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The History of the United States from 1492 to 1910, Volume 1 by Julian Hawthorne

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[Illustration: THE WARRIOR'S LAST RIDE (See the Battle of Deerfield,
Vol. 1., p. 205) _Painted by Frederic Remington_]




From Discovery Of America October 12, 1492


Battle Of Lexington April 19, 1775


















When we speak of History, we may mean either one of several things. A
savage will make picture-marks on a stone or a bone or a bit of wood; they
serve to recall to him and his companions certain events which appeared
remarkable or important for one or another reason; there was an
earthquake, or a battle, or a famine, or an invasion: the chronicler
himself, or some fellow-tribesman of his, may have performed some notable
exploit. The impulse to make a record of it was natural: posterity might
thereby be informed, after the chronicler himself had passed away,
concerning the perils, the valor, the strange experiences of their
ancestors. Such records were uniformly brief, and no attempt was made to
connect one with another, or to interpret them. We find such fragmentary
histories among the remains of our own aborigines; and the inscriptions of
Egypt and Mesopotamia are the same in character and intention, though more
elaborate. Warlike kings thus endeavored, from motives of pride, to
perpetuate the memory of their achievements. At the time when they were
inscribed upon the rock, or the walls of the tombs, or the pedestals of
the statues, they had no further value than this. But after the lapse of
many ages, they acquire a new value, far greater than the original one,
and not contemplated by the scribes. They assume their proper place in the
long story of mankind, and indicate, each in its degree, the manner and
direction of the processes by which man has become what he is, from what
he was. Thereby there is breathed into the dead fact the breath of life;
it rises from its tomb of centuries, and does its appointed work in the
mighty organism of humanity.

In a more complex state of society, a class of persons comes into being
who are neither protagonists, nor slaves, but observers; and they meditate
on events, and seek to fathom their meaning. If the observer be
imaginative, the picturesque side of things appeals to him; he dissolves
the facts, and recreates them to suit his conceptions of beauty and
harmony; and we have poetry and legend. Another type of mind will give us
real histories, like those of Herodotus, Thucydides, Tacitus and Livy,
which are still a model in their kind. These great writers took a broad
point of view; they saw the end from the beginning of their narrative;
they assigned to their facts their relative place and importance, and
merged them in a pervading atmosphere of opinion, based upon the organic
relation of cause and effect. Studying their works, we are enabled to
discern the tendencies and developments of a race, and to note the effects
of civilization, character, vice, virtue, and of that sum of them all
which we term fate.

During what are called the Dark Ages of Europe, history fell into the
hands of that part of the population which alone was conversant with
letters--the priestly class; and the annals they have left to us have none
of the value which belongs to the productions of classical antiquity. They
were again mere records; or they were mystical or fanciful tales of saints
and heroes, composed or distorted for the glorification of the church, and
the strengthening of the influence of the priests over the people. But
these also, in after times, took on a value which they had not originally
possessed, and become to the later student a precious chapter of the
history of mankind.

Meanwhile, emerging august from the shadows of antiquity, we have that
great body of literature of which our own Bible is the highest type, which
purports to present the story of the dealings of the Creator with His
creatures. These wonderful books appear to have been composed in a style,
and on a principle, the secret of which has been lost. The facts which
they relate, often seemingly trivial and disconnected, are really but a
material veil, or symbol, concealing a spiritual body of truth, which is
neither trivial nor disconnected, but an organized, orderly and catholic
revelation of the nature of man, of the processes of his spiritual
regeneration, of his final reconciliation with the Divine. The time will
perhaps come when some inspired man or men will be enabled to handle our
modern history with the same esoteric insight which informed the Hebrew
scribes, when they used the annals of the obscure tribe to which they
belonged as a cover under which to present the relations of God with all
the human race, past and to come.

* * * * *

Modern history tends more and more to become philosophic: to be an
argument and an interpretation, rather than a bald statement of facts. The
facts contained in our best histories bear much the same relation to the
history itself, that the flesh and bones of the body bear to the person
who lives in and by them. The flesh and bones, or the facts, have to
exist; but the only excuse for their existence is, that the person may
have being, or that the history may trace a spiritual growth or decadence.
There was perhaps a time when the historian found a difficulty in
collecting facts enough to serve as a firm foundation for his edifice of
comment and deduction; but nowadays, his embarrassment is rather in the
line of making a judicious selection from the enormous mass of facts which
research and the facilities of civilization have placed at his disposal.
Not only is every contemporary event recorded instantly in the newspapers
and elsewhere; but new light is being constantly thrown upon the past,
even upon the remotest confines thereof. Some of the facts thus brought
before us are original and vital; others are mere echoes, repetitions, and
unimportant variations.

But the historian, if he wishes his work to last, must build as does the
Muse in Emerson's verse, with

.... "Rafters of immortal pine,
Cedar incorruptible, worthy her design."

Or he may be sure that the historian who comes after him will sift the
wheat from his chaff, and leave him no better reputation than that of the
quarry from which the marble of the statue comes. He must tell a
consecutive story, but must eschew all redundancy, furnish no more
supports for his bridge than its stability requires, prune his tree so
severely that it shall bear none but good fruit, forbear to freight the
memory of his reader with a cargo so unwieldy as to sink it. On the other
hand, of course, he must beware of being too terse; man cannot live by
bread alone, and the reader of histories needs to be told the Why as well
as the What. But the historical field is so wide that one man, in his one
lifetime, can hardly hope by independent and original investigation both
to collect all the data from which to build his structure, and so to
select his timbers that only the indispensable ones shall be employed. In
reality, we find one historian of a given subject or period succeeding
another, and refining upon his methods and treatment. With each successive
attempt the outlook becomes clearer and more comprehensive, and the
meaning of the whole more pronounced. The spirit, for the sake of which
the body exists, more and more dominates its material basis, until at last
the latter practically vanishes "in the light of its meaning sublime."
This is the apotheosis of history, which of course has not yet been
attained, and probably can never be more than approximated.

* * * * *

The present work is a very modest contribution toward the desired result.
It makes few or no pretensions to original research. There are many
histories of the United States and the fundamental facts thereof are
known. But it remains for the student to endeavor to solve and declare the
meaning of the familiar events; to state his view of their source and
their ultimate issue. In these volumes, I have taken the view that the
American nation is the embodiment and vehicle of a Divine purpose to
emancipate and enlighten the human race. Man is entering upon a new career
of spiritual freedom: he is to enjoy a hitherto unprecedented condition of
political, social and moral liberty--as distinguished from license, which
in truth is slavery. The stage for this grand evolution was fixed in the
Western Continent, and the pioneers who went thither were inspired with
the desire to escape from the thralldom of the past, and to nourish their
souls with that pure and exquisite freedom which can afford to ignore the
ease of the body, and all temporal luxuries, for the sake of that elixir
of immortality. This, according to my thinking, is the innermost core of
the American Idea; if you go deep enough into surface manifestations, you
will find it. It is what differentiates Americans from all other peoples;
it is what makes Americans out of emigrants; it is what draws the masses
of Europe hither, and makes their rulers fear and hate us. It may often,
and uniformly, happen that any given individual is unconscious of the
Spirit that moves within him; for it is the way of that Spirit to
subordinate its manifestations to its ends, knowing the frailty of
humanity. But it is there, and its gradual and cumulative results are seen
in the retrospect, and it may perhaps be divined as to the outline of some
of its future developments.

Some sort of recognition of the American Idea, and of the American
destiny, affords the only proper ground for American patriotism. We talk
of the size of our country, of its wealth and prosperity, of its physical
power, of its enlightenment; but if these things be all that we have to be
proud of, we have little. They are in truth but outward signs of a far
more precious possession within. We are the pioneers of the new Day, or we
are nothing worth talking about. We are at the threshold of our career.
Our record thus far is full of faults, and presents not a few deformities,
due to our human frailties and limitations; but our general direction has
been onward and upward. At the moment when this book is finished, we seem
to be entering upon a fresh phase of our journey, and a vast horizon opens
around us. It was inevitable that America should not be confined to any
special area on the map of the world; it is of little importance that we
fill our own continent with men and riches. We are to teach men in all
parts of the world what freedom is, and thereby institute other Americas
in the very strongholds of oppression. In order to accomplish this,
Americans will be drawn forth and will obtain foothold in remote regions,
there to disseminate their genius and inculcate their aims. In Europe and
Asia are wars and rumors of wars; but there seems no reason why the true
revolution, which Americanism involves, should not be a peaceful and quiet
one. Our real enemies may be set in high places, but they are very few,
and their power depends wholly on those myriads who are at heart our
allies. If we can assure the latter of our good faith and
disinterestedness, the battle is won without fighting. Indeed, the day for
Mohammedan conquests is gone by, and any such conquest would be far worse
than futile.

These are theories and speculations, and so far as they enter into my
book, they do so as atmosphere and aim only; they are not permitted to
mold the character of the narrative, so that it may illustrate a foregone
conclusion. I have related the historical story as simply and directly as
I could, making use of the best established authorities. Here and there I
have called attention to what seemed to me the significance of events; but
any one is at liberty to interpret them otherwise if he will. After all
the best use of a history is probably to stimulate readers to think for
themselves about the events portrayed; and if I have succeeded in doing
that, I shall be satisfied. The history of the United States does mean
something: what is it? Are we a decadent fruit that is rotten before it is
ripe? or are we the bud of the mightiest tree of time? The materials for
forming your judgment are here; form it according as your faith and hope
may dictate.



When, four centuries ago, adventurers from the Old World first landed on
the southern shores of the Western Continent, and pushed their way into
the depths of the primeval forest, they found growing in its shadowy
fastnesses a mighty plant, with vast leaves radiating upward from the
mould, and tipped with formidable thorns. Its aspect was unfriendly; it
added nothing to the beauty of the wilderness, and it made advance more
difficult. But from the midst of some of them uprose a tall stem, rivaling
in height the trees themselves, and crowned with a glorious canopy of
golden blossoms. The flower of the forbidding plant was the splendor of
the forest.

It was the Agave, or American Aloe, sometimes called the Century Plant,
because it blooms but once in a lifetime. It is of the family of the
lilies; but no other lily rivals its lofty magnificence. From the gloom of
the untrodden places it sends its shaft skyward into the sunshine; it is
an elemental growth: its simplicity equals its beauty. But until the
flower blooms, after its ages of preparation, the plant seems to have no
meaning, proportion, or comeliness; only when those golden petals have
unfolded upon the summit of their stately eminence do we comprehend the
symmetry and significance that had so long waited to avouch themselves.

This Lily of the Ages, native to American soil, may fittingly stand as
the symbol of the great Western Republic which, after so many thousand
years of spiritual vicissitude and political experiment, rises heavenward
out of the wilderness of time, and reveals its golden promise to those who
have lost their way in the dark forest of error and oppression. It was
long withheld, but it came at last, and about it center the best hopes of
mankind. These United States--this America of ours, as we love to call it
--is unlike any other nation that has preceded or is contemporary with it.
It is the conscious incarnation of a sublime idea--the conception of civil
and religious liberty. It is a spirit first, and a body afterward; thus
following the true law of immortal growth. It is the visible consummation
of human history, and commands the fealty of all noble minds in every
corner of the earth, as well as within its own boundaries. There are
Americans in all countries; but America is their home.

The seed is hidden in the soil; the germ is shut within the darkness of
the womb; the preparation for all birth is obscure. For more than a
century after the discovery of Columbus, no one divined the true
significance and destiny of the nation-that-was-to-be. Years passed before
it was understood even that the coast of the New World was anything more
than the western boundaries of the Asiatic continent; Columbus never
wavered from this conviction; the Cabots fancied that our Atlantic shores
were those of China; and though Balboa, in 1513, waded waist-deep into the
Pacific off Darien, and claimed it for Spain, yet the massive immensity of
America was not suspected. There was not space for it on the globe as then
plotted by geographers; it must be a string of islands, or at best but an
attenuated outlying bulwark of the East. News spread slowly in those days;
Vasco da Gama had reached India round the Cape of Good Hope before
Balboa's exploit; Columbus, on his third voyage, had touched the mainland
of South America, and young Sebastian Cabot, sailing from Bristol under
the English flag, had driven his prow against Labrador ice in his effort
to force a northwest passage; and still the truth was not fully realized.
And when, a century later, the English colonies were assigned their
boundaries, these were defined north, south and east, but to the west they
extended without limit. Panama was but thirty miles across, and no one
imagined that three thousand miles of solid land stretched between the
Chesapeake and the Bay of San Francisco. Then, as now, orthodoxy fought
against the heresy that there could be anything that was not as narrow as

And this physical denial or belittlement of the American continent had
its mental complement in the failure to comprehend the destiny of the
people which was to inhabit it. Spain thought only of material and
theological aggrandizements: of getting gold, and converting heathen, to
her own temporal and spiritual glory; and she was as ready to shed
innocent blood in the latter cause as in the former. England, without her
rival's religious bigotry, was as intent upon winning wealth through
territorial and commercial usurpations. Though not a few of the actual
discoverers and explorers were generous, magnanimous and kindly men,
having in view an honorable renown, based on opening new fields of life
and prosperity to future ages, yet the monarchs and the trading Companies
that stood behind them exhibited an unvarying selfishness and greed. The
new world was to them a field for plunder only. Each aimed to own it all,
and to monopolize its produce. The priestly missionaries of the Roman
Catholic faith did indeed pursue their ends with a self-sacrifice and
courage which deserve all praise; they devoted themselves at the risk and
often at the cost of their lives to the enterprise of winning souls, as
they believed, to Christ. But the Church dignitaries who sent forth these
soldiers of religion sought through them only to increase the credit of
their organization; they contemplated but the enlargement of their power.
The thought of establishing in the wilderness a place where men might rule
themselves in freedom entered not into their calculations. The spirit of
the old order survived the birth of the spirit of the new.

But the conflict thus provoked was necessary to the evolution which
Providence was preparing. The soul grows strong through hardship; truth
conquers by struggling against opposition. It is by resistance, at first
instinctive, against restraint that the infant attains self-consciousness.
The first settlers who came across the ocean were animated solely by the
desire to escape from oppression in their native land; they had as yet no
purpose to set up an independent empire. But, as the breath of the forest
and the prairie entered into their lungs, and the untrammeled spaciousness
of the virgin continent unshackled their minds, they began to resent,
though at first timidly, the arrogant pretension to rule them across the
waves. Their environment gave them courage, made them hardy and
self-dependent, enlightened their intelligence, weaned them from vain
traditions, revealed to them the truth that man's birthright is liberty.
And gradually, as the reins of tyranny were drawn tighter, these pioneers
of the New Day were wrought up to the pitch of throwing off all
allegiance, and setting their lives upon the cast. The idea of political
freedom is commonplace now; but to conceive it for the first time required
a mighty effort, and it could have been accomplished nowhere else than in
a vast and untrodden land. The Declaration of Independence, nearly three
centuries after Columbus's discovery of America, showed the hitherto blind
and sordid world what America was discovered for. Individual men of genius
had surmised it many years before; but their hope of forecast had been
deemed but an idle vision until in a moment, as it were, the reality was

It was essential, however, to the final success of the great revolt, that
the men who brought it to pass should be the best of a chosen race. And
this requisite also was secured by conflict. It was the inveterate
persuasion of many generations that America was the land of gold. Tales
told by the Indians stimulated the imagination and the cupidity of the
first adventurers; legends of El Dorado kindled the horizons that fled
before them as they advanced. Somewhere beyond those savage mountains,
amid these pathless forests, was a noble city built and paved with gold.
Somewhere flowed a stately river whose waters swept between golden
margins, over sands of gold. In some remote region dwelt a barbarian
monarch to whom gold and precious stones were as the dross of the wayside.
These stories were the offspring of the legends of the alchemists of the
Dark Ages, who had professed to make gold in their crucibles; it was as
good to pick up gold in armfuls on the earth as to manufacture it in the
laboratory. The actual discovery of treasure in Mexico and Peru only
whetted the inexhaustible appetite of the adventurers; they toiled through
swamps, they cut their way through woods, they scaled precipices, they
fought savages, they starved and died; and their eyes, glazing in death,
still sought the gleam of the precious metal. Worse than death, to them,
would have been the revelation that their belief was baseless. The thirst
for wealth is not accounted noble; yet there seems to have been something
not ignoble in this romantic quest for illimitable gold. There is a magic
in the mere idea of the yellow metal, apart from such practical or
luxurious uses as it may subserve; it stood for power and splendor
--whatever good the men of that age were prone to appreciate. Howbeit, the
strongest and bravest of all lands were drawn together in the search; and
inevitably they met and clashed. Foremost among the antagonists were Spain
and England. The ambition of Spain was measureless; she desired not only
the mastery of America and its riches, but the empire of the world, the
leadership in commerce, and the ownership of the very gates of Heaven.
England sought land and trade; she was practical and unromantic, but
strong and daring; and in her people, unlike the Spanish, were implanted
the seeds of human freedom. She had not as yet the prestige of Spain; but
men like Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh went far to win it;
moreover, the star of Spain had already begun to wane, while that of
England was waxing. Whenever, therefore, the strength of the two rivals
was fairly pitted, England had the better of the encounter. Spain might
dominate, for a while, the southern regions of the continent; and her
priests might thread the western wildernesses, and build white-walled
missions there; but to England should belong the Atlantic coast from
Labrador to Florida: the most readily accessible from Europe, and the best
adapted to bring forth that wealth for which gold must be given in
exchange. The struggle, as between the Spanish and the English, was
temporarily suspended, and it was with France that the latter now found
themselves confronted. The French had entered America by way of the St.
Lawrence, and down the Mississippi, in expectation, like the others, of
finding a passage through to India; they had planted colonies and
conciliated the Indians, and were destined to give England much more
trouble than her former foe had done. They, like the English, wished to
live in the new world; Spain's chief desire was to plunder it and take the
booty home with her. In the sequel, England was victorious; and thus
approved her right to be the nucleus of the Race of the Future. Finally,
it was to be her fate to fight that Race itself, and to be defeated by it;
and thus, as the chosen from the chosen, the inhabitants of the Thirteen
Colonies were to begin their career.

The birth of America must therefore be dated, not from the discovery of
the land, but from the culmination in revolt of the English Colonies. All
that preceded this was as the early and ambiguous processes of nature in
bringing forth the plant from the seed. Nature knows her work, and its
result; but the onlooker sees the result only. The Creator of man knew of
what a child America was to be the mother: but the world, intent upon its
selfish concerns, recognized it only when the consummation had been
reached. And even now she eyes us askance, and mutters doubts as to our
endurance and our legitimacy. But America is Europe's best and only
friend, and her political pattern must sooner or later, and more or less
exactly, be followed by all peoples. Democracy, however unwelcome in its
first and outward aspect it may appear, is the logical issue of human
experiments in government; it is susceptible of much abuse and open to
many corruptions; but these cannot penetrate far below the surface; they
are external and obvious, not vital and secret; because at heart the voice
of democracy is the voice of God. It may be silent for long, so that some
will disbelieve or despair, and say in their haste that democracy is a
fraud or a failure. But at last its tones will be heard, and its word will
be irresistible and immortal: the word of the Lord, uttering itself
through the mouth of His creatures.

The preliminary episodes and skirmishings, therefore, which went before
the spiritual self-consciousness of America, will be treated here in
outline only; only such events and persons as were the sources of
subsequent important conditions will be drawn in light and shadow. This
period of adventure and exploration is, it is true, rich in picturesque
characters and romantic incident, but they have little organic relation to
the history of the true America--which is the tracing of the development
and embodiment of an abstract idea. They belong to Europe, whose life was
present in them, though the men acted and the incidents occurred in a
strange environment. They are attractive subjects of study in themselves,
but have small pertinence to the present argument. Our aim will be to
maintain an organic coherency.

Still less can we linger in that impressive darkness before dawn which
prevailed upon the continent before the advent of Columbus. The mystery
which shrouds the origin and annals of the races which inhabited America
previous to the European invasion has been assiduously investigated, but
never dispelled. At first it was taken for granted that the "Indians," as
the red men were ignorantly called, were the aboriginal denizens of the
country. But the mounds, ruined cities, pottery and other remains since
found in all parts of the land, concerning which the Indians could furnish
no information, and which showed a state of civilization far in advance of
theirs, were proof that a great people had existed here in the remote
past, who had flourished and disappeared without leaving any trace whereby
they could be accounted for or identified. They are an enigma compared
with which the archeological problems of the Old World are an open book.
We can form no conception of the conditions under which they lived, of
their personal characteristics, of their language, habits, or religion. We
cannot determine whether these forerunners of the Indians were one people
in several stages of development, or several peoples in simultaneous
occupation of the land. We can establish no trustworthy connection between
them and any Asiatic races, and yet we are reluctant to believe them
isolated from the rest of mankind. If they had dwelt here from their
creation, why had they not progressed further in civilization?--and if
they emigrated hither from another continent, why do their remains not
indicate their source? By what agency did they perish, and when? The more
keenly we strive to penetrate their mystery, the more perplexing does it
appear; the further we investigate them, the more alien from anything we
are or have known do they seem. Elusive as mist, and questionable as
night, they form a suggestive background on which the vivid and energetic
drama of our novel civilization stands out in sharp relief.

Scarcely less mysterious--though living among us still--are the red men
whom we found here. They had no written languages or history; their
knowledge of their own past was confined to vague and fanciful traditions.
They were few in numbers, barbarous in condition, untamable in nature;
they built no cities and practiced no industries: their women planted
maize and performed all menial labors; their men hunted and fought. Before
we came, they fought one another; our coming did not unite them against a
common enemy; it only gave each of them one enemy the more. After an
intercourse of four hundred years, we know as little of them as we did at
first; we have neither educated, absorbed nor exterminated them. The
fashion of their faces, and some other indications, seem to point to a
northern Asiatic ancestry; but they cannot tell us even so much as we can
guess. There have been among them, now and again, men of commanding
abilities in war and negotiation; but their influence upon their people
has not lasted beyond their own lives. Amid the roar and fever of these
latter ages, they stand silent, useless, and apathetic. They belong to our
history only in so far as their savage and treacherous hostility
contributed to harden the fortitude of our earlier settlers, and to weld
them into a united people.

Posterity may resolve these obscurities; meanwhile they remain in
picturesque contrast to the merciless publicity of our own life, and the
scientific annihilation of time and distance. They are as the dark and
amorphous loam in which has taken root the Flower of the Ages. If extremes
must meet, it was fitting that the least and the most highly developed
examples of mankind should dwell side by side, at the close of the
nineteenth century, in a land to which neither is native: that Europe, the
child of Asia, should meet its prehistoric parent here, and work out its
destiny before her uncomprehending eyes. The world is an inn of strange
meetings; and this encounter is perhaps the strangest of all.

The most dangerous enemy of America has been--not Spain, France, England,
or any other nation in arms, but--our own material prosperity. The lessons
of adversity we took to heart, and they brought forth wholesome fruit,
purifying our blood and toughening our muscles. So long as the Spirit of
Liberty was threatened from without, she was safe and triumphant. But when
her foes abroad had ceased to harry her, a foe far more insidious began to
plot against her in her own house. The tireless energy and ingenuity which
are our most salient characteristics, and which had rendered us formidable
and successful on sea and land, were turned by peace into productive
channels. The enormous natural resources of the continent began to receive
development; men who under former conditions would have been admirals and
generals, now became leaders in commerce, manufactures and finance; they
made great fortunes, and set up standards of emulation other than
patriotism and public spirit. Like the old Spanish and English
adventurers, they sought for gold, and held all other things secondary to
that. An anomalous oligarchy sprang into existence, holding no ostensible
political or social sway, yet influential in both directions by virtue of
the power of money. Money can be possessed by the evil as well as by the
good, and it can be used to tempt the good to condone evil. The exalted
maxim of human equality was interpreted to mean that all Americans could
be rich; and the spectacle was presented of a mighty and generous nation
fighting one another for mere material wealth. Inevitably, the lower and
baser elements of the population came to the surface and seemed to rule;
the ordinary citizen, on whom the welfare of the State depends, allowed
his private business interest to wean him from the conduct of public
affairs, which thereby fell into the hands of professional politicians,
who handled them for their personal gain instead of for the common weal.
We forgot that pregnant saying, "Eternal vigilance is the price of
liberty," and suffered ourselves to be persuaded that because our written
Constitution was a wise and patriotic document, we were forever safe even
from the effects of our own selfishness and infidelity. As some men are
more skillful and persistent manipulators of money than others, it
happened that the capital of the country became massed in one place and
was lacking in another; the numbers of the poor, and of paupers,
increased; and the rich were able to control their political action and
sap their self-respect by dominating the employment market. "Do my
bidding, or starve," is a cogent argument; it should never be in the power
of any man to offer it; but it was heard over the length and breadth of
free America. The efforts of laboring men, by organization, to check the
power of capitalists, was met by the latter with organizations of their
own, which, in the form of vast "trusts" and otherwise, deprived small
manufacturers and traders of the power of independent self-support.
Strikes and lockouts were the natural outcome of such a situation; and the
sinister prospect loomed upon us of labor and capital arrayed against each
other in avowed hostility.

Danger from this cause, however, is more apparent than actual. The
remedy, in the last resort, is always in ourselves. Laws as to land and
contracts may be modified, but the true cure for all such injuries and
inequalities is to cease to regard the amassing of "fortunes" as the most
desirable end in life. The land is capable of supporting in comfort far
more than its present population; ignorance or selfish disregard of the
true principles of economy have made it seem otherwise. The proper state
of every man is that of a producer; the craving of individuals to own what
they have not fairly earned and cannot usefully administer, is vain and
disorderly. Men will always be born who have the genius of management; and
others who require to have their energies directed; some can profitably
control resources which to others would be a mischievous burden. But this
truth does not involve any extravagant discrepancy in the private means
and establishments of one or the other; each should have as much as his
needs, intelligence and taste legitimately warrant, and no more. Such
matters will gradually adjust themselves, once the broad underlying
principle has been accepted. Meanwhile we may remember that national
health is not always synonymous with peace. It was the warning of our Lord
--"I am not come to bring peace? but a sword." The war which is waged with
powder and ball is often less contrary to true peace than the war which
exists while all the outward semblances of peace are maintained. We must
not be misled by names. America is perhaps too prone to regard herself in
a passive light, as the refuge merely of the oppressed and needy; but she
has an active mission too. She stands for so much that is contrary to the
ideas that have hitherto ruled the world that she can hardly hope to avoid
the hostility, and possibly the attacks, of the representatives of the old
order. These, she must be able and ready to repel. We have freely shed our
blood for our own freedom; and we should not forget that, though charity
begins at home, it need not end there. We should not interpret too
strictly the maxims which admonish us to mind our own housekeeping, and to
avoid entanglements with the quarrels or troubles of our neighbors. We
should not say to the tide of our liberties, Thus far shalt thou go, and
no further. America is not a geographical expression, and arbitrary
geographical boundaries should not be permitted to limit the area which
her principles control. We, who seek to bind the other nations to
ourselves by ties of commerce, should recognize the obligations of other
ties, whose value cannot be expressed in money.

America wears her faults upon her forehead, not in her heart; her history
is just beginning; she herself dreams not yet what her ultimate destiny
will be. But so far as her brief past may serve as a key wherewith to open
the future? a study of it will not be idle.



The records will have it that America was discovered in consequence of
the desire of Europe to profit by the commerce of Cathay, which had
hitherto reached them only by the long and expensive process of a journey
due west. One caravan had passed on the spices and other valuables to
another, until they reached the Mediterranean. It was asked whether the
trip could not be more quickly and cheaply made by sea. Assuming, as was
generally done, that the earth was flat, why might not a man sail round
the southern extremity of Africa, and up the other side to the Orient? It
was true that the extremity of Africa might extend to the Southern ice, in
which case this plan would not serve; but the attempt might be worth
making. This was the view of Henry of Portugal, a scientific and ingenious
prince, whose life covered the first sixty years of the Fifteenth Century.
And Portuguese mariners did accordingly sail their little ships far down
the Atlantic coast of the Dark Continent; but they did not venture quite
far enough until long after good Prince Henry was dead, and Columbus had
(in his own belief) pioneered a shorter way.

Columbus was a theorist and a visionary. Many men who have been able to
show much more plausible grounds for their theories than he could for his
have died the laughing-stock of the world. Columbus was a laughing-stock
for nearly twenty years; but though the special application of his theory
was absurdly wrong, yet in principle it chanced to be right; and he was so
fortunate as to be empowered to bring it to a practical demonstration. His
notion was that the earth was not flat, but round. Therefore the quickest
route to the extreme East must be in exactly the opposite direction; the
globe, he estimated, could not be much over fifteen thousand miles in
girth; Cathay, by the land route, was twelve thousand miles or so east of
Europe; consequently the distance west could not be more than three
thousand. This could be sailed over in a month or two, and the saving in
time and trouble would be immense.--Thus did he argue--shoving the
Atlantic into the Pacific Ocean, subtracting six or seven thousand miles
from their united breadth, and obliterating entirely that western
continent which he was fated to discover, though he was never to suspect
its existence.

The heresy that the earth was a sphere had long been in existence;
Aristotle being the earliest source to which it could be traced. Sensible
people did not countenance it then, any more than they accept to-day the
conjecture that other planets than this may be inhabited. They
demonstrated its improbability on historical and religious grounds, and
also made the point that, supposing it were round, and that Columbus were
to sail down the under side of it, he would never be able to climb back
again. But the Genoese was a man who became more firmly wedded to his
opinion in proportion as it met with ridicule and opposition; proofs he
had none of the truth of his pet idea; but he clung to it with a
doggedness which must greatly have exasperated his interlocutors. By dint
of sheer persistence, he almost persuaded some men that there might be
something in his project; but he never brought any of them to the pitch of
risking money on it. It was only upon a woman that he was finally able to
prevail; and doubtless the intelligence of Isabella of Castile was less
concerned in the affair than was her feminine imagination. Had she known
more, she would have done less. But so, for that matter, would Columbus.

Almost as little is known of the personal character of this man as of
Shakespeare's; and the portraits of him, though much more numerous than
those of the poet, are even less compatible with one another. The
estimates and conjectures of historians also differ; some describe a pious
hero and martyr, others a dissolute adventurer and charlatan. We are
constrained, in the end, to construct his effigy from our own best
interpretation of the things he did. Some little learning he had; just
enough, probably, to disturb the balance of his judgment. He could read
Latin and make maps, and he had ample experience of practical navigation.
His life as a mariner got him the habit of meditation, and this favored
the espousal of theories, which, upon occasion, he could expound with
volubility or defend with passion, as his Italian temperament prompted.
His imagination was portentous, and the Fifteenth Century was hospitable
to this faculty; there was nothing--except plain but unknown facts--too
marvelous to be believed; and that Columbus was even more credulous than
his contemporaries is proved by the evidence that even facts were not
exempt from his entertainment. An ordinary appetite for the marvelous
could swallow stories of chimeras dire, and men whose heads do grow
beneath their shoulders; but nothing short of the profligate capacity of a
Columbus could digest such a proposition as that the earth was round and
could be circumnavigated. The type of half-educated fanatics to which he
belonged has always been common; there is nothing exceptional or
remarkable in this fanatic except the fortune which finally attended his
lifelong devotion to the most improbable hypothesis of his time. It has
been our custom to eulogize his courage and his constancy to the truth;
but if he had adopted perpetual motion, instead of the rotundity of the
earth, as his dogma, he would have deserved our praises just as much. His
sole claim to our admiration is, that in the teeth of all precedent and
likelihood, he succeeded by one mistake in making another: because he
fancied that by sailing west he could find the Indies, he blundered upon a
land whose identity he never discovered. Doubtless his blunder was of
unspeakable value; but a blunder not the less it was; while as to his
courage and perseverance, as much has been shown by a thousand other
scientific and philosophical heretics, whose names have not survived,
because the thing they imagined turned out an error.

From another point of view, however, Columbus is specially a creature of
his age. It was an age which felt, it knew not why, that something new
must come to pass. The resources of Europe were exhausted; men had reached
the end of their tether, and demanded admittance to some wider pasturage.
It was much such a predicament as obtains now, four hundred years later;
we feel that changes--enlargements--are due, but know not what or whence.
The conception of a voyage across the Atlantic, in that age, seemed as
captivating, and almost as fantastic, as a trip to the Moon or Mars would,
to an adventurer of our time. Given the vehicle, no doubt many volunteers
would offer for the journey; Columbus could get a ship, but the chances of
his arriving at his proposed destination must have appeared as
problematical to him as the Moon enterprise in a balloon would to a
world-weary globe-trotter of to-day. It was not merely that the ship was
small and the Atlantic large and stormy; there were legends of vast
whirlpools, of abysmal oceanic cataracts, of sea-monsters, malignant
genii, and other portents not less terrifying and fatal. Columbus would
not have been surprised at falling in with any of these things; but the
physical courage which must have been his most prominent trait, added to
incorrigible pride of opinion, brought him through.

But the significant feature of his achievement is, not that he sailed or
that he arrived, but that he was impelled, irresistibly as it were, to
make the attempt. He made it, because it was the one thing left in the
world that seemed worth doing; it was the only apparent way of escape from
the despair of the familiar and habitual; it was an adventure charged with
all unknown possibilities; once conceived, it must be executed at whatever
cost. Columbus was fascinated; the unknown drew him like a magnet; he was
the involuntary deputy of his period to incarnate its yearnings in act.
The hour had struck; and with it, as always, appeared the man. So it has
ever been in the history of the world; though we, with characteristic
vanity, uniformly put the cart before the horse, and declare that it is
the man that brings the hour.

Be that as it may, Columbus was fitted out with three boats by the
Spanish king and queen, set sail from Spain on the 3d of August, 1492, and
arrived at one of the Caribbean islands on the 12th of October of the same
year. He supposed that he had found an East Indian archipelago; and with
the easy emotional piety of his time and temperament, he fell on his knees
and thanked God, and took possession of everything in sight in the name of
Ferdinand and Isabella.

The deed had been done, and Columbus had his reward. It would have been
well for him had he recognized this fact, and not tried to get more. He
had found land on the other side of the Atlantic; what no other man had
believed possible, he had accomplished; he had carried his point, and
proved his thesis--or one so much resembling it that he never knew the
difference. This, and not a more sordid hope, had been the real motive
power of his career up to this time; and the moment when the light from
another world gleamed across the water to his hungry eyes had been the
happiest that he had ever known, or would know. A mighty hope had been
fulfilled; the longing of an age had been gratified in his triumph; a
fresh chapter in the world's history had been begun. The thoughts and
emotions that surged through the ardent Italian, as he knelt on that coral
beach, were lofty and unselfish; as were, in truth, those of the age whose
representative he was, when it saw him depart on his adventure. But before
the man of destiny had risen from his knees, he had ceased to act as the
instrument of God, and had begun to think of personal emoluments. So much
he must make over to Spain; so much he might keep for himself; so much was
promised to his shipmates. He would be famous--yes: and rich and powerful
too; he would be a great vicegerent; his attire should be of silk and
velvet, with a gold chain about his neck, and gems on his hands. So
adversity set his name among the stars, and prosperity abased his soul to
dust. The remaining years of his life were a fruitless struggle to secure
what he deemed his rightful wages--to coin his immortal exploit into
ducats; and his end was sorrowful and dishonored. The proud
self-abnegation of the ancient Roman was lacking in the medieval Genoese.

The white-maned horses of the Atlantic once mastered, there came riders
enough. During the next thirty years such men as Amerigo Vespucci (who
enjoyed the not singular distinction of having his name associated with
the discovery of another man), the Cabots, father and son; Balboa, and
Magellan, crossed the sea and visited the new domain. Magellan performed
the only unprecedented feat left for mariners by sailing round the earth
by way of the South American straits that bear his name; but Vasco da Gama
had already entered the Pacific by the Cape of Good Hope. It was by this
time beginning to be understood that the new land was really new, and not
the other side of the old one; but this only prompted the adventurers to
get past or through it to the first goal of their ambition. They had not
yet realized the vastness of the Pacific, and took America to be a mere
breakwater protecting the precious shores of Cathay. Later, they found
that America repaid looting on her own account; but meanwhile there was
set on foot that search for the Northwest Passage which resulted in the
discovery of almost everything except the Passage itself. To the craze for
a Northwest Passage is due the exploration of Baffin's and Hudson's Bays,
of the Gulf and River of St. Lawrence, and of the Great Lakes; the
establishment of the English and French fur-trading Companies, which
hastened the development of Canada; and the settlement of Oregon and
Washington. It led English and Spanish explorers and freebooters up the
California coast, and on to Vancouver and Bering Straits; Alaska was
circumvented, and the Northwest Passage was found, though the everlasting
ice mocked the efforts of the finders. In short, the entire continent was
tapped and sounded with a view to forcing a way through or round it; and
by the time the attempt was finally given up, the contour, size, and
possible value of America had been estimated much more quickly and
accurately than they would have been, had not India lain west of it.

All this time Spain had been having the best of the bargain. She had
fastened upon the West Indies, Mexico, and Central and South America, and
had found gold there in abundance; she bade other nations keep hands off,
and was less solicitous than they about the rumored riches of the Orient.
Spain, in those days, was held to be invincible on the sea; England's
fight with the Spanish Armada was yet to come. But there were already
Englishmen of the Drake and Frobisher type who liked nothing better than
to capture a Spanish galleon, and "singe the king of Spain's beard"; and
these independent sea-rovers were becoming so bold and numerous as to put
the Spaniards to serious inconvenience and loss. But the latter could not
be ousted from their vantage ground; so the English presently bethought
themselves that there might be gold in the more northerly as well as in
the central parts of the Continent; and they turned to seek it there.
Nothing is more noticeable in every phase of these events than the
constant involuntary accomplishment of something other--and in the end
better--than the thing attempted. As Columbus, looking for Indian spices,
found America; as seekers of all nations, in their quest for a Northwest
Passage, charted and developed the continent: so Sir Walter Raleigh and
his companions, hunting for gold along the northern Atlantic seaboard,
took the first steps toward founding the colonies which were in the sequel
to constitute the germ of the present United States.

Queen Elizabeth was on the throne of England; more than ninety years had
passed since Columbus had landed on his Caribbean island. In 1565 a colony
of French Huguenots at St. Augustine had, by a characteristic act of
Spanish treachery, been massacred, men, women, and children, at the order
of Melendez, and the French thus wiped out of the southern coast of North
America forever. While England remained Catholic, the influence of Papal
bulls in favor of Spanish authority in America, and matrimonial alliances
between the royal families of Spain and England, had restrained English
enterprise in the west. Henry VIII. had indeed acted independently both of
the Spaniard and of the Pope; but it was not until Elizabeth's accession
in 1558, bringing Protestantism with her, that England ventured to assert
herself as a nation in the new found world. Willoughby had attempted, in
1553, the preposterous enterprise of reaching India by sailing round
Norway and the north of Asia; but his expedition got no farther than the
Russian port of Archangel. In 1576 and the two succeeding years, Martin
Frobisher went on voyages to Labrador and neighboring regions, at first
searching for the Northwest Passage, afterward in quest of gold. The only
result of his efforts was the bringing to England of some shiploads of
earth, which had been erroneously supposed to contain the precious metal.
In 1578, Sir Humphrey Gilbert had obtained a patent empowering him to
found a colony somewhere in the north; his object being rather to develop
the fisheries than to find gold or routes to India. He was stepbrother of
Sir Walter Raleigh, and the latter started with him on the first voyage;
but they were forced to put back soon after setting out. Gilbert went
again in 1583, and reached St. John's, where he erected a pillar
commemorating the English occupation; but he was drowned in a storm on the
way home. Raleigh, who had stayed in England, and had acquired royal favor
and a fortune, remained to carry out, in his own way, the designs which
Gilbert's death had left in suspense. In 1584 he began the work.

Raleigh perhaps deserves to be regarded as the greatest English gentleman
who ever lived. In addition to the learning of his time, he had a towering
genius, indomitable courage and constancy, lofty and generous principles,
far-seeing wisdom, Christian humanity, and a charity that gave and forgave
to the end. He was a courtier and a statesman, a soldier and a sailor, a
merchant and an explorer. His life was one of splendid and honorable
deeds; he was not a talker, and found scant leisure to express himself in
writing; though when he chose to write poetry he approved himself best in
the golden age of English literature; and his "History of the World,"
composed while imprisonment in the Tower prevented him from pursuing more
active employments, is inferior to no other produced up to that time. Such
reverses as he met with in life only spurred him to fresh efforts, and his
successes were magnificent, and conducive to the welfare of the world. He
was a patriot of the highest and purest type; a champion of the oppressed;
a supporter of all worthy enterprises, a patron of literature and art.
Withal, he was full of the warm blood of human nature; he had all the
fire, the tenderness, and the sympathies that may rightly belong to a man.
The mind is astonished in contemplating such a being; he is at once so
close to us, and so much above the human average. King James I. of
England, jealous of his greatness, imprisoned him for twelve years, on a
groundless charge, and finally slew him, at the age of sixty-six, broken
by disease, and saddened, but not soured, by the monstrous ingratitude and
injustice of his treatment. Upon the scaffold, he felt of the edge of the
ax which was to behead him, and smiled, remarking, "A sharp medicine to
cure me of my diseases!" Such are the exploits of kings.

Raleigh was the first man who perceived that America was to be the home
of a white people: that it was to be a dwelling-place, not a mere
supply-house for freebooters and home traders. He resolved to do his part
toward making it so; he impoverished himself in the enterprise; and though
the colony which he planted in what is now North Carolina, but was then
called Virginia, in honor of the queen, who was pleased thus to advertise
her chastity--though this failed (by no fault of Raleigh's) of its
immediate object, yet the lesson thus offered bore fruit in due season,
and the colonization of the New World, shown to be a possibility and an
advantage, was taken up on the lines Raleigh had drawn, and resulted in
the settlement whose heirs we are.

In 1585, after receiving the favorable report of a preliminary
expedition, Raleigh sent out upward of a hundred colonists under the
command of Sir Richard Grenville, one of the heroic figures of the time, a
man of noble nature but fearful passions. They landed on the island of
Roanoke, off the mouth of the river of that name, and were well received
by the native tribes, who thought they were immortal and divine, because
they were without women, and possessed gunpowder. It would have been well
had the English responded in kind; but within a few days, Grenville, angry
at the non-production of a silver cup which had been stolen from his party
during a visit to a village, burned the huts and destroyed the crops; and
later, Lane, who had been left by Grenville in command of the colony,
invited the principal chief of the region to a friendly conference, and
murdered him. This method of procedure would not have been countenanced by
the great promoter of the expedition; nor would he have encouraged the
hunt for gold that was presently undertaken. This was the curse of the
time, and ever led to disaster and blood. Nor did Lane escape the delusion
that a passage could be found through the land to the Indies; the savages,
humoring his ignorance for their own purposes, assured him that the
Roanoke River (which rises some two hundred miles inland) communicated
with the Pacific at a distance of but a few days' journey. Lane selected a
party and set hopefully forth to traverse fifty degrees of latitude; but
ere long his provisions gave out, and he was forced to go starving back
again. He arrived at the settlement just in time to save it from
annihilation by the Indians.

But there were able men among these colonists, and some things were done
which were not foolish. Hariot, who had scientific knowledge, and was a
careful observer, made notes of the products of the land, and became
proficient in tobacco smoking; he also tested and approved the potato, and
in other ways laid the foundation for a profitable export and import
trade. John White, an artist, who afterward was put in charge of another
colony, made drawings of the natives and their appurtenances, which still
survive, and witness his fidelity and skill. Explorations up and down the
coast, and for some distance inland, were made; the salubrity of the
climate was eulogized, and it was admitted that the soil was of excellent
fertility. In short, nothing was lacking, in the way of natural
conditions, to make the colony a success; yet the Englishmen grew homesick
and despondent, and longed to return to England and English women. The
supplies which they were expecting from home had not arrived; and their
situation was rendered somewhat precarious, by the growing hostility of
the natives, who had come to the conclusion that these godlike white men
were not persons with whom it was expedient for them to associate.

At this juncture, down upon the coast suddenly swooped a fleet of over
twenty sail with the English flag flying, and no less a personage than Sir
Francis Drake in command. He was returning from a profitable pirating
expedition against the Spaniards in the West Indies, and desired to
see for himself how the colony sent out by his friend Raleigh was
prospering. Out of his easily-got abundance he generously supplied the
needs of the colonists, and presented them with a ship into the bargain,
in which they might sail home should circumstances demand it. A couple of
his most experienced officers, too, were added to the gift of the generous
freebooter; and the outlook was now very different from what it had been a
few days before. Yet fate was against them; or, to speak more accurately,
they had lost the spirit which should animate pioneers, and when a touch
of bad luck was added to their indisposition, they incontinently beat a
retreat. A storm arose, which wrecked the ship that Drake had given them,
and thus deprived them of the means of escape in case other disasters
should arrive. They besought Drake to take them home with him; and he,
with inexhaustible good humor, agreed to do so. His fleet, with the
slack-souled colonists on board, had scarcely lost sight of the low shores
of Roanoke, when the supply ship that had been so long awaited arrived
with all the requisites for subduing the wilderness on board. She found
the place deserted, and, putting about, sailed for home again. A fortnight
later came Sir Richard Grenville with three ships more; and he, being of a
persistent nature, would not consent to lose altogether the fruit of the
efforts which had been made; he left fifteen of his men on the island, to
carry on until fresh colonists could be brought from England. But before
this could be done the men were dead, whether by the act of God or of the
savages; and the first English experience in colonizing America was at an

The story of the second colony, immediately sent out by Raleigh, ends
with a mystery that probably hid a tragedy. Seventeen women and two
children accompanied the eighty-nine men of the party. Having established
the fact that the land was habitable and cultivatable, Raleigh perceived
that in order to render it attractive also it was necessary that the
colonists should have their helpmeets with them. For the first time in
history, therefore, the feet of English women pressed our soil, and the
voices of children made music in the woodland solitudes. It had been
designed that the more commodious bay of the Chesapeake should be the
scene of this settlement; but the naval officer who should have
superintended the removal was hungering for a West Indian trading venture,
and declined to act. They perforce established themselves in the old spot,
therefore, where the buildings were yet standing on the northern end of
the little island, which, though deserted now, is for us historic ground.
The routine of life began; and before the ship sailed on her return trip
to England, the daughter of the governor and artist, John White, who was
married to one of his subordinates named Dare, had given birth to a
daughter, and called her Virginia. She was the first child of English
blood who could be claimed as American; she came into the world, from
which she was so soon to vanish, on the 18th of August, 1587. White
returned to England with the ship a week or two later. He was to return
again speedily with more colonists, and further supplies. But he never saw
his daughter and her infant after their farewell in the landlocked bay. He
reached England to find Raleigh and all the other strong men of England
occupied with plans to repel the invasion that threatened from Spain, and
which, in the shape of the Invincible Armada, was to be met and destroyed
in the English Channel, almost on the first anniversary of the birth of
Virginia Dare. Nothing could be done, at the moment, to relieve the people
at Roanoke; but in April of 1588, Raleigh found time, with the defense of
a kingdom on his hands, to equip two ships and send them in White's charge
to Virginia. All might have been well had White been content to attend
with a single eye to the business in hand; but the seas were full of
vessels which could be seized and stripped of their precious cargoes, and
White thought it would be profitable to imitate the exploits of Drake and
Grenville, and take a few prizes to Roanoke with him. But he was the ass
in the lion's hide. One of his ships was itself attacked and gutted, and
with the other he fled in terror back to London. Raleigh could not help
him now; his own fortune was exhausted; and it was not until the Armada
had come and gone, and the country had in a measure recovered itself from
the shocks of war, that succor could be attempted. The charter which had
been granted to Raleigh enabled him to give liberal terms to a company of
merchants and others, who on their part could raise the funds for the
voyage. But though Raleigh executed this patent in the spring of 1589, it
was not until more than a year afterward that the expedition was ready to
sail. White went with them, and we may imagine with what straining eyes he
scanned the spot where he had last beheld his daughter and grandchild, as
the ship glided up the inlet.

But no one came forth between the trees to wave a greeting to his
long-deferred return; there were no figures on the shore, no smoke of
family fires rose heavenward; families and hearths alike were gone. The
place was a desert. Little Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony of Roanoke
had already passed out of history, leaving no clew to their fate except
the single word "CROATAN" inscribed on the bark of a tree. It was the name
of an island further down the coast; and had White gone thither, he might
even yet have found the lost. But he was a man unfitted in all respects to
live in that age and take part in its enterprise. He was a soft, feeble,
cowardly and unfaithful creature, yet vain and ambitious, and eager to
share the fame of men immeasurably larger and worthier than he. He could
draw pictures, but he could not do deeds; and now, after having deserted
those to whom he had been in honor bound to cleave, he pleaded the excuse
of bad weather and the lateness of the season for abandoning them once
more; and, re-embarking on his ship, he went back with all his company to
England. It was the dastardly ending of the first effort, nobly conceived,
and supported through five years, to engraft the English race in the soil
of America.

Tradition hazards the conjecture that the Roanoke colony, or some of
them, were cared for by the friendly Indians of Hatteras. There was a
rumor that seven of them were still living twenty years after White's
departure. But no certain news was ever had of them, though several later
attempts to trace them were made. Between the time when their
faint-hearted governor had deserted them, and his return, three years had
passed; and if they were not early destroyed by the hostile tribes, they
must have endured a more lingering pain in hoping against hope for the
white sails that never rose above the horizon. Most of them, if not all,
were doubtless massacred by the Indians, if not at once, then when it
became evident that no succor was to be expected for them. Some, possibly,
were carried into captivity; and it may be that Virginia Dare herself grew
up to become the white squaw of an Indian brave, and that her blood still
flows in the veins of some unsuspected red man. But it is more likely that
she died with the others, one of the earliest and most innocent of the
victims sacrificed on the altar of a great idea.

White disappears from history at this point; but Raleigh never forgot his
colony, and five times, at his own expense, and in the midst of events
that might have monopolized the energies of a score of ordinary men, he
dispatched expeditions to gain tidings of them. In 1595 he himself sailed
for Trinidad, on the northern coast of South America, and explored the
river Orinoco, nine degrees above the equator, It was his hope to offset
the power of Spain in Mexico and Peru by establishing an English colony in
Guiana. Wars claimed his attention during the next few years, and then
came his long imprisonment; but in 1616, two years before his execution,
he headed a last expedition to the southern coast of the land he had
labored so faithfully to unite to England. It failed of its object, and
Raleigh lost his head.

But the purpose which he had steadfastly entertained did not die with
him; and we Americans claim him to-day as the first friend and father of
the conception of a great white people beyond the sea.

As we enter the Seventeenth Century, the figure which looms largest in
the foreground is that of Captain John Smith, governor of the colony at
Jamestown in 1607. But the way was prepared for him by a man as honorable,
though less distinguished, Bartholomew Gosnold by name, who voyaged to the
New England coast in 1602, and was the first to set foot on its shores.
The first land he sighted was what is now called Maine; thence he steered
southward, and disembarked on Cape Cod, on which he bestowed that name.
Proceeding yet further south, between the islands off the coast, he
finally entered the inclosed sound of Buzzard's Bay, and landed on the
island of Cuttyhunk. Gosnold was a prudent as well as an adventurous man,
and he was resolved to take all possible precautions against being
surprised by the Indians. On Cuttyhunk there was a large pond, and in the
pond there was an islet; and Gosnold, with his score of followers, fixed
upon this speck of rocky earth as the most suitable spot in the western
hemisphere wherein to plant the roots of English civilization. They built
a hut and made a boat, and gathered together their stores of furs and
sassafras; but these same stores proved their undoing. They could not
agree upon an equable division of their wealth; and recognizing that
disunion in a strange land was weakness and peril, they all got into their
ship and sailed back to England, carrying their undivided furs and
sassafras with them. By this mishap, New England missed becoming the scene
of the first permanent English colony. For when, five years afterward,
Gosnold returned to America with a hundred men and adequate supplies, it
was not to Buzzard's Bay, but to the mouth of the James River, that he
steered, and on its banks the colony was founded. Gosnold himself seems to
have been a man of the type that afterward made the New England whalers
famous in all seas; the mariners of New Bedford, New London, Sag Harbor
and Nantucket. But the companions of his second voyage were by no means of
this stamp: the bulk of them were "gentlemen," who had no familiarity with
hard fare and hard work, and expected nature to provide for them in the
wilderness as bountifully as the London caterers had done at home. To the
accident which brought Gosnold to a southerly instead of a northerly port
on this occasion may be due the fact that Virginia instead of
Massachusetts became the home of the emigrant cavaliers. Had they, as well
as the Puritans, chosen New England for their abiding place, an
amalgamation might have taken place which would have vitally modified
later American history. But destiny kept them apart in place as well as in
sentiment and training; and it is only in our own day that Reconstruction,
and the development of means of intercommunication, bid fair to make a
homogeneous people out of the diverse elements which for so many
generations recognized at most only an outward political bond.

Captain John Smith, fortunately, was neither a cavalier nor a simple
mariner, but a man in a class by himself, and just at that juncture the
most useful that could possibly have been attached to this adventure. His
career even before the present period had been so romantic that, partly
for that reason, and partly because he himself was his own chief
chronicler, historians have been prone to discredit or modify many of its
episodes. But what we know of Smith from other than a Smith source tallies
so well with the stories which rest upon his sole authority that there
seems to be no sound cause for rejecting the latter. After making all
deductions, he remains a remarkable personage, and his influence upon the
promotion of the English colonial scheme was wholly beneficial. He was
brave, ingenious, indefatigable, prudent and accomplished; he knew what
should be done, and was ever foremost in doing it He took hold of the
helpless and slow-witted colonists as a master carpenter handles blocks of
wood, and transformed them into an efficient and harmonious structure,
strong enough to withstand the first onsets of misfortune, and to endure
until the arrival of recruits from home placed them beyond all danger of

Smith was born in England in 1579, and was therefore only twenty-eight
years of age when he embarked with Gosnold. Yet he had already fought in
the Netherlands, starved in France, and been made a galley-slave by the
Moslem. He had been shipwrecked at one time, thrown overboard at another,
and robbed at a third. Thrice had he met and slain Turkish champions in
the lists; and he had traversed the steppes of Russia with only a handful
of grain for food. He was not a man of university education: the only
schooling he had had was in the free schools of Alford and Louth, before
his fifteenth year; his father was a tenant farmer in Lincolnshire, and
though John was apprenticed to a trade, he ran away while a mere
stripling, and shifted for himself ever after. An adventurer, therefore,
in the fullest sense of the word, he was; and doubtless he had the
appreciation of his own achievements which self-made men are apt to have.
But there was sterling pith in him, a dauntless and humane soul, and
inexhaustible ability and resource. Such a man could not fail to possess
imagination, and imagination and self-esteem combined conduce to
highly-colored narrative; but that Smith was a liar is an unwarranted
assumption, which will not be countenanced here.

The Gosnold colony had provided itself with a charter, granted by King
James, and as characteristic of that monarch as was his treatment of
Raleigh. It was the first of many specimens of absentee landlordism from
which America was to suffer. It began by setting apart an enormous stretch
of territory, bounded on the north by the latitude of the St. Croix River,
and on the south by that of Cape Fear, and extending westward
indefinitely. To this domain was given the general title of Virginia. It
was subdivided into two approximately equal parts, with a neutral zone
between them, which covered the space now occupied by the cities of New
York, Philadelphia, and Washington, and the land adjoining them. The
northern division was given in charge to the "Plymouth Company," and the
southern to the "London Company"; they were separate mercantile and
colonizing organizations, but the charter applied to both alike.

The colonies were to be under the immediate control of a council composed
of residents, but appointed by the king; this council was subordinate to
another, meeting in England; and this in its turn was subject to the
king's absolute authority. The emigrants were to pay a yearly rent of
one-fifth of the gold and silver produced, and a third as much of the
copper. A five per cent duty levied on alien traffic was for the first
five-and-twenty years to inure to the benefit of the colony, but afterward
should be the exclusive perquisite of the Crown. The right to call
themselves and their children English was permitted to the emigrants; and
they were also allowed to defend themselves against attacks, though it was
enjoined upon them to treat the natives with kindness, and to endeavor to
draw them into the fold of the Church.

Such was James's idea of what a charter for an American colony should be.
He was taking much for granted when he assumed the right to control the
emigrants at all; and he was careful to deprive them of any chance to
control in the least degree their own affairs. America was to be the abode
of liberty; but this monarch thought only of making it a field for his
private petty tyranny. The colonists were to be his own personal slaves,
and the deputy slaves of the Companies; after discharging all their
obligations to him and to them, they might do the best they could for
themselves with what was left, provided of course that they strictly
observed the laws which his Majesty was kind enough also to draw up for
them, the provisions of which included the penalty of death for most
offenses above petty larceny. A colony which, amid the hardships and
unfamiliar terrors of a virgin wilderness, could enjoy all the benefits of
a charter like this, and yet survive, would seem hardy enough for any
emergency. But James was king, and kings, in those days, if they pleased
no one else, pleased themselves.

As we have seen, the members of the colony, being persons unused to the
practice of the useful arts, were little apt to succeed even under the
most favoring conditions. But they had Smith, in himself a host, and a few
other good heads and able hands; and to speak truth, the provisions of
their charter do not seem to have unduly embarrassed them. It could annoy
and hamper them occasionally, but only themselves could work themselves
serious injury; there were three thousand miles of perilous sea water
between their paternal monarch and them, and the wilderness, with all its
drawbacks, breeds self-confidence and independence. The mishaps of the
colony were due to the shiftlessness of most of its members, and to the
insalubrity of the site chosen for their city of Jamestown, whereby more
than half of them perished during the first few months. On the voyage out,
Smith, who had probably made himself distasteful to the gentlemen
adventurers by his unconventional manners and conversation, had been
placed under restraint--to what extent is not exactly known; and when the
sealed orders under which they had sailed were opened, and it was found
that Smith was named a member of the council, he was for some weeks not
permitted to exercise his lawful functions in that office. When the
troubles began, however, the helpless gentlemen were glad to avail
themselves of his services, which he with his customary good humor readily
accorded them; and so competent did he show himself that ere long he was
in virtual command of them all. The usual search for gold and for the
passage through the continent to India having been made, with the usual
result, they all set to work to build their fort and town, and to provide
food against the not improbable contingency of famine. As crops could not
be raised for the emergency, Smith set out to traffic with the natives,
and brought back corn enough for the general need. All this while he had
been contending with a prevalent longing on the part of the colonists to
get back to England; there was no courage left in them but his, which
abounded in proportion to their need for it. Prominent among the
malcontents was the deposed governor, Wingfield, who tried to bribe the
colonists to return; another member of the council was shot for mutiny. In
the end, Smith's will prevailed, and he was governor and council and King
James all in one; and when, at the beginning of winter, he had brought the
settlement to order and safety, he started on a journey of exploration up
the Chickahominy. He perceived the immense importance of understanding his
surroundings, and at the same time of establishing friendly relations with
the neighboring tribes of Indians; and it was obvious that none but he
(for the excellent Gosnold had died of fever in the first months of the
settlement) was capable of effecting these objects. Accordingly he
proceeded prosperously toward the headwaters of the river, a dozen miles
above its navigable point; but there, all at once, he found himself in the
midst of a throng of frowning warriors, who were evidently resolved to put
an end to his investigations, if not to his existence, forthwith.

Another man than Smith would have committed some folly or rashness which
would have precipitated his fate; but Smith was as much at his ease as was
Julius Caesar of old on the pirate's ship. His two companions were killed,
but he was treated as a prisoner of rank and importance by the brother of
the great chief Powhatan, by whom he had been captured. He interested and
impressed his captors by his conversation and his instruments; and at the
same time he kept his eyes and ears open, and missed no information that
could be of use to himself and his colony. Powhatan gave him an audience
and seems to have adopted a considerate attitude; at all events he sent
him back to Jamestown after a few days, unharmed, and escorted by four
Indians, with a supply of corn. But precisely what occurred during those
few days we shall never certainly know; since we must choose between
accepting Smith's unsupported story, only made public years afterward, and
believing nothing at all. Smith's tale has charmed the imagination of all
who have heard it; nothing could be more prettily romantic; the trouble
with it is, it seems to most people too pretty and romantic to be true.
Yet it is simple enough in itself, and not at all improbable; there is no
question as to the reality of the dramatis personae of the story, and
their relations one to another render such an episode as was alleged
hardly more than might reasonably be looked for.

The story is--as all the world knows, for it has been repeated all over
the world for nearly three hundred years, and has formed the subject of
innumerable pictures--that Powhatan, for reasons of high policy
satisfactory to himself, had determined upon the death of the Englishman,
rightly inferring that the final disappearance of the colony would be the
immediate sequel thereof. The sentence was that Smith's brains were to be
knocked out with a bludgeon; and he was led into the presence of the chief
and the warriors, and ordered to lay his head upon the stone. He did so,
and the executioners poised their clubs for the fatal blow; but it never
fell. For Smith, during his captivity, had won the affection of the little
daughter of Powhatan, a girl of ten, whose name was Pocahontas. She was
too young to understand or fear his power over the Indians; but she knew
that he was a winning and fascinating being, and she could not endure that
he should be sacrificed. Accordingly, at this supreme crisis of his career,
she slipped into the dreadful circle, and threw herself upon Smith's
body, so that the blow which was aimed at his life must kill her first.
She clung to him and would not be removed, until her father had promised
that Smith should be spared.

So runs the Captain's narrative, published for the first time in 1624,
after Pocahontas's appearance in London, and her death in 1617. Why he had
not told it before is difficult to explain. Perhaps he had promised
Powhatan to keep it secret, lest the record of his sentimental clemency
should impair his authority over the tribes. Or it may have been an
embellishment of some comparatively trifling incident of Smith's
captivity, suggested to his mind as he was compiling his "General History
of Virginia." It can never be determined; but certainly his relations with
the Indian girl were always cordial, and it seems unlikely that Powhatan
would have permitted him to return to Jamestown except for some unusual

Pocahontas's life had vicissitudes such as seldom befall an Indian
maiden. Some time between the Smith episode of 1607, and the year 1612,
she married one of her father's tributary chiefs, and went to live with
him on his reservation. There she was in some manner kidnapped by one
Samuel Argall, and held for ransom. The ransom was paid, but Pocahontas
was not sent back; and the following year she was married to John Rolfe, a
Jamestown colonist, and baptized as Rebecca. He took her to London, where
she was a nine days' wonder; and they had a son, whose blood still flows
in not a few American veins to-day. If she was ten years old in 1607, he
must have been no more than twenty at the time of her death in Gravesend,
near London. But her place in American history is secure, as well as in
the hearts of all good Americans. She was the heroine of the first
American romance; and she is said to have been as beautiful as all our
heroines should rightly be.

When Smith, with his Indian escort, got back to Jamestown, he was just in
season to prevent the colony from running away in the boat. Soon after a
new consignment of emigrants and supplies arrived from England; but again
there were fewer men than gentlemen, and Smith sent back a demand for
"rather thirty carpenters, husbandmen, gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths,
masons, and diggers up of trees' roots, well provided, than a thousand of
such as we have." There spoke the genuine pioneer, whose heart is in his
work, and who can postpone "gentility" until it grows indigenously out of
the soil. The Company at home were indignant that their colony had not ere
now reimbursed them for their expenditure, and much more; and they sent
word that unless profits were forthcoming forthwith (one-fifth of the gold
and silver, and so forth) they would abandon the colony to its fate. One
cannot help admiring Smith for refraining from the obvious rejoinder that
to be abandoned was the dearest boon that they could crave; but a sense of
humor seems to have been one of the few good qualities which the Captain
did not possess. He intimated to the Company that money was not to be
picked up ready made in Virginia, but must be earned by hard work with
hands and heads in the field and forest. It is his distinction to have
been the first man of eminence visiting the new world who did not think
more of finding gold, or the passage to India, or both, than of anything
else. Smith knew that in this world, new or old, men get what they work
for, and in the long run no more than that; and he made his gentlemen
colonists take off their coats and blister their gentlemanly hands with
the use of the spade and the ax. It is said that they excelled as
woodcutters, after due instruction; and they were undoubtedly in all
respects improved by this first lesson in Americanism. The American ax and
its wielders have become famous since that day; and the gentlemen of
Jamestown may enjoy the credit of having blazed the way.

Fresh emigrants kept coming in, of a more or less desirable quality, as
is the case with emigrants still. Some of them had been sent out by other
organizations than the London Company, and bred confusion; but Smith was
always more than equal to the emergency, and kept his growing brood in
hand. He had the satisfaction of feeling that he was the right man in the
right place; and let the grass grow under neither his feet nor theirs. The
abandonment threat of the London Company led him to take measures to make
the colony independent so far as food was concerned, and a tract of land
was prepared and planted with corn. Traffic for supplies with the Indians
was systematized; and by the time Smith's year of office had expired the
Jamestown settlement was self-supporting, and forever placed beyond the
reach of annihilation--though, the very year after he had left it, it came
within measurable distance thereof.

He now returned to England, and never revisited Jamestown; but he by no
means relaxed his interest in American colonization, or his efforts to
promote it. In 1614 he once more sailed westward with two ships, on a
trading and exploring enterprise, which was successful. He examined and
mapped the northern coast, already seen by Gosnold, and bestowed upon the
country the name of New England. Traditions of his presence and exploits
are still told along the shores of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
In the year following he tried to found a small colony somewhere in these
regions, but was defeated by violent storms; and at a subsequent attempt
he fell in with French pirates, and his ship and fortune were lost, though
he himself escaped in an open skiff: the chains were never forged that
could hold this man. Nor was his spirit broken; he took his map and his
description of New England, and personally canvassed all likely persons
with a view to fitting out a new expedition. In 1617, aided perhaps by the
interest which Pocahontas had aroused in London, he was promised a fleet
of twenty vessels, and the title of Admiral of New England was bestowed
upon him. Admiral he remained till his death; but the fleet he was to
command never put forth to sea. A ship more famous than any he had
captained was to sail for New England in 1620, and land the Pilgrims on
Plymouth. Rock. Smith's active career was over, though he was but
eight-and-thirty years of age, and had fifteen years of life still before
him. He had drunk too deeply of the intoxicating cup of adventure and
achievement ever to be content with a duller draught; and from year to
year he continued to use his arguments and representations upon all who
would listen. But he no longer had money of his own, and he was
forestalled by other men. He was to have no share in the development of
the country which he had charted and named. At the time of his death in
London in 1632, poor and disappointed, Plymouth, Salem and Boston had been
founded, Virginia had entered upon a new career, and Maryland had been
settled by the Catholics under Lord Baltimore. The Dutch had created New
Amsterdam on Manhattan Island in 1623; and the new nation in the new
continent was fairly under way.

Jamestown, as has been said, narrowly escaped extinction in the winter of
1609. The colonists found none among their number to fill Smith's place,
and soon relapsed into the idleness and improvidence which he had so
resolutely counteracted. They ate all the food which he had laid up for
them, and when it was gone the Indians would sell them no more. Squads of
hungry men began to wander about the country, and many of them were
murdered by the savages. The mortality within the settlement was terrible,
and everything that could be used as food was eaten; at length cannibalism
was begun; the body of an Indian, and then the starved corpses of the
settlers themselves were devoured. Many crawled away to perish in the
woods; others, more energetic, seized a vessel and became pirates. In
short, such scenes were enacted as have been lately beheld in India and in
Cuba. The severity of the famine may be judged from the fact that out of
five hundred persons at the beginning of the six months, only sixty
diseased and moribund wretches survived. And this in a land which had been
described by its discoverers as a very Garden of Eden, flowing with milk
and honey.

Meanwhile, great things were preparing in England. Smith's warning that
America must be regarded and treated as an agricultural and industrial
community, and not as a treasure-box, had borne fruit; and a new charter
was applied for, which should more adequately satisfy the true conditions.
It was granted in 1609; Lord Salisbury was at the head of the promoters,
and with him were associated many hundreds of the lords, commoners and
merchants of England. The land assigned to them was a strip four hundred
miles in breadth north and south of Old Point Comfort, and across to the
Pacific, together with all islands lying within a hundred miles of shore.
In respect of administrative matters, the tendency of the new charter was
toward a freer arrangement; in especial, the company was to exercise the
powers heretofore lodged with the king, and the supreme council was to be
chosen by the shareholders. The governor was the appointee of the
corporation, and his powers were large and under conditions almost
absolute. The liberties of the emigrants themselves were not specifically
enlarged, but they were at least emancipated from the paternal solicitude
of the stingy and self-complacent pettifogger who graced the English

Lord Delaware was chosen governor; and Newport, Sir Thomas Gates and Sir
George Somers were the commissioners who were to conduct the affairs of
the colony until his arrival. A large number of emigrants, many of whom
contributed in money and supplies to the expedition, were assembled, and
the fleet numbered altogether nine vessels. But Newport and his fellow
commissioners suffered shipwreck on the Bermudas, and did not reach
Jamestown till nine months later, in May, 1610. The calamitous state of
things which there awaited them was an unwelcome surprise; and the
despairing colonists would be contented with nothing short of exportation
to Newfoundland. But before they could gain the sea, Lord Delaware with
his ships and provisions was met coming into port; and the intending
fugitives turned back with him. The hungry were fed, order was restored,
and industry was re-established. A wave of religious feeling swept over
the little community; the rule of Lord Delaware was mild, but just and
firm; and all would have been well had not his health failed, and
compelled him, in the spring of 1611, to return to England. The colony was
disheartened anew, and the arrival of Sir Thomas Dale in Delaware's place
did not at first relieve the depression; his training had been military,
and he administered affairs by martial law. But he believed in the future
of the enterprise, and so impressed his views upon the English council
that six more ships, with three hundred emigrants, were immediately sent
to their relief. Grates, who brought these recruits to Jamestown, assumed
the governorship, and a genuine prosperity began. Among the most important
of the improvements introduced was an approximation to the right of
private ownership in land, which had hitherto been altogether denied, and
which gave the emigrants a personal interest in the welfare of the
enterprise. In 1612 a third charter was granted, still further increasing
the privileges of the settlers, who now found themselves possessed of
almost the same political powers as they had enjoyed at home. It was still
possible, as was thereafter shown, for unjust and selfish governors to
inflict misery and discontent upon the people; but it was also possible,
under the law, to give them substantial freedom and happiness; and that
was a new light in political conceptions.

More than thirty years had now passed since Raleigh first turned his mind
to the colonizing of Virginia. He was now approaching the scaffold; but he
could feel a lofty satisfaction in the thought that it was mainly through
him that an opportunity of incalculable magnitude and possibilities had
been given for the enlargement and felicity of his race. He had sowed the
seed of England beyond the seas, and the quality of the fruit it should
bear was already becoming apparent to his eyes, soon to close forever upon
earthly things. The spirit of America was his spirit. He was for freedom,
enlightenment, and enterprise; and whenever a son of America has fulfilled
our best ideal of what an American should be, we find in him some of the
traits and qualities which molded the deeds and colored the thoughts of
this mighty Englishman.

Nor can we find a better example of the restless, practical, resourceful
side of the American character than is offered in Captain John Smith; even
in his boastfulness we must claim kinship with him. His sterling manhood,
his indomitable energy, his fertile invention, his ability as a leader and
as a negotiator, all ally him with the traditional Yankee, who carries on
in so matter-of-fact a way the solution of the problems of the new
democracy. Both these men, each in his degree, were Americans before

And with them we may associate the name of Columbus; to him also we must
concede the spiritual citizenship of our country; not because of the bare
fact that he was the first to reach its shores, but because he had a soul
valiant enough to resist and defy the conservatism that will believe in no
new thing, and turns life into death lest life should involve labor and
self-sacrifice. Columbus, Smith, and Raleigh stand at the portals of our
history, types of the faith, success and honor which are our heritage.



The motive force which drove the English Separatists and Puritans to a
voluntary exile in New England in 1620 and later, had its origin in the
brain of the son of a Saxon slate cutter just a century before. Martin
Luther first gave utterance to a mental protest which had long been on the
tongue's tip of many thoughtful and conscientious persons in Europe, but
which, till then, no one had found the courage, or the energy, or the
conviction, or the clear-headedness (as the case might be) to formulate
and announce. Once having reached its focus, however, and attained its
expression, it spread like a flame in dry stubble, and produced results in
men and nations rarely precedented in the history of the world, whose
vibrations have not yet died away.

Henry VIII. of England was born and died a Catholic; though of religion
of any kind he never betrayed an inkling. His Act of Supremacy, in 1534,
which set his will above that of the Pope of Rome, had no religious
bearing, but merely indicated that he wanted to divorce one woman in order
to marry another. Nevertheless it made it incumbent upon the Pope to
excommunicate him, and thus placed him, and England as represented by him,
in a quasi-dissenting attitude toward the orthodox faith. And coming as it
did so soon after Luther's outbreak, it may have encouraged Englishmen to
think on lines of liberal belief.

Passionate times followed in religious--or rather in theological--matters,
all through the Sixteenth Century. The fulminations of Luther and the
logic of Calvin set England to discussing and taking sides; and when
Edward VI. came to the throne, he was himself a Protestant, or indeed a
Puritan, and the stimulus of Puritanism in others. But the mass of the
common people were still unmoved, because there was no means of getting at
them, and they had no stomach for dialectics, if there had been. The new
ideas would probably have made little headway had not Edward died and Mary
the Catholic come red-hot with zeal into his place. She lost no time in
catching and burning all dissenters, real or suspected; and as many of
these were honest persons who lived among the people, and were known and
approved by them, and as they uniformly endured their martyrdom with
admirable fortitude and good-humor, falling asleep in the crackling flames
like babes at the mother's breast, Puritanism received an advertisement
such as nothing since Christianity had enjoyed before, and which all the
unaided Luthers, Melanchthons and Calvins in the world could not have
given it.

This lasted five years, after which Mary went to her reward, and
Elizabeth came to her inheritance. She was no more of a religion-monger
than her distinguished father had been; but she was, like him, jealous of
her authority, and a martinet for order and obedience at all costs. A
certain intellectual voluptuousness of nature and an artistic instinct
inclined her to the splendid forms and ceremonies of the Catholic ritual;
but she was too good a politician not to understand that a large part of
her subjects were unalterably opposed to the papacy. After some
consideration, therefore, she adopted the expedient of a compromise, the
substance of which was that whatever was handsome and attractive in
Catholicism was to be retained, and only those technical points dropped
which made the Pope the despot of the Church. In ordinary times this would
have answered very well; human nature likes to eat its cake and have it
too; but this time was anything but ordinary. The reaction from old to new
ways of thinking, and the unforgotten persecutions of Mary, had made men
very fond of their opinions, and preternaturally unwilling to enter into
bargains with their consciences. At the same time loyalty to the Crown was
still a fetich in England, as indeed it always has been, except at and
about the time when Oliver Cromwell and others cut off the head of the
First Charles. Consequently when Elizabeth and Whitgift, her Archbishop of
Canterbury, set about putting their house in order in earnest, they were
met with a mixture of humble loyalty and immovable resistance which would
have perplexed any potentates less single-minded. But Elizabeth and
Whitgift were not of the sort that sets its hand to the plow and then
turns back; they went earnestly on with their banishments and executions,
paying particular attention to the Separatists, but keeping plenty in hand
for the Puritans also.--The Separatists, it may be observed, were so
called because their aim was to dispart themselves entirely from the
orthodox communion; the Puritans were willing to remain in the fold, but
had it in mind to purify it, by degrees, from the defilement which they
held it to have contracted. The former would not in the least particular
make friends with the mammon of unrighteousness, or condone the sins of
the Scarlet Woman, or of anybody else; they would not inhale foul air,
with a view to sending it forth again disinfected by the fragrance of
their own lungs. They took their stand unequivocally upon the plain letter
of Scripture, and did away with all that leaned toward conciliating the
lighter sentiments and emotions; they would have no genuflexions, no
altars, no forms and ceremonies, no priestly vestments, no Apostolic
Succession, no priests, no confessions, no intermediation of any kind
between the individual and his Creator. The people themselves should make
and unmake their own "ministers," and in all ways live as close to the
bone as they could. The Puritans were not opposed to any of these beliefs;
only they were not so set upon proclaiming and acting upon them in season
and out of season; they contended that the idolatry of ritual, since it
had been several centuries growing up, should be allowed an appreciable
time to disappear. It will easily be understood that, at the bottom of
these religious innovations and inflammations, was a simple movement
toward greater human freedom in all directions, including the political.
It mattered little to the zealots on either side whether or not the secret
life of a man was morally correct; he must think in a certain prescribed
way, on pain of being held damnable, and, if occasion served, of being
sent to the other world before he had opportunity to further confirm his
damnation. The dissenters, when they got in motion, were just as
intolerant and bigoted as the conformists; and toward none was this
intolerance more strongly manifested than toward such as were in the main,
but not altogether, of their way of thinking. The Quakers and the
Independents had almost as hard an experience in New England, at the hands
of the Puritans, as the latter had endured from good Queen Bess and her
henchmen a few years before. But really, religion, in the absolute sense,
had very little to do with these movements and conflicts; the impulse was
supposed to be religion because religion dwells in the most interior
region of a man's soul. But the craving for freedom also proceeds from an
interior place; and so does the lust for tyranny. Propinquity was mistaken
for identity, and anything which was felt but could not be reasoned about
assumed a religious aspect to the subject of it, and all the artillery of
Heaven and Hell, and the vocabulary thereof, were pressed into service to
champion it.

But New England had to be peopled, and this was the way to people it. The
dissenters perceived that, though they might think as they pleased in
England, they could not combine this privilege with keeping clear of the
fagot or the gibbet; and though martyrdom is honorable, and perhaps
gratifying to one's vanity, it can be overdone.

They came to the conclusion, accordingly, that practical common sense
demanded their expatriation; and some of them humbly petitioned her
Majesty to be allowed to take themselves off. The Queen did not show
herself wholly agreeable to this project; womanlike, and queenlike, she
wanted to convince them even more than to be rid of them; or if they must
be got rid of, she preferred to dispose of them herself in the manner
prescribed for stubborn heretics. But the lady was getting on in years,
and was not so ardently loved as she had been; and her activity against
the heretics could not keep pace with her animosity. She had succeeded in
many things, and her reign was accounted glorious; but she had won no
glory by the Puritans and Separatists, and her campaign against them had
not succeeded. They were stronger than ever, and were to grow stronger
yet. It was remembered, too, by her servants, that, when she was dead,
some one might ascend the throne who was less averse to nonconformity than
she had been; and then those who had persecuted might suffer persecution
in their turn. So although the prayer of the would-be colonists was not
granted, the severity against them was relaxed; and as Elizabeth's last
breath rattled in her throat, the mourners had one ear cocked toward the
window, to hear in what sort of a voice James was speaking.

Their fears had been groundless. The new king spoke Latin, and "peppered
the Puritans soundly." The walls of Hampton Court resounded with his
shrill determination to tolerate none of their nonsense; and he declared
to the assembled prelates, who were dissolving in tears of joy, that
bishops were the most trustworthy legs a monarch could walk on. The
dissenters, who had hoped much, were disappointed in proportion; but they
were hardened into an opposition sterner than they had ever felt before.
They must help themselves, since no man would help them; and why not
--since they had God on their side? They controlled the House of Commons,
and made themselves felt there, till James declared that he preferred a
hermitage to ruling such a pack of malcontents. The clergy renewed their
persecutions; the government of England was a despotism of the strictest
kind; and the fire which had been repressed in Puritan bosoms began to
emit sullen sparks through their eyes and lips.

A group of them in the north of England established a church, and called
upon all whom it might concern to shake off anti-Christian bondage. John
Robinson and William Brewster gave it their support, and their meetings
were made interesting by the spies of the government. Finally they were
driven to attempt an escape to Holland; and, after one miscarriage, they
succeeded in getting off from the coast of Lincolnshire in the spring of
1608, and were transported to Amsterdam. They could but tarry there; their
only country now was Heaven; meanwhile they were wandering Pilgrims on the
face of the earth, as their Lord had been before them. From Amsterdam they
presently removed to Leyden, where they conducted themselves with such
propriety as to win the encomiums of the natives. But their holy
prosperity did not make them happy, or enable them to be on comfortable
terms with the Dutch language; they could not get elbow-room, or feel that
they were doing themselves justice; and as the rumors of a fertile
wilderness overseas came to their ears, they began to contemplate the
expediency of betaking themselves thither. It was now the year 1617; and
negotiations were entered into with the London Company to proceed under
their charter.

The London Company were disposed to consider the proposition favorably,
but the affair dragged, and when it was brought before the government it
was quashed by Bacon, who opined that the coat of Christ must be seamless,
and that even in a remote wilderness heretics must not be permitted to
rend it. The Pilgrims might have replied that if a coat is already torn,
it profits not to declare it whole; but they were not students of
repartee, and merely relinquished efforts to secure support in that
direction. They must go into exile without official sanction, that was
all. The king's law enjoined, to be sure, that if any dissenters were
discovered abroad they were straightway to be sent to England for
discipline; but inasmuch as the threat of exile was, at the same time,
held over the same dissenters at home, it would seem a saving of trouble
all round to go abroad and trust to God. "If they mean to wrong us," they
aptly remarked, "a royal seal, though it were as broad as the house floor,
would not protect us." A suggestion that the Dutchmen fit them out for
their voyage, and share their profits, fell through on the question of
protection against other nations; and when they had prepared their minds
to make the venture without any protection at all, it turned out that
there was not capital enough in the community to pay for transport. Within
three years, however, this difficulty was overcome, and in July of 1620
two ships were hired--the "Speedwell" and the "Mayflower"--and the
progenitors of religious and civil liberty in America were ready to set

There was not accommodation for them all on the two vessels, the one of
sixty tons, the other of thrice as many; so a division was made, Robinson
remaining in Leyden with one party, until means could be had to bring them
over; and Brewster accompanying the emigrants, supported by John Carver
and Miles Standish. Robinson, one of the finest and purest spirits of the
time, died while waiting to join his friends; but most of the others were
brought over in due season.

The hymns of praise and hope which were up-lifted on the shores of Delft
Haven, in the hour of farewell between those who went and those who
stayed, though the faith which inspired them was stanch, and the voices
which chanted them musical and sweet, could not restrain the tears that
flowed at the severing of ties which had been welded by exile, hardship,
and persecution for conscience' sake; nor were the two "feasts" which
comforted the bellies of the departing ones able to console their hearts.
It is different with trips across the Atlantic nowadays: and different,
likewise, are the motives which prompt them.

The "Speedwell" turned back at Plymouth, England, and the "Mayflower"
went on alone, with her company of one hundred and two, including women,
some of whom were soon to be mothers. The Atlantic, though a good friend
of theirs, was rough and boisterous in its manners, and tossed them on
their way rudely; in that little cabin harrowing discomfort must have been
undergone, and Christian forbearance sorely tried. The pitching and
tossing lasted more than two months, from the 6th of September till the
7th of December, when they sighted--not the Bay of New York, as they had
intended, but the snow-covered sand mounds of Cape Cod. It was at best an
inhospitable coast, and the time of their visit could not have been worse

But indeed they were to be tested to the utmost; their experiences during
that winter would have discouraged oak and iron; but it had no such effect
upon these English men and women of flesh and blood. The New England
winter climate has its reputation still; but these people were not fit for
the encounter. They had been living in the moist mildness of Holland for
thirteen years, and for more than sixty days had been penned in that
stifling "Mayflower" cabin, seasick, bruised and sleepless. It sleeted,
snowed, rained and froze, and they could find no place to get ashore on;
their pinnace got stove, and the icy waves wet them to the marrow.
Standish and some others made explorations on land; but found nothing
better than some baskets of maize and a number of Indian graves buried in
the snow-drifts. At last they stumbled upon a little harbor, upon which
abutted a hollow between low hills, with an icebound stream descending
through it to the sea. They must make shift with that or perish. It was
the 21st of December.

That date is inscribed on the front page of our history, and the Pilgrim
Fathers and their wives and daughters are celebrated persons, though they
were only a lot of English farmers in exile for heresy. But no dreams of
renown visited them then; they had nothing to uphold them but their
amazing faith. What that faith must have been their conduct demonstrates;
but it is difficult to comprehend such a spirit; we remember all the
persecutions, all the energy of new convictions, and still it seems
miraculous. Liberty to think as they pleased, and to act upon their
belief: that was all they had to fight with. It seems very thin armor, an
ineffective sword: but what a victory they won!

Before they disembarked, a meeting was held in the cabin for the
transaction of certain business. Since then, whenever a handful of Yankees
have been gathered together, it has been their instinct to organize and
pass resolutions. It is the instinct of order and self-government, the
putting of each man in his proper place, and assigning to him his
function. This meeting of the Pilgrims was the prototype, and the
resolutions they passed constitute the model upon which our commonwealth
is based. They promised one another, in the presence of God, equal laws
and fidelity to the general good: the principles of a free democracy.

They disembarked on the flat bowlder known as Plymouth Rock and set to
work to make their home. With the snow under their feet, the dark, naked
woods hemming them in, and concealing they knew not what savage perils;
with the bitter waves flinging frozen spray along the shore, and
immitigable clouds lowering above them--memory may have drawn a picture of
the quiet English vales in which they were born, or of the hazy Dutch
levels, with the windmills swinging their arms slumberously above the
still canals, and the clean streets and gabled fašades of the prosperous
Holland town which had sheltered and befriended them. They thought of
faces they loved and would see no more, and of the secure and tranquil
lives they might have led, but for that tooth of conscience at their
hearts, which would give them peace only at the cost of almost all that
humanity holds dear. Did any of them wish they had not come? did any doubt
in his or her heart whether a cold abstraction was worth adopting in lieu
of the great, warm, kindly world? Verily, not one!

They got to work at their home-making without delay; but all were ill,
and many were dying. That winter they put up with much labor a few log
huts; but their chief industry was the digging of clams and of graves.
Half of their number were buried before the summer, and there was not food
enough for the rest to eat. John Carver, who had been elected governor at
landing, died in April, having already lost his son. But those who did
survive their first year lived long; it is wonder that they ever died at
all, who could survive such an experience.

Spring came, and with it a visitor. It was in March--not a salubrious
month in New England; but the trees were beginning to pat out brown buds
with green or red tips, and grass and shrubs were sprouting in sheltered
places, though snow still lay in spots where sunshine could not fall. The
trailing arbutus could be found here and there, with a perfume that all
the cruelty of winter seemed to have made only more sweet. Birds were
singing, too, and the settlers had listened to them with joy; they had
gone near to forget that God had made birds. On some days, from the south,
came the breathing of soft, fragrant airs; and there were breadths of blue
in the sky that looked as if so fresh and tender a hue must have been just

The men, in thick jerkins, heavy boots, and sugarloaf hats, were busy
about the clearing; some, like Miles Standish, wore a steel plate over
their breasts, and kept their matchlocks within reach, for though a
pestilence had exterminated the local Indians before they came, and, with
the exception of one momentary skirmish, in which no harm was done,
nothing had been seen or heard of the red men--still it was known that
Indians existed, and it was taken for granted that they would be hostile.
Meanwhile the women, in homespun frocks and jackets, with kerchiefs round
their shoulders, and faces in which some trace of the English ruddiness
had begun to return, sat spinning in the doorways of the huts, keeping an
eye on the kettles of Indian meal. The morning sunlight fell upon a scene
which, for the first time, seemed homelike: not like the lost homes in
England, but a place people could live human lives in, and grow fond of.
The hope of spring was with them.

All at once, down the forest glade, treading noiselessly on moccasined
feet, came a tall, wild, unfamiliar figure, with feathers in his black
hair, and black eyes gleaming above his high cheekbones. An Indian, at
last! He had come so silently that he had emerged from the shadow of the
forest and was almost amid them before he was seen. Some of the settlers,
perhaps, felt a momentary tightening round the heart; for though we are
always in the hollow of God's hand, there are times when we are surprised
into forgetfulness of that security, and are concerned about carnal
perils. Captain Standish, who had taken a flying shot at some of these
heathen four or five months ago, caught up a loaded musket leaning against
the corner of a hut, and stood on his guard, doubting that more of the
savages were lurking behind the trees. He had even thus early in American
history come to the view long afterward formulated in the epigram that the
only good Indians are the dead ones.

But the keen, spare savage made no hostile demonstration; he paused
before the captain, with the dignity of his race, and held out his empty
hands. And then, to the vast astonishment of Standish and of the others
who had gathered to his support, he opened his mouth and spoke English:
"Welcome, Englishmen!" said he. They must have fancied, for an instant,
that the Lord had wrought a special miracle for them, in bestowing upon
this native of the primeval forest the gift of tongues.

There was, however, nothing miraculous about Samoset, who had picked up
his linguistic accomplishment, such as it was, from a fellow savage who
had been kidnapped and taken to England, whom he afterward introduced to
the colony, where he made himself useful. Samoset's present business was
as embassador from the great chief and sachem, Massasoit, lord of
everything thereabout, who sent friendly greetings, and would be pleased
to confer with the new comers, at their convenience, and arrange an

These were good words, and they must have taken a weight from every heart
there; not only the dread of immediate attack, but the omnipresent and
abiding anxiety that the time would come when they would have to fight for
their lives, and defend the persecuted church of the Lord against foes who
knew nothing of conformist or nonconformist, but who were as proficient as
Queen Mary herself in the use of fire and torture. These misgivings might
now be dismissed; if the ruler of so many tribes was willing to stand
their friend, who should harm them? So they all gathered round Samoset on
that sunny spring morning; the women observing curiously and in silence
his strange aspect and gestures, and occasionally exchanging glances with
one another at some turn of the talk; while the sturdy Miles, and Governor
Carver, pale with illness which within a month reunited him with the son
he had loved, and Elder Brewster, with his serious mien, and Bradford, who
was to succeed Carver, with his strong, authoritative features and
thoughtful forehead;--these and more than a score more of the brethren
stood eying their visitor, questioning him earnestly and trying to make
out his meaning from his imperfect English gruntings. And they spoke one
to another of the action that should be taken on his message, or commented
with pious exclamations on the mercy of the Lord in thus raising up for
them protectors even in the wilderness. Meanwhile a chipmunk flitted along
the bole of a fallen tree, a thrush chirped in the brake, a deer, passing
airy-footed across an opening in the forest, looked an instant and then
turned and plunged fleetly away amid the boughs, and a lean-bellied wolf,
prospecting for himself and his friends, stuck his sinister snout through
a clump of underbrush, and curled his lips above the long row of his white
teeth in an ugly grin. This friendship boded no good to him.

The coming of Samoset was followed after a while by the introduction of
Squanto, the worthy savage who had enjoyed the refining influences of
distant England, whose services as interpreter were of much value in that
juncture; and after a short time Massasoit himself accepted the settlers'
invitation to become their guest during the making of the treaty. He was
received with becoming honor; the diplomatists proceeded at once to
business, and before twilight the state paper had been drawn up, signed
and sealed. Its provisions ran that both parties were to abstain from
harming each other, were to observe an offensive and defensive alliance,
and to deliver up offenders. These terms were religiously kept for half a
century; by which time the colonists were able to take care of themselves.
Its good effects were illustrated in the case of the chief Canonicus, who
was disposed to pick a quarrel with the Englishmen, and sent them, as a
symbol of his attitude, a rattlesnake's skin wrapped round a sheaf of
arrows. Bradford, to indicate that he also understood the language of
emblems, sent the skin back stuffed with powder and bullets. Canonicus
seems to have fancied that these substances were capable of destroying him
spontaneously, and returned them with pacific assurances. Such weapons,
combined with the alliance, were too much for him. Canonicus was chief of
the Narragansetts; Massasoit, of the Wampanoags. In 1676 the son of
Massasoit, for some fancied slight, made war upon the settlers, and the
Narragansetts helped him; in this war, known as King Philip's, the
settlers suffered severely, though they were victorious. But had it come
during the early years of their sojourn, not one of them would have
survived, and New England might never have become what she is now.

Meantime the Pilgrims, pilgrims no longer, settled down to make the
wilderness blossom as the rose. At their first landing they had agreed,
like the colonists of Virginia, to own their land and work it in common;
but they were much quicker than the Jamestown folk to perceive the
inexpediency of this plan, and reformed it by giving each man or family a
private plot of ground. Agriculture then developed so rapidly that corn
enough was raised to supply the Indians as well as the English; and the
importation of neat cattle increased the home look as well as the
prosperity of the farms. There was also a valuable trade in furs, which
stimulated an abortive attempt at rivalry. None could compete with the
Pilgrims on their own ground; for were they not growing up with the
country, and the Lord--was He not with them? More troublesome than this
effort of Weston was the obstruction of the Company in England, and its
usurious practices; the colonists finally bought them out, and relied
henceforth wholly on themselves, with the best results. As years went by
their numbers increased, though but slowly. They did not invite the
co-operation of persons not of their way of thinking, and the world was
never over-supplied with Separatists. On the other hand, they were active
and full of enterprise, and sent out branches in all directions, which
shared the vitality of the parent stock. Every man of them was trained to
self-government, and where he went order and equity accompanied him. A
purer democracy could not be framed; for years the elections were made by
the entire body of the assembled citizens; His Dread Majesty, King James,
never sent them his royal Charter, but the charter provided by their own
love of justice and solid good sense served them far better. Their
governors were responsible directly to the people, and were further
restrained by a council of seven members. This political basis is that
upon which our present form of government rests; but it is strange to see
what Daedalian complications, and wheels within wheels, we have contrived
to work into the superstructure. A modern ward heeler in New York could
have taken up the whole frame of government in Seventeenth Century New
England by the butt end, and cracked it like a whip--provided of course the
Pilgrim fathers had allowed him to attend the primaries.

But it is more probable that the ward heeler would have found himself
promptly in the presence of one of those terrific magistrates whose grim
decrees gave New England naughty children the nightmare a century after
the stern-browed promulgators of them were dust. The early laws against
crime in New England were severe, though death was seldom or never
inflicted save for murder. But more irksome to one used to the lax habits
of to-day would have been the punctilious rigidity with which they guarded
the personal bearing, speech, and dress of the members of their community.
Yet we may thank them for having done so; it was a wise precaution; they
knew the frailties of the flesh, and how easily license takes an ell if an
inch be given it. Nothing less iron than was their self-restraint could
have provided material stanch enough to build up the framework of our
nation. One might not have enjoyed living with them; but we may be
heartily glad that they lived; and we should be the better off if more of
their stamp were alive still.

But these iron people had their tender and sentimental side as well, and
the self-command which they habitually exercised made the softening, when
it came, the more beautiful. One of the love romances of this little
colony has come down to us, and may be taken as the substantial truth; it
has entered into our literature and poetry, and touches us more nearly
even than the tale of Pocahontas. Its telling by our most popular poet has
brought it to the knowledge of a greater circle of readers than it could
otherwise have reached; but the elaboration of his treatment could add
nothing to the human charm of it, or sharpen our conception of the leading
characters in the drama. Miles Standish had been a soldier in the
Netherlands before joining the Pilgrims, and to him they gave the military
guardianship of the colony, with the title of captain. He was then about
thirty-six years of age, a bluff, straightforward soldier, whom a life of
hardship had made older than his years. He had known little of women's
society, but during the long voyage he came to love Priscilla Mullens, and
when the spring came to the survivors at Plymouth, he wished to marry her.
But he would not trust, as Othello did, to the simple art of a soldier to
woo her; and Priscilla was probably no Desdemona. But there was a youth
among the colonists, just come of age, whom Standish had liked and
befriended, and who, though a cooper and ship-carpenter by trade, was
gifted with what seemed to Standish especial graces of person and speech.
Alden had not been one of the original pilgrims; he had been hired to
repair the "Mayflower" while she lay at Southampton, and decided to sail
on her when she sailed; perhaps with the hope of making his fortune in the
new world, perhaps because he wished to go where Priscilla went. She was a
girl whom any man might rejoice to make his wife; vigorous and wholesome
as well as comely, and endowed with a strong character, sweetened by a
touch of humor. John had never spoken to her of his love, any more than
Miles had; whether Priscilla's clear eyes had divined it, we know not; but
it is likely that she saw through the cooper and the soldier both.

The honest soldier was a fool, and saw nothing but Priscilla, and felt
nothing but his love for her. He took John Alden by the arm, and, leading
him apart into the forest, proposed to him to go to young Mistress Mullens
and ask her if she would become the wife of Captain Standish. Alden was
honest, too; but he was dominated by his older friend, and lacked the
courage to tell him that he had hoped for Priscilla for himself; he let
the critical moment for this explanation pass, and then there was nothing
for it but to accept the Captain's commission. We can imagine how this
situation would be handled by the analytic novelists of our day; how they
would spread Alden's heart and conscience out on paper, and dry them, and
pick them to pieces. The young fellow certainly had a hard thing to do; he
must tread down his own passion, and win the girl for his rival into the
bargain. To her he went, and spoke. But the only way he could spur himself
to eloquence was to imagine that he was Standish, and then woo her as he
would have done had Standish been he.

Maidens of rounded nature, like Priscilla, pay less attention to what a
man says than to the tones of his voice, the look in his eyes, and his
unconscious movements. As Alden warmed to his work, she glanced at him
occasionally, and not only wished that Heaven had made her such a man, but
decided that it had. So, when the youth had finished off an ardent
peroration, in which the Captain was made to appear in a guise of heroic
gallantry that did not suit him in the least, but which was the best John
could do for him: there was a pause, while the vicarious wooer wiped his
brow, and felt very miserable, remembering that if she yielded, it would
be to Miles and not to him. She divined what was in his mind, and sent him
to Heaven with one of the womanliest and loveliest things that ever woman
said to man: "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" she asked, gazing
straight at him, with a quiver of her lips that was half humor and half
the promise of tears.

John still had before him a bad quarter of an hour with the Captain; it
was as hard to make him understand that he had not played the traitor to
him as it had been to persuade Priscilla to do what she had not done; but

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