The conditions were not severe. They had to submit, and take the oath of allegiance to the British Parliament. Those who refused were given a year's time in which to leave the colony. And as for their love of the King? Why, they might pray for him, and drink his health in private, and no man would hinder them. Only in public such things would not be tolerated.
In bitterness of heart the Cavalier Governor gave up his post, sold his house in Jamestown, and went away to live in his great country house at Green Spring. Here amid his apple-trees and orchards he lived in a sort of rural state, riding forth in his great coach, and welcoming with open arms the Cavaliers who came to him for aid and comfort in those evil times.
These Cavaliers were men and women of good family. They came from the great houses of England, and in their new homes they continued to lead much the same life as they had done at home. So in Virginia. there grew up a Cavalier society, a society of men and women accustomed to command, accustomed to be waited upon; who drove about in gilded coaches, and dressed in silks and velvets. Thus the plain Virginian farmer became a country squire. From these Cavalier families were descended George Washington, James Madison and other great men who helped to make America.
The years of the Commonwealth passed quietly in Virginia. Having made the colonists submit, the Parliament left them to themselves, and Virginia for the first time was absolutely self-governing. But the great Protector died, the Restoration followed, when the careless, pleasure-loving King, Charles II was set upon the throne.
In Virginia too there was a little Restoration. When the news was brought the Cavaliers flung up their caps and shouted for joy. Bonfires were lit, bells were rung and guns fired, and to the sound of drum and trumpet Charles by the Grace of God King of England, Scotland, France, Ireland and Virginia was proclaimed to all the winds of heaven. A new seal was made upon which were the words "En dat Virginia quintum" meaning "Behold Virginia gives the fifth (dominion)." Henceforth Virginia was often called by the name of the "Old Dominion."
Nor was that all. For with the Restoration of the Stuarts Berkeley too was restored. The haughty Cavalier left his country manor house and came back to rule at Jamestown once more, as Governor and Captain General of Virginia.
During the Commonwealth there had been little change made in the government of Virginia, except that the right of voting for the Burgesses had been given to a much larger number of people.
That did not please Sir William Berkeley at all. He took away the right from a good many people. When he came back to power too he found the House of Burgesses much to his liking. So instead of having it re-elected every year he kept the same members for fourteen years lest the people should elect others who would not do his bidding.
This made the people discontented. But they soon had greater causes for discontent. First there was the Navigation Law. This Law had been passed ten years before, but had never really been put in force in America. By this Law it was ordered that no goods should be exported from the colonies in America except in British ships. Further it was ordered that the colonies should not trade with any country save England and Ireland or "some other of His Majesty's said plantations." It was a foolish law, meant to hurt the Dutch, and put gold into the pockets of British merchants. Instead it drove the colonies to rebellion.
Virginia had yet another grievance. Virginia, which for eight years had been self-governing, Virginia which had begun to feel that she had a life of her own, a place of her own among the nations, suddenly found herself given away like some worthless chattel to two of the King's favourites -the Earl of Arlington and Lord Culpeper.
The careless, laughter-loving King owed much to his friends who had rescued him from beggary, and set him upon his father's throne. Here was an easy way of repaying two of them. If they really desired that wild land beyond the seas, where only savages lived, and where the weed which his pompous grandfather had disliked so much grew, why they should have it! So he carelessly signed his royal name and for a yearly rent of forty shillings "all that dominion of land and water commonly called Virginia" was theirs for the space of thirty-one years.
It was but a scratch of the pen to the King. It was everything to the Virginians, and when news of it reached them all Virginia was ablaze. They who had clung to the King in his evil days, they who had been the last people belonging to England to submit to the Commonwealth to be thus tossed to his favourites like some useless toy, without so much as a by your leave! They would not suffer it. And they sent a messenger to England to lay their case before the King.
As to Charles, he was lazily astonished to find that any one objected to such a little trifle. And with his usual idle good nature he promised that it should be altered. But he had no intention of hurrying. Meanwhile out in Virginia events were hastening.
Chapter 20 - Bacon's Rebellion
For some time now the Indians had been an increasing terror to the white men. They had grown restless and uneasy at the constantly widening borders of the settlements. Day by day the forest was cleared, the cornfields stretched farther and farther inland, and the Redman saw himself driven farther and farther from his hunting-ground.
So anger arose in the Redman's heart. He lurked in the forests which girded the lonely farms and, watching his opportunity, crept stealthily forth to slay and burn. Settler after settler was slain in cold blood, or done to death with awful tortures, and his pleasant homestead was given to the flames. Day by day the tale of horror grew, till it seemed at length that no farm along the borders of the colony was safe from destruction. Yet the Governor did nothing.
Helplessly the Virginians raged against his sloth and tyranny. He was a traitor to his trust, they declared, and feared to wage war on the Indians lest it should spoil his fur trade with them. But that was not so. A deadlier fear than that kept Berkeley idle. He knew how his tyranny had made the people hate him, and he feared to arm them and lead them against the Indians, lest having subdued these foes they should turn their arms against him.
But the men of Virginia were seething with discontent and ripe for rebellion. All they wanted was a leader, and soon they found one. This leader was Nathaniel Bacon, a young Englishman who had but lately come to the colony. He was dashing and handsome, had winning ways and a persuasive tongue. He was the very man for a popular leader, and soon at his back he had an army of three hundred armed settlers, "one and all at his devotion."
Bacon then sent to the Governor asking for a commission to go against the Indians. But Berkeley put him off with one excuse after another; until at length goaded into rebellion Bacon and his men determined to set out, commission or no commission.
But they had not gone far when a messenger came spurring behind them in hot haste. He came with a proclamation from the Governor denouncing them all as rebels, and bidding them disperse at once on pain of forfeiting their lands and goods. Some obeyed, but the rest went on with Bacon, and only returned after having routed the Indians. Their defeat was so severe that the battle is known as the Battle of Bloody Run, because it was said the blood of the Indians made red the stream which flowed near the battlefield.
The Indians for the time were cowed, and Bacon marched slowly home with his men.
Meanwhile Berkeley had gathered horses and men and had ridden out to crush this turbulent youth. But hearing suddenly that the people had risen in revolt, he hastened back to Jamestown with all speed. He saw he must do something to appease the people. So he dissolved the House of Burgesses which for fourteen years had done his bidding, and ordered a new election. This pacified the people somewhat. But they actually elected the rebel Bacon as one of the members of the House.
Bacon was not, however, altogether to escape the consequences of his bold deeds. As soon as he returned he was taken prisoner and led before the Governor. The stern old Cavalier received this rebel with cool civility.
"Mr. Bacon," he said, "have you forgot to be a gentleman?"
"No, may it please your honour," answered Bacon,
"Then," said the Governor, "I will take your parole."
So Bacon was set free until the House of Burgesses should meet. Meantime he was given to understand that if he made open confession of his misdeeds in having marched against the Indians without a commission, he would be forgiven, receive his commission, and be allowed to fight the Indians. It was not easy to make this proud young man bend his knee. But to gain his end Bacon consented to beg forgiveness for what he deemed no offence. The Governor meant it to be a solemn occasion, one not lightly to be forgotten. So when the burgesses and council were gathered the Governor stood up.
"If there be joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that repenteth," he said, "there is joy now, for we have a penitent sinner come before us. Call Mr. Bacon."
The doors were thrown wide open and in marched Bacon, tall and proud, looking grave indeed but little like a repentant sinner. At the bar of the House he knelt on one knee, and reading from a paper written out for him confessed his crimes, begging pardon from God, the King, and the Governor.
When his clear young voice ceased the old Governor spoke.
"God forgive you," he said, solemnly. "I forgive you." Three times he repeated the words and was silent.
"And all that were with him?" asked one of the council.
"Yea," said the Governor, "and all that were with him."
Thus the matter seemed ended. There was peace again and the House could now proceed to further business.
Part of that business was to settle what was to be done about the Indian war. Some of the people hoped that they might get help from friendly Indians. So the Indian Queen, Pamunky, had been asked to come to the Assembly and say what help she would give. Her tribe was the same as that over which the Powhatan had ruled so long ago. And although it was now but a shadow of its former self she had still about a hundred and fifty braves at command whose help the Englishmen were anxious to gain.
Queen Pamunky entered the Assembly with great dignity, and with an air of majesty walked slowly up the long room. Her walk was so graceful, her gestures so courtly, that every one looked at her in admiration. Upon her head she wore a crown of black and white wampum. Her robe was made of deer skin and covered her from shoulders to feet, the, edges of it being slit into fringes six inches deep. At her right hand walked an English interpreter, at her left her son, a youth of twenty.
When Queen Pamunky reached the table she stood still looking at the members coldly and gravely, and only at their urgent request did she sit down. Beside her, as they had entered the room, stood her son and interpreter on either hand.
When she was seated the chairman asked her how many men she would send to help them against the enemy Indians. All those present were quite sure that she understood English, but she would not speak to the chairman direct, and answered him through her interpreter, bidding him speak to her son.
