MoboReader> Literature > The American Nation: A History — Volume 1: European Background of American History, 1300-1600

   Chapter 12 THE ENGLISH PURITANS AND THE SECTS (1550-1689)

The American Nation: A History — Volume 1: European Background of American History, 1300-1600 By Edward Potts Cheyney Characters: 33553

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The multitude of Englishmen other than Catholics, who, at the opening of the seventeenth century, were dissatisfied with the church of England as by law established, may be grouped under the general name of Puritans; although as time passed on various newly organized religious bodies formed themselves from among them, so that two more religious classes, at least, have to be differentiated. The roots of Puritanism are to be found in the characteristics of human temperament. Conservatives and radicals will always exist; the Puritans were those who carried or tried to carry the principles and ideas of the Reformation to their logical and rigorous conclusion. Such men as Latimer, Cranmer, and many of the theologians of the reign of Edward VI., were already steadily approaching the fundamental position of the Puritans, as their thought developed, long before the foreign influence of the reign of Queen Mary became effective and the modified Protestantism of Elizabeth was introduced.

If the government had kept its hands off, England would have divided into two camps, that of the Catholics and that of a Puritanically reformed church. The Anglican system was an artificial one, a compromise established under the influence of the crown and kept in power by royal determination till it eventually won the devotion, the loyalty, or at least the deliberate acceptance of the great body of moderate and conservative Englishmen. Catholics and Puritans were the logical opposites, and not Catholics and Anglicans, nor yet Anglicans and Puritans.

Yet in a more immediate sense Mary gave occasion to the rise of Puritanism by driving into banishment many of the more devout Protestants of her day. At Frankfort, Strasburg, Basel, Zurich, and Geneva groups of these English exiles gathered, formed congregations worshipping together; developed, apart from the restrictions of government, the logical tendencies of their religious ideas; and in many cases came under the powerful influence of continental reformers. Especially at Frankfort [Footnote: Hinds, The England of Elizabeth, 12- 67.] and at Geneva was the religious life of these Protestant communities at white heat; and controversies were then begun and principles adopted which dominated all the later life of these Englishmen, and were handed down to their successors in England and America as party cries through more than a century. When the ordeal of Mary's reign was over, the exiled for conscience' sake returned to England, but they formed already a body divergent from the church as it was then established.

During Elizabeth's reign three stages of the development of Puritanism gave occasion for corresponding conflicts with the crown and for making more clear the differences between Anglican and Puritan. During the first decade of the reign, Puritanism meant a protest against certain of the ceremonies and formulas and vestments required of clergymen by the law. The sign of the cross on the child's forehead in baptism, the celebration of saints' days, insistence on kneeling to receive the communion, the use of church organs, the changing of robes during the service, and even the wearing of a surplice or a square cap, were to many earnest souls survivals of "popery" and temptations to superstition. The clergy who held such beliefs tried by resolutions in convocation to change the practices of the church: but notwithstanding the large votes in their favor they were still in the minority and were defeated. [Footnote: Strype, Annals, I., 500-505.]

Then individual ministers began to disregard the law, and either to neglect the use of certain requirements of the prayer-book altogether or to change the forms there laid down. The archbishop and the Court of High Commission issued detailed instructions insisting on observance of the authorized form of worship; [Footnote: Prothero, Statutes and Constitutional Documents, 191-194.] but the ministers declared that they owed obedience to God rather than to man, and either resigned their pastorates or, encouraged by their congregations, continued to disobey the law and the archiepiscopal injunctions. It was at this time and in this connection that the word "Puritan" came into use, as a term of reproach for those who insisted on an ultra-pure ritual, purged from all traces of the old religion. "Puritan" was used as "Pharisee" might have been. [Footnote: Camden, Annals, year 1568.]

From 1570 onward Puritanism entered upon a second stage, in the form of a contest for changes in the organization of the established church. In the main the same men who were dissatisfied with the liturgy of the church began to oppose the system of its government by bishops and archbishops. [Footnote: Letter from Sampson, formerly dean of Christ Church, to Lord Burleigh, March 8, 1574, in Strype, Annals, III., 373.] The "Admonition to Parliament" of 1572 declares that "as the names of archbishops, archdeacons, lord bishops, chancellors, etc., are drawn out of the pope's shop, together with their offices, so the government which they use … is anti-Christian and devilish and contrary to the Scriptures. And as safely may we, by the warrant of God's words, subscribe to allow the dominion of the pope universally to rule over the word of God as an archbishop over a whole province or a lord bishop over a diocese which containeth many shires and parishes. For the dominion that they exercise … is unlawful and expressly forbidden by the word of God." [Footnote: Prothero, Statutes and Constitutional Documents, 199.]

