A little before dawn they reached the fort. The Indians were all sleeping and keeping no guard, so the Englishmen quietly took possession of both entrances to the fort.
Then suddenly through the still morning air the sharp sound of a volley of musketry rang out "as though the finger of God had touched both match and flint." Affrighted, the Indians sprang from their sleep yelling in terror. They scarce had time to seize their bows and arrows when, sword in hand, the Englishmen stormed into the fort. A fierce fight followed, showers of arrows fell upon the Englishmen, but they did little hurt, and glanced off for the most part harmless from their thick buff coats and steel corslets.
During the fight some of the huts were set on fire, and soon the whole village was a roaring mass of flames. Many perished miserably in the fire, others who fled from it were cut down by the Englishmen, or escaping them, fell into the hands of their own countrymen. They found no mercy, for they had given none; and, remembering the awful tortures which their fellow-countrymen had suffered, the Englishmen had no compassion on their murderers.
Ere an hour had passed the fight was over. Out of four hundred Indians not more than five escaped. The Pequots were utterly wiped out and their village a heap of smoking ruins. Never before had such terrible vengeance overtaken any Indian tribe. And all the other tribes were so frightened and amazed that for forty years there was peace in New England. For no Redmen dare attack these terrible conquerors.
Chapter 30 - The Founding of New Haven
In spite of the menace of the Redmen, Englishmen continued to settle in the land they claimed. Even while the Pequot war was going on a new colony had been founded, still further south upon the shores of New England. This colony was founded by a minister named John Davenport.
John Davenport had fled from persecution in England, and, followed by his congregation, including many wealthy people, had sought,—like so many other Puritans,—a refuge in New England. The newcomers however, would not join the other Puritans, but decided to found a colony all to themselves which should be ruled only by laws found in the Bible. They called their settlement New Haven, and here the law that none but church members should vote was very strictly enforced.
Each of the towns was governed by seven men known as the Pillars of the Church. These men served as judges, but no juries were allowed, because no mention of them is found in the Bible. The laws were very strict, but the famous pretended "Blue Laws" of New Haven, which people used to make fun of, never existed. In these it was pretended that there were such absurd laws as, "No one shall cook, make beds, sweep house, cut hair or shave on the Sabbath. No woman shall kiss her child on the Sabbath or fasting day. No one shall keep Christmas, make minced pies, dance, play cards or play on any instrument of music except the drum, trumpet or jew's-harp." Some of the old Puritan laws seem to us indeed quaint enough, but there are none quite so absurd as these. They were invented by an early "tourist," who sought to make fun of these earnest, God-fearing colonists.
The New Haven colonists, like those of Connecticut, had no charter from the King of England. They settled the land not by agreement with him, but by agreement with the Indians.
Davenport and his followers bought the land upon which they settled from the Indians. To one chief they gave "twelve coats of English trucking cloth, twelve alchemy spoons, twelve hatchets, twelve hoes, two dozen of knives, twelve porringers, and four cases of French knives and scissors." To another, "eleven coats of trucking cloth, and one coat of English cloth."
The agreement was all duly and properly written out and signed by the chiefs, but, of course, as the chiefs could not write they made their marks. The first agreement was signed not only by the chief and his council, but also by the chief's sister.
We have now heard of seven New England colonies being founded. But later on, as we shall see, Plymouth joined with Massachusetts, and New Haven with Connecticut, thus making only five New England colonies as we know them today. And of those five, one (Maine) was not recognised as a separate colony but as part of Massachusetts after 1677. It remained part of Massachusetts until 1820, when it entered the Union as a state.
Meanwhile Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven all joined together, promising to help each other in case of war with the Indians, Dutch, or French, who were constant dangers to them all alike. They called themselves the United Colonies of New England. This union, however, was only for defence. Each colony was still quite independent of the others and managed its own affairs as before. It was only the first shadow of the great Union which was to come many years later. It was also one more proof that the colonies were growing up and thinking for themselves for they asked no one's leave to form this union. They thought it was necessary to their safety, so they entered into it. Only Rhode Island was not asked to join; there was still too much bitterness over religious matters between the settlers there and in the other colonies.
There were no more Puritan colonies founded, for Puritans ceased now to come to New England in large numbers. The reason was that the great fight between King and People, between Cavalier and Puritan had begun in old England. And when the Puritans won, and could have their own way at home, they were no longer so eager to set forth to seek a New England beyond the seas. So the Puritans ceased to cross the seas, and as we have seen, in their place many Cavaliers came to Virginia.
Chapter 31 - The Hunt for the Regicides
The Commonwealth of England did not last long. In 1660 King Charles II was restored. England then became an unsafe abode for all those who had helped to condemn Charles I to death, and two of those men, General Edward Whalley and William Goffe, fled to America. They were kindly received by the Puritans of Boston, and after a time they moved on to New Haven. But even in America they were not safe, and Royalist messengers were sent from England to arrest them, and take them home to be tried.
The Governor of Massachusetts pretended to be very eager to help these messengers. In reality he did nothing to help, but hindered them, rather. News of the search for the fugitives soon reached New Haven, and at once the people there helped them to hide. For their minister, John Davenport, had bidden them to "hide the outcasts and betray not him that wandereth."
Goffe and Whalley knew that the people of New Haven would not betray them. But lest their enemies should gain any inkling of their being there they left the town and, going to another, showed themselves openly. Then secretly by night they returned to New Haven.
For a whole month they lay hid there in the cellars of the minister's house. But soon that refuge became no longer safe, for the men in search of them had, in spite of their strategy, traced them to New Haven and set out to arrest them.
One Saturday the Royalists reached Guilford, not sixteen miles away. Here they demanded horses from the Governor to take them on to New Haven. But the Governor had little desire to help them. So with one excuse after another he put them off until it was too late to start that night. The next day was Sunday, and it was strictly against the laws of Puritan New England to ride or drive on Sunday save to church. So the Royalist messengers, chafing with impatience, might bribe and command as much as they liked; not a man would stir a hand to help them till Monday morning.
Meanwhile a messenger was speeding on his way to New Haven to warn the Parliamentarians. And while their pursuers were kicking their heels in enforced idleness they slipped away, and found a new hiding place in a mill some miles off. But even this was thought not to be safe, and they fled once more, and at length found refuge in a cave deep in the forest.
So on Monday when at length the Royalists arrived, the birds had flown. The minister owned that they had been there, but declared that they had vanished away, no man knowing when or whither.
The Royalists scoured the country far and wide in search of the fugitives. But their efforts were in vain. They were very much in earnest, but they were strangers, and they did not know the country. No one would help them in their search, and at length, very angry with the people of New Haven, they gave it up and returned to Boston.
Then, having spent several months in their cave, the Parliamentarians crept forth again. For two years they lived hidden in a friendly house. The King, however, was not satisfied, and after two years messengers again came out from England, and the search was again begun, more eagerly than before. Again, however, Goffe and Whalley were warned, and again they fled to the cave.
Here they lived in safety while the Royalists swept the country round in search of them. But they had many narrow escapes.
Once when they had left the shelter of their cave they were almost caught. Their pursuers were upon their heels, and to reach the cave without being taken prisoner seemed impossible. As the two men fled before their foes they came to a little river crossed by a wooden bridge. It was their last hope. Instead of crossing the bridge they crept beneath it, and crouched close to the water. On came the pursuers. They made no pause. Their horses thundered across the bridge and galloped away and away, while beneath the fugitives waited breathlessly. Then when all was quiet again they crept back to the shelter of their cave.
But at length the cave became a safe retreat no longer, for it was discovered by the Indians. And the fugitives, afraid lest the Indians, tempted by the large reward offered, might betray their hiding-place, resolved to seek another.
By this time the fury of the search for them had somewhat abated and another minister, John Russell, offered them a refuge in his house. This minister lived at a place called Hadley. Hadley was many miles from New Haven. It was a lonely settlement on the edge of the wilderness, and to reach it about a hundred miles of pathless forest had to be crossed. But with stout hearts the hunted men set out. By day they lay hidden in some friendly house, or in some lonely cave or other refuge. By night they journeyed onward. At length they reached their new hiding-place.
