Part 4 out of 11
hold their meetings.
But they were never left long in peace. They were hunted and persecuted
on every side, till at length they decided to go to Holland where
they heard there was freedom of religion for all men.
To many of them this was a desperate adventure. In those days few
men traveled. For the most part people lived and died without once
leaving their native villages. To go into a new country, to learn
a new language, to get their living they know not how, seemed to
some a misery almost worse than death. Still they determined to
go, such was their eagerness to serve God aright.
The going was not easy. They were harassed and hindered in every
fashion. Again and again evil men cheated them, and robbed them
of almost all they possessed, leaving them starving and penniless
upon the sea shore. But at length, overcoming all difficulties, in
one way or another, they all reached Amsterdam.
Even here however they did not find the full freedom and peace
which they desired, and they next moved to Leyden.
They found it "a beautiful city and of a sweet situation." Here
they settled down and for some years lived in comfort, earning
their living by weaving and such employments, and worshipping God
at peace in their own fashion.
But after about eleven or twelve years they began once more to think
of moving. They had many reasons for this, one being that if they
stayed longer in Holland their children and grandchildren would
forget how to speak English, and in a few generations they would
no longer be English, but Dutch. So they determined to go to some
place where they could still remain English, and yet worship God
as they thought right.
And the place their thoughts turned to was the vast and unpeopled
country of America. But which part of America they could not at
first decide. After much talk however they at length decided to
ask the Virginian Company to allow them to settle in their land,
but as a separate colony, so that they might still have religious
Two messengers were therefore despatched to London to arrange
matters with the company. The Virginian Company was quite willing
to have these Separatists as settlers. But do what they would they
could not get the King to promise them freedom to worship God. All
that they could wring from him was a promise that he would take
no notice of them so long as they behaved peaceably. To allow or
tolerate them by his public authority, under his broad seal, was
not to be thought of.
That was the best the Virginian Company or any of their friends
could do for the Separatists. And with this answer the messengers
were obliged to return to Leyden. When the English men and women
there heard it they were much disturbed. Some felt that without
better assurance of peace they would be foolish to leave their safe
refuge. But the greater part decided that poor though the assurance
was they would be well to go, trusting in God to bring them safely
out of all their troubles. And after all they reflected "a seal as
broad as the house floor would not serve the turn" if James did not
wish to keep his promise, so little trust did they put in princes
and their oaths.
So it was decided to go to the New World, and after much trouble
everything was got ready. A little ship called the Speedwell was
bought and fitted up. Then those who had determined to go went down
to the sea shore accompanied by all their friends.
Their hearts were heavy as they left the beautiful city which had
been their home for the last twelve years. But they knew that they
were pilgrims and strangers upon the earth, and they looked only
to find in heaven an abiding place. So steadfastly they set their
faces towards the sea. They went on board, their friends following
sorrowfully. Then came the sad parting. They clung to each other
with tears, their words of farewell and prayers broken by sobs. It
was so pitiful a sight that even among the Dutchmen who looked on
there was scarce a dry eye.
At length the time came when the last farewell had to be said. Then
their pastor fell upon his knees on the deck, and as they knelt
round him he lifted his hands to heaven, and with tears running
down his cheeks prayed God to bless them all.
So the sails were hoisted and the Speedwell sailed away to Southampton.
Here she found the Mayflower awaiting her, and the two set forth
together. But they had not gone far before the captain of the
Speedwell complained that his ship was leaking so badly that he
dared not go on. So both ships put in to Dartmouth, and here the
Speedwell was thoroughly overhauled and mended, and again they set
But still the captain declared that the Speedwell was leaking. So
once more the pilgrims put back, this time to Plymouth. And here
it was decided that the Speedwell was unseaworthy, and unfit to
venture across the great ocean. That she was a rotten little boat
is fairly certain, but it is also fairly certain that the Captain
did not want to sail to America, and therefore he made the worst,
instead of the best, of his ship.
If it is true that he did not want to cross the ocean he now had
his way. For the Speedwell was sent back to London with all those
who had already grown tired of the venture, or who had grown fearful
because of the many mishaps. And the Mayflower, taking the rest
of the passengers from the Speedwell, and as many of the stores as
she could find room for, proceeded upon her voyage alone.
Among those who sailed in her were Captain Miles Standish and Master
Mullins with his fair young daughter Priscilla. I daresay you have
read the story Longfellow made about them and John Alden. At the
first John Alden did not go as a Pilgrim. He was hired at Southampton
as a cooper, merely for the voyage, and was free to go home again
if he wished. But he stayed, and as we know from Longfellow's poem
he married Priscilla.
Now at length these Pilgrim Fathers as we have learned to call them
were really on their way. But all the trouble about the Speedwell
had meant a terrible loss of time, and although the Pilgrims bad
left Holland in July it was September before they finally set sail
from Plymouth, and their voyage was really begun.
And now instead of having fair they had foul weather. For days and
nights, with every sail reefed, they were driven hither and thither
by the wind, were battered and beaten by cruel waves, and tossed
helplessly from side to side. At length after two months of terror
and hardships they sighted the shores of America.
They had however been driven far out of their course, and instead
of being near the mouth of the Hudson River, and within the area
granted to the Virginian Company, they were much further north,
near Cape Cod, and within the area granted to the Plymouth Company,
where they had really no legal right to land. So although they
were joyful indeed to see land, they decided to sail southward to
the mouth of the Hudson, more especially as the weather was now
Soon however as they sailed south they found themselves among
dangerous shoals and roaring breakers, and, being in terror of
shipwreck, they turned back again. And when they once more reached
the shelter of Cape Cod harbour they fell on their knees and most
heartily thanked God, Who had brought them safely over the furious
ocean, and delivered them from all its perils and miseries.