The young Indian chieftain however also refused to reply. So again the Queen was urged to say how many men she could send.
For some minutes she sat still, as if in deep thought. Then in a shrill high voice full of passionate fervour, and trembling as if with tears, she spoke in her own tongue, and ever and anon amid the tragic torrent of sound the words "Tatapatamoi chepiack, Tatapatamoi chepiack" could be heard.
Few present understood her. But one of the members did, and shook his head sadly.
"What she says is too true, to our shame be it said," he sighed. "My father was general in that battle of which she speaks. Tatapatamoi was her husband, and he led a hundred men against our enemies, and was there slain with most of his company. And from that day to this no recompense has been given to her. Therefore she upbraids us, and cries, 'Tatapatamoi is dead.'"
When they heard the reason for the Indian Queen's anger many were filled with sympathy for her.
The chairman however was a crusty old fellow, and he was quite unmoved by the poor Queen's passion of grief and anger. Never a word did he say to comfort her distress, not a sign of sympathy did he give. He rudely brushed aside her vehement appeal, and repeated his question.
"What men will you give to help against the enemy Indians?"
With quivering nostrils, and flashing eyes, the Indian Queen drew herself up scornfully, she looked at him, then turned her face away, and sat mute.
Three times he repeated his question.
Then in a low disdainful voice, her head still turned away, she muttered in her own language "Six."
This would never do. The lumbering old chairman argued and persuaded, while the dusky Queen sat sullenly silent. At length she uttered one word as scornfully as the last. "Twelve," she said. Then rising, she walked proudly and gravely from the hall.
Thus did the blundering old fellow of a chairman, for the lack of a few kindly words, turn away the hearts of the Indians, and lose their help at a moment when it was sorely needed.
The new House had many other things to discuss besides the Indian wars, and the people, who had been kept out of their rights for so long, now made up for lost time. They passed laws with feverish haste. They restored manhood suffrage, did away with many class privileges, and in various ways instituted reforms. Afterwards these laws were known as Bacon's Laws.
But meanwhile Bacon was preparing a new surprise for every one.
One morning the town was agog with news. "Bacon has fled, Bacon has fled!" cried every one.
It was true. Bacon had grown tired of waiting for the commission which never came. So he was off to raise the country. A few days later he marched back again at the head of six hundred men.
At two o'clock one bright June day the sounds of drum and trumpet were heard mingled with the tramp of feet and the clatter of horses' hoofs; and General Bacon, as folk began to call him now, drew up his men not an arrow's flight from the State House.
The people of Jamestown rushed to the spot. Every window and balcony was crowded with eager excited people. Men, women and children jostled each other on the green, as Bacon, with a file of soldiers on either hand, marched to the State House.
The white-haired old Governor, shaking with anger, came out to meet the insolent young rebel. With trembling fingers he tore at the fine lace ruffles of his shirt, baring his breast.
"Here I am!" He cried. "Shoot me! 'Fore God 'tis a fair mark. Shoot me! Shoot me!" he repeated in a frenzy.
But Bacon answered peaceably enough. "No, may it please your honour," he said, "we will not hurt a hair of your head, nor of any other man's. We are come for a commission to save our lives from the Indians which you have so often promised. And now we will have it before we go."
But when the stern old Cavalier refused to listen to him, Bacon too lost his temper, and laying his hand on his sword, swore he would kill the Governor, Council, Assembly and all, rather than forego his commission. His men, too, grew impatient and filled the air with their shouts.
"We will have it, we will have it!" they cried, at the same time pointing their loaded guns at the windows of the State House.
Minute by minute the uproar increased, till at length one of the Burgesses, going to a window, waved his handkerchief ("a pacifeck handkercher" a quaint old record calls it) and shouted, "You shall have it, you shall have it."
So the tumult was quieted. A commission was drawn up making Bacon Commander-in-Chief of the army against the Indians, and a letter was written to the King praising him for what he had done against them. But the stern old Governor was still unbending, and not till next day was he browbeaten into signing both papers.
The young rebel had triumphed. But Berkeley was not yet done with him, for the same ship which carried the letter of the Burgesses to the King also carried a private letter from Berkeley in which he gave his own account of the business. "I have for above thirty years governed the most flourishing country the sun ever shone over," he wrote, "but am now encompassed with rebellion like waters."
And as soon as Bacon was safely away, and at grips once more with the Indians, the Governor again proclaimed him and his followers to be rebels and traitors.
Bacon had well-nigh crushed the Indian foe when this news was brought to him. He was cut to the quick by the injustice.
"I am vexed to the heart," he said, "for to think that while I am hunting Indian wolves, tigers, and foxes which daily destroy our harmless sheep and lambs, that I, and those with me, should be pursued with a full cry, as a more savage and no less ravenous beast."
So now in dangerous mood he marched back to Jamestown. Things were looking black for him, but his men were with him heart and soul. When one of them, a Scotsman named Drummond, was warned that this was rebellion he replied recklessly, "I am in over shoes, I will be in over boots."
His wife was even more bold. "This is dangerous work," said some one, "and England will have something to say to it."
Then Sarah Drummond picked up a twig, and snapping it in two, threw it down again. "I fear the power of England no more than that broken straw," she cried.
Bacon now issued a manifesto in reply to Berkeley's proclamation, declaring that he and his followers could not find in their hearts one single spot of rebellion or treason. "Let Truth be bold," he cried, "and let all the world know the real facts of this matter." He appealed to the King against Sir William, who had levied unjust taxes, who had failed to protect the people against the Indians, who had traded unjustly with them, and done much evil to his Majesty's true subjects.
So far there had only been bitter words between the old Governor and the young rebel, and Bacon had never drawn his sword save against the Indians. Now he turned it against the Governor, and, marching on Jamestown, burned it to the ground, and Berkeley, defeated, fled to Accomac.
Everywhere Bacon seemed successful, and from Jamestown he marched northward to settle affairs there also "after his own measures." But a grim and all-conquering captain had now taken up arms against this victorious rebel-Captain Death, whom even the greatest soldier must obey. And on October 1st, 1676, Bacon laid down his sword for ever. He had been the heart and soul of the rebellion, and with his death it collapsed swiftly and completely.
Bacon was now beyond the Governor's wrath, but he wreaked his vengeance on those who had followed him. For long months the rebels were hunted and hounded, and when caught they were hanged without mercy. The first to suffer was Colonel Thomas Hansford. He was a brave man and a gentleman, and all he asked was that he might be shot like a soldier, and not hanged like a dog. But the wrathful Governor would not listen to his appeal, and he was hanged. On the scaffold he spoke to those around, praying them to remember that he died a loyal subject of the King, and a lover of his country. He has been called the first martyr to American liberty.
Another young Major named Cheesman was condemned to death, but died in prison, some say by poison.
The Governor, when he was brought before him, asked fiercely: "What reason had you for rebellion?"
But before the Major could reply his young wife stepped from the surrounding crowd, and threw herself upon her knees before the Governor. "It was my doing," she cried. " I persuaded him, and but for me he would never have done it. I am guilty, not he. I pray you therefore let me be hanged, and he be pardoned."
But the old Cavalier's heart was filled to overflowing with a frenzy of hate. He was utterly untouched by the poor lady's brave and sad appeal, and answered her only with bitter, insulting words.
Drummond too was taken. He was indeed "in over boots" and fearless to the last. The Governor was overjoyed at his capture, and with mocking ceremony swept his hat from his head, and, bowing low, cried exultantly, "Mr. Drummond, you are very welcome. I am more glad to see you than any man in Virginia. Mr. Drummond, you shall be hanged in half an hour."
"What your honour pleases," calmly replied Drummond. And so he died.
It seemed as if the Governor's vengeance would never be satisfied. But at length the House met, and petitioned him to spill no more blood. "For," said one of the members, "had we let him alone he would have hanged half the country."
News of his wild doings, too, were carried home, and reached even the King's ears. "The old fool," cried he, "has hanged more men in that naked country than I did for the murder of my father." So Berkeley was recalled.
At his going the whole colony rejoiced. Guns were fired and bonfires lit to celebrate the passing of the tyrant.
Berkeley did not live long after his downfall. He had hoped that when he saw the King, and explained to him his cause, that he would be again received into favour. But his hopes were vain. The King refused to see him, and he who had given up everything, even good name and fame, in his King's cause died broken-hearted, a few months later.
Chapter 21 - The Story of the Knights of the Golden Horseshoe
Bacon was driven into rebellion by evil government and tyranny. But the rising did little good. Bacon's Laws were done away with and Lord Culpeper, one of the two nobles to whom Charles II had given Virginia, came out as Governor. He soon showed himself a greedy tyrant, caring nothing for the happiness of his people, and bent only on making money for himself.
