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an impress all his own. He was impulsive, rugged,

earnest, and thorough. Had any other sort of man

than the one he was, ventured to do what he did. it

is hardly probable that the work of his lifetime had

ever been accomplished. The iron despotism which

chilled Massachusetts might be making itself felt to-

day ; the colony, as it increased in numbers, would

have gone on from bad to worse, and. instead of a com-

monwealth whose name is synonymous with all that

is good, intelligent, charitable, and wise, we might

spiritual, to the present, to the eternal good of men, as the bloudy

tenet ... of persecution for cause of conscience."' Ibid. "A mon-

strous paradox, that God's children should persecute God's children."

" Narragansett Club Publications," volume i, page 319. "Persecutors

of men's bodies, seldom or never do these men's souls good." Ibid,

327, 328.




might have


What has

made Amer-



of American


The first


be contemplating a community, the very name of

which creeps over us at the recollection of Rochelle,

Drogheda, Geneva, the Cevennes, and Piedmont.

Wt>rse than this: Had America, instead of being in-

spired by this noble impulse, been indoctrinated with

the absolutism, almost Venetian, then existing, she

might never have been blessed by the light which

now illuminates her path ; and freedom of conscience

and the liberty of the citizen, the two kindred prin-

ciples which have made us what we are, might have

shaken our dust from off their feet, or passed us by

as unworthy of their presence.
Hardly had the liberty-loving Anglo-Saxons

stepped their feet on the American shores, and made

a home in the wilds of New England, before the irre-

pressible spirit of liberty which has ever been a char-

acteristic of these peoples, was destined to raise its

voice in opposition to the church-state Sunday laws

which have descended to us from the dark ages. The

Pilgrim Fathers landed in 1620; and before a score of

years had passed, the rightfulness of Sunday laws was

one of the leading questions of debate in America.

Roger Williams, who has justly been styled " the

first American," was the champion against Sunday

laws, and the Puritan clergy and government were

their defenders. " Roger Williams," says Bancroft,

" was the first person in modern Christendom to as-

sert in its plenitude the doctrine of the liberty of

conscience, the equality of opinions before the law."
" A few weeks after his arrival " (February 5, 1631),

says his biographer, " Mr. Williams was invited by

the church at Salem to become assistant to their pas-

tor, the Reverend Mr. Skelton ; but the magistrates

of the colony had heard of his opinions, and imme-

diately interposed their remonstrances with the peo-

ple of Salem to prevent his settlement. One reason

of this interference on the part of the authorities, as



The work

of his life.



alleged in the letter which they addressed to the

church at Salem, was that he had declared his opin-

ion that ' the magistrate might not punish a breach of The first

the Sabbath, nor any other offense that was a breach sunda^iawl"

of the first table.' "

This charge, it will be seen, relates to his declara-

tion of the great doctrine, to the vindication and elu-

cidation of which he was to devote his life. " His

doctrine," continues his biographer, " was in direct

conflict with both the opinions and the practices of

the colony of Massachusetts, whose counselors and

elders considered themselves the appointed guardians

of the orthodoxy of the people ; and in that age they

could conceive of no other mode of executing their

trust than by inflicting civil penalties upon every one

who ventured to dissent even in the most unimportant

particulars from the prevailing faith. The opinion of

Roger Williams, which was then urged in proof of his

unsuitableness to become a minister of the gospel,

has long since become the common sentiment of the

American people." William Gammell, in " Spark's

Library of American Biograph."
It was fortunate for the anti-Sunday-law cause — ■

the cause of liberty — that it had such a man as Roger

Williams to lead out in the agitation for religious

freedom. Bancroft pays him the following high tribute :

" At a time when Germany was desolated by the implacable wars

of religion ; when even Holland could not pacify vengeful sects ; when

France was still to go through the fearful struggle with bigotry ; when

England was gasping under the despotism of intolerance; almost half

a century before William Penn became an American proprietary ; and Bancroft's

while Descartes was constructing modern philosophy on the method p^l"'^ t0

of free reflection — Roger Williams asserted the great doctrine of Williams.

intellectual liberty, and made it the corner-stone of a political consti-

tution. It became his glory to found a state upon that principle, and
, . ,. ...... . , Advanced
to stamp himself upon its rising institutions, in character so deep ideas of
that the impress has remained to the present day, and can never be Wllliams -

effaced without the total destruction of the work." i

l Bancroft, volume i, pages 254, 255.



law cause.




