought
and feeling of the day, and will best give the point of view of both
dissenter and member of the Establishment, of liberal and
conservative; for the pamphlet of the period was apt to be religious
or political, or more likely both.

Frothingham, speaking of the injustice done the Separatists, writes:--

That religion that hath not authority and power enough within
itself to influence its professors to support the same, without
Bargains, Taxes or Rates, and the Civil Power, and Prisons, &c. is
a false Religion. ... Now, if the Religion generally professed
and practiced in this land, be the Religion of Jesus Christ, why
do they strain away the Goods of the Professors of it, and waste
their substance to support it? which has frequently been done. And
which is worse, why do they take their Neighbors (that don't
worship with them, but have solemnly covenanted to worship God in
another place) by the throat, and cast them into Prison? or else
for a Rate of Twenty Shillings, Three or Six Pounds, send away
Ten, Twenty, or Thirty Pounds worth of Goods, and set them up at
Vendue; where they will generally assemble the poor, miserable
Drunkard, and the awful foul-mouthed Swearer, and the bold,
covetous, Blasphemous Scoffer at things Sacred and Divine, and the
Scum of Society for the most part will be together, to count and
make their Games about the Goods upon Sale, and at the owners of
them too, and at the Holy Religion that the Owners thereof
profess; and at such Vendues there are rarely any solid, thinking
men to be found there; or if there are any such present, they do
not care to act in that oppressive way of supporting the
Gospel. Such men find something is the matter. God's Vice-regent
in their Breasts, tells them it is not equal to make such Havock
of men's Estates, to support a Worship they have nothing to do
with; yes, the Consciences of these persons will trouble them so
that they had rather pay twice their part of the Rates, and so let
the oppressed Party go free.

Upon the difficulty of securing collectors, Frothingham remarks: "If
it be such a good Cause, and no good men in the Society, to undertake
that good Work, surely then such a Society is awfully declined, if
that is the case." Frothingham quotes the Suttler of the "Dialogue" as
saying, "We have good reason to believe, that if this Hedge of human
Laws, and Enclosure of Order round the Church, were wholly broken
down, and taken away, there would not be, ('t is probable) one regular
visible Church left subsisting in this land, fifty years hence, or, at
most, not many. "To this, Frothingham replied that if by the "visible
church, here spoken of," is meant "Anti-Christ's Church, we should be
apt to believe it," for "it needs Civil Power, Rates and Prisons to
support it. But if the Gospel Church, set up at first without the aid
of civil power could continue and spread, why can't it subsist without
the Civil Power now as well as then?" "To this day," this author adds,
"the true Church of Christ is in bondage, by usurping Laws that
unrighteously intrude upon her ecclesiastical Rights and civil
Enjoyments; .... And Wo! Wo! to New England! for the God-provoking
Evil, which is too much indulged by the great and mighty in the
Land. The cry of oppression is gone up into the ears of the Lord God
of Sabbaoth."

Frothingham thrusts at the payment or support of the ministry by
taxation in his assertion that "there is no instance of Paul's
entering into any civil Contract or Bargain, to get his wages or Hire,
in all his Epistles; but we have frequent accounts of his receiving
free contributions."[136] (Here, he but repeats a part of the Baptist
protest in the Wightman-Bulkley debate of 1707.) Frothingham states
that "the scope and burden of it [his book] were to shew ... both
from scripture and reason that the standing ministers and Churches in
this Colony [Connecticut] are not practising in the rule of God's

The book at once commanded the attention desired by its author. It
drew upon Frothingham the concentrated odium of the Rev. Moses
Bartlett, pastor of the Portland church, in a fifty-four-paged
pamphlet entitled "False and Seducing Teachers." Among such Bartlett
includes and roundly denounces Frothingham and the two Paines, Solomon
and his brother Elisha. Elisha Paine had removed to Long
Island. Returning to Canterbury for some of his household goods, he
was seized by the sheriff for rates overdue, and thrown into Windham
jail.[137] After waiting some weeks for his release, he sent the
following bold and spicy letter to the Canterbury assessors:--

To you gentlemen, practioners of the law from your prisoner in
Windham gaol, because his conscience will not let him pay a
minister that is set up by the laws of Connecticut, contrary to
his conscience and consent.

The Roman Emperor was called Pontifex Maximus, because he presided
over civil and ecclesiastical affairs; which, is the first beast
that persecuted the Christians that separated from the Established
religion, which they call the holy religion of their forefathers;
and by their law, fined, whipped, imprisoned and killed such as
refused obedience thereto. We all own that the Pope or Papal
throne is the second beast, because he is the head of the
ecclesiastical, and also meddles in civil affairs.... He also
compels all under him to submit to his worship, decrees and laws,
by whips, fines, prisons, fire and fagots. Now what your prisoner
requests of you is a clear distinction between the Ecclesiastical
Constitution of Connecticut, by which I am now held in prison, and
the aforesaid two thrones or beasts in the foundation,
constitution and support thereof. For if by Scripture and reason
you can show they do not all stand on the throne mentioned in
Psalm xciv: 20, [b] but that the latter is founded on the Rock
Christ Jesus, I will confess my fault and soon clear myself of the
prison. But if this Constitution hath its rise from _that
throne_ ... better is it to die for Christ, than to live
against him.

From an old friend to this civil constitution, and long your


WINDHAM JAIL, Dec. 11, 1752.

In 1744, in addition to his memorials and letters, Solomon Paine had
published "A Short View of the Constitution of the Church of Christ,
and the Difference between it and the Church Established in
Connecticut." Frothingham, when alluding to Moses Bartlett's
denunciation of himself and Paine, refers to this book in his remark,
"Elder Paine and myself have labored to prove, and I think it evident,
that the religious Constitution of this Colony is not founded upon the
Scriptures of truth, but upon men's inventions."

In the year 1755, the same in which he established the college church,
President Clap issued his "History and Vindication of the doctrines
received and established in the Churches of New England," [c] to which
Thomas Darling's "Some Remarks on President Clap's History" was a
scathing rejoinder. Darling asserted that for the President to uphold
the Saybrook System of Consociated Churches was to set up the
standards of men, a thing the forefathers never did;[138] that the
picture of the Separatists' "New Scheme," which the President drew,
was a scandalous _spiritual_ libel;[139] and then, falling into
the personal attacks permitted in those days, Darling adds that
President Clap was an overzealous sycophant of the General Assembly, a
servant of politics rather than of religion, and that it would be
better for him to trust to the real virtues of the Consociated Church
to uphold it than to strive for legal props and legislative favors for
his "ministry-factory,"[140] the college. To raise the cry of heresy,
Darling declared, was the President's political powder, and "The
Church, the Church is in danger!" his rallying cry. He concluded his
arraignment with:--

But would a man be tried, judged and excommunicated by such a
standard as this? No! Not so long as they had one atom of
_common_ sense left. These things will never go down in a
free State, where people are bred in, and breathe the free air,
and are formed upon principles of liberty; they might answer in a
popish country, or in _Turkey_, where the common people are
sank and degraded almost to the state of brutes.... But in a free
state they will be eternally ridiculed and abhorred.... 'T is too
late in the Day for these things, these gentlemen should have
lived twelve or thirteen hundred years ago.

Among the champions of religious liberty was the Seventh-day Baptist,
John Bolles. He wrote "To worship God in Spirit and in Truth, is to
worship him in true Liberty of Conscience," and also "Concerning the
Christian Sabbath, which that Sabbath commanded to Israel, after they
came out of Egypt, was a Sign of. Also Some Remarks upon a Book
written by Ebenezer Frothingham." These works were published in 1757,
and, five years later, called out in defense of the Establishment
Eobert Ross's "Plain Address to the Quakers, Moravians, Separates,
Separatist-Baptists, Rogerines, and other Enthusiasts on immediate
impulses, and Revelation, &c," wherein the author considers all those
whom he addresses as on a level with Frothingham, whom he names and
scores for "trampling on all Churches and their Determinasions, but
your own, with the greatest disdain."[141]

In the same year, 1762, the Separatist Israel Holly published a
defense of his opinions, quoting freely from Dr. Watts and from his
own earlier work, "A Seasonable Plea for Liberty of Conscience, and
the Eight of private Judgment in matters of Religion, without any
control from Human Authority." This "A Word in Zion's Behalf" [d]
boldly ranges itself with Frothingham and Bolles, arguing against, and
emphatically opposing, the state control of religion. Holly also
engaged in a printed controversy, publishing in connection with it
"The Power of the Congregational Church to ordain its officers and
govern itself."

