Finding Freedom & Peace in Newport

 

Contributed by Jim Melnick

Tacy, aka “Tace” (Cooper) Hubbard and Samuel Hubbard were an amazing couple. They were Baptist believers who settled in Connecticut in the 1630s but had to keep moving from one town to another in New England because of their views. They finally found peace and a ‘home’ when they moved to Newport, Rhode Island and became members of John Clarke’s church.

Old Newport Map

But along the way they had many experiences. Samuel tells this story about his wife (as recounted in Isaac Backus’s history of the Baptists in New England):

“God having enlightened both [of us], but mostly my wife, into his holy ordinance of baptizing only visible believers; and being zealous for it, she was mostly struck at, and answered twice publicly, where I was also said to be as bad as she, and threatened with imprisonment to Hartford [jail] if we did not renounce [our views] or remove [ourselves from the area]. That Scripture came into our minds, If they persecute you in one place, flee to another.’” 

Tacy Hubbard must have been quite a woman of courage – we can only wonder what the words “she was mostly struck at” might mean – obviously nothing pleasant!  She was treated by many in society as an outcast who was allegedly a ‘bad influence’ on her husband! 
 
Eventually, the Hubbards were able to settle in Newport. They joined John Clarke’s church on November 8, 1648. Backus states that there “they lived to old age,” both dying in their late seventies. Over the years Samuel would make dangerous forays back to Boston, where “he repeatedly visited his suffering brethren” there. (Isaac Backus, Volume I, p. ix).  
 
In so doing he was acting along very similar lines as the actions of John Clarke himself in visiting needy brethren who for whatever reason could not make the move to safety in Rhode Island.   
 
 

Charter Box Found 1927

charter-box-clipping-1927_9e3568928aIn the year of 1927, the Wood Box that contained the Royal Charter of 1663 was found in a trunk in the Rhode Island Statehouse.

The box, 36″ x 4″ is made of wood throughout and covered with a thin layer of hand-tooled leather. There is a separate round compartment, 6″ in diameter that most likely held the rolled up Charter.

After spending 12 years in London as Agent for the Colony of Rhode Island, Dr. John Clarke drafted and secured the Charter on July 8, 1663. Dr. Clarke did not have the funds to sail back to America, so he entrusted Captain George Baxter with this world changing document to bring immediately securely in hand to the Colony of Rhode Island.

The Charter was read to “The Freemen of the Rhode Island Colony” on November 24, 1663 by Captain George Baxter.

On 24 November 1663 Rhode Island’s General Court of Commissioners convened at Newport for the last time under the parliamentary patent of 1643/4.[14] The inhabitants and legislators were gathered to receive the result of the decade-long labors of Dr. John Clarke.[14] The magnitude and solemnity of the occasion was captured in the colonial records:

At a very great meeting and assembly of the freemen of the colony of Providence Plantation, at Newport, in Rhode Island, in New England, November the 24th, 1663. The abovesayed Assembly being legally called and orderly mett for the sollome reception of his Majestyes gratious letter pattent unto them sent, and having in order thereto chosen the President, Benedict Arnold, Moderator of the Assembly,” it was “Voted: That the box in which the King’s gratious letters were enclosed be opened, and the letters with the broad seale thereto affixed be taken forth and read by Captayne George Baxter in the audience and view of all the people; which was accordingly done, and the sayd letters with his Majesty’s Royall Stampe, and the broad seal, with much becoming gravity held up on hygh, and presented to the perfect view of the people, and then returned into the box and locked up by the Governor, in order to the safe keeping of it.[14]

The following day it was voted that words of humble thanks be delivered to the King and also to the Earl of Clarendon. It was also voted that a £100 gratuity be given to Clarke, and another gratuity of £25 be rendered to Baxter.[14]

recordsofcolonyo01rhod_0003http://www.archive.org/stream/recordsofcolonyo01rhod#page/508/mode/2up

The charter afforded unique provisions which make it significantly different from the charters granted to the other English colonies. It gave the colonists freedom to elect their own governor and write their own laws, within very broad guidelines, and of leading importance to Dr. John Clarke, stipulated that no person residing in the colony could be “molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question for any differences in opinion in matters of religion.”

