Page images

Exploration of the Coast. Attacked by Indians. First Sabbath of the Pilgrims in New England. Landing on Plymouth Rock.

wams, and an Indian cemetery. The voyage was fruitless of good, and they returned to the May Flower. Again Carver, Standish, Bradford, Winslow, and others, with eight or ten seamen, launched the shallop in the surf. The day was very cold, and the December 6, spray froze upon them and their clothes like iron mail. They passed that night 1620.

at Billingsgate Point, at the bottom of Cape Cod Bay, on the western shore of Wellfleet Harbor. The company divided next morning, but united at evening, and encamped at Namskeket, or Great Meadow Creek. The next morning, as they arose from their knees in the deep snow, when their matin devotions were ended, a flight of arrows and a war-whoop announced the presence of savages. They were of the Nauset tribe, and regarded the white people as kidnappers." But the Indians made no further attacks, and the boat proceeded along the coast a distance of some forty miles. Suddenly a storm arose. Snow and rain fell copiously; the heavy swells snapped the rudder, and with oars alone they guided the frail shallop. Darkness came on and the storm increased. As much sail as possible was used to reach the shore; it was too much ; the mast broke in three pieces, and the fragments, with the sail, fell overboard. Breakers were just ahead, but, by diligent labor with the oars, they passed safely through the surf into a smooth harbor, landed, and lighted a fire. At dawn they discovered that they were upon an island, in a good harbor.” There they passed the day in drying their clothes, cleaning their arms, and repairing their shallop. Night approached; it was the eve of the Christian Sabbath. The storm had ceased, but snow nearly eighteen inches in depth lay upon the ground. They had no tent, no shelter but the rock. Their ship was more than fifteen leagues away, and winter, with all its terrors, had set in. Every personal consideration demanded haste. But the next day was the Sabbath, and they resolved to remain upon that bleak island and worship God, in accordance with their faith and obligations as Christians. In the deep snow they knelt in prayer; by the cold rock they read the Scriptures; upon the keen, wintery air they poured forth their hymns of thanks

giving and praise. In what bold relief does that single act present the Puritan character'

“And can we deem it strange
That from their planting such a branch should bloom
As nations envy?
Oh ye who boast
In your free veins the blood of sires like these,
Lose not their lineaments. Should Mammon cling
Too close around your heart, or wealth beget
That bloated luxury which eats the core
From manly virtue, or the tempting world
Make faint the Christian's purpose in your soul,
Turn ye to Plymouth's beach, and on that rock
Kneel in their footprints, and renew the vow
They breathed to God.”

MRs. Sigour.NEy.

On Monday morning the exploring party pushed through the surf, and landed December 22, upon a rock on the main.” The neighborhood seemed inviting for a settlement, 1620. and in a few days the May Flower was brought around and moored in the harbor. The whole company landed near where the explorers stepped ashore : the spot was called New


* The Indians of Cape Cod and the vicinity had experienced the treachery of the whites, for it must be remembered that the Pilgrims were not the discoverers of that region. Both French and English ships had visited the coast. Six years before the landing of the Pilgrims, an Englishman named Hunt had inveigled several Indians on board a ship, and carried them to England.

* This island, within the entrance of Plymouth Harbor, has been called Clarke's Island ever since. It was so named from Clarke, the first man who stepped ashore from the shallop. The cove in which they were in such danger lies between the Gurnet Head and Saguish Point, at the entrance of Plymouth Bay.— Moore, i., 35.

* A portion of this rock was conveyed to a square in the center of the town of Plymouth in 1774, where it still remains, and is known as The Forefathers' Rock.

Founding of Plymouth. Destitution and Sickness. Death of Carver. Election of Bradford. Defiance of the India.