The greater number of those who attacked the episcopal organization of the church advocated the system of Presbyterianism which had been extensively adopted on the Continent and recently introduced into Scotland by the Book of Discipline. November 20, 1572, was erected at Wandsworth, in Surrey, the first presbytery in England; [Footnote: Bancroft, Dangerous Positions, chap, i., quoted in Prothero, Statutes and Constitutional Documents, 247.] from this time forward presbyteries were established here and there by groups of neighboring parishes. Some ten or fifteen years later the larger group, known as the "classis," was introduced; provincial and national "synods" were contemplated by many of the Puritan clergy; and the English church bade fair to be reorganized on Presbyterian lines, without the authority of the law.

This action met the stern opposition of the queen and the Court of High Commission. In 1583 Elizabeth appointed Whitgift archbishop of Canterbury, and under him the law was enforced with rigor. Individual clergymen were deposed or forced to conform; the devotional practices called "exercises," on which Puritanism throve, were forbidden; and although the contest continued, the introduction of Presbyterianism was held in check.

The latter years of Elizabeth's reign saw Puritanism within the church taking on a new activity, by turning from questions of ceremony and church government to questions of morals. The Puritans always stood for greater earnestness and for the abolition of abuses in the church, but as time passed on they brought into greater prominence the ascetic ideal of life; the strict keeping of the Sabbath borrowed from the Jewish ritual became customary; [Footnote: Eggleston, Beginners of a Nation, 123-132.] prevailing immoralities and extravagances were more bitterly reprobated in books, sermons, and parliamentary statutes; and Puritanism took on that unlovely aspect of exaggerated austerity which characterized its most conspicuous manifestations in the seventeenth century.

The great body of men of Puritan tendencies, both clergymen and laymen, were deeply interested in reforming the church of England in liturgy, in organization, and in practices; but they had no wish or intention to break it up, to divide it into different bodies, or to withdraw individually from its membership. They were as completely dominated by the ideal of a single united national church, one in doctrine, organization, and form of worship, as was the queen herself. Nevertheless, a group of men arose among them, under the general name of Independents, to whom the very idea of a national church seemed idolatrous; who found in the Scriptures, or were driven by the logic of their position, to one plan of church government only-the absolute independence of each congregation of Christian believers. They looked back to the little groups of chosen believers in Syria and Asia Minor, the shadowy outlines of whose organization are found in the New Testament; their imagination gave definite shape and their reverence for the Scriptures gave divine authority to these as examples. According to the analogy of biblical times, they looked upon themselves as a remnant of saints, sacred and set apart from a wicked and persecuting world.

Some of these extreme Puritans were under the influence of Robert Browne, a zealous advocate, whose activity lay principally between 1581 and 1586. Others came under the somewhat more systematic teachings of Barrow and Greenwood. Thus it became a fundamental principle of several thousand persons, between 1580 and 1600, to separate themselves from the established church. They are, therefore, known as "Separatists," though they were more commonly called at that time, as a term of reproach, by the names of their leaders, "Brownists" or "Barrowists." They met in "conventicles," and even strove to form more permanent congregations by gathering in secret places, or sometimes openly, in defiance of the authorities. A churchman of the time says that they teach "that the worship of the English church is flat idolatry; that we admit into our church persons unsanctified; that our preachers have no lawful calling; that our government is ungodly; that no bishop or preacher preacheth Christ sincerely and truly; that the people of every parish ought to choose their bishop, and that every elder, though he be no doctor nor pastor, is a bishop." [Footnote: Paule, Life of Whitgift (1612), 43, quoted in Prothero, Statutes and Constitutional Documents, 223.]

In times when church and state were one, such teaching could not be endured. If the Puritans were scourged with whips the Separatists were lashed with scorpions. Their teachers were silenced and imprisoned, and Barrow and Greenwood were, in 1587, hanged at Tyburn. Their congregations were broken up and attendants at their conventicles were fined, deprived of their property, and thrown into prison, where they died by the score. Before Elizabeth's reign was over, the Separatists had gone into exile or become but a persecuted remnant, so far, at least, as outward manifestation extended; though one can scarcely doubt that among Puritans generally, and even, perhaps, among those who still adhered to the established church, were many who shared their convictions. It is to be remembered that the Independents and all the new sects which were formed in England later in the seventeenth century, as well as the Puritans of New England, organized themselves on the basis of independent congregations of Christian believers.

