No historical document is created as an isolated event. To understand the meaning and significance of any one document, preceding and succeeding events must be considered. The Flushing Remonstrance is no exception. The agreement known as the Union of Utrecht, dated January 1579, first mentioned the right to freedom of conscience which is at the heart of the Flushing Remonstrance. The passage of the Ordinance Against Conventicles and Meetings Other than the Authorized Reformed Religion restricted the formal practice of religions such as the Quakers and made the writing of the Flushing Remonstrance necessary for the inhabitants who wanted to welcome Quakers into their homes. The arrival of the Quakers and subsequent harboring of two Quaker women in the homes of English residents on Long Island was the most immediate cause for the writing of this remonstrance. The letter from Domines Megapolensis and Drisius on August 14, 1657 gives a detailed account of the Quaker arrival and subsequent events. All of these documents allow for a deeper understanding of the Flushing Remonstrance and its significance in history of the Dutch colony of New Netherland and the early history of the United States.
As for the matter of religion, the States of Holland and Zeeland shall act according to their own pleasure, and the other Provinces of this Union shall follow the rules set down in the religious peace drafted by Archduke Matthias, governor and captain-general of these countries, with the advice of the Council of State and the States General, or shall establish such general or special regulations in this matter as they shall find good and most fitting for the repose and welfare of the provinces, cities, and individual Members thereof, and the preservation of the property and rights of each individual, whether churchman or layman, and no other Province shall be permitted to interfere or make difficulties, provided that each person shall remain free in his religion and that no one shall be investigated or persecuted because of his religion, as is provided in the Pacification of Ghent…
An account of the arrival of Quakers in New Netherland.