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Religious Character of the Puritans. Mildness of their Laws. The representative System. Influx of Immigrants
elements remained but wine and bread; they invoked no saints; they raised no altar; they adored no crucifix; they kissed no book; they asked no absolution; they paid no tithes; they saw in the priest nothing more than a man; ordination was no more than an approbation of the officers, which might be expressed by the brethren as well as by the ministers; the church, as a place of worship, was to them but a meeting-house; they dug no grave in consecrated earth; unlike their posterity, they married without a minister, and buried their dead without a prayer. Witchcraft had not been made the subject of skeptical consideration, and, in the years in which Scotland sacrificed hecatombs to the delusion, there were but three victims in New England. Rigorous in their moral and religious code, the Puritans were mild in their legislation upon other subjects. For many crimes the death penalty was abolished, and the punishment for theft, burglary, and highway robbery was more mild than our laws inflict. Divorce from bed and board was recognized by their laws as a barely possible event, but, during the first fifty years after the founding of New England, no record of such an occurrence is given." Adultery was punished by death, the wife and paramour both suffering for the crime; while the girl whom youth and affection betrayed was censured, but pitied and forgiven, and the seducer was compelled to marry his victim. Domestic discipline was highly valued, and the undutiful child and faithless parent were alike punished. Honest men were not imprisoned for debt until 1654; cruelty to animals was a civil offense, punishable by fine. The people, united in endurance of hardships during the first years of settlement, were equally united when prosperity blessed them. They were rich in affection for one another, and all around them were objects of love. Their land had become a paradise of beauty and repose, and, even when the fires of persecution went out in England, none could be tempted to return thither, for they had found a better heritage. Their morals were pure, and an old writer said, “As Ireland will not brook venomous beasts, so will not that land vile livers.” Drunkenness was almost unknown, and universal health prevailed. The average duration of life in New England, as compared with Europe, was doubled, and no less than four in nineteen of all that were born attained the age of seventy years. Many lived beyond the age of ninety, and a man one hundred years old when our Revolution broke out was not considered a wonder of longevity. Such were the people who fostered the living principles of our independence—the parents of nearly one third of the present white population of the United States. Within the first fifteen years—and there was never afterward any considerable increase from England—there came over twenty-one thousand two hundred souls. Their descendants are now not far from four millions. Each family has multiplied, on the average, to one thousand souls. To New York and Ohio, where they constitute half the population, they have carried the Puritan system of free schools, and their example is spreading it throughout the civilized world.” In 1634 the colony had become so populous that it was found inconvenient for all the freemen to assemble in one place to transact business. By the general consent of the towns, the representative system was introduced, and to twenty-four representatives was delegated the power granted to the whole body of freemen by charter. The appellation of general court was also applied to the representatives. It was about this time that Hugh Peters, afterward Cromwell's secretary, and Henry Vane, afterward Sir Henry Vane, who was made governor, came to the colony, with a great number of immigrants. It was about this time, also, that Roger Williams occasioned disturbances, and was banished. These circumstances will be noticed hereafter. In 1637 the Pequot war ensued; and about 1640, persecutions having ceased in England, emigration to the colonies also ceased. The Confederation was effected in 1643. From that time the permanent prosperity of the colonies may be dated.” Their commerce, which
* Trumbull's History of Connecticut, i., 283; Bancroft's United States, i., 465.
*Bancroft, i., 467–8.
* Captain Edward Johnson, in his “Wonder-working Providence of Zion's Savior in New England,” writing in 1650, seven years after the union, says, “Good white and wheaten bread is no dainty, but every ordinary
Trade of the Colony. First coined Money. Marriage of the Mint-master's Daughter. The Quakers' Conduct and Punishment.
first extended only to the Indians, and to traffic among themselves, expanded, and considerable trade was carried on with the West Indies. Through this trade bullion was brought into New England, and “it was thought necessary, to prevent fraud in money,” to establish a mint for coining shillings, sixpences, and threepences. On the first coins the only inscription on one side was N. E., and on the other, XII., WI., or III. In October, 1651, the court ordered that all pieces of money should have a double ring, with the inscription MAssachusetts, and a tree in the center, on one side, and NEw ENGLAND, and the year of our Lord, on the other. The first money was coined in 1652, and the date was not altered for thirty years.