The close of the sixteenth century saw the contrast between the Anglican churchman on the one hand and the Puritan and Separatist on the other becoming more harsh, their incompatibility more evident. Fifty years earlier episcopacy and ceremonialism seemed to most Anglicans comparatively unimportant in themselves. They rather blamed the Puritans for making a difficulty about matters indifferent, and for opposing the civil authority in things pertaining to conscience; but did not quarrel with them on religious questions. But a generation of disputes, the development of fundamental principles, the need for justification of a position already taken, drove both parties into a more dogmatic attitude. The high-church party in the established church now began to assert the divine appointment of the episcopal office, to lay stress on the doctrine of the apostolic succession, and gradually to reintroduce much symbolic ceremonial.

The Puritans, on the other hand, were more than ever convinced that the system they advanced was based upon divine authority; and that the church as it stood was founded upon human regulation only and must be forced, if it could not be persuaded, to change its system. Still greater clearness was given to this division of parties by the theological contest that came into existence between 1600 and 1620. The Puritans were almost completely Calvinist, and they claimed that the established church itself had always been so. On the other hand, the Anglican leaders of the early seventeenth century were Arminian, and this form of theological doctrine was asserted by all those who defended the existing organization and ceremonial practices of the church. [Footnote: Makower, Constitutional History of the Church of England, 75.] Thus the breach between the Puritan and the churchman was now so wide that James I., indolent and arrogant for all his toleration and learning, did nothing-perhaps could do nothing-towards its closing. He said of the Puritans, at the Conference at Hampton Court in 1604: "I shall make them conform themselves or I will harry them out of this land, or else do worse." [Footnote: Gardiner, Hist, of England, I., 157.] He disappointed and angered them, drove them into opposition to his civil rule as well as to his church policy, and strengthened their number and their position by his treatment of Parliament, whose interests and theirs had come to be inseparable.

All the "antagonisms, religious and political," of the reign of James were intensified in that of Charles I. The new king was more autocratic and more unsympathetic with his subjects; Parliament was more self- assertive and more determined to impose its wishes upon king and ministers; the authorities of the established church were more intolerant towards the Puritans and milder towards the Catholics. The Puritans, on the other hand, were more convinced that the Anglican church was retrograding towards Catholicism, and more determined to destroy episcopacy if they should ever be able to do so.

The freest opportunity of the established church to destroy Puritanism came during the period of the personal government of Charles, from 1629 to 1640, when Parliament had no meetings, and when the Court of Star Chamber, the High Commission, and the Privy Council were the all- powerful instruments of an administration sympathetic with the high- church party. The oppressions of the Puritans were now at their height, and the prospect of ever obtaining freedom to worship as they chose seemed the darkest. With the most prominent liberal and Puritan leaders imprisoned for their political opinions, like Sir John Eliot, or lying in prison, crushed under enormous fines, like Prynne; with the courts subservient to the royal will; with court preachers declaring the duty of passive obedience to the government; with Laud guiding the policy of the king in all ecclesiastical matters,-the state of the Puritans might well seem hopeless, and they might well look towards some distant land as a place for the establishment of a purified national church.

Archbishop Laud typified and embodied the spirit of the dominant church, and in addition he had unwearied energy, industry, and determination. Sincere, practical, and brave, but narrow-minded and unsympathetic, he set about the work of reducing the church of England to absolute uniformity in accordance with the law as he interpreted it. The Nonconformists had no rest; Puritan clergymen must conform; Puritan laymen must suffer under the power of the church, which, dominated by its bishops and wedded to its idols, was becoming steadily more powerful and all-inclusive. The reign of Charles was not marked by the passage of harsher laws against the Puritans, but it was distinguished from all periods that preceded or followed it by the continuous, steady, and thorough-going application of those already in existence.

It was under this regime that the great Puritan migration to America took place. The Puritans represented a class of society which was much more ready to emigrate than the Catholics. As early as 1597 some imprisoned Brownists sent a petition to the Privy Council asking that they might be allowed to settle in America; and four men of the same persuasion even went on a voyage to examine the land. [Footnote: Eggleston, Beginners of a Nation, 167.] In 1608 many Puritans seem to have prepared to emigrate to Virginia, when by Archbishop Bancroft's influence they were forbidden by the king to go, except with his express permission in each individual case. [Footnote: Stith, Hist, of Virginia, book II., year 1608.]