It was wonderfully contrived. The minister had lately made some alterations in his house, and in doing so he had made a safe retreat. In the attic there was a large cupboard with doors opening into rooms on either side. In the floor of the cupboard there was a trap door which led down into another dark cupboard below, and from there a passage led to the cellar. So that, should the house be searched, any one in the upper rooms could slip into the cupboard, from there reach the cellar, and thus escape. Here the regicides now took up their abode. And so well was their secret kept that they lived there for ten or fifteen years, their presence being unsuspected even by the inhabitants of the little town.
Henceforth the world was dead to them, and they were dead to the world. They were both soldiers. On many a field of battle,-Gainsborough, Marston, Naseby, Worcester, and Dunbar,-they had led their men to victory. They had been Members of Parliament, friends of the Great Protector, and had taken part in all the doings of these stirring times.
Now all that was over. Now no command, no power was left to them. The years went by, dragging their slow length of days, and bringing no change or brightness to the lives of these two men who lived in secret and alone. It was a melancholy life, the monotony only broken by visits from the minister, or a few other friends, who brought them all the gossip and news of the town. These were but small matters. But to the two men shut off from all other human beings they seemed of rare interest.
After ten years Whalley died. It is believed that he was buried in the cellar of the house in which for so long he had found a hiding-place. Then, for five years or so more, Goffe dragged out his life alone.
As one might imagine, the King was not at all pleased with Massachusetts and New Haven for thus sheltering the regicides; and in 1665 he suppressed New Haven as a separate colony and joined it to Connecticut.
The New Haven people did not like this at all, and they fought against it with all their might. But at length they gave way and joined Connecticut.
The King was angry with Massachusetts, too, not only for protecting the regicides, but also because of what is known as the Declaration of Rights. In this the people of Massachusetts acknowledged the King as their ruler. But they also made it plain that so long as they did not make laws which ran counter to English laws they expected to be let alone. This made King Charles angry, and if it had not been that he was busy fighting with Holland very likely the people of Massachusetts would have had to suffer for their boldness at once. As it was they were left in peace a little longer.
Chapter 32 - King Philip's War
Meanwhile the people of New England had another foe to fight.
You remember that the Pilgrim Fathers had made a treaty with the Indians when they first arrived. As long as the old Chief Massasoit lived he kept that treaty. But now he was dead, and his son Philip ruled.
You will wonder, perhaps, why an Indian chief should have a name like Philip. But Philip's real name was Metacomet. He, however, wanted to have an English name, and to please him the English called him Philip. And by that name he is best known.
For a time all went well. But very soon Philip and his tribe grew restless and dissatisfied. When they saw the white men coming in always greater and greater numbers, and building towns and villages further and further into the land, they began to fear them and long to drive them away. And at length all their thoughts turned to war.
Friendly Indians and "praying Indians," as those who had become Christians were called, came now to warn the Pale-faces and tell them that Philip was gathering his braves, and that he had held a war dance lasting for several weeks. In the night, too, people in lonely farms awoke to hear the wild sound of drums and gun shots. But still the English hoped to pacify Philip. So they sent him a friendly letter telling him to send away his braves, for no white man wished him ill.
But Philip returned no answer.
Then one Sunday while the people were at church and the houses were all deserted Indians attacked the little town of Swansea, burning and plundering. The next day and the next they returned, tomahawk and firebrand in hand, and so the war began.
Other tribes joined with King Philip, and soon New England was filled with terror and bloodshed. The men of New England gathered in force to fight the Indians. But they were a hard foe to fight, for they never came out to meet the Pale-faces in open field.
At first when the British began to settle in America they had made it a rule never to sell firearms to the Indians. But that rule had long ago been broken through. Now the Indians not only had guns, but many of them were as good shots as the British. Yet they kept to their old ways of fighting, and, stealthily as wild animals, they skulked behind trees, or lurked in the long grass, seeking their enemies. They knew all the secret forest ways, they were swift of foot, untiring, and mad with the lust of blood. So from one lonely village to another they sped swiftly a the eagle, secretly as the fox. And where they passed they left a trail of blood and ashes.
At night around some lonely homestead all would seem quiet. Far as the eye could see there would be no slightest sign of any Redman, and the tired labourer would go to rest feeling safe, with his wife and children beside him. But ere the first red streaks of dawn shivered across the sky he would be awakened by fiendish yells. Ere he could seize his gun the savages would be upon him. And the sun when it rose would show only blackened, blood-stained ruins where but a few hours before a happy home had been.
Yet with this red terror on every side the people went on quietly with their daily life. On week days they tilled their fields and minded their herds, on Sundays they went, as usual, to church, leaving their homes deserted. But even to church they went armed, and while they knelt in prayer or listened to the words of their pastor their guns were ever within reach of their hands.
One Sunday, while in the village of Hadley the people were all at church, the Indians crept up in their usual stealthy fashion. Suddenly the alarm was given, and, seizing their guns which stood by their sides, the men rushed out of the meeting-house. But they were all in confusion: the attack was sudden, they were none of them soldiers, but merely brave men ready to die for their homes and their dear ones, and they had and they had no leader.
Then suddenly a stranger appeared amongst them. He was dressed in quaint old-fashioned clothes. His hair and beard were long and streaked with grey. He was tall and soldierly, and his eyes shone with the joy of battle.
At once he took command. Sharply his orders rang out. Unquestioningly the villagers obeyed, for he spoke as one used to command. They were no longer an armed crowd, but a company of soldiers, and, fired by the courage and skill of their leader, they soon put the Indians to flight.
When the fight was over the men turned to thank their deliverer. But he was nowhere to be found. He had vanished as quickly and mysteriously as he had come.
"What did it mean?" they asked. "Who was the strange leader? Had God in His mercy sent an angel from heaven to their rescue ?"
No one could answer their questions, and many decided that indeed a miracle had happened, and that God had sent an angel to deliver them.
This strange leader was no other than the regicide, Colonel Goffe, who, as we know, had for many years lived hidden in the minister's house. From his attic window he had seen the Indians creeping stealthily upon the village. And when he saw the people standing leaderless and bewildered, he had been seized with his old fighting spirit, and had rushed forth to lead them. Then, the danger being over, he had slipped quietly back to his hiding-place. There he remained hidden from all the world as before, until he died and was buried beside his friend.
Autumn passed and winter came, and the Indians gathered to their forts, for the bare forests gave too little protection to them in their kind of warfare. When spring came they promised themselves to come forth again and make an end of the Pale-faces. But the Pale-faces did not wait for spring.
The Indians had gathered to the number of over three thousand into a strong fortress. It was surrounded by a marsh and the only entrance was over a bridge made by a fallen tree.
This fortress the New Englanders decided to attack and take. So, a thousand strong, they set out one morning before dawn and, after hours of weary marching through the snow, they reached the fort. Across the narrow bridge they rushed, and although many of their leaders fell dead, the men came on, nothing daunted. A fierce fight followed, for each side knew that they must win or die. Shut in on all sides by impassable swamps there was no escape. But not till dark was falling did the white men gain the victory. The ground was strewn with dead and dying, and in the gathering darkness the remaining Indians stole quietly away, and vanished like shadows. Then the New Englanders set fire to the wigwams, and, taking their wounded, marched back to their headquarters.
This was a sad blow to the Indians, but it did not by any means end the war which, as spring came on, broke out again in full fury. But gradually the white men got the upper hand. Instead of attacking, the Redmen fled before them. They lost heart and began to blame King Philip for having led them into war, and at length he was slain by one of his own followers.
Soon after this the war came to an end. But whole tracts of New England were a desert, a thousand of the bravest and best of the young men were killed. Many women and children, too, had been slain, and there was hardly a fireside in the whole of Massachusetts where there was not a vacant place. Numbers of people were utterly ruined and the colonies were burdened with a great debt.
As to the Indians their power was utterly broken, and their tribes were almost wiped out. Except the Mohegans, who had remained friendly throughout the war, there were few Indians left in south New England, where there was never again a war between white men and Indians.
Chapter 33 - How The Charter of Connecticut Was Saved
Meanwhile King Charles had not forgotten his anger against the people of Massachusetts. Besides the fact that they had harboured the regicides, he had many other reasons for being angry with them. For they refused to obey the Navigation Laws, and they refused to allow the Church of England to be established within the colony. They had coined money of their own, never made their officials swear allegiance to the throne, and had done many things just as they liked.