In 1767, while the Separatists still outnumbered the Baptists in
Connecticut, Ebenezer Frothingham put forth another powerful and
closely argued tract, "A Key to unlock the Door, that leads in, to
take a fair view of the Religious Constitution Established by Law in
the Colony of Connecticut," [e] etc. In his preface he states:--

The main Thing I have in View thro' the whole of this Book is free
Liberty of Conscience... the Right of thinking and choosing and
acting for one's self in matters of Religion, which respects God
and Conscience ... for my Readers may see Liberty of Conscience,
was the main and leading Point in View in planting this Land and

Frothingham defines the Religious Constitution as "certain Laws in the
Colony Law Book, called ecclesiastical, with the Confession of Faith,
agreed upon by the Elders and Messengers of the Churches, met at
Saybrook, especially the Articles of Administration of Church
Discipline." This Constitution Plan "gives the General Assembly (which
is, and always should so remain, a civil body to transact in civil and
moral things) power to constitute or make a spiritual or
ecclesiastical body."[142]

Such power, Frothingham maintains, is contrary to reason. Citing from
the Colony Law Book the statute, "Concerning who shall vote in town or
Society meeting" Frothingham comments thus:--

This supposes no person to have a right to form themselves into a
religious society without their [the Assembly's] leave. No,--not
King George the Third himself would have liberty to worship God
according to his conscience. [Yet] any Atheist, Deist, Arian,
Socinian, a Prophane Drunkard, a Sorcerer, a Thief, if they have
such a freehold (as the law demands), can vote to keep out a
minister. [Such a] plan challenges the sole right of making
religious societies and the government of conscience. Yea, I think
it assumes the prerogative that belongs to the Son of God

The fines for the neglect of the established worship and for
assembling for worship approved by conscience [leave] no gap for
one breath of gospel liberty. For if we exercise our gifts and
graces in the lawful assemblies, we are had up, and carried to
prison, for making disturbance on the Sabbath. I myself have been
confined in Hartford prison near five months, for nothing but
exhorting and warning the people, after the public worship was
done and the assembly dismissed. And while I was there confined,
three more persons were sent to prison; one for exhorting, and two
for worshipping God in a private house in a separate meeting. And
quick after I was released, by the laws being answered by natural
relations unbeknown to me, then two brethren more was committed
for exhorting and preaching, and several afterward, for attending
the same duties and I myself was twice more sent to prison for the
ministers rates.[144]

I have no Man or Men's persons as such, in View in my Writings,
But would as much as is proper, separate Ministers, Civil Rulers,
and Churches, from the Constitution, and consider this Religious
Constitution as it is compiled or written, as though it was not
established in this Colony; but presented here from some remote
part of Christendom, for Examination, to see if it was according
to the Word of God, and the sacred Right of Conscience.[145]

In scathing terms, Frothingham attacks the "Anti-Christian" character
of the Establishment and its fear that, by granting liberty of
conscience, an open door for church separation would result, and
thereby its speedy downfall, because of the multiplication of churches
and the loss of taxes enforced for its support. Experience had taught
the authorities that, even when all the people favored one form of
religion, compulsory support had to be resorted to as a spur to
individual contributious. Moreover, the best governments of which they
knew had recourse to a similar system in order to maintain purity of
religion and the moral welfare of the state. The authorities could not
see, as did the champion of religious liberty, the opportunities of
oppression that such a system afforded; nor could they feel with him
the harshness of its taxation, nor the injustice of distraining
dissenters' goods,--or, as he phrased it, "their lack of faith in God
and in God's people to uphold religion." They certainly would not
acknowledge Frothingham's charge that they seriously feared the loss
of political power through the granting of soul liberty, and as a
consequence the probable disintegration of the Establishment.

Frothingham argues that to suffer the existence of different sects
would really strengthen the authority of the colony; since,--

when persons know that the Most High is alone the absolute Lord of
Conscience; that no mortal breathing has any right to hinder them
from thinking and acting for themselves, in religious
affairs... the law of nature, reason and grace will lay subjects
under strong obligations to their rulers, when equal justice is
ministered to them of different principles, in the practice of
religion. [l46]

Frothingham confutes the declaration that there was liberty of
conscience in the colony, "for the separates have gone to the General
Assembly with their prayers, from year to year, asking nothing but
their just rights, full and free liberty of conscience, and have been,
and still are, denied their request."

Furthermore, the colony law supported criminals in prison and gave the
poor man's oath to debtors, but nothing to the man who was in prison
for conscience's sake. Such a one was dependent upon the charity of
his friends for the very necessities of life. Such laws and the
ecclesiastical constitution which they support become--

a forfeiture of the charter grant because they exercise that
oppression and persecution contrary to its first intent, and are
the direct cause of contention and disunion, which is repugnant to
the principal design of constituting the colony; viz. that it "May
be so religiously, peaceably and civilly governed as may win and
invite the natives to the Christian faith." [l47]

This "Key to unlock the Door" was probably the strongest work put
forth from the dissenter's standpoint, and within three years it was
followed by a legislative act granting a measure of toleration. But
there were other important books of similar character. Two among these
were Robert Bragge's "Church Discipline,"[f] reprinted in 1768, and
Joseph Brown's (Baptist) "Letter to the Infant Baptizers of North
Parish in New London." Brown closes his book with a mild and
reasonable appeal to every one to try to put himself in the place of
the oppressed dissenter.[g] In Brown's argument, as in that of the
majority of the dissenters, the plea is for toleration in the choice
of the form of religion to be supported, and not for liberty to
support or neglect religion itself. Those who believed in the
voluntary support of religion were not seeking exemption as
individuals, but as organized societies or churches, whose highest
privilege it was to support Christ's teachings. Considered from this
point of view, they were only seeking those privileges which had been
granted the Episcopalians, the Quakers, and Baptists in
1727-29. Looked at from the point of view of the government, however,
these Separatists varied so slightly from the legalized polity and
worship, and yet withal so dangerously, that they did not deserve to
be classed as "sober dissenters." To recognize them as such would be
to set the seal of approval upon all who chose to question the
authority, or the righteousness, of the Saybrook system. With the fear
of such an undermining of authority, and realizing the increasing
tendency of churches throughout the colony to renounce the Saybrook
Platform, the very conservative people felt that to grant toleration
to the Separatists might prove disastrous both to Church and civil

While the Baptists and the Separatists were waging the battle for
toleration and for religious liberty with the great weapon of their
time,--the pamphlet,--the Consociated Churches were also making
valiant use of it, not only in defense of the Establishment, but in
controversial warfare among themselves, for in the New England of the
second half of the eighteenth century, two schools of religious
thought were slowly developing. They gained converts more rapidly as
the means of communication, of publication, and of exchange of opinion
increased. The improvement of roads, the introduction of carriages and
coaches, the establishment of printing-presses, and the founding of
newspapers, were important agents in developing and moulding public
opinion. Of these, the printing-press was foremost, for with its
pamphlet and its newspaper it gained a hearing not only in the cities,
but in the isolated farmhouses of New England, carrying on its weekly
visit the gist of the secular and religious news.

The newspaper made its first appearance in Connecticut in 1755, when
the "Connecticut Gazette" [h] issued from the recently established New
Haven press. The newspaper arrived later in the distant colony of
Connecticut than in those on the seaboard that were in closer touch
with European thought by reason of their more direct and frequent
sailing vessels. Among American newspapers, the year 1704 saw the
birth of the "Boston News Letter"; the year 1719, of the "Boston
Gazette" and of the "American Weekly Mercury" of Philadelphia. Boston
added a third paper, the "New England Courant," in 1721, while New
York issued its first sheet in 1725. Benjamin Franklin founded the
"Pennsylvania Gazette" in 1729, and, in 1741, began the publication of
the "General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for, all the British
Plantations in America." In 1743, Boston sent out the "American
Magazine and Historical Chronicle," containing, along with European
news, not only lists of new books and excerpts therefrom, but full
reprints of the best essays from the English magazines. New York, in
1752, issued the "Independent Reflector," a magazine of similar
character. Thus, through papers and magazines, as well as through a
limited importation of books, and through personal correspondence, the
life of Europe, and preeminently of England, was brought home to the

In the religious non-prelatical world of England, the Presbyterian
churches were undergoing a transformation, and were, by 1750,
prevailingly Arian. The English Congregationalists resisted Arianism,
but they, also, felt its influence, as well as that of Arminianism,
and they began to attach less importance to creeds, and to develop a
broader tolerance of many shades of religious belief. New England
sympathized more with the Congregational movement, but, as interest in
both was awakened, English thought came to have great influence in the
religious development of New England during the next half-century.
Broadly speaking of these progressive changes, Connecticut, and
Connecticut-trained men in western Massachusetts, developed the
so-called New Divinity, while Massachusetts clergy, especially those
of her eastern section, favored that liberal theology which, after the
Revolutionary period, gave rise to the Unitarian conflict.

