The Land We Live In - The Story of Our Country
by Henry Mann
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

* * *

The colonies of Connecticut and New Haven were in full sympathy with the religious and political system of Massachusetts. The first meeting of all the "free planters" of New Haven was held on the fourth day of June, 1639, for the purpose "of settling civil government according to God, and about the nomination of persons that might be found by consent of all, fittest in all respects for the foundation work of a church." The meeting was opened with prayer. There was some debate as to whether the planters should give to free burgesses the power of making ordinances, but it was ultimately decided to do so. The minutes of the meeting show that this decision was arrived at on the authority of several passages from the Bible—such as "Take you wise men and understanding, and know among your tribes and I will make them rulers over you," and "Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee; thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother." The model followed in the governmental organization was the liveries of the city of London which chose the magistrates and were themselves elected by the companies. Accordingly, the planters of New Haven elected a committee of eleven men, and gave them power to choose the seven founders of the theocracy they had decided to establish. The seven founders met as a court of election in October of the same year and admitted upon oath several members of "approved churches." After reading a number of passages from the Bible bearing on the subject of an ideal ruler, they proceeded to the election of a chief magistrate and four deputy magistrates. The franchise in all cases was confined to church members. In the Hartford colony, which was Connecticut proper, the earliest mention of elections is found in the Fundamental Orders of 1638, which have become famous as the first written constitution framed on the American continent. It was enacted that a governor and six magistrates should be chosen annually by the freemen of the jurisdiction. A deputy governor was also chosen. The Charter of Charles II., which placed the New Haven and the Hartford colonies under one government, provided for the same general officers, together with twelve assistants, a secretary and a treasurer being added in 1689.

In 1643, the four colonies of Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven formed a confederation for defence against the Indians and also the Dutch, who had claimed that a portion of what is now the State of Connecticut was included within their jurisdiction. The confederation was called the United Colonies of New England, and its affairs were managed by a board of eight commissioners, two from each colony. The commissioners could summon troops in case of necessity and settle disputes between the colonies. This union proved most effective in the subsequent war with King Philip. It was the germ of American confederation.

The election sermon was a prominent feature of election day in the Puritan colonies. The clergyman to deliver the sermon was selected by the freemen, and it was considered a great honor to be chosen for the office. The preacher often dealt with public questions, and especially during the troublous times which preceded the Revolution. Instead of pastors being blamed for interference in politics the General Court sometimes sent a general request to all ministers of the gospel resident in the colony asking them to preach on election day before the freemen of each plantation a sermon "proper for direction in the choice of civil rulers." The pulpit in that age held the place now occupied by the newspaper editorial page, so far as vital questions affecting the body politic were concerned. The clergy were, as a class, learned and eloquent, and the freemen looked to them for guidance in political as well as religious problems, and it cannot be denied that the ministers never shrank from the responsibility put upon them. They stood up for the colonies against king and parliament, against royal menace and muskets, and for years before the Continental Congress pronounced for freedom every election sermon was a declaration of independence.


Where Conscience Was Free—Roger Williams and His Providence Colony— Driven by Persecution from Massachusetts—Savages Receive Him Kindly —Coddington's Settlement in Rhode Island—Oliver Cromwell and Charles II. Grant Charters—Peculiar Referendum in Early Rhode Island.

"Take heart with us, O man of old, Soul-freedom's brave confessor, So love of God and man wax strong, Let sect and creed be lesser.

"The jarring discords of thy day In ours one hymn are swelling; The wandering feet, the severed paths All seek our Father's dwelling.

"And slowly learns the world the truth That makes us all thy debtor.— That holy life is more than rite, And spirit more than letter.

"That they who differ pole-wide serve Perchance one common Master, And other sheep he hath than they That graze one common pasture."


One New England community stood apart from all the rest. Roger Williams, a learned and able minister, supposed to have been born in Wales, came to Boston in 1630, accompanied by his wife, Mary, an Englishwoman. Williams denied the right of the magistrates to interfere with the consciences of men, and also held that the Indians should not be deprived of their lands without fair and equitable purchase. His stand in favor of soul-liberty was a novelty in that age when State and Church were regarded as inseparable, the only difference on this question between Massachusetts and England being as to the character of the public worship which the State should enforce upon consciences willing and unwilling. The doctrine of Roger Williams, therefore, seemed to the Boston authorities to strike at the very foundation of all government, and in particular of their government. In the autumn of 1635, when Roger Williams was pastor of the church at Salem, the General Court of Massachusetts ordered him to quit the colony within six months. Afterward suspecting that Williams was preparing to found a new colony, the Boston magistrates resolved to deport him to England, and a vessel was sent to Salem to take him away. Williams received timely warning, and fled from his home in mid-winter, and made his way through the wilderness to the shores of Narragansett Bay. He was joined by five companions, and at a fine spring near the head of Narragansett Bay they planted a colony, and Williams called the place "Providence," in grateful acknowledgment of God's providence to him in his distress. Williams and his companions founded a pure democracy, with no interference with the rights of conscience. Indeed, they carried this principle to an extreme at which even in these days most people would hesitate, for one member of the colony was disciplined because he objected to his wife's frequent attendance on the preaching of Mr. Williams to the neglect of her household duties. Rhode Island became a refuge for the victims of Puritan intolerance, without regard to their belief or unbelief, and was therefore held in hatred and contempt by the Boston people. This very hatred was the salvation of Rhode Island, the government of England being favorably inclined to the colony on account of the stubborn and independent attitude of Massachusetts toward the home authorities.

The name "Rhode Island" requires mention here of the fact that Rhode Island and Providence Plantations were originally separate settlements. In 1638 William Coddington, a native of Lincolnshire, England, and for some time a magistrate of Boston, was driven from Massachusetts along with others who had taken a prominent part on the side of Anne Hutchinson, in the controversy between that brilliant woman and the dominant element of the church. Coddington and his eighteen companions bought from the Indians the island of Aquitneck, or Rhode Island, and made settlements on the sites of Newport and Portsmouth. A third settlement was founded at Warwick, on the mainland, in 1643, by a party of whom John Greene and Samuel Gorton were leaders. Roger Williams went to England in the same year, and in 1644 he brought back a charter which united the settlements at Providence and on Rhode Island in one colony, called the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The charter was confirmed by Oliver Cromwell in 1655, and a new charter was granted by Charles II. in 1663. Under the Parliament charter of 1664 Providence, in 1647, sent a "committee" to Portsmouth to join with committees from other towns in order to form a government. The fifth "act and order" established by this convention provided that each town should send a committee to every general court, and these, like the deputies in Massachusetts and Plymouth, could exercise the powers of the freemen in all matters excepting the election of officers. The committee from each town was to consist of six members.

A peculiar feature of early Rhode Island government was the jealousy with which the people retained in their own control the law-making power. Matters of general concern were proposed in some town meeting, and notice of the proposition had to be given to other towns. Towns which approved of the proposition were ordered to declare their opinion at the next general court through their committees. If the court decided in favor of the proposition a law was passed which had authority only until ratified by the next general assembly of all the people. The general court was also allowed to debate matters on its own motion, but its decisions must be reported to each town by the committee representing that town. A meeting of the town was held to debate on the questions so reported and then the votes of the inhabitants were collected by the town clerk and forwarded with all speed to the recorder of the colony. The latter was to open, in the presence of the governor, all votes so received, and if a majority voted affirmatively the resolution of the court was to stand as law until the next general assembly. This complex method was repealed in 1650, and instead, it was ordered that all laws enacted by the assembly should be communicated to the towns within six days after adjournment. Within three days after the laws were received the chief officer of each town was to call a meeting and read them to the freemen. If any freeman disliked a particular law he could, within ten days, send his vote in writing, with his name affixed, to the general recorder. If within ten days the recorder received a majority of votes against any law, he was to notify the president of that fact and the latter in turn was to give notice to each town that such law was null and void. Silence as to the remaining enactments was assumed to mean assent.

After 1658, the recorder was allowed ten days instead of six, as the period within which the laws must be sent to the towns. The towns had another ten days for consideration, and then if the majority of the free inhabitants of any one of them in a lawful assembly voted against a given enactment, they could send their votes sealed up in a package to the recorder. If a majority from every town voted against the law it was thereby nullified; but unless this was done within twenty days after the adjournment of the court the law would continue binding. In 1660, three months were allowed for the return of votes to the recorder. Instead of a majority of each town, a majority of all the free inhabitants of the colony was sufficient to nullify a law. The charter of King Charles II. restricted the privilege of voting to freeholders and the eldest sons of freeholders.