In fact Massachusetts seemed to Charles like a badly brought-up child, who, having come to manhood, wants to go his own way and cares nothing for the wishes or commands of his parents. He made up his mind not to have any more of this disobedience, and he took away the charter and made Massachusetts a Crown Colony. Thus after fifty-five years of practical freedom Massachusetts once more belonged to the King of England, by right of the discovery of John and Sebastian Cabot. Of course, the people of Massachusetts fought against this as hard as they could, but their struggle was useless, and a royal Governor was appointed to rule the colony.
Almost immediately, however, Charles died, and it was not until his brother, James II, was on the throne that Sir Edmund Andros came out as royal Governor. He came not only as Governor of Massachusetts but as Governor of all the New England Colonies. For the King wanted to make an end of all these separate colonies and unite them into one great province.
Andros soon made himself very much disliked, for he tried to rule New England too much as his master tried to rule Great Britain. He levied taxes as he pleased, he imprisoned innocent men if he chose, he allowed nothing to be printed without his permission, he seized lands and goods at will.
All New England felt the weight of the Governor's hand. He demanded Rhode Island's charter. But the Governor of Rhode Island replied that the weather was so bad he really could not send it. So Sir Edmund went to Rhode Island, dissolved its government and smashed its seal.
To Connecticut also Sir Edmund wrote in vain, demanding its charter. The men of Connecticut were, it seemed to him, an unruly lot. So one October day in 1687 he set out to visit this rebellious state and subdue it to his will.
He arrived in Hartford with a great train of gentlemen and soldiers. They made a mighty stir in the little town as they rode, jingling and clanking through the quiet streets, and drew rein before the state house. Into the chamber where the Council sat strode Andros looking pompous and grand in lace, and velvet, and a great flowing wig. Up to the table he strode, and in tones of haughty command, demanded the charter.
But the men of Connecticut would not lightly give up the sign of their beloved liberty. They talked and argued and persuaded. They spoke of the hardships they had endured, of the blood they had poured forth to keep their freedom in their new found homes, upon the edge of the wilderness.
But with such a man as Andros all appeals, all persuasions were in vain. To every argument he had but one answer,-he must and would have the charter.
Long and long the argument lasted. The day drew to a close and twilight fell. Through the dusky gloom men could hardly see each other's flushed, excited faces. Lights were called for, and candles were brought. Some were placed upon the table beside the metal box in which lay the charter. Still the debate went on, either side as unbending as before. Now many citizens, anxious to know how things went, slipped into the room and stood behind the members, listening as the debate was flung this way and that. Outside the night was dark, within the woodpanelled room the flickering candles shed but a dim, uncertain light.
They made strange dancing shadows, shining fitfully on the stern, eager faces of the men who sat round the table, but scarcely revealing against the gloom the crowd of anxious citizens behind.
Sir Edmund was weary of the talk. He would have no more of it, and, suddenly rising, he stretched out his hand to seize the charter. Then, swiftly from out the shadowy circle of listeners, a cloak was flung upon the table. It fell upon the candles and put them out. In a moment the room was in total darkness.
There was an outcry and a scuffling of feet, the sound of an opening window, a call for lights. But lights were no such speedy matters in those days when matches had not been invented. When at length the scratching of the tinder boxes was done and the candles relit, every one looked eagerly at the table. Behold, the charter was gone!
Sir Edmund stormed, and citizens and councilors looked blankly at each other. But meanwhile through the darkness a man sped. In his hand he held a parchment, and he never halted in his run till he reached a great oak tree. This oak he knew was hollow. Reaching it he thrust the parchment deep into the hole and carefully covered it up with dried leaves and bark. Thus was the charter of Connecticut saved.
The man who saved it was Captain Wadsworth. Ever afterwards the tree was called the Charter Oak, and until about sixty years ago it stood a memorial of his deed. But some wise folk say this story of the Charter Oak is all a fairy tale. That may be so. But it deserves to be true.
Yet though the men of Connecticut may have succeeded in saving the sign and symbol of their freedom, they could not save the reality. For whether Sir Edmund Andros was in possession of their charter or not he stamped upon their liberties just the same. In the public record the secretary wrote: "His Excellency Sir Edmund Andros, Knight Captain General and Governor of His Majesty's Territory and Dominion in New England, by order from his Majesty, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, the 31st of October, 1687, took into his hands the government of this Colony, of Connecticut, it being by his Majesty annexed to the Massachusetts and other Colonies under his Excellency's Government.
"Finis, " as you know, means "the end." And one cannot but feel sorry for that stern, old, freedom loving Puritan gentleman who wrote the words. For indeed to him the loss of freedom must have seemed the end of all things.
Sir Edmund's rule, however, did not last long. For the British soon grew tired of James II and his tyrannous ways, and they asked Prince William of Orange to come and be their King. William came, the people received him with delight, King James fled away to France, and the "glorious Revolution," as it was called, was accomplished.
When the news reached New England there, too, was a little revolution. One spring morning there was a great commotion among the people of Boston. There was beating of drums, noise and shouting, and much running to and fro of young men carrying clubs. Soon it was seen that the city was in arms. The men marched to the castle, and demanded its surrender. And Andros, knowing himself to be helpless, yielded, though not without some "stomachful reluctances." The proud Governor's rule was at an end. He was taken prisoner, and through the streets where he had ridden in splendour he was now led a captive. Then the colonies set about restoring their governments as they had been before Sir Edmund Andros came.
But Andros had no mind to remain a prisoner. He and his friends who were imprisoned with him had a good deal of freedom. They were locked into their rooms at night, but during the day they were allowed to walk about anywhere within sight of the sentries, and their friends were allowed to come to see them quite freely. It would not be difficult to escape, thought Andros, and he resolved to do it. So he bribed one of his jailers, and, having procured woman's clothes, he dressed himself in them and calmly walked out of his prison.
He passed two sentries safely. But the third looked sharply at the tall woman who strode along so manfully. He looked at her boots. At once the sentry's suspicions were aroused; for Sir Edmund had not thought of changing them. No woman ever wore such boots as these, thought the sentry, and he challenged and stopped her. Then, peering beneath the rim of her bonnet, he saw no bashful woman's face, but the well-known features of the Governor.
So back to prison Andros went. After this he was not allowed so much freedom. But again he tried to escape, and this time he was more successful. He got not only out of Boston, but out of the colony. Once more, however, he was recognised and brought back.
The whole of New England had been agog with excitement, but at length things began to calm down, and "the world moved on in its old orderly pace," says a writer of the times.
In the midst of this calm two ships arrived from England with an order to those in power to proclaim William and Mary King and Queen. Then the colonies went mad with joy. From far and near the people flocked to Boston. Bells were rung, bonfires blazed, and after a great procession through the streets there was feasting at the Townhall. Thus "with joy, splendour, appearance and unanimity, as had never before been seen in these territories," were William and Mary proclaimed.
Sir Edmund Andros was now sent home to England a prisoner. But King William was not altogether pleased with all the colonists had done, and he was set free without any trial. He was not really a bad man, but he was dogged and pig-headed, without sympathy or imagination, and altogether the wrong man in the wrong place. Later on he came back to America as Governor of Virginia, and this time he did much better.
Meanwhile several changes were made in New England. Rhode Island and Connecticut kept their old charters, to which they had clung so lovingly. New Hampshire, too, remained a separate colony. But Plymouth, sad to say, that gallant little colony founded by the Pilgrim Fathers lost separate existence and became part of Massachusetts. Maine and even Nova Scotia, lately won from the French, were for the meantime also joined to Massachusetts.
Massachusetts was now a great colony and received a new charter. But things were not the same. The colony was now a royal province, and the Governor was no longer appointed by the people, but by the King. This chafed the people greatly, for they felt that their old freedom was gone. So for a time the history of Massachusetts was hardly more than a dreary chronicle of quarrels and misunderstandings between Governor and people.
Chapter 34 - The Witches of Salem
We have all read stories about witches, but we do not really believe in them. They are exciting enough to read about, but we know they are merely bad-fairy sort of folk who are only to be met with in books, and not in real life. We should be very much astonished, and rather frightened perhaps, if we thought that witches were real, and that we might some day meet one.
But in those far-off days more than two hundred years ago very many people believed in witches. Although not always so, it was generally very old people, people who had grown ugly and witless with age who were accused of being witches. In almost any village might be seen poor old creatures, toothless, hollow cheeked, wrinkled, with nose and chin almost meeting. Bent almost double, they walked about with a crutch, shaking and mumbling as they went. If any one had an ache or a pain it was easily accounted for. For why, they were bewitched! The poor old crone was the witch who had "cast the evil eye" upon them. And sometimes these poor creatures were put to death for their so-called deeds of witchcraft.