The older religious controversies had concerned themselves with church
polity, or, popularly speaking, with what men thought concerning their
relation to God through his church, in distinction from doctrine, or
what men felt should be their attitude towards God and their
fellow-men. Pushing aside polity and doctrine, the twentieth century
emphasizes action, or man's reflection of the life of Christ. Doctrine
came to the front with Jonathan Edwards. In his opposition to the
Arminian teaching of the value of a sincere obedience to God's laws
and "the efficacy of means of grace," Jonathan Edwards asserted the
Calvinistic idea of the sovereignty of God, and maintained that
justification was by faith alone; but his idea of justification held
within it the duty of personal responsibility in loving and obeying
God. Edwards, though defining love as general benevolence, a delight
in God's holiness, and the essence of all true virtue, did introduce,
as factors in personal religion, the will and the emotions. These
characteristics of true, personal religion, as his mind, influenced by
the Great Awakening, conceived and elaborated them, he set forth in
his "Religious Affections," published in 1746. In his "Qualifications
for Full Communion," 1749, he again dwelt upon the same theme; but his
main purpose was to uproot the Half-Way Covenant practice and the
Stoddardean view of the Lord's supper. He attempted to do this by
exposing the inefficiency of "means," and at English Arminianism in
particular Edwards leveled his "Freedom of the Will," [i] published in
1754. His friend and disciple, Joseph Bellamy, put forth in 1750 "True
Religion Delineated," wherein he advances from Edwards's limited
atonement theory to that of a general one. [j] In 1758, Bellamy, in
brilliant dialogue, replied to "A Winter's Evening Conversation Upon
the Doctrine of Original Sin in which the Notion of our having sinned
in Adam and being on that Account only liable to eternal Damnation, is
proved to be unscriptural," a book by Rev. Samuel Webster of
Salisbury, Massachusetts, and of which a reprint had appeared from the
New Haven Press in 1757, the year of its publication. Bellamy took
sides with the Rev. Peter Clark of Danvers, Massachusetts, who replied
in "A Summer Morning's Conversation." Both men summoned as their
authority a work of Edwards, "Original Sin Defended," which was about
to appear from the press, and to which Edwards's followers were
looking forward as the last work of their master, he having died while
its pages were still in press. Edwards had destined the book to be a
refutation of English Arianism of the Taylor school, of which Webster
was a follower. This same year, 1758, Bellamy discoursed upon "The
Wisdom of God in the Permission of Sin," and gave a series of sermons
on "The Divinity of Jesus Christ," a defense of the Trinity, which
Jonathan Mayhew of Boston had attacked. Bellamy may have felt that
this defense was due from a Connecticut man because the colony,
strenuously orthodox, had in the revision of the laws in 1750 added
the requirement of a belief in the Trinity, and caused the denial
thereof to be ranked as felony. Denial of the Trinity, or of the
divine inspiration of the Scriptures, was punishable, for the first
offense, by ineligibility to office, whether ecclesiastical, civil, or
military, and, upon a second conviction, by disability to sue, to act
as guardian or as administrator. [148] Though there was never a
conviction under the statute, the presence of such a law in the colony
code indicates the religious temper of her people at a time when
radical changes were creeping into man's conception of religion.

Joseph Bellamy's influence, great as it was as writer and preacher,
was even greater as a teacher. His home in Bethlehem from 1738 to
1790 was virtually a divinity school, and it is estimated that at
least sixty students, trained in his system of theology and in his
antagonism to the Half-Way Covenant, [k] spread through New England
an influence counter to that of the Mayhews, Briant, [l] Webster, and
other disciples of the Liberal Theology. Upon Bellamy, as a leader,
fell Edwards's mantle.

While Bellamy was the great exponent of Jonathan Edwards's teachings
in Connecticut, another friend and famous pupil of the great divine's,
Samuel Hopkins, taught at Great Barrington, Massachusetts, 1743-69,
and in Newport, Ehode Island, 1770-1803, urging an extension of his
master's principles--especially of that of "benevolence." Hopkins,
however, attributed a certain value to "means of grace," while
teaching that sin and virtue consist in exercise of the will, or in
definite acts. [m] Consequently, he included in his theology a denial
of man's responsibility for Adam's sin, which Edwards had
maintained. Hopkins advocated also a willing and disinterested
submission to'God's will, the Hopkinsian "to be saved or damned,"
since God, in his wisdom, will do that which is best for his
universe. These characteristic doctrines, both of Bellamy and Hopkins,
were modified by the younger generation of students, notably by
Stephen West, John Smalley, Jonathan Edwards, Jr., and--greatest of
all--Nathaniel Emmons, who, together with the first Timothy Dwight,
were to introduce two sub-schools of the New Divinity. [n] Emmons,
following Hopkins, developed extreme views of sin, even in little
children; held the theories of reprobation and election; and was most
intensely Calvinistic. Dwight developed a more conciliatory and benign
system of theology, but his influence, as founder of a school of
religious thought, belongs to the post-Revolutionary era. Emmons held
one long pastorate at Franklin, Massachusetts, 1773-1827, [o] where,
as a trainer of youth for the ministry, his influence was greatest,
and his powers at their best. Nearly a hundred ministers passed to
their pulpits from his tutelage.

Such were the teachings that fashioned a generation of preachers, of
ministers, wielding a tremendous influence over the men and measures
of pre-Revolutionary and Revolutionary days. The clergy were then the
close friends of their parishioners; their counselors in all matters,
spiritual or worldly; and frequently their arbitrators in disputed
rights, for the legal class was still small, and its services
costly. The pastor knew intimately every soul in his parish. He was
the State's moral guardian. He was the intellectual leader and more,
for, in the scarcity of books and newspapers, not alone in his Sunday
sermon but in those on fast days and thanksgivings, and on all public
and semi-public occasions, he talked to his people upon current
events. The story is told of a clergyman who in his Sunday prayer
recounted the life of his parish during the preceding week, making
personal mention of its actors; who then passed, still praying, from
local history to the welfare of the nation, including a tribute to
Washington and a description of a battle; and who did not end his
hour-long prayer until he had anathematized the enemy, and circled the
globe for recent examples of divine wrath and benevolence. Such a
clergyman is by no means a myth. Each pastor made his own
contribution, inconspicuous or notable as it might be, to the
broadening of thought, and contributed his part to the development
among his people of ideas of personal liberty, even as the colonial
wars were developing confidence in the ability to defend that liberty
should it be endangered. A voluntary theocracy may uphold a faith
which teaches that only a very limited number are of the "elect," but,
under the ordinary conditions of life, such a belief is discouraging,
deadening, and as men threw off this idea of spiritual bondage, they
advanced to a larger conception of personal responsibility, dignity,
and freedom. Such enlargement of ideas necessitated a mutual tolerance
of diverse opinions. It also tended to create revolt against
infractions of civil liberty or violations of political justice. The
colonists were not so badly taxed--as colonial policy went--when they
made their stand for "no taxation without representation," when they
exhausted their resources in a long war because of acts of Parliament
that, had they submitted to them, would have offered a precedent for
still more repressive measures and for the overthrow of the
Englishman's right to determine, through the representatives of the
people, how the people's money should be spent.

If the town-meeting, the sermon, the religious or political pamphlet,
and the newspaper did each its part in developing a people, there was
also another factor that, starting as part of a discussion of
ecclesiastical polity, brought before all men important questions of
civil, political, and personal liberty, and of constitutional rights.
However unnecessary the severe anguish of Jonathan Mayhew's spirit,
due to his exaggerated fear of the American episcopate, he did but
express "the sincere thought of a multitude of his most rational
contemporaries." [l49] A review of events will show some reason for
the antagonism and horror that filled New England when the project of
the episcopate was revived. After the death of Queen Anne in 1714, the
Crown took no interest in the project of an American episcopate until
Thomas Sherlock became Bishop of London in 1748. The Connecticut
clergy of the Church of England, together with others of New England
and the Middle colonies, had, however, never ceased their efforts to
secure an American bishop; and now, in Bishop Sherlock, their
Metropolitan in London, they had one who firmly believed in the
necessity of colonial bishops, who deliberately refused to exercise
the traditional powers of his office, or to obtain a legal renewal of
them (in so far as they applied to the colonies), because he had
determined that by such a policy he would force the English government
to appoint one--or preferably several--American bishops. He defined
his scheme for the episcopate as one in which the Bishop was: (1) to
have no coercive power over the laity, only regulative over the
clergy; (2) to have no share in the temporal government; (3) to be of
no expense to the colonists; (4) and to have no authority, except to
ordain the clergy, in any of the colonies where the government was in
the hands of dissenters from the Church of England. This plan was
essentially the same as that advocated later by Bishops Secker and
Butler, and by succeeding bishops to the time of the
Revolution. Bishop Sherlock obtained the King's permission to submit
his plan to the English ministers of state. So great was the dread
inspired in America by the rumors of a revival of active measures for
a colonial episcopate, that a deputation, sent to England in 1749,
appointed a committee of two to wait upon those nearest to the King
and to advise them that the appointment would be "highly Prejudicial
to the Interests of Several of the Colonies." [150] This committee
redoubled its energies in 1750, and it was due to its watchfulness as
well as to the clearer foresight of the King's ministers that Bishop
Sherlock's plan was frustrated. The chief advisers of the government
objected to it on the ground that it would be repugnant to the
dissenting colonies, to the dissenters of all sorts in England, and
would also rouse in the home-land party-differences that had slumbered
since the overthrow of the Pretender in 1745.

Despite the English opposition to Bishop Sherlock's scheme, its
discussion in England and the journey of the bishop's agent through
the several American colonies to sound their sentiment had created so
much apprehension that the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel
enjoined its missionaries, in 1753, "that they take special care to
give no offence to the civil government by intermeddling with affairt,
not relating to their calling or function." Even Bishop Seeker of
Oxford, a strong adherent of Bishop Sherlock, saw fit, in 1754, to
suppress Dr. Johnson of Stratford, Connecticut, bidding his enthusiasm
wait until a more propitious season, and advising him, and the rest of
his clergy, to conciliate the dissenters. Bishop Sherlock, himself, in
1752, withdrew sufficiently from his first position to assume the
ecclesiastical oversight of the colonies, although he would not take
out a commission to renew that which had expired by the death of
Bishop Gibson. Meanwhile, Sherlock's demonstration that the Bishop of
London had little authority in law, or in fact, over the American
colonies created two parties. One [p] held that the colonies were a
part of the English nation and consequently were subject to the civil
and religious laws existing in the home country, and that the
authority of the Church of England extending to the colonies had been
reinforced by the Gibson patent of 1727-28. The other party
maintained that the colonists were not members of the Church of
England, nor subject to its rules. They quoted the Lord Chief Justice,
who declared to Governor Dummer, in 1725, that "there was no regular
establishment of any national or provincial church in these
plantations" (of New England), and that Bishop Gilman, in his letter
of May 24, 1735, to Dr. Colman had written, "My opinion has always
been that the religious state of New England is founded on an equal
liberty to all Protestants, none of which can claim the name of a
national establishment, or of any kind of superiority over the rest."
This party further maintained that no acts of Parliament, passed after
the founding of the colonies, were binding upon them, unless such acts
were specially extended to the colonies. Here again was the old
contention that had appeared in the earlier controversy over the
Connecticut Intestacy Act.