Puritans and Education—Provision for Public Schools—Puritan Sincerity —Effect of Intolerance on the Community—Quakers Harshly Persecuted—The Salem Witchcraft Tragedy—History of the Delusion—Rebecca Nourse and Other Victims—The People Come to Their Senses—Cotton Mather Obdurate to the Last—Puritan Morals—Comer's Diary—Rhode Island in Colonial Times.

It is to the credit of the Puritans that promptly upon their settlement in Massachusetts they made provision for education. Many of the Puritans were learned men, and some of them graduates of Cambridge in England, and when a school was established at Newtown for the education of the ministry, the name of the place was changed to Cambridge. When John Harvard endowed the school in 1638 with his library and the gift of one half his estate—about $4000, but equal to much more than that amount at the present day—the school was erected into a college and named Harvard College after the founder. The central aim and purpose of Puritan education was religious. The schools were maintained so that the children could learn to read the Bible, and also incidentally the printed fulminations of the ministers and magistrates. The Massachusetts school law of 1649 set forth in the preamble that, "it being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former times keeping them in an unknown tongue, so in these later times persuading men from the use of tongues, so that at the least a true sense and meaning of the original might be clouded with false glossing of saint-seeming deceivers, and that learning may not be buried in the grave of our fathers," therefore, etc. Every township was required to maintain a school for reading and writing, and every town of a hundred householders a grammar-school, with a teacher qualified to fit youths for the university. This school law was enacted likewise in the other Puritan colonies. While its object was to strengthen the hold of religion, as expounded by the Puritan ministry, upon the people, its general effect was to spread intelligence along with learning, and to break down the barriers of intolerance. It is a significant fact, however, and in accordance with the lessons of more recent history, that the seat of the highest education was not always the seat of the highest intelligence. The witchcraft delusion found a haven in Harvard when the common sense of a common-school educated people rejected it by a decisive majority.

The Puritan was stern and cruel because he was thoroughly in earnest. He believed his religion to be true, and that the only path to salvation lay through rigid compliance with Puritan doctrine. Believing as he did he was logical; he was humane. The non-Puritan was, in his view, a pestilence to be got rid of by the most heroic measures if necessary. In acting on this principle he was kind, in his judgment, to the many whom he saved from pollution and damnation by the sacrifice of the few. The devil, to the Puritan, was terribly personal, and Cotton Mather's horror of witchcraft was grounded in a sincere belief in that personality. The forces of evil were always active, and the Puritan believed in combating them in the most vigorous and trenchant fashion. The Scripture enjoined upon him to pluck out his own eye if it offended, and it was natural that he should not hesitate to sacrifice others when they offended. With all his severity he took good care to let transgressors know what they had to expect, and he felt the less compunction, therefore, in inflicting penalties deliberately incurred. Life for the Puritan was a very serious affair, and levity a crime only milder than non-orthodoxy. Gaming even for amusement was rigidly prohibited. It was a criminal act to kiss a woman in the street, even in the way of chaste and honest salute. The heads of households were called to account if the daughters neglected the spinning-wheel. The stocks and the whipping-post were seldom unoccupied by minor offenders, while the hangman was kept busy with criminals of deeper dye. It should be needless to say that there was a good deal of hypocrisy, and that public repentance was often simply a means for escaping from social ostracism and obtaining admission to the pastures of the elect. Hubbard intimates as much in what he says about Captain John Underhill.

The laws enacted were based on the Mosaic code, and of Mosaic severity in dealing with offences against morality and religion. It is to be remembered, however, that down to the second quarter of the present century the code of England itself was Draconic, although immoralities punished by death in Massachusetts were not regarded as crimes in the older country.

* * *

The most painful event connected with the harsh religious system of the Puritans was the execution in 1659 of two Quakers, Marmaduke Stephenson and William Robinson, of England, who had come to Massachusetts to preach their doctrines. The first two Quakers to arrive in Boston were Ann Austin and Mary Fisher, who landed here in 1656. They were forthwith arrested, and examined for witch-marks, but none being found and there being no excuse therefore for putting them to death as agents of Satan, they were kept in close imprisonment, and the jailer and citizens were forbidden to give them any food, the object apparently being to starve them to death. The windows of the jail were boarded up to prevent food from being handed into them and also to prevent the prisoners from exhorting passers-by. A citizen named Upshall, who gave money to the jailer to buy nourishment for the captives, was fined $100, and ordered to leave the colony within thirty days, and was sentenced to pay beside $15 for every day he should be absent from public worship before his departure—evidently that he might be compelled to listen to pulpit denunciations of his wickedness in saving from starvation two fellow-human beings who worshipped God in a different fashion from their persecutors. The exile was denied an asylum in Plymouth, and followed the example of Roger Williams by seeking a refuge among the Indians, who treated him kindly. The two Quaker women were transported to Barbadoes, and the captain of the vessel which had brought them to Boston was required to bear the charges of their imprisonment. The religious books which they had in their possession when arrested were burned by the common hangman.

The Quakers continued to come in considerable numbers to America, being welcomed in some of the colonies, and persecuted in others, but nowhere so severely as in Massachusetts. When Stephenson and Robinson were hanged at Boston, Mary Dyer, widow of William Dyer, late recorder of Providence plantations, was taken to the scaffold with them, but reprieved on condition that she should leave the colony in forty-eight hours. In the following year Mary Dyer returned to Boston, and was at once arrested and hanged. These proceedings excited general horror in the mother country, and Charles II. sent a letter stating it to be his pleasure that the Quakers should be sent to England for trial. The General Court of Massachusetts thereupon suspended the laws against Quakers, and those in prison were released and sent out of the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.

* * *

Next to the persecution of the Quakers no feature of Puritan history is so prominent as the Salem Witchcraft Tragedy, which, although it occurred near the close of the seventeenth century, so strikingly illustrates the intellectual and religious conditions of the Massachusetts colony that it may properly be described here. Belief in witchcraft was not by any means confined to Massachusetts. The statutes of England, as well as of the American colonies, dealt with the imaginary crime. Among the intelligent and educated classes, however, both in Europe and America, the subject was generally considered of too doubtful a nature to be dealt with by the infliction of the penalties which the law prescribed. In Massachusetts, where everybody had some education, the majority of the people, although deeply and almost fanatically religious, had their doubts about the reality of the diabolical art, and the belief, strangely enough, seems to have been most intense and aggressive in the highest intellectual quarters, among ministers and men of superior education and commensurate influence. It was this that gave the witchcraft delusion its awful power for evil, and enabled a few vicious children afflicted with hysteria or epilepsy to bring a score of mostly reputable persons to an ignominious death, to ruin more than that number of homes and to spread consternation throughout the commonwealth.