The Sep

aratists early became wanderers on the face of the earth, a now famous group of them leaving their English homes for Amsterdam, migrating thence to Leyden, and then, after hesitating between a Dutch and an English colony and between North and South America, a portion settling themselves on Plymouth Harbor. [Footnote: Griffis, Pilgrims in Their Three Homes.] In all the history of early colonization there have been few such occasions as that of the year 1638, when fourteen ships bound for New England lay in the Thames at one time, and when three thousand settlers reached Boston within the same year. [Footnote: Authorities quoted in Eggleston, The Beginners of a Nation, 344] Almost all the Englishmen who were ever to emigrate to New England left their homes during the twelve years between 1628 and 1640. Unfavorable economic conditions at home and the prospect of greater prosperity in the colony doubtless had their influence; but of the more than twenty thousand who passed from the old England to New England during that time, it is fair to presume that by far the greater number were more or less influenced by their Puritan opinions.

The most decisive proof of this motive for emigration is the slacking of the tide of Puritan expatriation after 1640. When Parliament, after eleven years of intermission, met in that year at Westminster in the full appreciation of its power, one of its first actions was to order the impeachment and arrest of Archbishop Laud. At last the Puritans had their turn, and the assembling of Parliament found them no longer a scattered, disorganized, diversified element in the English church and nation; but, thanks to long persecution, a compact body, austere in morals, dogmatic in religious belief, ready to make use of political means for religious ends, and determined to impose their asceticism and their orthodoxy on the English people so far as they might be able. [Footnote: Eggleston, Beginners of a Nation, 133.]

A majority of Parliament, small but sufficient, were Puritans, as had probably been true of every Parliament for many years, had they been free to act. Their intentions showed themselves in a prompt inception of reforms in the church, and the burdens of official ecclesiastical oppression were rapidly transferred to the shoulders of those who had previously bound the loads upon Puritan backs. In 1641 orders were issued by the House of Commons for the demolition of all images, altars, and crucifixes. [Footnote: Commons Journals, II., 279.] A commission known as the "Committee of Scandalous Ministers" was appointed, and proceeded to discipline the clergy and to harass the universities. Demands for the harsher treatment of priests and Jesuits were soon followed by plans for the diminution of the power of archbishops and bishops of the established church. The Court of High Commission was abolished July 5, 1641. [Footnote: 16 Chas. I., chap. ii.] The archbishops and bishops were removed from the House of Lords and the Privy Council by the act of February 13, 1642. [Footnote: Ibid., chap, xxvii.]

The Solemn League and Covenant of September 25, 1643, pledged Parliament and the leaders of the now dominant party to extirpate "church government by archbishops, bishops, their chancellors and commissaries, deans, deans and chapters, archdeacons, and all other ecclesiastical officers depending on that hierarchy"; and to reform religion in England "in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, according to the word of God and the example of the best reformed churches." [Footnote: League and Covenant, Sub Section 1, 2.]

By this time the quarrel between Charles and Parliament had been put to the arbitrament of the sword, and the distinction of Cavalier and Roundhead to a certain extent superseded that between Anglican and Puritan. In 1645 came the catastrophe of Naseby, then the long series of futile negotiations ending in the execution of the king at Whitehall in 1649. From the general confusion emerged the commonwealth, "without any king or House of Lords," the church organized on Presbyterian lines, the spirit of Puritanism dominating, although there was toleration for every form of Christian belief, "provided this liberty be not extended to popery or prelacy." [Footnote: Instrument of Government, Section 37.] For full twenty years the Anglican church was under a cloud, first Presbyterianism and then Independency being the official form of the church of England. The ill-fortunes of the royalist party in the civil war and under the commonwealth, and the religious oppression imposed by the Puritans upon churchmen, now combined to send to the colonies the very classes which had so recently been the persecutors. From 1640 to 1660 Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas received an influx of English churchmen escaping from conditions at home as intolerable to them as, those which drove the Pilgrims and Puritans to New England during the previous decades.

