The piping times of peace.
During the fifteen years following the ratification of the Constitution of the United States by Connecticut, January 9, 1788, no conspicuous events mark her history. These years were for the most part years of quiet growth and of expansion in all directions, and, because of this steady advancement, she was soon known as |the land of steady habits| and of general prosperity.
Even in the dark days of the Revolution, Connecticut's energetic people had continued to populate her waste places, and had carved out new towns from old townships, -- for the last of the original plats had been marked off in 1763. In 1779-80, the state laid out five towns; from 1784 to 1787, twenty-one, -- twelve of them in one year, 1786. [a] Tolland County was divided off in 1786 as Windham had been in 1726, Litchfield in 1751, and Middlesex in 1765. These, with, the four original counties of Fairfield, New Haven, Hartford, and New London, made the present eight counties of the state. The cities of Hartford, New Haven, New London, Middletown, and Norwich were incorporated in 1784. They were scarcely more than villages of to-day, for New Haven approximated 3,000 inhabitants, and Hartford, as late as 1810, only 4,000. The Litchfield of the post-Revolutionary days, ranking, as a trade-centre, fourth in the state, was as familiar with Indians in her streets as the Milwaukee of the late fifties, and |out west| was no farther in miles than the Connecticut Reserve of 3,800,000 acres in Ohio which, in 1786, the state had reserved, when ceding her western lands to the new nation. Thither emigration was turning, since its check on the Susquehanna and Delaware by the award, in 1782, to Pennsylvania of the contested jurisdiction over those lands, and of the little town of Westmoreland, which the Yankees had built there. [b] After the decision new settlements were discouraged by the bitter feuds between the Connecticut and Pennsylvanian claimants to the land.
The Revolution had left Connecticut exhausted in men and in means. Her largest seaboard towns had suffered severely. With her commerce and coasting trade almost destroyed, she found herself, during the period preceding the adoption of the national Constitution and the establishment of the revenue system, a prey to New York's need on the one hand and to Massachusetts' sense of impoverishment on the other; and thus, for every article imported through either state, Connecticut paid an impost tax. It was estimated that she thus provided one third of the cost of government for each of her neighbors. Consequently she attempted to reinstate and to enlarge her early though limited commerce, and was soon sending cargoes, preeminently of the field and pasture, [c] to exchange for West India commodities, while with her larger vessels she developed an East Indian trade. As another means to wealth, the state, in 1791, passed laws for the encouragement of the small factories [d] that the necessity of the war had created; but it was not until after the act of 1833, creating the joint-stock companies, that Connecticut turned from a purely agricultural community to the great manufacturing state we know to-day. She shared in the national prosperity, which, as early as 1792, proved the wisdom of Hamilton's financial policy, and about 1795 her citizens wisely bent themselves to the improvement of internal communication. This was the era of the development of the turnpike and of the multiplicity of stage-lines. Kegular stages plied between the larger cities. Yet up to 1789 there was not a post-office or a mail route in Litchfield county, and the |Monitor| was started as a weekly paper to circulate the news. In 1790 Litchfield had a fortnightly carrier to New York and a weekly one to Hartford, while communication with the second capital [e] of the state was frequent. From 1800, there was a daily stage to Hartford, New Haven, Norwalk, Poughkeepsie, and Albany. Wagons and carriages began to multiply and to replace saddle-bags and pillions, yet as late as 1815 Litchfield town had only |one phaeton, one coachee, and forty-six two-wheeled pleasure-wagons.|
Towns continued to commend and encourage good public schools. Every town or parish of seventy families had to keep school eleven months of the year, and those of less population for at least six months. Private schools and academies sprang up. [f] Harvard and Yale, as the best equipped of the New England colleges, competed for its young men, and drew others from the central and southern sections of the nation. Neither had either Divinity or Law School. [g] Young men after completing their college course usually went to some famous minister for graduate training. Rev. Joseph Bellamy, John Smalley, and Jonathan Edwards, Junior, were the foremost teachers in Connecticut, though the first-named had ceased his active work in 1787. [h] The New Divinity was very slowly spreading. Even as late as 1792, President Stiles of Yale declared that none of the churches had accepted it. [i] This versatile minister interested himself in languages, literatures, natural science, and in all religions, as well as in the phases of New England theology. He esteemed piety and sound doctrine, whether in Old or New Divinity men, and welcomed to his communion all of good conscience who belonged to any Christian Protestant sect. He was liberal-minded and tolerant beyond the average of his colleagues. His tolerance, however, was more for the old Calvinistic principles in the New Divinity, and not for its advanced features, for which he had little regard. President Stiles held very firmly to the belief that his ministerial privileges and authority remained with him after he became president of the college, although he was no longer pastor by the election of a particular church.