The Salem delusion began in the house of Mr. Parris, the minister at Danvers. Parris had two slaves, an Indian and his wife, Tituba, the latter half negro and half Indian. Tituba taught the children various tricks. While practicing these tricks, some of them became hysterical and acted in a peculiar manner. It was suggested that they were bewitched, and they were asked who had bewitched them. They indicated a woman named Sarah Goode, who was generally disliked. She was arrested and imprisoned. This seems to have gratified the children, who soon after had convulsions in the presence of another victim, one Giles Corey. Corey stood mute under the accusation, and was tortured to death by pressing. The cases attracted attention, and at the instance of Cotton Mather and others, Governor Phipps designated a special court to try persons accused of witchcraft. Malice, greed and craft promptly supplied more victims for the court and the hangman. Doctors discovered what they called witch-marks, such as moles or callosities of any kind, and after the children or others alleged to have been bewitched had performed the usual contortions, the accused were swiftly convicted. Francis Nourse and his wife, Rebecca, had a controversy about the occupation of a farm with a family named Endicott. The Endicott children went into hysterics and charged that Rebecca Nourse had bewitched them. Although as good and pure a woman as there was in the colour, Rebecca was convicted, hanged on Witches' Hill, and her body cast into a pit designed for those who should meet her fate. Mr. Parris, the minister, thought it necessary to preach a sermon fortifying the belief in witchcraft, and when Sarah Cloyse, a sister of Rebecca, got up and went out of the meeting-house, regarding the sermon as an insult to the memory of her murdered sister, she was also denounced and arrested. The Rev. Dr. Cotton Mather, one of the lights of Puritanism, and son of Dr. Increase Mather, president of Harvard University, was most active and violent in the prosecutions. Among the victims was the Rev. Stephen Burroughs, a learned minister of exemplary life, who was accused of possessing a witch's trumpet. Mather witnessed the hanging of Burroughs, and when the latter on the scaffold offered up a touching prayer, Mather cried out to the people that Satan often transformed himself into an angel of light to deceive men's souls. The Rev. Mr. Noyes, standing by at the execution of eight accused persons, exclaimed: "What a sad thing it is to see eight fire-brands of hell hanging there!" A committee was appointed to ferret out witches, and children were readily found to court the notoriety and interest which a share in the work attracted. When the accusers began to utter charges against the wife of Governor Phipps and relatives of the Mathers, the authorities took a different view of the monster which they had evolved out of their superstitious imaginings. Public opinion, which had been fettered by fear and amazement at the hideous proceedings, began to find expression in protest against any further sacrifice. Many of the accusers recanted their testimony, and said that they had given it in order to save their own lives, dreading to be accused of witchcraft themselves. The General Court of Massachusetts appointed a general fast and supplication "that God would pardon all the errors of His servants and people in a late tragedy raised among them by Satan and his instruments." Judge Sewall, who had presided at a number of the trials, stood up in his place in the church and begged the people to pray that the errors which he had committed "might not be visited by the judgment of an avenging God on his country, his family and himself." The Rev. Mr. Parris was compelled to leave the country. Cotton Mather, however, adhered steadfastly to his belief in witches. He said, among other things equally astounding to the common sense even of that day, that the devil allowed the victims of witchcraft to "read Quaker books, the Common Prayer and popish books," but not the Bible. At the instance of Cotton Mather, and that of his father, Increase Mather, the president of Harvard, a circular was sent out signed by Increase Mather and a number of other ministers in the name of Harvard College, inviting reports of "apparitions, possessions, enchantments and all extraordinary things wherein the existence and agency of the invisible world is more sensibly demonstrated," to be used "as some fit assembly of ministers might direct." But few replies to the circular were received. The people of Massachusetts had muzzled the monster, and did not care to turn it loose again. A monument was recently erected to Rebecca Nourse on the hill where she perished, and her descendants have an organization which holds annual meetings in commemoration of their hapless ancestor.

* * *

Notwithstanding harsh laws and their bitter enforcement, the habits of the people were probably not much better than to-day in well-ordered communities, and considerable depravity existed, especially in the remoter settlements. Comer's Diary, which has never been published, but which the writer of this work has examined in manuscript, shows a condition of society far from exemplary, and it also shows that persons whose position ought to have been respectable, sometimes took Indians either as wives or in a less honorable relation. There is, perhaps, more Indian blood in New England than is generally supposed, and the earlier inhabitants of that section were probably less exclusive toward the aborigines than is assumed in conventional history. Comer's Diary deals, it is true, with the early part of the eighteenth century, but the conditions it minutely and no doubt faithfully describes, must have existed substantially in the seventeenth.[1]

[1] I was present at a meeting of the Rhode Island Historical Society when President (then professor) Andrews, of Brown University, reported in behalf of a committee, that it had been judged inexpedient to publish Comer's Diary. I have since had the privilege of examining the diary in the original, and can understand the grounds of objection.—H. M.

* * *

The laws of Rhode Island were founded on the Mosaic system, like those of Massachusetts, but entirely ignored the question of religion. The penalties for immoral conduct were not so merciless as in the Puritan colonies, and the Rhode Island colonial records indicate that the laws, such as they were, were not rigidly enforced. The remnants of the Indian tribes, having first been demoralized by unprincipled whites, became themselves a demoralizing element, and Indian dances were, the records show, a continual source of scandal and of vice, which the authorities sought vainly to suppress. In connection with the principle of entire separation of Church and State, on which Rhode Island was founded, it may be of interest to mention here that I learned, in my examination of Comer's Diary, that an attempt was made to establish a branch of the Anglican Church in Providence, in the colonial period, and that a minister was sent over under authority of the bishop of London. The minister had to depart, and the church was closed on account of some scandal. I wrote to the present bishop of London inquiring if there was any record of the incident in the Episcopal archives, and he answered me to the effect that nothing could be found relating to it.


New England Prospering—Outbreak of King Philip's War—Causes of the War—White or Indian Had to Go—Philip on the War-path—Settlements Laid in Ashes—The Attack on Hadley—The Great Swamp Fight—Philip Renews the War More Fiercely Than Before—His Allies Desert Him—Betrayed and Killed—The Indians Crushed in New England.

The civil war between Charles I. and the Parliament put an end to Puritan immigration to New England, and some of the settlers went back to England, and gave efficient aid to their fellow Puritans in fighting against the king. The people of New England were, on the whole, prosperous about the middle of the seventeenth century. Nearly every head of a family owned his house and the land which he occupied, and in the coast towns many were engaged in profitable trade and the fisheries. Fishing vessels from abroad were customers for the agricultural products of the colony, and gradually the colonists built their own vessels and absorbed the fisheries themselves. The figure of a codfish in the Massachusetts State House was, until recently, a reminder of the beginning of Massachusett's wealth and prosperity.

King Philip's War was a terrible blow to the colonies, and came near to proving their destruction. The immediate provocation of the conflict was slight enough, but the conflict itself was inevitable. There was no longer room in New England for independent Indian tribes side by side with English colonies. One race or the other had to give way and war meant extermination for one or the other. King Philip, Sachem of the Wampanoags, saw that the further progress of the colonies would involve the extinction of his race. He was a brave man, and possessed of uncommon ability. He did not move hastily, although his tribesmen clamored for bloodshed to avenge three of their fellows whom the English had hanged on a doubtful charge of murder, based on the killing of an Indian traitor. When Philip was prepared to strike he sent his women and children to the Narragansetts for protection, and then started on the warpath against the settlers of Plymouth colony. Major Savage, with horse and foot from Boston, joined the Plymouth forces, and they drove Philip back into a swamp at Pocasset. After a siege of many days Philip made his way from the swamp, was welcomed by the Nipmucks, a tribe in interior Massachusetts, and with fifteen hundred warriors he hurried to attack the white settlements in Connecticut. The colonial army meanwhile hastened to the Narragansett country, and compelled Canonchet, chief of the Narragansetts, upon whom King Philip had relied for aid, to make a treaty of friendship. Philip was disappointed by the loss of this expected ally, but disappointment made him only the more resolute and desperate. Everywhere he excited the New England tribes against the English, and carefully avoiding any general encounter, he waylaid the settlers, destroyed their homes and laid ambuscades for them in field and highway, now and then attacking some important town. The colonists suffered fearfully; numbers were slain; whole settlements were devastated, and the gun had to be kept at hand in church, at home and at daily toil. No one knew when the dusky foe would suddenly spring from the forest; no woman left her doorstep without fear that she might never enter it again, and the settler, whom duty summoned from home, looked anxiously on his return to see if his dwelling was there. Even the churches, with congregations armed as they listened to the Word of God, were assailed and the worshipers sometimes massacred. Deerfield was laid in ashes, and Hadley was saved undoubtedly by the sudden appearance of a venerable man, William Goffe, the regicide, who had been a major-general under Cromwell, was one of the judges who signed the death warrant of Charles I., and had fled to New England from the vengeance of Charles II. He was concealed in Hadley when the Indians attacked the place, and unexpectedly appeared among the inhabitants, most of whom took him for a supernatural being, and animated them to repulse the savages. He then as suddenly disappeared, going back to his place of refuge. Philip, encouraged by his successes, made a bold attack upon Springfield, but was repulsed with serious loss. He then retreated to the Narragansett country, and was hospitably received by Canonchet.

