In 1657 the areas we now know as New York, New Jersey, Delaware and some surrounding places were controlled by the Dutch, as a colony known as New Netherland. The Director-General of this province was Peter Stuyvesant, who in 1656 outlawed all religious gatherings that were not a part of the Dutch Reformed Church.
This earned the ire of local Quaker settlements which had among English settlers in various towns. The policy led to persecution of various Quakers in the New Netherland colony, and on December 27, 1657, a group of Dutch citizens (none of whom were Quakers themselves) wrote and signed the Flushing Remonstrance (named for the town it was signed in) where they petitioned the Director-General to overturn his policy and articulated an early version the right to religious freedom.
The immediate effect of the remonstrance was negative; several signers were arrested and banished. It would not be until 1663 that the Dutch West India Company informed Stuyvesant that he was to end religious intolerance in the colony, but the following year New Netherland fell to British control.
The Flushing Remonstrance is considered an important precursor to the religious freedom clause in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.
Location signed: NYC, New York, USA
- 1657-12-27 "Flushing Remonstrance" petition signed in the Dutch colony of New Netherland, protesting the ban on Quaker worship