In the year 1656 a few fanatics in religion, calling themselves Quakers, began to disturb the public peace, revile magistrates, and interfere with the public worship of the people. They assumed the name and garb of Quakers, but had no more the spirit and consistency of life of that pure sect than any monomaniac that might declare himself such. The Quakers have ever been regarded, from their first appearance, as the most order-loving, peaceful citizens, cultivating genuine practical piety among themselves, and, with few exceptions, never interfering with the faith and practice of others, except by the reasonable efforts of persuasion. Quite different was the character of some of those who suffered from the persecution of the Puritans. They openly and in harsh language reviled the authorities in Church and State; entered houses of worship, and denounced the whole congregation as hypocrites and an “abomination to the Lord,” very much after the fashion of the wall-placarding and itinerant prophets of our day; and shocked public morals by their indecencies.” They were
The “PINE-TREE Shilling."
man hath his choice, if gay clothing and a liquorish tooth after sack, sugar, and plums lick not away his bread too fast, all which are but ordinary among those that were not able to bring their own person over at their first coming. There are not many towns in the country but the poorest person in them hath a house and land of his own, and bread of his own growing, if not some cattle. Flesh is now no rare food, beef, pork, and mutton being frequent in many houses; so that this poor wilderness hath not only equalized England in food, but goes beyond it in some places for the great plenty of wine and sugar which is ordinarily used, and apples, pears, and quince tarts, instead of their former pumpkin pies. Poultry they have plenty.” At that time thirty-two trades were carried on in the colony, and shoes were manufactured for exportation.
* This is a fac-simile of the first money coined in America. The mint-master, who was allowed to take fifteen pence out of every twenty shillings, for his trouble in coining, made a large fortune by it. Henry Sewall, the founder of Newbury, in Massachusetts, married his only daughter, a plump girl of eighteen years. When the wedding ceremony was ended, a large pair of scales was brought out and suspended. In one disk the blushing bride was placed, and “pine tree shillings,” as the coin was called, were poured into the other until there was an equipoise. The money was then handed to Mr. Sewall as his wife's dowry, amounting to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. There are a few pieces of this money still in existence. One which I saw in the possession of a gentleman in New York was not as much worn as many of the Spanish quarters now in circulation among us. The silver appeared to be very pure.
* Hutchinson mentions many instances of fanaticism on the part of the so-called Quakers. Some at Salem, Hampton, Newbury, and other places, went into the meeting-houses in time of worship, called the ministers vile hirelings, and the people an abomination. Thomas Newhouse went into the meeting-house at Boston with two glass bottles, and, breaking them in the presence of the whole congregation, exclaimed, “Thus will the Lord break you in pieces.” Mary Brewster went into meeting, having her face smeared with soot and grease; another young married woman, Deborah Wilson, went through the streets of Salem perfectly naked, in emulation of the Prophet Ezekiel, as a sign of the nakedness of the land. They were whipped through the streets at the tail of a cart. Ann Hartley declared herself a prophetess, and had many followers who seceded from the congregation of Boston, and zealously propagated schism. A Quaker woman entered a church in Boston, while the congregation were worshiping, clothed in sackcloth, with ashes on her head, her feet bare, and her face blackened so as to personify small-pox, the punishment with which she threatened the colony.—See Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts, i., 202–4.