A mooted


The claim

for Mary-


The claim

for Rhode



claims seem-




To Virginia unquestionably — thanks to the influ-

ence and untiring efforts of Jefferson, Madison, the

Baptists, Quakers, and Presbyterians — belongs the

honor of first disestablishing religion in America.

But to which colony, Maryland or Rhode Island, be-

longs the honor of first establishing a commonwealth

upon the principle. of entire separation of church and

state, is a mooted question.

Referring to Maryland's being founded by Roman

Catholics, Bishop Spalding, of Peoria, in the " North

American Review" for September, 1894, says: "They

founded one of the thirteen colonies, and were the

first in the New World — the first, indeed, in all the

world — to make freedom of conscience an organic

part of the Constitution of a State."
On the other hand, David Benedict, in his " His-

tory of the Baptists," page 446, referring to Rhode

Island, says: " Roger Williams justly claims the honor

of having been the first legislator in the world that

fully and effectually provided for and established a

free, full, and absolute liberty of conscience." And

Sidney S. Rider, in his work " Soul Liberty Rhode

Island's Gift to the Nation," page 85, styles Rhode

Island " the first commonwealth in the New World,

the first in the world, to make soul liberty the basis

of a Constitution for a State."
Conflicting and opposed as are these claims, Mont-

gomery, in his " Beginner's American History," edi-

tion 1902, appears to sanction both. On pages 58

and 59 he says : " Maryland was different from the

other English colonies in America, because there, and

there only, every Christian, whether Catholic or Prot-

estant, had the right to worship God in his own way.

In that humble little village of St. Mary's, made up


of thirty or forty log huts and wigwams in the woods,

religious liberty had its only home in the wide world ; "

while on page 65 he says: " Providence was the first

settlement in America which offered a home to all

men without asking them anything whatever about

their religion."

So eminent an authority as Bancroft, in the earlier

editions of his " History of the United States," stated

that the Maryland proprietary " adopted religious

freedom as the basis of the state," and said that here

" religious liberty obtained a home, its only home in

the wide world," and " conscience was without re-

straint." x In later editions, however, while not deny-

ing that a wide and generous toleration characterized earife" â„¢

the early Maryland administration, these statements statements,

are omitted, and the declaration made that Roger

Williams " was the first person in modern Christen-

dom to establish civil government on the doctrine of

the liberty of conscience." 2
What are the facts, and how are we to understand

these conflicting claims?

That there was large freedom in religion in the early

history of the Maryland colony, and an absence of

religious persecution from its founding in 1634, seems

evident. That the proprietary, intent on advancing

the interests of his colony, invited the Puritans of

Massachusetts to Maryland, offering them lands and

privileges, and " free liberty of religion ; " and that
-n ■ 11 1 r t t- ■ • r A liberal
certain Puritans, expelled irom Virginia lor noncon- toleration in
' r O M l__J
fortuity to the established religion of that colony,

found refuge in Maryland in 1649, are facts plainly

stated by Bancroft. 3 " It is true," says Montgomery,

" that Lord Baltimore, holding his charter, as he did

1 Edition 1837, volume i, pages 244, 247, 254.
2 Edition 1888, the author's last revision, page 255.
3 Bancroft's " History of the United States," volume i, pages 165,

169, edition 1888.



from the Protestant sovereign of a Protestant nation,

could not have safely denied liberty of worship to

Protestants; but it is also true that he evidently had

no desire in his heart to deny such liberty. The fact

that he invited Puritans into the colony and protected

them from persecution, shows the man's true spirit." 1

Until 1625, or within nine years of the founding of

the colony of Maryland, Lord Baltimore was himself

Conditions a Protestant. 2 He was " a man of such moderation,"
toleration. says Bancroft, " that all parties were taken with him.

His chief object in founding the colony, it appears,

was commercial and mercenary, rather than religious.

From the first, there was a " mixed population," Ban-

croft informs us, and while " the administration was in

the hands of a Catholic," " the very great majority of

the people were Protestants." 3 Under such circum-

stances it is not strange that toleration should exist.