The first law school in America was established in Litchfield in 1784 by Judge Tappan Reeve, later chief justice of Connecticut. He associated with him in 1798 Judge James Gould. |Judge Keeve loved law as a science and studied it philosophically.| He wished |to reduce it to a system, for he considered it as a practical application of moral and religious principles to business life.| His students were drilled in the study of the Constitution of the United States and on the current legislation in Congress. Under Judge Gould, the common law was expounded methodically and lucidly, as it could be only by one who knew its principles and their underlying reasons from a to z. In 1789, Ephraim Kirby of Litchfield published the first law reports ever issued in the United States. [j] Law students from many states were attracted to the town. The roll of the school, kept regularly only after 1798, included over one thousand lawyers, among them one vice-president of the United States, several foreign ministers, five cabinet ministers, [k] two justices of the United States Supreme Court, ten governors of states, sixteen United States senators, fifty members of Congress, forty judges of the higher state courts, and eight chief justices of the state.
Among Connecticut towns, the two capitals of the state were also literary centres, while Norwich, New Haven, and New London were fast becoming commercial ports. Middletown soon had considerable coasting trade. Wethersfield had vessels of her own. Even Saybrook and Milford sent a few vessels to the West and East Indies. Farmington was a big trading centre, shipping produce abroad and importing in vessels of her own that sailed from Wethersfield or New Haven. Some few towns developed a special industry, like Berlin and New Britain, that made the Connecticut tin-peddler a familiar figure even in the Middle and Southern states. There were also several towns with large shipyards, where some of the largest ships were built. But back of all such centres of activity, the whole state was solidly agricultural. Connecticut's commerce was an import commerce exchanging natural products for foreign ones, such as sugar, coffee, and molasses from the West Indies; tea and luxuries from the East; and obtaining, either directly or indirectly, from Europe, all the fine manufactured products, whether stuffs for personal use or tools for labor.
In measuring the prosperity and intelligence of the Connecticut people neither the parish library nor the newspaper must be overlooked. |I am acquainted,| wrote Noah Webster in 1790, |with parishes where almost every householder, has read the works of Addison, Sherlock, Atterbury, Watts, Young, and other familiar writings: and will conversely handsomely on the subjects of which they treat.| |By means of the general circulation of the public papers,| wrote the same author, |the people are informed of all political affairs; and their representatives are often prepared to debate upon propositions made in the legislature.|
Through the agricultural communities of Connecticut, as well as in the towns, the weekly newspapers of the state began to circulate freely as soon as carriers or mail routes were established. Even by 1785 there was in Connecticut a newspaper circulation of over 8000 weekly copies, which was equal to that published in the whole territory south of Philadelphia. These papers lacked locals and leaders, leaving the former to current gossip, and for the latter substituting, to some extent, letters and correspondence. The newspapers gave foreign news three months old, the proceedings of Congress in from ten to twelve days after their occurrence, and news from the Connecticut elections three weeks late. Subjects relating to religion and politics were heard pro and con in articles, or rather letters, signed with grandiloquent pseudonyms and frequently marked |Papers, please copy| in order to secure for them a larger public. Fantastic bits of natural science, or what purported to be such, and stilted admonitions to virtue, as well as poems, eulogies, and obituaries, were admitted to the columns of these colonial papers. In 1786, the |Connecticut Courant| apologized for its meagre reports of legislative proceedings, especially of those of the Upper House, Council, or Senate, and promised to give full details. This reporting was a new thing, and it was fully five years more before the practice became general among the half dozen papers published in Connecticut. [l] Space was also given in the papers to the reproduction of selections, even whole chapters, from current and popular writers. Among such letters was a series on |the Establishment of the Worship of the Deity essential to National Happiness.| In one of the letters, the author suggests: --
To secure the advantages ... allow me to propose a general and equitable tax collected from all the rateable members of a state, for the support of the public teachers of religion, of all denominations, within the state.... Let a moderate poll tax be added to a tax of a specified sum on the pound, and levied on all the subjects of a state and collected with the public tax, and paid out to the public teachers of religion of the several denominations in proportion to the number of polls or families, belonging to each respectively; or according to their estimates. [For]