Whipping was the usual punishment. Marmaduke Stephenson, William Robinson, Mary Dyer, and William Leddra were hanged. Mary Dyer was publicly whipped through the streets of Boston. Dorothy Waugh was three times imprisoned, three times banished, and once whipped, and her clothes sold. William Brand was four times imprisoned, four times banished, twice whipped, and branded. John Copeland was seven times imprisoned, seven times banished, three times whipped, and had his ears cut off. Christopher Holden was five times banished, five times imprisoned, twice whipped, and had his ears cut off. These four were the leading characters who suffered in one year.—New England's Ensigne, p. 105.
origin of the Quakers. - Their Peculiarities. Sufferings in America of those calling themselves Quakers.
first tenderly dealt with and kindly admonished. Penalties ensued, and life was finally taken, before some of them would cease interference with the popular ceremonials of religion. The exercise of power to maintain subordination finally grew to persecution, and the benevolent Puritan became, almost from necessity, a persecutor. Enactments for the preservation of good order were necessary, but the sanguinary laws against particular doctrines and tenets can not be defended. The Quaker sect sprang up in England about 1756, under George Fox, and received their name from the peculiar shaking or quaking of their bodies and limbs while preaching. They went further than the straitest Puritans in disregarding human authority when opposed to the teachings of the Bible, yet they were allowed full liberty of action during the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell. They denounced war, persecution for religious opinions, and, above all, the slavish idolatry demanded by rulers in Church and State of those under their control. They condemned all ordained and paid priesthoods, refused to take oaths, and thus struck a direct blow at the hierarchy. They differed from the Puritans in many things, and became noxious to them. They derived their system of morals and politics chiefly from the New Testament, while the Puritans took theirs from the more sanguinary and intolerant codes of the old dispensation. Laying aside the falsehoods of politeness and flattery, they renounced all titles, addressed all men, high or low, by the plain title of Friend, used the expressions yea and nay, and thee and thou; and offices of kindness and affection to their fellow-creatures, according to the injunction of the Apostle James, constituted their practical religion. “The Quakers might be regarded as representing that branch of the primitive Christians who esteemed Christianity an entirely new dispensation, world-wide in its objects; while the
Puritans represented those Judaizing Christians who could not get rid of the idea of a pecul
iar chosen people, to wit, themselves.” The English Puritans had warned their brethren in America against these “children of hell,” and the first appearance in the colony of Mary Fisher and Ann Austin, who came from Barbadoes, and professed the new doctrine, greatly alarmed the New England theocracy. A special law was enacted, by which to bring a “known Quaker” into the colony was punishable with a fine of five hundred dollars, and the exaction of bonds to carry him back again. The Quaker himself was to be whipped twenty stripes, sent to the House of Correction, and kept there until transported. The introduction of Quaker books was prohibited ; defending Quaker"opinions was punishable with fine, and finally banishment; and in 1657 it was enacted that for every hour's entertainment given to a Quaker the entertainer should pay forty shillings. It was also enacted that every male Quaker should lose an ear on the first conviction, and the other on a second ; and both males and females, on a third conviction, were to have their tongues bored through with a red-hot iron. In 1658 the death penalty was enacted. Under it those who should return to the colony a second time, after banishment, were to suffer death. From unwillingness to inflict death, it was provided by a new law, in 1658, that any person convicted of being a Quaker should be delivered to the constable of the town, “to be stripped naked from the middle upward, and tied to a cart's tail, and whipped through the town, and thence be immediately conveyed to the constable of the next town toward the border of our jurisdiction, and so from constable to constable, to any the outermost town, and so to be whipped out of the colony.” In case of return, this was to be twice repeated. The fourth time the convict was to be branded with a letter R on the left shoulder, and after that, if incorrigible, to incur the death penalty. Chiefly through the instrumentality of King William, these penal laws against the Quakers were abrogated by royal authority, and that sect became an important element in American society during the eighteenth century. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as we shall hereafter see, the Quakers had a strong controlling influence during the Revolution. In 1675 King Philip's war commenced, and almost all the Indians in New England were involved in it. This will be noticed when we are considering my visit to the neighborhood
* Hildreth, i., 404.
