Religious Pluralism in the Middle Colonies
Links to online resources:
Links by colony
Links by denomination
Religion and the Founding of the American Republic
Superb online exhibition from the Library of Congress, abundantly illustrated with artifacts and documents. Very accessible for secondary level students.
- Pt. I. America as a Religious Refuge: The Seventeenth Century
European persecution and the American beginnings of the Quakers, Mennonites, Dunkers, Schwenkfelders, Moravians, Reformed, Baptists, Lutherans, Huguenots, Catholics, and Jews.
- Pt. II. Religion in 18th-Century America
Growth of the larger Protestant denominations: Anglicans, Puritans, Lutherans, Methodists.
J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer, 1782;
Letter III: “What Is an American?”
Crèvecoeur’s letter of 1782 (quoted by Prof. Bonomi in this essay) in which he comments on American religious diversity. The full text of Crèvecoeur’s work, a series of letters recording his observations on Americans, begins at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/CREV/home.html. From the American Studies Program of the University of Virginia.
Religion, Society, and Culture and Newfoundland and Labrador
For an interesting contrast, review the histories of the Catholics, Anglicans, Moravians, Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and other religious groups in eastern Canada in the 18th and 19th centuries. From Dr. Hans Rollman, Dept. of Religious Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland.
The Middle Colonies
NEW NETHERLAND/NEW YORK
The New Netherland Project
Presents a timeline of the Netherlands and Scandinavia relating to North America, a “historical calendar” of New Netherland, online documents, a newsletter, and more. From the independent New Netherland Project sponsored by the New York State Library and the Holland Society of New York.
Flushing Stands up for Tolerance
On the protest of several Flushing residents to Gov. Peter Stuyvesant in 1657 repudiating his order to refuse entry to Quakers, stating that if Quakers, Jews, or Muslims “come in love unto us, wee cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egresse and regresse unto our Town.” From the Newsday online history “Long Island: Our Story.”
The “Great Negro Plot” of 1741, New York City
The Quaker Province: 1681–1776
Best one-page overview of the immigrant settlers of colonial Pennsylvania, with a subsection on religion. From the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
In this entry on Pennsylvania from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll to the sections “History,” “Ethnology and Denominational Statistics,” and “Religious Conditions.”
The Germans Come to North America
A clear overview of the German sects that migrated to America, primarily to Pennsylvania: Anabaptists (Swiss Brethren, Mennonites, Amish), Pietists, Moravians, Schwenkfelders, and Seventh Day Baptists. Also check the Anabaptist-Mennonite History page on this site, the personal page of Mennonite Mark Roth.
The Germans in the United States
A history of German religious sects in colonial America, including a major section on German Catholics, from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
A German-American Chronology, 1608–1990
A timeline including events of German-American religious history. Click the link “Table of Contents” for the online edition of Willi Paul Adams, The German Americans: An Ethnic Experience, 1990. From the Purdue University German-American Center.
From “An Historical Description of the Province and Country of West-New-Jersey [and Pennsylvania]” by Gabriel Thomas, 1698
Among this colonist’s observations are comments on the religious tolerance of the colonists, e.g., that the Anglicans and Quakers in Pennsylvania “live Friendly and Well together; there is no Persecution for Religion, nor ever like to be.” From a Swarthmore College course collection, accessed through the American Religious Experience project of West Virginia University at http://are.as.wvu.edu.
From “Journey to Pennsylvania” by Gottlieb Mittelberger, 1750
Another commentary by a Pennsylvania colonist, here a recent German immigrant, who states that the colony “possesses great liberties above all other English colonies, inasmuch as all religious sects are tolerated there.” From a Swarthmore College course collection.
Attractive student-friendly biography of Penn from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
William Penn, Visionary Proprietor
An extended study of William Penn from the American Studies Program of the University of Virginia.
“William Penn, America’s First Great Champion for Liberty and Peace”
A review of Penn’s activism for religious liberty written by libertarian Jim Powell, a Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute.
The 1764 Massacre at Paxton, in John F. Watson’s Annals of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, 1857
Scroll down the Table of Contents on this page to Vol II, Ch. 3, Part I at
http://ftp. rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/pa/philadelphia/areahistory/watson0206.txt, and then scroll about halfway through the document to “The Paxton Boys and Indian Massacre” on the “outrage…committed by those memorable outlaws [on the] friendly, unoffending, Christian Indians” in the course of religious disputes over the settlement and protection of the western lands. From the Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania Archives on USGenWeb: Pennsylvania.
In this entry on New Jersey from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, read about the Protestant sects’ influence in the section “Civil History,” and of New Jersey Catholicism in the section “Ecclesiastical History.”
In this entry on Delaware from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll to the sections “Catholic Progress” and “Other Religions,” which includes this statement: “From its earliest settlement, at no time did religious intolerance ever appear in the government of the Swedish colony which grew into the State of Delaware.”