People believed that these witches sold themselves to the Evil One, and that he gave them power to harm other people. And what made them more dangerous was the fact that they did not need to go near people to harm them, but could do evil at a distance by thinking wicked thoughts, or saying wicked words. Some even of the most saintly and most learned people, believed in witches and witchcraft. So there is nothing surprising in the fact that suddenly, in 1692, whole towns and villages of New England were thrown into a ferment of terror by stories of witchcraft.
It came about quite simply. Two little girls of nine and eleven, the niece and daughter of a minister named Samuel Parris, who lived in Salem village, began suddenly to behave in a most curious manner. They would creep into holes, hide under chairs and benches, twist themselves into queer positions, make curious gestures and weird noises, and talk arrant nonsense. Their parents knew not what to make of it, and so they called in the doctors. Nowadays a clever doctor would have found out pretty soon that the children were merely pretending and playing a foolish trick upon their elders. But in those days doctors were not very wise, and they knew not what to make of this new and strange disease. One of them, however, said he thought that the children must be bewitched.
That was a terrible thought, and at once the minister called in all the other ministers from round about and they spent a day fasting and praying that the children might be released from the evil enchantment. All the neighbours, too, came crowding to the house, eager to hear about the dreadful happenings. And the children, finding themselves all at once people of the first importance, and no doubt enjoying the fuss which was being made, went on more than ever with their mad antics.
It was quite plain to every one that the children were bewitched. But who had done it? Every day the children were asked this question, and at length they accused a poor old Indian woman, who was a servant in the family. And the poor old creature was beaten and terrified until she actually confessed that she was a witch, and in league with the Evil One.
Perhaps the children had a spite against the old woman, perhaps they did not realise at first how wicked and cruel they were. Certainly when they found what excitement they caused, and how interesting they had become to every one they forgot all else. They became bolder now and accused other old women. Soon more and older girls joined them, and many innocent people, both men and women, were accused by them of witchcraft.
They did all sorts of things to make people believe in these accusations. As soon as an old woman was brought in they would fall down on the ground screaming. If she moved they would cry out that she was crushing them to death; if she bit her lip they would declare that she was biting them and so on. They told strange tales, too, of how they had been made to write in a long, thick, red book,—the book of the Evil One. They talked a jumble of nonsense about a Black Man, a black dog and a yellow bird. They would seem to fall down in fits or to be struck dumb. And they so worked upon the superstitious fears of those present that at length both judges and jury, carried away by mysterious terror, would condemn the old woman to death.
Soon a kind of madness took possession of the people. Person after person was accused; wrongs and misfortunes ten or even twenty years old were remembered, and charged to this person or that. No man or woman was safe. Neither age nor youth, beauty, learning nor goodness were any safeguard. Not only the good name, but the very life of every Man was at the mercy of every other man. Terror and mistrust stalked abroad, and entered every home. Parents accused their children, children their parents, husbands and wives turned against each other until the prisons were filled to overflowing.
It was quite useless for the prisoners to declare that they were innocent. Few believed them. If any did they hardly dare say so, lest they should find themselves accused in their turn and lodged in prison. Yet at length some were brave enough to stand by their loved ones.
One determined young man with great difficulty succeeded in rescuing his mother from prison. In getting out the poor woman broke her leg, but her son lifted her on to his horse and carried her away to a swamp near by. Here he built her a hut and brought her food and kept her safe until all danger was passed.
One or two other men escaped with their wives and fled beyond the borders of the colony. Twenty, however, were put to death by hanging, among them a minister. All these twenty to the last declared their innocence. Many others, strange to say, confessed to being witches. They confessed because they were terrified into it. Many confessed because they saw that by so doing they might save their lives. But some, having confessed, were so distressed at having lied that they took back their confession. Then they were hanged without mercy.
For a year this terrible madness lasted. Then it passed as suddenly as it had come. The people awoke again to their right senses. The prison doors were opened and the poor innocent people were set free. The wicked children who had accused them were never punished unless their own hearts punished them. One of them at least repented bitterly, and years later openly acknowledged her sorrow for her share in the sad business.
The minister in whose house the persecution began was punished. For the people were so angry with him and the part he had taken that they would have no more to do with him, and he was obliged to leave Salem village.
Some others who had taken as great a part as he in hounding guiltless people to death remained impenitent and unpunished. But the jury and some of the judges made some amends. They did a hard thing, for they publicly acknowledged that they had been wrong. The jury wrote and signed a paper in which they said, "We do hereby declare that we justly fear that we were sadly deluded and mistaken, for which we are much disquieted and distressed in our minds. And do therefore humbly beg forgiveness."
One of the judges, Judge Sewall, was bitterly grieved at the part he had played. And on a day of general intercession he stood up before the whole congregation, acknowledging his guilt and praying God to forgive him. And throughout all his life he kept one day a year upon which he prayed and fasted in repentance.
Perhaps you may think that there is nothing in this story to make you proud of your ancestors. But think again. Think of the courage of those men and women who cheerfully went to death rather than save their lives by lying and making false confessions. Truth to those brave men and women was worth more than life. And is there nothing to be proud of in the fact that the judge and jury, when they found themselves in the wrong, had the manliness to own it publicly and without reserve?
To some of us nothing in all the world seems so hard as to own ourselves in the wrong.
Part IV STORIES OF THE MIDDLE AND SOUTHERN COLONIES
Chapter 35 - The Founding of Maryland
About the same time as Gorges was making laws for his little kingdom of New Hampshire another English gentleman was doing much the same somewhat farther south. This was Lord Baltimore.
The first Lord Baltimore was a Yorkshire gentleman named Calvert; he was a favourite of James I, who made him a baron, and he took his title from a tiny village in Ireland.
Like so many other men of his time Lord Baltimore was interested in America, and wanted to found a colony there. First he tried to found one in Newfoundland. There he received a large grant of land which he called Avalon after the fabled land in the story of King Arthur, and he had a kind of fairy vision of the warmth and sunny delights which were to be found in his new land.
But instead of being warm and sunny he found that Newfoundland was bleak and cold, so his fairy vision shriveled and died, and be came home and asked for a grant of land on the Potomac instead. In 1632 King James gave Lord Baltimore what he asked and called the land Maryland in honour of his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria.
But before the grant was sealed "with the King's broad seal" Lord Baltimore died. Not he, therefore, but his son, Cecilius, was the first "Lord Proprietary" of Maryland, and for his broad lands all he had to pay to King James was two Indian arrows, to be delivered at Windsor Castle every year on Tuesday in Easter week. He had also to pay one-fifth part of all the gold and silver which might be found within his borders. But no gold or silver was found in the colony, so there was nothing to pay.
Lord Baltimore did not himself go to America, but sent his brother, Leonard Calvert, as Governor. Maryland was not founded like the Puritan colonies for religious purposes, but like New Hampshire, merely for trade and profit. But in those days religion and religious strife entered into everything. So it did into the founding of Maryland.
For Lord Baltimore was a Catholic, and in England Roman Catholics in their turn, as well as dissenters, were persecuted, and Lord Baltimore hoped to found a refuge for them in his new possessions in America. So although, in the charter given by a Protestant King the Church of England was recognised as the state religion, in reality there was great religious freedom in Maryland, and for a time it was there only that Catholics found freedom in America.
But in order to secure toleration for the Catholic religion Lord Baltimore found himself obliged to tolerate all others. So men of all creeds came to settle in Maryland and find freedom.
The people of Virginia were very far from pleased when they heard of the new colony about to be planted so near them. For part of the land which had been given to Lord Baltimore they claimed as their own, and they looked upon the newcomers as intruders on their territory and resolved to maintain their rights. They did all they could to prevent the new settlers coming. Nevertheless, in spite of everything, Leonard Calvert set sail with his colonists, many of whom were well-to-do people, in two ships called the Ark and the Dove.
They had a prosperous voyage and landed in Virginia full of doubt lest the inhabitants, who were very angry at their coming, should be plotting something against them. But the letters which they carried from the King seemed to appease the anger of the Virginians for a little, and the newcomers sailed on again to their own destination in Chesapeake Bay.
So at length they reached the "wished-for country" and Calvert landed with solemn state to take possession of the land in the name of God and the King of England.