Although Canonchet's sympathies were with Philip, it is not certain that the Narragansett chief had hostile designs against the English. The colonists had determined, however, to make a sweep of possible as well as actual enemies, and they marched upon the Narragansetts. Then occurred the Great Swamp fight, one of the most sanguinary of encounters in the history of Indian warfare. The Narragansetts had their winter camp, or fort, in the heart of a swamp, in what is now Charlestown, Rhode Island. Successive rows of palisades protected a position of considerable extent, accessible during the greater part of the year by a single narrow path. This one access was guarded by a blockhouse, but the cold weather gave a footing to the invaders on the usually impassable morasses. An attempt was made to take the Narragansetts by surprise. The warriors, however, detected the stealthy approach, and seizing their weapons, fired from the security of their palisades upon the advancing enemy. A number of the best men on the colonial side were shot down while urging on the attack. The battle on both sides was fierce and stubborn. Assault followed assault, only to be repulsed, and when the English had fought their way into the fortress, they were at first driven out by an irresistible onset of the Indians. At length the colonists made good their entrance, and the battle continued at closer quarters, the Indians nerved to desperation by the presence of their wives and children, whose fate would be their own, and the colonists inspired to prodigies of valor by the thought that their defeat would certainly involve their own destruction, and perhaps that of New England. The invaders at length set fire to the wigwams. As the flames spread the women and children ran out, hampering their defenders with cries of terror and appeals for protection, and at length the Indians were overpowered. Then followed a pitiless massacre of the defeated Indians and their families, hundreds of whom perished in the flames, while many were taken prisoners to be carried off into slavery. Canonchet was slain, and the power of the Narragansetts was broken forever.[1]

[1] In the summer of 1883 I represented the Providence Journal at the dedication of Fort Ninigret, a spot set apart from the former Narragansett reservation in memory of the tribe which had given welcome to Roger Williams when he fled from Puritan persecution. I visited at the time the scene of the Great Swamp fight, and also the burying-ground of the latter Narragansett chiefs.

The following lines which were suggested by the occasion, may perhaps be of interest to the reader:


A stricken pine—a weed-grown mound On the upland's rugged crest, Point where the hunted Indian found At length a place of rest.

Thou withered tree, by lightning riven, Of bark and leaf bereft, With lifeless arms erect to heaven, Of thee a remnant's left;

The bolt that broke thy giant pride Yet spared the sapling green; And tall and stately by thy side 'Twill show what thou hast been.

But of the Narragansett race Nor kith, nor blood remains; Save that perchance a tainted trace May lurk in servile veins.

The mother's shriek, the warrior's yell That rent the midnight air When Christians made yon swamp a hell, No longer echo there.

The cedar brake is yet alive— But not with human tread— Within its shade the plover thrive, The otter makes its bed.

The red fox hath his hiding-place Where ancient foxes ran. How keener than the sportsman's chase The hunt of man by man!

H. M.

King Philip escaped from the slaughter, found other Indian allies, and renewed the war more fiercely than before. Many towns were laid in ashes, including Providence and Warwick, in Rhode Island; Weymouth, Groton, Medfield, Lancaster and Marlborough, in Massachusetts. About six hundred of the colonists were killed in battle or waylaid and murdered, and the burden of the struggle bore heavily on the survivors. Fortunately dissensions among the savages diminished their power for harm, and Philip's allies deserted him, or surrendered to avoid starvation. Captain Church of Rhode Island went in pursuit of Philip who had taken refuge in the fastnesses of Mount Hope. The wife and little son of the Indian chief were made prisoners, and this was a final blow to him. "My heart breaks," he said; "I am ready to die." An Indian, who claimed to have a grievance against Philip on account of a brother whom the sachem had killed, betrayed the hiding-place of Philip to the English, and shot the fallen chief. Philip's head was cut off and carried on a pole to Plymouth, and his body was quartered. His wife and son were sold into slavery in Bermuda. The Indians of New England were crushed, and they never again attempted to stand against the whites.


Growth of New Netherland—Governor Stuyvesant's Despotic Rule—His Comments on Popular Election—New Amsterdam Becomes New York—The Planting of Maryland—Partial Freedom of Conscience—Civil War in Maryland—The Carolinas—Settlement of North and South Carolina—The Bacon Rebellion in Virginia—Governor Berkeley's Vengeance.

New Amsterdam prospered under methods of government which were mild as compared with those of the Puritans, although the annals of the Dutch colony are unhappily not free from the stain of persecution for conscience' sake. Englishmen as well as Hollanders thronged to New Netherland, and the people, as they grew beyond anxiety for enough to eat and drink, became ambitious for a share in the government. In 1653, after much agitation and resistance on the part of Governor Stuyvesant, New Amsterdam was organized as a municipality, the power of the burghers being, however, very limited.

The smaller Dutch towns possessed the privilege of electing their officers, though their choice was subject to the approval of the director-general. New Amsterdam had not been granted this privilege, although it had been demanded in 1642 and again in 1649. At last, in 1652, Governor Stuyvesant was instructed to have a schout, two burgomasters and five schepens "elected according to the custom of the metropolis of Fatherland." He, however, continued for a long time to appoint municipal officers, and when a protest was made he replied that he had done so "for momentous reason." "For if," he said, "this rule was to become a synocure, if the nomination and election of magistrates were to be left to the populace who were the most interested, then each would vote for some one of his own stamp, the thief for a thief, the rogue, the tippler, the smuggler for a brother in iniquity, that he might enjoy greater latitude in his vices and frauds." The magistrates had not been appointed contrary to the will of the people, because they were "proposed to the commonalty in front of the City Hall by their names and surnames, each in his quality, before they were admitted or sworn to office. The question is then put, 'Does any one object?'" At length, in 1658, Stuyvesant allowed the burgomasters and schepens to nominate their successors, but the city did not have a schout of its own until 1660.

Other troubles besides the demands of the people for self-government, were gathering around the sturdy Dutch governor. The English were pressing him from the east, and in New Netherland itself they were aggressive and defiant in their attitude toward Dutch authority. Charles II. granted New Netherland to his brother, the Duke of York, and an English flotilla under Richard Nicholls appeared in front of New Amsterdam and demanded the surrender of the province. Stuyvesant refused to submit, but the people of New Amsterdam were more than willing to come under English rule, and their doughty governor was made to understand that he would be virtually alone in resisting the invaders. After a week of fuming and raging against the inevitable, Stuyvesant yielded, and the English took possession of New Amsterdam. The place was recaptured and held by the Dutch for a few months in 1673, but with the exception of this brief period the English remained thenceforth masters of the Atlantic coast of North America from the St. Lawrence in the north to the Spanish possessions in the south.

* * *

The planting of a Roman Catholic colony in Maryland was almost contemporary with the Puritan settlement of New England. The first steps toward the establishment of the colony had been taken under James I., but it was in the reign of Charles I. that Cecil Calvert, the second Lord Baltimore, obtained the charter which made him almost an independent sovereign over one of the fairest regions of North America. The charter granted civil and religious liberty to Christians who believed in the Trinity. The Ark and the Dove, two vessels fitted out by Lord Baltimore, bore about two hundred Roman Catholic immigrants to the banks of the Potomac, where they landed on March 25, 1634. The cross was planted as the emblem of the new colony, and Governor Leonard Calvert opened negotiations with the Indians for the purchase of their lands. The first assembly met in 1635, and another in 1638. Question having arisen as to whether the lord proprietor or the colonists had the right to propose laws, that right was at length conceded to the colonists. Of course the settlers would not have been allowed to persecute non-Catholics, even had they so desired; but they showed no such desire, and laws were enacted securing freedom of worship to all professing to believe in Jesus Christ; with the important limitation, however, of severe penalties for alleged blasphemy. This limitation clearly made it possible for magistrates to construe an honest expression of religious opinion as blasphemy, and to inflict the cruel punishments provided for that offence. It should be noticed that the Toleration Act of Maryland, passed in 1649, was the work of a General Assembly composed of sixteen Protestants and eight Roman Catholics, the governor (William Stone) himself being a Protestant. Some years later the Puritans, being in a majority in the Maryland General Assembly, passed an act disfranchising Roman Catholics and members of the Church of England. Civil war followed, resulting in a defeat for the Roman Catholics near Providence, now called Annapolis, April, 1655. Lord Baltimore, whose authority was overthrown in the course of the conflict, recovered his rights when the monarchy was restored in England. The government of the Baltimores continued, with some interruptions, until the Revolution, and it is but fair to state that the character which they stamped upon the colony was not effaced even by that event.