An American controversy, parallel in time with the attempt to
establish the episcopate, roused the always latent New England
hostility to the Episcopal church as one contrary to gospel
teaching. This controversy of 1747-51 [q] broke out over the validity
of Presbyterian ordination versus Episcopal. The battle surged about
the contingent questions of (1) whether the Church of England extended
to the colonies; (2) whether it was prudent for the long established
New England churches to go over to the English communion; and (3)
whether it would be lawful. In debating the last two, incidental
matters of expense, of unwise ecclesiastical dependence, and of the
consequent decay of practical godliness in the land, were discussed by
the Rev. Noah Hobart of Stratford, Conn., who represented the
Consociated churches, while Episcopacy was defended by Rev. James
Wetmore of Rye, N. Y., Dr. Johnson of Stratford, Conn., Rev. John
Beach of Reading, Conn., and by the Rev. Henry Caner of Boston.

This discussion at once suggested to a few far-sighted men that the
bishops recently proposed, and which at the end of the Seven Years'
War, in 1763, were again earnestly advocated by Bishop Seeker (who had
become Archbishop of Canterbury) should not acquire any powers in
addition to those suggested by Bishop Sherlock. The growing fear of
such increased authority flamed out again in the Mayhew controversy of
1763-65, when all the inherited Puritan dislike to the Church of
England as a religious body, and all the terror of such a hierarchy,
as a part of the English state, hurled itself into argument, and threw
to the front the discussion of the American episcopate as a measure of
English policy,--an attempt to transplant the Church as an arm of the
State; an attempt to "episcopize," to proselyte the colonies, and
eventually to overturn the New England ecclesiastical and civil
governments.[r] "It was known," wrote John Adams fifty years later,
"that neither the king nor ministry nor archbishop could appoint
bishops in America without Act of Parliament, and if Parliament could
tax us, it could establish the Church of England with all its creeds,
articles, ceremonies, and prohibit all other churches as conventicles
and schism-shops." [s] Therefore, when England declared her right to
tax the colonies, and followed it by Sugar Act and Stamp Act, the
political situation threw a lurid light about the Chandler-Chauncy
controversy [t] of 1767-71 as it rehearsed the _pros_ and
_cons_ of the proposed episcopate. The New England colonies were
greatly excited, and others shared the unrest, for, even where the
Church of England was strongest, the laity as a body preferred the
greater freedom accorded them under commissaries as sub-officers of
the Bishop of London. The indifference of the American laity as a
whole to the project of the episcopate; the impotence of the English
bishop to attain it, thwarted as he was by the threefold opposition of
the ministry, the colonial agents, and the great body of English
dissenters, did not lessen the prevailing suspicion and fear among the
colonists, especially among those of New England. They felt no
confidence in the profession [u] that authority purely ecclesiastical
would alone be accorded to the bishop, or that American churchmen
themselves would long be satisfied with a bishopric so shorn of
power. And already, on November 1, 1766, the Episcopalians of New
York, New Jersey, and Connecticut had met together in their first
annual convention at Elizabethtown. [v] The avowed object of their
conference was the defense of the liberties of the Church of England,
and "to diffuse union and harmony, and to keep up a correspondence
throughout the united body and with their friends abroad." [151]

It was a time of drawing together, whether of the colonies as
political bodies, or of their people as groups of individuals
affiliating with similar groups beyond the local boundaries. Upon
November 5, 1766, also at Elizabethtown, the Consociated Churches of
Connecticut had united with the Presbyterian Synod of New York and
Philadelphia in their first annual convention, which was composed of
Presbyterian delegates to the Synod and of representatives from the
Associations in Connecticut. While the general object was the
promotion of Christian friendship between the two religious bodies,
the spread of the gospel, and the preservation of the liberties of
their respective churches, the conventions of 1769-75 determined to
prosecute measures for preserving these same liberties, threatened "by
the attempt made by the friends of Episcopacy in the Colonies and
Great Britain, for the establishment of Diocesan Bishops in America."
[152] Accordingly this representative body at once entered into
correspondence with the Committee of Dissenters in England. In
recalling these movements towards combination, one remembers that,
among the dissenters, the Quakers had long held to their system of
Monthly, Quarterly, and Annual Meetings, to their correspondence with
the London Annual Meeting, and to the frequent interchange of
traveling preachers. In the years 1767-69, the scattered Baptists of
New England had united in the Warren (Rhode Island) Association. It
was a council for advice only, yet its approval lent multiple weight
to the influence of any Baptist preacher. It urged the collection of
all authentic reports of oppression or persecution, and a firm, united
resistance on the part of the weaker churches. [w] The founding of
Brown University, Rhode Island, as a Baptist College in 1764, gave the
sect prestige by marking their approval of education and of a "learned

To return to the subject of the episcopate, the Chandler controversy
had been precipitated by Dr. Johnson of Connecticut, who, at the
Elizabeth convention, urged that the opposition to the American
bishops was largely caused by ignorance concerning their proposed
powers and office, and that if some one would put the scheme more
fully before the people, they might be won over. The task was assigned
to Thomas Bradbury Chandler, who published his "An Appeal to the
Public," 1767. Dr. Charles Chauncy of Boston replied to Chandler,
giving the New England view of bishops in "The Appeal Answered."
Chandler, as has been said, retorted with his "The Appeal Defended,"
and the newspapers took up the controversy. The discussion turned
immediately and almost entirely from the ecclesiastical aspect, with
its dangers to New England church-life, to the political and
constitutional phases of this proposed extension of the Church of
England. The New York and Philadelphia press agitated the subject in
1768-69, while all New England echoed Mayhew's earlier denunciations
of the evils to be anticipated. In the pulpit, by the study fire, and
at the tavern-bar, leaders, scholars, people discussed the possible
loss of civil and personal liberty. Let the bishops once be seated;
and would they not introduce ecclesiastical courts, demand uniformity,
and impose a general tax for their church which might be perverted to
any use that the whim of the King and of his subservient bishops might
propose? There is no question that this subject of the episcopate,
with its political and constitutional phases, and with the
considerations of personal and civil liberty involved, did much to
familiarize the people with those principles upon which they made
their final break with England, and helped to prepare their minds for
the separation from the mother country.

In considering the various elements that contributed to the
development of the national spirit, to the destruction of that
provincialism so marked in the colonies before 1750, and to the
creation in each of breadth of thought and clearness of vision, trade
and commerce had their part. Because of them, came increasing
knowledge of the widely different habits of life in the thirteen
colonies. It came also from the association of the people of the
different sections when as soldiers of their King they were summoned
to the various wars. Still another impetus was given to the national
idea by the fashion of long, elaborate correspondence. Especially was
this true after the Albany convention of 1754, called to discuss
Franklin's Plan of Union, had introduced men of like minds, abilities,
and purpose, and also the needs of their respective sections, and had
interested them in the common welfare of all. Moreover, Franklin was
the highest representative of still another movement that roused the
slumbering intelligence of men by opening their minds to impressions
from the vast and unexplored world of natural science. He founded, in
1743, the University of Pennsylvania and the American Philosophical
Society. The recognition, in 1753, [x] of his work by European
scholars was an honor in which every American took pride as marking
the entrance of the colonies into the world of scientific
investigation. Such honorable recognition produced a widespread
interest in the stuiy of the physical world and its forces. Following
this awakening and broadening of the intellectual life, there came, at
the very dawn of the Revolution, the first out-cropping of genuine
American literature in the satires and poems of Philip Freneau of New
York, a graduate of Princeton, and in those of John Trumbull and Joel
Barlow [y] of Yale. New Haven became a centre of literary life, and
the cultivation of literature took its place beside that of the
classics, broadening the preeminently ministerial groove of the Yale

