From Simon Jenkins, an Englishman:
"This Christmas marks the 350th anniversary of the least-honoured genesis of American freedom, to be celebrated in the New York suburb of Queens. For only the fourth time in its history a fragile piece of paper called the Flushing Remonstrance will go on display.
"Written in 1657 by the English citizens of the Long Island village of Flushing, it asserted their right to freedom of conscience against the autocracy of Peter Stuyvesant, the Dutch governor of their colony of New Netherland. It thus long predated the “self-evident truths” of Jefferson’s 1776 Declaration of Independence.
"The Flushing Remonstrance protested against Stuyvesant’s arrest, torture and expulsion of a Quaker preacher for defying his ban on all religions but Dutch Reformed protestantism. The 30 signatories were not themselves Quakers but demanded that in the new colony: 'If any persons . . . Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker . . . come in love to us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them.' Indeed they demanded that 'the law of love, peace and liberty . . . [extend] to Jews, Turks and Egyptians . . . which is the glory of the outward state of Holland and condemns hatred, war and bondage'. The citizens of Flushing ringingly declared: 'Let every man stand or fall to his own Master.' "