* * *

The Puritans nearly succeeded in adding North Carolina to their chain of colonies. The first settlers, after the ill-fated Raleigh expeditions of the previous century, were Presbyterian refugees from persecution at Jamestown, who, led by Roger Green, settled on the Chowan, near the site of Edenton. These were joined by other dissenters who had found the religious atmosphere of Virginia uncomfortable, and Puritans from New England landed at the Cape Fear River in 1661, and bought lands from the Indians. The soil and climate were admirably suited for successful colonization, and North Carolina might have proved a southern New England but for the hunger for vast American domains which just then possessed the courtiers of Charles II. In view of the notorious depravity of that merry monarch's surroundings it seems ludicrous to read that the grantees obtained Carolina under the pretence of a "pious zeal for the propagation of the gospel among the heathen." The list included the Earl of Clarendon, General George Monk, to whom Charles owed, in a large degree, his restoration to the throne; Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, afterward Earl of Shaftesbury; Sir John Colleton, Lord Craven, Sir George Carteret and Lord John Berkeley and his brother, then Governor of Virginia. It is related that, "when the petitioners presented their memorial, so full of pious pretensions, to King Charles in the garden of Hampton Court, the 'merrie monarch,' after looking each in the face a moment, burst into loud laughter, in which his audience joined heartily. Then taking up a little shaggy spaniel, with large, meek eyes, and holding it at arm's length before them, he said, 'Good friends, here is a model of piety and sincerity, which it might be wholesome for you to copy.' Then tossing it to Clarendon, he said, 'There, Hyde, is a worthy prelate; make him archbishop of the domain which I shall give you.' With grim satire Charles introduced into the preamble of the charter a statement that the petitioners, 'excited with a laudable and pious zeal for the propagation of the gospel, have begged a certain country in the parts of America not yet cultivated and planted, and only inhabited by some barbarous people who have no knowledge of God.'"

The Puritans, already settled in North Carolina, had no desire to take part in the propagation of the gospel in the fashion which prevailed among the courtiers of Charles II., and most of those who were from New England abandoned their North Carolina plantations. Governor Berkeley, of Virginia, extended his authority over the remainder, and made William Drummond, a Scotch Presbyterian, who had been settled in Virginia, administrator of the Chowan colony. Emigrants from Barbadoes bought land from the Indians near the site of Wilmington, and founded a prosperous settlement with Sir John Yeamans as governor. Other emigrants from England, led by Sir William Sayle and Joseph West, entered Port Royal Sound, and landed at Beaufort Island in 1671. They soon deserted Beaufort and planted themselves on the Ashley River, a few miles above the site of Charleston. In December, 1671, fifty families and a large number of slaves arrived from the Barbadoes. Carolina, about this time, had a narrow escape from being made the subject of a grotesque feudal constitution conceived by John Locke, the philosopher, and approved by the Earl of Shaftesbury. This constitution proposed to inflict on the infant colony a system of titled aristocracy as elaborate as that of Germany. The good sense of the colonists repelled the absurd scheme, and saved Carolina from being a laughing stock for the nations. In 1680, the settlers on Ashley River moved to Oyster Point, at the junction of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, and laid the foundation of Charleston.

* * *

Meantime Virginia was the scene of a memorable struggle between the aristocrats and the people, the royalists led by the Governor, Sir William Berkeley, and the republicans marshaled by Nathaniel Bacon, a wealthy lawyer, deeply attached to the popular cause. The character of Berkeley can best be judged by a communication which he sent to England in 1665: "I thank God there are no free schools nor printing in Virginia, and I hope we shall not have them these hundred years; for learning has brought heresy and disobedience and sects into the world, and printing hath divulged them and libels against the best government; God keep us from both!" It is not strange that a man who felt like this should have cared but little for the safety and welfare of the common people. He himself reveled in riches, accumulated at the cost of the colony, and he had in sympathy with him the large landholders, who sought to imitate in their Virginia mansions the pomp and circumstance of the English nobility, while they looked down on the mass of poor whites as vassals and inferiors. The immediate provocation for the so-called Bacon Rebellion was the failure of Governor Berkeley to protect the settlers from Indian depredations, the governor having a monopoly of the fur-trade, and being inclined by motives of self-interest to propitiate the savages. An armed force assembled and chose Bacon as their leader. They first repulsed the Indians, and then demanded from the governor a commission for Bacon as commander-in-chief of the Virginia military. Berkeley, although urged by the newly-elected House of Burgesses, which was in sympathy with the people, to grant the commission, for some time hesitated, but at length consented. Bacon marched against the Indians, and Berkeley proclaimed him a traitor. This hostile action of the governor excited Bacon and his followers, in whose numbers were included many of the best men in the colony, to an open and resolute stand for the rights of the people. Berkeley fled to the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay, and sought to raise an army to maintain his authority. He proclaimed that the slaves of all rebels were to free; he aroused the Indians to join him, and several English ships were placed at his service. With this following the governor went back to Jamestown, and again proclaimed Bacon a traitor.

The popular leader hastened to accept the challenge, and at the head of a considerable force of republicans, he appeared before Jamestown. Berkeley's mercenaries refused to fight, and stole away under cover of night, Berkeley being obliged to accompany them in order to avoid being made a prisoner. Jamestown was burned by the republicans, all the colony, except the eastern shore acknowledged Bacon's authority, and the success of the insurrection seemed assured when the popular leader fell a victim to malignant fever. Without his genius and energy to guide the cause of liberty, it rapidly declined, and Berkeley returned and soon succeeded in re-establishing his authority. He made Williamsburg the capital of the colony, instead of Jamestown, which never rose from its ruins—a fact hardly to be regretted, as the site was decidedly unhealthy. Berkeley had no mercy on the now submissive insurgents. Bacon's chief lieutenant had been the brave Scotch Presbyterian, William Drummond, the first governor of North Carolina. When Drummond was brought before him the governor said: "You are very welcome; I am more glad to see you than any man in Virginia; you shall be hanged in half an hour." Drummond calmly answered: "I expect no mercy from you. I have followed the lead of my conscience, and done what I could to rescue my country from oppression." Drummond was executed about three hours later, and his devoted wife, Sarah, who had taken an active part in urging the people to defend their rights, and who had in her the spirit of the mothers of the Revolution, was banished with her children to the wilderness. A wife who offered herself as a victim in place of her husband, claiming that she had urged him to rebellion, was repulsed with coarse and brutal insult, and the husband was led to the gallows. Twenty-two in all were executed before Berkeley's vengeance was satiated. Charles II. heard with indignation of the sacrifice of life, exclaiming: "The old fool has taken more lives in that naked country than I have taken for the murder of my father." Berkeley was recalled to England in 1677. But for the presence of the fleet and troops of Sir John Berry, sent over by the king to maintain the royal authority, Berkeley might have been subjected to violence by the colonists who fired guns and lighted bonfires to show their joy over his departure. Upon Berkeley's arrival in England he found himself equally an object there of public hatred and contempt on account of his cruelties, and he died in July of the same year of grief and mortification.


The Colony of New York—New Jersey Given Away to Favorites—Charter of Liberties and Franchises—The Dongan Charter—Beginnings of New York City Government—King James Driven from Power—Leisler Leads a Popular Movement—The Aristocratic Element Gains the Upper Hand—Jacob Leisler and Milborne Executed—Struggle For Liberty Continues.

The colony of New York, so called after James, the Duke of York and brother of King Charles II., came into English hands at a fortunate time, and after a fortunate experience. Owing to Dutch, occupation during half a century of intense agitation, civil war and revolution, New Netherland had escaped being drawn into the maelstrom of English hates and rivalries. Indeed the Dutch settlements, and New Amsterdam in particular, had derived advantage from the troubles of the English colonies, and among the immigrants who sought an asylum from Puritan intolerance within New Netherland jurisdiction were many who proved valuable additions to the population of the province, and who helped to build up its trade and commerce, and to develop agriculture. The Duke of York, therefore, entered upon possession of a colony with the accumulated prosperity of about fifty years as the substantial foundation for future progress, and with a population which, while composed of diverse nationalities, retained the better features of them all. The settlers of New York, both Dutch and English, were, as a rule, attentive to religious duties; but they did not regard religion as the single aim of existence. They were merchants and traders and farmers, liberal for their age in their views of religious freedom, and devoting their best energies to building up their worldly fortunes. New Amsterdam was in no sense Puritan—it was a respectable, thriving, trading and bartering community, with flourishing farms in the outskirts, and a commerce stunted by jealous restrictions, but which gave promise of future development.[1]

[1] The Rev. John Miller, in 1695, speaks of "the wickedness and irreligion of the inhabitants, which abounds in all parts of the province, and appears in so many shapes, constituting so many sorts of sin, that I can scarce tell which to begin withal." The reverend gentleman was probably prejudiced.

