Part 5 out of 11
the people were so angry with him and the part he had taken that
they would have no more to do with him, and he was obliged to leave
Some others who had taken as great a part as he in hounding guiltless
people to death remained impenitent and unpunished. But the jury
and some of the judges made some amends. They did a hard thing,
for they publicly acknowledged that they had been wrong. The jury
wrote and signed a paper in which they said, "We do hereby declare
that we justly fear that we were sadly deluded and mistaken, for
which we are much disquieted and distressed in our minds. And do
therefore humbly beg forgiveness."
One of the judges, Judge Sewall, was bitterly grieved at the part
he had played. And on a day of general intercession he stood up
before the whole congregation, acknowledging his guilt and praying
God to forgive him. And throughout all his life he kept one day a
year upon which he prayed and fasted in repentance.
Perhaps you may think that there is nothing in this story to make
you proud of your ancestors. But think again. Think of the courage
of those men and women who cheerfully went to death rather than
save their lives by lying and making false confessions. Truth to
those brave men and women was worth more than life. And is there
nothing to be proud of in the fact that the judge and jury, when
they found themselves in the wrong, had the manliness to own it
publicly and without reserve?
To some of us nothing in all the world seems so hard as to own
ourselves in the wrong.
Part IV STORIES OF THE MIDDLE AND SOUTHERN COLONIES
Chapter 35 - The Founding of Maryland
About the same time as Gorges was making laws for his little kingdom
of New Hampshire another English gentleman was doing much the same
somewhat farther south. This was Lord Baltimore.
The first Lord Baltimore was a Yorkshire gentleman named Calvert;
he was a favourite of James I, who made him a baron, and he took
his title from a tiny village in Ireland.
Like so many other men of his time Lord Baltimore was interested
in America, and wanted to found a colony there. First he tried to
found one in Newfoundland. There he received a large grant of land
which he called Avalon after the fabled land in the story of King
Arthur, and he had a kind of fairy vision of the warmth and sunny
delights which were to be found in his new land.
But instead of being warm and sunny he found that Newfoundland was
bleak and cold, so his fairy vision shriveled and died, and be came
home and asked for a grant of land on the Potomac instead. In 1632
King James gave Lord Baltimore what he asked and called the land
Maryland in honour of his wife, Queen Henrietta Maria.
But before the grant was sealed "with the King's broad seal" Lord
Baltimore died. Not he, therefore, but his son, Cecilius, was the
first "Lord Proprietary" of Maryland, and for his broad lands all
he had to pay to King James was two Indian arrows, to be delivered
at Windsor Castle every year on Tuesday in Easter week. He had
also to pay one-fifth part of all the gold and silver which might
be found within his borders. But no gold or silver was found in
the colony, so there was nothing to pay.
Lord Baltimore did not himself go to America, but sent his brother,
Leonard Calvert, as Governor. Maryland was not founded like the
Puritan colonies for religious purposes, but like New Hampshire,
merely for trade and profit. But in those days religion and religious
strife entered into everything. So it did into the founding of
For Lord Baltimore was a Catholic, and in England Roman Catholics
in their turn, as well as dissenters, were persecuted, and Lord
Baltimore hoped to found a refuge for them in his new possessions
in America. So although, in the charter given by a Protestant King
the Church of England was recognised as the state religion, in
reality there was great religious freedom in Maryland, and for a
time it was there only that Catholics found freedom in America.
But in order to secure toleration for the Catholic religion Lord
Baltimore found himself obliged to tolerate all others. So men of
all creeds came to settle in Maryland and find freedom.
The people of Virginia were very far from pleased when they heard
of the new colony about to be planted so near them. For part of the
land which had been given to Lord Baltimore they claimed as their
own, and they looked upon the newcomers as intruders on their
territory and resolved to maintain their rights. They did all they
could to prevent the new settlers coming. Nevertheless, in spite
of everything, Leonard Calvert set sail with his colonists, many
of whom were well-to-do people, in two ships called the Ark and
They had a prosperous voyage and landed in Virginia full of doubt
lest the inhabitants, who were very angry at their coming, should
be plotting something against them. But the letters which they
carried from the King seemed to appease the anger of the Virginians
for a little, and the newcomers sailed on again to their own
destination in Chesapeake Bay.
So at length they reached the "wished-for country" and Calvert
landed with solemn state to take possession of the land in the name
of God and the King of England.
As he stepped ashore a salute was fired from the boats. Then,
reverently kneeling, the colonists listened while Mass was said for
the first time in English America. Mass being over, they formed a
procession at the head of which a rough wooden cross was carried.
Then when they reached a spot chosen beforehand they planted the
cross, and, kneeling round it, chanted the Litany of the Sacred
Cross with great fervour.
And thus a new colony was begun.
With the Indians Calvert made friends, for he was both just and
kind to them, paying them for their land in hoes, hatchets, coloured
cloths and the beads and gew-gaws they loved. So in those early
days there were no Indian wars and massacres in Maryland.
But although at peace with the Redmen the Marylanders were not at
peace with their fellow white men. For the Virginians could not
forget that Lord Baltimore had taken land which they had looked
upon as their own. They had done their best to hinder him coming
at all. And now that he had come they did their best to drive him
away again. They tried to stir up mischief between the newcomers
and the Indians by telling the Indians that these newcomers were
Spaniards, and enemies of the English nation. They complained to
the people in power at home, and did everything they could to make
Maryland an uncomfortable dwelling place for those they looked upon
The chief enemy of the Marylanders among the Virginians was a man
named William Clayborne. Before the coming of these new colonists
he had settled himself upon the Isle of Kent, which was within
their bounds, and now he absolutely refused either to move or to
recognise the authority of Calvert as Governor; for he claimed the
Isle of Kent as part of Virginia.
Calvert on his side insisted on his rights, and as neither would
give way it came at length to fighting. There was bloodshed on both
sides, now one, now the other getting the upper hand. Each appealed
in turn to King, Parliament, or Protector, and so for more than
twenty years the quarrel went on. But when the great Cromwell came
to power he took Lord Baltimore's part, Catholic though he was. And
at length in 1657, weary perhaps of the struggle, each side gave
way a little and there was peace between the two colonies.
But in spite of the constant trouble with Clayborne the colony grew
and prospered, for there was greater religious freedom to be found
there than anywhere else either in England or America. And in the
seventeenth century religion bulked more largely in an Englishman's
thoughts than almost anything else. Then in 1649 the Governor issued
an Act called the Toleration Act, which has made him famous. It
gave freedom to every one to follow his own religion save Jews and
Unitarians, and for those days it was a wonderfully liberal and
broad-minded Act. It threatened with a fine of ten shillings any one
who should in scorn or reproach call any man such names as popish
priest, Roundhead, heretic. It declared that no person whatsoever
within the Province professing to believe in Jesus Christ should
be in any way troubled or molested for his or her religion.
This was the first law of its kind ever brought into force in
America, and although suspended once or twice for short periods it
remained almost continuously in force for many years.
Maryland becomes a royal province, 1691 Time went on and the great
estate of Maryland passed from one Lord Baltimore to another. Although
founded as a refuge for Catholics there were far more Protestants
than Catholics within the colony. And when William III, the Protestant
King, came to the throne he deprived Baltimore of his rights, and
made Maryland a royal province. The Church of England was then
established, and Catholics forbidden to hold services. Thus Lord
Baltimore's dream of providing a refuge for the oppressed was at
But in 1715 Benedict, the fourth Lord Baltimore, became a Protestant,
and Maryland was given back to him. It remained in possession of
his family until the Revolution.
Chapter 36 - How New Amsterdam Became New York
All the colonies which we have so far talked about were founded by
Englishmen. Now we come to one which was founded by another people
who, like the English, were great sea rovers and adventurer's-the
Dutch. Even before the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers the Dutch
laid claim to the valleys of the Hudson and the Delaware.
In those days people still knew very little about the continent
of North America. They knew it was a continent, but they did not
believe it to be very wide, as is proved by charters like that
of Virginia which made the colony extend from sea to sea. Nor did
people know how long the continent was. They had no idea that the
great double continent stretched from north to south all across the
hemisphere, and they were continually seeking for that North-West
passage which would lead them to India by way of the west.
Now in 1609 Henry Hudson, an English sailor in the pay of the Dutch,
came seeking the North-West passage. He did not find it, but sailed
into Delaware Bay and up the beautiful river which is now known
by his name as far as where the town of Albany now stands. It was
autumn when Hudson sailed up the river; the sky was gloriously
blue, and the woods aflame with red and yellow, and he went home
to tell the Dutch that he had found "as pleasant a land with grass
and flowers and goodly trees as ever he had seen," "a very good
land to fall with, and a pleasant land to see."
By right of Hudson's discoveries the Dutch claimed all the land
between Cape Cod and Chesapeake Bay, and, tempted by his glowing
descriptions, they very soon established trading ports upon the
Hudson which they called the North River. The Delaware they called
the South River.
The English too claimed the same land, and it was not until some
years after the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers that the Dutch
settled in the country. Then they formed a company and bought the
Island of Manhattan where New York now stands from the Indians for
about five pounds' worth of glass beads and other trifles.
Here they built a little fort which they called New Amsterdam in
The colony grew slowly. For the life was by no means an easy one,
and the people of Holland lived in freedom and religious peace at
home, so they had no need to cross the Atlantic to seek them. But
the company wanted settlers. They therefore offered to give an
estate with eighteen miles' bay or river frontage to every man who
would bring, or send, fifty colonists. Many people at once became
eager to win such a prize, and very soon there were little settlements
all along the shores of the Hudson.
The men who received these huge estates were called patroons,
which is the same word as our English patron, and they had power
not unlike the feudal lords of old time. They were bound to supply
each of their settlers with a farm, and also to provide a minister
and a schoolmaster for every settlement. But on the other hand they
had full power over the settlers. They were the rulers and judges,
while the settlers were almost serfs, and were bound to stay for
ten years with their patroon, to grind their corn at his mills,
and pay him tribute.