It is not true, however, that the colony was founded

upon the principle of total separation of church and

state and absolute freedom in matters of religion for
. Legal a n men, as was Rhode Island ; or that the early laws
declarations •>
established" °^ t' ie c °l° n y were free from all religious interference

religion! 1 iei1 an d bias. The charter obtained by Lord Baltimore

in 1632, provided that " no interpretation be admitted

thereof by which God's holy and true Christian re-

ligion, or the allegiance due unto us, our heirs, and

successors, may suffer any prejudice or diminution." 4

This would at least seem to imply or anticipate a

favored, if not an established, religion, and state con-

trol or supervision of that religion. And one of the

first acts of the Maryland Assembly of 1639, reads:

" Holy Church within this province shall have all her
l" Leading Facts of American History," by James Montgomery,

page 105, edition 1902.

2 " Soul Liberty Rhode Island's Gift to the Nation," by Sidney S.

Rider, pages 11, 12. 3 Bancroft, volume i, page 166.

4 Hazard's "Historical Collection of State Papers" (1792), vol-

ume i, page 327.


rights, liberties, and immunities safe, whole, and in-

violable, in all things." 1

In 1649 an act containing the following provision Freedom

was passed by the Maryland Assembly: for L ch S r C is enc


" And whereas the enforcing of the conscience in matters of re-

ligion hath frequently fallen out to be of dangerous consequence in

those commonwealths where it hath been practiced, and for the more

quiet and peaceable government of this province, and the better to

preserve mutual love, and amity among the inhabitants, no person

within this province, professing to believe in Jesus Christ, shall be

in anywise troubled, molested, or discountenanced, for his or her re-

ligion or in the free exercise thereof." -
While undoubtedly designed to protect freedom of

conscience, Bancroft observes that this " clause for

liberty in Maryland, which extended only to Christians,

was introduced by the proviso that ' whatsoever per-

son shall blaspheme God, or shall deny or reproach

the Holy Trinity, or any of the three persons thereof, intolerant

shall be punished with death.' " 3 Under the enforce-

ment of such a law, Unitarians, Jews, and unbeliev-

ers generally, as well as the profane, would certainly

fare hard.

The same law further provided that —
" Whatsoever person or persons shall from henceforth use or

utter any reproachful words, or speeches, concerning the blessed 'tested 1 ^

Virgin Mary, the mother of our Saviour, or the holy apostles, or by law.

evangelists, or any of them, shall in such case for the first offense

forfeit to the said Lord Proprietary and his heirs, the sum of five

pounds sterling." 4

This sounds very much like a law of a religious

establishment, and that, too, of the Roman Catholic

Such provisions show beyond question that the gov-

ernment of Maryland did assume control over religious an d h s U tate

matters, and that however much toleration there was JnMaryhfnd.
1 " Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly of Maryland,

1637-1664," page 40.

2 Bancroft, volume i, page 168. 3 Ibid.
* " Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly of Maryland,

1 637- 1 664," page 244.





in Rhode




first laid



in inciple.





A " lively


in the colony, freedom of conscience was not an or-

ganic part of its Constitution. But not so Rhode Is-

land. There, says Montgomery, " from the beginning

entire freedom of conscience was given to every set-

tler. Maryland had granted such liberty to all Chris-

tians, but the colony of Providence did not limit it, —

not Protestants and Catholics only, but Jews — yes,

unbelievers even were protected, and thus men of all

religions and of no religion were safe from molesta-

tion so long as they behaved themselves. In all other

colonies in America [Maryland included], as in every

country of Europe, the government favored some par-

ticular worship, and in some degree compelled people

to maintain it and conform to it. But here there was

nothing of the kind. Roger Williams first laid down

and put in actual practice what we may call the Amer-

ican principle — that is, that government has nothing

whatever to do with the control of religious belief." 1
In 163 1, three years before the ships of Lord Bal-

timore left the shores of England for Maryland, Roger

Williams, at Salem, Massachusetts, set forth the doc-

trine " that man is accountable to his Maker alone for

his religious opinions and practices, and is entitled to

unrestrained liberty to maintain and enjoy them." -

This is the doctrine for which he was banished from

Massachusetts, and which he took with him to Rhode

Island, in 1636, and made the Magna Charta of that

colony. To state the matter plainly, religious liberty

with Roger Williams was a principle: with Lord

Baltimore, a matter of policy.