The Duke of York at first made poor use of his new possessions. He astonished Colonel Richard Nicolls, who had conquered the territory for him without firing a shot, by giving away to two favorites, Lord Berkeley, brother of the Governor of Virginia, and Sir George Carteret, the rich domain between the Hudson and Delaware, which received the name of New Jersey, and for many years that province was a theatre of dissensions traceable to the autocratic and reckless course of the Duke. The rights of settlers who had preceded the proprietary government were ignored, and an attempt made to reduce freeholders to the position of tenants. A large immigration of Quakers from England a few years after the Dutch surrender added a valuable element to the population, in which the Puritans, apart from the Dutch, had predominated. Puritans and Quakers seemed to get along very well in the Jerseys, and with good government on the part of the proprietors the colony would doubtless have flourished. That for a number of years the Jerseys remained law-abiding and comparatively tranquil without a regular civil government attests the excellent character of the people.

The Duke of York showed more wisdom in the management of his greater province of New York. In 1683 he instructed his governor, Thomas Dongan, to call a representative assembly, which met in the fort at New York. The assembly adopted an act called "The Charter of Liberties and Franchises," which was approved, first by the governor, and afterward by the duke. This charter declared that the power to pass laws should reside in the governor, council and people met in general assembly; that every freeholder and freeman should be allowed to vote for representatives without restraint; that no freeman should suffer but by judgment of his peers; that all trials should be by a jury of twelve men; that no tax should be levied without the consent of the Assembly; that no seaman or soldier should be quartered on the inhabitants against their will; that there should be no martial law, and that no person professing faith in God by Jesus Christ should be disquieted or questioned on account of religion. Two years later James, now become king, virtually abrogated this charter by levying direct taxes on New York without the consent of the people, by prohibiting the introduction of printing, and otherwise assuming arbitrary power. He did not, however, suppress the General Assembly, which became, as years advanced and the colony grew in importance, more and more resolute in asserting the people's rights.

Governor Dongan did all in his power to defend the interests of the province against the aggressions of the crown, and to secure some degree of self-government for those who bore the burdens of government. In 1686 the Dongan charter gave to the lieutenant-governor the power of appointing the mayor and sheriff of New York city, but an alderman, an assistant and a constable were to be chosen for each ward by a majority of the inhabitants of that ward. During his short lease of power Leisler issued warrants for the election of the mayor and sheriff by "all Protestant freeholders." The resulting election was a farce, as only seventy of the inhabitants voted. The illegality of this action in defiance of the provisions of the Dongan charter was one of the chief causes of complaint against Leisler. The Montgomery charter, granted to New York in 1730, authorized the election of one alderman, an assistant, two assessors, one collector and two constables in each ward. The charter of Albany was granted by Governor Dougan in 1686, and it resembled in many respects the instrument under which the city of New York was first organized. It provided that six aldermen, six assistant aldermen, constables and other magistrates, should be chosen annually. The mayor, as well as the sheriff, was appointed by the governor. Governor Dongan's reluctance to fall in with the despotic and reactionary policy of King James led to his being dismissed from office in 1688, when Andros took his place.

The tyrannical conduct of James II. and of his representatives in America, alienated the people of New York from that sovereign, and the news of his downfall was received with delight, especially as nearly all the people were Protestants. The aristocratic element was inclined, notwithstanding the news, to uphold the government established by James, but the common or democratic element resolved to drive out the representatives of the late king, and create a temporary government in sympathy with the revolution. Jacob Leisler, a distinguished Huguenot merchant, and senior captain of the military companies, was induced to lead a revolt. A committee of safety, consisting of ten members, Dutch, Huguenots and English, made Leisler commander-in-chief until orders should arrive from William and Mary, the new sovereigns of England. Sir Francis Nicholson, the acting governor under Sir Edmund Andros, departed for England, and the members of his council to Albany, and denounced Leisler as an arch-rebel. Leisler sent an account of his proceedings to King William, and called an assembly to provide means for carrying on war against the French in Canada. King William paid no attention to Leisler's message, and commissioned Colonel Henry Sloughter governor of New York, and sent a company of regular soldiers, under Captain Ingoldsby, to the province. Leisler proclaimed Sloughter's appointment, but refused to surrender the fort to Ingoldsby. A hostile encounter followed, in which some lives were lost. The aristocratic element succeeded, upon Sloughter's arrival, in obtaining an ascendancy over him, and Leisler and his son-in-law, Milborne, were arrested on charges of treason. They were tried and convicted by a packed court, and Sloughter was induced, while drunk at a banquet given by Leisler's enemies, to sign the death warrants. For fear the governor would repent of his act when sober, both men were torn away from their weeping families to the scaffold. A number of Leisler's enemies were assembled to witness his death, while a crowd of the common people, who regarded him as their champion and a martyr for their cause, looked sullenly on. Milborne saw his bitter foe, Robert Livingston, in the throng, and exclaimed: "Robert Livingston, for this I will implead thee at the bar of God!" The execution of Leisler aroused strong indignation both in America and England, and some years later the attainder placed upon them was removed by act of Parliament, and their estates restored to their families. Leisler's soul, like that of John Brown, marched on while his body was moldering in the grave. The spirit which he infused, and the love of liberty to which he gave expression, could not be eradicated by his tragic death. The people continued the struggle in assembly after assembly for the people's rights, and resolutely upheld freedom of speech and of the press in the legislative hall and the jury box.


William Penn's Model Colony—Sketch of the Founder of Pennsylvania— Comparative Humanity of Quaker Laws—Modified Freedom of Religion—An Early Liquor Law—Offences Against Morality Severely Punished—White Servitude—Debtors Sold Into Bondage—Georgia Founded as an Asylum for Debtors—Oglethorpe Repulses the Spaniards—Georgia a Royal Province.

Founded on principles of equity by a man who was eminently a lover of his kind, Pennsylvania stood forth as a model colony, an ample and hospitable refuge for the oppressed of every clime. William Penn believed in the Golden Rule, and he sought to establish a state in which that rule would be the fundamental law. Instead of stern justices growing fat on the fees of litigation, he would have peace-makers in every county. He would treat the Indian as of the same flesh and blood as the white, and would live on terms of amity with red men embittered against the invaders of their lands by many years of unjust encroachment and cruel oppression. His object, Penn declared in his advertisement of Pennsylvania, was to establish a just and righteous government in the province that would be an example for others. He proposed that his government should be a government of law, with the people a party to the making of laws. None, he declared, should be molested or prejudiced in matters of faith and worship, and nobody should be compelled at any time to frequent or maintain any religious place of worship or ministry whatsoever. Trial by jury was guaranteed; the person of an Indian was to be as sacred as that of a white man, and in any issue at law in which an Indian should be concerned, one half the jury was to be composed of Indians.

William Penn was well known both in England and on the Continent when he received, in 1681, his grant of Pennsylvania from Charles II. in discharge of a debt of about eighty thousand dollars, due by the crown to Penn's father, Admiral Sir William Penn. The proprietor of Pennsylvania had suffered in the cause of religious liberty and reform. He had been confined in the Tower for writing heretical pamphlets, and been prosecuted for preaching in the streets of London. He had traveled in Holland and Germany as a self-appointed missionary of the Society of Friends, and had not spared his own ease in pleading the cause of persecuted Quakers everywhere. When, therefore, he proposed to found a colony in America, his name alone was enough to attract a host of followers. Many immigrants flocked to Pennsylvania even before Penn himself had arrived there, and the settlers of Delaware, who had been anxious as to their future under the charter of the Duke of York, gladly came under the rule of one whose name was a synonym of equity. Under a spreading elm the Indians met the proprietor of Pennsylvania and made a covenant with him that was equally just to the white man and to the native—a covenant which, it is said, was never forgotten by the aborigines.

Nothing is more significant of the spirit and the motives which guided the early settlers than the humanity of their laws, as compared with the code of England. The humane and enlightened sentiment as expressed in legislation, was not peculiar to Pennsylvania. In Rhode Island, also, that other colony founded on the principle of religious liberty, the first spontaneous code enacted by the exiles was more than a century in advance of European ideas and statutes, and in Rhode Island, as in Pennsylvania, the ideal was compelled to give way to the hard and practical pressure of dominating English influence, and of contact with the rougher sort of mankind, attracted to these shores by the hope of gain or the fear of punishment at home.

