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thrown down, and the consequences were deplorable. Multitudes of unconverted persons rushed into the churches, anxious for the privileges of church members, for political purposes. The church at Northampton is a signal instance of the effects of the system. The great President Edwards, after he had been pastor for several years, endeavored to introduce the old practice of discipline, and to require piety as a qualification for membership. But the worldly feeling in his parish was too strong, and notwithstanding his colossal reputation, and his faithful and successful labors, he was expelled from his pastoral office, in a most ungrateful and unkind manner.
We may mention, here, another cause of injury to the purity and permanent prosperity of the churches. The support of the ministry, by taxes, levied on all the inhabitants, operated oppressively on the members of other denominations, created much distress to individuals, and produced a wide-spread dissatisfaction in the community. As the right of a voice in the election of a minister was justly claimed by those who were obliged to pay taxes for his support, the character of the minister depended, of course, on that of a majority of the voters in a parish. The consequence has been, that in many instances, when the majority have become opposed to the doctrines of the existing church, the minister has been expelled, another of opposite sentiments has been chosen, the meeting-house has been seized, and funds, contributed by pious men of former generations, for the support of the ministry, have been applied to the maintenance of men to whom those contributors would have refused to listen. This is the natural effect of the system, and those who uphold it have no right to complain. The American principle, that representation accompanies taxation, is just. If men are taxed by law to suppott a minister, they have a right to a voice in his election, and they will, of course, choose a minister whose principles accord, as nearly as possible, with their own. Reflecting and pious men, generally, are now, it is believed, thoroughly convinced, that the principles of Roger Williams furnish the only secure basis for the peace and prosperity of a church. It is hoped that the laws of Massachusetts will, ere long, be conformed to these principles,
and religion be committed to the protection of God and of the liberal and pure-hearted disciples of the Redeemer.*
This subject has detained us from our main theme, though it is appropriate to a work which we design to be an exposition of the nature and effects both of the principles of religious liberty and of the opposite doctrines.
Mr. Clarke continued his faithful labors in England, and on the 8th of July, 1663, he obtained from Charles II. a charter, which continues, till the present day, to be the fundamental law of the State.t It commits the
government of the colony to a Governor, Deputy Governor, and ten Assistants, to be elected annually, and a House of Deputies, consisting of six from Newport, four from each of the towns of Providence, Portsmouth and Warwick, and two from each of the other towns. It defines the boundaries of the colony, about which disputes existed for many years. It contains this most important provision, in which the principles on which the colony was founded are embodied : “No person within the said colony, at any time hereafter, shall be any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion, in matters of religion, who do not actually disturb the civil peace of our said colony; but that all and every person and persons may, from time to time, and at all
* A resolution to alter the third article of the Constitution of Massachusetts, as a preparatory step towards the repeal of the laws for the support of religion by taxation, has been adopted by the people, since the text was written. It will, undoubtedly, be followed by a repeal of the laws.
It is an honorable proof of steadiness of character in the people of Rhode Island, that they have continued to prosper under this charter for one hundred and seventy years. No interruption of the government has occurred during this long period, and no attempt has been made to resist it. No community ever enjoyed more perfect freedom, and yet none was ever more quiet and obedient to the laws. It is a gratifying evidence, that a truly free government is more stable than any other. The growth of the State has made some provisions of the charter operate unjustly. Providence, for example, with sixteen thousand inhabitants, sends only four representatives to the General Assembly, while Portsmouth, with seventeen hundred inhabitants, sends four, and Newport, with eight thousand, sends six. An attempt was made, a few years since, to obtain a new Constitution, but it did not succeed.
times hereafter, freely and fully have and enjoy his own and their judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concernments, throughout the tract of land hereafter mentioned, they behaving themselves peaceably and quietly, and not using this liberty to licentiousness and profaneness, nor to the civil injury or outward disturbance of others."
This noble declaration is in accordance with the address of the petitioners to his Majesty, in which they
freely declared, that it is much on their hearts (if they be permitted) to hold forth a lively experiment, that a most flourishing civil state may stand, and best be maintained, and that among our English subjects, with a full liberty in religious concernments; and that true piety, rightly grounded upon Gospel principles, will give the best and greatest security to sovereignty, and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to true loyalty." This charter was received with great joy.
It was brought from Boston, by Capt. George Baxter, and was read publicly at Newport, November 24, 1663. The records say, that “the said letters, with his Majesty's royal stamp, and the broad seal, with much beseeming gravity, were held up on high, and presented to the perfect view of the people.”
Thanks were voted to the King, to the Earl of Clarendon, and to Mr. Clarke, together with a resolution to pay all his expenses, and to present him with a hundred pounds. Thanks were also voted to Capt. Baxter, with a present of thirty pounds, besides his expenses from Boston.