Over the whole colony there was a Governor who was as a rule
autocratic and sometimes dishonest, and there was a good deal of
unrest in the colony. The patroons were soon at loggerheads with
each other and with the Governor. There were quarrels with the
Swedes, who had settled on the Delaware, and there was terrible
fighting with the Indians.
At length the state of the colony became so bad that the settlers
wrote home to Holland complaining of their Governor and blaming
him for all their troubles. The people in Holland listened to this
complaint and a new Governor was sent out. This was Peter Stuyvesant,
the last and most famous of the Governors of New Amsterdam.
Peter Stuyvesant, Governor from 1647-1664; He was a fiery old
fellow, with a great love of pomp, and a tremendous opinion of his
own importance. He had lost a leg in the Spanish Wars, and now he
stamped about with a wooden one. But as no plain wooden leg would
please his taste for grandeur he had it bound with silver.
The people were heartily tired of their old Governor, so they
hailed the coming of Stuyvesant with joy. But no sooner had their
new Governor arrived than they began to wonder if after all the
change was a happy one. For Stuyvesant seemed to look down upon
them all. He landed with great state and pomp, and some of the chief
inhabitants who had come to meet him were left standing bareheaded
for several hours while he kept his hat on, as if he were Tsar of
all the Russias.
When he took over the direction of affairs from the late Governor,
he did it with great ceremony in presence of all the colonists.
And the late Governor, thinking to make a good impression before
he left, made a speech thanking the people for their faithfulness
to him. But the stolid Dutchmen were not going to have any such
farce. So they up and told him boldly that they would not thank
him, for they had no reason to do so.
Stuyvesant, however, would not have any wrangling; he loudly and
proudly declared that every one should have justice done to him,
and that he would be to them as a father to his children. But his
bearing was so haughty that some of them went away shaking their
heads, and fearing that he would be but a harsh father.
And so it proved. If the settlers' lot had been hard under the rule
of other governors, it was still harder under that of Stuyvesant.
He was autocratic and hectoring. He stumped about with his wooden
leg, and shouted every one else down, and no one dared oppose him.
Some indeed, more brave than others, declared that they would write
home to Holland to complain of his tyranny. But when Stuyvesant
heard it he got so angry that he foamed at the mouth. "If any one
appeals from my judgments," he shouted, "I shall make him a foot
shorter and send the pieces to Holland. Let him appeal in that
But Stuyvesant with all his faults was a far better Governor than
those who had gone before him. And he had no easy post, for on every
side he found himself surrounded by other States, the inhabitants
of which were constantly encroaching on the borders of New Netherland.
The English, both from Massachusetts and Connecticut, seemed to
think that the Dutch had no rights at all. Where they found good
land they settled, scoffing at the Dutch remonstrances.
Stuyvesant too was soon at loggerheads with the Swedes who had
settled on the Delaware. The Dutch claimed both sides of the river
and the Swedes laughed at their claims. They would sail up the river
past the Dutch fort without stopping and displaying their colours,
and when challenged, and asked for their reason, replied boldly
that they would certainly do it again.
Then the Dutch began to build a new fort on land which the Swedes
claimed, and the Swedes came and destroyed it. So things went from
bad to worse, until at length Stuyvesant decided to put an end to
it. He gathered an army of six hundred men, the largest army that
had ever been gathered in North America, and with seven ships
entered the Delaware.
Against a force like this the Swedes could not defend themselves,
so they yielded on condition that they should march out of their
forts with all the honours of war. This was granted to them and
with colours flying, drums beating and trumpets playing the Swedes
marched out and the Dutch marched in. Thus without a blow, after
seventeen years of occupation, New Sweden became part of New
Netherland. Later on this land captured from the Swedes was to
become the State of Delaware.
From his triumph over the Swedes Stuyvesant was recalled by the
news that there was war with the Indians. He soon brought that to
an end also. But he was not always to be victorious, and at length
the time came when the power of the Dutch was to be swept away
before a still greater power.
Stuyvesant had ruled New Netherland for seventeen years. The
colony had prospered, and the number of new settlers had steadily
increased. During these same years Great Britain had been passing
through stormy times. King Charles had been beheaded, the kingdom
had been declared a Commonwealth with Cromwell at its head, but
he was now dead, the Stuarts once more ruled, and King Charles II
sat upon the throne. He cast a greedy eye upon New Netherland, for
he wanted it for his brother, the Duke of York.
There was peace between Holland and Britain, but Charles II cared
little about that. So in 1664 he secretly granted all the land
lying between the Delaware and Connecticut rivers to his brother,
and sent a fleet of four ships and about four hundred soldiers
under Colonel Richard Nicolls to take possession of the country.
When Stuyvesant heard of it he made ready to resist. He gathered
in what powder and shot be could from the surrounding settlements;
he mounted cannon, he ordered every able-bodied man to take his turn
at strengthening the fortifications and keeping guard. And having
done all he could he sent a messenger to Nicolls asking why he had
Nicolls' reply was a summons to surrender the town. At the same
time he promised that any one who would submit quietly should be
protected by "his Majesty's laws and justice." "Any people from the
Netherlands may freely come and plant here," he wrote, "vessels of
their own country may freely come hither, and any of them may as
freely return home in vessels of their own country."
But Peter Stuyvesant was hot to fight. So lest the easy terms should
make any of the settlers willing to give in he tried to keep them
secret. But the Council would not have it so.
"All that regards the public welfare must be made public," they
said, and held to it.
Then, seeing he could not move them from their determination, in a
fit of passion Stuyvesant tore Nicolls' letter in pieces, swearing
that he would not be answerable for the consequences.
The people were growing impatient, and leaving their work upon
the fortifications they stormed into the Council Chamber. In vain
Stuyvesant tried to persuade them to return to their work. They
would not listen to him. They replied to him only with curses and
groans. Then from all sides came cries of, "The letter, the letter,
we will have the letter."
So at last Stuyvesant yielded; the torn fragments were gathered
together and a copy made. And when the people heard the terms they
bade him yield. Still he would not, and he sent another message to
But Nicolls would not listen. "To-morrow," he said, "I will speak
with you at Manhattan."
"Friends will be welcome," replied the messenger, "if they come,
in friendly fashion."
"I shall come with my ships and my soldiers," answered Nicolls.
"Hoist the white flag of peace on the fort, and then something may
When this answer was known terror seized the town. Women and children
came to implore the Governor with tears to submit.
He would not listen to them. Like the fierce old lion he was he
knit his brows and stamped with his wooden leg. "I would rather be
carried a corpse to my grave than give in," he cried.
But he alone had any desire to fight. For in the whole fort there
was not enough powder to last one day, from the river front there
was absolutely no protection, and on the north there was only a
rickety fence three or four feet high. There was little food within
the fort, and not a single well. So all the chief inhabitants wrote
a letter to the Governor begging him to give in.
"You know, in your own conscience," they said, "that your fortress
is incapable of making head three days against so powerful an enemy.
And (God help us) whether we turn us for assistance to the north,
or to the south, to the east or to the west 'tis all in vain! On
all sides are we encompassed and hemmed in by our enemies. Therefore
we humbly and in bitterness of heart, implore your Honour not to
reject the conditions of so generous a foe."
This letter was signed by all the most important people of the
town, even by Stuyvesant's own son. With every one against him he
could hold out no longer. So he yielded and at eight o'clock on
Monday morning, the 8th of September, 1664, he marched out of Fort
Amsterdam at the head of his soldiers. With colours flying and drums
beating they marched down to the riverside where a ship awaited
them, and getting on board they set sail for Holland.
Then the Dutch flag was hauled down, the British flag was hoisted
in its place, and New Amsterdam became New York, a name given it
in honour of the King's brother, the Duke of York.
A few weeks later every other Dutch settlement had yielded to the
British. Fort Orange became Fort Albany, so named for the Duke of
York's second title, and Dutch dominion in North America was at an
As to Stuyvesant, he sailed home and was severely scolded by the
West India Company for his "scandalous surrender." He was, however,
able to defend himself, and prove to the directors that he had
done his best. Then he returned to America and spent the rest of
his life quietly on his farm, or "bowery" as it was called in Dutch.
Those of you who are familiar with New York know that there is
still a part of it called The Bowery, and it may interest you to
learn that it is so called in memory of the farm where this arrogant
old lion of a Dutchman spent his last days. He spent them peacefully
and happily. Now that he was no longer a ruler he lost much of his
overbearing pride, and all that was kindly in his nature showed
itself. Many who had feared and hated him came to love and admire
him. Among others he made friends with the Englishman who had
ousted him, and many a jolly evening he and Nicolls spent together
cracking jokes and listening to each other's stories of the brave
days gone by.
Peter Stuyvesant died at the age of eighty, and was buried in what
is now St. Mark's Church, where a tablet on the wall marks the spot
where he lies.
New York was now a proprietary colony like Maryland, its overlord
being the Duke of York, and when in 1685 he became King of England
New York became a Crown Colony.
The Dutch rule had been autocratic, the people having little say in
the government. They had chafed against it and had hoped that the
change of ruler would bring a change of government, and that they
would be allowed freedom like the New England Colonies. But James
was not the sort of man to allow freedom to people when he could
prevent it. So the government of New York continued as autocratic
Meanwhile New York once more changed hands. In a time of peace the
British had calmly and without a shadow of right taken the colony
from the Dutch. Nine years later when the two countries were at
war the Dutch took it back again.
It was just the same nine-year-old story over again. Only this time
it was the Dutch who marched in and hoisted the Dutch flag over
Once more the names were changed; New York became New Orange, and
the province was once more New Amsterdam.
But this was only for a month or two. The following year Holland
and Britain made peace, and by the Treaty of Westminster all Dutch
possessions in North America were given back to Britain, and Dutch
rule in North America was at an end for ever.
Chapter 37 - How a German Ruled New York
When Sir Edmund Andros came to America, he had been made Governor
of New York as well as of all New England. And while Massachusetts
was having its revolution upon the accession of William and Mary
there were exciting times in New York also. When the news of the
imprisonment of Andros reached New York there was great agitation.