In considering some of the individual acts leading up to Connecticut's
part in the Revolution, we find that the colony had disapproved
Franklin's Plan of Union of 1754. She thought it lacking in efficiency
and in dispatch in emergencies, and possibly dangerous to the
liberties of the colonies. She also believed it liable to plunge the
colonies into heavy expense, when many of them were already
floundering in debt. Yet Connecticut had, with Massachusetts,
willingly borne the brunt of expense and loss necessary to protect the
colonies in the wars arising from French and English claims. She,
accordingly, greatly rejoiced at the Peace of Ryswick, 1763, for it
gave security to her borders by the cession of Canada to England,
brought safety to commerce and the fisheries, and promised a new era
of prosperity. The attempt of England to recoup herself for the
expenses of the war by a rigid enforcement of the Navigation Laws--an
enforcement that paralyzed commerce, and turned the open evasion of
honorable merchantmen into the treasonable acts of smugglers--grieved
Connecticut; the Sugar Act provoked her, and the proposed Stamp Act
drove her to remonstrance. Her magistrates issued the dignified and
spirited address, "Reasons why the British Colonies in America should
not be charged with Internal Taxes by Authority of Parliament." [z] It
was firmly believed in the colony that when the severity of the
English acts should be demonstrated, they would at once be removed and
some substitute, such as the proposed tax on slaves or on the fur
trade, would be adopted. Jared Ingersoll, the future stamp-officer,
carried the address to England. There it received praise as an able
and temperate state-paper. Ingersoll is credited with having succeeded
in slightly modifying the Stamp Act and in postponing somewhat the
date for its going into effect. Having done what he could to modify
the measure, and not appreciating the growth of opposition to it
during his absence, he accepted the office of Stamp-Distributer, and
returned to America, where he was straightway undeceived as to the
desirability of his office, but made his way from Boston to
Connecticut, hoping for better things. On reaching New Haven, he was
remonstrated with for accepting his office and urged to give it
up. But learning that Governor Fitch, after mature deliberation, had
resolved to take the oath to support the Stamp Act, and had done so,
though seven of his eleven Councilors, summoned for the ceremony, had
refused to witness the oath, Ingersoll decided to push on to
Hartford. Starting alone and on horseback, he rode unmolested through
the woods; but as he journeyed through the villages, group after group
of stern-looking men, bearing in their hands sticks peeled bare of
bark so as to resemble the staves carried by constables, silently
joined him, and, later, soldiers and a troop of horse. Thus he was
escorted into Wethersfield, where, virtually a prisoner, he was made
to resign his commission. The cavalcade, ever increasing, proceeded
with him to Hartford, [aa] where he publicly proclaimed his
resignation and signed a paper to that effect. Everywhere the towns
burned him in effigy. Everywhere the spirit of indignation and of
opposition spread. The "Norwich Packet" discussed the favored East
Indian monopolies and the Declaratory and Revenue Acts of
Parliament. The "Connecticut Courant" (founded in Hartford in 1764),
the "Connecticut Gazette," the "Connecticut Journal and New Haven
Post-Boy," [ab] and the "New London Gazette" encouraged the spirit of
resistance. A Norwich minister[153] preached from the text "Touch not
mine anointed," referring to the people as the "anointed" and arguing
that kings, through Acts of Parliament which take away, infringe, or
violate civil rights, touch the "anointed" people in a way forbidden
by God. This Norwich minister was not alone among the clergy, for the
sermons of the three sects, Baptist, Separatist, and Congregational,
"connected with one indissoluble bond the principles of civil
Government and the principles of Christianity." The laity of the
Episcopal church were, as a body, patriots, and so, also, were many of
their clergy; but party spirit, roused by the discussion of the
episcopate and of their relation to the King, as head of their church
as well as head of the State, tended to Toryism. From their pulpits
was more frequently heard the doctrine of passive obedience. But in
all the opposition to the Stamp Act, in all the preparations for
resistance, in the carrying out of non-importation agreements, in the
movement that created small factories and home industries to supply
the lack of English imports, and later during the struggle for
independence, the Connecticut colonists, whether Congregationalists,
patriotic Episcopalians, Baptists, or Separatists, worked as one.

Toward the Separatists, oppressed dissenters yet loyal patriots, there
began to be the feeling that some legislative favor should be
shown. Accordingly the Assembly, having them in mind, in 1770 passed
the law that--

no person in this Colony, professing the Christian protestant
religion, who soberly and conscientiously dissent from the worship
and ministry established or approved by the laws of this Colony
and attend public worship by themselves, shall incur any of the
penalties ... for not attending the worship and ministry so
established on the Lord's day or on account of their meeting
together by themselves on said day for the public worship of God
in a way agreeable to their consciences.

And in October of the same year, it was further decreed that--

all ministers of the gospel that now are or hereafter shall be
settled in this Colony, during their continuance in the ministry,
shall have all their estates lying in the same society as well as
in the same town wherein they dwell exempted out of the lists of
polls and rateable estates. [154]

But for the Separatists to obtain exemption from ecclesiastical taxes
for the benefit of the Establishment required seven more years of
argument and appeal. During the time, they and the Baptists continued
to increase in favor. The Separatist, Isaac Holly, preached and
printed a sermon upholding the Boston tea-party. The Baptists were so
patriotic as to later win from Washington his "I recollect with
satisfaction that the religious society of which you are members have
been throughout America uniformly and almost unanimously the firm
friends of civil liberty, and the persevering promoters of our
glorious revolution." [155] In 1774, good-will was shown to the
Suffield Baptists by a favorable answer to their memorial to be
relieved from illegal fines. In behalf of these Baptists, Governor
Trumbull frequently exerted his influence. He also wrote to those of
New Roxbury, who were in distress as to whether they had complied with
the law, assuring them that the act of 1770 had done away with the
older requirement of a special application to the General Assembly for
permission to unite in church estate. [156] Notwithstanding such
favor, there was still so much injustice that the Baptists of Stamford
wrote, during the rapid increase of the sect through the local
revivals of 1771-74, that the emigration from Connecticut of Baptists
was because "the maxims of the land do not well suit the genius of our
Order, and beside, the country is so fully settled, as population
increases, the surplusage must go abroad for settlements."

Among the Baptists, the most vigorous champion for mutual toleration
and for liberty of conscience was Isaac Backus, "the father of
American Baptists," and their first historian. In _An Appeal to the
Public for Religious Liberty_, Boston, 1773, after calling
attention to the lack of state provision in Massachusetts as well as
in Connecticut for ecclesiastical prisoners,[157] he thus defines the
limits of spiritual and temporal power:--

And it appears to us that the true difference and exact limits
between ecclesiastical and civil government is this. That the
church is armed with _light and truth_, to pull down the
strongholds of iniquity and to gain souls to Christ and into his
church to be governed by his rules therein; and again to exclude
such from their communion who will not be so governed; while the
state is armed with _the sword to guard the peace and to punish
those who violate the same_. Where they have been confounded
together no tongue nor pen can fully describe the mischiefs that
have ensued.

He proceeds to argue that every one has an equal right to choose his
religion, since each one must answer at God's judgment seat for his
own choice and his life's acts. Consequently, there is no warrant for
the making of religious laws and the laying of ecclesiastical
taxes. With this premise, it followed that the Baptist exemption act
of 1729 was defective and unjust, in that it demanded certificates;
and from this time there began a steadily increasing opposition to the
giving of these papers. Backus objected to the certificates upon
several grounds, chief of which were:--

(1) Because the very nature of such a practice implies an
acknowledgement that the civil power has right to set one
religious sect up above another.... It is a tacit allowance that
they have the right to make laws about such things which we
believe in our own conscience they have not.

(2) The scheme we oppose tends to destroy the purity and life of

(3) The custom which they want us to countenance is very hurtful
to civil society.... What a temptation then does it not lay for
men to contract guilt when temporal advantages are annexed to one
persuasion and disadvantages laid upon another? _i.e._, in
plain terms, how does it tend to lying hypocrisy and lying? [159]

In all his writings this man pleads the cause of religious liberty,
and, whenever possible, he emphasizes the likeness of the struggle of
the dissenters for freedom of conscience to that of the colonists for
civil liberty, and argues the injustice of wresting thousands of
dollars from the Baptists for the support of a religion to them
distasteful, while they exert themselves to the utmost to win
political freedom for all; "with what heart can we support the

Two remarkable little books of some eighty or ninety pages that were
issued from the Boston press in 1772 require a word of notice because
of their hearty welcome. Two editions were called for within the year,
and more than a thousand copies of the second were bespoken before it
went to press. They had originally been put forth, the first in 1707,
"The Churches Quarrel Espoused: or a Reply In Satyre to certain
Proposals made, etc." (the Massachusetts "Proposals of 1705"), and the
second in 1717, "A Vindication of the Government of the New England
Churches, Drawn from Antiquity; Light of Nature; Holy Scripture; the
Noble Nature; and from the Dignity Divine Providence has put upon it."
In 1772 their author, the Rev. John Wise, a former pastor of the
church in Ipswich, Massachusetts, had been dead for over forty
years. In his day, he had regarded the "Proposals" as treasonable to
the ancient polity of Congregationalism, and had attacked what he
considered their assumptions, absurdities, and inherent tyranny. His
books were forceful in their own day, serving the churches, persuading
those of Massachusetts to hold to the more democratic system of the
Cambridge Platform, and largely affecting the character of the later
polity of the New England churches. The suffering colonist of 1772,
smarting under English misrule, turned to the vigorous, clear, and
convincing pages wherein John Wise set forth the natural rights of
men, the quality of political obligation, the relative merits of
government, whether monarchies, aristocracies, or democracies, and the
well developed concept that civil government should be founded upon a
belief in human equality. In his second attempt to defend the
Cambridge Platform, Wise had advanced to the proposition that
"Democracy is Christ's government in Church and State." [160]