Plymouth, in memory of the hospitalities which they had received at Plymouth, in England, and in a few days they commenced the erection of dwellings. The exposure of the explorers, and of others who had reached the shore by wading, had brought on disease, and nearly one half of the company were sick when the first blow of the ax was struck in the primeval forest. Faith and hope nerved the arms of the healthy, and they began to build. “This was the origin of New England; it was the planting of the New England institutions. Inquisitive historians have loved to mark every vestige of the Pilgrims; poets of the purest minds have commemorated their virtues; the noblest genius has been called into exercise to display their merits worthily, and to trace the consequences of their daring enterprise.” The winter that succeeded the landing of the Pilgrims was terrible for the settlers. Many were sick with colds and consumptions, and want and exposure rapidly reduced the numbers of the colony. Governor Carver's son died soon after landing, and himself and his wife pass. ed into the grave the next spring.” William Bradford was elected to fill his place. The living were scarcely able to bury the dead, and at one time there were only seven men capable of rendering any assistance. Forty-six of the one hundred died before April, yet not a murmur against Providence was heard. The colonists had been apprehensive of an attack from the Indians, but not one approached the settlement until March, when a chief named Samoset boldly..entered the rude town, exclaiming, in broken English, which he had learned from fishermen on the coast of Maine, “Welcome, Englishmen welcome, Englishmen'" He gave them much information, and told them of a pestilence that had swept off the inhabitants a few years before. This accounted for the deserted wigwams seen by the explorers. Samoset soon afterward visited the colony with Squanto, a chief who had been carried away by Hunt in 1614; and in April Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoags, was induced to make the English a friendly visit. Treaties of amity were made, and, until the breaking out of King Philip's war, fifty years afterward, were kept inviolate. But Canonicus, a powerful chief of the Narragansets, who , lived on the west side of the Narraganset Bay, regarded the English as intruders, and sent to them the ominous token of hostility, a bundle of arrows wrapped in a rattle-snake's skin. Governor Bradford” at once sent the skin back to Canonicus, filled with powder and shot. The chief understood the symbol, and, afraid of the deadly weapons in which such materials were used, sent them back; the Narragansets were awed into submission. Massasoit, who lived at Warren, Rhode Island, remained the fast friend of the English, and his sons, Alexander and Philip (the celebrated King Philip), kept the bond of friendship unbroken until 1675. After many difficulties, and receiving some accessions from immigration, the settlers pur

! Bancroft, i., 313.

* John Carver was among the English emigrants to Leyden. He was chosen the first governor of the colony, by a majority of the forty-one male adults that sailed in the May Flower. There were twelve other candidates for the honor. On the 23d of March, 1621, a few laws were enacted, and Carver was regularly inaugurated governor of the new colony. He was taken suddenly ill in the fields, while laboring, on the 3d of April. A violent pain in his head ensued, and in a few hours he was deprived of the use of his senses. He lived but a few days, and his wife, overcome by grief, followed him to the grave in about six weeks. He was buried with all the honors the people could bestow. His broad-sword is preserved in the cabinet of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

* William Bradford, the second Governor of Plymouth Colony, was born at Ansterfield, in the north of England, in 1588. The first Puritan principles were instilled into his young mind by a minister named Richard Clifton, and when he was of legal age he was denounced as a Separatist. He followed Mr. Robinson to Holland, and came to America in the May Flower. While he was absent, with others, searching for a spot on which to land, his wife fell into the sea and was drowned. He was appointed governor on the death of Carver, being then only thirty-three years of age. His energy was of great value to the colony, and so much was he esteemed, that he was annually elected governor as long as he lived, except occasionally, when, “by importuning, he got off,” as Winslow says, and another took his place pro tempore. His idea of public osfice was, “that if it was of any honor or benefit, others besides himself should enjoy it; if it was a burden, others besides himself should help him to bear it.” Present politicians consider such doctrine a “barbarous relic.” Governor Bradford died in May, 1657, having served the colony as chief magistrate twenty-five years of the thirty of his residence in America.

condition of the Colony. Further Emigration from England. Winslow. Standish. Settlement of Weymouth. Shawmut,

chased the rights of the London merchants who had aided them with funds, for nine thousand dollars, and the colony thus severed the last link of pecuniary interest that bound it to Old England, beyond the claims of commercial transactions. There was one drawback upon their prosperity—the non-existence of private property. There was a community of interest in all the land and its products. Thence arose, on the part of some, an unwillingness to labor, and of others the discontent which the industrious feel while viewing the idleness of the lazy, for whose benefit they are toiling. It was now found necessary to enter into an agreement that each family should plant for itself, and an acre of land was accordingly assigned to each person in fee. Under this stimulus, the production of corn became so great that from buyers the colonists became sellers to the Indians."

Civil government being fully established to the satisfaction of all, and news of the fertility of the soil and the beauty of the climate having reached England, in the following autumn other adventurers prepared to come to America. In 22 of the mean while Edward Winslow, one of the most ac- o complished of the colonists, made a journey to the residence of Massasoit to strengthen the friendship that existed, by presents, and by amicable agreements respecting future settlers that might come from England.” The visit was fruitful of good results. Soon afterward Captain Standish" marched against the village of Corbitant, one of Massasoit's sachems, who held an interpreter in custody, and threatened the tribe with destruction. The whole country was alarmed at this movement, and on the 13th of September, 1621, ninety petty sachems came to Plymouth and signed a paper acknowledging themselves loyal subjects of King James.