Old Swedes Church, Wilmington, Delaware
History and a detailed virtual tour of the church built in 1688–1689 by Swedish Lutheran immigrants and cited as the “nation’s oldest church building still standing as originally built.” From the Old Swedes Foundation.
Overview of Amish history, current issues, and beliefs and practices, plus weblinks and a bibliography. From the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, which provides similar overviews of over thirty Protestant denominations.
The Amish and the “Plain People“
Basic introduction in a question-and-answer format from the Pennsylvania Dutch Country Welcome Center site.
ANGLICANS/CHURCH OF ENGLAND
The Church of England in Early America
Essay by Prof. Christine Leigh Heyrman on this site.
“A Memorial Representing the Present State of Religion, On the Continent of North America” by Thomas Bray, 1700
Document prepared by an Anglican clergyman for the Archbishop of Canterbury to outline the missionary needs, colony by colony, in British America. From The American Colonist’s Library.
The Baptists in the United States
In this entry on the Baptists from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll to Part II: “History, The Baptists in the United States.”
The German Catholics in America
In this entry on Germans in the United States from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll to Part II: “The German Catholics in America.”
Entry from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia that includes several brief sections on the Congregational Church in America (primarily in the New England colonies).
A brief entry in the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
History of the Reformed Church in America (formerly Dutch Reformed Church)
Brief history and links list from the official site of the Reformed Church in America.
The Reformed Church (Dutch and German) in the United States
In this entry on Reformed churches in the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll to the histories of the Dutch (Part I) and German (Part II) Reformed Churches in America.
HUGUENOTS (French Protestants)
The National Huguenot Society
An abundance of historical information and links from the National Huguenot Society.
A Huguenot Timeline
A chronology of the Huguenots and Protestant Reformed in Europe and America. From Genealogy Forum.
A Huguenot Historic District in New York State
Another virtual tour of the historic district of New Paltz, New York, founded by the Huguenots in 1677; especially valuable for its weblinks. From the Hudson Valley Network.
Creating American Jews
In this online exhibition from the National Museum of American Jewish History, go to the sections “Beginnings” and “A New World” for a review of early Jewish immigration to the British colonies.
Portuguese Immigrants in the United States
Information on Portuguese Jews in the Middle Colonies begins at 1634 in the timeline on this page. From an online exhibition of the Library of Congress.
Abigail Levy Franks: Jewish “Continuity” in Early America
On the Levy-Franks family, an elite Jewish family in New York City in the early 1700s; a segment in a continuing series from the American Jewish Historical Society.
History of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
From official site of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
Lutherans in America
In this entry on Lutheranism from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll to Part II: History, to the subsection “Lutherans in America.”
Mennonite Connections on the World Wide Web
A megalink directory with history sites maintained by Dr. Bradley Lehman, a Mennonite, on his personal website.
Brief entry on the Mennonites from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
200 Years of United Methodism: An Illustrated History
Bountifully illustrated online history of Methodism in America from 1766 to 1984. From Drew University.
History of the United Methodist Church
On this official site of the United Methodist Church, go to the first section, “Roots: 1736–1816.”
Methodism in the United States
In this entry on Methodism from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll to Part III: History, subsection “Methodism in the United States.”
Beginnings of the Moravian Church in America
In this entry on Moravian Brethren from the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll to the section “Beginnings of the Moravian Church in America.”
History of the Moravian Church
A brief introduction to the European origins of the Moravian Church from the official website of the Moravian Church.
Presbyterianism in the United States
In this entry on Presbyterianism in the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, scroll to Part II: History, subsection “The United States.”
QUAKERS / SOCIETY OF FRIENDS
Good overview of Quaker history, beliefs & practices, organizations, and bibliography and weblinks. From the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, which provides similar overviews of over thirty Protestant denominations.
The Religious Society of Friends
A lengthy but minimally annotated set of links to web resources on the history, doctrine, and current issues in the Society of Friends. Maintained on his personal site by Mr. Sippel (M.Div, Earlham School of Religion).
Journal of John Woolman, Quaker, 1774
Journal of the abolitionist Quaker from New Jersey who travelled throughout the American colonies to protest slavery, especially slaveholding among Quakers. Also available in one webpage from the University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/WooJour.html.
“Negro Membership in the Society of Friends [on the American continent],”
c. 1650–c. 1900.
Scholarly history by Henry J. Cadbury, a founder of the American Friends Service Committee and a former professor in the Harvard Divinity School; originally published in the Journal of Negro History, 21 (1936).
Schwenkfelders in the Colonies
A chapter in an extended history of the Schwenkfelders on the personal site of a Schwenkfelder family (site recommended by Schwenkfeldian Magazine).
A brief entry in the online 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
SEVENTH DAY BAPTISTS (not related to the Seventh Day Adventists whose sect originated in the nineteenth century)
History of a Choosing People: A Thumbnail Sketch of Seventh Day Baptists, 1650–Present
From the official site of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference of the United States and Canada.