The Royal Charter of 1663 confirmed everything that the Patent of 1643 had given, but vested even greater powers in the people. Under it, the colony was an absolute sovereignty with the power to make its own laws, religious freedom was guaranteed, and oaths of allegiance to the English Crown were not required. The provisions were so liberal, that Rhode Island, in essence, became an independent state under its terms.

Three points in the charter distinguish it from any other royal patents that had ever been granted.

First: Acknowledgment of Indian rights to the soil. This provision was far different than the European doctrine of “possession by right of discovery” which was first exercised by the Pope and soon adopted by the maritime powers as part of the “royal prerogative.” The sovereigns of Europe asserted their claims over both Americas with little hesitation, and the rights of the aborigines presented no obstacles to these “enlightened and Christian legislators.” Historian Samuel G. Arnold wrote, “Against this abuse…Rhode Island was the first solemn protest.” The point that the exclusive right to the land belonged to the aborigines was decided by Roger Williams when he first settled in the colony, and his views were maintained by those who followed him there. These views were set forth by Clarke in his address to the King, and thus became incorporated within the royal charter.

Second: The Charter granted ample protection extended to the colonists of the rights of conscience, Freedom of Religion. “Liberty of Conscience”. This principle, so different from the prevailing spirit of the age, has become the “sole distinguishing feature of Rhode Island’s history.” The laws of England were rigid in their requirement of uniformity in religious belief. This provision of the charter, therefore, repealed the laws of England so far as the Rhode Island inhabitants were concerned.

Third: Setting this charter apart from all others coming from the throne of a monarch is its democratic liberalism. For the first time in world history democracy was synonymous with Freedom. This document conferred to the residents of the Rhode Island colony the power to elect their own officers and make their own laws, so long as they were not contrary or repugnant to the laws of England. The provisions were very flexible, allowing that the laws considered “the nature and constitution of the place and people there.”

To learn more please visit: Royal Charter of 1663

Michael Dooling, Illustrator partners with 1663 Media Arts, LLC

We are thrilled to announce Michael Dooling, renowned lllustrator & Author of Children’s Books has partnered with our film and production company 1663 Media Arts, LLC to create his lifelike, beautiful illustrations for both a Picture Book and Chapter Book on the Life of Dr. John Clarke. The Illustrated Picture Book is slated for release late fall 2018 and the Illustrated Chapter Book Feb/March 2019 to coincide with the release of our Full Feature Film, Soul Freedoms, the Life of John Clarke, America’s Forgotten Hero.

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Well known for his dramatic and historically accurate illustrations, Michael Dooling is the illustrator of over sixty-five books and the author of five including Young Thomas Edison, that School Library Journal said, “Belongs in every library.” The Great Horseless Carriage Race and George Washington’s Army and Me, both written and illustrated by Michael, have been considered for major Hollywood Motion Pictures. Horn Book praised his work as “noteworthy—and handsome—examples of the illustrator as historian.”

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Michael has illustrated a commemorative stamp of Benjamin Franklin for The United States Postal Service, articles for Reader’s Digest, and picture books, chapter books, and Middle Grade Novels for numerous publishers including Scholastic, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, HarperCollins, Philomel, Puffin Books, McElderry Books, Henry Holt, Holiday House, Beechtree, Atheneum, Disney, and many others.

Born in 1958, Michael grew up in the small town of Marlton, New Jersey, surrounded by peach and apple orchards. He played baseball, built tree houses, and had snowball fights. He also loved to read and draw; a combination that eventually led to illustrating children’s books. His mother, Patricia, encouraged him to draw and he could always be found doodling away. He even had a dog named, Doodles! Michael graduated with a Master’s Degree in Illustration from Syracuse University and is a member of the Society of Illustrators in New York. He lives in Audubon, New Jersey, with his wife, Jane. They have two daughters and five grandchildren, ranging in age from two to twelve.

