EARLY AMERICAN FREETHOUGHT
THE American inheritance in property rights, social relationships, political theory and practice, and religion was essentially European in immediate origin. Modifications resulting from the frontier environment were inevitable, but the leaders of the colonization movement, with rare exceptions, were not farsighted enough to make the necessary concessions, and inexorable forces in time overcame their conservatism. The founders of Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut established in the New World theocracies based on alliances of the ministers and the aristocracy of birth and wealth, 1 while in Plymouth religious intolerance found a weaker foothold. 2 In Massachusetts cruel repressive measures were taken against the Quakers and Baptists. In Rhode Island almost complete religious liberty flourished. In the middle colonies because of the Dutch heritage, Penn's " holy experiment," and the desire to attract settlers, toleration was accorded believers, 3 although in New Jersey and in part of New York the Episcopal Church was established by law. Lord Baltimore, the proprietor of Maryland, the intended refuge of the Catholics, in order to protect his co-religionists had the colonial legislature pass the Toleration Act of 1649, which guaranteed liberty of conscience to all Christians. 4 In Virginia and Carolina, where the Anglican Church, although legally supported, never took____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Popular Free Thought in America, 1825-1850. Contributors: Albert Post - Author. Publisher: Columbia University Press; P.S. King & Staples, Ltd.. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1943. Page number: 11.
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