The first Assembly under the new charter was held March 1, 1663–4. Mr. Benedict Arnold was created by the charter the first Governor, and among the Assistants was Mr. Williams.
The Assembly now assumed a peremptory tone towards the disturbers of the public peace at Pawtuxet and Warwick, and towards intruders at Narraganset.
* See the charter, Appendix, G.
# It is worthy of notice, that on May 9, 1663, the town of Providence voted, that “one hundred acres of upland and six acres of meadow shall be reserved for the maintenance of a school in this town.'
Mr. Williams was appointed to transcribe the charter.*
At the session, in May, 1664, Mr. Williams was again an Assistant. At this session, the seal of the colony was fixed, an anchor, with the word HOPE over it, and the words Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations.
Mr. Williams was this year appointed one of a committee to review the laws, and one of another committee to fix the eastern line of the state.
At this session, a committee was appointed to audit Mr. Clarke's accounts. The sum of £343 15s. 6d., was found to be due to him. Mr. Clarke returned from England, in June, 1664, after an absence, in the service of the colony, of twelve years.
He was afterwards elected Deputy Governor three years successively. He was an able and good man, whom the State of Rhode-Island ought to remember with respect and gratitude, as one of her chief benefactors. He died April 20, 1676. The money due to him from the colony was never paid, during his life, though the Assembly frequently urged the towns to pay it, and Mr. Williams used his influence to accomplish this act of public justice.t Mr. Clarke, in his will, left a considerable estate, to be appropriated to“ the relief of the poor, or bringing up children unto learning."
An account of the difficulties with Massachusetts, Connecticut and Plymouth, respecting boundaries, belongs rather to a history of Rhode Island, than to this work. They continued for several years. Commissioners were appointed by the King, in 1664, to settle the disputes respecting the Narraganset country, which was claimed by Connecticut, and by individuals, who had purchased lands there. But the matter was not settled for many years. The boundaries fixed by the charter were at length ascertained and acknowledged. I
* At this session, Captain John Cranston was licensed to practise physic, with the title of “ Doctor of Physic and Chirurgery.'
† Mr. Williams felt a great esteem for Mr. Clarke. In the library of Brown University, is a copy of “ The Bloody Tenet yet more Bloody,” bequeathed to the library by the Rev. Isaac Backus. On a blank leaf are these words, in Mr. Williams' hand writing: “For his honored and beloved Mr. John Clarke, an eminent witness of Christ Jesus, against the Bloody Doctrine of Persecution, &c.”
# For documents on the subject of boundaries, see 1 His. Col. v. pp. 216–252. See also, 2 His. Col. vii. pp. 75—113, Rhode-Island State Papers, furnished by the Hon. Samuel Eddy.
Two topics deserve notice here, because they affect the character of Roger Williams, and of Rhode Island. We allude to the charges, that in 1663–4, Roman Catholics were excluded from the rights of citizens, and that in 1665, oppressive laws were enacted against the Quakers.
The first of these charges is made by Chalmers,* whose situation, as chief clerk in the Plantation Office, in England, gave him access to original documents. He asserts, that at the meeting of the General Assembly, March 1, 1663–4, it was enacted, "that no freeman shall be imprisoned, or deprived of his freehold, or condemned, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the colony; that no tax shall be imposed or required of the colonists, but by the act of the General Assembly; that all men (professing Christianity] of competent estates, and of civil conversation, who acknowledge and are obedient to the civil magistrates, though of different judgments in religious affairs, (Roman Catholics only excepted] shall be admitted freemen, or may choose, or be chosen, colonial officers.”+
Such an act would, indeed, have been an anomaly in the legislation of Rhode Island, and it has been alleged as an evidence of inconsistency in Roger Williams and the colony. The subject has, therefore, been examined with great
The Hon. Samuel Eddy, for many years the Secretary of State in Rhode Island, declares : "I have formerly examined the records of the State, from its first settlement, with a view to historical information, and lately from 1663 to 1719, with a particular view to this law excluding Roman Catholics from the privileges of freemen, and can find nothing that has any reference to it, nor any thing that gives any preference or privileges to men of one set of religious opinions over those of another, until the revision of 1745.”
This testimony might, alone, be sufficient to disprove the allegation, though it is possible, that such an act might be passed, and not be recorded. But it is not probable, and when the uniform policy of the colony from the beginning, and other circumstances, are considered, it becomes
* Political Annals, b. i. c. xi. pp. 276, 279.
Holmes' Am. Annals, vol. i. p. 336. # Walsh's “ Appeal from the Judgments of Great Britain,” pp. 427-435.