The Leavenworth Times from Leavenworth, Kansas on October 20, 1974 · Page 10
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October 20, 1974

The Leavenworth Times from Leavenworth, Kansas · Page 10

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Leavenworth, Kansas
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Sunday, October 20, 1974
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Page 10
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Course By Newsnaper-4 ious Freedom Developed for Practical Reasons Editor's Note: This is the fourth of IB articles exploring the theme. In Search of t.ho American Drrnm. This article d i s (.• u s s e s development, of religious freedom nnd ethnic, aspects df the, early American colonies. TV author is professor of history. University of California, Berkeley. By WHVTHROP I). .JORDAN Copyright. 107-1, Rodents of the University of California Distributed by Copley News Service William Ponn's experiment in religious toleration in Pennsylvania was novel both in terms of deliberate planning and in terms of scale. The idea of religious freedom had boon gradually gaining favor in Europe as men began to tire of slaughtering each other in IDA Th» leavenworth Times, Sunday, October 20, 1974 religious warfare. One of the earliest proponents of the idea of religious freedom in New England was Roger Williams. Bam'sli'd from Massachusetts because of his criticism of the authorities, Williams had established a new colony in Rhode Island, where religious freedom was guaranteed. From there, lie debated the "Bloody Tenet of Persecution" with Massachfisett's Puritan leader John Cotton. In general, however, religious freedom developed in America for more practical reasons. Maryland, for example, adopted a policy of toleration in 10-19 out of' sheer necessity: Lord Baltimore's Roman Catholic settlers had by that time become outnumbered by Protestants. There had been some skirmishing but no full- scale religious warfare, and it became clear, the inhabitants of thfi struggling little colony preferred peace to combat over the question of enforced religions orthodoxy. In similar fashion, religious multiplicity compelled adoption of the same policy of other colonies. Escaped Involvement Even where a single church was "established." as with the Church of England in the Southern colonies and the Puritan cliurehos in New England, other sects were permitted (o worship openly. Hoenuso the English colonies in A m ericn were founded relatively Into, they largely ^scaped involvement. in a Kuropenn tradition of religious conflict. For the most pnrt. in fact. America was/ originally intended as a haven for religious liberty and diversity. A major nnd niuoN praised American vnlue was let in. largely out of necessity, by the back door. Real Utopias make strange entrances. Another important, nnd related, characteristic of the new societies made a similar entry. In a d v o c a t. i n g coloni'7-ation, Richard Hakhiyt. had annealed to n self- con s c i o u s 1 y nationalistic ''F, nglish 'nation": yet iron'YMlv. Kngland succeeded in establishing colonies which, at. least, so far as the ctlvic backgrounds of the settlers were concerned, turned out to be very un-English. Tn the lotv? run, of course, English laws, government, 1 a n ? n f g e . and customs prevailed in the new land. nnvHy because thov arrived first on the scene and partly because imperial governance and social focus remained for so long in London. Yet the fact remains tlvt by the eve of the American Revolution, nearly a itTMority of the people of the "English" colonies were, by any contemporar'v definition, not English at all. Xot Truly EiiRlish Some of the near majority wore, to be sure. English- speaking, but that they were not truly English was equally clear to themselves and to truly English settlers. Tbrre were many Scots and perhaps a similar number of Dutch, the latter in New York and New Jersey. William Penn's grand eT|3eriment and strenuous efforts at recruiting settlers for his colony made Pennsylvania' one third German (and, not accidentally, Protestant). The Calvinist Scotch - Irish, descendants of Scots who had colonized in northern Ireland, and ancestors of a tradition of religious conflict which remains there to I his day. also came in it real numlxTs to the colonies from Pennsylvania southwards. And other groups came as well: I'rotoslanl, French (Huguenots>, and in lesser numbers. Catholic Irish. Jews, even Poles. Happily for the predominating sorts of English who enme. they were nearly all CJirislinn, heavily of the low church, modified- Calvinist sort. More than anything else, this fact brought a measure of unity out. of ethnic multiplicity. America was to fulfill, for a lime, the expectation that England's offspring would be, necessarily, Protestant. On this count, as on several others, the Africans were a group apart. Much the next largest group to the English, they concentrated their settlement, without any say in the matter, in tlv southern half of the English-controlled portion of the New World. Status Not Clenr They came, captives, in small numbers at first, their status not, altogether clear. Within s e v e r a I decades, however, during tiie first half of the seventeenth cenury. it had become certain and apparent that, the Africans in these colonies would \tc accorded a status which conflicted sharply \v i t l'i important English pretensions. One of the major tenets of English pride and indeed of English nationalism was that (hey were themselves the freest people in the world: freer, clearly, than the Turks and other "infidels", and much freer, even, than the