Confessional states and toleration in the North Atlantic before 1700

The first extended public debate over toleration in Europe occurred amid the upheavals of the English civil wars. At about the same time, the most innovative experiments in religious liberty were attempted in the New World. Colonists from England and the Netherlands put in place several practical schemes of toleration that illustrated the halting development of religious freedom. The Catholic George Calvert, First Lord Baltimore, obtained a grant for Maryland and primarily for pragmatic reasons he granted freedom of worship to non-Catholics (1632). Maryland's Act of Toleration in 1649, however, did not prevent the return of intolerance following the establishment of Anglicanism there in 1692. Not content with merely a Christian toleration, Roger Williams wished also to grant freedom to Jews in the settlement of Rhode Island from 1644. English advocates of toleration, including Williams, had already appealed to the example of religious freedom in the Netherlands, and not surprisingly, the patterns of the Old World prevailed in New Netherlands, with the Dutch

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