Other governors followed him, many of them worthless, some never taking the trouble to come to Virginia at all. They stayed at home, accepting large sums of money, and letting other people do the work. But they were not all worthless and careless. Some were good, and one of the best was a Scotsman, Alexander Spotswood. He was a lieutenant governor. That is, the Governor in name was the Earl of Orkney, who was given the post as a reward for his great services as a soldier. But he never crossed the Atlantic to visit his noble province. Instead he sent others to rule for him. They were in fact the real governors, although they were called lieutenant governors.
Spotswood loved Virginia, and he did all he could to make the colony prosperous. He saw that the land was rich in minerals, and that much could be done with iron ore. So he built smelting furnaces, and altogether was so eager over it that he was called the Tubal Cain of Virginia. For Tubal Cain, you remember, "was an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron."
Spotswood also planted vines, and brought over a colony of Germans to teach the people how to grow them properly, and make wine. It was he, too, who first explored "the West."
Virginia up till now had lain between the sea and the blue range of mountains which cut it off from the land behind. To the English that was a land utterly unknown. All they knew was that the French were claiming it. But Governor Spotswood wanted to know more. So one August he gathered a company of friends, and set forth on an exploring expedition. With servants and Indian guides they made a party of about fifty or so, and a jolly company they were. They hunted by the way, and camped beneath the stars. There was no lack of food and drink, and it was more like a prolonged picnic than an exploring expedition.
The explorers reached the Blue Ridge, and, climbing to the top of a pass, looked down upon the beautiful wild valley beyond, through which wound a shining river. Spotswood called the river the Euphrates. But fortunately the name did not stick, and it is still called by its beautiful Indian name of Shenandoah.
Spotswood named the highest peak he saw Mount George in honour of the King, and his companions gave the next highest peak the name of Mount Alexander in honour of the Governor whose Christian name was Alexander. Then they went down into the valley below, and on the banks of the river they buried a bottle, inside which they had put a paper declaring that the whole valley belonged to George I, King by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France, Ireland and Virginia.
After that the merry party turned homewards. They climbed to the top of the gap, took a last look at the fair valley of the unknown West, and then went down once more into the familiar plains of Virginia.
For this expedition all the horses were shod with iron, a thing very unusual in Virginia where there were no hard or stony roads. So as a remembrance of their pleasant time together Spotswood gave each of his companions a gold horseshoe set with precious stones for nails. Graven upon them were the Latin words, Sic juvat transcendere montes which mean, "Thus it is a pleasure to cross the mountains." Later all those who took part in the expedition were called Knights of the Golden Horseshoe.
Up to about this time the people in Virginia had been altogether English. Now a change came.
In France Louis XIV was persecuting the Protestants, or Huguenots, as they were called. He ordered them all to become Catholics or die, and he forbade them to leave the country. But thousands of them refused to give up their religion, and in spite of the King's commands they stole away from the country by secret ways. Many of them found a refuge in America.
In the north of Ireland, which had been settled chiefly by Scotsmen, the Presbyterians were being persecuted by the Church of England; at the same time the English Parliament was hampering their trade with unfair laws. So to escape from this double persecution many Scotch-Irish fled to America.
In Germany too the Protestants were being persecuted by the Catholic Princes. They too fled to America.
All these widely varying refugees found new homes in other colonies as well as in Virginia, as we shall presently hear. In Virginia it was chiefly to the Shenandoah Valley that they came, that valley which Spotswood and his knights of the Golden Horseshoe had seen and claimed for King George. The coming of these new people changed Virginia a good deal.
After the death of King Charles the coming of the Cavaliers had made Virginia Royalist and aristocratic, so now the coming of those persecuted Protestants and Presbyterians tended to make it democratic. That is, the coming of the Cavaliers increased the number of those who believed in the government of the many by the few. The coming of the European Protestants increased the number of those who believed in the government of the people by the people.
So in the House of Burgesses there were scenes of excitement. But these were no longer in Jamestown, for the capital had been removed to Williamsburg. Jamestown, you remember, had been burned by Bacon. Lord Culpeper however rebuilt it. But a few years later it was again burned down by accident. It had never been a healthy spot; no one seemed very anxious to build it again, so it was forsaken, and Williamsburg became and remained the capital for nearly a hundred years.
Today all that is left of Jamestown, the first home of Englishmen in America, is the ivy-grown ruin of the church.
PART III STORIES OF NEW ENGLAND
Chapter 22 - The Story of the Pilgrim Fathers
While the Colony of Virginia was fighting for life, and struggling against tyranny, other colonies were taking root upon the wide shores of America.
You will remember that in 1606 a sort of double company of adventurers was formed in England, one branch of which - the London Company - founded Jamestown. The other branch - the Plymouth Company - also sent out an, expedition, and tried to found a colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River. But it was a failure. Some of the adventurers were so discouraged with the cold and bleak appearance of the land that they sailed home again in the ship which had brought them out. Only about forty-five or so stayed on. The winter was long and cold, and they were so weary of it, so homesick and miserable, that when in the spring a ship came out with provisions they all sailed home again. They had nothing good to say of Virginia, as the whole land was then called by the English. It was far too cold, and no place for Englishmen, they said.
Still some of the adventurers of the Plymouth Company did not give up hope of founding a colony. And nine years after this first attempt, our old friend Captain John Smith, recovered from his wounds received in Virginia and as vigorous as ever, sailed out to North Virginia. In the first place be went "to take whales, and also to make trials of a mine of gold and of copper" and in the long run he hoped to found a colony.
It was he who changed the name from North Virginia to New England, by which name it has ever since been known. He also named the great river which he found there Charles River after Prince Charles, who later became King Charles I, and all along the coast he marked places with the names of English towns, one of which he named Plymouth.
But Smith did not succeed in founding a colony in New England; and several adventurers who followed him had no better success. The difficulties to be overcome were great, and in order to found a colony on that inhospitable coast men of tremendous purpose and endurance were needed. At length these men appeared.
Nowadays a man may believe what he likes either in the way of politics or religion. He may belong to any political party he pleases, or he may belong to none. He may write and make speeches about his opinions. Probably no one will listen to him; certainly he will not be imprisoned for mere opinions. It is the same with religion. A man may go to any church he likes, or go to none. He may write books or preach sermons, and no one will hinder him.
But in the days of King James things were very different. In those days there was little freedom either in thought or action, in religion or politics. As we have seen King James could not endure the thought that his colony should be self-governing and free to make laws for itself. Consequently he took its charter away. In religion it was just the same. In England at the Reformation the King had been made head of the Church. And if people did not believe what the King and Clergy told them to believe they were sure, sooner or later, to be punished for it.
Now in England more and more people began to think for themselves on matters of religion. More and more people found it difficult to believe as King and Clergy wished them to believe. Some found the Church of England far too like the old Church of Rome. They wanted to do away with all pomp and ceremony and have things quite simple. They did not wish to separate from the Church; they only wanted to make the Church clean and pure of all its errors. So they got the name of Puritans. Others however quite despaired of making the Church pure. They desired to leave it altogether and set up a Church of their own. They were called Separatists, or sometimes, from the name of a man who was one of their chief leaders, Brownists.
These Brownists did not want to have bishops and priests, and they would not own the King as head of the Church. Instead of going to church they used to meet together in private houses, there to pray to God in the manner in which their own hearts told them was right. This of course was considered treason and foul wickedness. So on all hands the Brownists were persecuted. They were fined and imprisoned, some were even hanged. But all this persecution was in vain, and the number of Separatists instead of decreasing increased as years went on.
Now at Scrooby, a tiny village in Nottinghamshire, England, and in other villages round, both in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, there were a number of Separatists. Every Sunday these people would walk long distances to some appointed place, very likely to Scrooby, or to Babworth, where there was a grave and reverent preacher, to hold their meetings.
But they were never left long in peace. They were hunted and persecuted on every side, till at length they decided to go to Holland where they heard there was freedom of religion for all men.
To many of them this was a desperate adventure. In those days few men traveled. For the most part people lived and died without once leaving their native villages. To go into a new country, to learn a new language, to get their living they know not how, seemed to some a misery almost worse than death. Still they determined to go, such was their eagerness to serve God aright.
The going was not easy. They were harassed and hindered in every fashion. Again and again evil men cheated them, and robbed them of almost all they possessed, leaving them starving and penniless upon the sea shore. But at length, overcoming all difficulties, in one way or another, they all reached Amsterdam.
Even here however they did not find the full freedom and peace which they desired, and they next moved to Leyden.
They found it "a beautiful city and of a sweet situation." Here they settled down and for some years lived in comfort, earning their living by weaving and such employments, and worshipping God at peace in their own fashion.
But after about eleven or twelve years they began once more to think of moving. They had many reasons for this, one being that if they stayed longer in Holland their children and grandchildren would forget how to speak English, and in a few generations they would no longer be English, but Dutch. So they determined to go to some place where they could still remain English, and yet worship God as they thought right.
And the place their thoughts turned to was the vast and unpeopled country of America. But which part of America they could not at first decide. After much talk however they at length decided to ask the Virginian Company to allow them to settle in their land, but as a separate colony, so that they might still have religious freedom.
