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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

Before 1776: Life in the American Colonies - Robert J. Allison Listening to these twenty-four lectures was an enjoyable way to shore up my knowledge of a historical era of which my knowledge is a bit hazy. The lecturer, Robert J. Allison, successfully balances historical facts with interesting stories to maintain the listener’s interest. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures.

One of my motives for listening to these lectures was to see what the lecturer said about my Amish ancestors in Pennsylvania during the French-Indian War. There was no mention of them, however the following quotation caught my attention because of its mention of Anabaptists.  The following quotation is making the point that New Amsterdam (later New York) in the 1600s had a unique religious and ethnic diversity not found in the other colonies.
"In 1643 a visiting French priest reported from New Amsterdam that he heard eighteen different languages spoken on the streets of New Amsterdam -- European languages, Indian languages, and African languages.  Most of the whites in the colony incidentally are not Dutch. In 1687 an English governor wrote that ‘New York has a chaplain belonging to the fort of the Church of England, secondly it has a Dutch Calvinist, thirdly a French Calvinist, fourthly a Dutch Lutheran. Here there not be many of the Church of England, few Roman Catholics, abundance of Quakers, preaching men and women especially, ranting Quakers, singing Quakers, Sabbatarians, Anti-Sabbatarians, some Anabaptists, some Independents, some in short of all sorts of opinions there are some, and the most part none at all.’  "
"I found the following quotation interesting. It is Patrick Henry providing closing arguments in a lawsuit trial in which he is questioning the actions of the clergy.
"Do they manifest their zeal in the cause of religion and humanity by practicing the mild and benevolent precepts of the Gospel of Jesus? Do they feed the hungry and clothe the naked? Oh, no, gentlemen! Instead of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, these rapacious harpies would, were their powers equal to their will, snatch from the hearth of their honest parishioner his last hoe-cake, from the widow and her orphan child their last milch cow! The last bed, nay, the last blanket from the lying-in woman!"
The above is taken from what is commonly referred to as the "Parson's Cause Speech." The jury must have been convinced that this was a correct description of the clergy because the jury reached a verdict for Patrick’s side, and after the trial the jury carried him out of the court house on their shoulders.

Any person interested in history will find these lecturers educational and interesting.