The Quakers began by proclaiming a modified freedom of religion. They declared, "That no person now, or at any time hereafter, dwelling or residing within this province, who shall profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for Evermore, and shall acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by Divine Inspiration, and, when lawfully required, shall profess and declare that they will live peaceably under the civil government, shall in any case be molested or prejudiced for his or her conscientious persuasion, nor shall he or she be at any time compelled to frequent or maintain any religious worship, place or ministry whatsoever, contrary to his or her mind, but shall freely and fully enjoy his or her Christian liberty in all respects, without molestation or interruption." Of course this manifestly excluded unbelievers in the Trinity, and left a door open for controversy as to what books were included in the Sacred Scriptures. Furthermore, the law against blasphemy might easily have been used as a weapon of persecution, providing, as it did, that whoever should "despitefully blaspheme or speak loosely and profanely of Almighty God, Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit or the Scriptures of Truth, and is legally convicted thereof, shall forfeit and pay the sum of ten pounds for the use of the poor of the county where such offence shall be committed, or suffer three months imprisonment at hard labor."

Practically, however, entire freedom of worship existed in Pennsylvania. The same liberal spirit breathed through the Quaker code, while at the same time due care was taken to protect the morals of the people.

In view of the severe liquor law now in force in Pennsylvania, it may be of interest to recall an early enactment regulating the traffic. It was provided in 1709, that "For preventing of disorders and the mischiefs that may happen by multiplicity of public houses of entertainment, Be it enacted, That no person or persons whatsoever, within this province, shall hereafter have or keep any public inn, tavern, ale-house, tippling-house or dram shop, victualling or public house of entertainment in any county of this province, or in the City of Philadelphia, unless such person or persons shall first be recommended by the justices in the respective County Courts, and the said city, in their Quarter Sessions or Court of Record for the said counties and cities respectively, to the Lieutenant-Governor for the time being, for his license for so doing, under the penalty of five pounds." Tavern keepers permitting disorder in their places of entertainment were subject to revocation of license.

There was a marked disposition in those days to visit with severity offences against morality, especially when the detected culprits were females; though males were not spared when sufficient proof could be brought of their guilt. A woman concealing the birth of a child, found dead, and evidently born alive, was held to be guilty of murder, unless she could prove that the death was not her doing. This unjust presumption remained in force for many years, until, under the influence of kinder and Christian sentiment, the law was changed, the burden of proof placed upon the prosecution and the presumption of innocence extended to the defendant. The penalty for violating the marriage obligation was the lash; the letter "A" being branded on the forehead for the third offence. A singular provision of law was that a married woman having a child when her husband had been one year absent, should be punished as a criminal, but to be exempt from punishment if she should prove that her husband had been within the period stated "in some of the Queen's colonies or plantations on this continent, between the easternmost parts of New England and the southernmost parts of North Carolina."

The penalties inflicted on servants point in a remarkable manner to the wonderful advance in the condition of menial and common laborers within the past hundred years. Pennsylvania, in the treatment of the laborer, was at least as lenient as any other colony, but the laws of the time appear hideously harsh and oppressive to us of to-day. The early colonial statutes provided that, "For the just encouragement of servants in the discharge of their duty, and the prevention of their deserting their master's or owner's service, be it enacted, that no servant bound to serve his or her time in this province, shall be sold or disposed of to any person residing in any other province or government without the consent of said servant, and two justices of the peace of the county wherein such servant lives or is sold, under the penalty of ten pounds to be forfeited by the seller." What a picture this conjures up of some poor, orphaned and half-starved colonial Oliver Twist, dragged by his master into the presence of pompous justices, and frowned into a hesitating consent to exchange the evils with which he was familiar for a fate whose wretchedness he knew not of!

Ten shillings was to be paid for returning a runaway servant, if captured within ten miles of the servant's abode; if over ten miles, then the sum of twenty shillings was to be paid to the captor on delivery of the fugitive to the sheriff, the master to pay, in addition to the reward, five shillings prison fees, and all other disbursements and charges. The penalty for concealing a runaway servant was twenty shillings, and any one purchasing any goods from a servant without the consent of the master or mistress was fined treble the value of the goods, to the use of the owner, "and the servant, if a white, shall make satisfaction to his or her master or owner by servitude after the expiration of his or her time, to double the value of said goods, and if the servant be a black, he or she shall be severely whipped in the most public place in the township in which such offence was committed."

It may be seen from the above that common labor up to the time of the Revolution was virtually that of serfs, without discrimination of color or nativity. The supply of such labor came largely from Great Britain and Ireland, and to some extent from the other colonies and from Africa. Poor debtors also were sold into servitude, a law of 1705 providing that "debtors should make satisfaction by servitude not exceeding seven years, if a single person and under the age of fifty, and three years or five years if a married man, and under the age of forty-six years." What the family of the married debtor were to do for a living while he was in servitude, legislation failed to suggest. Probably, in many instances, they were glad to accompany the husband and father into serfdom. Warrants could not be served on Sunday, one day of the seven being reserved when the wretched debtor might rest in security, and the hunted criminal forget that he was outlawed.

* * *

While other colonies were founded as places of refuge for Christians oppressed on account of their religion, Georgia had its origin in the humane desire of General James Edward Oglethorpe to establish an asylum for poor debtors, with whom the prisons of England were over-crowded, the colony also to be a haven for the Protestants of Germany and other continental States. The proprietors of the Carolinas surrendered their charters to the crown in 1729, and King George II was, therefore, free to grant, June 9, 1732, a charter for a corporation for twenty-one years "in trust for the poor," to found a colony in the disputed territory south of the Savannah, to be called Georgia, in honor of the king. The trustees, appointed by the crown, possessed all the power both of making and executing laws. The people of Charleston, South Carolina, gave welcome to Oglethorpe and his immigrants, for South Carolina had been greatly harassed by the Spaniards to the south, and by the powerful tribes of Indians who occupied a large portion of the proposed colony. General Oglethorpe laid the foundation of the future State on the site of Savannah, and notwithstanding grievous restrictions on the ownership of land, the colony attracted many settlers from England, Scotland and Germany. The Spaniards invaded Georgia in 1742 with a fleet of thirty-five vessels from Cuba and a land force three thousand strong. Oglethorpe had but a small body of troops, chiefly Scotch Highlanders, but by courage and strategy he inflicted a sanguinary defeat on the Spaniards at the place called the "Bloody Marsh." Ten years later, in 1742, Georgia became a royal province, and secured the liberties enjoyed by other American provinces under the crown.


The Struggle for Empire.


Struggle for Empire in North America—The Vast Region Called Louisiana —War Between England and France—New England Militia Besiege Quebec —Frontenac Strikes the Iroquois—The Capture of Louisburg—The Forks of the Ohio—George Washington's Mission to the French—Braddock's Defeat—Washington Prevents Utter Disaster—Barbarous Treatment of Prisoners.

The closing years of the seventeenth century witnessed the beginning of the struggle between France and England for empire in North America. Marquette, Joliet and La Salle won for France by daring exploration a nominal title to the Mississippi Valley, and La Salle assumed possession of the great river and its country in the name of Louis XIV., after whom he called the region Louisiana. It was a vast dominion indeed that was thus claimed for the House of Bourbon without a settlement and with hardly an outpost to make any real show of sovereignty. Even had the expulsion of James II. from the English throne not hastened an outbreak between England and France, the conflict would have been inevitable. The war began in 1689, and with intervals of peace and sometimes in spite of peace the contest continued, until 1763, with varying fortunes, but ultimately resulting in the complete overthrow of the French. The Iroquois stood firmly by the English, while the French and their Indian allies repeated the scenes of King Philip's War on the frontiers, and often far in the interior of New York and New England. The people of the British colonies did not look only to Great Britain for defence. They defended themselves, and even carried war into the enemy's country. In 1690, two thousand Massachusetts militia, led by Sir William Phipps, sailed up the St. Lawrence and laid siege to Quebec, while another force, composed of New York and Connecticut troops, advanced from Albany upon Montreal. These expeditions were unsuccessful. In 1693, Count Frontenac, Governor of Canada, invaded the country of the Iroquois and inflicted crushing blows upon that once powerful confederacy, whose prowess had been felt before the arrival of the white man, as far as Tennessee in the South and Illinois in the West. Notwithstanding the able generalship of Frontenac the English made steady progress in the annexation of French territory. British and colonial troops conquered Nova Scotia, and the treaty of Utrecht in 1713 recognized England as the owner, not only of Nova Scotia, but also of Newfoundland and the Hudson Bay region. The French, however, strengthened their hold upon the interior of the continent, and established a series of fortified posts connecting the Mississippi Valley with the Great Lakes. Kaskaskia was founded in 1695, Cahokia in 1700, Detroit 1701 and Vincennes 1705. Bienville founded the city of New Orleans in 1718.