Such expositions as these, and those in Isaac Backus's "The Exact
Limits between Civil and Ecclesiastical Government," published in
1777, and in his "Government and Liberty described," of 1778, together
with the discussion prevalent at the time, and with the logic of the
Revolutionary events, opened the mind of the people to a clearer
conception of liberty of conscience, though their practical
application of the notion was deferred. For many years longer, persons
had to be content with a toleration that was of itself a contradiction
to religious liberty. Yet in May, 1777, such toleration was broadened
by the "Act for exempting those Persons in this State, commonly styled
Separates from Taxes for the Support of the established Ministry and
building and repairing Meeting Houses," on condition that they should
annually lodge with the clerk of the Established Society, wherein they
lived, a certificate, vouching for their attendance upon and support
of their own form of worship. Said certificate was to be signed by the
minister, elder, or deacon of the church which "they ordinarily did
attend." [161]

Israel Holly's "An Appeal to the Impartial, or the Censured Memorial
made Public, that it may speak for itself. To which is added a few
Brief Remarks upon a Late Act of the General Assembly of the State of
Connecticut, entitled an 'Act for Exempting those Persons in this
State Commonly styled Separates, from Taxes for the Support of the
Established Ministry &c.'" gave in full an "Appeal" of eleven
Separatist churches to the General Assembly in May, 1770. That body
would not suffer the petition to be read through, stopping the reader
in the midst, while some of its members went so far as to declare that
"all, who had signed it, ought to be sent for to make answer to the
Court for their action." But the majority of the legislature were not
so intolerant, so that during the session the act above mentioned was
passed. Holly, in his book, includes with the "Appeal" a severe
criticism of the new law, and, in quoting the petition, he gives a
full explanation of its text as well as the comments of the Assembly
upon it and their objections to parts of it. When recounting the long
struggle for toleration and in detail the persecutions of the Suffield
Separatists, Holly dwells upon the fact that before the recent
legislation of the Assembly, the spirit of fair dealing had in some
communities influenced the members of the Establishment in their
treatment of the Separatists. Holly also enlarges upon the
inconsistency between demanding freedom in temporal affairs from Great
Britain and refusing it in spiritual ones to fellow-citizens. The
"Censured Memorial" closes [162] with an expressed determination on
the part of the Separatists to appeal to tte Continental Congress if
the state continue to refuse to do them justice. Holly, remarking upon
the act of 1777, expresses great dissatisfaction with it as falling
short of the liberty desired, and, particularly, with its retention of
the certificate clause.

Such continued agitation of the rights of individuals and of churches
eventually created a broader public opinion, one that, permeating the
Establishment itself, tended to make its ministers resent any great
exercise of authority on the part of those among them who clung to the
strong Presbyterian construction of the Saybrook
Articles. Communications upon the subject of religious liberty were to
be found in many of the newspapers. Two governors of Connecticut wrote
pamphlets that tended to weaken the hold of the Saybrook Platform over
the people. Governor Wolcott in 1761 wrote against it, and in 1765
Governor Fitch (anonymously) explained away its authoritative
interpretation. The term "Presbyterian" came to be applied more
frequently to the conservative churches of the Establishment, and
"Congregational" to those wherein the New Light ideas prevailed. Some
years later, while the two terms were still used interchangeably, the
term "Congregational" rose in favor, and, after the Revolution,
included even the few Separatist churches. As for the latter, they had
by 1770 concluded that with reference "to our Baptist brethren we are
free to hold occasional communion with such as are regular churches
and ... make the Christian profession and acknowledge us to be
baptized." [163] For some years these two religious parties attempted
to unite in associations, but finding that they disagreed too much on
the question of baptism, they mutually decided to give up the attempt,
and separated with the greatest respect and good will toward each
other. In 1783, the Presbyterians refused to meet the Separatists in
the attempt to devise some plan of union between them, but did advance
to the concession "to admit Separatists to Ordination with the
greatest care." [164] The Presbyterians were beginning to realize that
if the Saybrook Platform was to govern the churches of the
Establishment, its old judicial interpretation must give way. An
example of the revolt to be anticipated, if such interpretation were
insisted upon, followed the attempt by the Consociation of Windham in
1780 to discipline Isaac Foster, a Presbyterian minister, for "sundry
doctrines looked upon as dangerous and contrary to the gospel;" [ac]
and a similar attempt to reprove Mr. Sage of West Simsbury drew forth
such stirring retorts from Isaac Foster and from Dan Foster, minister
of Windsor (who defended Mr. Sage), that church after church promptly
renounced the Saybrook Platform. These churches agreed with Isaac
Foster in his declaration of the absolute independence of each church
and that--

no clergyman or number of clergymen or ecclesiastical council of
whatever denomination have right to make religious creeds, canons
or articles of faith and impose them upon any man or church on
earth requiring subscription to them.... A church should be the
sole judge of its pastor's teachings so long as he teaches nothing
_expressly_ contrary to the Bible. ... The Consociation has
no right to pretend that it is a divinely instituted assembly with
the Saybrook Platform for its charter, imposing a tyranny more
intolerable on the people than that from which they are trying to
free themselves. [165]

The result of all this agitation for liberty of conscience, emphasized
by its counterpart in the political life of the state and nation, was
that in the first edition of the "Laws and Acts of the State of
Connecticut in America," [ad] appearing in 1784, all reference to the
Saybrook Platform was omitted, and all ecclesiastical laws were
grouped under the three heads entitled Eights of Conscience,
Regulations of Societies, and the Observation of the Sabbath. [166]
Under the Sunday laws, together with numerous negative commands, was
the positive one that every one, who, for any trivial reason, absented
himself from public worship on the Lord's day should pay a fine of
three shillings, or fifty cents. The society regulations remained much
the same, with the added privilege that to all religious bodies
recognized by law permission was given to manage their, temporal
affairs as freely as did the churches of the Establishment. Dissenters
were even permitted to join themselves to religious societies in
adjoining states, [ae] provided the place of worship was not too far
distant for the Connecticut members to regularly attend services. To
these terms of toleration was affixed the sole condition of presenting
a certificate of membership signed by an officer of the church of
which the dissenter was a member, and that the certificate should be
lodged with the clerk of the Established society wherein the dissenter
dwelt. While legislation still favored the Establishment, toleration
was extended with more honesty and with better grace. All strangers
coming into the state were allowed, a choice of religious
denominations, but while undecided were to pay taxes to the society
lowest on the list. Choice was also given for twelve months to
resident minors upon their coming of age, and also to widows. In any
question, or doubt, the society to which the father, husband, or head
of the household belonged, or had belonged, determined the church home
of members of the household unless the certificates of all dissenting
members were on file. If persons were undecided when the time of
choice had elapsed, and they hadjiot presented certificates, they were
counted members of the Establishment. Thus the Saybrook Platform, no
longer appearing upon the law-book, was quietly relegated to the
status of a voluntarily accepted ecclesiastical constitution which the
different churches might accept, interpreting it with only such
degrees of strictness as they chose. Consequently, all Congregational
and Presbyterian churches drew together and remained intimately
associated with the government as setting forth the form of religion
it approved.

As toleration was more freely extended, oppression quickly ceased. The
smaller and weaker sects [af] that appeared in Connecticut after 1770
received no such persecution as their predecessors. Among them the
Sandemanians [ag] appeared about 1766, and from the first created
considerable interest. The Shakers were permitted to form a settlement
at Enfield in 1780. The Universalists began making converts among the
Separatist churches of Norwich as early as 1772. The year 1784 saw
the organization of the New London Seventh-day Baptist church, the
first of its kind in Connecticut.

The abrogation of the Saybrook Platform was implied, not expressed, by
dropping it out of the revised laws of 1784. The force of custom, not
the repeal of the act of establishment, annulled it. As in the
revision of 1750, certain outgrown statutes were quietly sloughed off.
After the abrogation of the Saybrook system, the orthodox dissenters
felt most keenly the humiliation of giving the required certificates,
and the favoritism shown by the government towards Presbyterian or
Congregational churches. This favoritism did not confine itself to
ecclesiastical affairs, but showed itself by the government's
preference for members of the Establishment in all civil, judicial,
and military offices. If immediately after the Revolution this
favoritism was not so marked, it quickly developed out of all
proportion to justice among fellow-citizens.


[a] As a petition "To the King's Most Excellent Majesty in Council."

[b] "Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which
frameth mischief by law?"

[c] The "History" is brief, and the "Vindication" is largely of
President Clap's own reasons for establishing the college church. See
F. B. Dexter, "President Clap and his Writings," in _New Haven
Hist. Soc. Papers_, vol. v, pp. 256-257.

[d] "Let no man, orders of man, Civil or Ecclesiastical Rulers,
majority, or any whoever pretend they have a right to enjoyn upon me
what I shall believe and practice in matters of Religion, and I bound
to subject to their Injunctions, unless they can convince me, that in
case there should happen to be a mistake, that they will suffer the
consequences, and not I; that they will bear the wrath of God, and
suffer Damnation, in my room and stead. But if they can't do this,
don't let them pretend to a right to determine for me what religion I
shall have. For if I must stand or fall for myself, then, pray let me
judge, and act and choose (in Matters of Religion) for myself
now. Yea, when I view these things in the Light of the Day of Judgment
approaching, I am ready to cry out Hands off! Hands off! Let none
pretend a right to my subjection in matters of Religion, but my Judge
only; or, if any do require it, God strengthen me to refuse to grant
it." _A Word in Zion's Behalf._ Quoted by E. H. Gillett in
_Hist. Magazine,_ 2d series, vol. iv, p. 16.

