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Monday, September 5, 2011

Daughters of the Remonstrance

I came to America as a teenager, after having grown up in England.  My parents emigrated during my first year of college in London, and being a minor, I was eligible for a Green Card, so I took it.  I did part of my degree in Massachusetts, but finished up and graduated back in London.  Once I was done, I came back to America, and have lived here ever since (apart from 18 months in 1999 and 2000).  I became a US citizen in 1986.

My wife's family have a different story.  While some parts of their ancestry go back to England and Germany (or Austria/Hungary), other parts are Dutch.  And some American threads go back so far that her Mother's sister is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.), so Sally could become a member too, as could Thing 1 and Thing 2.  To become a DAR, you must prove that you are a direct, female descendant of someone who took part in the American Revolution (also called the War of Independence), on the revolutionaries side. 

Sally Cooper's connection goes to perhaps one of the least well-known person who signed the Declaration of Independence, John Hart of New Jersey.  John Hart was a lawyer and separatist who was elected on June 22nd 1776 by the New Jersey assembly specifically to vote for separation from the Crown, which he did.  He signed the Declaration the following month, along with the other 4 New Jersey delegates.  That job done, he returned to Hopewell, NJ, and was re-elected to the state assembly.  He died in 1779, while the war was still raging, and the people of Hopewell raised a monument to his memory,

 John Hart was himself descended from someone perhaps more influential.  His Great Grandfather was Edward Hart of Flushing New Jersey, town clerk who who authored the Flushing Remonstrance on December 27, 1657, considered the first expression of religious freedom in America.  It was during the Dutch control of New Holland, now called New York (named after the James, Duke of York, the future James II and brother of Charles I of Great Britain, not after the town of York in England).  At that time, the established church was the Dutch Reformed Church; the only established and legal church, under a decree by Governor Peter Stuyvesant.  The Flushing Remonstrance requested an exemption to his ban on Quaker worship. It is considered a precursor to the United States Constitution's provision on freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights.

As a result,  Stuyvesant had the signers arrested.  Most of them immediately recanted, but Hart and Tobias Feake refused, and were jailed and fed bread and water.  With Hart's health declining, he was released after a month, having never recanted, and Feake was held for a several more weeks until he did recant and was pardoned after being fined and banned from holding public office. The town government of Flushing was removed and Dutch replacements were appointed by Stuyvesant.

In 2007, the town of Flushing, now part of Queens NY, celebrated the 350th anniversary of the Flushing Remonstrance.  For the 300th anniversary in 1937 the US government issued a commemorative stamp as seen here.

I don't think my side of the family has anybody like these two Harts, John and Edward.   With my name originating from Northwest France (Normandy and Brittany), and before them from Vikings, it's likely I'm descended from pillagers and conquerors, not from heroes.


Gary said...

Very interesting history. I work with a woman who is a descendant of the Betsy Ross family. I know she is a member of the D.A.R.

Lenora said...

D.B. Cooper I am sharing this with the Illinois District II DAR members. Thank you for letting us get to know John and Edward Hart.

Lenora said...

I am sharing this with the Illinois District II DAR members. Thanks for letting us get to know Edward and John Hart.