As he stepped ashore a salute was fired from the boats. Then, reverently kneeling, the colonists listened while Mass was said for the first time in English America. Mass being over, they formed a procession at the head of which a rough wooden cross was carried. Then when they reached a spot chosen beforehand they planted the cross, and, kneeling round it, chanted the Litany of the Sacred Cross with great fervour.
And thus a new colony was begun.
With the Indians Calvert made friends, for he was both just and kind to them, paying them for their land in hoes, hatchets, coloured cloths and the beads and gew-gaws they loved. So in those early days there were no Indian wars and massacres in Maryland.
But although at peace with the Redmen the Marylanders were not at peace with their fellow white men. For the Virginians could not forget that Lord Baltimore had taken land which they had looked upon as their own. They had done their best to hinder him coming at all. And now that he had come they did their best to drive him away again. They tried to stir up mischief between the newcomers and the Indians by telling the Indians that these newcomers were Spaniards, and enemies of the English nation. They complained to the people in power at home, and did everything they could to make Maryland an uncomfortable dwelling place for those they looked upon as interlopers.
The chief enemy of the Marylanders among the Virginians was a man named William Clayborne. Before the coming of these new colonists he had settled himself upon the Isle of Kent, which was within their bounds, and now he absolutely refused either to move or to recognise the authority of Calvert as Governor; for he claimed the Isle of Kent as part of Virginia.
Calvert on his side insisted on his rights, and as neither would give way it came at length to fighting. There was bloodshed on both sides, now one, now the other getting the upper hand. Each appealed in turn to King, Parliament, or Protector, and so for more than twenty years the quarrel went on. But when the great Cromwell came to power he took Lord Baltimore's part, Catholic though he was. And at length in 1657, weary perhaps of the struggle, each side gave way a little and there was peace between the two colonies.
But in spite of the constant trouble with Clayborne the colony grew and prospered, for there was greater religious freedom to be found there than anywhere else either in England or America. And in the seventeenth century religion bulked more largely in an Englishman's thoughts than almost anything else. Then in 1649 the Governor issued an Act called the Toleration Act, which has made him famous. It gave freedom to every one to follow his own religion save Jews and Unitarians, and for those days it was a wonderfully liberal and broad-minded Act. It threatened with a fine of ten shillings any one who should in scorn or reproach call any man such names as popish priest, Roundhead, heretic. It declared that no person whatsoever within the Province professing to believe in Jesus Christ should be in any way troubled or molested for his or her religion.
This was the first law of its kind ever brought into force in America, and although suspended once or twice for short periods it remained almost continuously in force for many years.
Maryland becomes a royal province, 1691 Time went on and the great estate of Maryland passed from one Lord Baltimore to another. Although founded as a refuge for Catholics there were far more Protestants than Catholics within the colony. And when William III, the Protestant King, came to the throne he deprived Baltimore of his rights, and made Maryland a royal province. The Church of England was then established, and Catholics forbidden to hold services. Thus Lord Baltimore's dream of providing a refuge for the oppressed was at an end.
But in 1715 Benedict, the fourth Lord Baltimore, became a Protestant, and Maryland was given back to him. It remained in possession of his family until the Revolution.
Chapter 36 - How New Amsterdam Became New York
All the colonies which we have so far talked about were founded by Englishmen. Now we come to one which was founded by another people who, like the English, were great sea rovers and adventurer's-the Dutch. Even before the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers the Dutch laid claim to the valleys of the Hudson and the Delaware.
In those days people still knew very little about the continent of North America. They knew it was a continent, but they did not believe it to be very wide, as is proved by charters like that of Virginia which made the colony extend from sea to sea. Nor did people know how long the continent was. They had no idea that the great double continent stretched from north to south all across the hemisphere, and they were continually seeking for that North-West passage which would lead them to India by way of the west.
Now in 1609 Henry Hudson, an English sailor in the pay of the Dutch, came seeking the North-West passage. He did not find it, but sailed into Delaware Bay and up the beautiful river which is now known by his name as far as where the town of Albany now stands. It was autumn when Hudson sailed up the river; the sky was gloriously blue, and the woods aflame with red and yellow, and he went home to tell the Dutch that he had found "as pleasant a land with grass and flowers and goodly trees as ever he had seen," "a very good land to fall with, and a pleasant land to see."
By right of Hudson's discoveries the Dutch claimed all the land between Cape Cod and Chesapeake Bay, and, tempted by his glowing descriptions, they very soon established trading ports upon the Hudson which they called the North River. The Delaware they called the South River.
The English too claimed the same land, and it was not until some years after the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers that the Dutch settled in the country. Then they formed a company and bought the Island of Manhattan where New York now stands from the Indians for about five pounds' worth of glass beads and other trifles.
Here they built a little fort which they called New Amsterdam in 1626.
The colony grew slowly. For the life was by no means an easy one, and the people of Holland lived in freedom and religious peace at home, so they had no need to cross the Atlantic to seek them. But the company wanted settlers. They therefore offered to give an estate with eighteen miles' bay or river frontage to every man who would bring, or send, fifty colonists. Many people at once became eager to win such a prize, and very soon there were little settlements all along the shores of the Hudson.
The men who received these huge estates were called patroons, which is the same word as our English patron, and they had power not unlike the feudal lords of old time. They were bound to supply each of their settlers with a farm, and also to provide a minister and a schoolmaster for every settlement. But on the other hand they had full power over the settlers. They were the rulers and judges, while the settlers were almost serfs, and were bound to stay for ten years with their patroon, to grind their corn at his mills, and pay him tribute.
Over the whole colony there was a Governor who was as a rule autocratic and sometimes dishonest, and there was a good deal of unrest in the colony. The patroons were soon at loggerheads with each other and with the Governor. There were quarrels with the Swedes, who had settled on the Delaware, and there was terrible fighting with the Indians.
At length the state of the colony became so bad that the settlers wrote home to Holland complaining of their Governor and blaming him for all their troubles. The people in Holland listened to this complaint and a new Governor was sent out. This was Peter Stuyvesant, the last and most famous of the Governors of New Amsterdam.
Peter Stuyvesant, Governor from 1647-1664; He was a fiery old fellow, with a great love of pomp, and a tremendous opinion of his own importance. He had lost a leg in the Spanish Wars, and now he stamped about with a wooden one. But as no plain wooden leg would please his taste for grandeur he had it bound with silver.
The people were heartily tired of their old Governor, so they hailed the coming of Stuyvesant with joy. But no sooner had their new Governor arrived than they began to wonder if after all the change was a happy one. For Stuyvesant seemed to look down upon them all. He landed with great state and pomp, and some of the chief inhabitants who had come to meet him were left standing bareheaded for several hours while he kept his hat on, as if he were Tsar of all the Russias.
When he took over the direction of affairs from the late Governor, he did it with great ceremony in presence of all the colonists. And the late Governor, thinking to make a good impression before he left, made a speech thanking the people for their faithfulness to him. But the stolid Dutchmen were not going to have any such farce. So they up and told him boldly that they would not thank him, for they had no reason to do so.
Stuyvesant, however, would not have any wrangling; he loudly and proudly declared that every one should have justice done to him, and that he would be to them as a father to his children. But his bearing was so haughty that some of them went away shaking their heads, and fearing that he would be but a harsh father.
And so it proved. If the settlers' lot had been hard under the rule of other governors, it was still harder under that of Stuyvesant. He was autocratic and hectoring. He stumped about with his wooden leg, and shouted every one else down, and no one dared oppose him. Some indeed, more brave than others, declared that they would write home to Holland to complain of his tyranny. But when Stuyvesant heard it he got so angry that he foamed at the mouth. "If any one appeals from my judgments," he shouted, "I shall make him a foot shorter and send the pieces to Holland. Let him appeal in that way."
But Stuyvesant with all his faults was a far better Governor than those who had gone before him. And he had no easy post, for on every side he found himself surrounded by other States, the inhabitants of which were constantly encroaching on the borders of New Netherland.
The English, both from Massachusetts and Connecticut, seemed to think that the Dutch had no rights at all. Where they found good land they settled, scoffing at the Dutch remonstrances.
Stuyvesant too was soon at loggerheads with the Swedes who had settled on the Delaware. The Dutch claimed both sides of the river and the Swedes laughed at their claims. They would sail up the river past the Dutch fort without stopping and displaying their colours, and when challenged, and asked for their reason, replied boldly that they would certainly do it again.