1. It would be equitable.
2. It would be for the good order of the civil state.
3. All ought to contribute to such a religious education of the people as would conduce to civil order.
4. It would promote the peace in towns and societies.
5. It would do away with the legal expenses consequent upon difficulties in collecting rates.
6. It would |extinguish the ardor of the founders of new delusions and their weak and mercenary abettors.|
7. It would prevent separation except upon the firmest principles; |the powerful motive of saving a penny or two in the pound, would cease to operate, because their tax would continue still the same, go where they will.|
It was also suggested that the Assembly should fix ministers' salaries at so much per hundred families, and that congregations should be permitted to add to the annual grant by voluntary contributions. These are but examples of the reaching out of the public mind for some equitable method of enforcing the support of public worship, -- a principle to which the majority still adhered.
The Laws of the State of Connecticut, under which after the Revolution parishes were organized, contained no reference to the Episcopal church as such. All societies and congregations were placed on the same footing precisely, i.e., they |had power to provide for the support of public worship by the rent or sale of pews or slips in the meeting-house, by the establishment of funds, or in any other way they might deem expedient.| With this amount of freedom Episcopalians were content, since by the consecration, in 1784, of Samuel Seabury, Bishop of Connecticut, their ecclesiastical equipment was complete.[m] Further, many of them had been Tories, and, satisfied with the clemency shown them at the close of the war by the authorities, they gladly affiliated with them in all Federal measures of national importance, and also, for over thirty years, in all local issues.
From 1783 to 1787 there was throughout the United States a general disintegration of political parties. Federalists and nascent Anti-Federalists were alike seeking some basis for a safe national existence. The Constitution once established, political parties differentiated themselves as the party in power and the |out-party| developed their respective interpretations of the Constitution and of measures permitted under it. The Anti-Federalist party in Connecticut is sometimes said to have been born in 1783 out of opposition both to the Commutation Act of the Continental Congress, voting five years' full pay instead of half-pay for life to the Revolutionary officers, and to the formation of the Cincinnati. Both of these measures touched the main spring of party difference. America had caste as well as Europe. Though of a different type, it existed in every town and county. There were the people of position, attained by family standing, professional prominence, superior intelligence (rarely by wealth alone), and then, as now, by natural leadership. There were the common people of ordinary abilities and meagre possessions, who looked up to this first class. Between the two there was an invisible barrier. The customs of the day emphasized it. Yet the institutions of the land and its democracy demanded that this barrier, not impassable to men of parts and character who could push up from the masses, should never become insurmountable, as it often did under a monarchy; that it should be steadily leveled by intrusting the governing power more and more to the whole people, rather than to a few leaders; and by educating the masses up to their responsibilities. But many of the leading Federalists preferred to concentrate power in the hands of the few, hesitating to trust the judgment of the great body of citizens with the new and novel government. And to the people at large any measure that bore a remote resemblance to monarchical institutions or monarchical aspirations -- however far remote from either -- was subject to suspicion and antagonism. The Cincinnati might be the beginning of a nobility, and half-pay or five years' full pay to the officers ignored the common soldiery who had done most of the fighting, and who had suffered even more severely in their fortunes.[n] When the measures of the first Congress pressed hardest upon the impoverished landed proprietors of the South and upon the small farmers in other sections, of the country, they welded the landed aristocracy of the South and the democracy of the North into the Anti-Federal party. Add to their sense of impoverishment, their common hatred of England, and these classes would hold their prejudice longer than the merchants, the lawyers, and the clergy, whose business, studies, and labors would tend to soften the antagonism created by the war. New England, however, was largely Federal, and Connecticut was one of the strongholds of that party, priding herself upon returning Federal electors as long as there was the shadow of the Federal name to vote for. Moreover, the |Presbyterian Consociated Congregational Church| and the Federalists were so closely allied that the party of the government and the party of the Establishment were familiarly and collectively known as the |Standing Order.| During the early years of statehood, by far the larger number of the dissenters were also good Federalists. But they drew away from the party at a later date, when the Democratic-Republicans began, in their Connecticut state politics, to call for a broader suffrage and full religious liberty, while the Federal Standing Order still continued to claim, as within its patronage, legal favors, political office, and the honors of judicial, military, and civil life.