Two messengers were therefore despatched to London to arrange matters with the company. The Virginian Company was quite willing to have these Separatists as settlers. But do what they would they could not get the King to promise them freedom to worship God. All that they could wring from him was a promise that he would take no notice of them so long as they behaved peaceably. To allow or tolerate them by his public authority, under his broad seal, was not to be thought of.
That was the best the Virginian Company or any of their friends could do for the Separatists. And with this answer the messengers were obliged to return to Leyden. When the English men and women there heard it they were much disturbed. Some felt that without better assurance of peace they would be foolish to leave their safe refuge. But the greater part decided that poor though the assurance was they would be well to go, trusting in God to bring them safely out of all their troubles. And after all they reflected "a seal as broad as the house floor would not serve the turn" if James did not wish to keep his promise, so little trust did they put in princes and their oaths.
So it was decided to go to the New World, and after much trouble everything was got ready. A little ship called the Speedwell was bought and fitted up. Then those who had determined to go went down to the sea shore accompanied by all their friends.
Their hearts were heavy as they left the beautiful city which had been their home for the last twelve years. But they knew that they were pilgrims and strangers upon the earth, and they looked only to find in heaven an abiding place. So steadfastly they set their faces towards the sea. They went on board, their friends following sorrowfully. Then came the sad parting. They clung to each other with tears, their words of farewell and prayers broken by sobs. It was so pitiful a sight that even among the Dutchmen who looked on there was scarce a dry eye.
At length the time came when the last farewell had to be said. Then their pastor fell upon his knees on the deck, and as they knelt round him he lifted his hands to heaven, and with tears running down his cheeks prayed God to bless them all.
So the sails were hoisted and the Speedwell sailed away to Southampton. Here she found the Mayflower awaiting her, and the two set forth together. But they had not gone far before the captain of the Speedwell complained that his ship was leaking so badly that he dared not go on. So both ships put in to Dartmouth, and here the Speedwell was thoroughly overhauled and mended, and again they set out.
But still the captain declared that the Speedwell was leaking. So once more the pilgrims put back, this time to Plymouth. And here it was decided that the Speedwell was unseaworthy, and unfit to venture across the great ocean. That she was a rotten little boat is fairly certain, but it is also fairly certain that the Captain did not want to sail to America, and therefore he made the worst, instead of the best, of his ship.
If it is true that he did not want to cross the ocean he now had his way. For the Speedwell was sent back to London with all those who had already grown tired of the venture, or who had grown fearful because of the many mishaps. And the Mayflower, taking the rest of the passengers from the Speedwell, and as many of the stores as she could find room for, proceeded upon her voyage alone.
Among those who sailed in her were Captain Miles Standish and Master Mullins with his fair young daughter Priscilla. I daresay you have read the story Longfellow made about them and John Alden. At the first John Alden did not go as a Pilgrim. He was hired at Southampton as a cooper, merely for the voyage, and was free to go home again if he wished. But he stayed, and as we know from Longfellow's poem he married Priscilla.
Now at length these Pilgrim Fathers as we have learned to call them were really on their way. But all the trouble about the Speedwell had meant a terrible loss of time, and although the Pilgrims bad left Holland in July it was September before they finally set sail from Plymouth, and their voyage was really begun.
And now instead of having fair they had foul weather. For days and nights, with every sail reefed, they were driven hither and thither by the wind, were battered and beaten by cruel waves, and tossed helplessly from side to side. At length after two months of terror and hardships they sighted the shores of America.
They had however been driven far out of their course, and instead of being near the mouth of the Hudson River, and within the area granted to the Virginian Company, they were much further north, near Cape Cod, and within the area granted to the Plymouth Company, where they had really no legal right to land. So although they were joyful indeed to see land, they decided to sail southward to the mouth of the Hudson, more especially as the weather was now better.
Soon however as they sailed south they found themselves among dangerous shoals and roaring breakers, and, being in terror of shipwreck, they turned back again. And when they once more reached the shelter of Cape Cod harbour they fell on their knees and most heartily thanked God, Who had brought them safely over the furious ocean, and delivered them from all its perils and miseries.
They vowed no more to risk the fury of the tempest, but to settle where they were in the hope of being able to make things right with the Plymouth Company later on. So in the little cabin of the Mayflower the Pilgrims held a meeting, at which they chose a Governor and drew up rules, which they all promised to obey, for the government of the colony. But this done they found it difficult to decide just what would be the best place for their little town, and they spent a month or more exploring the coast round about. At length they settled upon a spot.
On Captain John Smith's map it was already marked Plymouth, and so the Pilgrims decided to call the town Plymouth because of this, and also because Plymouth was the last town in England at which they had touched. So here they all went ashore, choosing as a landing place a flat rock which may be seen to this day, and which is now known as the Plymouth Rock.
"Which had been to their feet as a doorstep, Into a world unknown-the corner-stone of a nation!"
The Pilgrim Fathers had now safely passed the perils of the sea. But many more troubles and miseries were in store for them. For hundreds of miles the country lay barren and untilled, inhabited only by wild Redmen, the nearest British settlement being five hundred miles away. There was no one upon the shore to greet them, no friendly lights, no smoke arising from cheerful cottage fires, no sign of habitation far or near. It was a silent frost-bound coast upon which they had set foot.
The weather was bitterly cold and the frost so keen that even their clothes were frozen stiff. And ere these Pilgrims could find a shelter from the winter blasts, trees had to be felled and hewn for the building of their houses. It was enough to make the stoutest heart quake. Yet not one among this little band of Pilgrims flinched or thought of turning back. They were made of sterner stuff than that, and they put all their trust in God.
"May not and ought not the children of those fathers rightly say," writes William Bradford, who was their Governor for thirty-one years, "our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean and were ready to perish in the wilderness? But they cried unto the Lord and He heard their voice." The winter was an unusually severe one. And so, having no homes to shelter them or comfort of any kind, many of the Pilgrims died. Many more became seriously ill. Indeed at one time there were not more than six or seven out of a hundred and more who were well and able to work. And had it not been for the wonderful devotion and loving kindness of these few the whole colony might have perished miserably. But these few worked with a will, felling trees, cooking meals, caring for the sick both day and night.
The first winter the Pilgrim Fathers, it was said, "endured a wonderful deal of misery with infinite patience." But at length spring came, and with the coming of warmth and sunshine the sickness disappeared. The sun seemed to put new life into every one. So when in April the Mayflower, which had been in harbour all winter, sailed homeward not one of the Pilgrims sailed with her.
The little white-winged ship was the last link with home. They had but to step on board to be wafted back to the green hedgerows and meadows gay with daisies and buttercups in dear old England. It was a terrible temptation. Yet not one yielded to it. With tears streaming down their faces, the Pilgrims knelt upon the shore and saw the Mayflower go, following her with prayers and blessings until she was out of sight. Then they went back to their daily labours. Only when they looked out to sea the harbour seemed very empty with no friendly little vessel lying there.
Meanwhile among all the miseries of the winter there had been one bright spot. The Pilgrims had made friends with the Indians. They had often noticed with fear Redmen skulking about at the forest's edge, watching them. Once or twice when they had left tools lying about they had been stolen. But whenever they tried to get speech with the Indians they fled away.
What was their surprise then when one morning an Indian walked boldly into the camp and spoke to them in broken English!
He told them that his name was Samoset, and that he was the Englishmen's friend. He also said he could tell them of another Indian called Squanto who could speak better English than he could. This Squanto had been stolen away from his home by a wicked captain who intended to sell him as a slave to Spain. But he had escaped to England, and later by the help of Englishmen had been brought back to his home. All his tribe however had meantime been swept away by a plague, and now only he remained.
Samoset also said that his great chief named Massasoit or Yellow Feather wished to make friends with the Palefaces. The settlers were well pleased to find the Indian ready to be friendly and, giving him presents of a few beads and bits of coloured cloth, they sent him away happy. But very soon he returned, bringing Squanto and the chief, Yellow Feather, with him. Then there was a very solemn pow-wow; the savages gorgeous in paint and feathers sat beside the sad-faced Englishmen in their tall black hats and sober clothes, and together they swore friendship and peace. And so long as Yellow Feather lived this peace lasted.
After the meeting Yellow Feather went home to his own wigwams, which were about forty miles away. But Squanto stayed with the Englishmen. He taught them how to plant corn; he showed them where to fish and hunt; he was their guide through the pathless forests. He was their staunch and faithful friend, and never left them till he died. Even then he feared to be parted from his white friends, and he begged them to pray God that he too might be allowed to go to the Englishmen's heaven.
Besides Yellow Feather and his tribe there were other Indians who lived to the east of the settlement, and they were by no means so friendly. At harvest time they used to steal the corn from the fields and otherwise harass the workers. As they went unpunished they grew ever bolder until at length one day their chief, Canonicus, sent a messenger to the Governor with a bundle of arrows tied about with a large snakeskin. This was meant as a challenge. But the Governor was not to be frightened by such threats. He sent back the snakeskin stuffed with bullets and gunpowder, and with it a bold message.