Then the Dutch began to build a new fort on land which the Swedes claimed, and the Swedes came and destroyed it. So things went from bad to worse, until at length Stuyvesant decided to put an end to it. He gathered an army of six hundred men, the largest army that had ever been gathered in North America, and with seven ships entered the Delaware.
Against a force like this the Swedes could not defend themselves, so they yielded on condition that they should march out of their forts with all the honours of war. This was granted to them and with colours flying, drums beating and trumpets playing the Swedes marched out and the Dutch marched in. Thus without a blow, after seventeen years of occupation, New Sweden became part of New Netherland. Later on this land captured from the Swedes was to become the State of Delaware.
From his triumph over the Swedes Stuyvesant was recalled by the news that there was war with the Indians. He soon brought that to an end also. But he was not always to be victorious, and at length the time came when the power of the Dutch was to be swept away before a still greater power.
Stuyvesant had ruled New Netherland for seventeen years. The colony had prospered, and the number of new settlers had steadily increased. During these same years Great Britain had been passing through stormy times. King Charles had been beheaded, the kingdom had been declared a Commonwealth with Cromwell at its head, but he was now dead, the Stuarts once more ruled, and King Charles II sat upon the throne. He cast a greedy eye upon New Netherland, for he wanted it for his brother, the Duke of York.
There was peace between Holland and Britain, but Charles II cared little about that. So in 1664 he secretly granted all the land lying between the Delaware and Connecticut rivers to his brother, and sent a fleet of four ships and about four hundred soldiers under Colonel Richard Nicolls to take possession of the country.
When Stuyvesant heard of it he made ready to resist. He gathered in what powder and shot be could from the surrounding settlements; he mounted cannon, he ordered every able-bodied man to take his turn at strengthening the fortifications and keeping guard. And having done all he could he sent a messenger to Nicolls asking why he had come.
Nicolls' reply was a summons to surrender the town. At the same time he promised that any one who would submit quietly should be protected by "his Majesty's laws and justice." "Any people from the Netherlands may freely come and plant here," he wrote, "vessels of their own country may freely come hither, and any of them may as freely return home in vessels of their own country."
But Peter Stuyvesant was hot to fight. So lest the easy terms should make any of the settlers willing to give in he tried to keep them secret. But the Council would not have it so.
"All that regards the public welfare must be made public," they said, and held to it.
Then, seeing he could not move them from their determination, in a fit of passion Stuyvesant tore Nicolls' letter in pieces, swearing that he would not be answerable for the consequences.
The people were growing impatient, and leaving their work upon the fortifications they stormed into the Council Chamber. In vain Stuyvesant tried to persuade them to return to their work. They would not listen to him. They replied to him only with curses and groans. Then from all sides came cries of, "The letter, the letter, we will have the letter."
So at last Stuyvesant yielded; the torn fragments were gathered together and a copy made. And when the people heard the terms they bade him yield. Still he would not, and he sent another message to Nicolls.
But Nicolls would not listen. "To-morrow," he said, "I will speak with you at Manhattan."
"Friends will be welcome," replied the messenger, "if they come, in friendly fashion."
"I shall come with my ships and my soldiers," answered Nicolls. "Hoist the white flag of peace on the fort, and then something may be considered."
When this answer was known terror seized the town. Women and children came to implore the Governor with tears to submit.
He would not listen to them. Like the fierce old lion he was he knit his brows and stamped with his wooden leg. "I would rather be carried a corpse to my grave than give in," he cried.
But he alone had any desire to fight. For in the whole fort there was not enough powder to last one day, from the river front there was absolutely no protection, and on the north there was only a rickety fence three or four feet high. There was little food within the fort, and not a single well. So all the chief inhabitants wrote a letter to the Governor begging him to give in.
"You know, in your own conscience," they said, "that your fortress is incapable of making head three days against so powerful an enemy. And (God help us) whether we turn us for assistance to the north, or to the south, to the east or to the west 'tis all in vain! On all sides are we encompassed and hemmed in by our enemies. Therefore we humbly and in bitterness of heart, implore your Honour not to reject the conditions of so generous a foe."
This letter was signed by all the most important people of the town, even by Stuyvesant's own son. With every one against him he could hold out no longer. So he yielded and at eight o'clock on Monday morning, the 8th of September, 1664, he marched out of Fort Amsterdam at the head of his soldiers. With colours flying and drums beating they marched down to the riverside where a ship awaited them, and getting on board they set sail for Holland.
Then the Dutch flag was hauled down, the British flag was hoisted in its place, and New Amsterdam became New York, a name given it in honour of the King's brother, the Duke of York.
A few weeks later every other Dutch settlement had yielded to the British. Fort Orange became Fort Albany, so named for the Duke of York's second title, and Dutch dominion in North America was at an end.
As to Stuyvesant, he sailed home and was severely scolded by the West India Company for his "scandalous surrender." He was, however, able to defend himself, and prove to the directors that he had done his best. Then he returned to America and spent the rest of his life quietly on his farm, or "bowery" as it was called in Dutch.
Those of you who are familiar with New York know that there is still a part of it called The Bowery, and it may interest you to learn that it is so called in memory of the farm where this arrogant old lion of a Dutchman spent his last days. He spent them peacefully and happily. Now that he was no longer a ruler he lost much of his overbearing pride, and all that was kindly in his nature showed itself. Many who had feared and hated him came to love and admire him. Among others he made friends with the Englishman who had ousted him, and many a jolly evening he and Nicolls spent together cracking jokes and listening to each other's stories of the brave days gone by.
Peter Stuyvesant died at the age of eighty, and was buried in what is now St. Mark's Church, where a tablet on the wall marks the spot where he lies.
New York was now a proprietary colony like Maryland, its overlord being the Duke of York, and when in 1685 he became King of England New York became a Crown Colony.
The Dutch rule had been autocratic, the people having little say in the government. They had chafed against it and had hoped that the change of ruler would bring a change of government, and that they would be allowed freedom like the New England Colonies. But James was not the sort of man to allow freedom to people when he could prevent it. So the government of New York continued as autocratic as before.
Meanwhile New York once more changed hands. In a time of peace the British had calmly and without a shadow of right taken the colony from the Dutch. Nine years later when the two countries were at war the Dutch took it back again.
It was just the same nine-year-old story over again. Only this time it was the Dutch who marched in and hoisted the Dutch flag over the fort.
Once more the names were changed; New York became New Orange, and the province was once more New Amsterdam.
But this was only for a month or two. The following year Holland and Britain made peace, and by the Treaty of Westminster all Dutch possessions in North America were given back to Britain, and Dutch rule in North America was at an end for ever.
Chapter 37 - How a German Ruled New York
When Sir Edmund Andros came to America, he had been made Governor of New York as well as of all New England. And while Massachusetts was having its revolution upon the accession of William and Mary there were exciting times in New York also. When the news of the imprisonment of Andros reached New York there was great agitation. Almost at the same time came the news that the French had declared war on England, which added to the people's excitement. For they suspected Nicholson, whom Andros had left in charge as Lieutenant-Governor, of being a Catholic; and a quite groundless idea got about that he meant to betray the colony into the hands of the French, or burn it to the ground.
There were very few Catholics in New York, and the Protestants had little need to fear them. But many of the Protestants were filled with a burning zeal for their faith, and of these Jacob Leisler, an honest, ignorant German, now became the leader. He refused to pay a tax because the tax collector was a "Papist," and therefore no fit person to receive the money. Other people followed his example, and day by day excitement grew.
At length Leisler was at the head of a great following. He got command of the fort, and drew up a declaration which he forced the captain of the militia and others to sign. In this he declared that the city was in danger, and that he would take possession of it until King William should appoint a Governor. Nicholson had no grit. He could not stand against a bold blusterer like Leisler, so he ran away. He went home "to render an account of the present deplorable state of affairs" to King William. But in order that Nicholson should not have it all his own way at home Leisler on his side sent an innkeeper, Joost Stoll, as his ambassador to King William to explain matters from his point of view.
Leisler now became very autocratic. He called himself Lieutenant-Governor, he disarmed and arrested all the "Papists," and every one was a "Papist" who did not yield readily to him. He had enormous power in his hands for good or evil, but he was far too ignorant and vain to use it well. Indeed he used it so badly that even some of the men who had hailed him with delight turned against him.