The commonwealth was not merely a triumph of Puritanism, it was a birth-time of new religious sects. The excitement of a period of civil war, the breaking down of old standards, the disappearance of old authority, the opportunities offered by the quasi-democracy of the commonwealth, the preoccupation of the seventeenth-century mind with questions of religion, all combined to cause almost a complete disintegration of religious organization. Here and there a man began to preach religious truth and duty as they looked to him; he obtained adherents, a congregation was organized, the tenets of this body spread, and branches were formed; till shortly a new religious society had come into existence, with its creed, organization, missionary spirit, and more or less vigorous hope of converting all men and absorbing all other religious organizations. An almost indefinite number of such religious bodies arose during the middle years of the seventeenth century-Millenarians or Fifth Monarchy Men, Baptists or Anabaptists, Quakers, Ranters, Notionists, Familists, Perfectists, and others. Most of them died out within the brief period which gave them birth, but some survived to become great religious denominations, extending into America as well as throughout England. [Footnote: Gooch, English Democratic Ideas in the Seventeenth Century, chap. viii.]

Of these the Quakers are the most interesting in their relations to the New World. The spirit from which they arose was closely similar to that which gave birth to the Baptists of England, the Anabaptists, Mennonites, Pietists, and Quietists of the Continent. Their movement was an extreme revolt against the formalism, corporate character, and externality of established religion. It contained a deep element of mysticism. The Quakers declared all believers, irrespective of learning, sex, or official appointment, to be priests. [Footnote: Fox, Letters, No. 249.] They asserted the adequacy of the "inner light" to guide every man in his faith and in his actions. They opposed all forms and ceremonies, even many of those of ordinary courtesy and fashion, such as removing the hat or conforming the garb to changing custom.

George Fox, the representative of these ideas, began his public preaching in 1648, and his doctrines at once found wide acceptance. In 1652 there were said to be twenty-five Quaker preachers passing through the country; by 1654 there were sixty, some of whom were women, who, by the principles of their teachings, should preach as freely as men. Their missionary journeys led them to Scotland and Ireland, and later even to Holland and Germany and the far east of Europe. Organization among the Quakers proceeded somewhat slowly. This was due partly to the individualist character of their beliefs, partly to the lack of constructive interest on the part of Fox and the other leaders during the early period of their missionary work. Nevertheless, "meetings" were gradually organized, took definite shape, and kept up regular communication with one another, so that there came to be a net-work of such bodies over the whole country. In 1659 it is estimated that there were thirty thousand Quakers in England.

Notwithstanding the religious liberty guaranteed by the Instrument of Government of 1653, the teachings and practices of the Quaker preachers brought them into much turmoil. Their vituperation of the clergy, their intrusion into church services and ceremonies, already reduced only too frequently to confusion by the rapid changes of the time, their objection to the payment of tithes, their refusal to take an oath, their outspoken denunciation of all whose actions they disapproved, the prominence of women in their propaganda, and, in early times, suspicions that they were connected with political plots, could not but subject them to ridicule, abuse, and actual persecution. They habitually violated numerous laws on the statute-book, ranging from those requiring good order to those forbidding what was construed as blasphemy. They were, therefore, beaten and stoned by the mob; abused, fined, and imprisoned by the magistrates; ridiculed and prosecuted by the clergy; subjected to starvation, exposure, and other hardships by sheriffs and jailers. [Footnote: Besse, Sufferings of the Quakers, I., chaps, iii., iv, xi., xviii., II, chap. i., etc.]

In 1660 Charles II. was recalled to the throne. This event was a restoration of the church even more than a restoration of the monarchy. The royal power could never again be what it had been before the civil war, the execution of a king, and the establishment of a republic. But the church, with the longevity and recuperative power of all religious organizations, arose again to a life apparently as vigorous and despotic as in the times of Laud. The year 1662 found four thousand two hundred Quakers in the jails of England; [Footnote: Sewel, Hist. of the Quakers, 346.] and the popular reaction against the austerity of the Puritan regime subjected Quakers to much ill-treatment by the rabble.

Yet just at this juncture the dignity of the body was strengthened and its power of self-assertion increased by the adherence to it of men of higher education and social position. The Quakers of the commonwealth period were almost all of the middle and lower-middle or trading classes. Soon after the Restoration a number of men of good family and some means threw in their fortunes with the persecuted sect. One of them, Robert Barclay, reduced to order and system the scattered and incoherent statements of its theology. In his Apology, published in 1675, he set forth a logical and consistent statement of beliefs, couched in clear and graceful language and supported by calm reasoning and example. [Footnote: Thomas, Hist. of the Society of Friends in America, chap ii., 200, 201.] Of the same class was William Penn, an educated, wealthy, polished, and genial English gentleman. Yet he was also a serious-minded and devout Quaker preacher, missionary, and writer, and as he saw and shared in the sufferings of the faithful he might well despair of better conditions in England and think of a "Holy Experiment" in America, where Quakers from 1675 onward were settling in West New Jersey. [Footnote: Fiske, The Dutch and Quaker Colonies, II., 99, 167; Andrews, Colonial Self-Government, chap. vii.]