"If you would rather have war than peace," he said, "you can begin when you like. But we have done you no wrong and we do not fear you."
When the chief heard the message and saw the gunpowder and bullets he was far too much afraid to go to war. He was too frightened to touch the snakeskin or even allow it to remain in his country, but sent it back again at once.
This warlike message however made the settlers more careful, and they built a strong fence around their little town, with gates in it, which were shut and guarded at night. Thus the Pilgrims had peace with the Redmen. They had also set matters right with the Plymouth Company, and had received from them a patent or charter allowing them to settle in New England. Other Pilgrims came out from home from time to time, and the little colony prospered and grew, though slowly.
They were a grave and stern little company, obeying their Governor, fearing God, keeping the Sabbath and regarding all other feast days as Popish and of the evil one.
It is told how one Christmas Day the Governor called every one out to work as usual. But some of the newcomers to the colony objected that it was against their conscience to work on Christmas Day.
The Governor looked gravely at them. "If you make it a matter of conscience," he said, "I will release you from work upon this day until you are better taught upon the matter." Then he led the others away to fell trees and saw wood. But when at noon he returned he found those, whose tender consciences had not allowed them to work, playing at ball and other games in the streets. So he went to them, and took away their balls and other toys. "For," said he, "it is against my conscience that you should play while others work."
And such was the power of the Governor that he was quietly obeyed, "and," we are told, "since that time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly."
They were stern, these old settlers, and perhaps to our way of thinking narrow, and they denied themselves much that is lovely in life and quite innocent. Yet we must look back at them with admiration. No people ever left their homes to go into exile for nobler ends, no colony was ever founded in a braver fashion. And it is with some regret we remember that these brave Pilgrim Fathers have given a name to no state in the great union. For the Colony of Plymouth, having held on its simple, severe way for many years, was at length swallowed up by one of its great neighbours, and became part of the State of Massachusetts. But that was not till 1692. Meanwhile, because it was the first of the New England colonies to be founded, it was often called the Old Colony.
Chapter 23 - The Founding of Massachusetts
For ten years after the coming of the Pilgrim Fathers charters were constantly granted to "adventurers" of one kind or another for the founding of colonies in New England. And, driven by the tyranny of King James and of his son Charles I, small companies of Puritans began to follow the example of the Pilgrim Fathers and go out to New England, there to seek freedom to worship God. For King James, although brought up as a Presbyterian himself, was bitter against the Puritans. "I shall make them conform themselves," he had said, "or I will harry them out of the land."
And as he could not make them conform he "harried" them so that many were glad to leave the land to escape tyranny. King James has been called the British Solomon, but he did some amazingly foolish things. This narrow-minded persecution of the Puritans was one. Yet by it he helped to form a great nation. So perhaps he was not so foolish after all.
As has been said many companies were formed, many land charters granted for Northern Virginia, or New England, as it was now called. At length a company of Puritans under the name of the Massachusetts Bay Company got a charter from Charles I, granting them a large tract of land from three miles south of the Charles River to three miles north of the Merrimac, and as far west as the Pacific. Of course no one in those days realised what a huge tract that would be. For no man yet guessed how great a continent America was, or by what thousands of miles the Pacific was separated from the Atlantic. This charter was not unlike that given to Virginia. But there was one important difference. Nowhere in the charter did it say that the seat of government must be in England.
So when Charles dismissed his Parliament, vowing that if the members would not do as he wished he would rule without them, a great many Puritans decided to leave the country. They decided also to take their charter with them and remove the Company of Massachusetts Bay, bag and baggage, to New England.
Charles did nothing to stop them. Perhaps at the time he was pleased to see so many powerful Puritans leave the country, for without them he was all the freer to go his own way. So in the spring of 1630 more than a thousand set sail, taking with them their cattle and household goods.
Many of these were cultured gentlemen who were thus giving up money, ease and position in order to gain freedom of religion. They were not poor labourers or artisans, not even for the most part traders and merchants. They chose as Governor for the first year a Suffolk gentleman named John Winthrop. A new Governor was chosen every year, but John Winthrop held the post many times, twice being elected three years in succession. Although we may think that he was narrow in some things, he was a man of calm judgment and even temper, and was in many ways a good Governor. From the day he set forth from England to the end of his life he kept a diary, and it is from this diary that we learn nearly all we know of the early days of the colony.
It was in June of 1630 that Winthrop and his company landed at Salem, and although there were already little settlements at Salem and elsewhere this may be taken as the real founding of Massachusetts. Almost at once Winthrop decided that Salem would not be a good centre for the colony, and he moved southward to the Charles River, where he finally settled on a little hilly peninsula. There a township was founded and given the name of Boston, after the town of Boston in Lincolnshire, from which many of the settlers had come.
Although these settlers had more money and more knowledge of trading, the colony did not altogether escape the miseries which every other colony had so far suffered. And, less stout-hearted than the founders of Plymouth, some fled back again to England. But they were only a few, and for the most part the new settlers remained and prospered.
These newcomers were not Separatists like the Pilgrim Fathers but Puritans. When they left England they had no intention of separating themselves from the Church of England. They had only desired a simpler service. But when they landed in America they did in fact separate from the Church of England. England was so far away; the great ocean was between them and all the laws of Church and King. It seemed easy to cast them off, and they did.
So bishops were done away with, great parts of the Common Prayer Book were rejected, and the service as a whole made much more simple. And as they wished to keep their colony free of people who did not think as they did the founders of Massachusetts made a law that only Church members might have a vote.
With the Plymouth Pilgrims, however, Separatists though they were, these Puritans were on friendly terms. The Governors of the two colonies visited each other to discuss matters of religion and trade, and each treated the other with great respect and ceremony.
We read how when Governor Winthrop went to visit Governor Bradford the chief people of Plymouth came forth to meet him without the town, and led him to the Governor's house. There he and his companions were entertained in goodly fashion, feasting every day and holding pious disputations. Then when he departed again, the Governor of Plymouth with the pastor and elders accompanied him half a mile out of the town in the dark.
But although the Puritans of Massachusetts were friendly enough with dissenters beyond their borders they soon showed that within their borders there was to be no other Church than that which they had set up.
Two brothers for instance who wanted to have the Prayer Book used in full were calmly told that New England was no place for them, and they were shipped home again. Later a minister named Roger Williams was banished from Massachusetts, for he preached that there ought to be no connection between Church and State; that a man was responsible to God alone for his opinions; and that no man had a right to take from or give to another a vote because of the Church to which he belonged.
It seemed to him a deadly sin to have had anything whatever to do with the Church of England, a sin for which every one ought to do public penance. He also said that the land of America belonged to the natives, and not to the King of England. Therefore the King of England could not possibly give it to the settlers, and they ought to bargain for it with the natives. Otherwise they could have no right to it.
This idea seemed perfectly preposterous to those old settlers, for, said they, "he chargeth King James to have told a solemn, public lie, because in his patent he blessed God that he was the first Christian prince that had discovered this land." They might think little enough of their King in their hearts, but it was not for a mere nobody to start such a ridiculous theory as this.
We, looking back, can see that Williams was a good and pious man, a man before his time, right in many of his ideas, though not very wise perhaps in his way of pressing them.
upon others who did not understand them. But to his fellow colonists he seemed nothing but a firebrand and a dangerous heretic. So they bade him be gone out of their borders. He went southward to what is now Rhode Island, made friends with the Indians there, bought from them some land, and founded the town of Providence.
Chapter 24 - The Story of Harry Vane
About this time there came to Massachusetts a handsome young adventurer named Sir Harry Vane. His face "was comely and fair," and his thick brown hair curly and long, so that he looked more like a Cavalier than a Puritan. He was in fact the eldest son of a Cavalier, one of the King's chosen councilors. But in spite of his birth and upbringing, in spite even of his looks, Harry Vane was a Puritan. And he gave up all the splendour of life at court, he left father and mother and fortune, and came to New England for conscience' sake.
"Sir Henry Vane hath as good as lost his eldest son who is gone to New England for conscience' sake," wrote a friend. "He likes not the discipline of the Church of England. None of our ministers would give him the Sacrament standing: no persuasions of our Bishops nor authority of his parents could prevail with him. Let him go."
As soon as Harry Vane arrived in Massachusetts he began to take an interest in the affairs of the colony. And perhaps because of his great name as much as his fair face, grey-haired men who had far more experience listened to, his youthful advice and bowed to his judgment. And before six months were passed he, although a mere lad of twenty-three, was chosen as Governor. A new Governor, you remember, was chosen every year.
At home Harry Vane had been accustomed to the pomp and splendour of courts and now he began to keep far greater state as Governor than any one had done before him. Because he was son and heir to a Privy Councilor in England the ships in the harbour fired a salute when he was elected, and when he went to church or court of justice a bodyguard of four soldiers marched before him wearing steel corslet and cap, and carrying halberds. He made, too, a sort of royal progress through his little domain, visiting all the settlements.