New settlers now began to arrive, and new explorations of the coast were made. Sixty adventurers from London, under the auspices of a merchant named Weston, began a plantation in the autumn of 1622, at Weymouth, twelve miles southeast from the present city of Boston, and the whole coast of Massachusetts Bay was explored. They discovered a spacious harbor, studded with islands, and inclosing a peninsula remarkable for three hills, called by the natives Shawmut (sweet water). This was the harbor and site of the city of Boston."

The old Colony SEAL.

1 Hildreth, i., 171. * Edward Winslow was born in Worcestershire, England, in 1594. While traveling on the Continent, he became acquainted with Mr. Robinson at Leyden, joined his congregation, sailed to America in the May Flower, and was one of the party that first landed on Plymouth Rock. He made Massasoit a second visit, and found the sachem very sick, but by means of medicine restored him to health. Grateful for his services, the chief revealed to Winslow a plot of some savages to destroy a small English settlement at Weymouth. Winslow went to England that fall, and in the spring brought over the first cattle introduced into the colony. He was appointed governor in 1633. He was very active in the colony, and made several voyages to England in its behalf. In 1655 he was appointed one of the commissioners to superintend the expedition against the Spaniards in the West Indies. He died of fever on his passage, between Jamaica and Hispaniola, May 8th, 1655, aged sixty years. His body was cast into the ocean. * Miles Standish is called the “Hero of New England.” He served for some time in the English army in the Netherlands, and settled with Robinson's congregation at Leyden. He was not a member of the Church—“never entered the school of Christ, or of John the Baptist.” He came to America in the May Flower, and was appointed military commander-in-chief at Plymouth. His bold enterprises spread terror among the Indians, and secured peace to the colony. In allusion to his exploit in killing Pecksuot, a bold chief, with his own hand, Mr. Robinson wrote to the governor, “O that you had converted some before you killed any to Standish was one of the magistrates of the colony as long as he lived. He died at Duxbury in 1656, aged about seventy-two years. * The Peninsula of Shawmut included between six and seven hundred acres of land sparsely covered by trees, and nearly divided by two creeks into three islands when the creeks were filled by the tides. From the circumstance of the three hills, the English called the peninsula Tri-mountain, the modern Tremont. These three eminences have since been named Copp's, Fort, and Beacon Hills. The name of Tri-mountain


Settlement of Endicott and others at Salem. Arrival of Winthrop. Founding of Boston. Progress of free Principles

In 1628 a company, under John Endicott, settled at Salem (Na-um-keag), and were joined by a few emigrants at Cape Ann, sixteen miles northward. They received a charter from the king, and were

incorporated by the W. foWor= 33 2ns name of the “Govern

- Cön&R or and Company of the r Massachusetts Bay in

Camon 39 New England.” In - 1630 about three hunWo so dred Puritan families, under John Winthrop, arrived, and joined the Massachusetts Baycolony. They established themselves at Dorchester, Roxbury, Watertown, and Cambridge. A spring of pure and wholesome water induced some families among whom was Mr. Winthrop, to settle upon Shawmut. Winthrop was the chosen Governor of the colony of Massachusetts Bay; the whole government, including Plymouth, was removed to the new settlement, and thenceforth Boston became the metropolis of New England. I have thus traced, with almost chronological brevity, the rise of the Puritans in England, their emigration to America, and the progress of settlement, to the founding of Boston in 1630. It is not within the scope of this work to give a colonial history of New England in all its important details, and only so much of it will be developed as is necessary to present the links of connection between the early history and the story of our Revolution. That Revolution, being a conflict of principle, had its origin more remote even than the planting of the New England colonies. The seed germinated when the sun of the Reformation warmed the cold soil of society in Europe, over which the clouds of ignorance had so long brooded; and its blossoms were unfolded when the Puritans of England and the Huguenots of France boldly asserted, in the presence of kingly power, the grand postulate of freedom—the social AND politicAL EQUALITY of THE RACE. These two sections of independent thinkers brought the vigorous plant to America—the Puritans to New England, the Huguenots to the Carolinas. The Covenanters of Scotland, and other dissenting communities, watered it during the reigns of the Charleses and the bigot James II.; and when the tactics of British oppression had changed from religious persecution to commercial and political tyranny, it had grown a sturdy tree, firmly rooted in a genial soil, and overshadowing a prosperous people with its beautiful foliage. The fruit of that tree was the American Revolution—the fruit which still forms the nutriment that gives life and vigor to our free institutions.