In two petitions for a new charter, presented to

Charles II in 1662, Dr. John Clarke stated that the peo-

ple of Rhode Island had it much in their hearts " to

hold forth a lively experiment that a flourishing civil

state may stand, yea, and best be maintained, with a

1 " Leading Facts of American History," by Montgomery, page no.

'-' ' Memoir of Roger Williams," by James D. Knowles, page 48


full liberty in religious concernments." 1 It was

Rhode Island, therefore, and not Maryland, that was

making this " lively experiment."
The Rhode Island charter granted by King Charles

the next year, in response to these petitions, said :

" Our royal will and pleasure is that no persons within the said
colony, at any time hereafter, shall be anywise molested, punished,

,. ,, i • ■ r .-,-,- • ... Charles II

disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion in enjoins
matters of religion, . . . any law, statute, . . . usage or cus- ^ ell K' ous

torn of this realm to the contrary hereof, in any wise, notwith- in Rhode

,. ,, .. Island,
standing. -
Rhode Island had gained what the mother country
° J Rhode
did not possess herself — religious liberty. No such island
. . stands
petitions nor charter relating to any other American unique,

colony can be found.

And in "America Dissected" (Dublin, 1753), page No Sunday
t-» t t\ r r> 1 • • r m i enforcement.
31, Rev. James Mac bparran, complaining of Rhode

Island says :

" In all the other colonies the law lays an obligation to go to some

sort of worship on Sunday, but here liberty of conscience is carried

to an irreligious extreme."
This again singles out Rhode Island as the one

and only colony in which there was perfect freedom

in matters of religion.
That there was a large measure of freedom in Mary-

land need not be denied ; but that there was absolute

separation of church and state there, or that this is a

principle held or advocated generally by the Roman

Catholic Church, is not true. Sixty-two vears before Not. a
J J (. at none
the founding of the Maryland colony, in 1572, occurred principle,

the massacre of St. Bartholomew, in which the at-

tempt was made to extirpate all Protestants in France.

Fifty-one years after the settlement of the colony, in

October, 1685, tne Edict of Nantes was revoked, and

every Protestant who could leave Europe fled to

1 " State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations," by Ed-

ward Field, volume i, page 101.

2 Ibid., page 104.



America. And at the very time when the colony was

being planted, thousands of men and women in Spain

and elsewhere in Europe were being sent to prison,

banished, or burned at the stake solely for what the

Catholic Church pronounced " heresy " in matters of

religion. In 1616, Galileo, the founder of modern

physics, was warned by the Inquisition not to " hold,

teach, or defend " the Copernican system. Continuing

to do so, he was summoned to Rome in 1632, only two

years before the founding of Maryland, and upon his

knees forced to abjure the doctrine.

The strong claims made during recent years by

Catholic writers concerning Maryland would seem to

imply an endorsement on the part of the Roman Cath-

o^UorT plied °^ c Church of the principle of separation of church and

disproved. state and religious freedom; but the utterances of the

latest prelates of the Roman See, like those of more

ancient times, convey no such impression. Thus, in

his letter addressed to the bishops of France, dated

February n, 1906, Pope Pius X, the latest pope, says:
" That it is necessary to separate church and state is a thesis

absolutely false, — a most pernicious error. Based in fact upon the

principle that the state ought not to recognize any religious faith, it

is, to begin with, deeply insulting to God; for the Creator of man is

also the founder of human societies, and he maintains them as he

does us. We owe him therefore, not only private worship, but also

a public and social worship is his praise." i
In his encyclical on " Human Liberty " (Libcrtas),

of June 20, 1888, Pope Leo XIII said:

" Since the state ought to have a religion, it ought to profess

that which is alone true and which in Catholic countries is espe-

cially recognizable. ... It follows from what precedes that it

is nowise permitted to demand, defend, or grant liberty of thought,

or of the press, of teaching, and of religion, as well as many other

rights which man may be supposed to have by nature." -

1" Readings in Modern European History," by Professors J. H.

Robinson and C. A. Beard, of Columbia University, N. Y., page 229.

2 " Life and Labors of Pope Leo XIII," by Charles de T'Serclaes,

edited by Maurice Francis Egan, pages 184, 187.

Pius X

on church

and state.


on religious



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