After the Revolution, the rapidly increasing Baptists continued their warfare waged against certificates and in behalf of religious liberty. Methodists soon sympathized, for Methodist itinerants, entering Connecticut in 1789, gained a footing, in spite of much opposition and real oppression through fines and imprisonments, [o] and quickly made many converts. Their preachers urged upon penurious and backward members the importance of voluntary support of the gospel in almost the same words as those of the Baptist leader: |It is as real robbery to neglect the ordinances of God, as it is to force people to support preachers who will not trust his influence for a temporal living.| Baptists, Methodists, and many other dissenters were far from satisfied with their status, and the government from time to time was forced to take notice of the dissatisfaction. Temporary legislation was enacted to allay the unrest, but, as there was a settled determination to protect the Establishment and to keep the political leadership among its friends, the various measures were not successful. For instance, the legislature in 1785-86 had arranged for the sale of the Western Lands and for the money expected from their sale to be divided among the various Christian bodies, and it had also enacted --
that there shall be reserved to the public five hundred acres of land in each township for the support of the gospel ministry and five hundred acres more for the support of schools in such towns forever; and two hundred and forty acres of good ground in each town to be granted in fee simple to the first gospel minister who shall settle in such town.
Nothing is here said of the Presbyterians, or of any other sect, yet that denomination was sure to receive the greater benefit under the working of the law. They were a wealthy body, and in the next year, they began, under the General Association of Connecticut, to renew their earlier efforts for an organized planting of missions. Attempts to establish missionary posts were begun as early as 1774, but they had been interrupted by the war, and were not revived until 1780, when two missionaries were sent to Vermont. After a little, the missionary spirit languished through lack of support; but interest had been roused again by the promised lands and money from the sales in the Western Reserve, and by the contributions that, flowing in from 1788 to 1791, warranted the dispatch of missionaries into the western field in 1792, and regularly thereafter.
Turning to the religious and more strictly theological side of the development of toleration, there was within the Establishment itself a gradual modification of opinion concerning membership. It was witnessed to by the contents of a book entitled |Christian Forbearance to Weak Consciences a Duty of the Gospel,| by John Lewis of Stepney parish, Wethersfield. It was sent out in 1789 for the purpose of |Attempting to prove that Persons, absenting themselves from the Lord's Table, through honest scruples of Conscience, is not such a breach of Covenant but that they partake other Privileges.| One may recall that twenty years previous, 1769-71, Dr. Bellamy was thundering not only against the Half-Way Covenant, but also against the Stoddardean view of the Lord's Supper as a |means| of grace, -- as a sacrament the partaking of which would help unworthy or unconverted men to conversion and to the leading of moral and holy lives. One might, for a moment, anticipate that the Wethersfield pastor was harking back to the old idea. But this was not his point of view. |I reprobate,| he writes,|the idea of a Half-Way Covenant, or sealing of such a covenant.| Lewis contended that all seekers after holiness were to enter the church through the |very same covenant,| but that to all of them were to be extended the same and all church privileges, and that they were to accept them |as far as in their conscience they can see their way clear, hoping for further light.| If they could accept baptism and church oversight, and could not, because of honest scruples of conscience (lest they were not worthy), approach the Lord's Table, they were not for that reason to be considered reprobates. As to such charity opening a way for persons of immoral lives to creep into the churches or to put off willfully the partaking of communion, the author's experience of many years had proved the contrary, though he could not deny that the possibility of hypocrisy and backsliding might exist under any form of membership.