Leisler by many signs knew his popularity was failing. Then his friend, the innkeeper, returned from England with the doleful news that King William had taken not the slightest notice of him. The King indeed would not deign to recognise the existence of the upstart German "governor," and had appointed a new Governor who would shortly arrive in New York.
This was bad news for Leisler, and it seemed to drive him crazy. He grew more and more tyrannical. At length his tyranny became so bad that many of the chief people of New York wrote a letter to the King and Queen complaining of it.
In this letter they told the King and Queen that they were sore oppressed by "ill men" who ruled in New York "by the sword, at the sole will of an insolent alien, assisted by some few, whom we can give no better name than a rabble." From other parts of the colony too letters were written calling Leisler a bold usurper, and begging the King to do something "to break this heavy yoke of worse than Egyptian bondage."
Nor did the people confine themselves to writing letters. Leisler found himself insulted at every turn. He was mobbed, and stoned, and called "Dog Driver," "General Hog" and other ugly names.
Meanwhile on the stormy seas the ships bringing out the new Governor and Lieutenant-Governor were being tossed hither and thither. The waves dashed high, the wind drove the ships helplessly before it, and the Archangel, which bore the Governor was separated from the others, and driven far out of its course. Thus it happened that Ingoldsby, the Lieutenant-Governor, arrived in New York without the Governor. However he sent to Leisler asking him to allow the soldiers he had brought to enter the fort. This request made Leisler very angry. He refused to allow the soldiers to enter the fort unless Ingoldsby showed him orders in writing either from the King or Governor.
This Ingoldsby could not do, for all the orders were in the Governor's ship, and where that was he could not tell. And finding that Leisler would yield to no reasoning, after four days he landed his men with as much care as if he had been making a descent into an enemy's country, and lodged them in the town hall.
So six weeks passed. Ingoldsby was determined to stay, Leisler just as determined that he should go. At length Leisler sent Ingoldsby a notice to disband his force in two hours, or take the consequences. Ingoldsby refused to disband his force. So from the fort Leisler fired upon the soldiers in the town hall, and several were killed. More trouble seemed likely to follow, but some of Leisler's soldiers had already had enough, so they laid down their arms and went home.
Next day Governor Sloughter arrived. Hearing of all the commotion he landed hastily, and going to the town hall ordered the bell to be rung, and his commission to be read to the people.
Then he sent Ingoldsby to demand the surrender of the fort.
But Leisler was by this time crazy with the idea of his own importance. He refused to give up the fort until he received orders from the King direct, addressed to his very own self. This was absurd, for the King was hardly conscious of Leisler's existence. The Governor therefore paid no attention to these proud demands, and sent Ingoldsby again to demand possession of the fort.
Again Leisler refused. It could not be done so easily as all that, he said.
Still a third time the Governor demanded the fort. And again with scorn Leisler refused.
It was now nearly midnight, and the Governor decided to do nothing more till morning.
With morning reason seemed to return to Leisler. He wrote a letter to the Governor begging him to take the fort. But the Governor took no notice of the letter. He simply sent Ingoldsby to command the garrison to give up their arms and march out, promising at the same time free pardon to every one except Leisler and his Council. The men obeyed at once. They marched out and Leisler found himself a prisoner.
For two years he had lorded it in New York. Now his day was done. After a short trial he and his friend and son-in-law Milborne were condemned to death, and hanged as traitors.
At the time many applauded this severity, but afterwards most people were sorry. For after all Leisler had meant well, and in spite of his arrogance he had still many friends left. He was now looked upon as a martyr, and for many a long day New York was torn asunder with bitter strife over his tragic ending.
Chapter 38 - Pirates!
Colonel Sloughter whose rule began in such stormy times proved no good Governor. Indeed he was a bad man as well as a bad ruler. Others followed who were not a bit better, one at least being accused of being in league with the pirates who were now the terror of the seas.
The seventeenth century has been called "The Golden Age of Piracy." Never before or since have pirates had such a splendid time. After the discovery of America, the number of ships sailing the seas increased rapidly, until all the chief countries of Europe had far more ships afloat than they could possibly protect with their navies. So they readily became a prey to pirates.
Then, as they could not protect their merchantmen with their warships, most countries allowed private people in time of war to fit out ships armed with guns to capture the merchant shipping of the enemy. These ships were simply private men of war, and were called privateers. They always carried "letters of marque and reprisal" Which gave them the legal right to commit against enemy ships acts which, without those letters of marque, would have been considered acts of piracy. In the long run these privateers often became little better than pirates, and it has been said "privateers in time of war were a nursery for pirates against a peace."
The pirates' life was one of reckless daring. They were idle, swaggering, brutal. All the summer they sailed the seas, a terror to peaceful merchantmen, and when winter came, or when they were tired of plundering, they would retire to the West India Islands or Madagascar. Here, hidden in the depths of forests, they built for themselves strong castles surrounded by moats and walls. The paths leading to these castles were made with the greatest cunning. They were so narrow that people could only go in single file. They crossed and re-crossed in every direction, so that the castle was surrounded by a maze, and any one not knowing the secret might wander for hours without being able to find the dwelling which could not be seen until one was close upon it.
In these savage fastnesses the pirates lived in squalid splendour. They had numbers of slaves to wait upon them, the finest wines and foods, the richest dress and jewels, spoils of their travels. And when they had drunk and rioted in idleness to their heart's content they would once more set sail, and roam the seas in search of fresh adventure.
All sorts of people took to piracy, and scampish sons of noble houses might be found side by side with the lowest of scoundrels and vagabonds. In fact in those days any man who had a grudge against the world might turn pirate. Even women were found among them.
A jovial, brutal crew, they swaggered and swore their way through life. And if the gallows at the end always loomed over them what then? There was always plenty of rum in which to drown the thought.
Some of the pirates became very famous. The very sight of the Jolly Roger, as the pirates' black flag was called, struck terror to the hearts of merchantmen, and it is said that one pirate captured and sunk as many as four hundred ships before he was caught. Yet these ruffians often had dealings with seemingly respectable tradesmen. Having captured a few ships, and taken all the booty on board his own, the pirate would sail for some port. There he would show some old letters of marque, swear that he was a privateer, and had captured the goods lawfully from the enemy, for the world was always at war in those days. And as the goods were going cheap, too many questions would not be asked. Thus a profitable trade was done.
The Navigation Laws too helped pirates to thrive on the coasts of America. For they seemed so unjust and burdensome that people thought it no wrong to evade them. So, often, piracy and smuggling went hand in hand.
At length piracy grew so bad that people felt that something must be done to stop it. And when an Irishman named Lord Bellomont came out as Governor in 1696 he set about doing it. It was decided that the best way to do it was to send a swift and well-armed frigate under a captain who knew their haunts and ways, to catch these sea-robbers. For this, Captain Kidd, a tried sailor, was chosen, and he set sail with a somewhat ruffianly crew in the ship Adventure. But Captain Kidd was unlucky. Though he roamed the seas and sought the pirates in the haunts he knew so well he found never a one.
Nor could he find even enemy ships which, as a privateer, he might have attacked. Dutch ships, ships of the Great Mogul he met. But Britain was at peace with Holland and on most friendly terms with the heathen potentate. Pirates and ships of France he could not find.
Food and money were nearly gone, the crew grew mutinous. They had come forth for adventure, and not to sail the seas thus tamely and on short rations to boot. So there was angry talk between the crew and captain. Plainly they told him that the next ship which came in sight, be it friend or foe, should be their prey. Kidd grew furious, and, seizing a hatchet, he hit one of the men on the head so that he fell senseless on the deck and died. Alone he stood against his mutinous crew. But in the end he gave way to them. He turned pirate, and any ship which came his way was treated as a lawful prize.
For two years after Captain Kidd left New York nothing was heard of him. Then strange and disquieting rumours came home. It was said that he who had been sent to hunt pirates had turned pirate himself; that he who had been sent as a protection had become a terror to honest traders. So orders were accordingly sent to Lord Bellomont to arrest Captain Kidd. A royal proclamation was also issued offering free pardon to all pirates save two, one of whom was William Kidd.
This was the news which greeted the new-made pirate when he arrived one day at a port in the West Indies. But those were lawless days. Captain Kidd's ship was laden with great treasure-treasure enough, he thought, to win forgiveness. At least he decided to brazen it out, and he set sail for New York.