[e] _A Key to unlock the Door, that leads in, to take a fair view of
the Religious Constitution Established by Law in the Colony of
Connecticut; With a Short Observation upon the Explanation of the
Say-Brook-Plan; and Mr. Hobart's Attempt to establish the same
Plan,_ by Ebenezer Frothingham.

[f] Robert Bragge, _Church Discipline_, London, 1738. The author
takes for his text 1 Peter ii, 45, and under ten heads considers the
Congregational church as the true Scriptural church, its rights,
privileges, etc. Under topic four, "The Charter of this House," he
says: "The charter of this house exempts all its inhabitants from
obeying the whole ceremonial law:... from the doctrines of men in
matters of faith,... from man's commands in the worship of God. Man
can no more prescribe how God shall be worshipped, under the new
testament than he could under the old.... He alone who is in the bosom
of the Father hath declared this. To worship God according to the will
and pleasure of men is, in a sense to attempt to dethrone him: for it
is not only to place man's will on a level with God's, but above
it."--_Church Discipline_, p. 39.

[g] "Now suffer me to say something respecting the unreasonableness of
compelling the people of our persuasion to hear or support the
minister of another. Can a person who has been redeemed, be so
ungrateful as to hire a minister to preach up a doctrine which in his
heart he believes to be directly contrary to the institutions of his
redeemer? How if one of you should happen to be in the company with a
number of Roman Catholicks, who should tell you that if you would not
hire a minister to preach transubstantiation and the worshipping of
images to your children and to an unlearned people, they would cut off
your head; would you do it? Can you any better submit to hire a
minister to preach up a doctrine which you in your heart believe
contrary to the institution of Christ? I do not doubt but that many of
you, and I do not know but that all of you know what it is to
experience redeeming love; and if so, now can you take a person of
another persuasion, and put him in gaol for a trifling sum, destroy
his estate and ruin his family (as you signify the law will bear you
out) and when he is careful to support the religion which he in his
conscience looks upon to be right, who honestly tells you it is
wronging his conscience to pay your minister, and that he may not do
so though he suffer?... Is it not shame? Are we sharers in redemption,
and do we grudge to support religion? No: let us seek for the truth of
the gospel. If we can't think alike, let us not be cruel one to

[h] _Connecticut Gazette_ (New Haven) April 1755-Apr. 14, 1764;
suspended; revived July 5, 1765-Feb. 19, 1768. The _New London
Gazette_, founded in 1763, was after 1768 known as the _
Connecticut Gazette _, except from Dee. 10, 1773, to May 11, 1787,
when it was called _The Connecticut Gazette and Universal

Maryland published her first newspaper in 1727, Khode Island and Sonth
Carolina in 1732, Virginia in 1736, North Carolina in 1755, New
Hampshire in 1756, while Georgia fell into line in 1763.

[i] Edwards's _Nature of True Virtue_, written about 1755, was
not published until 1765.

[j] This book, otherwise essentially Edwardean, was second only to
Edwards's _Religious Affections_ in popularity and in its success
in spreading the influence of this school of theology, and it did
much, in Connecticut, to break down the opposition to the New
Divinity. Edwards himself approved its manuscript, and in his writings
recommended it highly.

[k] In 1769-70, Bellamy wrote a series of tracts and dialogues
against this practice. They were very effective in causing its
abandonment by those conservative churches that had so long clung to
its use.

[l] Experience Mayhew in his _Grace Defended_, of 1744.

Lemuel Briant's _The Absurdity and Blasphemy of Depreciating Moral
Virtue_, 1749. This was replied to in Massachusetts, by Rev. John
Porter of North Bridgewater in _The Absurdity and Blasphemy of
Substituting the Personal Righteousness of Men_, etc.; also by a
sermon of Rev. Thomas Foxcroft, Dr. Charles Chauncy's colleague; and
by Rev. Samuel Niles's _Vindication of Divers Important Gospel
Doctrines_. Jonathan Mayhew, son of Experience, wrote his
_Sermons_ (pronouncedly Arian) in 1755, and in 1761 two sermons,
_Striving to Enter at the Strait Gate_.

Other ministers were affected by these unorthodox views, notably
Ebenezer Gay, Daniel Shute, and John Rogers. This religious
development was cut short by the early death of the leaders and by the
Revolutionary contest. Briant died in 1754, Jonathan Mayhew in 1766,
and his father in 1758.--See W. Walker, _Hist. of the Congregational
Churches in the United States_, chap. viii.

[m] Hopkins replied in 1765 to Jonathan Mayhew's sermons of
1761. Mayhew died before he could answer, but Moses Hemenway of Wells,
Maine, and also Jedediah Mills of Huntington, Conn, (a New Light
sympathizer), answered Hopkins's extreme views in 1767 in _An
Inquiry concerning the State of the Unregenerate under the
Gospel_. This involved Hopkins in further argumentation in 1769,
and drew into the discussion William Hart (Old Light) of Saybrook, and
also Moses Mather of Darien, Conn, (also Old Light). This attack upon
Hopkins resulted in 1773 in his greatest work, _An Inquiry into the
Nature of True Holiness_. The whole question at stake between the
Old Calvinists and the followers of the New Divinity was how to class
men, morally upright, who made no pretensions to religious experience.

[n] West, in his _Essay on Moral Agency_, defended Edwards's
_Freedom of the Will_ against the Rev. James Dana of New Haven in
1772, but his _Scripture Doctrine of Atonement_, published in
1785, was his best-known work. In his doctrinal views, he was greatly
influenced by Hopkins. Both West and Smalley trained students for the
ministry. The latter was the teacher of Nathaniel Emmons. Smalley was
settled in what is now New Britain, Conn., from 1757-1820.

[o] Emmons died there, in 1840, at the age of ninety-five. Apart from
his influence upon the development of doctrine, he did more than any
other man to bring back the early independence of the churches and to
create the Congregational polity of the present day.

[p] To fortify their position, this party cited various acts of
Parliament and the Act of Union, 1707, wherein Scotland is distinctly
released from subjection to the Church of England,--an exemption,
they maintained, that had never formally been extended to the

[q] On January 30, 1750, Jonathan Mayhew preached a forceful sermon
upon the danger of being "unmercifully priest-ridden."

[r] Rev. East Apthorpe, S. P. G. missionary at Cambridge, Mass., had
replied to a newspaper criticism upon the policy of the Society for
Propagating the Gospel in New England, in his _Considerations on the
Institutions and Conduct of the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel in Foreign Parts_. Jonathan Mayhew published in answer his
_Observations on the Character and Conduct of the Society_,
censuring the Society not only for intruding itself into New England,
but for being the champion of the proposed episcopate, which he
denounced. This was in 1763. For two years the controversy
raged. There were four replies to Mayhew. Two were unimportant, a
third presumably from Rev. Henry Caner, and the fourth, _Answer to
the Observations_, an anonymous English production, really by
Archbishop Seeker. Mayhew wrote a _Defense_, and Apthorpe summed
up the whole controversy in his _Review_.--A. L. Cross,
_Anglican Episcopate_, p. 145 _et seq._; footnote 1, p. 147.

[s] John Adams's _Works_, x, 288.

[t] Dr. Charles Chauney attacked the S. P. G. as endeavoring to
increase their power, not to proselytize among the Indians, but to
episcopize the colonists. Dr. Chandler, of Elizabethtown, N. J.,
replied in _An Appeal to the Public_. Chauney retorted with
_The Appeal Answered_, and Chandler with _The Appeal
Defended_. The newspapers of 1768-69 took up the controversy.

[u] In 1767, Dr. Johnson in a letter to Governor Trumbull assured him
that "It is not intended, at present, to send any Bishops into the
American Colonies,... and should it be done at all, you may be assured
that it will be done in such manner as in no degree to prejudice, nor
if possible even give the least offense to any denomination of
Protestants."--E. E. Beardsley, _Hist, of the Epis. Church in
Conn._, i, 265.

[v] There were nine clergymen from Connecticut, and twenty-five from
New York and vicinity.

[w] The Association had sent petitions in behalf of the Baptists to
the legislatures of Massachusetts and Connecticut. Both were
refused. For its Circular Letter of 1776, see Hovey's _Life of
Backus_, p. 289; also p. 155.

[x] This year the Royal Society awarded him the Copley medal for his
discovery that lightning was a discharge of electricity.

In 1761 the medal of the Royal Society was also awarded to the
Rev. Jared Eliot of Killingworth, Conn., for making iron and steel
from black ferruginous sand.

[y] John Trumbull, b. 1750, d. in Michigan, 1831; Joel Barlow,
b. 1754, d. in Poland, 1812; Gen. David Humphreys, b. 1752, d. in New
Haven, 1818. These Yale men, together with Dr. Lemuel Hopkins, were
the leadjng spirits in the club known as "The Hartford Wits."
Dr. Dwight was a fellow collegian with them. Trumbull and Dwight did
much to interest the students in literature. The latter was also tutor
in rhetoric and professor of belles-lettres and oratory.

[z] Conn. Col. Rec. xii, Appendix. This was drawn up by the Governor
and three members of the General Assembly, May, 1761.