They vowed no more to risk the fury of the tempest, but to settle
where they were in the hope of being able to make things right
with the Plymouth Company later on. So in the little cabin of
the Mayflower the Pilgrims held a meeting, at which they chose a
Governor and drew up rules, which they all promised to obey, for
the government of the colony. But this done they found it difficult
to decide just what would be the best place for their little town,
and they spent a month or more exploring the coast round about. At
length they settled upon a spot.
On Captain John Smith's map it was already marked Plymouth, and
so the Pilgrims decided to call the town Plymouth because of this,
and also because Plymouth was the last town in England at which they
had touched. So here they all went ashore, choosing as a landing
place a flat rock which may be seen to this day, and which is now
known as the Plymouth Rock.
"Which had been to their feet as a doorstep, Into a world unknown-the
corner-stone of a nation!"
The Pilgrim Fathers had now safely passed the perils of the sea.
But many more troubles and miseries were in store for them. For
hundreds of miles the country lay barren and untilled, inhabited
only by wild Redmen, the nearest British settlement being five
hundred miles away. There was no one upon the shore to greet them,
no friendly lights, no smoke arising from cheerful cottage fires,
no sign of habitation far or near. It was a silent frost-bound
coast upon which they had set foot.
The weather was bitterly cold and the frost so keen that even
their clothes were frozen stiff. And ere these Pilgrims could find
a shelter from the winter blasts, trees had to be felled and hewn
for the building of their houses. It was enough to make the stoutest
heart quake. Yet not one among this little band of Pilgrims flinched
or thought of turning back. They were made of sterner stuff than
that, and they put all their trust in God.
"May not and ought not the children of those fathers rightly say,"
writes William Bradford, who was their Governor for thirty-one years,
"our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean and
were ready to perish in the wilderness? But they cried unto the
Lord and He heard their voice." The winter was an unusually severe
one. And so, having no homes to shelter them or comfort of any kind,
many of the Pilgrims died. Many more became seriously ill. Indeed
at one time there were not more than six or seven out of a hundred
and more who were well and able to work. And had it not been for
the wonderful devotion and loving kindness of these few the whole
colony might have perished miserably. But these few worked with a
will, felling trees, cooking meals, caring for the sick both day
The first winter the Pilgrim Fathers, it was said, "endured
a wonderful deal of misery with infinite patience." But at length
spring came, and with the coming of warmth and sunshine the sickness
disappeared. The sun seemed to put new life into every one. So
when in April the Mayflower, which had been in harbour all winter,
sailed homeward not one of the Pilgrims sailed with her.
The little white-winged ship was the last link with home. They had
but to step on board to be wafted back to the green hedgerows and
meadows gay with daisies and buttercups in dear old England. It
was a terrible temptation. Yet not one yielded to it. With tears
streaming down their faces, the Pilgrims knelt upon the shore and
saw the Mayflower go, following her with prayers and blessings until
she was out of sight. Then they went back to their daily labours.
Only when they looked out to sea the harbour seemed very empty with
no friendly little vessel lying there.
Meanwhile among all the miseries of the winter there had been one
bright spot. The Pilgrims had made friends with the Indians. They
had often noticed with fear Redmen skulking about at the forest's
edge, watching them. Once or twice when they had left tools lying
about they had been stolen. But whenever they tried to get speech
with the Indians they fled away.
What was their surprise then when one morning an Indian walked
boldly into the camp and spoke to them in broken English!
He told them that his name was Samoset, and that he was the
Englishmen's friend. He also said he could tell them of another
Indian called Squanto who could speak better English than he could.
This Squanto had been stolen away from his home by a wicked captain
who intended to sell him as a slave to Spain. But he had escaped
to England, and later by the help of Englishmen had been brought
back to his home. All his tribe however had meantime been swept
away by a plague, and now only he remained.
Samoset also said that his great chief named Massasoit or Yellow
Feather wished to make friends with the Palefaces. The settlers were
well pleased to find the Indian ready to be friendly and, giving
him presents of a few beads and bits of coloured cloth, they sent
him away happy. But very soon he returned, bringing Squanto and
the chief, Yellow Feather, with him. Then there was a very solemn
pow-wow; the savages gorgeous in paint and feathers sat beside the
sad-faced Englishmen in their tall black hats and sober clothes,
and together they swore friendship and peace. And so long as Yellow
Feather lived this peace lasted.
After the meeting Yellow Feather went home to his own wigwams,
which were about forty miles away. But Squanto stayed with the
Englishmen. He taught them how to plant corn; he showed them where
to fish and hunt; he was their guide through the pathless forests.
He was their staunch and faithful friend, and never left them till
he died. Even then he feared to be parted from his white friends,
and he begged them to pray God that he too might be allowed to go
to the Englishmen's heaven.
Besides Yellow Feather and his tribe there were other Indians who
lived to the east of the settlement, and they were by no means
so friendly. At harvest time they used to steal the corn from the
fields and otherwise harass the workers. As they went unpunished
they grew ever bolder until at length one day their chief, Canonicus,
sent a messenger to the Governor with a bundle of arrows tied
about with a large snakeskin. This was meant as a challenge. But
the Governor was not to be frightened by such threats. He sent
back the snakeskin stuffed with bullets and gunpowder, and with it
a bold message.