As a side light upon the growth of toleration during twenty years within the churches of the Establishment, two entries in President Stiles's diary may be quoted. Writing in 1769, to the Rev. Noah Wells of Stamford, Conn., with reference to the call of the Rev. Samuel Hopkins to a pastorate in Newport, R. I., where Dr. Stiles was then preaching, the latter says: |If I find him (Hopkins) of a Disposition to live in an honorable Friendship, I shall gladly cultivate it. But he must not expect that I recede from my Sentiments both in Theology and ecclesiastical Polity more than he from his, in which I presume he is immovably fixed. We shall certainly differ in some things. I shall endeavor to my utmost to live with him as a Brother; as I think (it) dishonorable that in almost every populous place on this Continent, where there are two or more Presb.[yterian] or Cong.[regational] Chhs. [churches], they should be at greater variance than Prot. [estants] and Romanists: witness every city or Town from Georgia to Nova Scotia (except Portsm'th) [p] where there are more Presb. chhs than one. The Wound is well nigh healed here, may it not break out again.| Writing some two years after the appearance of Lewis's book, President Stiles, commenting upon the fact that each dissenting sect was so absolutely sure that it alone had the only perfect type of faith and polity, notes the greater tolerance among the Congregational churches, for the latter were not as a rule close communion churches, as were those of the dissenting sects.
Indeed, the intolerance shown towards dissenters was by this time not so much sectarian, not so much a lack of tolerance toward slightly varying fundamentals of faith, form of worship, and organization, as an intolerance based upon the conviction that the body politic must be protected by a state church. There was, of course, a little of the exasperating sense of superiority in belonging to the favored Establishment. The old objection to dissent as heresy -- as a sin for which the community was responsible -- had for the most part given way to opposition to it as introducing a system of voluntary contributions for the support of religion. And there was a very general and well-defined fear that such a support would prove inadequate. If so, deterioration of the state and of its people would follow. For individual worth and character, many among the dissenters were highly respected, and the great body of them were esteemed good citizens. Among the churches, some few of the established ones were beginning to have their own services occasionally conducted by dissenting ministers. The First Society of Canterbury entered a vote to this effect in 1791. As the churches translated more liberally the Articles of the Saybrook Platform, they approached a polity more in common with that of Separatist and Baptist. By 1800, the teachings of John Wise of Ipswich, reinforced by those of Nathaniel Emmons, |the father of modern Congregationalism,| had permeated all New England. Wise, in his efforts to revive the independence of the single churches, had exploded the Barrowism which New England usage had introduced into original Congregationalism, and the rebound had carried the churches as far beyond the Cambridge Platform towards original Brownism as the Presbyterian movement had carried their polity away from the Cambridge instrument. The later Edwardean school had devoted itself to the discussion of doctrine rather than to polity, and, in the alliance with Presbyterianism outside of Connecticut, it had affiliated without attaching much weight to differences in church government. Their common interest, at first, was to unite against a possible supremacy of the Church of England, and against the danger to their own churches and to good government from the increase of dissenters. Later, their united efforts were directed to forwarding Christian missions in order that the gospel might not be left out of the civilization on the frontier. In this later work, they had competitors as soon as the Baptists and Methodists became strongly organized bodies. Accordingly Presbyterians and Congregationalists still further sank their differences of discipline in the Plan of Union of 1801, formed for the furtherance of the mission work. Thus it was many years before questions of polity again took front rank in the Congregational churches. Already their very indifference to it, the long years of the gradual abandonment of the Saybrook system, together with the development in civil life of a broader conception of humanity, had tended to bring back the independence of the individual church, while custom had preserved the inroojted principle of church-fellowship. It needed only Nathaniel Emmons to embody practice and opinion in a system that should break away from the aristocratic Congregationalism, the semi-Presbyterianized Congregationalism of the eighteenth century, and give to the nineteenth a democracy in the Church equivalent to that in the State. Emmons, however, carried his theory to extremes [q] when opposing ministerial associations; yet with some modifications modern Congregationalism is essentially that of his school. Church polity, however, did not become a topic of general interest for at least half a century more, nor was it formulated anew until the Albany Convention of 1862 passed |upon the local work and responsibility of a Congregational Church.|
From the politico-ecclesiastical point of view, the legislative measures in the history of Connecticut, during the fifteen years after the colony became a state, that are of chief importance are the Certificate Laws and Western Land bills. In order to properly appreciate their significance this summary of the industrial, social, and religious life of the Connecticut people during the years following the Revolution was necessary.
