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I am reading about the Flushing Remonstrance and its significance in the history of freedom of religion in the United States. An article by the Social Science Research Council indicates it was significant in extending liberty beyond the Christian religions:

First, its concept of religious freedom was more generous than any at the time. ... the two contemporary documents often noted in the history of American religious freedom—the 1649 Maryland Toleration Act and the 1663 Rhode Island Royal Charter—restricted their toleration to Christians only. The Flushing Remonstrance, on the other hand, extended the “law of love, peace and liberty” to “Jews, Turks and Egyptians,” and further stated that “our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title he appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them.” ... It should be noted, however, that Catholics are mentioned nowhere in the document.

The reference to Jews is obvious and I understand that the term "Turks" is an historical term for Muslims. I have heard of reference to "the Turk" in Thomas Jefferson's writings on religious liberty as well. However, I do not see an obvious religious correlation for "Egyptians" in the historical context of 1657.

Based on my understanding of the history of religion in Egypt, and the prevalence of Islam in the Ottoman empire, it appears that Islam would equally apply to that country.

To what religious group does the Flushing Remonstrance refer with the word "Egyptians"? If Islam, why is this listed distinctly from "Turks"? Or is it not associated with religion?

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    At a guess: Coptic Christians – Gort the Robot Jul 2 at 0:44
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    I'd posit Gypsies, the name itself itself a corruption of "Egyptians". – Pieter Geerkens Jul 2 at 2:04
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    You cut the quote off just before the relevant part,"as they are considered sonnes of Adam". This has to do with biblical genealogies being used to explain ethic groups, but the Dutch group implying that all were equal as all were sons of Adam. It was a shot against the pro slavery groups. – justCal Jul 2 at 2:20
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    @justCal are you suggesting the 3 categories line up with Shem (Jews), Japeth (Turks), and Ham (Egyptians) and essentially mean "everybody"? – Daniel Widdis Jul 2 at 4:47
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    Yes. Look at the 19th century map from the wiki page I linked. Egypt(Africa) is listed as Sons of Ham. This group by saying all were 'sons of Adam' were essential saying forget the racial groupings, everyone is the same as a descendant of Adam. There were groups which validated enslaving Africans under the Curse of Ham. The usage of sons of Adam repudiates that. – justCal Jul 2 at 5:12
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Since there seems to be a little disparity between the questions title and body, let me clarify that this answer addresses the last part of the question(emphasis mine):

To what religious group does the Flushing Remonstrance refer with the word "Egyptians"? If Islam, why is this listed distinctly from "Turks"? Or is it not associated with religion?

I believe that from the three groups that you find listed on this document, the reference to "Egyptians" is a reference to Africans in general, related to the use of biblical genealogies to quantify what earlier generations had observed about the dispersion of ethic groups. You can see these divisions in the images of maps on the wiki page discussing the Generations of Noah The group from Africa are called the sons of Ham. (An 1823 map from the same wiki page shows this concept applied at a world wide level.)

The quote from the OP's cited article cuts off just before the relevant part, "as they are considered sonnes of Adam". This has to do with biblical genealogies being used to explain ethic groups, but the Dutch group implying that all were equal as all were sons of Adam. It was a shot against the pro slavery groups. Some groups used the biblical Curse of Ham as a validation for the enslavement of Africans. This anti-slavery sentiment is echoed a little later in the text of the document (emphasis mine):

The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sonnes of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, soe love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage.

A direct statement of the opposition of slavery which is meant by including Egyptians (Africans, Sons of Ham) in this list. The phrase 'sonnes of Adam' is in direct repudiation of those in support of slavery in New Amsterdam.

So the Flushing Remonstrance not just about freedom of religion.


(I know this seems a little shy on sources, I was asked to convert some comments I made last night into an answer, so it was a little underdeveloped.)

For those of you who might wonder if this theory is corroborated anywhere, I found a 2004 book which seems to agree with my position:

Black and White Manhattan: The History of Racial Formation in Colonial New York City, by Thelma Wills Foote

This author on page 49 brings up the some notions, that the Flushing Remonstrance was not just about religion:

'That complaint raised fundamental objections against the enslavement of black Africans and their descendants in the Dutch overseas colonies.'

The author also brings up the Sons of Ham issue, a bit more clearly then my answer does, so take a look at the link.

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    Great answer. I might suggest you add a link to this image on the same wiki page as it includes all of Africa while the top picture and associated text indicates sub-Saharan Africa may have been excluded. – Daniel Widdis Jul 2 at 6:45
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    I find it plausible that "Egyptians" may have referred to other Africans, but the evidence is a bit thin and indirect here. I would really like to see secondary sources addressing this, but am not finding anything so far. – Brian Z Jul 2 at 18:30
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    @BrianZ found a source that seems to agree...edited into the answer. – justCal Jul 2 at 20:30
  • I did edit the question based on comments to include the "not a religion" possibility. Should I edit the question to read "What group does "Egyptians" refer to in the Flushing Remonstrance?" – Daniel Widdis Jul 2 at 21:49
  • @DanielWiddis I guess that's up to you. Its usually better if the title question and body are consistent, which may help your questions upvote totals (I see you participate on a few other stacks). I clarified my response since I pulled a downvote; I assumed it was either for lack of sources (opinion based answer) or for my answer not matching the title question. – justCal Jul 2 at 22:27

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