Flushing Remonstrance

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

For you non-New Yorkers, this is not a post about toilets!

Flushing is a city in New York, in the borough of Queens. It is another Dutch transliteration name (from the word "Vlissingen").

A news story caught my eye concerning Flushing:

NEW YORK (AP) — The Flushing Remonstrance (ri MON struhns), a 350-year-old document demanding religious tolerance, is being displayed in a month-long exhibition in Queens.

The document, signed by Flushing freeholders in December 1657, went on display Wednesday at the Flushing Library on the 350th anniversary of its declaration.

This display is an important one for New Yorkers and Americans alike. Some historians believe that the Flushing Remonstrance was:

...considered by many to be in some ways a precursor to the United States Constitution's provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights, was signed on December 27, 1657 in Flushing, at the time part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland (now part of Queens, New York) by a group of English citizens who were affronted by persecution of Quakers and the religious policies of the Governor of New Netherland, Peter Stuyvesant.

Stuyvesant had formally banned all other religions outside of the Dutch Reformed Church from being practised in the colony, in accordance with the laws of the Dutch Republic.

I wonder about the Remonstrance as a "precursor" to the First Amendment, because Roger Williams of Providence, Rhode Island, beat them to the punch when he established religious freedom for his colony in 1647.

Nonetheless, the Flushing Remonstrance is a significant document of early American history and American rights. It's worth seeing if you're in New York!

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