The capture of Louisburg, in 1746, was the most important military achievement of the English colonists in America, previous to the Revolution. The French built the fortress soon after the treaty of Utrecht, and spared no expense to make it formidable. The project to drive the French out of the place was entirely of colonial origin. Governor Shirley, of Massachusetts, proposed the expedition to the legislature of the colony, and the members of that body hesitated at first to enter upon an undertaking apparently so hazardous and almost hopeless. After discussion the necessary authority was granted by a majority of one. A circular-letter, asking for assistance, was then sent to all the colonies as far south as Pennsylvania. New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania contributed considerable sums of money, and Governor Clinton, of New York, sent also provisions and cannon. Roger Wolcott led five hundred men from Connecticut and Rhode Island and New Hampshire each sent three hundred men. The remainder of the force of 3250 men was enlisted in Massachusetts, that colony also providing ten armed vessels. William Peperell, of Maine, distinguished alike on the bench and in arms, commanded the expedition, and English vessels of war assisted in the assault. The French surrendered after a siege of forty-eight days, conducted with great vigor by the colonists. The gratification of the British government over the important victory is said to have been mingled with apprehension, due to the signal display of colonial power and energy. Upon peace being made in 1748, after four years' war, Louisburg, much to the indignation of the colonists, was given up to France in exchange for Madras, in India, and had to be reconquered in 1758.

* * *

The point of land where the Allegheny and Monongahela meet in turbulent eddies and form the Beautiful River, early engaged the attention of the two nations, rivals for the dominion of the northern continent, while between two of the leading British colonies grave difference existed as to ownership of the coveted territory. Pennsylvania, held in leading-strings by a Quaker policy which endeavored to reconcile the savage realities of an age of iron with theories of a golden millennium, failed to sustain her assertion of right with the energies that her population and resources might well have commanded, and Virginia, more ambitious and militant, boldly pushed an armed expedition into the very heart of the border wilderness, and began with the attack on Jumonville and his party the war that ended on the Plains of Abraham.

In 1750 the Ohio Company, formed for the purpose of colonizing the country on the river of that name, surveyed its banks as far as the site of Louisville. The French, resolved to defend their title to the region west of the mountains, crossed Lake Erie, and established posts at Presque Isle, at Le Boeuf, and at Venango on the Allegheny River. Governor Dinwiddie, of Virginia, sent a messenger to warn the French not to advance. He selected for this task a young man named George Washington, a land surveyor, who, notwithstanding his youth, had made a good impression as a person of capacity and courage, well-fitted for the arduous and delicate undertaking. Washington well performed his task although the French, as might have been expected, paid no heed to his warning. In the spring of 1754, a party of English began to build a fort where Pittsburg now stands. The French drove them off and erected Fort Duquesne. A regiment of Virginia troops was already marching toward the place. Upon the death of its leading officer, George Washington, the lieutenant-colonel, took command. Washington, overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the French, was compelled to surrender, and the French, for the time, were masters of the Ohio.

This reverse did not diminish the esteem in which Washington was held by the Virginians, and by those of the mother country who came in contact with him. When General Edward Braddock, in 1755, started on his ill-fated expedition for the capture of Duquesne with a force of about two thousand men, including the British regulars and the colonial militia, Washington accompanied the British general as one of his staff. Braddock was a gallant soldier, but imperious, and self-willed, and he looked almost with contempt upon the American troops. He made a forced march with twelve hundred men in order to surprise the French at Duquesne before they could receive reinforcements. Colonel Dunbar followed with the remainder of the army and the wagon-train. It was a delightful July morning when the British soldiers and colonists crossed a ford of the Monongahela, and advanced in solid platoons along the southern bank of the stream in the direction of the fort. Washington advised a disposition of the troops more in accordance with forest warfare, but Braddock haughtily rejected the advice of the "provincial colonel," as he called Washington. The army moved on, recrossed the river to the north side, and continued the march to Duquesne. The news of the British advance had been carried to the fort by Indian scouts. The French at first thought of abandoning the post, but they decided to attack the British with the aid of Indian allies. De Beaujeu led the French and Indians. The British were proceeding in fancied security when the forest rang with Indian yells, and a volley of bullets and flying arrows dealt death in their ranks. The regular troops were thrown into confusion, and Braddock tried courageously to rally them. Washington showed the admirable qualities which afterward made him victor in the Revolution. Cool and fearless amid the frantic shouts of the foe and the panic of the British soldiery, he gave Braddock invaluable assistance in endeavoring to retrieve the fortunes of the day. The provincials fought frontier fashion, nearly all losing their lives, but not without picking off many of their enemies. Beaujeu, the French commander, was killed in the opening of the engagement. Of eighty-six English officers sixty-three were killed or wounded; and about one-half the private soldiers fell, while a number were made prisoners. For two hours the battle raged, until Braddock, having had five horses shot under him, went down himself, mortally wounded. Then the regulars that remained took to flight, and Washington, left in command; ordered a retreat, carrying with him his dying general. Braddock died three days after the battle, expressing regret that he had not followed the counsel of Washington. The British prisoners were taken to Duquesne, and that evening the Indians lighted fires on the banks of the Allegheny River, near the fort, and tortured the captives to death. An English boy who was a prisoner at Duquesne, having been previously captured, and who afterward related his experience in a narrative, a copy of which the writer has examined, says that the cries of the victims could be heard in the fort. The boy himself was subjected to closer confinement than usual, apparently for fear that the savages might demand that he be given up to them.


Expulsion of the Acadians—A Cruel Deportation—The Marquis De Montcalm —The Fort William Henry Massacre—Defeat of Abercrombie—William Pitt Prosecutes the War Vigorously—Fort Duquesne Reduced—Louisburg Again Captured—Wolfe Attacks Quebec—Battle of the Plains of Abraham —Wolfe and Montcalm Mortally Wounded—Quebec Surrenders—New France a Dream of the Past—Pontiac's War.

American history contains no sadder story than the expulsion of the Acadians, or French settlers of Nova Scotia. The act may have been justifiable on the ground of military necessity; the Acadians were not loyal subjects, and they would have eagerly welcomed the expulsion of the British from North America. Indeed their conduct might have been construed as treasonable, and the English had ground for regarding them as enemies of the British crown. Their dispersion weakened the French cause at a time when that cause seemed in the ascendant, and when Braddock's unavenged defeat had reanimated the French with the hope of driving the English from America. Yet even if the deportation of the Acadians was required by the supreme law of self-preservation, and justifiable on the ground of their more than merely passive disloyalty, the manner of that deportation could not be justified. The separation of families, many of them never reunited, was a crime against humanity; the conversion of an honest, industrious and thrifty peasantry into a host of penniless vagrants, scattered like Ishmaelites through hostile colonies, was a wrong as cruel as it was unnecessary. Colonized in South Carolina or Georgia, the Acadians could hardly have been a menace to the power of Great Britain, while the Huguenot element in those regions, understanding the Acadian tongue, would have kept watch and ward against possible disloyalty. It is a pathetic feature of this most painful episode that the Huguenots, themselves driven out of France by the merciless tyranny of a Roman Catholic king, gave kindly relief to such Roman Catholic exiles from Acadia as were cast among them. They proved their true Christian spirit by returning good for evil. About six thousand of the Acadians were deported from their native land, and scattered the length and breadth of the English colonies. Many made their way to Louisiana, then a French possession, and their descendants still form a distinct class in that State. Some even sought refuge among the Indians, and found the barbarian kinder than their civilized persecutors. Longfellow's poem, "Evangeline," is based on the touching story of Acadia. The French cause was greatly strengthened by the arrival in 1756 of the Marquis de Montcalm, a distinguished soldier, to take command of the French forces in Canada. Montcalm displayed not only courage and skill, but humanity likewise, in the management of his campaigns, and history relieves him of responsibility for the horrid massacre by Indians of the captured English garrison of Fort William Henry, after a safe escort to Fort Edward had been promised to the captives. The facts are that both British and French used the Indians as allies regardless of their savage practices, but that the French, as at Fort Duquesne, showed less ability to restrain the savages after a victory. In the following summer—1758—Montcalm inflicted a most disastrous defeat at Ticonderoga on fifteen thousand British and colonial troops, led by General Abercrombie. The French force numbered only four thousand French and Indians. The English attempted to carry the works by assault, without the aid of artillery, and were mowed down by the fire of the French posted behind insuperable barriers. The English loss was about two thousand, while that of the French was inconsiderable. This was the last important success of the French in America. A master hand had seized the helm in Great Britain.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse