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The Beginnings of New England by John Fiske

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England people at that time could trace their origin to England in
the narrowest sense, excluding even Wales. As already observed, every
English shire contributed something to the emigration, but there was
a marked preponderance of people from the East Anglian counties.
[Sidenote: The exodus was purely English]

The population of New England was nearly as homogeneous in social
condition as it was in blood. The emigration was preeminent for its
respectability. Like the best part of the emigration to Virginia, it
consisted largely of country squires and yeomen. The men who followed
Winthrop were thrifty and prosperous in their old homes from which their
devotion to an idea made them voluntary exiles. They attached so much
importance to regular industry and decorous behaviour that for a long
time the needy and shiftless people who usually make trouble in new
colonies were not tolerated among them. Hence the early history of New
England is remarkably free from those scenes of violence and disorder
which have so often made hideous the first years of new communities.
Of negro slaves there were very few, and these were employed wholly in
domestic service; there were not enough of them to affect the industrial
life of New England or to be worth mentioning as a class. Neither were
there many of the wretched people, kidnapped from the jails and slums
of English sea-ports, such as in those early days when negro labour was
scarce, were sent by ship-loads to Virginia, to become the progenitors
of the "white trash." There were a few indented white servants, usually
of the class known as "redemptioners," or immigrants who voluntarily
bound themselves to service for a stated time in order to defray the
cost of their voyage from Europe. At a later time there were many of
these "redemptioners" in the middle colonies, but in New England they
were very few; and as no stigma of servitude was attached to manual
labour, they were apt at the end of their terms of service to become
independent farmers; thus they ceased to be recognizable as a distinct
class of society. Nevertheless the common statement that no traces of
the "mean white" are to be found in New England is perhaps somewhat
too sweeping. Interspersed among those respectable and tidy mountain
villages, once full of such vigorous life, one sometimes comes upon
little isolated groups of wretched hovels whose local reputation is
sufficiently indicated by such terse epithets as "Hardscrabble" or
"Hell-huddle." Their denizens may in many instances be the degenerate
offspring of a sound New England stock, but they sometimes show strong
points of resemblance to that "white trash" which has come to be a
recognizable strain of the English race; and one cannot help suspecting
that while the New England colonies made every effort to keep out such
riff raff, it may nevertheless have now and then crept in. However this
may be, it cannot be said that this element ever formed a noticeable
feature in the life of colonial New England. As regards their social
derivation, the settlers of New England were homogeneous in character to
a remarkable degree, and they were drawn from the sturdiest part of
the English stock. In all history there has been no other instance of
colonization so exclusively effected by picked and chosen men. The
colonists knew this, and were proud of it, as well they might be. It was
the simple truth that was spoken by William Stoughton when he said, in
his election sermon of 1688: "God sifted a whole nation, that He might
send choice grain into the wilderness." [Sidenote: Respectable character
of the emigration]

This matter comes to have more than a local interest, when we reflect
that the 26,000 New Englanders of 1640 have in two hundred and fifty
years increased to something like 15,000,000. From these men have come
at least one-fourth of the present population of the United States.
Striking as this fact may seem, it is perhaps less striking than the
fact of the original migration when duly considered. In these times,
when great steamers sail every day from European ports, bringing
immigrants to a country not less advanced in material civilization
than the country which they leave, the daily arrival of a thousand new
citizens has come to be a commonplace event. But in the seventeenth
century the transfer of more than twenty thousand well-to-do people
within twenty years from their comfortable homes in England to the
American wilderness was by no means a commonplace event. It reminds one
of the migrations of ancient peoples, and in the quaint thought of
our forefathers it was aptly likened to the exodus of Israel from the
Egyptian house of bondage.

In this migration a principle of selection was at work which insured an
extraordinary uniformity of character and of purpose among the settlers.
To this uniformity of purpose, combined with complete homogeneity of
race, is due the preponderance early acquired by New England in the
history of the American people. In view of this, it is worth while to
inquire what were the real aims of the settlers of New England. What was
the common purpose which brought these men together in their resolve to
create for themselves new homes in the wilderness?

This is a point concerning which there has been a great deal of popular
misapprehension, and there has been no end of nonsense talked about it.
It has been customary first to assume that the Puritan migration was
undertaken in the interests of religious liberty, and then to upbraid
the Puritans for forgetting all about religious liberty as soon as
people came among them who disagreed with their opinions. But this view
of the case is not supported by history. It is quite true that the
Puritans were chargeable with gross intolerance; but it is not true that
in this they were guilty of inconsistency. The notion that they came to
New England for the purpose of establishing religious liberty, in
any sense in which we should understand such a phrase, is entirely
incorrect. It is neither more nor less than a bit of popular legend. If
we mean by the phrase "religious liberty" a state of things in which
opposite or contradictory opinions on questions of religion shall exist
side by side in the same community, and in which everybody shall
decide for himself how far he will conform to the customary religious
observances, nothing could have been further from their thoughts. There
is nothing they would have regarded with more genuine abhorrence. If
they could have been forewarned by a prophetic voice of the general
freedom--or, as they would have termed it, license--of thought and
behaviour which prevails in this country to-day, they would very likely
have abandoned their enterprise in despair. [12] The philosophic student
of history often has occasion to see how God is wiser than man. In other
words, he is often brought to realize how fortunate it is that the
leaders in great historic events cannot foresee the remote results of
the labours to which they have zealously consecrated their lives. It is
part of the irony of human destiny that the end we really accomplish by
striving with might and main is apt to be something quite different from
the end we dreamed of as we started on our arduous labour. So it was
with the Puritan settlers of New England. The religious liberty that
we enjoy to-day is largely the consequence of their work; but it is a
consequence that was unforeseen, while the direct and conscious aim of
their labours was something that has never been realized, and probably
never will be. [Sidenote: The migration was not intended to promote what
we call religious liberty]

The aim of Winthrop and his friends in coming to Massachusetts was the
construction of a theocratic state which should be to Christians, under
the New Testament dispensation, all that the theocracy of Moses and
Joshua and Samuel had been to the Jews in Old Testament days. They
should be to all intents and purposes freed from the jurisdiction of
the Stuart king, and so far as possible the text of the Holy Scriptures
should be their guide both in weighty matters of general legislation and
in the shaping of the smallest details of daily life. In such a scheme
there was no room for religious liberty as we understand it. No doubt
the text of the Scriptures may be interpreted in many ways, but among
these men there was a substantial agreement as to the important points,
and nothing could have been further from their thoughts than to found
a colony which should afford a field for new experiments in the art of
right living. The state they were to found was to consist of a united
body of believers; citizenship itself was to be co-extensive with
church-membership; and in such a state there was apparently no more room
for heretics than there was in Rome or Madrid. This was the idea which
drew Winthrop and his followers from England at a time when--as events
were soon to show--they might have stayed there and defied persecution
with less trouble than it cost them to cross the ocean and found a new
state. [Sidenote: Theocratic ideal of the Puritans]

Such an ideal as this, considered by itself and apart from the concrete
acts in which it was historically manifested, may seem like the merest
fanaticism. But we cannot dismiss in this summary way a movement which
has been at the source of so much that is great in American history:
mere fanaticism has never produced such substantial results. Mere
fanaticism is sure to aim at changing the constitution of human society
in some essential point, to undo the work of evolution, and offer in
some indistinctly apprehended fashion to remodel human life. But in
these respects the Puritans were intensely conservative. The impulse by
which they were animated was a profoundly ethical impulse--the desire
to lead godly lives, and to drive out sin from the community--the same
ethical impulse which animates the glowing pages of Hebrew poets and
prophets, and which has given to the history and literature of Israel
their commanding influence in the world. The Greek, says Matthew Arnold,
held that the perfection of happiness was to have one's thoughts hit the
mark; but the Hebrew held that it was to serve the Lord day and night.
It was a touch of this inspiration that the Puritan caught from his
earnest and reverent study of the sacred text, and that served to
justify and intensify his yearning for a better life, and to give it
the character of a grand and holy ideal. Yet with all this religious
enthusiasm, the Puritan was in every fibre a practical Englishman with
his full share of plain common-sense. He avoided the error of
mediaeval anchorites and mystics in setting an exaggerated value upon
otherworldliness. In his desire to win a crown of glory hereafter he did
not forget that the present life has its simple duties, in the exact
performance of which the welfare of society mainly consists. He likewise
avoided the error of modern radicals who would remodel the fundamental
institutions of property and of the family, and thus disturb the very
groundwork of our ethical ideals. The Puritan's ethical conception of
society was simply that which has grown up in the natural course of
historical evolution, and which in its essential points is therefore
intelligible to all men, and approved by the common-sense of men,
however various may be the terminology--whether theological or
scientific--in which it is expounded. For these reasons there was
nothing essentially fanatical or impracticable in the Puritan scheme: in
substance it was something that great bodies of men could at once put
into practice, while its quaint and peculiar form was something that
could be easily and naturally outgrown and set aside. [Sidenote: The
impulse which sought to realize itself in the Puritan ideal was an
ethical impulse]

Yet another point in which the Puritan scheme of a theocratic society
was rational and not fanatical was its method of interpreting the
Scriptures. That method was essentially rationalistic in two ways.
First, the Puritan laid no claim to the possession of any peculiar
inspiration or divine light whereby he might be aided in ascertaining
the meaning of the sacred text; but he used his reason just as he would
in any matter of business, and he sought to convince, and expected to
be convinced, by rational argument, and by nothing else. Secondly, it
followed from this denial of any peculiar inspiration that there was no
room in the Puritan commonwealth for anything like a priestly class, and
that every individual must hold his own opinions at his own personal
risk. The consequences of this rationalistic spirit have been very
far-reaching. In the conviction that religious opinion must be consonant
with reason, and that religious truth must be brought home to each
individual by rational argument, we may find one of the chief causes of
that peculiarly conservative yet flexible intelligence which has enabled
the Puritan countries to take the lead in the civilized world of
today. Free discussion of theological questions, when conducted with
earnestness and reverence, and within certain generally acknowledged
limits, was never discountenanced in New England. On the contrary, there
has never been a society in the world in which theological problems have
been so seriously and persistently discussed as in New England in the
colonial period. The long sermons of the clergymen were usually learned
and elaborate arguments of doctrinal points, bristling with quotations
from the Bible, or from famous books of controversial divinity, and in
the long winter evenings the questions thus raised afforded the occasion
for lively debate in every household. The clergy were, as a rule, men
of learning, able to read both Old and New Testaments in the original
languages, and familiar with the best that had been talked and written,
among Protestants at least, on theological subjects. They were also, for
the most part, men of lofty character, and they were held in high social
esteem on account of their character and scholarship, as well as on
account of their clerical position. But in spite of the reverence in
which they were commonly held, it would have been a thing quite unheard
of for one of these pastors to urge an opinion from the pulpit on the
sole ground of his personal authority or his superior knowledge of
Scriptural exegesis. The hearers, too, were quick to detect novelties
or variations in doctrine; and while there was perhaps no more than the
ordinary human unwillingness to listen to a new thought merely because
of its newness, it was above all things needful that the orthodox
soundness of every new suggestion should be thoroughly and severely
tested. This intense interest in doctrinal theology was part and parcel
of the whole theory of New England life; because, as I have said, it was
taken for granted that each individual must hold his own opinions at
his own personal risk in the world to come. Such perpetual discussion,
conducted, under such a stimulus, afforded in itself no mean school
of intellectual training. Viewed in relation to the subsequent mental
activity of New England, it may be said to have occupied a position
somewhat similar to that which the polemics of the medieval schoolmen
occupied in relation to the European thought of the Renaissance, and of
the age of Hobbes and Descartes. At the same time the Puritan theory of
life lay at the bottom of the whole system of popular education in New
England. According to that theory, it was absolutely essential that
every one should be taught from early childhood how to read and
understand the Bible. So much instruction as this was assumed to be a
sacred duty which the community owed to every child born within its
jurisdiction. In ignorance, the Puritans maintained, lay the principal
strength of popery in religion as well as of despotism in politics; and
so, to the best of their lights, they cultivated knowledge with might
and main. But in this energetic diffusion of knowledge they were
unwittingly preparing the complete and irreparable destruction of the
theocratic ideal of society which they had sought to realize by crossing
the ocean and settling in New England. This universal education, and
this perpetual discussion of theological questions, were no more
compatible with rigid adherence to the Calvinistic system than with
submission to the absolute rule of Rome. The inevitable result was the
liberal and enlightened Protestantism which is characteristic of the
best American society at the present day, and which is continually
growing more liberal as it grows more enlightened--a Protestantism
which, in the natural course of development, is coming to realize the
noble ideal of Roger Williams, but from the very thought of which such
men as Winthrop and Cotton and Endicott would have shrunk with dismay.
[Sidenote: In interpreting Scripture, the Puritan appealed to his
reason] [Sidenote: Value of theological discussion]

In this connection it is interesting to note the similarity between the
experience of the Puritans in New England and in Scotland with respect
to the influence of their religious theory of life upon general
education. Nowhere has Puritanism, with its keen intelligence and its
iron tenacity of purpose, played a greater part than it has played in
the history of Scotland. And one need not fear contradiction in saying
that no other people in modern times, in proportion to their numbers,
have achieved so much in all departments of human activity as the people
of Scotland have achieved. It would be superfluous to mention the
preeminence of Scotland in the industrial arts since the days of James
Watt, or to recount the glorious names in philosophy, in history, in
poetry and romance, and in every department of science, which since the
middle of the eighteenth century have made the country of Burns and
Scott, of Hume and Adam Smith, of Black and Hunter and Hutton and
Lyell, illustrious for all future time. Now this period of magnificent
intellectual fruition in Scotland was preceded by a period of
Calvinistic orthodoxy quite as rigorous as that of New England. The
ministers of the Scotch Kirk in the seventeenth century cherished a
theocratic ideal of society not unlike that which the colonists of New
England aimed at realizing. There was the same austerity, the same
intolerance, the same narrowness of interests, in Scotland that there
was in New England. Mr. Buckle, in the book which thirty years ago
seemed so great and stimulating, gave us a graphic picture of this state
of society, and the only thing which he could find to say about it, as
the result of his elaborate survey, was that the spirit of the Scotch
Kirk was as thoroughly hostile to human progress as the spirit of the
Spanish Inquisition! If this were really so, it would be difficult
indeed to account for the period of brilliant mental activity which
immediately followed. But in reality the Puritan theory of life led
to general education in Scotland as it did in New England, and for
precisely the same reasons, while the effects of theological discussion
in breaking down the old Calvinistic exclusiveness have been illustrated
in the history of Edinburgh as well as in the history of Boston.
[Sidenote: Comparison with the case of Scotland]

It is well for us to bear in mind the foregoing considerations as we
deal with the history of the short-lived New England Confederacy. The
story is full of instances of an intolerant and domineering spirit,
especially on the part of Massachusetts, and now and then this spirit
breaks forth in ugly acts of persecution. In considering these facts, it
is well to remember that we are observing the workings of a system
which contained within itself a curative principle; and it is further
interesting to observe how political circumstances contributed to
modify the Puritan ideal, gradually breaking down the old theocratic
exclusiveness and strengthening the spirit of religious liberty.

Scarcely had the first New England colonies been established when it was
found desirable to unite them into some kind of a confederation. It is
worthy of note that the separate existence of so many colonies was at
the outset largely the result of religious differences. The uniformity
of purpose, great as it was, fell far short of completeness. [Sidenote:
Existence of so many colonies due to slight religious differences]

Could all have agreed, or had there been religious toleration in the
modern sense, there was still room enough for all in Massachusetts;
and a compact settlement would have been in much less danger from the
Indians. But in the founding of Connecticut the theocratic idea had less
weight, and in the founding of New Haven it had more weight, than
in Massachusetts. The existence of Rhode Island was based upon that
principle of full toleration which the three colonies just mentioned
alike abhorred, and its first settlers were people banished from
Massachusetts. With regard to toleration Plymouth occupied a middle
ground; without admitting the principles of Williams, the people of that
colony were still fairly tolerant in practice. Of the four towns of New
Hampshire, two had been founded by Antinomians driven from Boston, and
two by Episcopal friends of Mason and Gorges. It was impossible that
neighbouring communities, characterized by such differences of opinion,
but otherwise homogeneous in race and in social condition, should fail
to react upon one another and to liberalize one another. Still more was
this true when they attempted to enter into a political union. When, for
example, Massachusetts in 1641-43 annexed the New Hampshire townships,
she was of necessity obliged to relax in their case her policy of
insisting upon religious conformity as a test of citizenship. So in
forming the New England Confederacy, there were some matters of dispute
that had to be passed over by mutual consent or connivance. [Sidenote:
It led to a notable attempt at federation]

The same causes which had spread the English settlements over so wide a
territory now led, as an indirect result, to their partial union into a
confederacy. The immediate consequence of the westward movement had been
an Indian war. Several savage tribes were now interspersed between the
settlements, so that it became desirable that the military force should
be brought, as far as possible, under one management. The colony of
New Netherlands, moreover, had begun to assume importance, and the
settlements west of the Connecticut river had already occasioned hard
words between Dutch and English, which might at any moment be followed
by blows. In the French colonies at the north, with their extensive
Indian alliances under Jesuit guidance, the Puritans saw a rival power
which was likely in course of time to prove troublesome. With a view to
more efficient self-defence, therefore, in 1643 the four colonies of
Massachusetts, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven formed themselves
into a league, under the style of "The United Colonies of New England."
These four little states now contained thirty-nine towns, with an
aggregate population of 24,000. To the northeast of Massachusetts,
which now extended to the Piscataqua, a small colony had at length been
constituted under a proprietary charter somewhat similar to that held by
the Calverts in Maryland. Of this new province or palatinate of Maine
the aged Sir Ferdinando Gorges was Lord Proprietary, and he had
undertaken not only to establish the Church of England there, but also
to introduce usages of feudal jurisdiction like those remaining in the
old country. Such a community was not likely to join the Confederacy;
apart from other reasons, its proprietary constitution and the feud
between the Puritans and Gorges would have been sufficient obstacles.

As for Rhode Island, on the other hand, it was regarded with strong
dislike by the other colonies. It was a curious and noteworthy
consequence of the circumstances under which this little state was
founded that for a long time it became the refuge of all the fanatical
and turbulent people who could not submit to the strict and orderly
governments of Connecticut or Massachusetts. All extremes met on
Narragansett bay. There were not only sensible advocates of religious
liberty, but theocrats as well who saw flaws in the theocracy of
other Puritans. The English world was then in a state of theological
fermentation. People who fancied themselves favoured with direct
revelations from Heaven; people who thought it right to keep the seventh
day of the week as a Sabbath instead of the first day; people who
cherished a special predilection for the Apocalypse and the Book of
Daniel; people with queer views about property and government; people
who advocated either too little marriage or too much marriage; all such
eccentric characters as are apt to come to the surface in periods of
religious excitement found in Rhode Island a favoured spot where they
could prophesy without let or hindrance. But the immediate practical
result of so much discordance in opinion was the impossibility of
founding a strong and well-ordered government. The early history of
Rhode Island was marked by enough of turbulence to suggest the question
whether, after all, at the bottom of the Puritan's refusal to recognize
the doctrine of private inspiration, or to tolerate indiscriminately all
sorts of opinions, there may not have been a grain of shrewd political
sense not ill adapted to the social condition of the seventeenth
century. In 1644 and again in 1648 the Narragansett settlers asked leave
to join the Confederacy; but the request was refused on the ground
that they had no stable government of their own. They were offered
the alternative of voluntary annexation either to Massachusetts or to
Plymouth, or of staying out in the cold; and they chose the latter
course. Early in 1643 they had sent Roger Williams over to England to
obtain a charter for Rhode Island. In that year Parliament created a
Board of Commissioners, with the Earl of Warwick at its head, for the
superintendence of colonial affairs; and nothing could better illustrate
the loose and reckless manner in which American questions were treated
in England than the first proceedings of this board. It gave an early
instance of British carelessness in matters of American geography. In
December, 1643, it granted to Massachusetts all the territory on the
mainland of Narragansett bay; and in the following March it incorporated
the townships of Newport and Portsmouth, which stood on the island,
together with Providence, which stood on the mainland, into an
independent colony empowered to frame a government and make laws for
itself. With this second document Williams returned to Providence in the
autumn of 1644. Just how far it was intended to cancel the first one,
nobody could tell, but it plainly afforded an occasion for a conflict of
claims. [Sidenote: Turbulence of dissent in Rhode Island] [Sidenote: The
Earl of Warwick and his Board of Commissioners]

The league of the four colonies is interesting as the first American
experiment in federation. By the articles it was agreed that each colony
should retain full independence so far as concerned the management of
its internal affairs, but that the confederate government should have
entire control over all dealings with the Indians or with foreign
powers. The administration of the league was put into the hands of
a board of eight Federal Commissioners, two from each colony. The
commissioners were required to be church-members in good standing. They
could choose for themselves a president or chairman out of their own
number, but such a president was to have no more power than the other
members of the Board. If any measure were to come up concerning
which the commissioners could not agree, it was to be referred for
consideration to the legislatures or general courts of the four
colonies. Expenses for war were to be charged to each colony in
proportion to the number of males in each between sixteen years of
age and sixty. A meeting of the Board might be summoned by any two
magistrates whenever the public safety might seem to require it; but a
regular meeting was to be held once every year.

In this scheme of confederacy all power of taxation was expressly left
to the several colonies. The scheme provided for a mere league, not for
a federal union. The government of the Commissioners acted only upon the
local governments, not upon individuals. The Board had thus but little
executive power, and was hardly more than a consulting body. Another
source of weakness in the confederacy was the overwhelming preponderance
of Massachusetts. Of the 24,000 people in the confederation, 15,000
belonged to Massachusetts, while the other three colonies had only about
3,000 each. Massachusetts accordingly had to carry the heaviest burden,
both in the furnishing of soldiers and in the payment of war expenses,
while in the direction of affairs she had no more authority than one of
the small colonies. As a natural consequence, Massachusetts tried
to exert more authority than she was entitled to by the articles of
confederation; and such conduct was not unnaturally resented by the
small colonies, as betokening an unfair and domineering spirit. In
spite of these drawbacks, however, the league was of great value to
New England. On many occasions it worked well as a high court of
jurisdiction, and it made the military strength of the colonies more
available than it would otherwise have been. But for the interference
of the British government, which brought it to an untimely end, the
Confederacy might have been gradually amended so as to become enduring.
After its downfall it was pleasantly remembered by the people of New
England; in times of trouble their thoughts reverted to it; and the
historian must in fairness assign it some share in preparing men's minds
for the greater work of federation which was achieved before the end of
the following century. [Sidenote: It was only a league, not a federal

The formation of such a confederacy certainly involved something very
like a tacit assumption of sovereignty on the part of the four colonies.
It is worthy of note that they did not take the trouble to ask the
permission of the home government in advance. They did as they pleased,
and then defended their action afterward. In England the act of
confederation was regarded with jealousy and distrust. But Edward
Winslow, who was sent over to London to defend the colonies, pithily
said: "If we in America should forbear to unite for offence and defence
against a common enemy till we have leave from England, our throats
might be all cut before the messenger would be half seas through."
Whether such considerations would have had weight with Charles I. or not
was now of little consequence. His power of making mischief soon came
to an end, and from the liberal and sagacious policy of Cromwell the
Confederacy had not much to fear. Nevertheless the fall of Charles I.
brought up for the first time that question which a century later was
to acquire surpassing interest,--the question as to the supremacy of
Parliament over the colonies.

Down to this time the supreme control over colonial affairs had been in
the hands of the king and his privy council, and the Parliament had
not disputed it. In 1624 they had grumbled at James I.'s high-handed
suppression of the Virginia Company, but they had not gone so far as
to call in question the king's supreme authority over the colonies. In
1628, in a petition to Charles I. relating to the Bermudas, they had
fully admitted this royal authority. But the fall of Charles I. for the
moment changed all this. Among the royal powers devolved upon Parliament
was the prerogative of superintending the affairs of the colonies. Such,
at least, was the theory held in England, and it is not easy to see how
any other theory could logically have been held; but the Americans never
formally admitted it, and in practice they continued to behave toward
Parliament very much as they had behaved toward the crown, yielding
just as little obedience as possible. When the Earl of Warwick's
commissioners in 1644 seized upon a royalist vessel in Boston harbour,
the legislature of Massachusetts debated the question whether it was
compatible with the dignity of the colony to permit such an act of
sovereignty on the part of Parliament. It was decided to wink at the
proceeding, on account of the strong sympathy between Massachusetts and
the Parliament which was overthrowing the king. At the same time the
legislature sent over to London a skilfully worded protest against
any like exercise of power in future. In 1651 Parliament ordered
Massachusetts to surrender the charter obtained from Charles I. and take
out a new one from Parliament, in which the relations of the colony to
the home government should be made the subject of fresh and more precise
definition. To this request the colony for more than a year vouchsafed
no answer; and finally, when it became necessary to do something,
instead of sending back the charter, the legislature sent back a
memorial, setting forth that the people of Massachusetts were quite
contented with their form of government, and hoped that no change would
be made in it. War between England and Holland, and the difficult
political problems which beset the brief rule of Cromwell, prevented
the question from coming to an issue, and Massachusetts was enabled to
preserve her independent and somewhat haughty attitude. [Sidenote: Fall
of Charles I. brings up the question as to supremacy of Parliament over
the colonies]

During the whole period of the Confederacy, however, disputes kept
coming up which through endless crooked ramifications were apt to end
in an appeal to the home government, and thus raise again and again the
question as to the extent of its imperial supremacy. For our present
purpose, it is enough to mention three of these cases: 1, the adventures
of Samuel Gorton; 2, the Presbyterian cabal; 3, the persecution of the
Quakers. Other cases in point are those of John Clarke and the Baptists,
and the relations of Massachusetts to the northeastern settlements; but
as it is not my purpose here to make a complete outline of New England
history, the three cases enumerated will suffice.

The first case shows, in a curious and instructive way, how religious
dissensions were apt to be complicated with threats of an Indian war on
the one hand and peril from Great Britain on the other; and as we come
to realize the triple danger, we can perhaps make some allowances for
the high-handed measures with which the Puritan governments sometimes
sought to avert it. [Genesis of the persecuting spirit]

As I have elsewhere tried to show, the genesis of the persecuting spirit
is to be found in the conditions of primitive society, where "above
all things the prime social and political necessity is social cohesion
within the tribal limits, for unless such social cohesion be maintained,
the very existence of the tribe is likely to be extinguished in
bloodshed." The persecuting spirit "began to pass away after men
had become organized into great nations, covering a vast extent of
territory, and secured by their concentrated military strength against
the gravest dangers of barbaric attack." [13]

Now as regards these considerations, the Puritan communities in the
New England wilderness were to some slight extent influenced by such
conditions as used to prevail in primitive society; and this will help
us to understand the treatment of the Antinomians and such cases as that
with which we have now to deal.

Among the supporters of Mrs. Hutchinson, after her arrival at Aquedneck,
was a sincere and courageous, but incoherent and crotchetty man named
Samuel Gorton. [Sidenote: Samuel Gorton]

In the denunciatory language of that day he was called a "proud and
pestilent seducer," or, as the modern newspaper would say, a "crank." It
is well to make due allowances for the prejudice so conspicuous in the
accounts given by his enemies, who felt obliged to justify their harsh
treatment of him. But we have also his own writings from which to form
an opinion as to his character and views. Lucidity, indeed, was not one
of his strong points as a writer, and the drift of his argument is not
always easy to decipher; but he seems to have had some points of contact
with the Familists, a sect established in the sixteenth century in
Holland. The Familists held that the essence of religion consists not
in adherence to any particular creed or ritual, but in cherishing the
spirit of divine love. The general adoption of this point of view was to
inaugurate a third dispensation, superior to those of Moses and Christ,
the dispensation of the Holy Ghost. The value of the Bible lay not so
much in the literal truth of its texts as in their spiritual import;
and by the union of believers with Christ they came to share in the
ineffable perfection of the Godhead. There is much that is modern and
enlightened in such views, which Gorton seems to some extent to have
shared. He certainly set little store by ritual observances and
maintained the equal right of laymen with clergymen to preach the
gospel. Himself a London clothier, and thanking God that he had not been
brought up in "the schools of human learning," he set up as a preacher
without ordination, and styled himself "professor of the mysteries of
Christ." He seems to have cherished that doctrine of private inspiration
which the Puritans especially abhorred. It is not likely that he had any
distinct comprehension of his own views, for distinctness was just what
they lacked. [14] But they were such as in the seventeenth century could
not fail to arouse fierce antagonism, and if it was true that wherever
there was a government Gorton was against it, perhaps that only shows
that wherever there was a government it was sure to be against him.

In the case of such men as Gorton, however,--and the type is by no
means an uncommon one,--their temperament usually has much more to do
with getting them into trouble than their opinions. Gorton's temperament
was such as to keep him always in an atmosphere of strife. Other
heresiarchs suffered persecution in Massachusetts, but Gorton was in hot
water everywhere. His arrival in any community was the signal for an
immediate disturbance of the peace. His troubles began in Plymouth,
where the wife of the pastor preferred his teachings to those of her
husband. In 1638 he fled to Aquedneck, where his first achievement was a
schism among Mrs. Hutchinson's followers, which ended in some staying to
found the town of Portsmouth while others went away to found Newport.
Presently Portsmouth found him intolerable, flogged and banished him,
and after his departure was able to make up its quarrel with Newport.
He next made his way with a few followers to Pawtuxet, within the
jurisdiction of Providence, and now it is the broad-minded and gentle
Roger Williams who complains of his "bewitching and madding poor
Providence." The question is here suggested what could it have been
in Gorton's teaching that enabled him thus to "bewitch" these little
communities? We may be sure that it could not have been the element of
modern liberalism suggested in the Familistic doctrines above cited.
That was the feature then least likely to appeal to the minds of common
people, and most likely to appeal to Williams. More probably such
success as Gorton had in winning followers was due to some of the
mystical rubbish which abounds in his pages and finds in a modern mind
no doorway through which to enter. [Sidenote: He flees to Aquedneck and
is banished thence]

Williams disapproved of Gorton, but was true to his principles of
toleration and would not take part in any attempt to silence him. But in
1641 we find thirteen leading citizens of Providence, headed by William
Arnold, [15] sending a memorial to Boston, asking for assistance and
counsel in regard to this disturber of the peace. How was Massachusetts
to treat such an appeal? She could not presume to meddle with the affair
unless she could have permanent jurisdiction over Pawtuxet; otherwise
she was a mere intruder. How strong a side-light does this little
incident throw upon the history of the Roman republic, and of all
relatively strong communities when confronted with the problem of
preserving order in neighbouring states that are too weak to preserve it
for themselves! Arnold's argument, in his appeal to Massachusetts, was
precisely the same as that by which the latter colony excused herself
for banishing the Antinomians. He simply says that Gorton and his
company "are not fit persons to be received, and made members of a body
in so weak a state as our town is in at present;" and he adds, "There is
no state but in the first place will seek to preserve its own safety and
peace." Whatever might be the abstract merits of Gorton's opinions, his
conduct was politically dangerous; and accordingly the jurisdiction over
Pawtuxet was formally conceded to Massachusetts. Thereupon that colony,
assuming jurisdiction, summoned Gorton and his men to Boston, to prove
their title to the lands they occupied. They of course regarded the
summons as a flagrant usurpation of authority, and instead of obeying
it they withdrew to Shawomet, on the western shore of Narragansett bay,
where they bought a tract of land from the principal sachem of the
Narragansetts, Miantonomo. The immediate rule over this land belonged to
two inferior chiefs, who ratified the sale at the time, but six months
afterward disavowed the ratification, on the ground that it had been
given under duress from their overlord Miantonomo. Here was a state
of things which might easily bring on an Indian war. The two chiefs
appealed to Massachusetts for protection, and were accordingly summoned,
along with Miantonomo, to a hearing at Boston. Here we see how a kind of
English protectorate over the native tribes had begun to grow up so soon
after the destruction of the Pequots. Such a result was inevitable.
After hearing the arguments, the legislature decided to defend the two
chiefs, provided they would put themselves under the jurisdiction of
Massachusetts. This was done, while further complaints against Gorton
came from the citizens of Providence. Gorton and his men were now
peremptorily summoned to Boston to show cause why they should not
surrender their land at Shawomet and to answer the charges against them.
On receiving from Gorton a defiant reply, couched in terms which some
thought blasphemous, the government of Massachusetts prepared to use
force. [Sidenote: Providence protests against him] [Sidenote: He flees
to Shawomet, where he buys land of the Indians]

Meanwhile the unfortunate Miantonomo had rushed upon his doom. The
annihilation of the Pequots had left the Mohegans and Narragansetts
contending for the foremost place among the native tribes. Between the
rival sachems, Uncas and Miantonomo, the hatred was deep and deadly.
As soon as the Mohegan perceived that trouble was brewing between
Miantonomo and the government at Boston, he improved the occasion by
gathering a few Narragansett scalps. Miantonomo now took the war-path
and was totally defeated by Uncas in a battle on the Great Plain in the
present township of Norwich. Encumbered with a coat of mail which his
friend Gorton had given him, Miantonomo was overtaken and captured. By
ordinary Indian usage he would have been put to death with fiendish
torments, as soon as due preparations could be made and a fit company
assembled to gloat over his agony; but Gorton sent a messenger to Uncas,
threatening dire vengeance if harm were done to his ally. This message
puzzled the Mohegan chief. The appearance of a schism in the English
counsels was more than he could quite fathom. When the affair had
somewhat more fully developed itself, some of the Indians spoke of
the white men as divided into two rival tribes, the Gortonoges and
Wattaconoges. [16] Roger Williams tells us that the latter term, applied
to the men of Boston, meant coat-wearers. Whether it is to be inferred
that the Gortonoges went about in what in modern parlance would be
called their "shirt-sleeves," the reader must decide. [Sidenote:
Miantonomo and Uncas]

In his perplexity Uncas took his prisoner to Hartford, and afterward,
upon the advice of the governor and council, sent him to Boston, that
his fate might be determined by the Federal Commissioners who were
there holding their first regular meeting. It was now the turn of the
commissioners to be perplexed. According to English law there was no
good reason for putting Miantonomo to death. The question was whether
they should interfere with the Indian custom by which his life was
already forfeit to his captor. The magistrates already suspected the
Narragansetts of cherishing hostile designs. To set their sachem at
liberty, especially while the Gorton affair remained unsettled, might be
dangerous; and it would be likely to alienate Uncas from the English. In
their embarrassment the commissioners sought spiritual guidance. A synod
of forty or fifty clergymen, from all parts of New England, was in
session at Boston, and the question was referred to a committee of five
of their number. The decision was prompt that Miantonomo must die. He
was sent back to Hartford to be slain by Uncas, but two messengers
accompanied him, to see that no tortures were inflicted. A select band
of Mohegan warriors journeyed through the forest with the prisoner and
the two Englishmen, until they came to the plain where the battle had
been fought. Then at a signal from Uncas, the warrior walking behind
Miantonomo silently lifted his tomahawk and sank it into the brain of
the victim who fell dead without a groan. Uncas cut a warm slice from
the shoulder and greedily devoured it, declaring that the flesh of
his enemy was the sweetest of meat and gave strength to his heart.
Miantonomo was buried there on the scene of his defeat, which has ever
since been known as the Sachem's Plain. This was in September, 1643, and
for years afterward, in that month, parties of Narragansetts used to
visit the spot and with frantic gestures and hideous yells lament their
fallen leader. A heap of stones was raised over the grave, and no
Narragansett came near it without adding to the pile. After many a
summer had passed and the red men had disappeared from the land, a
Yankee farmer, with whom thrift prevailed over sentiment, cleared away
the mound and used the stones for the foundation of his new barn. [17]
[Sidenote: Death of Miantonomo]

One cannot regard this affair as altogether creditable to the Federal
Commissioners and their clerical advisers. One of the clearest-headed
and most impartial students of our history observes that "if the English
were to meddle in the matter at all, it was their clear duty to enforce
as far as might be the principles recognized by civilized men. When they
accepted the appeal made by Uncas they shifted the responsibility from
the Mohegan chief to themselves." [18] The decision was doubtless based
purely upon grounds of policy. Miantonomo was put out of the way because
he was believed to be dangerous. In the thirst for revenge that was
aroused among the Narragansetts there was an alternative source of
danger, to which I shall hereafter refer. [19] It is difficult now to
decide, as a mere question of safe policy, what the English ought to
have done. The chance of being dragged into an Indian war, through the
feud between Narragansetts and Mohegans, was always imminent. The policy
which condemned Miantonomo was one of timidity, and fear is merciless.

The Federal Commissioners heartily approved the conduct of Massachusetts
toward Gorton, and adopted it in the name of the United Colonies. After
a formal warning, which passed unheeded, a company of forty men, under
Edward Johnson of Woburn and two other officers, was sent to Shawomet.
Some worthy citizens of Providence essayed to play the part of
mediators, and after some parley the Gortonites offered to submit to
arbitration. The proposal was conveyed to Boston, and the clergy were
again consulted. They declared it beneath the dignity of Massachusetts
to negotiate "with a few fugitives living without law or government,"
and they would no more compound with Gorton's "blasphemous revilings"
than they would bargain with the Evil One. The community must be
"purged" of such wickedness, either by repentance or by punishment. The
ministers felt that God would hold the community responsible for Gorton
and visit calamities upon them unless he were silenced. [20] The
arbitration was refused, Gorton's blockhouse was besieged and captured,
and the agitator was carried with nine of his followers to Boston, where
they were speedily convicted of heresy and sedition. Before passing
judgment the General Court as usual consulted with the clergy who
recommended a sentence of death. Their advice was adopted by the
assistants, but the deputies were more merciful, and the heretics
were sentenced to imprisonment at the pleasure of the court. In this
difference between the assistants and the deputies, we observe an early
symptom of that popular revolt against the ascendancy of the clergy
which was by and by to become so much more conspicuous and effective
in the affair of the Quakers. Another symptom might be seen in the
circumstance that so much sympathy was expressed for the Gortonites,
especially by women, that after some months of imprisonment and abuse
the heretics were banished under penalty of death. [Sidenote: Trial and
sentence of the heretics]

Gorton now went to England and laid his tale of woe before the
parliamentary Board of Commissioners. The Earl of Warwick behaved with
moderation. He declined to commit himself to an opinion as to the
merits of the quarrel, but Gorton's title to Shawomet was confirmed. He
returned to Boston with an order to the government to allow him to pass
unmolested through Massachusetts, and hereafter to protect him in
the possession of Shawomet. If this little commonwealth of 15,000
inhabitants had been a nation as powerful as France, she could not have
treated the message more haughtily. By a majority of one vote it was
decided not to refuse so trifling a favour as a passage through the
country for just this once; but as for protecting the new town of
Warwick which the Gortonites proceeded to found at Shawomet, although it
was several times threatened by the Indians, and the settlers appealed
to the parliamentary order, that order Massachusetts flatly and doggedly
refused to obey. [21] [Sidenote: Gorton appeals to Parliament]

In the discussions of which these years were so full, "King Winthrop,"
as his enemy Morton called him, used some very significant language. By
a curious legal fiction of the Massachusetts charter the colonists were
supposed to hold their land as in the manor of East Greenwich near
London, and it was argued that they were represented in Parliament by
the members of the county or borough which contained that manor, and
were accordingly subject to the jurisdiction of Parliament. It was
further argued that since the king had no absolute sovereignty
independent of Parliament he could not by charter impart any such
independent sovereignty to others. Winthrop did not dispute these
points, but observed that the safety of the commonwealth was the supreme
law, and if in the interests of that safety it should be found necessary
to renounce the authority of Parliament, the colonists would be
justified in doing so. [Sidenote: Winthrop's prophetic opinion] [22]
This was essentially the same doctrine as was set forth ninety-nine
years later by young Samuel Adams in his Commencement Oration at

The case of the Presbyterian cabal admits of briefer treatment than that
of Gorton. There had now come to be many persons in Massachusetts who
disapproved of the provision which restricted the suffrage to members of
the Independent or Congregational churches of New England, and in 1646
the views of these people were presented in a petition to the General
Court. The petitioners asked "that their civil disabilities might be
removed, and that all members of the churches of England and Scotland
might be admitted to communion with the New England churches. If this
could not be granted they prayed to be released from all civil burdens.
Should the court refuse to entertain their complaint, they would be
obliged to bring their case before Parliament." [23] The leading signers
of this menacing petition were William Vassall, Samuel Maverick, and The
Presbyterian cabal. Dr. Robert Child. Maverick we have already met. From
the day when the ships of the first Puritan settlers had sailed past
his log fortress on Noddle's Island, he had been their enemy; "a man of
loving and curteous behaviour," says Johnson, "very ready to entertaine
strangers, yet an enemy to the reformation in hand, being strong for the
lordly prelatical power." Vassall was not a denizen of Massachusetts,
but lived in Scituate, in the colony of Plymouth, where there were no
such restrictions upon the suffrage. Child was a learned physician who
after a good deal of roaming about the world had lately taken it into
his head to come and see what sort of a place Massachusetts was.
Although these names were therefore not such as to lend weight to such a
petition, their request would seem at first sight reasonable enough.
At a superficial glance it seems conceived in a modern spirit of
liberalism. In reality it was nothing of the sort. In England it was
just the critical moment of the struggle between Presbyterians and
Independents which had come in to complicate the issues of the great
civil war. Vassall, Child, and Maverick seem to have been the leading
spirits in a cabal for the establishment of Presbyterianism in New
England, and in their petition they simply took advantage of the
discontent of the disfranchised citizens in Massachusetts in order
to put in an entering wedge. This was thoroughly understood by the
legislature of Massachusetts, and accordingly the petition was dismissed
and the petitioners were roundly fined. Just as Child was about to start
for England with his grievances, the magistrates overhauled his papers
and discovered a petition to the parliamentary Board of Commissioners,
suggesting that Presbyterianism should be established in New England,
and that a viceroy or governor-general should be appointed to rule
there. To the men of Massachusetts this last suggestion was a crowning
horror. It seemed scarcely less than treason. The signers of this
petition were the same who had signed the petition to the General Court.
They were now fined still more heavily and imprisoned for six months.
By and by they found their way, one after another, to London, while the
colonists sent Edward Winslow, of Plymouth, as an advocate to thwart
their schemes. Winslow was assailed by Child's brother in a spicy
pamphlet entitled "New England's Jonas cast up at London," and replied
after the same sort, entitling his pamphlet "New England's Salamander
discovered." The cabal accomplished nothing because of the decisive
defeat of Presbyterianism in England. "Pride's Purge" settled all that.
The petition of Vassall and his friends was the occasion for the
meeting of a synod of churches at Cambridge, in order to complete the
organization of Congregationalism. In 1648 the work of the synod was
embodied in the famous Cambridge Platform, which adopted the Westminster
Confession as its creed, carefully defined the powers of the clergy, and
declared it to be the duty of magistrates to suppress heresy. In 1649
the General Court laid this platform before the congregations; in
1651 it was adopted; and this event may be regarded as completing the
theocratic organization of the Puritan commonwealth in Massachusetts.
[Sidenote: The Cambridge Platform; deaths of Winthrop and Cotton]

It was immediately preceded and followed by the deaths of the two
foremost men in that commonwealth. John Winthrop died in 1649 and John
Cotton in 1652. Both were men of extraordinary power. Of Winthrop it is
enough to say that under his skilful guidance Massachusetts had been
able to pursue the daring policy which had characterized the first
twenty years of her history, and which in weaker hands would almost
surely have ended in disaster. Of Cotton it may be said that he was the
most eminent among a group of clergymen who for learning and dialectical
skill have seldom been surpassed. Neither Winthrop nor Cotton approved
of toleration upon principle. Cotton, in his elaborate controversy
with Roger Williams, frankly asserted that persecution is not wrong in
itself; it is wicked for falsehood to persecute truth, but it is the
sacred duty of truth to persecute falsehood. This was the theologian's
view. Winthrop's was that of a man of affairs. They had come to New
England, he said, in order to make a society after their own model;
all who agreed with them might come and join that society; those who
disagreed with them might go elsewhere; there was room enough on the
American continent. But while neither Winthrop nor Cotton understood the
principle of religious liberty, at the same time neither of them had the
temperament which persecutes. Both were men of genial disposition, sound
common-sense, and exquisite tact. Under their guidance no such
tragedy would have been possible as that which was about to leave its
ineffaceable stain upon the annals of Massachusetts.

It was most unfortunate that at this moment the places of these two men
should have been taken by two as arrant fanatics as ever drew breath.
For thirteen out of the fifteen years following Winthrop's death, the
governor of Massachusetts was John Endicott, a sturdy pioneer, whose
services to the colony had been great. He was honest and conscientious,
but passionate, domineering, and very deficient in tact. At the same
time Cotton's successor in position and influence was John Norton, a man
of pungent wit, unyielding temper, and melancholy mood. He was possessed
by a morbid fear of Satan, whose hirelings he thought were walking
up and down over the earth in the visible semblance of heretics and
schismatics. Under such leaders the bigotry latent in the Puritan
commonwealth might easily break out in acts of deadly persecution.
[Sidenote: Endicott and Norton take the lead] [Sidenote: The Quakers and
their views]

The occasion was not long in coming. Already the preaching of George Fox
had borne fruit, and the noble sect of Quakers was an object of scorn
and loathing to all such as had not gone so far as they toward learning
the true lesson of Protestantism. Of all Protestant sects the Quakers
went furthest in stripping off from Christianity its non-essential
features of doctrine and ceremonial. Their ideal was not a theocracy
but a separation between church and state. They would abolish all
distinction between clergy and laity, and could not be coaxed or bullied
into paying tithes. They also refused to render military service, or
to take the oath of allegiance. In these ways they came at once into
antagonism both with church and with state. In doctrine their chief
peculiarity was the assertion of an "Inward Light" by which every
individual is to be guided in his conduct of life. They did not believe
that men ceased to be divinely inspired when the apostolic ages came
to an end, but held that at all times and places the human soul may be
enlightened by direct communion with its Heavenly Father. Such views
involved the most absolute assertion of the right of private judgment;
and when it is added that in the exercise of this right many Quakers
were found to reject the dogmas of original sin and the resurrection of
the body, to doubt the efficacy of baptism, and to call in question the
propriety of Christians turning the Lord's Day into a Jewish Sabbath, we
see that they had in some respects gone far on the road toward modern
rationalism. It was not to be expected that such opinions should
be treated by the Puritans in any other spirit than one of extreme
abhorrence and dread. The doctrine of the "Inward Light," or of private
inspiration, was something especially hateful to the Puritan. To the
modern rationalist, looking at things in the dry light of history,
it may seem that this doctrine was only the Puritan's own appeal to
individual judgment, stated in different form; but the Puritan could not
so regard it. To such a fanatic as Norton this inward light was but
a reflection from the glare of the bottomless pit, this private
inspiration was the beguiling voice of the Devil. As it led the Quakers
to strange and novel conclusions, this inward light seemed to array
itself in hostility to that final court of appeal for all good
Protestants, the sacred text of the Bible. The Quakers were accordingly
regarded as infidels who sought to deprive Protestantism of its only
firm support. They were wrongly accused of blasphemy in their treatment
of the Scriptures. Cotton Mather says that the Quakers were in the habit
of alluding to the Bible as the Word of the Devil. Such charges, from
passionate and uncritical enemies, are worthless except as they serve to
explain the bitter prejudice with which the Quakers were regarded. They
remind one of the silly accusation brought against Wyclif two centuries
earlier, that he taught his disciples that God ought to obey the Devil;
[24] and they are not altogether unlike the assumptions of some modern
theologians who take it for granted that any writer who accepts the
Darwinian theory must be a materialist. [Sidenote: Endicott and Norton
take the lead] [Sidenote: The Quakers and their views]

But worthless as Mather's statements are, in describing the views of
the Quakers, they are valuable as indicating the temper in which these
disturbers of the Puritan theocracy were regarded. In accusing them of
rejecting the Bible and making a law unto themselves, Mather simply put
on record a general belief which he shared. Nor can it be doubted that
the demeanour of the Quaker enthusiasts was sometimes such as to seem
to warrant the belief that their anarchical doctrines entailed, as a
natural consequence, disorderly and disreputable conduct. In those
days all manifestations of dissent were apt to be violent, and the
persecution which they encountered was likely to call forth strange and
unseemly vagaries. When we remember how the Quakers, in their scorn of
earthly magistrates and princes, would hoot at the governor as he
walked up the street; how they used to rush into church on Sundays and
interrupt the sermon with untimely remarks; how Thomas Newhouse once
came into the Old South Meeting-House with a glass bottle in each hand,
and, holding them up before the astonished congregation, knocked them
together and smashed them, with the remark, "Thus will the Lord break
you all in pieces"; how Lydia Wardwell and Deborah Wilson ran about the
streets in the primitive costume of Eve before the fall, and called
their conduct "testifying before the Lord"; we can hardly wonder that
people should have been reminded of the wretched scenes enacted at
Munster by the Anabaptists of the preceding century. [Sidenote: Violent
manifestations of dissent]

Such incidents, however, do not afford the slightest excuse for the
cruel treatment which the Quakers received in Boston, nor do they go
far toward explaining it. Persecution began immediately, before the
new-comers had a chance to behave themselves well or ill. Their mere
coming to Boston was taken as an act of invasion. It was indeed an
attack upon the Puritan theocratic idea. Of all the sectaries of that
age of sects, the Quakers were the most aggressive. There were at one
time more than four thousand of them in English jails; yet when any of
them left England, it was less to escape persecution than to preach
their doctrines far and wide over the earth. Their missionaries found
their way to Paris, to Vienna; even to Rome, where they testified under
the very roof of the Vatican. In this dauntless spirit they came to New
England to convert its inhabitants, or at any rate to establish the
principle that in whatever community it might please them to stay, there
they would stay in spite of judge or hangman. At first they came to
Barbadoes, whence two of their number, Anne Austin and Mary Fisher,
sailed for Boston. When they landed, on a May morning in 1656, Endicott
happened to be away from Boston, but the deputy-governor, Richard
Bellingham, was equal to the occasion. He arrested the two women and
locked them up in jail, where, for fear they might proclaim their
heresies to the crowd gathered outside, the windows were boarded up.
There was no law as yet enacted against Quakers, but a council summoned
for the occasion pronounced their doctrines blasphemous and devilish.
The books which the poor women had with them were seized and publicly
burned, and the women themselves were kept in prison half-starved for
five weeks until the ship they had come in was ready to return to
Barbadoes. Soon after their departure Endicott came home. He found fault
with Bellingham's conduct as too gentle; if he had been there he would
have had the hussies flogged. [Sidenote: Anne Austin and Mary Fisher]

Five years afterward Mary Fisher went to Adrianople and tried to convert
the Grand Turk, who treated her with grave courtesy and allowed her to
prophesy unmolested. This is one of the numerous incidents that, on a
superficial view of history, might be cited in support of the opinion
that there has been on the whole more tolerance in the Mussulman than in
the Christian world. Rightly interpreted, however, the fact has no such
implication. In Massachusetts the preaching of Quaker doctrines might
(and did) lead to a revolution; in Turkey it was as harmless as the
barking of dogs. Governor Endicott was afraid of Mary Fisher; Mahomet
III. was not.

No sooner had the two women been shipped from Boston than eight other
Quakers arrived from London. They were at once arrested. While they were
lying in jail the Federal Commissioners, then in session at Plymouth,
recommended that laws be forthwith enacted to keep these dreaded
heretics out of the land. Next year they stooped so far as to seek the
aid of Rhode Island, the colony which they had refused to admit into
their confederacy. "They sent a letter to the authorities of that
colony, signing themselves their loving friends and neighbours, and
beseeching them to preserve the whole body of colonies against 'such a
pest' by banishing and excluding all Quakers, a measure to which 'the
rule of charity did oblige them.'" Roger Williams was then president of
Rhode Island, and in full accord with his noble spirit was the reply of
the assembly. "We have no law amongst us whereby to punish any for only
declaring by words their minds and understandings concerning the things
and ways of God as to salvation and our eternal condition." As for these
Quakers we find that where they are "most of all suffered to declare
themselves freely and only opposed by arguments in discourse, there
they least of all desire to come." Any breach of the civil law shall be
punished, but the "freedom of different consciences shall be respected."
This reply enraged the confederated colonies, and Massachusetts, as the
strongest and most overbearing, threatened to cut off the trade of
Rhode Island, which forthwith appealed to Cromwell for protection. The
language of the appeal is as touching as its broad Christian spirit is
grand. It recognizes that by stopping trade the men of Massachusetts
will injure themselves, yet, it goes on to say, "for the safeguard of
their religion they may seem to neglect themselves in that respect; for
what will not men do for their God?" But whatever fortune may befall,
"let us not be compelled to exercise any civil power over men's
consciences." [25] [Sidenote: Noble conduct of Rhode Island]

There could never, of course, be a doubt as to who drew up this state
paper. During his last visit to England, three years before, Roger
Williams had spent several weeks at Sir Harry Vane's country house in
Lincolnshire, and he had also been intimately associated with Cromwell
and Milton. The views of these great men were the most advanced of
that age. They were coming to understand the true principle upon which
toleration should be based. (See my Excursions of an Evolutionist, pp.
247, 289-293.) Vane had said in Parliament, "Why should the labours of
any be suppressed, if sober, though never so different? We now profess
to seek God, we desire to see light!" [Sidenote: Roger Williams appeals
to Cromwell]

This Williams called a "heavenly speech." The sentiment it expressed was
in accordance with the practical policy of Cromwell, and in the appeal
of the president of Rhode Island to the Lord Protector one hears the
tone with which friend speaks to friend.

In thus protecting the Quakers, Williams never for a moment concealed
his antipathy to their doctrines. The author of "George Fox digged out
of his Burrowes," the sturdy controversialist who in his seventy-third
year rowed himself in a boat the whole length of Narragansett bay to
engage in a theological tournament against three Quaker champions, was
animated by nothing less than the broadest liberalism in his bold reply
to the Federal Commissioners in 1657. The event showed that under his
guidance the policy of Rhode Island was not only honourable but wise.
The four confederated colonies all proceeded to pass laws banishing
Quakers and making it a penal offence for shipmasters to bring them to
New England. These laws differed in severity. Those of Connecticut, in
which we may trace the influence of the younger John Winthrop, were the
mildest; those of Massachusetts were the most severe, and as Quakers
kept coming all the more in spite of them, they grew harsher and
harsher. At first the Quaker who persisted in returning was to be
flogged and imprisoned at hard labour, next his ears were to be cut off,
and for a third offence his tongue was to be bored with a hot iron.
At length in 1658, the Federal Commissioners, sitting at Boston with
Endicott as chairman, recommended capital punishment. It must be borne
in mind that the general reluctance toward prescribing or inflicting the
death penalty was much weaker then than now. On the statute-books there
were not less than fifteen capital crimes, including such offences as
idolatry, witchcraft, blasphemy, marriage within the Levitical degrees,
"presumptuous sabbath-breaking," and cursing or smiting one's parents.
[26] The infliction of the penalty, however, lay practically very much
within the discretion of the court, and was generally avoided except in
cases of murder or other heinous felony. In some of these ecclesiastical
offences the statute seems to have served the purpose of a threat, and
was therefore perhaps the more easily enacted. Yet none of the colonies
except Massachusetts now adopted the suggestion of the Federal
Commissioners and threatened the Quakers with death. [Sidenote: Laws
passed against the Quakers]

In Massachusetts the opposition was very strong indeed, and its
character shows how wide the divergence in sentiment had already become
between the upper stratum of society and the people in general. This
divergence was one result of the excessive weight given to the clergy by
the restriction of the suffrage to church members. One might almost say
that it was not the people of Massachusetts, after all, that shed
the blood of the Quakers; it was Endicott and the clergy. The bill
establishing death as the penalty for returning after banishment was
passed in the upper house without serious difficulty; but in the lower
house it was at first defeated. Of the twenty-six deputies fifteen were
opposed to it, but one of these fell sick and two were intimidated,
so that finally the infamous measure was passed by a vote of thirteen
against twelve. Probably it would not have passed but for a hopeful
feeling that an occasion for putting it into execution would not
be likely to arise. It was hoped that the mere threat would prove
effective. Endicott begged the Quakers to keep away, saying earnestly
that he did not desire their death; but the more resolute spirits
were not deterred by fear of the gallows. In September, 1659, William
Robinson, Marmaduke Stevenson, and Mary Dyer, who had come to Boston
expressly to defy the cruel law, were banished. Mrs. Dyer was a lady
of good family, wife of the secretary of Rhode Island. She had been an
intimate friend of Mrs. Hutchinson. While she went home to her husband,
Stevenson and Robinson went only to Salem and then faced about and came
back to Boston. Mrs. Dyer also returned. All three felt themselves
under divine command to resist and defy the persecutors. On the 27th of
October they were led to the gallows on Boston Common, under escort of
a hundred soldiers. Many people had begun to cry shame on such
proceedings, and it was thought necessary to take precautions against a
tumult. The victims tried to address the crowd, but their voices were
drowned by the beating of drums. While the Rev. John Wilson railed and
scoffed at them from the foot of the gallows the two brave men were
hanged. The halter had been placed upon Mrs. Dyer when her son, who
had come in all haste from Rhode Island, obtained her reprieve on
his promise to take her away. The bodies of the two men were denied
Christian burial and thrown uncovered into a pit. All the efforts of
husband and son were unable to keep Mrs. Dyer at home. In the following
spring she returned to Boston and on the first day of June was again
taken to the gallows. At the last moment she was offered freedom if she
would only promise to go away and stay, but she refused. "In obedience
to the will of the Lord I came," said she, "and in his will I abide
faithful unto death." And so she died. [Sidenote: Executions on Boston
Common] [Sidenote: Wenlock Christison's defiance and victory]

Public sentiment in Boston was now turning so strongly against the
magistrates that they began to weaken in their purpose. But there
was one more victim. In November, 1660, William Leddra returned from
banishment. The case was clear enough, but he was kept in prison four
months and every effort was made to induce him to promise to leave the
colony, but in vain. In the following March he too was put to death. A
few days before the execution, as Leddra was being questioned in court,
a memorable scene occurred. Wenlock Christison was one of those who had
been banished under penalty of death. On his return he made straight for
the town-house, strode into the court-room, and with uplifted finger
addressed the judges in words of authority. "I am come here to warn
you," said he, "that ye shed no more innocent blood." He was instantly
seized and dragged off to jail. After three months he was brought to
trial before the Court of Assistants. The magistrates debated for more
than a fortnight as to what should be done. The air was thick with
mutterings of insurrection, and they had lost all heart for their
dreadful work. Not so the savage old man who presided, frowning gloomily
under his black skull cap. Losing his patience at last, Endicott smote
the table with fury, upbraided the judges for their weakness, and
declared himself so disgusted that he was ready to go back to England.
[27] "You that will not consent, record it," he shouted, as the question
was again put to vote, "I thank God I am not afraid to give judgment."
Christison was condemned to death, but the sentence was never executed.
In the interval the legislature assembled, and the law was modified. The
martyrs had not died in vain. Their cause was victorious. A revolution
had been effected. The Puritan ideal of a commonwealth composed of a
united body of believers was broken down, never again to be restored.
The principle had been admitted that the heretic might come to
Massachusetts and stay there.

It was not in a moment, however, that these results were fully realized.
For some years longer Quakers were fined, imprisoned, and now and then
tied to the cart's tail and whipped from one town to another. But these
acts of persecution came to be more and more discountenanced by public
opinion until at length they ceased.

It was on the 25th of May, 1660, just one week before the martyrdom of
Mary Dyer, that Charles II. returned to England to occupy his father's
throne. One of the first papers laid before him was a memorial in behalf
of the oppressed Quakers in New England. In the course of the following
year he sent a letter to Endicott and the other New England governors,
ordering them to suspend proceedings against the Quakers, and if any
were then in prison, to send them to England for trial. Christison's
victory had already been won, but the "King's Missive" was now partially
obeyed by the release of all prisoners. As for sending anybody to
England for trial, that was something that no New England government
could ever be made to allow.

Charles's defence of the Quakers was due, neither to liberality
of disposition nor to any sympathy with them, but rather to his
inclinations toward Romanism. Unlike in other respects, Quakers and
Catholics were alike in this, that they were the only sects which the
Protestant world in general agreed in excluding from toleration. Charles
wished to secure toleration for Catholics, and he could not prudently
take steps toward this end without pursuing a policy broad enough to
diminish persecution in other directions, and from these circumstances
the Quakers profited. At times there was something almost like a
political alliance between Quaker and Catholic, as instanced in the
relations between William Penn and Charles's brother, the Duke of York.
[Sidenote: The "King's Missive"] [Sidenote: Why Charles II. interfered
to protect the Quakers]

Besides all this, Charles had good reason to feel that the governments
of New England were assuming too many airs of sovereignty. There were
plenty of people at hand to work upon his mind. The friends of Gorton
and Child and Vassall were loud with their complaints. Samuel Maverick
swore that the people of New England were all rebels, and he could prove
it. The king was assured that the Confederacy was "a war combination,
made by the four colonies when they had a design to throw off their
dependence on England, and for that purpose." The enemies of the New
England people, while dilating upon the rebellious disposition of
Massachusetts, could also remind the king that for several years that
colony had been coining and circulating shillings and sixpences with the
name "Massachusetts" and a tree on one side, and the name "New England"
with the date on the other. There was no recognition of England upon
this coinage, which was begun in 1652 and kept up for more than thirty
years. Such pieces of money used to be called "pine-tree shillings";
but, so far as looks go, the tree might be anything, and an adroit
friend of New England once gravely assured the king that it was meant
for the royal oak in which his majesty hid himself after the battle of

Against the colony of New Haven the king had a special grudge. Two of
the regicide judges, who had sat in the tribunal which condemned his
father, escaped to New England in 1660 and were well received there.
They were gentlemen of high position. Edward Whalley was a cousin of
Cromwell and Hampden. He had distinguished himself at Naseby and Dunbar,
and had risen to the rank of lieutenant-general. He had commanded at
the capture of Worcester, where it is interesting to observe that the
royalist commander who surrendered to him was Sir Henry Washington, own
cousin to the grandfather of George Washington. The other regicide,
William Goffe, as a major-general in Cromwell's army, had won such
distinction that there were some who pointed to him as the proper person
to succeed the Lord Protector on the death of the latter. He had married
Whalley's daughter. Soon after the arrival of these gentlemen, a royal
order for their arrest was sent to Boston. If they had been arrested and
sent back to England, their severed heads would soon have been placed
over Temple Bar. The king's detectives hotly pursued them through the
woodland paths of New England, and they would soon have been taken but
for the aid they got from the people. Many are the stories of their
hairbreadth escapes. Sometimes they took refuge in a cave on a mountain
near New Haven, sometimes they hid in friendly cellars; and once, being
hard put to it, they skulked under a wooden bridge, while their pursuers
on horseback galloped by overhead. After lurking about New Haven and
Milford for two or three years, on hearing of the expected arrival
of Colonel Nichols and his commission, they sought a more secluded
hiding-place near Hadley, a village lately settled far up the
Connecticut river, within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. Here the
avengers lost the trail, the pursuit was abandoned, and the weary
regicides were presently forgotten. The people of New Haven had been
especially zealous in shielding the fugitives. Mr. Davenport had not
only harboured them in his own house, but on the Sabbath before their
expected arrival he had preached a very bold sermon, openly advising
his people to aid and comfort them as far as possible. [28] The colony,
moreover, did not officially recognize the restoration of Charles II. to
the throne until that event had been commonly known in New England for
more than a year. For these reasons the wrath of the king was specially
roused against New Haven, when circumstances combined to enable him at
once to punish this disloyal colony and deal a blow at the Confederacy.
We have seen that in restricting the suffrage to church members New
Haven had followed the example of Massachusetts, but Connecticut had
not; and at this time there was warm controversy between the two younger
colonies as to the wisdom Of such a policy. As yet none of the colonies
save Massachusetts had obtained a charter, and Connecticut was naturally
anxious to obtain one. Whether through a complaisant spirit connected
with this desire, or through mere accident, Connecticut had been prompt
in acknowledging the restoration of Charles II.; and in August, 1661,
she dispatched the younger Winthrop to England to apply for a charter.
Winthrop was a man of winning address and of wide culture. His
scientific tastes were a passport to the favour of the king at a time
when the Royal Society was being founded, of which Winthrop himself was
soon chosen a fellow. In every way the occasion was an auspicious one.
The king looked upon the rise of the New England Confederacy with
unfriendly eyes. Massachusetts was as yet the only member of the league
that was really troublesome; and there seemed to be no easier way to
weaken her than to raise up a rival power by her side, and extend to it
such privileges as might awaken her jealousy. All the more would such
a policy be likely to succeed if accompanied by measures of which
Massachusetts must necessarily disapprove, and the suppression of
New Haven would be such a measure. [Sidenote: New Haven annexed to

In accordance with these views, a charter of great liberality was at
once granted to Connecticut, and by the same instrument the colony of
New Haven was deprived of its separate existence and annexed to its
stronger neighbour. As if to emphasize the motives which had led to this
display of royal favour toward Connecticut, an equally liberal charter
was granted to Rhode Island. In the summer of 1664 Charles II. sent a
couple of ships-of-war to Boston harbour, with 400 troops under command
of Colonel Richard Nichols, who had been appointed, along with Samuel
Maverick and two others as royal commissioners, to look after the
affairs of the New World. Colonel Nichols took his ships to New
Amsterdam, and captured that important town. After his return the
commissioners held meetings at Boston, and for a time the Massachusetts
charter seemed in danger. But the Puritan magistrates were shrewd, and
months were frittered away to no purpose. Presently the Dutch made war
upon England, and the king felt it to be unwise to irritate the people
of Massachusetts beyond endurance. The turbulent state of English
politics which followed still further absorbed his attention, and New
England had another respite of several years. [Sidenote: Founding of

In New Haven a party had grown up which was dissatisfied with its
extreme theocratic policy and approved of the union with Connecticut.
Davenport and his followers, the founders of the colony, were beyond
measure disgusted. They spurned "the Christless rule" of the sister
colony. Many of them took advantage of the recent conquest of New
Netherland, and a strong party, led by the Rev. Abraham Pierson, of
Branford, migrated to the banks of the Passaic in June, 1667, and laid
the foundations of Newark. For some years to come the theocratic idea
that had given birth to New Haven continued to live on in New Jersey. As
for Mr. Davenport, he went to Boston and ended his days there. Cotton
Mather, writing at a later date, when the theocratic scheme of the early
settlers had been manifestly outgrown and superseded, says of Davenport:
"Yet, after all, the Lord gave him to see that in this world a
Church-State was impossible, whereinto there enters nothing which

The theocratic policy, alike in New Haven and in Massachusetts, broke
down largely through its inherent weakness. It divided the community,
and created among the people a party adverse to its arrogance and
exclusiveness. This state of things facilitated the suppression of
New Haven by royal edict, and it made possible the victory of Wenlock
Christison in Massachusetts. We can now see the fundamental explanation
of the deadly hostility with which Endicott and his party regarded the
Quakers. The latter aimed a fatal blow at the very root of the idea
which had brought the Puritans to New England. Once admit these heretics
as citizens, or even as tolerated sojourners, and there was an end of
the theocratic state consisting of a united body of believers. It was a
life-and-death struggle, in which no quarter was given; and the Quakers,
aided by popular discontent with the theocracy, even more than by the
intervention of the crown, won a decisive victory.

As the work of planting New England took place chiefly in the eleven
years 1629-1640, during which Charles I. contrived to reign without a
parliament, so the prosperous period of the New England Confederacy,
1643-1664, covers the time of the Civil War and the Commonwealth, and
just laps on to the reign of Charles II. By the summary extinction of
the separate existence of one of its members for the benefit of another,
its vigour was sadly impaired. But its constitution was revised so as
to make it a league of three states instead of four; and the Federal
Commissioners kept on holding their meetings, though less frequently,
until the revocation of the Massachusetts charter in 1684. During
this period a great Indian war occurred, in the course of which this
concentration of the military strength of New England, imperfect as it
was, proved itself very useful. In the history of New England, from the
restoration of the Stuarts until their final expulsion, the two most
important facts are the military struggle of the newly founded states
with the Indians, and their constitutional struggle against the British
government. The troubles and dangers of 1636 were renewed on a much more
formidable scale, but the strength of the people had waxed greatly in
the mean time, and the new perils were boldly overcome or skilfully
warded off; not, however, until the constitution of Massachusetts had
been violently wrenched out of shape in the struggle, and seeds of
conflict sown which in the following century were to bear fruit in the
American Revolution. [Sidenote: Breaking down of the theocratic policy]
[Sidenote: Weakening of the Confederacy]



For eight-and-thirty years after the destruction of the Pequots, the
intercourse between the English and the Indians was to all outward
appearance friendly. The policy pursued by the settlers was in the
main well considered. While they had shown that they could strike with
terrible force when blows were needed, their treatment of the natives in
time of peace seems to have been generally just and kind. Except in the
single case of the conquered Pequot territory, they scrupulously paid
for every rood of ground on which they settled, and so far as possible
they extended to the Indians the protection of the law. On these points
we have the explicit testimony of Josiah Winslow, governor of Plymouth,
in his report to the Federal Commissioners in May, 1676; and what
he says about Plymouth seems to have been equally true of the other
colonies. Says Winslow, "I think I can clearly say that before these
present troubles broke out, the English did not possess one foot of land
in this colony but what was fairly obtained by honest purchase of the
Indian proprietors. Nay, because some of our people are of a covetous
disposition, and the Indians are in their straits easily prevailed with
to part with their lands, we first made a law that none should purchase
or receive of gift any land of the Indians without the knowledge and
allowance of our Court .... And if at any time they have brought
complaints before us, they have had justice impartial and speedy, so
that our own people have frequently complained that we erred on the
other hand in showing them overmuch favour." The general laws of
Massachusetts and Connecticut as well as of Plymouth bear out what
Winslow says, and show us that as a matter of policy the colonial
governments were fully sensible of the importance of avoiding all
occasions for quarrel with their savage neighbours. [Sidenote: Puritans
and Indians]

There can, moreover, be little doubt that the material comfort of the
Indians was for a time considerably improved by their dealings with the
white men. Hitherto their want of foresight and thrift had been wont to
involve them during the long winters in a dreadful struggle with famine.
Now the settlers were ready to pay liberally for the skin of every
fur-covered animal the red men could catch; and where the trade thus
arising did not suffice to keep off famine, instances of generous
charity were frequent. The Algonquin tribes of New England lived chiefly
by hunting, but partly by agriculture. They raised beans and corn, and
succotash was a dish which they contributed to the white man's table.
They could now raise or buy English vegetables, while from dogs and
horses, pigs and poultry, oxen and sheep, little as they could avail
themselves of such useful animals, they nevertheless derived some
benefit. [29] Better blankets and better knives were brought within
their reach; and in spite of all the colonial governments could do to
prevent it, they were to some extent enabled to supply themselves with
muskets and rum. [Sidenote: Trade with the Indians]

Besides all this trade, which, except in the article of liquor, tended
to improve the condition of the native tribes, there was on the part of
the earlier settlers an earnest and diligent effort to convert them
to Christianity and give them the rudiments of a civilized education.
Missionary work was begun in 1643 by Thomas Mayhew on the islands of
Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. The savages at first declared they were
not so silly as to barter thirty-seven tutelar deities for one, but
after much preaching and many pow-wows Mayhew succeeded in persuading
them that the Deity of the white man was mightier than all their
_manitous._ Whether they ever got much farther than this toward a
comprehension of the white man's religion may be doubted; but they were
prevailed upon to let their children learn to read and write, and even
to set up little courts, in which justice was administered according to
some of the simplest rules of English law, and from which there lay an
appeal to the court of Plymouth. In 1646 Massachusetts enacted that the
elders of the churches should choose two persons each year to go and
spread the gospel among the Indians. In 1649 Parliament established the
Society for propagating the Gospel in New England, and presently from
voluntary contributions the society was able to dispose of an annual
income of L2000. Schools were set up in which agriculture was taught as
well as religion. It was even intended that Indians should go to Harvard
College, and a building was erected for their accommodation, but as none
came to occupy it, the college printing-press was presently set to work
there. One solitary Indian student afterward succeeded in climbing to
the bachelor's degree,--Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck of the class of 1665. It
was this one success that was marvellous, not the failure of the scheme,
which vividly shows how difficult it was for the white man of that day
to understand the limitations of the red man. [Sidenote: Missionary
work: Thomas Mayhew]

The greatest measure of success in converting the Indians was attained
by that famous linguist and preacher, the apostle John Eliot. This
remarkable man was a graduate of Jesus College, Cambridge. He had come
to Massachusetts in 1631, and in the following year had been settled as
teacher in the church at Roxbury of which Thomas Welde was pastor. He
had been distinguished at the university for philological scholarship
and for linguistic talent--two things not always found in
connection--and now during fourteen years he devoted such time as he
could to acquiring a complete mastery of the Algonquin dialect spoken by
the Indians of Massachusetts bay. To the modern comparative philologist
his work is of great value. He published not only an excellent Indian
grammar, but a complete translation of the Bible into the Massachusetts
language,--a monument of prodigious labour. It is one of the most
instructive documents in existence for the student of Algonquin speech,
though the Massachusetts tribe and its language have long been extinct,
and there are very few scholars living who can read the book. It has
become one of the curiosities of literature and at auction sales of
private libraries commands an extremely high price. Yet out of this rare
book the American public has somehow or other within the last five
or six years contrived to pick up a word which we shall very likely
continue to hear for some time to come. In Eliot's Bible, the word which
means a great chief--such as Joshua, or Gideon, or Joab--is "mugwump."

It was in 1646 that Eliot began his missionary preaching at a small
Indian village near Watertown. President Dunster, of Harvard College,
and Mr. Shepard, the minister at Cambridge, felt a warm interest in the
undertaking. These worthy men seriously believed that the aborigines
of America were the degenerate descendants of the ten lost tribes of
Israel, and from this strange backsliding it was hoped that they might
now be reclaimed. With rare eloquence and skill did Eliot devote himself
to the difficult work of reaching the Indian's scanty intelligence and
still scantier moral sense. His ministrations reached from the sands of
Cape Cod to the rocky hillsides of Brookfield. But he soon found that
single-handed he could achieve but little over so wide an area, and
accordingly he adopted the policy of colonizing his converts in village
communities near the English towns, where they might be sequestered from
their heathen brethren and subjected to none but Christian influences.
In these communities he hoped to train up native missionaries who might
thence go and labour among the wild tribes until the whole lump of
barbarism should be leavened. In pursuance of this scheme a stockaded
village was built at Natick in 1651 Under the direction of an English
carpenter the Indians built log-houses for themselves, and most of them
adopted the English dress. Their simple government was administered by
tithing-men, or "rulers of tens," chosen after methods prescribed in the
book of Exodus. Other such communities were formed in the neighbourhoods
of Concord and Grafton. By 1674 the number of these "praying Indians,"
as they were called, was estimated at 4000, of whom about 1500 were in
Eliot's villages, as many more in Martha's Vineyard, 300 in Nantucket,
and 700 in the Plymouth colony. There seems to be no doubt that these
Indians were really benefited both materially and morally by the change
in their life. In theology it is not likely that they reached any higher
view than that expressed by the Connecticut sachem Wequash who "seeing
and beholding the mighty power of God in the English forces, how they
fell upon the Pequots, ... from that time was convinced and persuaded
that our God was a most dreadful God;" accordingly, says the author of
"New England's First Fruits," "he became thoroughly reformed according
to his light." Matters of outward observance, too, the Indians could
understand; for we read of one of them rebuking an Englishman "for
profaning the Lord's Day by felling of a tree." The Indian's notions of
religion were probably confined within this narrow compass; the notions
of some people that call themselves civilized perhaps do not extend much
further. [Sidenote: Villages of Christian Indians]

From such facts as those above cited we may infer that the early
relations of the Puritan settlers to the Algonquin tribes of New England
were by no means like the relations between white men and red men in
recent times on our western plains. During Philip's War, as we shall
see, the Puritan theory of the situation was entirely changed and our
forefathers began to act in accordance with the frontiersman's doctrine
that the good Indians are dead Indians. But down to that time it is
clear that his intention was to deal honourably and gently with his
tawny neighbour. We sometimes hear the justice and kindness of the
Quakers in Pennsylvania alleged as an adequate reason for the success
with which they kept clear of an Indian war. This explanation, however,
does not seem to be adequate; it does not appear that, on the whole, the
Puritans were less just and kind than the Quakers in their treatment of
the red men. The true explanation is rather to be found in the relations
between the Indian tribes toward the close of the seventeenth century.
Early in that century the Pennsylvania region had been in the hands
of the ferocious and powerful Susquehannocks, but in 1672, after a
frightful struggle of twenty years, this great tribe was swept from the
face of the earth by the resistless league of the Five Nations. When
the Quakers came to Pennsylvania in 1682, the only Indians in that
neighbourhood were the Delawares, who had just been terribly beaten by
the Five Nations and forced into a treaty by which they submitted to be
called "women," and to surrender their tomahawks. Penn's famous treaty
was made with the Delawares as occupants of the land and also with the
Iroquois league as overlords. [30] Now the great central fact of early
American history, so far as the relations between white men and red
men are concerned, is the unshaken friendship of the Iroquois for the
English. This was the natural consequence of the deadly hostility
between the Iroquois and the French which began with Champlain's defeat
of the Mohawks in 1609. During the seventy-three years which intervened
between the founding of Pennsylvania and the defeat of Braddock there
was never a moment when the Delawares could have attacked the Quakers
without incurring the wrath and vengeance of their overlords the Five
Nations. This was the reason why Pennsylvania was left so long in quiet.
No better proof could be desired than the fact that in Pontiac's war,
after the overthrow of the French and when Indian politics had changed,
no state suffered so much as Pennsylvania from the horrors of Indian
warfare. [Sidenote: Why Pennsylvania was so long unmolested by the

In New England at the time of Philip's War, the situation was very
different from what it was between the Hudson and the Susquehanna. The
settlers were thrown into immediate relations with several tribes whose
mutual hostility and rivalry was such that it was simply impossible to
keep on good terms with all at once. Such complicated questions as that
which involved the English in responsibility for the fate of Miantonomo
did not arise in Pennsylvania. Since the destruction of the Pequots we
have observed the Narragansetts and Mohegans contending for the foremost
place among New England tribes. Of the two rivals the Mohegans were
the weaker, and therefore courted the friendship of the formidable
palefaces. The English had no desire to take part in these barbarous
feuds, but they could not treat the Mohegans well without incurring the
hostility of the Narragansetts. For thirty years the feeling of the
latter tribe toward the English had been very unfriendly and would
doubtless have vented itself in murder but for their recollection of
the fate of the Pequots. After the loss of their chief Miantonomo their
attitude became so sullen and defiant that the Federal Commissioners, in
order to be in readiness for an outbreak, collected a force of 300 men.
At the first news of these preparations the Narragansetts, overcome with
terror, sent a liberal tribute of wampum to Boston, and were fain to
conclude a treaty in which they promised to behave themselves well in
the future.

It was impossible that this sort of English protectorate over the native
tribes, which was an inevitable result of the situation, should be other
than irksome and irritating to the Indians. They could not but see that
the white man stood there as master, and even in the utter absence
of provocation, this fact alone must have made them hate him. It is
difficult, moreover, for the civilized man and the savage to understand
each other. As a rule the one does not know what the other is thinking
about. When Mr. Hamilton Gushing a few years ago took some of his Zuni
friends into a hotel in Chicago, they marvelled at his entering such a
mighty palace with so little ceremony, and their wonder was heightened
at the promptness with which "slaves" came running at his beck and call;
but all at once, on seeing an American eagle over one of the doorways,
they felt that the mystery was solved. Evidently this palace was the
communal dwelling of the Eagle Clan of palefaces, and evidently Mr.
Gushing was a great sachem of this clan, and as such entitled to lordly
sway there! The Zunis are not savages, but representatives of a remote
and primitive phase of what Mr. Morgan calls the middle status of
barbarism. The gulf between their thinking and that of white men is
wide because there is a wide gulf between the experience of the two.
[Sidenote: Difficulty of the situation in New England] [Sidenote: It is
hard for the savage and the civilized man to understand one another]

This illustration may help us to understand an instance in which the
Indians of New England must inevitably have misinterpreted the actions
of the white settlers and read them in the light of their uneasy fears
and prejudices. I refer to the work of the apostle Eliot. His design in
founding his villages of Christian Indians was in the highest degree
benevolent and noble; but the heathen Indians could hardly be expected
to see anything in it but a cunning scheme for destroying them.

Eliot's converts were for the most part from the Massachusetts tribe,
the smallest and weakest of all. The Plymouth converts came chiefly
from the tribe next in weakness, the Pokanokets or Wampanoags. The more
powerful tribes--Narragansetts, Nipmucks, and Mohegans--furnished very
few converts. When they saw the white intruders gathering members of the
weakest tribes into villages of English type, and teaching them strange
gods while clothing them in strange garments, they probably supposed
that the pale-faces were simply adopting these Indians into their white
tribe as a means of increasing their military strength. At any rate,
such a proceeding would be perfectly intelligible to the savage mind,
whereas the nature of Eliot's design lay quite beyond its ken. As the
Indians recovered from their supernatural dread of the English, and
began to regard them as using human means to accomplish their ends,
they must of course interpret their conduct in such light as savage
experience could afford. It is one of the commonest things in the world
for a savage tribe to absorb weak neighbours by adoption, and thus
increase its force preparatory to a deadly assault upon other
neighbours. When Eliot in 1657 preached to the little tribe of Podunks
near Hartford, and asked them if they were willing to accept of Jesus
Christ as their saviour, their old men scornfully answered No! they had
parted with most of their land, but they were not going to become the
white man's servants. A rebuke administered to Eliot by Uncas in 1674
has a similar implication. When the apostle was preaching one evening in
a village over which that sachem claimed jurisdiction, an Indian arose
and announced himself as a deputy of Uncas. Then he said, "Uncas is not
well pleased that the English should pass over Mohegan river to call
_his_ Indians to pray to God." [31]

Thus, no matter how benevolent the white man's intentions, he could not
fail to be dreaded by the Indians as a powerful and ever encroaching

Even in his efforts to keep the peace and prevent tribes from taking the
warpath without his permission, he was interfering with the red man's
cherished pastime of murder and pillage. The appeals to the court at
Plymouth, the frequent summoning of sachems to Boston, to explain
their affairs and justify themselves against accusers, must have been
maddening in their effects upon the Indian; for there is one sound
instinct which the savage has in common with the most progressive
races, and that is the love of self-government that resents all outside
interference. All things considered, it is remarkable that peace should
have been maintained in New England from 1637 to 1675; and probably
nothing short of the consuming vengeance wrought upon the Pequots could
have done it. But with the lapse of time the wholesome feeling of dread
began to fade away, and as the Indians came to use musket instead of bow
and arrow, their fear of the English grew less, until at length their
ferocious temper broke forth in an epidemic of fire and slaughter that
laid waste the land. [Sidenote: It is remarkable that peace should have
been so long preserved]

Massasoit, chief sachem of the Wampanoags and steadfast ally of the
Plymouth colonists, died in 1660, leaving two sons, Wamsutta and
Metacom, or as the English nicknamed them, Alexander and Philip.
Alexander succeeded to his father's position of savage dignity and
influence, but his reign was brief. Rumours came to Plymouth that he was
plotting mischief, and he was accordingly summoned to appear before the
General Court of that colony and explain himself. He seems to have gone
reluctantly, but he succeeded in satisfying the magistrates of his
innocence of any evil designs. Whether he caught cold at Plymouth or
drank rum as only Indians can, we do not know. At any rate, on starting
homeward, before he had got clear of English territory, he was seized by
a violent fever and died. The savage mind knows nothing of pneumonia or
delirium tremens. It knows nothing of what we call natural death. To
the savage all death means murder, for like other men he judges of the
unknown by the known. In the Indian's experience normal death was by
tomahawk or firebrand; abnormal death (such as we call natural)
must come either from poison or from witchcraft. So when the honest
chronicler Hubbard tells us that Philip suspected the Plymouth people of
poisoning his brother, we can easily believe him. It was long, however,
before he was ready to taste the sweets of revenge. He schemed and
plotted in the dark. In one respect the Indian diplomatist is unlike his
white brethren; he does not leave state-papers behind him to reward
the diligence and gratify the curiosity of later generations; and
accordingly it is hard to tell how far Philip was personally responsible
for the storm which was presently to burst upon New England. [Sidenote:
Deaths of Massasoit and Alexander] [Sidenote: Philip's designs]

Whether his scheme was as comprehensive as that of Pontiac in 1763,
whether or not it amounted to a deliberate combination of all red men
within reach to exterminate the white men, one can hardly say with
confidence. The figure of Philip, in the war which bears his name, does
not stand out so prominently as the figure of Pontiac in the later
struggle. This may be partly because Pontiac's story has been told by
such a magician as Mr. Francis Parkman. But it is partly because the
data are too meagre. In all probability, however, the schemes of
Sassacus the Pequot, of Philip the Wampanoag, and of Pontiac the Ottawa,
were substantially the same. That Philip plotted with the Narragansetts
seems certain, and the early events of the war point clearly to a
previous understanding with the Nipmucks. The Mohegans, on the other
hand, gave him no assistance, but remained faithful to their white

For thirteen years had Philip been chief sachem of his tribe before the
crisis came. Rumours of his unfriendly disposition had at intervals
found their way to the ears of the magistrates at Plymouth, but Philip
had succeeded in setting himself right before them. In 1670 the rumours
were renewed, and the Plymouth men felt that it was time to strike, but
the other colonies held them back, and a meeting was arranged between
Philip and three Boston men at Taunton in April, 1671. There the crafty
savage expressed humility and contrition for all past offences, and
even consented to a treaty in which he promised that his tribe should
surrender all their fire-arms. On the part of the English this was an
extremely unwise measure, for while it could not possibly be enforced,
and while it must have greatly increased the irritation of the Indians,
it was at the same time interpretable as a symptom of fear. With ominous
scowls and grunts some seventy muskets were given up, but this was all.
Through the summer there was much uneasiness, and in September Philip
was summoned to Plymouth with five of his under-sachems, and solemnly
warned to keep the peace. The savages again behaved with humility and
agreed to pay a yearly tribute of five wolves' heads and to do no act of
war without express permission.

For three years things seemed quiet, until late in 1674 the alarm was
again sounded. Sausamon, a convert from the Massachusetts tribe, had
studied a little at Harvard College, and could speak and write English
with facility. He had at one time been employed by Philip as a sort of
private secretary or messenger, and at other times had preached and
taught school among the Indian converts at Natick. Sausamon now came to
Plymouth and informed Governor Winslow that Philip was certainly engaged
in a conspiracy that boded no good to the English. Somehow or other
Philip contrived to find out what Sausamon had said, and presently
coming to Plymouth loudly asseverated his innocence; but the magistrates
warned him that if they heard any more of this sort of thing his
arms would surely be seized. A few days after Philip had gone home,
Sausamon's hat and gun were seen lying on the frozen surface of
Assowamsett Pond, near Middleborough, and on cutting through the ice his
body was found with unmistakable marks of beating and strangling. After
some months the crime was traced to three Wampanoags, who were forthwith
arrested, tried by a mixed jury of Indians and white men, found guilty,
and put to death. On the way to the gallows one of them confessed
that he had stood by while his two friends had pounded and choked the
unfortunate Sausamon. [Sidenote: Murder of Sausamon]

More alarming reports now came from Swanzey, a pretty village of some
forty houses not far from Philip's headquarters at Mount Hope. On Sunday
June 20, while everybody was at church, a party of Indians had stolen
into the town and set fire to two houses. Messengers were hurried from
Plymouth and from Boston, to demand the culprits under penalty of
instant war. As they approached Swanzey the men from Boston saw a sight
that filled them with horror. The road was strewn with corpses of men,
women, and children, scorched, dismembered, and mangled with that
devilish art of which the American Indian is the most finished master.
The savages had sacked the village the day before, burning the houses
and slaying the people. Within three days a small force of colonial
troops had driven Philip from his position at Mount Hope; but while
they were doing this a party of savages swooped upon Dartmouth, burning
thirty houses and committing fearful atrocities. Some of their victims
were flayed alive, or impaled on sharp stakes, or roasted over slow
fires. Similar horrors were wrought at Middleborough and Taunton; and
now the misery spread to Massachusetts, where on the 14th of July the
town of Mendon was attacked by a party of Nipmucks. [Sidenote: Massacres
at Swanzey and Dartmouth, June, 1675]

At that time the beautiful highlands between Lancaster and the
Connecticut river were still an untrodden wilderness. On their southern
slope Worcester and Brookfield were tiny hamlets of a dozen houses each.
Up the Connecticut valley a line of little villages, from Springfield
to Northfield, formed the remotest frontier of the English, and their
exposed position offered tempting opportunities to the Indians. Governor
Leverett saw how great the danger would be if the other tribes should
follow the example set by Philip, and Captain Edward Hutchinson was
accordingly sent to Brookfield to negotiate with the Nipmucks. This
officer was eldest son of the unfortunate lady whose preaching in Boston
nearly forty years before had been the occasion of so much strife. Not
only his mother, but all save one or two of his brothers and sisters
--and there were not less than twelve of them--had been murdered by
Indians on the New Netherland border in 1643; now the same cruel fate
overtook the gallant captain. The savages agreed to hold a parley and
appointed a time and place for the purpose, but instead of keeping tryst
they lay in ambush and slew Hutchinson with eight of his men on their
way to the conference. [Sidenote: Murder of Captain Hutchinson]

Three days afterward Philip, who had found home too hot for him, arrived
in the Nipmuck country, and on the night of August 2, took part in a
fierce assault on Brookfield. Thirty or forty men, with some fifty women
and children--all the inhabitants of the hamlet--took refuge in a large
house, where they were besieged by 300 savages whose bullets pierced the
wooden walls again and again. Arrows tipped with burning rags were
shot into the air in such wise as to fall upon the roof, but they who
crouched in the garret were watchful and well supplied with water, while
from the overhanging windows the volleys of musketry were so brisk and
steady that the screaming savages below could not get near enough to the
house to set it on fire. For three days the fight was kept up, while
every other house in the village was destroyed. By this time the Indians
had contrived to mount some planks on barrels so as to make a kind of
rude cart which they loaded with tow and chips. They were just about
setting it on fire and preparing to push it against the house with long
poles, when they were suddenly foiled by a heavy shower. That noon the
gallant Simon Willard, ancestor of two presidents of Harvard College, a
man who had done so much toward building up Concord and Lancaster that
he was known as the "founder of towns," was on his way from Lancaster to
Groton at the head of forty-seven horsemen, when he was overtaken by a
courier with the news from Brookfield. The distance was thirty miles,
the road scarcely fit to be called a bridle-path, and Willard's years
were more than threescore-and-ten; but by an hour after sunset he had
gallopped into Brookfield and routed the Indians who fled to a swamp ten
miles distant. [Sidenote: Attack on Brookfield]

The scene is now shifted to the Connecticut valley, where on the 25th of
August Captain Lothrop defeated the savages at Hatfield. On the 1st of
September simultaneous attacks were made upon Deerfield and Hadley, and
among the traditions of the latter place is one of the most interesting
of the stories of that early time. The inhabitants were all in church
keeping a fast, when the yells of the Indians resounded. Seizing their
guns, the men rushed out to meet the foe; but seeing the village green
swarming on every side with the horrid savages, for a moment their
courage gave way and a panic was imminent; when all at once a stranger
of reverend aspect and stately form, with white beard flowing on his
bosom, appeared among them and took command with an air of authority
which none could gainsay. He bade them charge on the screeching rabble,
and after a short sharp skirmish the tawny foe was put to flight. When
the pursuers came together again, after the excitement of the rout,
their deliverer was not to be found. In their wonder, as they knew not
whence he came or whither he had gone, many were heard to say that
an angel had been sent from heaven for their deliverance. It was the
regicide William Goffe, who from his hiding-place had seen the savages
stealing down the hillside, and sallied forth to win yet one more
victory over the hosts of Midian ere death should come to claim him in
his woodland retreat. Sir Walter Scott has put this pretty story into
the mouth of Major Bridgenorth in "Peveril of the Peak," and Cooper has
made use of it in "The Wept of Wish-ton-wish." Like many other romantic
stories, it rests upon insufficient authority and its truth has been
called in question. [32] But there seems to be nothing intrinsically
improbable in the tradition; and a paramount regard for Goffe's personal
safety would quite account for the studied silence of contemporary
writers like Hubbard and Increase Mather. [Sidenote: The mysterious
stranger of Hadley]

This repulse did not check for a moment the activity of the Indians,
though for a long time we hear nothing more of Philip. On the 2d
of September they slew eight men at Northfield and on the 4th they
surrounded and butchered Captain Beers and most of his company of
thirty-six marching to the relief of that village. The next day but
one, as Major Robert Treat came up the road with his 100 Connecticut
soldiers, they found long poles planted by the wayside bearing the heads
of their unfortunate comrades. They in turn were assaulted, but beat off
the enemy, and brought away the people of Northfield. That village was
abandoned, and presently Deerfield shared its fate and the people were
crowded into Hadley. Yet worse remained to be seen. A large quantity of
wheat had been left partly threshed at Deerfield, and on the 11th of
September eighteen wagons were sent up with teamsters and farmers to
finish the threshing and bring in the grain. They were escorted by
Captain Lothrop, with his train-band of ninety picked men, known as the
"Flower of Essex," perhaps the best drilled company in the colony. The
threshing was done, the wagons were loaded, and the party made a night
march southward. At seven in the morning, as they were fording a shallow
stream in the shade of overarching woods, they were suddenly overwhelmed
by the deadly fire of 700 ambushed Nipmucks, and only eight of them
escaped to tell the tale. A "black and fatal" day was this, says the
chronicler, "the saddest that ever befell New England." To this day the
memory of the slaughter at Bloody Brook survives, and the visitor to
South Deerfield may read the inscription over the grave in which Major
Treat's men next day buried all the victims together. The Indians now
began to feel their power, and on the 5th of October they attacked
Springfield and burned thirty houses there. [Sidenote: Ambuscade at
Bloody Brook, September 12]

Things were becoming desperate. For ten weeks, from September 9 to
November 19, the Federal Commissioners were in session daily in Boston.
The most eminent of their number, for ability and character, was the
younger John Winthrop, who was still governor of Connecticut. Plymouth
was represented by its governor, Josiah Winslow, with the younger
William Bradford; Massachusetts by William Stoughton, Simon Bradstreet,
and Thomas Danforth. These strong men were confronted with a difficult
problem. From Batten's journal, kept during that disastrous summer, we
learn the state of feeling of excitement in Boston. The Puritans had
by no means got rid of that sense of corporate responsibility which
civilized man has inherited from prehistoric ages, and which has been
one of the principal causes of religious persecution. This sombre
feeling has prompted men to believe that to spare the heretic is to
bring down the wrath of God upon the whole community; and now in Boston
many people stoutly maintained that God had let loose the savages, with
firebrand and tomahawk, to punish the people of New England for ceasing
to persecute "false worshippers and especially idolatrous Quakers."
Quaker meetings were accordingly forbidden under penalty of fine and
imprisonment. Some harmless Indians were murdered. At Marblehead two
were assaulted and killed by a crowd of women. There was a bitter
feeling toward the Christian Indians, many of whom had joined their
heathen kinsmen in burning and slaying. Daniel Gookin, superintendent of
the "praying Indians," a gentleman of the highest character, was told
that it would not be safe to show himself in the streets of Boston.
Mrs. Mary Pray, of Providence, wrote a letter recommending the total
extermination of the red men.

The measures adopted by the Commissioners certainly went far toward
carrying out Mrs. Pray's suggestion. The demeanour of the Narragansetts
had become very threatening, and their capacity for mischief exceeded
that of all the other tribes together. In July the Commissioners had
made a treaty with them, but in October it became known in Boston
that they were harbouring some of Philip's hostile Indians. When the
Commissioners sharply called them to account for this, their sachem
Canonchet, son of Miantonomo, promised to surrender the fugitives
within ten days. But the ten days passed and nothing was heard from the
Narragansetts. The victory of their brethren at Bloody Brook had worked
upon their minds, so that they no longer thought it worth while to keep
faith with the white men. They had overcome their timidity and were now
ready to take part in the work of massacre. [33] The Commissioners soon
learned of their warlike preparations and lost no time in forestalling
them. The Narragansetts were fairly warned that if they did not at once
fulfil their promises they must expect the utmost severities of war. A
thousand men were enlisted for this service and put under command of
Governor Winslow, and in December they marched against the enemy. The
redoubtable fighter and lively chronicler Benjamin Church accompanied
the expedition.

The Indians had fortified themselves on a piece of rising ground, six
acres in extent, in the middle of a hideous swamp impassable at most
seasons but now in some places frozen hard enough to afford a precarious
footing. They were surrounded by rows of tall palisades which formed a
wall twelve feet in thickness; and the only approach to the single door
of this stronghold was over the trunk of a felled tree some two feet in
diameter and slippery with snow and ice. A stout block-house filled with
sharpshooters guarded this rude bridge, which was raised some five feet
from the ground. Within the palisaded fortress perhaps not less than
2000 warriors, with many women and children, awaited the onset of the
white men, for here had Canonchet gathered together nearly the whole of
his available force. This was a military mistake. It was cooping up his
men for slaughter. They would have been much safer if scattered about in
the wilderness, and could have given the English much more trouble. But
readily as they acknowledged the power of the white man, they did not
yet understand it. One man's courage is not another's, and the Indian
knew little or nothing of that Gothic fury of self-abandonment which
rushes straight ahead and snatches victory from the jaws of death. His
fortress was a strong one, and it was no longer, as in the time of the
Pequots, a strife in which firearms were pitted against bow and arrow.
Many of the Narragansetts were equipped with muskets and skilled in
their use, and under such circumstances victory for the English was not
to be lightly won. [Sidenote: Expedition against the Narragansetts]

On the night of December 18 their little army slept in an open field
at Pettyquamscott without other blanket than a "moist fleece of snow."
Thence to the Indian fortress, situated in what is now South Kingston,
the march was eighteen miles. The morrow was a Sunday, but Winslow
deemed it imprudent to wait, as food had wellnigh given out. Getting up
at five o'clock, they toiled through deep snow till they came within
sight of the Narragansett stronghold early in the afternoon. First came
the 527 men from Massachusetts, led by Major Appleton, of Ipswich, and
next the 158 from Plymouth, under Major Bradford; while Major Robert
Treat, with the 300 from Connecticut, brought up the rear. There were
985 men in all. As the Massachusetts men rushed upon the slippery bridge
a deadly volley from the blockhouse slew six of their captains, while
of the rank and file there were many killed or wounded. Nothing daunted
they pressed on with great spirit till they forced their way into the
enclosure, but then the head of their column, overcome by sheer weight
of numbers in the hand-to-hand fight, was pushed and tumbled out into
the swamp. Meanwhile some of the Connecticut men had discovered a path
across the partly frozen swamp leading to a weak spot in the rear, where
the palisades were thin and few, as undue reliance had been placed upon
the steep bank crowned with a thick rampart of bushes that had been
reinforced with clods of turf. In this direction Treat swept along with
his men in a spirited charge. Before they had reached the spot a heavy
fire began mowing them down, but with a furious rush they came up, and
climbing on each other's shoulders, some fought their way over the
rampart, while others hacked sturdily with axes till such a breach was
made that all might enter. This was effected just as the Massachusetts
men had recovered themselves and crossed the treacherous log in a second
charge that was successful and soon brought the entire English force
within the enclosure. In the slaughter which filled the rest of that
Sunday afternoon till the sun went down behind a dull gray cloud, the
grim and wrathful Puritan, as he swung his heavy cutlass, thought of
Saul and Agag, and spared not. The Lord had delivered up to him the
heathen as stubble to his sword. As usual the number of the slain
is variously estimated. Of the Indians probably not less than 1000
perished. Some hundreds, however, with Canonchet their leader, saved
themselves in flight, well screened by the blinding snow-flakes that
began to fall just after sunset. Within the fortified area had been
stored the greater part of the Indians' winter supply of corn, and the
loss of this food was a further deadly blow. Captain Church advised
sparing the wigwams and using them for shelter, but Winslow seems to
have doubted the ability of his men to maintain themselves in a position
so remote from all support. The wigwams with their tubs of corn were
burned, and a retreat was ordered. Through snowdrifts that deepened
every moment the weary soldiers dragged themselves along until two hours
after midnight, when they reached the tiny village of Wickford. Nearly
one-fourth of their number had been killed or wounded, and many of the
latter perished before shelter was reached. Forty of these were buried
at Wickford in the course of the next three days. Of the Connecticut men
eighty were left upon the swamp and in the breach at the rear of the
stronghold. Among the spoils which the victors brought away were a
number of good muskets that had been captured by the Nipmucks in their
assault upon Deerfield. [Sidenote: Storming of the great swamp fortress,
December 19]

This headlong overthrow of the Narragansett power completely changed the
face of things. The question was no longer whether the red men could
possibly succeed in making New England too hot for the white men, but
simply how long it would take for the white men to exterminate the red
men. The shiftless Indian was abandoning his squalid agriculture and
subsisting on the pillage of English farms; but the resources of the
colonies, though severely taxed, were by no means exhausted. The dusky
warriors slaughtered in the great swamp fight could not be replaced;
but, as Roger Williams told the Indians, there were still ten thousand
white men who could carry muskets, and should all these be slain, he
added, with a touch of hyperbole, the Great Father in England could send
ten thousand more. For the moment Williams seems to have cherished a
hope that his great influence with the savages might induce them to
submit to terms of peace while there was yet a remnant to be saved; but
they were now as little inclined to parley as tigers brought to bay, nor
was the temper of the colonists a whit less deadly, though it did not
vent itself in inflicting torture or in merely wanton orgies of cruelty.
[Sidenote: Effect of the blow]

To the modern these scenes of carnage are painful to contemplate. In the
wholesale destruction of the Pequots, and to a less degree in that of
the Narragansetts, the death-dealing power of the white man stands forth
so terrible and relentless that our sympathy is for a moment called
out for his victim. The feeling of tenderness toward the weak, almost
unknown among savages, is one of the finest products of civilization.
Where murderous emotions are frequently excited, it cannot thrive. Such
advance in humanity as we have made within recent times is chiefly
due to the fact that the horrors of war are seldom brought home to
everybody's door. Either war is conducted on some remote frontier, or if
armies march through a densely peopled country the conditions of
modern warfare have made it essential to their efficiency as military
instruments that depredation and riot should be as far as possible

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