350th Anniversary of the Flushing Remonstrance:
1657-2007
A celebration of a document and the principles it embodies

The Flushing Remonstrance was a forerunner to the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution that gives people the freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. On December 27, 1657, it was signed by 30 Flushing residents who risked fines and banishment imposed by Governor Peter Stuyvesant in order to state their call for freedom.

Helen M. Marshall reviews the original Flushing Remonstrance document

 

Helen M. Marshall, President of the Borough of Queens, looks upon the original document in the Queens Library at Flushing.

 

What follows is a list of programs and events surrounding the declaration of this important document in our nation's history. * notes


A visitor reviews the origins of Flushing Remonstrance document

 

Traveling Exhibit
A visitor surveys one of the panels showcasing the history and developmentn of the Flushing Remonstrance

FLUSHING REMONSTRANCE TRAVELING EXHIBIT
Queensborough Community College Holocaust Center.

The exhibition features 14two-color, foam board panels with photos and narrative. A two-color 20-page booklet will accompany the exhibit, which packs, neatly into its own traveling trunk.

Dr. Arthur Flug, Director
he Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center
Queensborough Community College
222-05 56th Avenue Bayside, NY 11364-1497
718-281-5770
aflug@qcc.cuny.edu


 

The Flushing Remonstrance —
  as it was in 1657

The Flushing Remonstrance
of 1657
[Series A1809 Dutch
Colonial Council Minutes,
vol. 8, pp. 626-27]

 


 

The recorded copy of the Flushing Remonstrance has long been recognized as the earliest political assertion of freedom of conscience and religion in New York.

 


For further information contact:
NEW YORK STATE ARCHIVES
Cultural Education Center 11A42 Albany, NY 12230 Phone 518-474-8955
archref@mail.nysed.gov

The “Flushing Remonstrance” was a petition of inhabitants of Flushing, Long Island, to Pieter Stuyvesant, Director General of New Netherland, dated December 27, 1657. The remonstrance objected to Stuyvesant’s order barring Quakers from the town, and asserted that the order was contrary to “liberty of conscience” under the customs of Holland and the Dutch patent or charter to the town of Flushing [1645].

The text and signatures on the original document were evidently copied and incorporated into the minutes of the Council and were maintained in the secretary’s office. What happened to the original petition is unknown, but it may have been returned to the individual who presented it to Stuyvesant. The signatures on the copy of the remonstrance in the minutes appear to be in the same handwriting, a clear indication that the document is a contemporary copy, not the original.

The Dutch colonial council minutes and other records of the government of New Netherland were transferred to the new British government in 1664. The records were maintained by the secretary of the province of New York until 1783, when they were transferred to the custody of the Secretary of State of New York. The Secretary of State transferred the Dutch records, including the copy of the Flushing Remonstrance, to the New York State Library in 1881. The Dutch records were transferred from the Library to the newly-established New York State Archives in 1978. Thus the Dutch records have been in the continuous custody of the government of New York since 1664.

The Flushing Remonstrance is an iconic record of early Dutch colonial government that proclaimed the necessity of religious freedom of conscience and toleration. In Biblical language, the document cited divine authority as superseding human authority. The recorded copy of the Flushing Remonstrance has long been recognized as the earliest political assertion of freedom of conscience and religion in New York.

The document has been exhibited publicly twelve times since 1945 (six times since 1986). Locations of exhibits have included Manhattan, Flushing, and Albany. The document was also part of the New York Freedom Train exhibit of historic documents, which toured the state in 1949-50.

The Flushing Remonstrance Document will be on display in Queens this year.
The Flushing Remonstrance,
written in 1657,
will be on display in Queens
this year.

CLICK IMAGE
for larger view






 Peter Stuyvesant was governor at the time the Flushing Remonstrance was written
Governor Peter Stuyvesant
who fined and imprisoned those
who would entertain Quakers
in their home.




Flushing Meeting House
The original Quaker
Meeting House

Flushing Meeting House
Quaker Meeting House
as it is today
on Northern Blvd.

 

Read the text of
The Flushing Remonstrance
which formed the basis of the
First Amendment in the
US Constitution

Remonstrance of the Inhabitants of the Town of Flushing
to Governor Stuyvesant,
December 27, 1657


Right Honorable

You have been pleased to send unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be, by some, seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them, for out of Christ God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Wee desire therefore in this case not to judge least we be judged, neither to condemn least we be condemned, but rather let every man stand or fall to his own Master. Wee are bounde by the law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith. And though for the present we seem to be unsensible for the law and the Law giver, yet when death and the Law assault us, if wee have our advocate to seeke, who shall plead for us in this case of conscience betwixt God and our own souls; the powers of this world can neither attach us, neither excuse us, for if God justifye who can condemn and if God condemn there is none can justifye.

And for those jealousies and suspicions which some have of them, that they are destructive unto Magistracy and Ministerye, that cannot bee, for the Magistrate hath his sword in his hand and the Minister hath the sword in his hand, as witnesse those two great examples, which all Magistrates and Ministers are to follow, Moses and Christ, whom God raised up maintained and defended against all enemies both of flesh and spirit; and therefore that of God will stand, and that which is of man will come to nothing. And as the Lord hath taught Moses or the civil power to give an outward liberty in the state, by the law written in his heart designed for the good of all, and can truly judge who is good, who is evil, who is true and who is false, and can pass definitive sentence of life or death against that man which arises up against the fundamental law of the States General; soe he hath made his ministers a savor of life unto life and a savor of death unto death.

The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage. And because our Saviour sayeth it is impossible but that offences will come, but woe unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title hee appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to doe unto all men as we desire all men should doe unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Saviour sayeth this is the law and the prophets.

Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences, for we are bounde by the law of God and man to doe good unto all men and evil to noe man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Towne, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall houlde to our patent and shall remaine, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Vlishing.

Written this 27th of December in the year 1657, by mee.


Edward Hart, Clericus
Additional Signers:
Tobias Feake Nathaniell Tue
The marke of William Noble Nicholas Blackford
William Thorne, Seignior The marke of Micah Tue
The marke of William Thorne, Jr. The marke of Philip Ud
Edward Tarne Robert Field, senior
John Store Robert Field, junior
Nathaniel Hefferd Nich Colas Parsell
Benjamin Hubbard Michael Milner
The marke of William Pidgion Henry Townsend
The marke of George Clere George Wright
Elias Doughtie John Foard
Antonie Feild Henry Semtell
Richard Stocton Edward Hart
Edward Griffine John Mastine
John Townesend Edward Farrington

Research: Since the Remonstrance had such an impact on the United States it has become the subject of many reesearch papers. Following are a few of those papers that you may download. Please note: you may have to SAVE these documents onto your own computer in order to read them.

 

Notes:

  • Events occur sporadically. Check back often!
  • All events are free except where noted.
  • Some have limited seating or require reservations.

We also wish to thank our sponsors for their support in commemorating this historic event.

New York State Archives
The Office of the Queens Borough President Queens Library: Enrich Your Life
  The Queens Borough
President's Office,
Helen M. Marshall
 
     
New York State Archives NYC & Company Foundation Discover Queens
For more information, contact 718-286-2669