In 2013, Michael was selected to a Top Ten List of Great Author Visits by the Pennsylvania School Library Association.

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Honoring Henry Dunster

Henry Dunster was the first President of Harvard College. 

In our research on Dr. John Clarke and Obadiah Holmes, we learned that Mr. Dunster may have been present for Obadiah’s flogging in Boston on September 5, 1651.

We wish to honor this fine man by sharing how Mr. Dunster’s heart was changed in part because of the flogging of Obadiah Holmes and other Baptists who were persecuted for their faith.

Henry Dunster (November 26, 1609 (baptized) – February 27, 1658/1659) was an Anglo-American Puritan clergyman and the first president of Harvard College. Brackney says Dunster was “an important precursor” of the Baptist denomination in America, especially regarding infant baptism, soul freedom, religious liberty, congregational governance, and a radical biblicism. http://henrydunster.org/

The story comes from the late Dr. W.A. Criswell, a highly respected Baptist pastor and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention. In a sermon given in 1958, he said:

“The first President of Harvard was in the crowd witnessing Obadiah Holmes’ flogging. His name was Henry Dunster.  He had been president of Harvard College for twelve years.

“As he looked upon Obadiah’s beating and heard the testimony of that ‘godly man Obadiah Holmes,’ the heart of Henry Dunster was turned to the searching of the Word of God; and the president of Harvard College became a Baptist.”

Dunster scholar Jim Melnick takes up the story from there: Many things had been working on Dunster up to this point in his life regarding baptism, and the trial of John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes and John Crandall is believed to have been a key turning point for him coming to embrace believer’s baptism. Certainly the public stand of Clarke, Holmes, Crandall and others in the face of persecution had to give him courage to also become very open about his own views – views that, when he expressed them, shook the Puritan Establishment to its core and put it into crisis. That trial is believed to have been a catalyst in many ways. But it forced the Puritans to come face to face with the reality that those who stood for freedom of conscience in America would not be so easily cowed. Dunster would suffer heavily, too – not with beatings or imprisonment, but with the loss of his position as president of Harvard and eventual exile.

Many decades later America itself would embrace freedom of conscience as a fundamental right for all Americans, but it would take the struggle and sacrifice of men like John Clarke, Obadiah Holmes, John Crandall, Henry Dunster – and many others – to make that a reality. We owe them a great debt of gratitude.

What if?

What if we all took a breathe, stepped back and mirrored the actions of John Clarke? A well loved Physician, Baptist Minister and Statesmen, he faced religious persecution and banishment in the 1600’s and sought to right these wrongs.

When we let go of fear and ego, compassion and diplomacy rises to show us as human beings we all desire the same things out of life. To be free, to live happily within healthy friendly communities with adequate food, clothing and shelter; to be accepted for who we are without discrimination or worse.

With social media and 24/7 news our world is being depicted as a hot bed of strife. “Us against them” is an tiresome theme. Through these events, we witness eroding civil liberties and religious freedoms and equally alarming, the ability to remain calm and respectful of one another in the face of our adversaries.

What if we all took a breathe, stepped back and mirrored the actions of Dr. John Clarke? A well loved Physician, Baptist Minister and Statesmen, he faced religious and civil persecution and banishment in the 1600’s.

Dr. John Clarke did not retaliate in kind, instead he made good use of his education coupled with passion to effectively right wrongs. With a thought out respectful manner, he addressed the matters offering solutions with a clear mind, open communication and unwavering heart. Facing treason, (after numerous attempts) he successfully petitioned King Charles II to grant religious freedom and civil liberties to the Colony of Rhode Island.

Please help us bring Dr. John Clarke’s story and legacy to light. We are in the final stages of development with a projection to start filming Fall of 2018.

Get involved, please contact andrea@florentinasong.com