- ANCIENT Map of Massachusetts BAY.”

was changed to Boston, as a compliment to the Rev. John Cotton, who emigrated from Boston, in Lincolnshire, England. * This is a fac-simile of a map of Boston Harbor and adjacent settlements in 1667, and is believed to be a specimen of the first engraving executed in America. Instead of the top of the map being north, accord. ing to the present method of drawing maps, the right hand of this is north.


The Puritan Character. Witchcraft. English Laws on the Subject. The Delusion in New England. Effects of the Delusion.

“The Pilgrim spirit has not fled;
It walks in moon's broad light,
And it watches the bed of the glorious dead,
With their holy stars, by night.
It watches the bed of the brave who have bled,
And shall guard the ice-bound shore,
Till the waves of the bay, where the May Flower lay,
Shall foam and freeze no more.”

The persecutions of the Quakers, the proceedings against persons accused of witchcraft,' the disfranchisement of those who were not church members, and many other enactments in their civil code, considered alone, mark the Puritan as bigoted, superstitious, intolerant, unlovely in every aspect, and practically evincing a spirit like that of Governor Dudley, expressed in some lines found in his pocket after his death.

“Let men of God in courts and churches watch
O'er such as do a toleration hatch,
Lest that ill egg bring forth a cocatrice,
To poison all with heresy and vice.
If men be left, and otherwise combine,
My epitaph's, “I died no libertime I'"

But when a broad survey is taken of the Puritan character, these things appear as mere blemishes—spots upon the sun—insects in the otherwise pure amber. In religion and morality they were sincerely devoted to right—“New England was the colony of conscience.” Their worship was spiritual, their religious observances were few and simple. To them the

-T * A belief in witchcraft, or the direct agency of evil spirits through human instrumentality, was prevalent among all classes of Europe toward the close of the seventeenth century, and this superstition had a strong hold upon the metaphysical Puritans in America. A statute, enacted in the reign of Henry VIII., made it a capital offense for a person to practice the arts of witchcraft. The first James was a firm believer in witchcraft, and sanctioned some severe laws against its practitioners. Pretenders, called Witch-detectors, arose, and, during the commonwealth, traveled from county to county, in England, making accusations, in consequence of which many persons suffered death. The “Fundamentals” of Massachusetts contained a capital law against such offenses, founded upon the Scripture injunction, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”—Exodus, xxii., 18. Increase Mather, father of the celebrated Cotton Mather, in a work called “Remarkable Providences,” enumerated all the supposed cases of witchcraft that had occurred in New England. The high standing of the author turned public attention to the subject, and it was not long before a real witch was discovered in the person of an old woman at Newbury, whose house was alleged to be haunted. This was in 1686, and from that time until 1693, when King William's veto on the Witchcraft Act prevented any further trials, and all accused persons were released, the colonies were greatly agitated. Chief justice Hale had given the weight of his opinion in England in favor of the delusion, and the Mathers, father and son, of Boston, eminent for their piety and learning, had written, and preached, and talked, and acted much under the belief in the reality of witchcraft. Cotton Mather published a book in 1692, called the “Wouders of the Invisible World,” giving a full account of all the cases and trials, and stimulating the authorities to further proceedings. The delusion was now at its height, and no class of society was exempt from suspicion. The wife of Hale, minister of Beverly, was accused, at the very time when he was most active against others, and almost every ill-favored old woman was regarded as a servant of the devil. A son of Governor Bradstreet was accused, and had to flee for his life; and even Lady Phipps, the wife of the Admiral Sir William, the newly-appointed Governor of Massachusetts, was suspected. When royal authority broke the spell, practical witchcraft ceased to act, and the people of Massachusetts recovered their senses. Mather, in his “Magnolia,” confessed that things were carried a little too far in Salem, but never positively renounced his belief in the reality of witchcraft. His credulity had been thoroughly exposed by a writer named Calef, who addressed a series of letters to the Boston ministers on the subject. At first Mather sneered at him as a “weaver who pretended to be a merchant;” but Calef laid his truths and sarcasms so strongly over the shoulders of Mather, that the latter called him a “coal from hell,” to blacken his character, and afterward commenced a prosecution against him for slander. The mischief wrought by this delusion was wide-spread and terrible. Society was paralyzed with alarm; evil spirits were thought to overshadow the land; every nervous influence, even every ordinary symptom of disease, was ascribed to demoniac power. When the royal veto arrived, twenty persons had been executed. among whom was a minister of Danvers named George Burroughs; fifty-five had been tortured or terrified into a confession of witchcraft, one hundred and fifty were in prison, and two hundred more had been accused. * John Quincy Adams.

« PreviousContinue »