A Gallery of Jewish Colonial Worthies:
Some Loyalists, Some Patriots
There is no doubt that throughout Western Europe—by the middle of the 17th century—men were tired of the slaughter and waste of the religious wars. Besides, the lords who came to power in England with Charles II had lived among men of another faith and had learnt to be, more or less, tolerant. They had also become more mindful of this world and its wealth and less concerned about the world to come and men’s opinions of it.
At that time, Holland was an example of the practical value of religious toleration. Englishmen, such as Sir Josiah Child and later Sir William Temple, pointed to the prosperity of the Dutch as due, among other causes, to religious liberty. The English also saw its value in attracting colonists of sufficient character to endure the hardships of the frontier. However, a Roger Williams, in dividing the land he had bought from the Indians, was not merely practical when he said that the place was “for those who were destitute especially for conscience’s sake.” William Venn, in his laws for Pennsylvania, provided for the toleration of all who believed in God. Certainly, liberty of conscience was a major doctrine of the Society of Friends, called Quakers.
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