Spaniards and the French. It was perhaps this justifiable consciousness which helped enable English settlers to create a social condition for Africans that ran radically counter to English custom and law. Africans, who were by the standards of Englishmen neither Christian, civilized, nor appropriate in appearance, came rapidly to be set apart for a special kind of exploitation. As Africans came to the American colonies in increasing numbers, particularly after 2700 — which was, roughly, when the other non-English came — Englishmen began rapidly to reali/e that their New World lands would not automatically IK- English. Indeed, us one Virginian put it, "1 fear HVs Colony will some time or other bo confirmed by the name of Ni'\v Guinea." Or, as Benjamin Franklin once described Pennsylvania, "New Germany." Ktliulr Diversity But while Franklin and others fretted about the ethnic composition of America, ethnic diversity seemed to be just happening. Sir Thomas Mow's Utopian society was developing its own peculiar directions in the New World. From Sir Humphrey Gilbert's vantage point on tlv stern-sheets of a fishing smack and from Richard Ilakhiyt's study chair, the new societies would not have been quite as they had envisioned. If we reflect on actual developments in the new colonies against the mirror of original intentions, we can now see a fairly consistent slanting in certain important directions. English society did not reproduce itself in America. Ratlvr than representing a cross section of English or European society, the immigrants who came from England (and elsewhere from Europe) were heavily middle- class but with a large lower- class element. So in a crucial sense, "Mid-America" began not in • the Mississippi River heartland but on the Atlantic 'beachheads. T!v; opportunities o f the "empty" coastal territories, so gradually but brutally and effectively cleared of "savages," created in the eighteenth century a new ar- tistocracy — unelcvated and most un-self-confidcnt but very real nonetheless. The unavailability of land also resulted in a relatively small number of poor. The •great bulk of colonists were, by European standards, middle-class. Always, of course, with the exception of tlv Africans, whose standing on the lowest rung of the social ladder gave (lie English increased status, as African labor gave the English increased prosperity. Because they prided themselves on being a free people, the English settlers in America worked out political forms conducive to still greater political freedom that existed at Uimo. Once again, though, we m u s t distinguish between original intentions and eventual results. Tn successfully asking for the establishment of representative assemblies in each colony, the settlers were far from taking a radical step toward adoption of new political institutions. If anything, the establishment of representative government in America was a conservative step. Elective assemblies were meant to conserve already existing English liberties ' and institutional practices. (It was no accident that New York, the last colony to gain an assembly, was tlv one originally settled by another nation, the Dutch). The attempt to recreate in America what was valued in England resulted in the political forms which Americans came eventually so greatly to value. No one realized at the time, of course, that by establishing little parliaments in America, tlv 1 settlers were erecting political institutions which eventually would challenge imperial authority' and, in the process of a Revolution, form the basis of a federated nation- state. Factional nickering Tlie actual practice of politics in the colonies was so ridden by factional bickering and so assiduously concerned with mundane tasks that no one though', the colonists were engaged in a Utopian project. Yet what, emerged was, by the standards of history and .the world. a Utopian dream. Popular self-government by m cans of representative, elective institutions was then and is today n rarity. That it had and still has serious flaws is obvious. Bring New Color To Faded Floors with now carpeting, vinyl or eoramic tile. Beautiful selection from the country'* most fom- out milli. Convenient terms. Expert installation available, Dix Carpet Center 521 Del. 682-3011 Downtown loavonworth Free Parking Courses by Newspaper was developed by UCSI) Extension and funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, with a sup plomentary grant from the '•'XXON KtlucHlirm Foundation. , Next: TurnlnfV llw Colonial. <fi Netoscope. 1750-1775, bJT Michael Kuminen, professor of; A ni eric n n history, Cornell. University. "4 ...ORDERTHEMNOW ON PHOTO GREETING CARDS, ORDER BEFORE NOV. 15th 5UM-UNE Cardi TRIM-IINE Cardi Quan. Color Color 25 $9.00 $7.00 $14.75 50 75 100 $21.00 $27.00 $12.75 $19.00 $25.00 Add $2.70 for copying your color print and making a new color negative. 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The beautiful tops of these tables are formed by walnut veneers selected for their color and grain pattern and hand-set at a slant. The finish is a warm harvest brown and legs are capped with antique brass ferrules. Altogether, a very high fashion look with a charming country accent. 15354)1 56" Cocktail, $79.95 1535-05 End Table, $79.95 1535-08 54" Sofa table, $99.95 1535-04 40" Round Cocktail, $99.95 1535-85 Nest Tables, $99.95 Free delivery. BILL 329 Delaware Free warran ;. lime payments available. Appliance and TV Center Downtown Leavenwoith Free Parking. Leavenworth 9 8 Leading Furniture Store Open 9.9 Mondays; 9-6 Tues. thru Sat,; Sun. 1-5 p.m.

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