[aa] With grim humor, he turned to one of his escort, saying that he
at last realized the description in Revelation of "Death riding a
white horse and hell following behind."

[ab] The latter half of the title was omitted about 1775.

[ac] Foster replied: "One man is not to be called a 'heretick,' purely
because he differs from another, as to the articles of faith. For
either we should all be 'hereticks' or there would be no 'heresy'
among us.... Heresy does not consist in opinion or sentiments: it is
not an error of head but of will."--Foster, _A Defense of Religious
Liberty_, p. 47.

[ad] This revision of the laws was in charge of Roger Sherman and
Richard Law.

[ae] Quakers and Baptists frequently crossed the state line to attend
services in Rhode Island.

[af] There was only an occasional Romanist; Unitarians first took
their sectarian name in 1815; Universalists were few in number until
the second quarter of the new century.

[ag] This sect received its name from Robert Sandeman, the son-in-law
of its founder, the Rev. John Glass of Scotland. Sandeman published
their doctrines about 1757. In 1764, he left Scotland and came to
America, where he began making converts near Boston, in other parts of
New England, and in Nova Scotia. He died at Danbury, Connecticut,
1771. The members of the sect are called Glassites in Scotland, where
the Rev. John Glass labored. He died there in 1773. See W. Walker, in
_American Hist. Assoc. Annual Report_, 1901, vol. i.



The piping times of peace.

During the fifteen years following the ratification of the
Constitution of the United States by Connecticut, January 9, 1788, no
conspicuous events mark her history. These years were for the most
part years of quiet growth and of expansion in all directions, and,
because of this steady advancement, she was soon known as "the land of
steady habits" and of general prosperity.

Even in the dark days of the Revolution, Connecticut's energetic
people had continued to populate her waste places, and had carved out
new towns from old townships,--for the last of the original plats had
been marked off in 1763. In 1779-80, the state laid out five towns;
from 1784 to 1787, twenty-one,--twelve of them in one year, 1786. [a]
Tolland County was divided off in 1786 as Windham had been in 1726,
Litchfield in 1751, and Middlesex in 1765. These, with, the four
original counties of Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, and New London,
made the present eight counties of the state. The cities of Hartford,
New Haven, New London, Middletown, and Norwich were incorporated in
1784. They were scarcely more than villages of to-day, for New Haven
approximated 3,000 inhabitants, and Hartford, as late as 1810, only
4,000. The Litchfield of the post-Revolutionary days, ranking, as a
trade-centre, fourth in the state, was as familiar with Indians in her
streets as the Milwaukee of the late fifties, and "out west" was no
farther in miles than the Connecticut Reserve of 3,800,000 acres in
Ohio which, in 1786, the state had reserved, when ceding her western
lands to the new nation. Thither emigration was turning, since its
check on the Susquehanna and Delaware by the award, in 1782, to
Pennsylvania of the contested jurisdiction over those lands, and of
the little town of Westmoreland, which the Yankees had built
there. [b] After the decision new settlements were discouraged by the
bitter feuds between the Connecticut and Pennsylvanian claimants to
the land.

The Revolution had left Connecticut exhausted in men and in means. Her
largest seaboard towns had suffered severely. With her commerce and
coasting trade almost destroyed, she found herself, during the period
preceding the adoption of the national Constitution and the
establishment of the revenue system, a prey to New York's need on the
one hand and to Massachusetts' sense of impoverishment on the other;
and thus, for every article imported through either state, Connecticut
paid an impost tax. It was estimated that she thus provided one third
of the cost of government for each of her neighbors. Consequently she
attempted to reinstate and to enlarge her early though limited
commerce, and was soon sending cargoes, preeminently of the field and
pasture, [c] to exchange for West India commodities, while with her
larger vessels she developed an East Indian trade. As another means to
wealth, the state, in 1791, passed laws for the encouragement of the
small factories [d] that the necessity of the war had created; but it
was not until after the act of 1833, creating the joint-stock
companies, that Connecticut turned from a purely agricultural
community to the great manufacturing state we know to-day. She shared
in the national prosperity, which, as early as 1792, proved the wisdom
of Hamilton's financial policy, and about 1795 her citizens wisely
bent themselves to the improvement of internal communication. This was
the era of the development of the turnpike and of the multiplicity of
stage-lines. Kegular stages plied between the larger cities. Yet up to
1789 there was not a post-office or a mail route in Litchfield county,
and the "Monitor" was started as a weekly paper to circulate the
news. In 1790 Litchfield had a fortnightly carrier to New York and a
weekly one to Hartford, while communication with the second capital
[e] of the state was frequent. From 1800, there was a daily stage to
Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Poughkeepsie, and Albany. [167] Wagons
and carriages began to multiply and to replace saddle-bags and
pillions, yet as late as 1815 Litchfield town had only "one phaeton,
one coachee, and forty-six two-wheeled pleasure-wagons." [168]

Towns continued to commend and encourage good public schools. Every
town or parish of seventy families had to keep school eleven months of
the year, and those of less population for at least six
months. Private schools and academies sprang up. [f] Harvard and Yale,
as the best equipped of the New England colleges, competed for its
young men, and drew others from the central and southern sections of
the nation. Neither had either Divinity or Law School. [g] Young men
after completing their college course usually went to some famous
minister for graduate training. Rev. Joseph Bellamy, John Smalley, and
Jonathan Edwards, Junior, were the foremost teachers in Connecticut,
though the first-named had ceased his active work in 1787. [h] The New
Divinity was very slowly spreading. Even as late as 1792, President
Stiles of Yale declared that none of the churches had accepted it. [i]
This versatile minister interested himself in languages, literatures,
natural science, and in all religions, as well as in the phases of New
England theology. He esteemed piety and sound doctrine, whether in
Old or New Divinity men, and welcomed to his communion all of good
conscience who belonged to any Christian Protestant sect. He was
liberal-minded and tolerant beyond the average of his colleagues. His
tolerance, however, was more for the old Calvinistic principles in the
New Divinity, and not for its advanced features, for which he had
little regard. President Stiles held very firmly to the belief that
his ministerial privileges and authority remained with him after he
became president of the college, although he was no longer pastor by
the election of a particular church.

The first law school in America was established in Litchfield in 1784
by Judge Tappan Reeve, later chief justice of Connecticut. He
associated with him in 1798 Judge James Gould. "Judge Keeve loved law
as a science and studied it philosophically." He wished "to reduce it
to a system, for he considered it as a practical application of moral
and religious principles to business life." His students were drilled
in the study of the Constitution of the United States and on the
current legislation in Congress. Under Judge Gould, the common law was
expounded methodically and lucidly, as it could be only by one who
knew its principles and their underlying reasons from _a_ to
_z_. [169] In 1789, Ephraim Kirby of Litchfield published the
first law reports ever issued in the United States. [j] Law students
from many states were attracted to the town. The roll of the school,
kept regularly only after 1798, included over one thousand lawyers,
among them one vice-president of the United States, several foreign
ministers, five cabinet ministers, [k] two justices of the United
States Supreme Court, ten governors of states, sixteen United States
senators, fifty members of Congress, forty judges of the higher state
courts, and eight chief justices of the state. [170]

Among Connecticut towns, the two capitals of the state were also
literary centres, while Norwich, New Haven, and New London were fast
becoming commercial ports. Middletown soon had considerable coasting
trade. Wethersfield had vessels of her own. Even Saybrook and Milford
sent a few vessels to the West and East Indies. Farmington was a big
trading centre, shipping produce abroad and importing in vessels of
her own that sailed from Wethersfield or New Haven. Some few towns
developed a special industry, like Berlin and New Britain, that made
the Connecticut tin-peddler a familiar figure even in the Middle and
Southern states. There were also several towns with large shipyards,
where some of the largest ships were built. But back of all such
centres of activity, the whole state was solidly agricultural.
Connecticut's commerce was an import commerce exchanging natural
products for foreign ones, such as sugar, coffee, and molasses from
the West Indies; tea and luxuries from the East; and obtaining, either
directly or indirectly, from Europe, all the fine manufactured
products, whether stuffs for personal use or tools for labor.

In measuring the prosperity and intelligence of the Connecticut people
neither the parish library nor the newspaper must be overlooked. "I
am acquainted," wrote Noah Webster in 1790, "with parishes where
almost every householder, has read the works of Addison, Sherlock,
Atterbury, Watts, Young, and other familiar writings: and will
conversely handsomely on the subjects of which they treat." [171] "By
means of the general circulation of the public papers," wrote the same
author, "the people are informed of all political affairs; and their
representatives are often prepared to debate upon propositions made in
the legislature." [172]

Through the agricultural communities of Connecticut, as well as in the
towns, the weekly newspapers of the state began to circulate freely as
soon as carriers or mail routes were established. Even by 1785 there
was in Connecticut a newspaper circulation of over 8000 weekly copies,
which was equal to that published in the whole territory south of
Philadelphia. [173] These papers lacked locals and leaders, leaving
the former to current gossip, and for the latter substituting, to some
extent, letters and correspondence. The newspapers gave foreign news
three months old, the proceedings of Congress in from ten to twelve
days after their occurrence, and news from the Connecticut elections
three weeks late. Subjects relating to religion and politics were
heard _pro_ and _con_ in articles, or rather letters, signed

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