Almost at the same time came the news that the French had
declared war on England, which added to the people's excitement.
For they suspected Nicholson, whom Andros had left in charge as
Lieutenant-Governor, of being a Catholic; and a quite groundless
idea got about that he meant to betray the colony into the hands
of the French, or burn it to the ground.
There were very few Catholics in New York, and the Protestants had
little need to fear them. But many of the Protestants were filled
with a burning zeal for their faith, and of these Jacob Leisler,
an honest, ignorant German, now became the leader. He refused to
pay a tax because the tax collector was a "Papist," and therefore
no fit person to receive the money. Other people followed his
example, and day by day excitement grew.
At length Leisler was at the head of a great following. He got
command of the fort, and drew up a declaration which he forced
the captain of the militia and others to sign. In this he declared
that the city was in danger, and that he would take possession of
it until King William should appoint a Governor. Nicholson had no
grit. He could not stand against a bold blusterer like Leisler,
so he ran away. He went home "to render an account of the present
deplorable state of affairs" to King William. But in order that
Nicholson should not have it all his own way at home Leisler on
his side sent an innkeeper, Joost Stoll, as his ambassador to King
William to explain matters from his point of view.
Leisler now became very autocratic. He called himself Lieutenant-Governor,
he disarmed and arrested all the "Papists," and every one was a
"Papist" who did not yield readily to him. He had enormous power in
his hands for good or evil, but he was far too ignorant and vain
to use it well. Indeed he used it so badly that even some of the
men who had hailed him with delight turned against him.
Leisler by many signs knew his popularity was failing. Then
his friend, the innkeeper, returned from England with the doleful
news that King William had taken not the slightest notice of him.
The King indeed would not deign to recognise the existence of the
upstart German "governor," and had appointed a new Governor who
would shortly arrive in New York.
This was bad news for Leisler, and it seemed to drive him crazy.
He grew more and more tyrannical. At length his tyranny became so
bad that many of the chief people of New York wrote a letter to
the King and Queen complaining of it.
In this letter they told the King and Queen that they were sore
oppressed by "ill men" who ruled in New York "by the sword, at the
sole will of an insolent alien, assisted by some few, whom we can
give no better name than a rabble." From other parts of the colony
too letters were written calling Leisler a bold usurper, and begging
the King to do something "to break this heavy yoke of worse than
Nor did the people confine themselves to writing letters. Leisler
found himself insulted at every turn. He was mobbed, and stoned,
and called "Dog Driver," "General Hog" and other ugly names.
Meanwhile on the stormy seas the ships bringing out the new Governor
and Lieutenant-Governor were being tossed hither and thither. The
waves dashed high, the wind drove the ships helplessly before it,
and the Archangel, which bore the Governor was separated from the
others, and driven far out of its course. Thus it happened that
Ingoldsby, the Lieutenant-Governor, arrived in New York without the
Governor. However he sent to Leisler asking him to allow the soldiers
he had brought to enter the fort. This request made Leisler very
angry. He refused to allow the soldiers to enter the fort unless
Ingoldsby showed him orders in writing either from the King or
This Ingoldsby could not do, for all the orders were in the
Governor's ship, and where that was he could not tell. And finding
that Leisler would yield to no reasoning, after four days he landed
his men with as much care as if he had been making a descent into
an enemy's country, and lodged them in the town hall.
So six weeks passed. Ingoldsby was determined to stay, Leisler just
as determined that he should go. At length Leisler sent Ingoldsby
a notice to disband his force in two hours, or take the consequences.
Ingoldsby refused to disband his force. So from the fort Leisler
fired upon the soldiers in the town hall, and several were killed.
More trouble seemed likely to follow, but some of Leisler's soldiers
had already had enough, so they laid down their arms and went home.
Next day Governor Sloughter arrived. Hearing of all the commotion
he landed hastily, and going to the town hall ordered the bell to
be rung, and his commission to be read to the people.
Then he sent Ingoldsby to demand the surrender of the fort.
But Leisler was by this time crazy with the idea of his own importance.
He refused to give up the fort until he received orders from the
King direct, addressed to his very own self. This was absurd, for
the King was hardly conscious of Leisler's existence. The Governor
therefore paid no attention to these proud demands, and sent
Ingoldsby again to demand possession of the fort.
Again Leisler refused. It could not be done so easily as all that,
Still a third time the Governor demanded the fort. And again with
scorn Leisler refused.
It was now nearly midnight, and the Governor decided to do nothing
more till morning.
With morning reason seemed to return to Leisler. He wrote a letter
to the Governor begging him to take the fort. But the Governor
took no notice of the letter. He simply sent Ingoldsby to command
the garrison to give up their arms and march out, promising at the
same time free pardon to every one except Leisler and his Council.
The men obeyed at once. They marched out and Leisler found himself
For two years he had lorded it in New York. Now his day was done.
After a short trial he and his friend and son-in-law Milborne were
condemned to death, and hanged as traitors.
At the time many applauded this severity, but afterwards most people
were sorry. For after all Leisler had meant well, and in spite of
his arrogance he had still many friends left. He was now looked
upon as a martyr, and for many a long day New York was torn asunder
with bitter strife over his tragic ending.
Chapter 38 - Pirates!
Colonel Sloughter whose rule began in such stormy times proved
no good Governor. Indeed he was a bad man as well as a bad ruler.
Others followed who were not a bit better, one at least being accused
of being in league with the pirates who were now the terror of the
The seventeenth century has been called "The Golden Age of Piracy."
Never before or since have pirates had such a splendid time. After
the discovery of America, the number of ships sailing the seas
increased rapidly, until all the chief countries of Europe had
far more ships afloat than they could possibly protect with their
navies. So they readily became a prey to pirates.
Then, as they could not protect their merchantmen with their
warships, most countries allowed private people in time of war to
fit out ships armed with guns to capture the merchant shipping of
the enemy. These ships were simply private men of war, and were
called privateers. They always carried "letters of marque and
reprisal" Which gave them the legal right to commit against enemy
ships acts which, without those letters of marque, would have been
considered acts of piracy. In the long run these privateers often
became little better than pirates, and it has been said "privateers
in time of war were a nursery for pirates against a peace."
The pirates' life was one of reckless daring. They were idle,
swaggering, brutal. All the summer they sailed the seas, a terror
to peaceful merchantmen, and when winter came, or when they were
tired of plundering, they would retire to the West India Islands
or Madagascar. Here, hidden in the depths of forests, they built
for themselves strong castles surrounded by moats and walls. The
paths leading to these castles were made with the greatest cunning.
They were so narrow that people could only go in single file. They
crossed and re-crossed in every direction, so that the castle was
surrounded by a maze, and any one not knowing the secret might wander
for hours without being able to find the dwelling which could not
be seen until one was close upon it.
In these savage fastnesses the pirates lived in squalid splendour.
They had numbers of slaves to wait upon them, the finest wines and
foods, the richest dress and jewels, spoils of their travels. And
when they had drunk and rioted in idleness to their heart's content
they would once more set sail, and roam the seas in search of fresh
All sorts of people took to piracy, and scampish sons of noble
houses might be found side by side with the lowest of scoundrels and
vagabonds. In fact in those days any man who had a grudge against
the world might turn pirate. Even women were found among them.
A jovial, brutal crew, they swaggered and swore their way through
life. And if the gallows at the end always loomed over them what
then? There was always plenty of rum in which to drown the thought.
Some of the pirates became very famous. The very sight of the Jolly
Roger, as the pirates' black flag was called, struck terror to the
hearts of merchantmen, and it is said that one pirate captured and
sunk as many as four hundred ships before he was caught. Yet these
ruffians often had dealings with seemingly respectable tradesmen.
Having captured a few ships, and taken all the booty on board his
own, the pirate would sail for some port. There he would show some
old letters of marque, swear that he was a privateer, and had captured
the goods lawfully from the enemy, for the world was always at war
in those days. And as the goods were going cheap, too many questions
would not be asked. Thus a profitable trade was done.
The Navigation Laws too helped pirates to thrive on the coasts
of America. For they seemed so unjust and burdensome that people
thought it no wrong to evade them. So, often, piracy and smuggling
went hand in hand.
At length piracy grew so bad that people felt that something must
be done to stop it. And when an Irishman named Lord Bellomont came
out as Governor in 1696 he set about doing it. It was decided that
the best way to do it was to send a swift and well-armed frigate
under a captain who knew their haunts and ways, to catch these
sea-robbers. For this, Captain Kidd, a tried sailor, was chosen, and
he set sail with a somewhat ruffianly crew in the ship Adventure.
But Captain Kidd was unlucky. Though he roamed the seas and sought
the pirates in the haunts he knew so well he found never a one.
Nor could he find even enemy ships which, as a privateer, he might
have attacked. Dutch ships, ships of the Great Mogul he met. But
Britain was at peace with Holland and on most friendly terms with
the heathen potentate. Pirates and ships of France he could not
Food and money were nearly gone, the crew grew mutinous. They had
come forth for adventure, and not to sail the seas thus tamely and
on short rations to boot. So there was angry talk between the crew
and captain. Plainly they told him that the next ship which came
in sight, be it friend or foe, should be their prey. Kidd grew
furious, and, seizing a hatchet, he hit one of the men on the head
so that he fell senseless on the deck and died. Alone he stood
against his mutinous crew. But in the end he gave way to them. He
turned pirate, and any ship which came his way was treated as a
For two years after Captain Kidd left New York nothing was heard of
him. Then strange and disquieting rumours came home. It was said
that he who had been sent to hunt pirates had turned pirate himself;
that he who had been sent as a protection had become a terror to
honest traders. So orders were accordingly sent to Lord Bellomont
to arrest Captain Kidd. A royal proclamation was also issued offering
free pardon to all pirates save two, one of whom was William Kidd.
This was the news which greeted the new-made pirate when he arrived
one day at a port in the West Indies. But those were lawless days.
Captain Kidd's ship was laden with great treasure-treasure enough,
he thought, to win forgiveness. At least he decided to brazen it
out, and he set sail for New York.
His ship was no longer the Adventure but the Quedah Merchant. For
the Adventure, being much battered after two years' seafaring, he
had sunk her, and taken one of his many prizes instead. But on the
way home he left the Quedah Merchant at San Domingo with all her
rich cargo and, taking only the gold and jewels, he set sail again
in a small sloop.
As he neared New York his heart failed him, and he began to think
that after all forgiveness might not be won so easily. Cautiously
he crept up to New York, only to learn that the Governor was at
Boston. So he sent a messenger to the Governor confessing that acts
of piracy had been committed, but without his authority. They were
done, he said, when the men were in a state of mutiny, and had
locked him up in his cabin.
Lord Bellomont was broad-minded and just, and had no desire to
condemn a man unheard; so he sent back a message to Captain Kidd
saying, "If you can prove your story true you can rely on me to
But Captain Kidd's story did not satisfy Lord Bellomont; so he was
put into prison, and later sent home to England to be tried. There
he was condemned to death and hanged as a pirate in 1701. Some
people, however, never believed in his guilt. Whether he was guilty
or not there is little doubt that he did not have a fair trial,
and that he was by no means the shameless ruffian he was made out
What became of the Quedah Merchant and all her rich cargo was
never known. Indeed the most of Kidd's ill-gotten gains entirely
disappeared. For when his sloop was searched very little treasure
was found. So then it was said that Captain Kidd must have buried
his treasure somewhere before he reached Boston. And for a hundred
years and more afterwards all along the shore of Long Island Sound
people now and again would start a search of buried treasure. But
none was ever found.
Before his pirate friend met his end Lord Bellomont died. He was
one of the few Governors the people had loved, and they sorrowed
truly at his death. He was followed by Lord Cornby, a very bad man.
Nevertheless in spite of Governors good and bad New York prospered.
Every fresh tyranny in Europe which sent freedom-seekers to America
added to the population. And as the first settlers were Dutch, New
York had a more un-English population than almost any other of the
Chapter 39 - The Founding of New Jersey
Out of New York another state had been carved. For before New York
had been taken from the Dutch, before Nicholls had so much as reached
the shores of America, James, Duke of York, had already given part
of the land which he did not yet possess to two of his friends, Lord
Berkeley and Sir George Carteret. Sir George had been Governor of
the Island of Jersey in the English Channel. When the Revolution
broke out in England he had defended the island stoutly against
the soldiers of the Parliament, and had kept the King's flag flying
on British soil longer than any other man. So now that the Stuarts
were restored King Charles remembered Carteret's loyalty, and he
called this tract of land New Jersey in his honour. For this great
estate Sir George and Lord Berkeley had to pay only ten shillings
a year and a peppercorn.
Nicholls of course knew nothing about these grants, and when he
heard of them he was grieved that the Duke should have given away
so much valuable land. He had besides allowed some Puritans from
New England and others to settle on the land after making agreements
with the natives. And this led to trouble later on.
Meanwhile Sir George lost no time in settling his land in his own
way. He at once sent out some colonists and Philip Carteret, a
cousin of his own, as Governor.
On a summer day in 1665 Philip Carteret landed. He set up no
crosses, and made no prayers, but with a hoe over his shoulder he
marched at the head of his men, as a sign that he meant to live
and work among them. A little way inland he chose a spot on which
to build his town and called it Elizabeth, in honour of Sir George
Things went well enough until the time came for rents to be paid.
Then many of the settlers, who had been there before Carteret
came, refused to pay. For they said they had bought their land from
the Indians, and owed nothing to Sir George. But as the Governor
insisted on his right they rose in rebellion. They held a meeting
at Elizabethtown, deposed Philip Carteret, and chose James Carteret
a weak and bad son of Sir George, as their Governor. Seeing nothing
else for it Philip went home and laid his case before Sir George and
the Duke. They both supported him, so the rebels submitted, James
Carteret went off to New York, and Philip again became Governor of
Meanwhile Lord Berkeley had grown tired of all the trouble, and
he sold his part of New Jersey to some Quakers. So henceforth New
Jersey was divided into two, East Jersey and West Jersey, East
Jersey belonging to Carteret, West Jersey to the Quakers.
In 1680 Sir George Carteret died, and his part of New Jersey was
also sold to Quakers, one of whom was William Penn, afterwards to
become famous in American history. Soon after this New Jersey fell
on very troublous times, of which it would take too long to tell.
But at length the two Jerseys were again made into one, and in the
time of Anne the colony became a Royal Province. Then for thirty-six
years it was united to New York, but in 1738 was again divided and
has remained a separate state ever since.
Chapter 40 - The Founding of Pennsylvania
Like other persecuted people, the Quakers sought a refuge in America.
But even there they were not welcomed. The Puritans of Massachusetts
who had fled from persecution, themselves turned persecutors as we
have seen. The Quakers discovered that for them there was no Paradise
of Peace in the lands beyond the sea. But when George Carteret
sold his part of New Jersey Quakers bought it, a young man named
William Penn being one of these Quakers.
This William Penn was the son of Sir William Penn, an admiral in
the British Navy, and a friend of King Charles I. He was a Royalist
and a Churchman, and when his handsome young son turned Quaker he
was greatly grieved. At first indeed he was so angry that he turned
young William out of the house. Later, however, seeing that his
son was quite determined to be a Quaker, the Admiral forgave him,
and before he died he asked the Duke of York to be kind to him.
The Duke of York promised he would. And then there began a strange
friendship between the Catholic Prince and the Quaker.
After the Quakers bought New Jersey a great many went there. They
found not only a large amount of freedom, but a kindly government,
for William Penn framed the laws.
The Quaker colony of New Jersey was to a certain extent a success,
but there were troubles with neighbouring states, and troubles with
other claimants of the land. So at length (exactly when we do not
know), the idea of founding a real Quaker colony came into Penn's
When Admiral Penn died the King owed him �16,000 and William Penn
inherited that claim. So he asked the King to pay the debt not
in money but in land in America. The extent of the land asked for
was exceedingly vague, but it was at least as big as the whole of
England. Charles however was always in want of money. So in 1681
he was pleased enough to give away this great tract of land, which
after all was his more by imagination than anything else, and get
rid of his debt; and acquire also the possibility of getting some
gold as well. For in return for his land Penn agreed to pay two
beaver skins a year, and a fifth of all the gold or silver which
might be mined within his territory.
Charles not only gave Penn the land, but named it too. Penn meant
to call his new country New Wales, but a Welshman who hated the
Quakers objected to the name of his land being given to a Quaker
colony, so Penn changed it to Sylvania, meaning Woodland, because
of the magnificent forests which were there. But the King added
Penn to Sylvania thus calling it Penn's Woodlands.
William Penn, however, was afraid that people would think that this
was vanity on his part, and that he had called his province after
himself; so he tried to have the name changed. He even bribed the
King's secretary to do it, but in vain. As some one has said, if
he had bribed the King himself he might have succeeded better. As
it was he did not succeed, for King Charles was very pleased with
"No," laughed the merry monarch, when Penn asked him to change it,
"we will keep the name, but you need not flatter yourself that it
is called after you. It is so called after your gallant father."
So as the King insisted Penn had to submit, and he consoled himself
by thinking that as Penn means "hill" the name might be taken to
mean Wooded Hills.
The tract of land of which Penn now became possessed was smiling
and fertile and altogether desirable. It had only one fault, and
that was that it had no sea coast.
In a new country where there were no roads, and where communication
inland was difficult that was a great drawback. So Penn persuaded
the Duke of York to give him that part of his province on which the
Swedes had settled and which the Dutch had taken from the Swedes,
on the west shores of Delaware Bay. Later this formed the State
of Delaware, but in the meantime it was governed as a part of
Everything thus being settled, and the charter being granted, Penn
drew up a form of government for his colony, chose his cousin,
William Markham, as Governor, and sent him off in the autumn of
1681 with three shiploads of settlers.
With Markham, Penn sent a kindly letter to the Swedes of Delaware,
telling them that he was now their Governor. "I hope you will not
be troubled at the change," he said, "for you are now fixed at the
mercy of no Governor who comes to make his fortune. You shall be
governed by laws of your own making, and live a free and, if you
will, a sober and industrious people. I shall not usurp the right
of any, or oppress his person."
Penn also sent a letter to the Indians.
"There is a great God," he said, "that hath made the world and
all things therein, to Whom you, and I, and all people, owe their
being. This great God hath written His law in our hearts, by which
we are taught and commanded to love and help, and do good to one
another. Now this great God hath been pleased to make me concerned
in your part of the world, and the King of the country where I live
hath given me a great province therein. But I desire to enjoy it
with your love and consent, that we may always live together as
neighbours, and friends, else what would the great God do to us?"
With this letter Penn sent presents to the Indian chiefs and told
them that he would soon come to see them himself, and make arrangements
about the land.
But it was not till the following year that Penn set out for his
colony. When he landed the Dutch and Swedes greeted him with joy.
And to show that they acknowledged him as their Governor they
presented him, as in old feudal times, with a sod of earth, a bowl
of water, and a branch of a tree. Penn then passed on to the spot
which he had chosen for his capital. And as showing forth the spirit
in which his colony was founded, he called his city Philadelphia
or the city of brotherly love.
It was near this town that Penn met the Indian chiefs and made a
treaty with them as he had promised to do. In the Indian language
the spot was called the Place of Kings, and had been used as a
meeting place by the surrounding tribes for long ages. Here there
grew a splendid elm, a hoary giant of the forest which for a hundred
years and more had withstood the tempests.
Beneath the spreading branches of this tree Penn took his stand.
He was young and handsome, and although he wore the simple garb
of the Quakers he had not yet perhaps quite forgotten the "modish"
ways of his younger days, for about his waist he had knotted a pale
blue scarf. Beside him stood his cousin, the deputy governor, and
a few more soberly clad Quakers. In front of them, in a great half
circle were ranged the Indians, the old men in front, the middle-aged
behind, and last of all the young men. They were gorgeous in paint
and feathers, and armed with hatchets, bows and arrows, but the
Quakers carried no weapons of any kind.
Greetings being over, an ancient warrior advanced, and amid deep
silence, tied a horn upon his forehead. This was the sign of his
greatness, and also a sign that the spot was sacred. Immediately
all the braves threw down their weapons, and seated themselves upon
the grass. Then the old warrior announced that they were ready to
hear the words of the White Chief.
Then Penn spoke to the gathered Indians reminding them that the
Great Spirit wished all men to live in love and brotherhood, and
as the Redman listened his heart went out in love to this White
Chief who had friendship in his eyes, and kindliness in his voice.
And there under the spreading branches of the great elm tree they
swore to live in peace and brotherly love "as long as the rivers
shall run, and while the sun, moon and stars endure."
These Indians never broke their word and for the next seventy years
there was peace in Pennsylvania between the Redman and the White.
The Indians gave Penn the name of Onas which is the Algonquin
word for Feather. Ever afterwards too they called the Governor of
Pennsylvania Onas, and whoever and whatever he was, for them he
was great and good.
But Penn was not only the great Chief Onas, he was also Father
Penn. For he roamed the woods with the Indians, talking with them,
and sharing their simple food like one of themselves. This greatly
delighted the Indians, and to show their pleasure they would perform
some of their wild dances. Then up Penn would spring and dance with
the best of them. So he won their hearts. They loved him so much
that the highest praise they could give any man was to say "he is
like the great Onas," and it was said that any one dressed like a
Quaker was far safer among the Indians than one who carried a gun.
Life seemed so easy in Pennsylvania that in the first years thousands
of colonists came flocking to the new colony. It grew faster than
any other colony, so fast indeed that houses could not be built
quickly enough. So for a time many of the new settlers had to live
in caves dug out of the banks of the Delaware River. It was in one
of these caves that the first baby citizen of the city of brotherly
love was born.
Pennsylvania prospered and grew fast, but there were constant troubles
with Lord Baltimore about the border line between his province and
Penn's. The British Kings in those days gave land charters in the
most reckless fashion and over and over again the boundaries of
one province overlapped those of the others. Then of course there
was trouble. This had happened with Virginia and Maryland. Now it
happened with Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The quarrel at length became so bad that Penn went home to England
to have the matter settled; after that for a time things were
better, but the quarrel was not really settled. It was not settled
until many years after both Penn and Lord Baltimore were dead.
Then, in 1767, two English astronomers, Charles Mason and Jeremiah
Dixon, surveyed and fixed the boundary which ever since has been
known as the Mason and Dixon Line. Every mile a small stone was
placed with B on one side and P on the other. Along the eastern
part, too, every five miles a larger stone was placed with the
arms of Penn on one side and those of Baltimore on the other. But
further west these were discontinued. For in those days when there
were few roads it was difficult to get these heavy stones carried
to the proper places.
When Penn went back to England he had meant to return to his colony
very soon. But fifteen years passed before be was able to do so.
During this time King Charles II, who had given him the charter for
his great Possessions, died, and his brother James, who as Duke of
York had been Penn's friend, was driven from the throne. Then for
a time Penn's great province was taken from him, because he was
suspected of helping his old friend, the dethroned king. The colony
was then placed under the control of the Governor of New York.
Two years later, however, Penn was cleared from the charge of
treason and his right to Pennsylvania was again recognised. Then
once more he crossed the seas to visit his possessions in the New
He found that in fifteen years great changes had been wrought.
The two or three thousand inhabitants had now increased to twenty
thousand. Many of the new settlers were not Quakers but Protestants
from Germany, Holland and Sweden, and Presbyterians from Scotland
and Ireland. Penn welcomed them all, but they on their side had
grown apart from him. They were no longer his children. He was no
longer Father Penn, but the Governor and proprietor.
From this Governor the settlers demanded greater liberties than they
had. Penn was grieved, but he met the clamour in the most generous
spirit. "Friends," he said, "if in the constitution there be
anything that jars, alter it." So it was altered until practically
the colonists became a self-governing people.
Now for a second time Penn felt himself obliged to return to England.
He did not want to go, but longed to live out the rest of his life
in his colony which, in spite of all troubles and difficulties, be
"I cannot think of such a voyage without great reluctance," he
said. "For I promised myself that I might stay so long, at least,
with you, as to render everybody entirely easy and safe. For my
heart is among you, as well as my body, whatever some people may
please to think. And no unkindness or disappointment shall ever be
able to alter my love to the country."
So with just a little soreness in his heart Penn sailed away never
to return. At home trouble and misfortune awaited him. And in
the midst of his troubles sickness fell upon him. For six years a
helpless invalid with failing mind, he lingered on. Then in 1718
he died. He was seventy-four. Only four years of his long life had
been spent in America. Yet he left his stamp upon the continent
far more than any other man of his time. He was the greatest, most
broad-minded of all the colony builders. As he said himself he had
sailed against wind and tide all his life. But the buffetings of
fortune left him sweet and true to the end.
Chapter 41 - How Benjamin Franklin Came to Philadelphia
After Penn left his colony there was frequent trouble between the
Governors and the people. Some of the Governors were untrustworthy,
some were weak, none was truly great. But about ten years after
Penn's death a truly great man came to Philadelphia. This was
Benjamin Franklin. Of all the men of colonial times Franklin was
Benjamin was the fifteenth child of his father, a sturdy English
Nonconformist who some years before had emigrated from Banbury
in England to Boston in America. As the family was so large the
children had to begin early to earn their own living. So at the
age of ten Benjamin was apprenticed to his own father, who was a
tallow chandler, and the little chap spent his days helping to make
soap and "dips" and generally making himself useful.
But he did not like it at all. So after a time he was apprenticed
to his elder brother James, who had a printing press, and published
a little newspaper called the Courant. Benjamin liked that much
better. He soon became a good printer, he was able to get hold of
books easily, and he spent his spare time reading such books as the
"Pilgrim's Progress" and the "Spectator." Very soon too he took
to writing, and became anxious to have an article printed in his
But as he was only a boy he was afraid that if his brother knew he
had written the article he would never print it. So he disguised his
handwriting, and slipped his paper under the door of the printing
house at night. It was found next morning, and to Benjamin's
delight was thought good enough to be printed in the paper. After
that Benjamin wrote often for the little paper. In time however he
and his brother began to quarrel, and when he was seventeen Benjamin
decided to go to New York to seek his fortune there.
He took ship to New York in 1723 and arrived there one October day
with very little money in his pocket and not a friend in the town.
He did not find work in New York, but an old printer advised him
to go to Philadelphia where he knew his son was in need of a printer.
Benjamin was already three hundred miles from home, and Philadelphia
was another hundred miles farther, but he resolved to go.
Fifty miles of the way he trudged on foot, the rest he went by
boat, and after nearly a week of most uncomfortable traveling he
arrived one Sunday morning at Philadelphia. He was soaked to the
skin, dirty and untidy, hungry and tired. His pockets bulged out
with shirts and stockings, but save for one Dutch dollar they were
empty of money.
Benjamin was tired and dirty, but before everything he was hungry;
so he went to a baker's shop and bought three big rolls. As his
pockets were full he tucked two of the rolls under his arm and
strolled down the street devouring the third, while the clean tidy
folk all ready to go to meeting stared at him in wonder.
Such was the first entry of one of America's greatest statesmen into
the town which was henceforth to be his home and where he was to
become famous; and as a clever Frenchman said "invent the Republic."
In Philadelphia Benjamin found work, and although after a year he
left his new home and sailed for England, he soon returned. In ten
years' time he was one of the fore most men of Philadelphia and took
an interest in everything which concerned the life of the people.
He established a circulating library; he was chosen Clerk of the
General Assembly; he was appointed postmaster; he established a
police force and fire brigade, and helped to found the University
of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Hospital.
In fact he took an interest in everything connected with the welfare
of his adopted city, and of Pennsylvania. And when troubles arose
with the British Government Franklin was chosen to go to England
to try to put matters right. Later on other colonies too asked
for his help, and he went to England as the agent, not only of
Pennsylvania but of Massachusetts, New Jersey and Georgia.
He was a philosopher and scientist as well as a diplomatist, and
he was the first American whose fame spread all over the world.
Chapter 42 - The Founding of North and South Carolina
It was in the part of the United States which we now call North
Carolina, you remember, that Sir Walter Raleigh tried to found a
colony. That colony came to nothing, and the land which the white
men had reclaimed from the wilderness returned once more to the
Nearly a hundred years went past before white men again appeared in
that part of the country. In 1629 King Charles I granted all this
region to Sir Robert Heath, but he made no attempt to colonise it.
Then a few settlers from Virginia and New England and the Barbados,
finding the land vacant and neglected, settled there.
Meanwhile Charles II had come to the throne, and, wanting to
reward eight of his friends who had been staunch to him during the
Commonwealth, in 1663 he gave them all the land between latitude
30� and 36� and from sea to sea. If you look on the map you will
see that this takes in nearly the whole of the Southern States.
Sir Robert Heath was by this time dead, and his heirs had done
nothing with his great territory in America, but as soon as it was
given to others they began to make a fuss. Charles II, however,
said as Sir Robert had failed to plant a colony his claim no longer
held good. So the eight new proprietors took possession of it.
This tract of land had already been named Carolina by the Frenchman
Ribaut in honour of Charles IX of France, and now the Englishmen
who took possession of it kept the old name in honour of Charles
The Lords Proprietary then set about drawing up laws for their new
country. After an old English title they called the oldest among
them the Palatine. Palatine originally meant a person who held
some office about a king's palace. It has come to mean one who has
royal privileges. So a Prince Palatine is really a little king.
When the Palatine died it was arranged that the next in age should
take his place. As to the other seven proprietors they all had grand
sounding titles, such as Chamberlain, Chancellor, Constable, High
Steward, and so on.
Having settled all these grand sounding titles the proprietors went
on to frame a system of laws. They called it the Grand Model or
Fundamental Constitutions, but it was more like some old English
feudal system than anything else. It might have done for the
ancient Saxons of the ninth century; it was quite unsuitable for
rough colonists in a new and almost uninhabited country. It was
quite unsuited for men who had left Europe because they wanted to
get away from old conventions and be more free.
Yet the Lords Proprietors said that the Grand Model was to be the
law of Carolina for ever and ever. The settlers however, would
have nothing to do with the Grand Model, for it was altogether too
fanciful for them. The proprietors on their side persisted. But
when they found it impossible to force the settlers to obey their
laws they changed their Grand Model and tried again. Still it was
of no use. The colonists would not have it. So at length, having
altered their unalterable rules five times, they gave them up
altogether and took to something more simple.
But among much that was foolish and unsuitable in the Grand Model
there was one good thing. That was that every one was free to
worship God in the way he thought right. If only seven men agreed
together, said the Grand Model, they were enough to form a church.
All it insisted upon was that people must acknowledge a God, and
that they must worship Him openly. Nevertheless, in spite of this
they made no provision for worship. No clergymen went with the
settlers, and indeed for many years no clergymen settled among
But because there was religious freedom people of all religions came
to Carolina. Quakers and dissenters of every description sought a
refuge there. They came not only from England, but from the other
colonies and from foreign countries.
You remember that the Protestants of France were called Huguenots,
and that they had had to suffer many things at the hands of Catholic
rulers until the good King Henry of Navarre protected them by the
Edict of Nantes. Now Louis XIV, who was at this time on the throne
of France, revoked that edict. He forbade the Huguenots to worship
God in their own way, and he also forbade them to leave the country
on pain of death.
But thousands braved death rather than remain and be false to their
religion. Some were caught and cruelly punished, but many succeeded
in escaping to Holland, England and even to America. So many Huguenots
now settled in Carolina. They were hard-working, high-minded people
and they brought a sturdiness and grit to the colony which it might
otherwise have lacked. Germans too came from the Palatinate, driven
thence also by religious persecutions. Irish Presbyterians came
fleeing from persecution in Ulster. Jacobites who, having fought
for the Stuarts, found Scotland no longer a safe dwelling-place
came seeking a new home.
These were all hardy industrious people. But besides these there
came many worthless idlers who came to be known as "poor whites."
These came because in the early days when the colony was but
sparsely peopled, and more settlers were wanted, a law was passed
that a new settler need not pay any debts he had made before he came
to the colony; and for a year after he came he need pay no taxes.
These laws of course brought many shiftless folk who, having got
hopelessly into debt somewhere else, ran away to Carolina to get
free of it. Indeed so many of these undesirables came that the
Virginians called Carolina the Rogues' Harbour.
Besides all these white people there were a great many negroes
especially in South Carolina. This came about naturally. The climate
of Carolina is hot; there is also a lot of marshy ground good for
growing rice. But the work in these rice fields was very unhealthy,
and white men could not stand it for long. So a trade in slaves
sprang up. Already men had begun to kidnap negroes from the West
Coast of Africa and sell them to the tobacco planters of Virginia.
In those days no one saw anything wrong in it. And now that the
rice fields of South Carolina constantly required more workers the
trade in slaves increased. Whole shiploads were brought at a time.
They were bought and sold like cattle, and if they died at their
unhealthy work it mattered little, for they were cheap, and there
were plenty more where they came from.
Chapter 43 - War With the Indians in North and South Carolina
At first there had been no intention of making two provinces of
Carolina. But the country was so large and the settlements made
so far apart that very soon it became divided into North and South
Carolina. The first settlements made in North Carolina were made
round Albemarle Sound, and those of South Carolina at Charleston.
One Governor was supposed to rule both states, but sometimes each
had a governor. And in all the early years there was trouble between
the governors and the people. Sometimes the governors were good
men, but more often they were rascals who cared for nothing but
their own pockets. So we hear of revolutions, of governors being
deposed and imprisoned, of colonists going to England to complain
of their governors, of governors going to complain of the colonists.
But far worse than the quarrel between people and governor were
the troubles with the Indians. Many thousands of white people had
by this time settled in the Carolinas, and the Redman saw himself
year by year being driven further and further from his old hunting
grounds; so year by year his anger grew. At first he had been
friendly to the white man because he brought with him beads and
copper ornaments and "fire water." But now he began to hate him.
At length the Indians in North Carolina plotted to kill all the
white people. Many tribes of Indians dwelt round the settlements,
but the chief among them were the Tuscaroras. These Tuscaroras
now arranged with all the other tribes that early on the morning
before the new moon they should all with one accord, tomahawk and
firebrand in hand, fall upon the Pale-faces and wipe them utterly
from the face of the earth.
From tribe to tribe the word was passed till hundreds knew the
secret. But the Redman is silent and crafty, and neither by sign
nor word did he betray it to the Palefaces.
Suspecting nothing, with perfect faith in their friendship, the
white people allowed the Indians to come and go freely in their
settlements. Then one night in 1711 a great many appeared, asking
for food. Still the white people had no suspicion of evil, and many
Indians were allowed even to spend the night in their houses.
The Pale-faces slept peacefully, but for the Redmen there was
little rest. They waited impatiently for the dawn. At length the
first streaks of light shivered across the sky, and from the woods
came a loud fierce war whoop. It was answered by the Indians within
the settlements, and with tomahawk in one hand and firebrand in
the other they fell upon the still sleeping settlers.
They spared neither man nor woman, neither the old nor the young;
and when they could find no more to slay they set fire to the houses.
Then those who had hidden themselves were forced to flee from the
flames, only to fall beneath the tomahawk. The Swiss and Germans
round New Berne and the Huguenots of Bath were the chief sufferers.
But the wonder is that any white men escaped. For their cruel
work at an end, and the settlements nought but flaming ruins, the
Indians marched through the woods seeking any who had escaped,
gathering at length to a spot arranged beforehand. Here they drank
"fire water," rejoicing savagely over their victory. Then drunk
with brandy and with blood they staggered forth again to continue
their horrible labours. For three days the slaughter lasted, for
three days the forests rang with terrifying war cries, and village
after village was laid in ashes. Then too weary and too drunk for
further effort, the Indians ceased their awful work.
At first the white people had been utterly stunned by the suddenness
and horror of the uprising, and they were quite incapable of
suppressing it by themselves. But soon help came, both from South
Carolina and Virginia. Friendly Indians too, who wished to prove
to the Pale-faces that they had had no part in the massacre, joined
Hundreds of the Indians were slain in battle, others were driven from
fort to fort. But not for two years were they thoroughly subdued.
Then at length, finding themselves no match for the white men, those
who were left fled from the province and joined the Five Nations
in New York, making from this time forward Six Nations.
In South Carolina too there was war with the Indians. The Yamassees
had been among the Indians who marched from South Carolina to fight
against their brothers, the Tuscaroras. Yet a little later they
too rose against the Pale-faces.
Several causes led to the war, but it was chiefly brought about by
the Spaniards who had a settlement at St. Augustine to the south
of Carolina. They hated the British, and although the two countries
were now at peace the Spaniards did all they could to injure the
British colonies in America and elsewhere. So now they sympathised
with the Yamassees, both with their real and imaginary grievances,
and encouraged them to rise against the British.
Secretly and silently then the Redmen laid their plans. But this
time the war did not burst forth entirely without warning. For
when the Redman has truly given his faith and love nothing makes
Now there was a chieftain named Sanute who had given his friendship
to a Scotsman named Fraser, and he could not bear to think of his
friend being slaughtered. So one day Sanute came to Fraser's wife
to warn her.
"The British are all bad," he said, "they will all go to an
evil place. The Yamassees also will go there if they allow these
Pale-faces to remain longer in the land. So we will slay them all.
We only wait for the sign of a bloody stick which the Creeks will
send. Then the Creeks, the Yamassees, and many other nations will
join with the Spaniards to slay the British. So fly in all haste
to Charleston. And if your own boat is not large enough I will lend
you my canoe."
Mrs. Fraser was very much frightened when she heard Sanute speak
like this. But when she told her husband he laughed at her fears.
The idea that the Spaniards should join with the Indians against
the British seemed to him quite absurd.
"How can the Spaniards go to war with us," he said, "while they
are at peace with Great Britain?"
"I know not," replied Sanute." But the Spanish Governor has said
that soon there will be a great war between the British and the
Spaniards, and while we attack on land he will send great ships to
block up the harbours, so that neither man nor woman may escape."
Then laying his hand upon his heart Sanute implored his white friends
to flee with all haste. "But if you are determined to stay," he
added, "then I will take on myself one last office of friendship,
and so that you may not be tortured I will slay you with my own
Still Fraser doubted. But his wife was so terrified that he yielded
to her entreaties. And gathering his goods together he got into
his canoe with his wife and child, and paddled away to Charleston.
Unfortunately in the hurry of departure Fraser either forgot to warn
his friends in the plantation near him, or they, being warned,
disregarded it; and a few days later the slaughter began. At
daybreak the signal was given, and at the sound of the war whoop
the seemingly peaceful Indians were turned suddenly into raging
demons who, with tomahawk and torch in hand, sowed destruction
and death around. So the land was filled with blood and wailing,
pleasant homesteads were laid in ruins, and only heaps of smouldering
ashes marked where they had been.
But Governor Craven was one of the best governors of his time. He
was a man of action and courage as well as a wise ruler, and he
quickly gathered an army with which to march against the savages.
The North Carolinians too, remembering gratefully the help which
South Carolina had given to them in their need, sent men. Soon
the Yamassees, and their friends were defeated and driven from the
province. They fled across the border and took refuge in Spanish
territory, where they were received with great rejoicing. They might
indeed have been heroes returning from a victorious campaign, for
the church bells were rung and salutes were fired in their honour.
The Yamassees were crushed, but they were not utterly conquered,
from henceforth their hearts were filled with hatred against all
the Carolinians. This hatred the Spaniards did their best to keep
alive. They supplied the Indians with weapons, and made them valiant
with "fire water." Thus encouraged they broke across the borders in
small scalping parties, seizing and slaying, often with unspeakable
tortures, all those who dwelt in lonely places. These frays were
so unceasing, and so deadly, that at length hardly any one dared
live in all the border region.
Meanwhile the war against the Indians had cost a great deal of
money. And as the Lords Proprietor made a good deal of money out
of the colony, the settlers thought they might as well bear some
of the expense also. So they sent messengers home to arrange this
matter. But the Lords Proprietor seemed to care little about their
possessions except as a means of making money. And they refused to
pay any of the cost of the war. This made the settlers angry.
The settlers revolt and Carolina becomes a royal province, 1719
They had never liked the rule of the Lords Proprietor; now they
were heartily tired of it and they refused to stand it longer. King
William III was now upon the throne, and the settlers asked him to
make South Carolina a Crown Colony. To this King William agreed.
Ten years later North Carolina also became a Crown Colony, and the
two Carolinas from henceforth continued to be separate states.
Chapter 44 - The Founding of Georgia
South Carolina extended as far as the River Savannah, and between
that river and the Spanish settlement at St. Augustine there stretched
a great waste of country inhabited only by the Redmen who ever and
anon made raids into Carolina. Southward from this the Spaniards
claimed the land and called it Florida; but they made no effort to
colonise the wilderness which stretched between Florida and the
borders of South Carolina. So at length the idea of founding a
British colony there occurred to an Englishman named James Oglethorpe.
He was a truly great man, and in an age when men were cruel to each
other out of mere thoughtlessness he tried to make people kinder
to their fellows.
In those days in England people could be imprisoned for debt. And
if they could not pay they remained in prison often for years, and
sometimes till they died. They were starved and tortured, loaded
with fetters, locked up in filthy dungeons, herded together with
thieves and murderers, or those suffering from smallpox and other
loathsome diseases. It was horrible, but no one troubled about it.
There had always been misery in the world, there always would be,
men thought, and no one had pity for prisoners.
But now young Oglethorpe had a friend who was imprisoned for debt,
and, being treated in this horrible fashion, he died of smallpox.
Oglethorpe's generous heart was grieved at the death of his
friend, and he began to enquire into the causes of it. The things
he discovered were so awful that he stood aghast with horror at
the misery of the imprisoned debtors. And what was more he did not
rest until he had made other people see the horror of it also. Soon
there was an outcry all over England, and some of the worst evils
were done away with.
Then the idea came to Oglethorpe that he would found a colony in
America, where poor debtors who had regained their freedom might
find a refuge and make a new start in life. He decided to found
this colony to the south of South Carolina, so that it might not
only be a refuge for the oppressed, but also form a buffer state
between the Carolinas and Spanish Florida. So from George II
Oglethorpe got a charter for the land lying between the Savannah
and the Altamaha rivers, and in honour of the King the colony was
Many well-to-do people were by this time interested in his scheme.
They gave him money for it, and he also got a large grant from
Parliament. This was the first time that Parliament ever voted
money to found a colony in America. Of all the thirteen colonies
now founded Georgia alone received aid from the State.
Trustees were appointed to frame the laws, and a kind of proprietory
government was created. The colonists were to be granted all the
liberties of Englishmen, but they were not to be allowed to frame
the laws or take any part in the government. After twenty-one years
the rule of the trustees was to come to an end, and Georgia was to
become a Crown Colony.
All these matters being arranged, men were sent round to visit the
jails, and choose from among the prisoners those who were really
good men and who through misfortune, rather than roguery, found
themselves in prison. The Commissioners refused to take lazy or
bad men, or those who, in going to Georgia, would leave wife or
children in want at home. Besides poor debtors those who were being
persecuted because of their religion in any European State were
invited to come and find a refuge in Georgia. No slavery was to
be allowed, and the sale of rum was forbidden throughout the whole
colony. For Oglethorpe knew how the Redman loved "fire-water" and
how bad it was for him, and he wanted the settlement of Georgia
to be a blessing and not a curse to the Redman, as well as to the
Soon far more people wanted to go than Oglethorpe could take. So
crowds of poor wretches had to be turned away, bitterly disappointed
that they could not go to this new land which, after their terrible
sufferings, seemed to them a very paradise.
The preparations took some time, and it was about the middle of
November, 1732, when at length the Anne hoisted her sails and turned
her prow towards the west. There were about a hundred and twenty
colonists on board with Oglethorpe as Governor, and it was nearly
the end of January when the colonists landed on the southern shores
of the Savannah and founded the town of the same name.
One of the first things Oglethorpe did was to make a treaty with
the Indians, for he knew how greatly the peace and safety of the
little colony depended on their friendship.
There were eight tribes of Creeks who claimed the land upon which
Oglethorpe had settled. But before he allowed the colonists to land
he himself went ashore and sought out the chieftain whose village
was close to the spot he had chosen for his town. This chieftain
was an old man of over ninety years, and at first he did not seem
at all pleased at the idea of white men settling on his land. But
Oglethorpe was kindly and friendly, he spoke gently to the old
chief, and soon won his consent to the settlement, and a promise
When then the colonists landed, instead of being greeted with
a flight of arrows they were received with solemn ceremony, the
braves coming down to the water's edge to greet them. First came the
Medicine Man carrying in either hand a fan made of white feathers
as signs of peace and friendship. Behind him followed the chieftain
and his squaw, with twenty or thirty braves, who filled the air
with wild yells of welcome.
When the Medicine Man reached Oglethorpe he paused, and dancing
round him he swept him on every side with the white feather fans,
chanting the while a tale of brave deeds. This done the chieftain
next drew near, and in flowery words bade the White Chief and his
followers welcome. Thus peacefully the settlement was begun.
But Oglethorpe wanted to be friends with the other tribes round,
so he asked Tomo-chi-chi, the old chieftain, to invite them
to a conference. And a few months later they all came. Oglethorpe
received them in one of the new houses built by the settlers, and
when they were all solemnly seated an old and very tall man stood
up and made a long speech. He claimed for the Creeks all the land
south of the Savannah.
"We are poor and ignorant," he said, "but the Great Spirit who gave
the Pale-faces breath gave the Redmen breath also. But the Great
Spirit who made us both has given more wisdom to the Pale-faces."
Then he spread his arms abroad and lengthened the sound of his words.
"So we feel sure," he cried, "that the Great Spirit who lives in
heaven and all around has sent you to teach us and our wives and
children. Therefore we give you freely the land we do not use. That
is my thought and not mine alone but the thought of all the eight
nations of the Creeks. And in token thereof we bring you gifts of
skins which is our wealth."
Then one by one the chief men of each nation rose up and laid a
bundle of buck skins at Oglethorpe's feet.
In return Oglethorpe gave each of the chiefs a coat and hat trimmed
with gold lace. Each of the braves likewise received some present.
So a treaty of peace was signed, the Redmen promising to keep the
good talk in their hearts as long as the sun shone, or water ran in
the rivers. And so just and wise was Oglethorpe in all his dealings
with the natives that in the early days of the settlement there
were no wars with the natives.
Oglethorpe worked unceasingly for the good of the colony. He kept
no state, but slept in a tent and ate the plainest of food, his
every thought being given to the happiness of his people. And in
return they loved him and called him father. If any one were sick
he visited him, and when they quarreled they came to him to settle
their disputes. Yet he kept strict discipline and allowed neither
drinking nor swearing.
The work of the colony went on apace. About six weeks after the
settlers landed some of the settlers from Charleston came to visit
Oglethorpe, and they were astonished to find how quickly things
had got on.
"It is surprising," one wrote, "to see how cheerfully the men work,
considering they have not been bred to it. There are no idlers
there. Even the boys and girls do their parts. There are four houses
already up, but none finished. . . . He has ploughed up some land,
part of which he has sowed with wheat. . . . He has two or three
gardens, which he has sowed with divers sort of seeds. . . . He was
palisading the town round. . . . In short he has done a vast deal
of work for the time, and I think his name justly deserves to be
But if Georgia had peace with the Indians it was far otherwise with
the Spaniards. For the Spaniards were very angry with the British
for daring to settle south of the Savannah. They vowed to root them
out of America, and they set out to attack the little colony.
But Oglethorpe was a daring soldier as well as a wise statesman,
and he succeeded in beating the Spaniards. It was at Frederica
where the greatest battle took place. This town had been founded
after Savannah and named Frederica, in honour of Frederick, Prince
of Wales. It was built on an island off the coast called St. Simon,
and, being near the Spanish border, it was well fortified. At
the little village of St. Simon which was at the south end of the
island, there were barricades and a high watch-tower where a constant
watch was kept for ships. As soon as they were sighted a gun was
fired, and a horseman sped off to the barracks with the news.
they attack the settlements, 1742 Here one day in July, 1742, a
great fleet of Spanish vessels came sailing. They made a brave show
with their high painted prows and shining sails, and they brought
five thousand men who vowed to give no quarter.
Oglethorpe had but eight hundred men. Some were regular soldiers,
some were fierce Highlanders glad to have a chance of a shot at the
Spaniards, and not a few were friendly Indians. But small though
his force was Oglethorpe did not despair. He had sent to Carolina
for help which he was sure would come if he could but hold out for
a few days. He thought, however, that the position at St. Simon
was too dangerous. So he spiked his guns, destroyed all stores,
and retreated to Frederica.
The Spaniards soon landed and, taking possession of St. Simon, set
out to attack Frederica. But they found it no easy matter, for the
town was surrounded by dense and pathless woods. And struggling
through them the Spaniards stumbled into marshes, or got entangled
in the dense undergrowth until in their weariness they declared
that not the Evil One himself could force a passage through. Added
to their other difficulties they were constantly harassed by scouting
parties of wild Indians, and almost as wild Highlanders, sent out
from Frederica by Oglethorpe.
But meanwhile no help appeared, and at length Oglethorpe, having
discovered that the Spanish force was divided, decided to make a
sortie and surprise one part of it. So with three hundred chosen
men he marched out one dark night, and stole silently through the
woods until he had almost reached the enemy's camp.
Then suddenly a Frenchman who was with the little British force
discharged his musket, and fled towards the Spanish camp.
All hope of a surprise was at an end, and Oglethorpe returned
hastily to the fort. But that the surprise had failed was not the
worst. It was certain that the deserter would tell the Spaniards
how weak the British were, and that thus heartened they would soon
attack in force. Something, Oglethorpe decided, must be done to
So he wrote a letter in French addressing it to the French deserter.
This letter was written as if coming from a friend. It begged the
Frenchman to tell the Spaniards that Frederica was in an utterly
defenseless state, and to bring them on to an attack. Or if he
could not persuade them to attack at least he must persuade them
to remain three days longer at Fort Simon. For within that time
two thousand men would arrive from Carolina and six British ships
of war "which he doubted not would be able to give a good account
of themselves to the Spanish invaders." Above all things the writer
bade the Frenchman beware of saying anything about Admiral Vernon,
the British admiral who was coming against St. Augustine. He ended
by assuring him that the British King would not forget such good
services, and that he should be richly rewarded.
This letter Oglethorpe gave to one of the Spanish prisoners they
had taken, who for a small sum of money and his liberty, promised
to deliver it to the French deserter. But instead of doing that
he gave it, as Oglethorpe had expected he would, to the leader of
the Spanish army.
The French deserter at once denied all knowledge of the letter or
its writer, but all the same he was fettered and kept a prisoner
while the Spanish leaders held a council of war. They knew not what
to do. Some thought that the letter was a ruse (as indeed it was)
merely meant to deceive them. But others thought that the British
really had them in a trap. And while they were thus debating by
good luck some British vessels appeared off the coast. And thinking
them to be the men-of-war mentioned in the letter the Spaniards
fled in such haste that although they had time to set fire to the
barracks at St. Simon they left behind them a great cannon and
large stores of food and ammunition.
Thus was the little colony saved from destruction.
By his brave stand and clever ruse Oglethorpe had saved not only
Georgia but Carolina too. Yet South Carolina had cause for shame,
for her Governor had paid no heed to Oglethorpe's call for help,
and so far as he was concerned Georgia might have been wiped out.
He indeed cared so little about it that when the governors of the
other more northerly colonies wrote to Oglethorpe thanking and
praising him he did not join with them. But much to his disgust,
seeing their Governor so lax, some of the people of South Carolina
themselves wrote to Oglethorpe to thank him.
"It was very certain," they wrote, "had the Spaniards succeeded in
those attempts against your Excellency they would also have entirely
destroyed us, laid our province waste and desolate, and filled our
habitation with waste and slaughter. We are very sensible of the
great protection and safety we have long enjoyed, by your Excellency
being to the southwards of us, and keeping your armed sloops cruising
on the coasts, which has secured our trade and fortunes more than
all the ships of war ever stationed at Charleston. But more by
your late resolution against the Spaniards when nothing could have
saved us from utter ruin, next to the Providence of Almighty God,
but your Excellency's singular conduct, and the bravery of the
troops under your command. We think it our duty to pray God to
protect your Excellency and send you success in all your undertakings."
But, although Oglethorpe had many friends, he had also enemies,
some even within the colony he had done so much to serve. There
were those within the colony who wanted rum and wanted slavery and
said that it would never prosper until they were allowed. Oglethorpe,
with all his might, opposed them, so they hated him. Others were
discontented for far better reasons: because they had no share in
the government, and because the land laws were bad.
Oglethorpe, too, had his own troubles, for he had spent so much on
the colony that he was deeply in debt. So, having ruled for twelve
years, he went home, and although be lived to a great old age, he
never returned again to Georgia. At the age of fifty-five he married;
then he settled down to the quiet life of an English gentleman.
Learned men and fine ladies called him friend, poets sang of his
deeds, and the great Samuel Johnson wanted to write his life.
"Heroic, romantic, and full of the old gallantry" to the end,
he lived out his last days in the great manor house of an English
village, and was laid to rest in the peaceful village church in
"But the Savannah repeats to the Altamaha the story of his virtues
and of his valor, and the Atlantic publishes to the mountains the
greatness of his fame, for all Georgia is his living, speaking
Oglethorpe was the only one of all the founders of British colonies
in America who lived to see their separation from the mother-country.
But long ere that he had to see many changes in the settlement.
For the colonists would not be contented without rum and slaves,
and in 1749 both were allowed. A few years later the trustees gave
up their claims and Georgia became a Crown Colony, and the people
were given the right to vote and help to frame the laws under which
they had to live.
PART V STORIES OF THE FRENCH IN AMERICA
Chapter 45 - How the Mississippi was Discovered
While the shores of the Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Georgia were
being claimed and peopled by the British another and very different
nation laid claim also to the mighty continent. Before Jamestown
was founded the French had already set foot upon the St. Lawrence.
Long before the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth the flag of
France was floating from the citadel of Quebec; and the French laid
claim to the whole of Canada.
But the French and the British claimed these new lands in very
different ways. The Englishmen came seeking freedom and a new home.
The Frenchmen came seeking adventure. The Englishman painfully
felled trees and cleared land, toiling by the sweat of his brow for
the comfort of a home. The Frenchman set up crosses on the edge of
pathless forests, claiming unknown lands for God and his King. He
came as missionary, trader and adventurer rather than as farmer.
And, led on by zeal for religion or desire for adventure, he pushed
his settlements far into the wilderness.
So, long years went by. All along the Atlantic coasts spread fertile
fields and fair homesteads. The British were content to live on the
lands which they had cleared and tilled, and no adventurer sought
to know what lay beyond the blue mountain range which shut him from
Far otherwise was it with the French. Priests and traders were
both full of a desire for conquest and adventure. Many of them
indeed were so driven by the roving spirit that they left the
towns altogether and lived alone among the forests, tracking the
wild animals, and only coming to towns to sell the skins and get
These trappers brought back with them many strange tales of the
forests and unknown wilds. They spoke of the Mississippi or "great
water" of which the Indians told marvelous tales. And at length
it seemed to their hearers that this great water could be no other
than the long sought passage to India and the East.
Many people, fired by these tales, went in search of this great
water. In 1673 two priests named Marquette and Joliet were the first
to discover it. For many miles they floated down the Mississippi.
On either side stretched endless forests and plains of waving grass,
haunts of wild animals and of the Indians, - almost as wild. On
they went, past the mouth of the yellow Missouri, on still till
they came to the river Arkansas. At last, sure that the great river
went southward and not westward as they had supposed, they decided
It had been easy enough floating down, but now they had to battle
against the stream, and it was only after weeks of toil that they
at length reached Canada again with their news.
When he heard their story another adventurer named Ren� Robert
Cavelier Sieur de la Salle became eager to make certain of their
discovery, and follow the river all the way to its mouth.
With great care and trouble he made his arrangements. He thought
it would be impossible to compass so great a journey by canoes,
so he built a little ship which he called the Griffin. It was the
first ship which had been seen by the Indians round Lake Erie, and
in amazement and fear they came to stare at it. In their ignorant
terror they would have destroyed it had not careful watch been
From the very beginning of his expedition La Salle found many
difficulties. But at length they all seemed to be overcome, and he
set out with his friend, Henri de Tonty, and about forty men.
Tonty was a man of courage, as bold and enterprising as La Salle
himself. He was, too, much feared by the Indians, who thought him
a great Medicine Man. For while fighting in Europe he had had one
hand shot off. But he had replaced it with an iron hand, which he
always wore covered with a glove. The Indians did not know this,
and once or twice when they had been troublesome he had brought
them to order by knocking them down with this hand. Not knowing the
secret of it they marvelled greatly at his strength, and, fearing
him accordingly, called him Iron Hand.
One of La Salle's great difficulties was lack of money. So before
leaving the great lakes he collected a quantity of furs. Then he
sent back the Griffin and half his men, with orders to sell these
furs, and return with supplies for the expedition as quickly as
possible. With the rest of his men La Salle journeyed on to the
head of Lake Michigan in canoes.
It was no easy journey, for storms swept the lake. The waves tossed
their frail canoes hither and thither so that they were often in
danger of drowning. They were harassed, too, by unfriendly Indians.
At length, worn out by fatigue, starving with cold and hunger, they
reached the appointed place to await the return of the Griffin.
But the Griffin never came. In vain La Salle scanned the grey
waters. Day after day passed, and no white sail flecked the dreary
expanse. The Griffin was never heard of more.
With a heavy heart La Salle at length gave up the weary watch, and
decided to go on with such men and supplies as he had. But with
every step fresh difficulties arose. La Salle had many enemies,
and they did their best to hinder and hamper him. His own men were
discontented and mutinous. They had no love for their leader, no
enthusiasm for the expedition, and the hardships and dangers of
the way made them sullen.
They were half starved and worn out with fatigue; all they wanted
was to get back to a comfortable life. They were sick of the
wilderness and its hardships. Added to this the Indians told them
bloodcurdling tales of the terrors of the "Father of Waters." It
was a raging torrent of whirlpools, they said, full of poisonous
serpents and loathly monsters. Those who ventured on it would never
This was more than the men could face. They chose rather the
possibility of death among the Indians and the wilderness to its
certainty among such horrors, and some of them ran away.
Depressed by this desertion La Salle resolved to camp for the rest
of the winter. So on the banks of the river Illinois he built a
fort which he called Creve-Coeur, or Heart-break.
But La Salle's brave heart was not yet broken. And here he began
to build a new ship in which to sail down the Mississippi. There
was wood in plenty around, and the work was begun. But many things,
such as sails and rigging, which were necessary for the ship, the
wilderness could not supply. And, seeing no other way, La Salle
resolved to go back to Fort Frontenac to get them, leaving Tonty
meanwhile to look after the building of the ship.