The following monograph is the outgrowth of three earlier and shorter essays. The first, |Church and State in Connecticut to 1818,| was presented to Yale University as a doctor's thesis. The second, a briefer and more popularly written article, won the Straus prize offered in 1896 through Brown University by the Hon. Oscar S. Straus. The third, a paper containing additional matter, was so far approved by the American Historical Association as to receive honorable mention in the Justin Winsor prize competition of 1901.
With such encouragement, it seemed as if the history of the development of religious liberty in Connecticut might serve a larger purpose than that of satisfying personal interest alone. In Connecticut such development was not marked, as so often elsewhere, by wild disorder, outrageous oppression, tyranny of classes, civil war, or by any great retrograde movement. Connecticut was more modern in her progress towards such liberty, and her contribution to advancing civilization was a pattern of stability, of reasonableness in government, and of a slow broadening out of the conception of liberty, as she gradually softened down her restrictions upon religious and personal freedom.
And yet, Connecticut is recalled as a part of that New England where those not Congregationalists, the unorthodox or radical thinkers, found early and late an uncomfortable atmosphere and restricted liberties. By a study of her past, I have hoped to contribute to a fairer judgment of the men and measures of colonial times, and to a correct estimate of those essentials in religion and morals which endure from age to age, and which alone, it would seem, must constitute the basis of that |ultimate union of Christendom| toward which so many confidently look. The past should teach the present, and one generation, from dwelling upon the transient beliefs and opinions of a preceding, may better judge what are the non-essentials of its own.
Connecticut's individual experiment in the union of Church and State is separable neither from the New England setting of her earliest days nor from the early years of that Congregationalism which the colony approved and established. Hence, the opening chapters of her story must treat of events both in old England and in New. And because religious liberty was finally won by a coalition of men like-minded in their attitude towards rights of conscience and in their desire for certain necessary changes and reforms in government, the final chapters must deal with social and political conditions more than with those purely religious. It may be pertinent to remark that the passing of a hundred years since the divorce of Church and State and the reforms of a century ago have brought to the commonwealth some of the same deplorable political conditions that the men of the past, the first Constitutional Reform Party, swept away by the peaceful revolution of 1818.
For encouragement, assistance, and suggestions, I am especially indebted to Professor George B. Adams and Professor Williston Walker of Yale University, to Professor Charles M. Andrews of Bryn Mawr, to Dr. William G. Andrews, rector of Christ Church, Guilford, Conn., and to Professor Lucy M. Salmon of Vassar College. Of numerous libraries, my largest debt is to that of Yale University.
M. LOUISE GREENE.
NEW HAVEN, October 20, 1905.