But although begun with such pomp Vane's year of office was by no means a peaceful one. He was young and inexperienced, and he was not strong enough to deal with questions which even the oldest among the settlers found hard to settle. Yet with boyish presumption he set himself to the task. And although he failed, he left his mark on the life of the colony. His was one more voice raised in the cause of freedom. His was one more hand pointing the way to toleration. But he was too tempestuous, too careless of tact, too eager to hurry to the good end. So instead of keeping the colony with him he created dissension. People took sides, some eagerly supporting the young Governor, but a far larger party as eagerly opposing him.
So after nine months of office Harry Vane saw that where he had meant to create fair order his hand created only disorder. And utterly disheartened he begged the Council to relieve him of the governorship and allow him to go home to England.
But when one of his friends stood up and spoke in moving terms of the great loss he would be, Harry Vane burst into tears and declared he would stay, only he could not bear all the squabbling that had been going on, nor to hear it constantly said that he was the cause of it.
Then, when the Council declared that if that was the only reason he had for going they could not give him leave, he repented of what he had said, and declared he must go for reasons of private business, and that anything else he had said was only said in temper. Whereupon the court consented in silence to his going.
All this was not very dignified for the Governor of a state, but hardly surprising from a passionate youth who had undertaken a task too difficult for him, and felt himself a failure. However Vane did not go. He stayed on to the end of his time, and even sought to be re-elected.
But feeling against him was by this time far too keen. He was rejected as Governor, and not even chosen as one of the Council. This hurt him deeply, he sulked in a somewhat undignified manner, and at length in August sailed home, never to return.
He had flashed like a brilliant meteor across the dull life of the colony. He made strife at the time, but afterwards there was no bitterness. When the colonists were in difficulties they were ever ready to ask help from Harry Vane, and he as readily gave it. Even his enemies had to acknowledge his uprightness and generosity. "At all times," wrote his great-hearted adversary, Winthrop, "he showed himself a true friend to New England, and a man of noble and generous mind."
He took a great part in the troublous times which now came upon England, and more than twenty years later he died bravely on the scaffold for the cause to which he had given his life.
Chapter 25 - The Story of Anne Hutchinson and the Founding of Rhode Island
About a year before Harry Vane came to Massachusetts another interesting and brilliant colonist arrived. This was a woman named Anne Hutchinson. She was clever, "a woman of a ready wit and bold spirit." Like Williams she was in advance of her times, and like him she soon became a religious leader. She was able, she was deeply interested in religion, and she saw no reason why women should not speak their minds on such matters.
Men used to hold meetings to discuss questions of religion and politics to which women were not allowed to go. Anne Hutchinson thought this was insulting; and she began to hold meetings for women in her own home. These meetings became so popular that often as many as a hundred women would be present. They discussed matters of religion, and as Mrs. Hutchinson held "dangerous errors" about "grace and works" and justification and sanctification, this set the whole colony agog.
By the time that Harry Vane was chosen Governor the matter had become serious. All the colony took sides for or against. Harry Vane, who stood for toleration and freedom, sided with Mrs. Hutchinson, while Winthrop, his great rival, sided against her. Mrs. Hutchinson was supported and encouraged in her wickedness by her brother-in-law John Wheelright, a "silenced minister sometimes in England." She also led away many other godly hearts.
The quarrel affected the whole colony, and was a stumbling-block in the way of all progress. But so long as Harry Vane was Governor, Mrs. Hutchinson continued her preaching and teaching. When he sailed home, however, and Winthrop was Governor once more, the elders of the community decided that Mrs. Hutchinson was a danger to the colony, and must be silenced. So all the elders and leaders met together in assembly, and condemned her opinions, some as being "blasphemous, some erroneous, and all unsafe."
A few women, they decided, might without serious wrong meet together to pray and edify one another. But that a large number of sixty or more should do so every week was agreed to be "disorderly and without rule." And as Mrs. Hutchinson would not cease her preaching and teaching, but obstinately continued in her gross errors, she was excommunicated and exiled from the colony.
Like Williams, Mrs. Hutchinson went to Rhode Island. To the sorrow of the godly, her husband went with her. And when they tried to bring him back he refused. "For," he said, "I am more dearly tied to my wife than to the Church. And I do think her a dear saint and servant of God."
In Rhode Island Mrs. Hutchinson and her friends founded the towns of Portsmouth and Newport. Others who had been driven out of one colony or another followed them, and other towns were founded; and for a time Rhode Island seems to have been a sort of Ishmael's land, and the most unruly of all the New England colonies. At length however all these little settlements joined together under one Governor.
At first the colony had no charter, and occupied the land only by right of agreement with the Indians. But after some time Roger Williams got a charter from Charles II. In this charter it was set down that no one should be persecuted "for any difference in opinion on matters of religion." Thus another new state was founded, and in Rhode Island there was more real freedom than in almost any other colony in New England.
Massachusetts was at this time, as we can see, not exactly an easy place to live in for any one whose opinions differed in the slightest from those laid down by law. Those same people who had left their homes to seek freedom of conscience denied it to others. But they were so very, very sure that their way was the only right way, that they could not understand how any one could think otherwise. They were good and honest men. And if they were severe with their fellows who strayed from the narrow path, it was only in the hope that by punishing them in this life, they might save them from much more terrible punishment in the life to come.
Chapter 26 - The Founding of Harvard
One very good thing we have to remember about the first settlers of Massachusetts is that early in the life of the colony they founded schools and colleges. A good many of the settlers were Oxford and Cambridge men, though more indeed came from Cambridge than from Oxford, as Cambridge was much the more Puritan of the two. But whether from Oxford or from Cambridge they were eager that their children born in this New England should have as good an education as their fathers had had in Old England. So when Harry Vane was Governor the colonists voted 400 with which to build a school. This is the first time known to history that the people themselves voted their own money to found a school.
It was decided to build the school at "Newtown." But the Cambridge men did not like the name, so they got it changed to Cambridge, "to tell their posterity whence they came."
Shortly before this a young Cambridge man named John Harvard had come out to Massachusetts. Very little is known of him save that he came of simple folk, and was good and learned. "A godly gentleman and lover of learning," old writers call him. "A scholar and pious in his life, and enlarged towards the country and the good of it, in life and in death."
Soon after he came to Boston this godly gentleman was made minister of the church at Charlestown. But he was very delicate and in a few months he died. As a scholar and a Cambridge man he had been greatly interested in the building of the college at Cambridge. So when he died he left half his money and all his books to it. The settlers were very grateful for this bequest, and to show their gratitude they decided to name the college after John Harvard.
Thus the first University in America was founded. From the beginning the college was a pleasant place, "more like a bowling green than a wilderness," said one man. "The buildings were thought by some to be too gorgeous for a wilderness, and yet too mean in others' apprehensions for a college. "
"The edifice," says another, "is very faire and comely within and without, having in it a spacious hall, and a large library with some bookes to it."
Of Harvard's own books there were nearly three hundred, a very good beginning for a library in those far-off days. But unfortunately they were all burnt about a hundred years later when the library accidentally took fire. Only one book was saved, as it was not in the library at the time.
Harvard's books are gone, nor does anything now remain of the first buildings "so faire and comely within and without." But the memory of the old founders and their wonderful purpose and energy is still kept green, and over the chief entrance of the present buildings are carved some words taken from a writer of those times. "After God had carried us safe to New England, and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, rear'd convenient places for God's worship, and settled the Civil Government, one of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to Posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the Churches when our present ministers shall be in the Dust."
John Harvard was a good and simple man. In giving his money to found a college he had no thought of making himself famous. But "he builded better than he knew," for he reared for himself an eternal monument, and made his name famous to all the ends of the earth. And when kings and emperors are forgotten the name of Harvard will be remembered.
Chapter 27 - How Quakers First Came to New England
It was about the middle of the seventeenth century when a new kind of religion arose. This was the religion of the Quakers. George Fox was the founder of this sect, and they called themselves the Friends of Truth. The name Quaker was given to them by their enemies in derision because they "trembled before the Lord."
The Quakers were a peace-loving people; they tried to be kind and charitable; they refused to go to law; and they refused to fight. They also gave up using titles of all kinds. For, "my Lord Peter and my Lord Paul are not to be found in the Bible." They refused to take off their hats to any man, believing that that was a sign of worship which belonged to God only. They refused also to take oath of any kind, even the oath of allegiance to the King, because Christ had said, "Swear not at all." They used "thee" and "thou" instead of "you" in speaking to a single person (because they thought it more simple and truthful), and they refused to say "goodnight" or "goodmorrow," "for they knew night was good and day was good without wishing either." There was a great deal that was good in their religion and very little, it would seem, that was harmful, but they were pronounced to be "mischievous and dangerous people."