"If you would rather have war than peace," he said, "you can begin
when you like. But we have done you no wrong and we do not fear
When the chief heard the message and saw the gunpowder and bullets
he was far too much afraid to go to war. He was too frightened to
touch the snakeskin or even allow it to remain in his country, but
sent it back again at once.
This warlike message however made the settlers more careful, and
they built a strong fence around their little town, with gates in
it, which were shut and guarded at night. Thus the Pilgrims had
peace with the Redmen. They had also set matters right with the
Plymouth Company, and had received from them a patent or charter
allowing them to settle in New England. Other Pilgrims came out
from home from time to time, and the little colony prospered and
grew, though slowly.
They were a grave and stern little company, obeying their Governor,
fearing God, keeping the Sabbath and regarding all other feast days
as Popish and of the evil one.
It is told how one Christmas Day the Governor called every one out
to work as usual. But some of the newcomers to the colony objected
that it was against their conscience to work on Christmas Day.
The Governor looked gravely at them. "If you make it a matter of
conscience," he said, "I will release you from work upon this day
until you are better taught upon the matter." Then he led the others
away to fell trees and saw wood. But when at noon he returned he
found those, whose tender consciences had not allowed them to work,
playing at ball and other games in the streets. So he went to them,
and took away their balls and other toys. "For," said he, "it is
against my conscience that you should play while others work."
And such was the power of the Governor that he was quietly obeyed,
"and," we are told, "since that time nothing hath been attempted
that way, at least openly."
They were stern, these old settlers, and perhaps to our way of
thinking narrow, and they denied themselves much that is lovely
in life and quite innocent. Yet we must look back at them with
admiration. No people ever left their homes to go into exile for
nobler ends, no colony was ever founded in a braver fashion. And
it is with some regret we remember that these brave Pilgrim Fathers
have given a name to no state in the great union. For the Colony
of Plymouth, having held on its simple, severe way for many years,
was at length swallowed up by one of its great neighbours, and
became part of the State of Massachusetts. But that was not till
1692. Meanwhile, because it was the first of the New England colonies
to be founded, it was often called the Old Colony.
Chapter 23 - The Founding of Massachusetts
For ten years after the coming of the Pilgrim Fathers charters were
constantly granted to "adventurers" of one kind or another for the
founding of colonies in New England. And, driven by the tyranny of
King James and of his son Charles I, small companies of Puritans
began to follow the example of the Pilgrim Fathers and go out to
New England, there to seek freedom to worship God. For King James,
although brought up as a Presbyterian himself, was bitter against
the Puritans. "I shall make them conform themselves," he had said,
"or I will harry them out of the land."
And as he could not make them conform he "harried" them so that
many were glad to leave the land to escape tyranny. King James has
been called the British Solomon, but he did some amazingly foolish
things. This narrow-minded persecution of the Puritans was one.
Yet by it he helped to form a great nation. So perhaps he was not
so foolish after all.
As has been said many companies were formed, many land charters
granted for Northern Virginia, or New England, as it was now called.
At length a company of Puritans under the name of the Massachusetts
Bay Company got a charter from Charles I, granting them a large
tract of land from three miles south of the Charles River to three
miles north of the Merrimac, and as far west as the Pacific. Of
course no one in those days realised what a huge tract that would
be. For no man yet guessed how great a continent America was,
or by what thousands of miles the Pacific was separated from the
Atlantic. This charter was not unlike that given to Virginia. But
there was one important difference. Nowhere in the charter did it
say that the seat of government must be in England.
So when Charles dismissed his Parliament, vowing that if the members
would not do as he wished he would rule without them, a great many
Puritans decided to leave the country. They decided also to take
their charter with them and remove the Company of Massachusetts
Bay, bag and baggage, to New England.
Charles did nothing to stop them. Perhaps at the time he was pleased
to see so many powerful Puritans leave the country, for without
them he was all the freer to go his own way. So in the spring of
1630 more than a thousand set sail, taking with them their cattle
and household goods.
Many of these were cultured gentlemen who were thus giving up money,
ease and position in order to gain freedom of religion. They were
not poor labourers or artisans, not even for the most part traders
and merchants. They chose as Governor for the first year a Suffolk
gentleman named John Winthrop. A new Governor was chosen every year,
but John Winthrop held the post many times, twice being elected
three years in succession. Although we may think that he was narrow
in some things, he was a man of calm judgment and even temper, and
was in many ways a good Governor. From the day he set forth from
England to the end of his life he kept a diary, and it is from
this diary that we learn nearly all we know of the early days of
It was in June of 1630 that Winthrop and his company landed at
Salem, and although there were already little settlements at Salem
and elsewhere this may be taken as the real founding of Massachusetts.
Almost at once Winthrop decided that Salem would not be a good
centre for the colony, and he moved southward to the Charles River,
where he finally settled on a little hilly peninsula. There a
township was founded and given the name of Boston, after the town
of Boston in Lincolnshire, from which many of the settlers had
Although these settlers had more money and more knowledge of
trading, the colony did not altogether escape the miseries which
every other colony had so far suffered. And, less stout-hearted
than the founders of Plymouth, some fled back again to England.
But they were only a few, and for the most part the new settlers
remained and prospered.
These newcomers were not Separatists like the Pilgrim Fathers but
Puritans. When they left England they had no intention of separating
themselves from the Church of England. They had only desired a
simpler service. But when they landed in America they did in fact
separate from the Church of England. England was so far away; the
great ocean was between them and all the laws of Church and King.
It seemed easy to cast them off, and they did.
So bishops were done away with, great parts of the Common Prayer
Book were rejected, and the service as a whole made much more
simple. And as they wished to keep their colony free of people who
did not think as they did the founders of Massachusetts made a law
that only Church members might have a vote.
With the Plymouth Pilgrims, however, Separatists though they were,
these Puritans were on friendly terms. The Governors of the two
colonies visited each other to discuss matters of religion and
trade, and each treated the other with great respect and ceremony.
We read how when Governor Winthrop went to visit Governor Bradford
the chief people of Plymouth came forth to meet him without the town,
and led him to the Governor's house. There he and his companions
were entertained in goodly fashion, feasting every day and holding
pious disputations. Then when he departed again, the Governor of
Plymouth with the pastor and elders accompanied him half a mile
out of the town in the dark.
But although the Puritans of Massachusetts were friendly enough
with dissenters beyond their borders they soon showed that within
their borders there was to be no other Church than that which they
had set up.
Two brothers for instance who wanted to have the Prayer Book used
in full were calmly told that New England was no place for them,
and they were shipped home again. Later a minister named Roger
Williams was banished from Massachusetts, for he preached that
there ought to be no connection between Church and State; that a
man was responsible to God alone for his opinions; and that no man
had a right to take from or give to another a vote because of the
Church to which he belonged.
It seemed to him a deadly sin to have had anything whatever to do
with the Church of England, a sin for which every one ought to do
public penance. He also said that the land of America belonged to
the natives, and not to the King of England. Therefore the King of
England could not possibly give it to the settlers, and they ought
to bargain for it with the natives. Otherwise they could have no
right to it.
This idea seemed perfectly preposterous to those old settlers, for,
said they, "he chargeth King James to have told a solemn, public
lie, because in his patent he blessed God that he was the first
Christian prince that had discovered this land." They might think
little enough of their King in their hearts, but it was not for a
mere nobody to start such a ridiculous theory as this.
We, looking back, can see that Williams was a good and pious man,
a man before his time, right in many of his ideas, though not very
wise perhaps in his way of pressing them.
upon others who did not understand them. But to his fellow colonists
he seemed nothing but a firebrand and a dangerous heretic. So they
bade him be gone out of their borders. He went southward to what
is now Rhode Island, made friends with the Indians there, bought
from them some land, and founded the town of Providence.
Chapter 24 - The Story of Harry Vane
About this time there came to Massachusetts a handsome young
adventurer named Sir Harry Vane. His face "was comely and fair,"
and his thick brown hair curly and long, so that he looked more
like a Cavalier than a Puritan. He was in fact the eldest son of
a Cavalier, one of the King's chosen councilors. But in spite of
his birth and upbringing, in spite even of his looks, Harry Vane
was a Puritan. And he gave up all the splendour of life at court,
he left father and mother and fortune, and came to New England for
"Sir Henry Vane hath as good as lost his eldest son who is gone to
New England for conscience' sake," wrote a friend. "He likes not
the discipline of the Church of England. None of our ministers would
give him the Sacrament standing: no persuasions of our Bishops nor
authority of his parents could prevail with him. Let him go."
As soon as Harry Vane arrived in Massachusetts he began to take an
interest in the affairs of the colony. And perhaps because of his
great name as much as his fair face, grey-haired men who had far
more experience listened to, his youthful advice and bowed to his
judgment. And before six months were passed he, although a mere
lad of twenty-three, was chosen as Governor. A new Governor, you
remember, was chosen every year.
At home Harry Vane had been accustomed to the pomp and splendour
of courts and now he began to keep far greater state as Governor
than any one had done before him. Because he was son and heir to a
Privy Councilor in England the ships in the harbour fired a salute
when he was elected, and when he went to church or court of justice
a bodyguard of four soldiers marched before him wearing steel
corslet and cap, and carrying halberds. He made, too, a sort of
royal progress through his little domain, visiting all the settlements.
But although begun with such pomp Vane's year of office was by no
means a peaceful one. He was young and inexperienced, and he was
not strong enough to deal with questions which even the oldest among
the settlers found hard to settle. Yet with boyish presumption he
set himself to the task. And although he failed, he left his mark
on the life of the colony. His was one more voice raised in the cause
of freedom. His was one more hand pointing the way to toleration.
But he was too tempestuous, too careless of tact, too eager to
hurry to the good end. So instead of keeping the colony with him
he created dissension. People took sides, some eagerly supporting
the young Governor, but a far larger party as eagerly opposing him.
So after nine months of office Harry Vane saw that where he had
meant to create fair order his hand created only disorder. And
utterly disheartened he begged the Council to relieve him of the
governorship and allow him to go home to England.
But when one of his friends stood up and spoke in moving terms of
the great loss he would be, Harry Vane burst into tears and declared
he would stay, only he could not bear all the squabbling that had
been going on, nor to hear it constantly said that he was the cause
Then, when the Council declared that if that was the only reason
he had for going they could not give him leave, he repented of
what he had said, and declared he must go for reasons of private
business, and that anything else he had said was only said in
temper. Whereupon the court consented in silence to his going.
All this was not very dignified for the Governor of a state, but
hardly surprising from a passionate youth who had undertaken a task
too difficult for him, and felt himself a failure. However Vane
did not go. He stayed on to the end of his time, and even sought
to be re-elected.
But feeling against him was by this time far too keen. He was
rejected as Governor, and not even chosen as one of the Council.
This hurt him deeply, he sulked in a somewhat undignified manner,
and at length in August sailed home, never to return.
He had flashed like a brilliant meteor across the dull life of the
colony. He made strife at the time, but afterwards there was no
bitterness. When the colonists were in difficulties they were ever
ready to ask help from Harry Vane, and he as readily gave it. Even
his enemies had to acknowledge his uprightness and generosity. "At
all times," wrote his great-hearted adversary, Winthrop, "he showed
himself a true friend to New England, and a man of noble and generous
He took a great part in the troublous times which now came upon
England, and more than twenty years later he died bravely on the
scaffold for the cause to which he had given his life.
Chapter 25 - The Story of Anne Hutchinson and the Founding of Rhode
About a year before Harry Vane came to Massachusetts another
interesting and brilliant colonist arrived. This was a woman named
Anne Hutchinson. She was clever, "a woman of a ready wit and bold
spirit." Like Williams she was in advance of her times, and like
him she soon became a religious leader. She was able, she was deeply
interested in religion, and she saw no reason why women should not
speak their minds on such matters.
Men used to hold meetings to discuss questions of religion and
politics to which women were not allowed to go. Anne Hutchinson
thought this was insulting; and she began to hold meetings for
women in her own home. These meetings became so popular that often
as many as a hundred women would be present. They discussed matters
of religion, and as Mrs. Hutchinson held "dangerous errors" about
"grace and works" and justification and sanctification, this set
the whole colony agog.
By the time that Harry Vane was chosen Governor the matter had
become serious. All the colony took sides for or against. Harry Vane,
who stood for toleration and freedom, sided with Mrs. Hutchinson,
while Winthrop, his great rival, sided against her. Mrs. Hutchinson
was supported and encouraged in her wickedness by her brother-in-law
John Wheelright, a "silenced minister sometimes in England." She
also led away many other godly hearts.
The quarrel affected the whole colony, and was a stumbling-block
in the way of all progress. But so long as Harry Vane was Governor,
Mrs. Hutchinson continued her preaching and teaching. When he sailed
home, however, and Winthrop was Governor once more, the elders
of the community decided that Mrs. Hutchinson was a danger to the
colony, and must be silenced. So all the elders and leaders met
together in assembly, and condemned her opinions, some as being
"blasphemous, some erroneous, and all unsafe."
A few women, they decided, might without serious wrong meet together
to pray and edify one another. But that a large number of sixty
or more should do so every week was agreed to be "disorderly and
without rule." And as Mrs. Hutchinson would not cease her preaching
and teaching, but obstinately continued in her gross errors, she
was excommunicated and exiled from the colony.
Like Williams, Mrs. Hutchinson went to Rhode Island. To the sorrow
of the godly, her husband went with her. And when they tried to
bring him back he refused. "For," he said, "I am more dearly tied
to my wife than to the Church. And I do think her a dear saint and
servant of God."
In Rhode Island Mrs. Hutchinson and her friends founded the towns
of Portsmouth and Newport. Others who had been driven out of one
colony or another followed them, and other towns were founded;
and for a time Rhode Island seems to have been a sort of Ishmael's
land, and the most unruly of all the New England colonies. At
length however all these little settlements joined together under
At first the colony had no charter, and occupied the land only
by right of agreement with the Indians. But after some time Roger
Williams got a charter from Charles II. In this charter it was
set down that no one should be persecuted "for any difference in
opinion on matters of religion." Thus another new state was founded,
and in Rhode Island there was more real freedom than in almost any
other colony in New England.
Massachusetts was at this time, as we can see, not exactly an
easy place to live in for any one whose opinions differed in the
slightest from those laid down by law. Those same people who had
left their homes to seek freedom of conscience denied it to others.
But they were so very, very sure that their way was the only
right way, that they could not understand how any one could think
otherwise. They were good and honest men. And if they were severe
with their fellows who strayed from the narrow path, it was only
in the hope that by punishing them in this life, they might save
them from much more terrible punishment in the life to come.
Chapter 26 - The Founding of Harvard
One very good thing we have to remember about the first settlers of
Massachusetts is that early in the life of the colony they founded
schools and colleges. A good many of the settlers were Oxford and
Cambridge men, though more indeed came from Cambridge than from
Oxford, as Cambridge was much the more Puritan of the two. But
whether from Oxford or from Cambridge they were eager that their
children born in this New England should have as good an education
as their fathers had had in Old England. So when Harry Vane was
Governor the colonists voted �400 with which to build a school.
This is the first time known to history that the people themselves
voted their own money to found a school.
It was decided to build the school at "Newtown." But the Cambridge
men did not like the name, so they got it changed to Cambridge,
"to tell their posterity whence they came."
Shortly before this a young Cambridge man named John Harvard had
come out to Massachusetts. Very little is known of him save that he
came of simple folk, and was good and learned. "A godly gentleman
and lover of learning," old writers call him. "A scholar and pious
in his life, and enlarged towards the country and the good of it,
in life and in death."
Soon after he came to Boston this godly gentleman was made minister
of the church at Charlestown. But he was very delicate and in a
few months he died. As a scholar and a Cambridge man he had been
greatly interested in the building of the college at Cambridge. So
when he died he left half his money and all his books to it. The
settlers were very grateful for this bequest, and to show their
gratitude they decided to name the college after John Harvard.
