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By H. Theodor



Secretary of the Commission of Advice of the Netherlands for National Historical Publications.

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Jealous as I may be upon the point of my little country's honor, much has been written about Dutch influence in American history to which I do not feel at liberty to subscribe. Though not very well known perhaps in professional circles it can not be denied that Douglas Campbell's book has been widely read, that it has inspired many second-hand authors, and that it is still a factor to be reckoned with. In my opinion, it has been useful in combating the great error of considering American history principally as a kind of prolongation of English history, but it has propagated a great many new errors as well.

It would be impossible, and of course even Douglas Campbell does not even try to proclaim Holland the mother of the great American nation as far as blood is concerned, but he proclaims her America's mother in spirit. He does so in two large volumes, mainly filled up with imprecations against everything English and praise of everything Dutch, in which argument holds only a very small place. The argument, as far as it goes, runs as follows:



Look, says the author, at England and at America in their present state. The corner stone of the political institutions of America is the principle laid down in the Declaration of Independence: "All men are created equal." Now look at England. "No one could persuade the Queen of England and Empress of India that any of her subjects is by birth her equal. Coming down the list to the pettiest baronet, the same feeling exists In ascending from the foundation to the superstructure, you will find no less difference. The Union and its composite States have written constitutions, fixing the limits of the executive, legislative, and judicial powers. England's called constitution is a thing of tradition, sentiment, theory, abstraction, anything except organic, supreme, settled law." In the social structure, the difference is not less evident. In England half of the soil is owned by 150 persons, in Scotland by 75, in Ireland by 35; all



1 Douglas Campbell, The Puritan in England, Holland, and America, 2 vols., New York, 1892.



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over the United Kingdom four-fifths of the soil is in possession of no more than 7,000 individuals. In America the census of 1880 showed that out of 4,000,000 farms only 25,000 had more than 1,000 acres, and that three-fourths of the whole number were worked by the proprietors themselves. Free schools? In America they flourish as nowhere else on earth; in England the public instruction, only a short time ago, was monopolized by the church. This proves the absolute impossibility of America's having derived its free-school system from England. Local self-government? "Ask the average Englishman to explain how local affairs are managed in England, and he will look at you with wonder. Of local self-government by the people themselves almost nothing exists except in the cities and larger towns." In America you have everywhere, one above each other, the self-governing township, the self-governing county, the self-governing State, a system perfectly clear and popular, the authority at every degree being derived directly from the inhabitants. Equality of religious denominations before the law? In England the emancipation of Unitarians dates from the year 1813 only, that of the Catholics from 1829, that of the Jews from 1858, while the test remained in use at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge till the year 1871. In America a perfect equality was established a century earlier, if not more. Popular elections? In England the written ballot has been in use since the year 1872 only, America having set the example centuries before.

From these facts the author draws the consequence that England is in nowise the mother country of the American Union. America has been made by Holland, in part directly (in New Netherland), in part indirectly, through the medium of the Pilgrims, who had resided 12 years in Holland before settling New England. In the beginning of the seventeenth century Holland, not England, was the leading representative of Puritanism in Europe, and England, as far as it was Puritan, had been formed by Dutch influence. The origin of American institutions should be sought in Holland. The Union of Utrecht is the prototype of the Federal Constitution of America; the local and provincial self-government in Holland the prototype of American self-government in township, county, and State; Dutch religious toleration the prototype of American toleration. "To trace the origin of these institutions is to tell the story of Puritanism in the Netherlands; to show how they came to America is to tell the story of the English Puritan." There you have the title as well as the tendency of the book: The Puritan in Holland, England, and America; an introduction to American History. The emphasis is laid on Holland, the humble origin, and on America, the glorious result of the Puritan movement, the English Puritan only having served as the connecting link between these two.

Having thus given a fair amount of attention to Douglas Campbell's book, it will be unnecessary to speak of the second-hand writings that have disseminated his views abroad in a popular fashion. It is only just to acknowledge that the books I allude to speak of my country with much kindness, even tenderness, somewhat in the tone one uses for children and pet dogs. But we don't care to be anybody's pet dog, and to civility, prefer truth.

The capital fault of Douglas Campbell's construction seems to me to reside in the absolutely arbitrary use he makes of the word Puritan. Puritanism as a historical phenomenon has until now been generally understood to be essentially English. Whoever ventures to assert that England got its Puritanism from Holland will have to prove that the characteristics of English Puritanism as everybody knows them have presented themselves at an earlier date and even more strongly in Holland. To any Dutchman who knows the character and history of his own people this proof will appear very difficult, if not impossible. Dutch society of the beginning of the seventeenth century was anything but Puritan; it was hardly a Calvinistic society, and Calvinistic only in a lenient, peculiarly Dutch sense of the word. In a Dutch play of the time, an elderly woman friend is advising a young profligate to take to marriage, and details to him the advantages of several Amsterdam girls of their acquaintance. The youngster answers with different remarks on the candidates, but one is peremptorily rejected by him, because (he says) —

She is a Puritan,

As if she had fled from England for religion's sake.

In truth, the characteristics of English Puritanism have not been utterly unknown in Holland, but they have appeared at a relatively late period, have been limited to a small minority amongst the numbers of Dutch Protestants, and have been generally felt and spoken of by contemporaries as an exception, as something contrary to the character of the nation.

Of course I do not in the least deny that in Elizabethan times the Dutch were ahead of the English in almost every respect except in literature, and that colonies of Dutch refugees in London and Norwich greatly influenced the development of English industry and propagated, by the simple fact of their presence, religious ideas inconsistent with Anglicanism. But the manner in which a part of the English nation appropriated these ideas and developed them into something quite different from continental Calvinism belongs to England and to England alone.

It is true that the Pilgrim Fathers of 1620 had lived 10 years in Holland as refugees. That they ever really felt at home in the country which, in Douglas Campbell's views, must have appeared to them

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