Men did not understand the Quakers. And, as often happens when men do not understand, they became afraid of them. Because they wore black clothes and broad-brimmed hats they thought they must be Jesuits in disguise. So ignorance bred fear, and fear brought forth persecution, and on all sides the Quakers were hunted and reviled. They were fined and imprisoned scourged and exiled and sold into slavery. Then, like other persecuted people, they sought a refuge in New England across the seas. But the people there were just as ignorant as the people at home, and the Quakers found no kindly welcome.
The first Quakers to arrive in New England were two women. But before they were allowed to land officers were sent on board the ship to search their boxes. They found a great many books, which they carried ashore, and while the women were kept prisoner on board the ship the books were burned in the market place by the common hangman. Then the women were brought ashore and sent to prison, for no other reason than that they were Quakers.
No one was allowed to speak to them on pain of a fine of 5, and lest any should attempt it even the windows of the prison were boarded up. They were allowed no candle, and their pens, ink, and paper were taken from them. They might have starved but that one good old man named Nicholas Upshal, whose heart was grieved for them, paid the gaoler to give them food. Thus they were kept until a ship was ready to sail for England. Then they were put on board, and the captain was made to swear that he would put them ashore nowhere but in England.
"Such," says an old writer, "was the entertainment the Quakers first met with at Boston, and that from a people who pretended that for conscience' sake they had chosen the wilderness of America before the well-cultivated Old England."
The next Quakers who arrived were treated much in the same fashion and sent back to England; and a law was made forbidding Quakers to come to the colony. At this time the same good old man who had already befriended them was grieved. "Take heed," he said, "that you be not found fighting against God, and so draw down a judgment upon the land." But the men of Boston were seized with a frenzy of hate and fear, and they banished this old man because he had dared to speak kindly of the accursed sect."
It is true the men of New England had some excuse for trying to keep the Quakers out of their colony. For some of them were foolish, and tried to force their opinions noisily upon others. They interrupted the Church services, mocked the magistrates and the clergy, and some, carried away by religious fervour, behaved more like mad folk than the disciples of a religion of love and charity.
Yet in spite of the law forbidding them to come, Quakers kept on coming to the colony, and all who came were imprisoned, beaten, and then thrust forth with orders never to return. But still they came. So a law was made that any Quaker coming into the colony should have one of his ears cut off; if he came again he should have a second ear cut off; if he came a third time he should have his tongue bored through with a hot iron.
But even this cruel law had no effect upon the Quakers. They heeded it not, and came in as great or even greater numbers than before.
The people of Boston were in despair. They had no wise to be cruel; indeed, many hated, and were thoroughly ashamed of, the cruel laws, made against these strange people. But they were nevertheless determined that Quakers should not come into their land. So now they made a law that any Quaker who came to the colony and refused to go away again when ordered should be hanged. This, they thought, would certainly keep these pernicious folk away. But it did not.
For the Quakers were determined to prove to all the world that they were free to go where they would, and that if they chose to come to Boston no man-made laws should keep them out. So they kept on coming. The magistrates knew not what to do. They had never meant to hang any of them, but only to frighten them away. But having made the law, they were determined to fulfil it, and five Quakers were hanged, one of them a woman. But while the fifth was being tried another Quaker named Christison, who had already been banished, calmly walked into the court.
When they saw him the magistrates were struck dumb. For they saw that against determination like this no punishment, however severe, might avail. On their ears Christison's words fell heavily.
"I am come here to warn you, he cried, "that you should shed no more innocent blood. For the blood that you have shed already cries to the Lord God for vengeance to come upon you."
Nevertheless he too was seized and tried. But he defended himself well. By what law will you put me to death?" he asked.
"We have a law," replied the magistrates, "and by our law you are to die."
"So said the Jews to Christ," replied Christison: " 'We have a law, and by our law you ought to die.' Who empowered you to make that law? How! Have you power to make laws different from the laws of England?"
"No," said the Governor.
"Then," said Christison, "you are gone beyond your bounds. Are you subjects to the King? Yea or nay?"
"Yea, we are so."
"Well," said Christison, "so am I. Therefore, seeing that you and I are subjects to the King, I demand to be tried by the laws of my own nation. For I never heard, nor read, of any law that was in England to hang Quakers."
Yet in spite of his brave defence Christison was condemned to death. But the sentence was never carried out. For the people had grown weary of these cruelties; even the magistrates, who for a time had been carried away by blind hate, saw that they were wrong. Christison and many of his friends who had lain in prison awaiting trial were set free.
The Quakers, too, now found a strange friend in King Charles. For the doings of the New Englanders in this matter reached even his careless ears, and he wrote to his "Trusty and well-beloved" subjects bidding them cease their persecutions, and send the Quakers back to England to be tried. This the people of Massachusetts never did. But henceforth the persecutions died down. And although from time to time the Quakers were still beaten and imprisoned no more were put to death. At length the persecution died away altogether and the Quakers, allowed to live in peace, became quiet, hard-working citizens.
Chapter 28 - How Maine and New Hampshire Were Founded
North of Massachusetts two more colonies, New Hampshire and Maine, were founded. But they were not founded by men who fled from tyranny, but by statesmen and traders who realised the worth of America, not by Puritans, but by Churchmen and Royalists. The two men who were chiefly concerned in the founding of these colonies were Sir Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason. They were both eager colonists, and they both got several charters and patents from the King, and from the New England Company.
It would be too confusing to follow all these grants and charters, or all the attempts at settlements made by Mason and Gorges and others. The land granted to them was often very vaguely outlined, the fact being that the people who applied for the land, and those who drew up the charters, had only the vaguest ideas concerning the land in question. So the grants often overlapped each other, and the same land was frequently claimed by two people, and of course confusion and quarrels followed.
In 1629 Mason and Gorges, being friends, agreed to divide the province of Maine between them, and Mason called his part New Hampshire, after the county of Hampshire in England, of which he was fond. Mason and Gorges each now had an enormous tract of land, but they wanted still more.
The French, as you know, had already made settlements in Canada, But just at this time that buccaneering sea captain, David Kirke, besieged Quebec, took it and carried its brave governor, Champlain, away prisoner. Now, as soon as they heard of this Gorges and Mason asked the King to give them a grant of part of the conquered land, for it was known to be a fine country for fur trade, and was also believed to be rich in gold and silver mines. In answer to this petition the King granted a great tract of land to Gorges and Mason. This they called Laconia, because it was supposed to contain many lakes. They never did much with it however, and in a few years when peace was made with France it had all to be given back to the French.
Both Mason and Gorges spent a great deal of money trying to encourage colonists to settle on their land, and the people of Massachusetts were not at all pleased to have such powerful Churchmen for their neighbours.
As has been said, land grants often overlapped, and part of the land granted to Gorges and Mason was also claimed by Massachusetts. The Massachusetts colonists insisted on their rights. Both Gorges and Mason therefore became their enemies, and did their best to have their charter taken away. To this end Gorges got himself made Governor General of the whole of New England, with power to do almost as he liked, and he made ready to set out for his new domain with a thousand soldiers to enforce his authority.
When this news reached Massachusetts the whole colony was thrown into a state of excitement. For in this appointment the settlers saw the end of freedom, the beginning of tyranny. Both Gorges and his friend Mason were zealous Churchmen and the Puritans felt sure would try to force them all to become Churchmen also.
This the settlers determined to resist with all their might. So they built forts round Boston Harbour and mounted cannon ready to sink any hostile vessel which might put into port. In every village the young men trained as soldiers, and a beacon was set up on the highest point of the triple hill upon which Boston is built. And daily these young men turned their eyes to the hill, for when a light appeared there they knew it would be time to put on their steel caps and corslets and march to defend their liberties. Ever since the hill has been called Beacon Hill.
But the danger passed. The new ship which was being built for Ferdinando Gorges mysteriously fell to pieces on the very launching of it, and Captain Mason died. "He was the chief mover in all the attempts against us," says Winthrop. "But the Lord, in His mercy, taking him away, all the business fell on sleep."
But still Gorges did not give up his plans. He did not now go out to New England himself as he had meant to do, but sent first his nephew and then his cousin instead. They, however, did not trouble Massachusetts much.
Over the Province of Maine, Sir Ferdinando ruled supreme. He could raise troops, make war, give people titles, levy taxes. No one might settle down or trade in his province without his permission, and all must look upon him as the lord of the soil and pay him tribute. It was the feudal system come again, and Sir Ferdinando Gorges was as near being a king as any ruler of America ever has been. He drew up a most elaborate constitution, too, for his kingdom, making almost more offices than there were citizens to fill them. For, after all, his kingdom was a mere wilderness containing two fishing villages and here and there a few scattered settlements. And when the deputy governor arrived to rule this kingdom he found his "palace" merely a broken-down store house with "nothing of household stuff remaining but an old pot, a pair of tongs and a couple of irons."
Thus side by side with the Puritan colonies of New England, colonies which were almost republics, there was planted a feudal state which was almost a monarchy. Of all the New England colonies, New Hampshire and Maine were the only two which were not founded for the sake of religion. For although the English Church was established in both as the state religion that was merely because the proprietors were of that Church. The colonies were founded for the sake of trade and profit. But they grew very slowly.