Thus the first University in America was founded. From the beginning
the college was a pleasant place, "more like a bowling green than
a wilderness," said one man. "The buildings were thought by some to
be too gorgeous for a wilderness, and yet too mean in others'
apprehensions for a college. "
"The edifice," says another, "is very faire and comely within and
without, having in it a spacious hall, and a large library with
some bookes to it."
Of Harvard's own books there were nearly three hundred, a very good
beginning for a library in those far-off days. But unfortunately
they were all burnt about a hundred years later when the library
accidentally took fire. Only one book was saved, as it was not in
the library at the time.
Harvard's books are gone, nor does anything now remain of the first
buildings "so faire and comely within and without." But the memory
of the old founders and their wonderful purpose and energy is still
kept green, and over the chief entrance of the present buildings
are carved some words taken from a writer of those times. "After
God had carried us safe to New England, and we had builded our
houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, rear'd convenient
places for God's worship, and settled the Civil Government, one
of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance
learning and perpetuate it to Posterity, dreading to leave
an illiterate ministry to the Churches when our present ministers
shall be in the Dust."
John Harvard was a good and simple man. In giving his money to
found a college he had no thought of making himself famous. But "he
builded better than he knew," for he reared for himself an eternal
monument, and made his name famous to all the ends of the earth.
And when kings and emperors are forgotten the name of Harvard will
Chapter 27 - How Quakers First Came to New England
It was about the middle of the seventeenth century when a new kind
of religion arose. This was the religion of the Quakers. George
Fox was the founder of this sect, and they called themselves the
Friends of Truth. The name Quaker was given to them by their enemies
in derision because they "trembled before the Lord."
The Quakers were a peace-loving people; they tried to be kind and
charitable; they refused to go to law; and they refused to fight.
They also gave up using titles of all kinds. For, "my Lord Peter
and my Lord Paul are not to be found in the Bible." They refused
to take off their hats to any man, believing that that was a sign
of worship which belonged to God only. They refused also to take
oath of any kind, even the oath of allegiance to the King, because
Christ had said, "Swear not at all." They used "thee" and "thou"
instead of "you" in speaking to a single person (because they thought
it more simple and truthful), and they refused to say "goodnight"
or "goodmorrow," "for they knew night was good and day was good
without wishing either." There was a great deal that was good in
their religion and very little, it would seem, that was harmful,
but they were pronounced to be "mischievous and dangerous people."
Men did not understand the Quakers. And, as often happens when men
do not understand, they became afraid of them. Because they wore
black clothes and broad-brimmed hats they thought they must be
Jesuits in disguise. So ignorance bred fear, and fear brought forth
persecution, and on all sides the Quakers were hunted and reviled.
They were fined and imprisoned scourged and exiled and sold into
slavery. Then, like other persecuted people, they sought a refuge
in New England across the seas. But the people there were just as
ignorant as the people at home, and the Quakers found no kindly
The first Quakers to arrive in New England were two women. But
before they were allowed to land officers were sent on board the
ship to search their boxes. They found a great many books, which
they carried ashore, and while the women were kept prisoner on board
the ship the books were burned in the market place by the common
hangman. Then the women were brought ashore and sent to prison,
for no other reason than that they were Quakers.
No one was allowed to speak to them on pain of a fine of �5, and
lest any should attempt it even the windows of the prison were
boarded up. They were allowed no candle, and their pens, ink, and
paper were taken from them. They might have starved but that one
good old man named Nicholas Upshal, whose heart was grieved for
them, paid the gaoler to give them food. Thus they were kept until
a ship was ready to sail for England. Then they were put on board,
and the captain was made to swear that he would put them ashore
nowhere but in England.
"Such," says an old writer, "was the entertainment the Quakers first
met with at Boston, and that from a people who pretended that for
conscience' sake they had chosen the wilderness of America before
the well-cultivated Old England."
The next Quakers who arrived were treated much in the same fashion
and sent back to England; and a law was made forbidding Quakers
to come to the colony. At this time the same good old man who had
already befriended them was grieved. "Take heed," he said, "that
you be not found fighting against God, and so draw down a judgment
upon the land." But the men of Boston were seized with a frenzy of
hate and fear, and they banished this old man because he had dared
to speak kindly of the accursed sect."
It is true the men of New England had some excuse for trying to keep
the Quakers out of their colony. For some of them were foolish, and
tried to force their opinions noisily upon others. They interrupted
the Church services, mocked the magistrates and the clergy, and
some, carried away by religious fervour, behaved more like mad folk
than the disciples of a religion of love and charity.
Yet in spite of the law forbidding them to come, Quakers kept on
coming to the colony, and all who came were imprisoned, beaten,
and then thrust forth with orders never to return. But still they
came. So a law was made that any Quaker coming into the colony
should have one of his ears cut off; if he came again he should
have a second ear cut off; if he came a third time he should have
his tongue bored through with a hot iron.
But even this cruel law had no effect upon the Quakers. They heeded
it not, and came in as great or even greater numbers than before.
The people of Boston were in despair. They had no wise to be cruel;
indeed, many hated, and were thoroughly ashamed of, the cruel
laws, made against these strange people. But they were nevertheless
determined that Quakers should not come into their land. So now
they made a law that any Quaker who came to the colony and refused
to go away again when ordered should be hanged. This, they thought,
would certainly keep these pernicious folk away. But it did not.