[a] Five towns were laid out in 1785; from 1784 to 1787, twenty-one in all; from 1787 to 1800, ten; and from 1800 to 1818, eleven. -- Hollister, Hist, of Connecticut, pp.469-70.
[b] Of the seven hundred members of the Susquehanna Land Company, formed in 1754, six hundred and thirty-eight were Connecticut men. A summer settlement was made on the Delaware in 1757 and on the Susquehanna in 1762. The first permanent settlement was in 1769. At the close of the Revolution, renewed attempts to colonize resulted in a reign of lawlessness and bloodshed.
[c] Horses, cattle, beef, pork, stages, flour, grain. During the European wars, the United States exported foodstuffs in great quantities, to feed both French and English armies, amounting to over 100,000 men.
[d] President Stiles was interested in silk culture and in the manufacture of silk. His commencement gown in 1789 was of Connecticut make. Through the efforts of General Humphreys (1784-94) attempts were made to introduce the Spanish merino sheep and to establish factories for fine broadcloth. Iron works were set up in different parts of the state. The earliest cotton factories centred about Pomfret. Clocks, watches, cut shingle-nails, paper, stone, and earthenware pottery, were among the manufactures started in Norwalk between 1767 and 1773, while in Windham, hosiery, silk and tacks were manufactured.
[e] In 1701 the General Court enacted that the May session of the Legislature should be held at New Haven, and the October one at Hartford. This was a concession to the former sovereignty of the New Haven Colony. The arrangement continued until 1873. The biennial sessions, introduced by the constitution of 1818, alternated between the two capitols.
[f] |Mr. Dwight is enlarging hia School to comprehend the Ladies, ... promising to carry them through a course of belles Lettres, Geography, Philosophy, and Astronomy. The spirit for Academy making is vigorous.| -- Stiles Diary, iii, 247.
Of the academies, the more famous were Lebanon, Plainfield, Greenfield (under Dr. Dwight), Norwich, Windham, Waterbury (for both sexes), and Stratfield from 1783 to 1786. There was also a second school in Norwich from 1783 to 1786. See Stiles Diary, iii, 248.
[g] Harvard Divinity School was established 1815; Yale, 1822. Previously both universities had each a professor of divinity.
[h] |For three years and three months before his [Bellamy's] death he was disabled by a paralytic Shock, we impaired his Intellect as well as debilitated his Body. Few were equal to him in the Desk & he was Communicative and instructive in Conversation upon religious Subjects.| The passage closes with the prophecy, |His numerous noisy Writings have blazed their day, and one Generation more will put them to sleep.| -- Stiles Diary, March 16, 1790 (on hearing the news of Bellamy's death). See vol. iii, pp.384-385. See Trumbull, ii, 159, for a more favorable opinion.
[i] Referring to the successor of Dr. Wales in the Yale chair of divinity, Pres. Stiles wrote, |An Old Divinity man will be acceptable to all the Old Divy. Ministers & to all the Churches: a New Divt man will be acceptable to all the New Divy. Ministers and to None of the Churches, as none of the Chhs. in New Engl. are New Divt.| -- Stiles Diary, iii, 506, note (Sept.8, 1793). See also under date of Nov.16, 1786, where churches are said to take New Divinity pastors |because they can get no others, but persons in the parish know nothing of the New Theology.|
[j] |Law Reports of the Superior and Supreme Courts, 1785-1788, by E. Kirby. Just published at this office and ready for subscribers and gentlemen disposed to purchase, for which most kinds of country produce will be received.| -- Advertisement in Litchfield Monitor of Apr.13, 1789.
[k] Calhoun, Woodbury, Mason, Clayton, and Hubbard. Judge Reeve retired in 1820; Judge Gould in 1833.
[l] Reporters were admitted to the national House of Representatives in 1790 and to the Senate in 1802.