His ship was no longer the Adventure but the Quedah Merchant. For the Adventure, being much battered after two years' seafaring, he had sunk her, and taken one of his many prizes instead. But on the way home he left the Quedah Merchant at San Domingo with all her rich cargo and, taking only the gold and jewels, he set sail again in a small sloop.
As he neared New York his heart failed him, and he began to think that after all forgiveness might not be won so easily. Cautiously he crept up to New York, only to learn that the Governor was at Boston. So he sent a messenger to the Governor confessing that acts of piracy had been committed, but without his authority. They were done, he said, when the men were in a state of mutiny, and had locked him up in his cabin.
Lord Bellomont was broad-minded and just, and had no desire to condemn a man unheard; so he sent back a message to Captain Kidd saying, "If you can prove your story true you can rely on me to protect you."
But Captain Kidd's story did not satisfy Lord Bellomont; so he was put into prison, and later sent home to England to be tried. There he was condemned to death and hanged as a pirate in 1701. Some people, however, never believed in his guilt. Whether he was guilty or not there is little doubt that he did not have a fair trial, and that he was by no means the shameless ruffian he was made out to be.
What became of the Quedah Merchant and all her rich cargo was never known. Indeed the most of Kidd's ill-gotten gains entirely disappeared. For when his sloop was searched very little treasure was found. So then it was said that Captain Kidd must have buried his treasure somewhere before he reached Boston. And for a hundred years and more afterwards all along the shore of Long Island Sound people now and again would start a search of buried treasure. But none was ever found.
Before his pirate friend met his end Lord Bellomont died. He was one of the few Governors the people had loved, and they sorrowed truly at his death. He was followed by Lord Cornby, a very bad man. Nevertheless in spite of Governors good and bad New York prospered. Every fresh tyranny in Europe which sent freedom-seekers to America added to the population. And as the first settlers were Dutch, New York had a more un-English population than almost any other of the colonies.
Chapter 39 - The Founding of New Jersey
Out of New York another state had been carved. For before New York had been taken from the Dutch, before Nicholls had so much as reached the shores of America, James, Duke of York, had already given part of the land which he did not yet possess to two of his friends, Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. Sir George had been Governor of the Island of Jersey in the English Channel. When the Revolution broke out in England he had defended the island stoutly against the soldiers of the Parliament, and had kept the King's flag flying on British soil longer than any other man. So now that the Stuarts were restored King Charles remembered Carteret's loyalty, and he called this tract of land New Jersey in his honour. For this great estate Sir George and Lord Berkeley had to pay only ten shillings a year and a peppercorn.
Nicholls of course knew nothing about these grants, and when he heard of them he was grieved that the Duke should have given away so much valuable land. He had besides allowed some Puritans from New England and others to settle on the land after making agreements with the natives. And this led to trouble later on.
Meanwhile Sir George lost no time in settling his land in his own way. He at once sent out some colonists and Philip Carteret, a cousin of his own, as Governor.
On a summer day in 1665 Philip Carteret landed. He set up no crosses, and made no prayers, but with a hoe over his shoulder he marched at the head of his men, as a sign that he meant to live and work among them. A little way inland he chose a spot on which to build his town and called it Elizabeth, in honour of Sir George Carteret's Wife.
Things went well enough until the time came for rents to be paid. Then many of the settlers, who had been there before Carteret came, refused to pay. For they said they had bought their land from the Indians, and owed nothing to Sir George. But as the Governor insisted on his right they rose in rebellion. They held a meeting at Elizabethtown, deposed Philip Carteret, and chose James Carteret a weak and bad son of Sir George, as their Governor. Seeing nothing else for it Philip went home and laid his case before Sir George and the Duke. They both supported him, so the rebels submitted, James Carteret went off to New York, and Philip again became Governor of New Jersey.
Meanwhile Lord Berkeley had grown tired of all the trouble, and he sold his part of New Jersey to some Quakers. So henceforth New Jersey was divided into two, East Jersey and West Jersey, East Jersey belonging to Carteret, West Jersey to the Quakers.
In 1680 Sir George Carteret died, and his part of New Jersey was also sold to Quakers, one of whom was William Penn, afterwards to become famous in American history. Soon after this New Jersey fell on very troublous times, of which it would take too long to tell. But at length the two Jerseys were again made into one, and in the time of Anne the colony became a Royal Province. Then for thirty-six years it was united to New York, but in 1738 was again divided and has remained a separate state ever since.
Chapter 40 - The Founding of Pennsylvania
Like other persecuted people, the Quakers sought a refuge in America. But even there they were not welcomed. The Puritans of Massachusetts who had fled from persecution, themselves turned persecutors as we have seen. The Quakers discovered that for them there was no Paradise of Peace in the lands beyond the sea. But when George Carteret sold his part of New Jersey Quakers bought it, a young man named William Penn being one of these Quakers.
This William Penn was the son of Sir William Penn, an admiral in the British Navy, and a friend of King Charles I. He was a Royalist and a Churchman, and when his handsome young son turned Quaker he was greatly grieved. At first indeed he was so angry that he turned young William out of the house. Later, however, seeing that his son was quite determined to be a Quaker, the Admiral forgave him, and before he died he asked the Duke of York to be kind to him. The Duke of York promised he would. And then there began a strange friendship between the Catholic Prince and the Quaker.
After the Quakers bought New Jersey a great many went there. They found not only a large amount of freedom, but a kindly government, for William Penn framed the laws.
The Quaker colony of New Jersey was to a certain extent a success, but there were troubles with neighbouring states, and troubles with other claimants of the land. So at length (exactly when we do not know), the idea of founding a real Quaker colony came into Penn's mind.
When Admiral Penn died the King owed him 16,000 and William Penn inherited that claim. So he asked the King to pay the debt not in money but in land in America. The extent of the land asked for was exceedingly vague, but it was at least as big as the whole of England. Charles however was always in want of money. So in 1681 he was pleased enough to give away this great tract of land, which after all was his more by imagination than anything else, and get rid of his debt; and acquire also the possibility of getting some gold as well. For in return for his land Penn agreed to pay two beaver skins a year, and a fifth of all the gold or silver which might be mined within his territory.
Charles not only gave Penn the land, but named it too. Penn meant to call his new country New Wales, but a Welshman who hated the Quakers objected to the name of his land being given to a Quaker colony, so Penn changed it to Sylvania, meaning Woodland, because of the magnificent forests which were there. But the King added Penn to Sylvania thus calling it Penn's Woodlands.
William Penn, however, was afraid that people would think that this was vanity on his part, and that he had called his province after himself; so he tried to have the name changed. He even bribed the King's secretary to do it, but in vain. As some one has said, if he had bribed the King himself he might have succeeded better. As it was he did not succeed, for King Charles was very pleased with the name.
"No," laughed the merry monarch, when Penn asked him to change it, "we will keep the name, but you need not flatter yourself that it is called after you. It is so called after your gallant father."
So as the King insisted Penn had to submit, and he consoled himself by thinking that as Penn means "hill" the name might be taken to mean Wooded Hills.
The tract of land of which Penn now became possessed was smiling and fertile and altogether desirable. It had only one fault, and that was that it had no sea coast.
In a new country where there were no roads, and where communication inland was difficult that was a great drawback. So Penn persuaded the Duke of York to give him that part of his province on which the Swedes had settled and which the Dutch had taken from the Swedes, on the west shores of Delaware Bay. Later this formed the State of Delaware, but in the meantime it was governed as a part of Pennsylvania.
Everything thus being settled, and the charter being granted, Penn drew up a form of government for his colony, chose his cousin, William Markham, as Governor, and sent him off in the autumn of 1681 with three shiploads of settlers.
With Markham, Penn sent a kindly letter to the Swedes of Delaware, telling them that he was now their Governor. "I hope you will not be troubled at the change," he said, "for you are now fixed at the mercy of no Governor who comes to make his fortune. You shall be governed by laws of your own making, and live a free and, if you will, a sober and industrious people. I shall not usurp the right of any, or oppress his person."
Penn also sent a letter to the Indians.
"There is a great God," he said, "that hath made the world and all things therein, to Whom you, and I, and all people, owe their being. This great God hath written His law in our hearts, by which we are taught and commanded to love and help, and do good to one another. Now this great God hath been pleased to make me concerned in your part of the world, and the King of the country where I live hath given me a great province therein. But I desire to enjoy it with your love and consent, that we may always live together as neighbours, and friends, else what would the great God do to us?"