For the Quakers were determined to prove to all the world that they
were free to go where they would, and that if they chose to come
to Boston no man-made laws should keep them out. So they kept on
coming. The magistrates knew not what to do. They had never meant
to hang any of them, but only to frighten them away. But having
made the law, they were determined to fulfil it, and five Quakers
were hanged, one of them a woman. But while the fifth was being
tried another Quaker named Christison, who had already been banished,
calmly walked into the court.
When they saw him the magistrates were struck dumb. For they saw
that against determination like this no punishment, however severe,
might avail. On their ears Christison's words fell heavily.
"I am come here to warn you, he cried, "that you should shed no more
innocent blood. For the blood that you have shed already cries to
the Lord God for vengeance to come upon you."
Nevertheless he too was seized and tried. But he defended himself
well. By what law will you put me to death?" he asked.
"We have a law," replied the magistrates, "and by our law you are
"So said the Jews to Christ," replied Christison: " 'We have a law,
and by our law you ought to die.' Who empowered you to make that
law? How! Have you power to make laws different from the laws of
"No," said the Governor.
"Then," said Christison, "you are gone beyond your bounds. Are you
subjects to the King? Yea or nay?"
"Yea, we are so."
"Well," said Christison, "so am I. Therefore, seeing that you and
I are subjects to the King, I demand to be tried by the laws of
my own nation. For I never heard, nor read, of any law that was in
England to hang Quakers."
Yet in spite of his brave defence Christison was condemned to
death. But the sentence was never carried out. For the people had
grown weary of these cruelties; even the magistrates, who for a
time had been carried away by blind hate, saw that they were wrong.
Christison and many of his friends who had lain in prison awaiting
trial were set free.
The Quakers, too, now found a strange friend in King Charles. For
the doings of the New Englanders in this matter reached even his
careless ears, and he wrote to his "Trusty and well-beloved" subjects
bidding them cease their persecutions, and send the Quakers back
to England to be tried. This the people of Massachusetts never did.
But henceforth the persecutions died down. And although from time
to time the Quakers were still beaten and imprisoned no more were
put to death. At length the persecution died away altogether and
the Quakers, allowed to live in peace, became quiet, hard-working
Chapter 28 - How Maine and New Hampshire Were Founded
North of Massachusetts two more colonies, New Hampshire and Maine,
were founded. But they were not founded by men who fled from tyranny,
but by statesmen and traders who realised the worth of America,
not by Puritans, but by Churchmen and Royalists. The two men who
were chiefly concerned in the founding of these colonies were Sir
Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason. They were both eager
colonists, and they both got several charters and patents from the
King, and from the New England Company.
It would be too confusing to follow all these grants and charters,
or all the attempts at settlements made by Mason and Gorges and
others. The land granted to them was often very vaguely outlined,
the fact being that the people who applied for the land, and those
who drew up the charters, had only the vaguest ideas concerning the
land in question. So the grants often overlapped each other, and
the same land was frequently claimed by two people, and of course
confusion and quarrels followed.
In 1629 Mason and Gorges, being friends, agreed to divide the province
of Maine between them, and Mason called his part New Hampshire,
after the county of Hampshire in England, of which he was fond.
Mason and Gorges each now had an enormous tract of land, but they
wanted still more.
The French, as you know, had already made settlements in Canada,
But just at this time that buccaneering sea captain, David Kirke,
besieged Quebec, took it and carried its brave governor, Champlain,
away prisoner. Now, as soon as they heard of this Gorges and Mason
asked the King to give them a grant of part of the conquered land,
for it was known to be a fine country for fur trade, and was also
believed to be rich in gold and silver mines. In answer to this
petition the King granted a great tract of land to Gorges and Mason.
This they called Laconia, because it was supposed to contain many
lakes. They never did much with it however, and in a few years
when peace was made with France it had all to be given back to the
Both Mason and Gorges spent a great deal of money trying to encourage
colonists to settle on their land, and the people of Massachusetts
were not at all pleased to have such powerful Churchmen for their
As has been said, land grants often overlapped, and part of the
land granted to Gorges and Mason was also claimed by Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts colonists insisted on their rights. Both Gorges
and Mason therefore became their enemies, and did their best
to have their charter taken away. To this end Gorges got himself
made Governor General of the whole of New England, with power to
do almost as he liked, and he made ready to set out for his new
domain with a thousand soldiers to enforce his authority.
When this news reached Massachusetts the whole colony was thrown
into a state of excitement. For in this appointment the settlers
saw the end of freedom, the beginning of tyranny. Both Gorges and
his friend Mason were zealous Churchmen and the Puritans felt sure
would try to force them all to become Churchmen also.
This the settlers determined to resist with all their might. So
they built forts round Boston Harbour and mounted cannon ready to
sink any hostile vessel which might put into port. In every village
the young men trained as soldiers, and a beacon was set up on
the highest point of the triple hill upon which Boston is built.
And daily these young men turned their eyes to the hill, for when
a light appeared there they knew it would be time to put on their
steel caps and corslets and march to defend their liberties. Ever
since the hill has been called Beacon Hill.
But the danger passed. The new ship which was being built for
Ferdinando Gorges mysteriously fell to pieces on the very launching
of it, and Captain Mason died. "He was the chief mover in all the
attempts against us," says Winthrop. "But the Lord, in His mercy,
taking him away, all the business fell on sleep."