Under Charles II. the attitude of the king was favorable to the Quakers, while in the short reign of James II. they had the great advantage of the personal friendship of the king for Penn. Yet no matter what should be the favor of the king, or even their more moderate treatment by the authorities of the established church, Quakers could not hope for material comfort or ease of mind in surroundings so alien to their ideals as England was in the last decades of the seventeenth century. They, still more than the Puritans in the time of Laud or the churchmen in the time of Cromwell, suffered because of the incongruity of the ordinary law and custom with their ideals. It was the realization of this incompatibility, along with the attraction of a community under Quaker government, cheap and abundant land, a promise of a growing population and lucrative business opportunities that set flowing to Pennsylvania the tide of Quaker emigration and created in a few years a great Quaker commonwealth in America.

Besides Puritans, Anglicans, and Quakers, another great stream of emigration poured into the central colonies of America-the Presbyterian Scotch-Irish. To understand their coming, it is necessary to return to the early years of the seventeenth century and to consider the policy of James I. towards rebellious Ireland. At the opening of, his reign James found in Ireland an opportunity to plant a colony near home. [Footnote: Walpole, Kingdom of Ireland, 130-135.] When Englishmen and Scotchmen had been established in Ireland, the Irish sore would be healed, and that restless Catholic community be transformed into an outlying district of England. The "Plantation of Ulster" began in 1611. The titles of the natives were ruthlessly forfeited, the six counties of the province of Ulster were re-divided, and the land was re-granted to proprietors who engaged to settle colonists from England and Scotland upon it according to a fixed system.

This system was skilfully devised and rigidly carried out. It required the new land-owners to establish freeholders, small tenants, laborers, and artisans upon the soil in proportion to the amount of land they received, allowing only a certain minimum number of the Irish natives to be retained as laborers. The proprietors were largely merchants of London and merchandising noblemen of the court; the tenants they introduced were mostly from the towns and country districts of the north of England and the lowlands of Scotland. Men of Puritan tendencies showed the same readiness to emigrate to Ireland that they showed soon afterwards as to New England, and as a result the settlers of Ulster, during the first two decades of the seventeenth century, were almost universally Presbyterians.

Under these new and somewhat anomalous conditions a population grew up in the north of Ireland which was almost as distinct in race and religious organization from the people of England and Scotland as it was from the Catholic and Celtic population which it had displaced. Its religion, without being proscribed, was not acknowledged, for Anglicanism was the established church of Ireland, though it numbered but few adherents. Ulster's industrial interests were, from the beginning, subordinated to those of England, as completely as were those of the natives. [Footnote: Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce, II., 136.] As the century progressed the economic evils under which the Scotch-Irish suffered became more pronounced. The navigation acts were so interpreted as to exclude Ireland from all their advantages and to cut her off from any direct trade with the colonies. Tobacco-growing was forbidden, and the exportation of cattle to England placed under prohibitory duties. The wool manufacture was crushed by heavy export taxes, and the linen manufacture neglected or discouraged. In 1642 and again in 1689 came war and new conquests of the country, to add to its disorganization and chronic sufferings. Kidnapping, enforced service in the colonies, and traffic in political prisoners were indulged in by the government. Ireland, as a dwelling- place for Catholics or Protestants, for Celts or Saxons, for natives or English and Scotch settlers, was a country of ever-renewed distress.

To economic disabilities is to be added religious persecution of a mild type, especially after 1689. All the laws that interfered with the religious equality of the Presbyterians in England were extended to Ireland; and they seemed more vexatious there because in Ulster the Presbyterians were in the vast majority and the established church almost unrepresented, except by tithe collectors and absentee landlords. At the close of the seventeenth century there were more than a million Ulster Presbyterians. But soon, as a result of this combined economic and religious oppression, they began to migrate in a narrow stream which by 1720 became a wide river. They formed the largest body of emigrants that left Europe for the American colonies. Before the eighteenth century was over the Presbyterian population of Ireland was reduced by at least a half; [Footnote: Fiske, The Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America, II., 354.] and the missing moiety was to be found scattered along the whole line of the Appalachian mountain-chain, at the backbone of the English colonies, extending eastward and westward and forming a prolific and influential element of the American people.

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top