Arrival of Andross. His Extortions. Revolution in England. Government of Massachusetts. Hostilities with the French.
of Mount Hope, the residence of the great sachem. Upon the heels of this war, when the colonies were much distressed, the ministers of the second James conspired, as we have seen, to destroy popular government in America, and consolidate power in the throne. A decision was procured in the High Court of Chancery, declaring the American charters forfeited, because of the alleged exercise of powers, on the part of the colonial governments, not recognized by those charters. Sir Edmund Andross, who came with the title of governor general, and empowered to take away their charters from the colonists, made Boston his head-quarters. He came with the fair mask of kindness, which was soon cast off. Fees of all officers were increased; public thanksgivings without royal permission were forbidden; the press was restrained; land titles were abrogated, and the people were obliged to petition for new patents, sometimes at great expense; and in various ways Andross and others managed to enrich themselves by oppressing and impoverishing the inhabitants. The free spirit --- of New England was aroused, and the people became very restive under the tyrant. Secret meetings were held, in which the propriety of open resistance was discussed; but before the people of Boston, afterward so famous for their bold opposition to imperial power, lifted the arm of defiance, the news came that James was an exile, and that William and Mary were firmly seated on the throne of England. Boston was in great commotion. People flocked in from the country, and cries of “Down with all tyrants” were mingled with the notes of joy rung out by the church-bells. Andross, alarmed, fled to the fort," but was soon arrested, imprisoned, and, as already noticed, sent home for trial. A new charter was received in 1692, when the territories of Plymouth, Maine, and Nova Scotia were added to Massachusetts. By that charter the governor was appointed I by the crown, and a property qualification was necessary to procure - the privilege of the elective franchise in choosing the members of the s General Court or Assembly. Such was the government that existed l- when the Revolution broke out. H t About this time the French, who had settled upon the St. Law- rence, began to excite the Northern and Eastern Indians against the - English settlements in New England. Dover and Salmon Falls in New Hampshire, Casco in Maine, and Schenectady in New York were desolated. The colony fitted out a force, under General Winthrop, to attack Montreal, and a fleet, under Sir William Phipps, to besiege Quebec. The expedition was a failure, and for seven years, until the treaty of peace between France and England was concluded, the frontier was scourged by savage cruelties. During this time military operations exhausted the treasury of Massachusetts, and the government emitted bills of credit, the first paper money issued in the American colonies. From the beginning of the eighteenth century until the treaty of Paris, or, rather, of Fontainbleau, in 1763, the New England colonies were continually agitated by successive wars
* The first fort was upon one of the three eminences in Boston, called Cornhill, from the circumstance that the first explorers found corn buried there. The fort was completed in 1634. It had complete command of the harbor. It is now a green plat, two hundred feet in diameter, and called Washington Place. The eminence is called Fort Hill.
Another of the eminences is called Beacon Hill, from the circumstance that on the top of it was a beacon pole, with a tar barrel at its apex, erected in 1635, which was to be fired, to give an alarm in the country, if Boston should be attacked by savages. Upon a crane was suspended a basket containing some combustibles for firing the barrel. This beacon was blown down in 1789, and the next year a plain Doric column of brick and stone, incrusted with cement, was erected. It was about sixty feet high, on an eight feet pedestal. On the tablets of the pedestal were inscriptions commemorating the most important events from the passage of the Stamp Act until 1790. This pedestal is preserved in the State House of Boston. The monument stood a little north of the site of the present State House. A view of the old beacon is given above.
First American Paper money. Prowess of Colonial Troops. The French and Indian War. The Revolutionary En
with the French and Indians, by jealousies concerning colonial rights, which acts of Parlia. ment from time to time seemed to menace with subversion, and by the discontents arising
from the avarice and misrule of royal governors sent over from England. For the wars they furnished full supplies of men and money, and it was chiefly by the prowess of colonial troops that French dominion in America was destroyed. During these wars the colonists discovered their own strength, and, doubtless, thoughts of independence often occupied the minds of many. The capture of Louisburg, the operations in Northern New York and upon Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence, and the final passage of Quebec and Montreal into the hands of the English, have been noticed in former chapters, The campaign against the French posts on the Ohio and vicinity, when Washington first became distinguished as a military leader, will receive our attention hereafter.
We have now reached the borders of otir Revolutionary era, and Boston, our point of view, where the first bold voice was heard and the first resolute arm uplifted against meas. ures of the British Parliament that tended to abridge the liberties of the colonists, is a proper place whence to take a general survey of events immediately antecedent to, and connected with, that successful and righteous rebellion.