[m] Bishop Seabnry was consecrated by the Scotch non-juring bishops, Nov.14, 1786. The latter, about four years later, were restored to their position as an integral part of the Anglican
hierarchy. Meanwhile, Dr. Samuel Provoost of New York and Dr. William White of Pennsylvania, on Feb.4, 1787, were consecrated by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, assisted by the Bishops of Wells and Peterborough, after a special Act of Parliament permitting the consecration to take place without the usual oaths of allegiance to the King as head of the church. In 1789, Bishop Seabury became president of the House of Bishops thus formed in America. The following year, James Madison of Virginia was consecrated by the English bishops, thus giving to the United States three bishops after the English succession, so that the validity of the Scottish rite should hot be questioned in the consecration of future American bishops.
[n] The eighty dollars proposed for privates would not go far toward mending broken fortunes, or care for broken constitutions and crippled bodies.
At the Middletown Convention, Sept.3, 1783, delegates from Hartford, Wethersfield, and Glastonbury met to denounce the Commutation Act. At its adjourned meeting on Sept.30 fifty towns, a majority in the state, disapproved the Act in an address to the General Assembly, and called attention to the Society of the Cincinnati. At the last meeting, March, 1784, an address to the people of the state was framed which condemned both the Commutation Act and the Cincinnati. -- J. H. Trumbull, Notes on the Constitution, p.18. Noah Webster, History of the Parties in the United States, pp.317-320.
[o] Methodism was twenty-eight years old, when, in 1766, Robert Strawbridge introduced it into New York, and Philip Embury preached his first sermon in a sail-loft. In 1771, Francis Asbury, later Bishop Asbury, was appointed John Wesley's |Assistant| in America. In 1773, the first Annual Conference was held. Methodism rapidly spread in the Middle and Southern states. By the year 1773-74, the year's increase in members was nine hundred and thirteen; in 1774-75, ten hundred and seventy-three. The preachers traveled on foot or on horseback, preaching as they went; living on the smallest allowance; sleeping where night overtook them; and meeting often with grudging hospitality, suspicion, and, sometimes, open violence.
Methodism |began when Episcopacy was at its lowest point, both in efficiency, and in the good-will of the people.| It agreed with Jonathan Edwards on the nature of personal religion, and separated from the Church of England in this, the Methodist's central principle of |conscious conversion| or |emotional experience.| Later in New England, Wesley's missionaries united in Methodist societies many of the converts to the Edwardean theology.
At the opening of the Revolution, the whole body of Methodists were within the Church of England. Of the English missionaries only Asbury, Dempster, and Wharcott remained in America to carry on, with native preachers, the work of proselytizing. It was |the only form of religion that advanced in America during that dark period, and during the war, it more than quadrupled both its ministry and members.| At the beginning of the war, it had eighty traveling preachers, beside local preachers and exhorters; a membership of one thousand, and auditors ten thousand. In 1784, there was a year's increase of fourteen thousand nine hundred and eighty-eight members, and of one hundred and four preachers to rejoice in the consecration of Bishop Asbury. In the November of that year, Bishops Coke and Asbury, organizing the |American Episcopal Church,| in spite of Wesley's anathemas probably led out one hundred thousand souls as the nucleus of the new church.
For a while the Connecticut authorities refused to recognize |as sober Dissenters| any converts other than the stationed preachers and their charges. The persecutions which the Methodists suffered were those of slander, the refusal to them of halls, churches, or public buildings; the refusal to permit their ministers, unless located, to perform the marriage ceremony; and petty fines, with occasional unjust imprisonment.
[p] Portsmouth, N. H.
[q] |A pure democracy which places every member of the church upon a level and gives him perfect liberty with order.| Under such a definition of a church as this, its pastor becomes only a moderator at its meetings, and every church is absolutely independent. It would follow that from its decisions there could be no appeal. Emmons was fond of declaring that |Association leads to Consociation; Consociation leads to Presbyterianism; Presbyterianism leads to Episcopacy; Episcopacy to Roman Catholicism, and Roman Catholicism is an ultimate fact.|
In spite of his teaching as to democracy, Emmons was as intolerant of it in the State as he was earnest for it in the Church.