In 1647 Sir Ferdinando Gorges died, and Maine was left much to itself. For his son John took little interest in his father's great estate. Thirty years later his grandson, another Ferdinando, sold his rights to Massachusetts. From that time till 1820, when it was admitted to the Union as a separate state, Maine was a part of Massachusetts.
Neither did the heirs of Mason pay much attention to their estates at first. And when they did there was a good deal of quarrelling and a good deal of trouble, and at length they sold their rights to twelve men, who were afterwards known as the Masonian Proprietors.
There was a great deal of trouble, too, before New Hampshire was finally recognised as a separate colony. It was joined to Massachusetts and separated again more than once. But at last, after many changes, New Hampshire finally became a recognised separate colony. And although Captain John Mason died long before this happened he has been called the founder of New Hampshire.
"If the highest moral honour," it has been said, "belongs to founders of states, as Bacon has declared, then Mason deserved it. To seize on a tract of the American wilderness, to define its limits, to give it a name, to plant it with an English colony, and to die giving it his last thoughts among worldly concerns, are acts as lofty and noble as any recorded in the history of colonisation."
Chapter 29 - The Founding of Connecticut and War with the Indians
Many of the people who founded Massachusetts Colony were well-to-do people, people of good family, aristocrats in fact. They were men accustomed to rule, accustomed to unquestioning obedience from their servants and those under them. They believed that the few were meant to rule, and the many meant to obey. The idea that every grown-up person should have a share in the government never entered their heads. Their Governor, Winthrop, was an aristocrat to the backbone. He believed heartily in the government of the many by the few, and made it as difficult as possible for citizens to obtain the right of voting.
But there were many people who were discontented with this aristocratic rule. Among them was a minister named Thomas Hooker, like John Harvard a graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
So, being dissatisfied, he and his congregation decided to move away and found a new colony. They were the more ready to do this, as the land round Boston was not fertile, and so many new settlers had come, and their cattle and flocks had increased so rapidly, that it was already difficult to find food and fodder for man and beast. Adventurers who had traveled far afield had brought back glowing reports of the beauty and fertility of the Connecticut Valley, and there Hooker decided to settle.
But for several reasons many of the people of Massachusetts objected to his going. He and his people, they said, would be in danger from the Dutch, who already had a settlement there, and who claimed the whole valley. They would also be in danger from the Indians, who were known to be hostile, and lastly, they would be in danger from the British Government because they had no charter permitting them to settle in this land. The people at home, they said, "would not endure they should sit down without a patent on any place which our King lays claim unto."
The people of Massachusetts were keeping quiet and going along steadily in their own way, without paying any heed to the British Government. They wanted to be left alone, and they did not want any one else to do things which might call attention to them. And besides all this they were greatly troubled at the thought of losing an eloquent preacher like Hooker. Every church was like a candlestick giving light to the world. "And the removing of a candlestick," they said, "is a great judgment, which is to be avoided."
But in spite of all arguments Hooker determined to go. So one June morning he and his congregation set forth. They sent their furniture by water and they themselves, both men and women, started to walk the hundred miles, driving their cattle before them; only Mrs. Hooker, who was ill, being carried in a litter.
They went slowly, allowing the cattle to graze by the wayside, living chiefly on the milk of the cows and the wild fruits they found. It was no easy journey, for their way led through the pathless wilderness, their only guides being the compass and the sun. For in those days we must remember that beyond the settlements the whole of America was untrodden ground. Save the Indian trails there were no roads. Here they had to fell trees and make a rough bridge to cross a stream; there they hewed their way through bushy undergrowth. Again they climbed steep hillsides or picked their way painfully through swamps, suffering many discomforts and fatigues.
But there were delights, too, for the sky was blue above them: birds sang to them night and morning, and wild flowers starred the ground and scented the air. All day they marched beneath the sunny blue sky, every evening they lit their watch-fires as a protection against wild beasts and lay down to rest beneath the stars, for "they had no cover but the heavens, nor any lodgings but those which simple nature afforded them."
For a fortnight they journeyed thus through the wilderness. Then they reached the Connecticut River and their journey's end. And here they built a little town which they called Hartford.
Other communities followed the example of Hooker and his flock, and Wethersfield and Windsor were built. At first all these towns remained a part of Massachusetts in name at least. But after a time the settlers met together at Hartford and, agreeing to form a little republic of their own, they drew up a set of rules for themselves; the chief difference from those of Massachusetts being that the religious tests were done away with, and a man need no longer be a member of a church in order to have the right to vote. It is also interesting to remember that in these Fundamental Orders, as they called their Constitution, there is no mention of the British King or Government. These colonists had settled new land without a charter, and they made laws without recognising any authority but their own. Thus the Colony of Connecticut was founded.
Besides these towns, John Winthrop, the son of the Governor of Massachusetts, founded a fort at the mouth of the Connecticut River. For he saw it was a good place for trade with the Indians. This fort was called SayeBrook after Lord Saye and Sele and Lord Brook, two Puritan lords who had obtained a grant of land along the Connecticut River.
But this new colony was very nearly wiped out as soon as begun. For one of the dangers which the people of Massachusetts foretold proved a very real one. This was the danger from the Indians. The Indians are divided into several families, such as the Algonquins, the Hurons, the Iroquois, each of these families again containing many tribes. All the Indians in New England belonged to the Algonquin family, but were, of course, divided into many tribes. One of these tribes was called the Pequots. They were very powerful, and they tyrannised over the other tribes round about. They hated the white men, and whenever they had the opportunity they slew them.
The new Colony of Connecticut was far nearer their hunting-ground than Massachusetts. It was a far easier prey, and from the very beginning the Pequots harassed the settlers. They made no open attack, but skulked about, murdering men and women, now here, now there, appearing suddenly and vanishing again as swiftly.
This sort of thing could not be endured, and the English determined to put a stop to it. So messengers were sent to the Indians to demand that the murderers should be given up to the English. When the Indians saw the English boats appear they did not seem in the least afraid, but came running along the water-side shouting, "What cheer, Englishmen, what cheer? What do you come for?"
But the Englishmen would not answer.
And the Pequots, never thinking that the Englishmen meant war, kept running on beside the boats as they sailed up the river.
"What cheer, Englishmen, what cheer?" they kept repeating. "Are you angry? Will you kill us? Do you come to fight?"
But still the Englishmen would not answer.
Then the Indians began to be afraid. And that night they built great fires on either side of the river, fearing lest the Englishmen might land in the darkness. All night long, too, they kept up a most doleful howling, calling to each other and passing the word on from place to place to gather the braves together.
Next morning early they sent an ambassador to the English captain. He was a big, splendid-looking man, very grave and majestic. "Why do you come here?" he asked.
"I have come," answered the captain, "to demand the heads of those who have slain our comrades. It is not the habit of the English to suffer murderers to live. So if you desire peace and welfare give us the heads of the murderers."
"We knew not," answered the wily Indian, "that any of our braves had slain any of yours. It is true we have slain some white men. But we took them to be Dutch. It is hard for us to know the difference between Dutch and English."
"You know the difference between Dutch and English quite well," answered the captain sternly. "And therefore seeing you have slain the King of England's subjects, we come to demand vengeance for their blood."
"We knew no difference between the Dutch and English," declared the Indian. "They are both strangers to us, and we took them to be all one. Therefore we crave pardon. We have not wilfully wronged the English."
"That excuse will not do," insisted the captain. "We have proof that you know the English from the Dutch. We must have the heads of those persons who have slain our men, or else we will fight you."
Then, seeing that he could not move the English captain from his determination, the ambassador asked leave to go back to his chief, promising to return speedily with his answer. He was allowed to go; but as he did not return very soon the Englishmen followed. Seeing this, the ambassador hurried to them, begging them not to come nearer, and saying that his chief could not be found, as he had gone to Long Island.
"That is not true," replied the English. "We know he is here. So find him speedily or we will march through the country and spoil your corn."
Hour after hour went past; the Englishmen always patiently waiting; the wily Indian always inventing some new excuse for delay. But at length the patience of the English was exhausted, and, beating their drums, they charged the savages. Some were killed, and, the rest fleeing, the English burned their wigwams and destroyed their corn, and carried off their mats and baskets as booty.
But the Pequots were not in the least subdued, and more than ever they harassed the colonists of Connecticut. So the men of Connecticut sent to Massachusetts and to Plymouth asking for help. The people of Plymouth, however, said the quarrel was none of theirs and sent no help, but from Massachusetts about twenty men were sent. Besides this, a few friendly Indians, glad at the chance of punishing their old tyrants, joined with the white men.
So one moonlight night the little company embarked, and, sailing along the coast, landed at a spot about two days' journey from the Pequot fort. As they got near to it most of the Indians who had come with the English took fright and ran away. So less than a hundred Englishmen were left to attack seven hundred Indians.