But still Gorges did not give up his plans. He did not now go out
to New England himself as he had meant to do, but sent first his
nephew and then his cousin instead. They, however, did not trouble
Over the Province of Maine, Sir Ferdinando ruled supreme. He could
raise troops, make war, give people titles, levy taxes. No one
might settle down or trade in his province without his permission,
and all must look upon him as the lord of the soil and pay him
tribute. It was the feudal system come again, and Sir Ferdinando
Gorges was as near being a king as any ruler of America ever has
been. He drew up a most elaborate constitution, too, for his kingdom,
making almost more offices than there were citizens to fill them.
For, after all, his kingdom was a mere wilderness containing two
fishing villages and here and there a few scattered settlements.
And when the deputy governor arrived to rule this kingdom he found
his "palace" merely a broken-down store house with "nothing of
household stuff remaining but an old pot, a pair of tongs and a
couple of irons."
Thus side by side with the Puritan colonies of New England,
colonies which were almost republics, there was planted a feudal
state which was almost a monarchy. Of all the New England colonies,
New Hampshire and Maine were the only two which were not founded
for the sake of religion. For although the English Church was
established in both as the state religion that was merely because
the proprietors were of that Church. The colonies were founded for
the sake of trade and profit. But they grew very slowly.
In 1647 Sir Ferdinando Gorges died, and Maine was left much to
itself. For his son John took little interest in his father's great
estate. Thirty years later his grandson, another Ferdinando, sold
his rights to Massachusetts. From that time till 1820, when it
was admitted to the Union as a separate state, Maine was a part of
Neither did the heirs of Mason pay much attention to their estates
at first. And when they did there was a good deal of quarrelling
and a good deal of trouble, and at length they sold their rights
to twelve men, who were afterwards known as the Masonian Proprietors.
There was a great deal of trouble, too, before New Hampshire was
finally recognised as a separate colony. It was joined to Massachusetts
and separated again more than once. But at last, after many changes,
New Hampshire finally became a recognised separate colony. And
although Captain John Mason died long before this happened he has
been called the founder of New Hampshire.
"If the highest moral honour," it has been said, "belongs to founders
of states, as Bacon has declared, then Mason deserved it. To seize
on a tract of the American wilderness, to define its limits, to give
it a name, to plant it with an English colony, and to die giving
it his last thoughts among worldly concerns, are acts as lofty and
noble as any recorded in the history of colonisation."
Chapter 29 - The Founding of Connecticut and War with the Indians
Many of the people who founded Massachusetts Colony were well-to-do
people, people of good family, aristocrats in fact. They were men
accustomed to rule, accustomed to unquestioning obedience from their
servants and those under them. They believed that the few were meant
to rule, and the many meant to obey. The idea that every grown-up
person should have a share in the government never entered their
heads. Their Governor, Winthrop, was an aristocrat to the backbone.
He believed heartily in the government of the many by the few, and
made it as difficult as possible for citizens to obtain the right
But there were many people who were discontented with this
aristocratic rule. Among them was a minister named Thomas Hooker,
like John Harvard a graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
So, being dissatisfied, he and his congregation decided to move
away and found a new colony. They were the more ready to do this,
as the land round Boston was not fertile, and so many new settlers
had come, and their cattle and flocks had increased so rapidly,
that it was already difficult to find food and fodder for man and
beast. Adventurers who had traveled far afield had brought back
glowing reports of the beauty and fertility of the Connecticut
Valley, and there Hooker decided to settle.
But for several reasons many of the people of Massachusetts objected
to his going. He and his people, they said, would be in danger from
the Dutch, who already had a settlement there, and who claimed the
whole valley. They would also be in danger from the Indians, who
were known to be hostile, and lastly, they would be in danger from
the British Government because they had no charter permitting them
to settle in this land. The people at home, they said, "would not
endure they should sit down without a patent on any place which
our King lays claim unto."
The people of Massachusetts were keeping quiet and going along
steadily in their own way, without paying any heed to the British
Government. They wanted to be left alone, and they did not want
any one else to do things which might call attention to them.
And besides all this they were greatly troubled at the thought
of losing an eloquent preacher like Hooker. Every church was like
a candlestick giving light to the world. "And the removing of
a candlestick," they said, "is a great judgment, which is to be
But in spite of all arguments Hooker determined to go. So one June
morning he and his congregation set forth. They sent their furniture
by water and they themselves, both men and women, started to walk
the hundred miles, driving their cattle before them; only Mrs.
Hooker, who was ill, being carried in a litter.
They went slowly, allowing the cattle to graze by the wayside, living
chiefly on the milk of the cows and the wild fruits they found.
It was no easy journey, for their way led through the pathless
wilderness, their only guides being the compass and the sun. For in
those days we must remember that beyond the settlements the whole
of America was untrodden ground. Save the Indian trails there were
no roads. Here they had to fell trees and make a rough bridge to
cross a stream; there they hewed their way through bushy undergrowth.
Again they climbed steep hillsides or picked their way painfully
through swamps, suffering many discomforts and fatigues.
But there were delights, too, for the sky was blue above them:
birds sang to them night and morning, and wild flowers starred the
ground and scented the air. All day they marched beneath the sunny
blue sky, every evening they lit their watch-fires as a protection
against wild beasts and lay down to rest beneath the stars, for
"they had no cover but the heavens, nor any lodgings but those
which simple nature afforded them."
For a fortnight they journeyed thus through the wilderness. Then
they reached the Connecticut River and their journey's end. And
here they built a little town which they called Hartford.
Other communities followed the example of Hooker and his flock,
and Wethersfield and Windsor were built. At first all these towns
remained a part of Massachusetts in name at least. But after a time
the settlers met together at Hartford and, agreeing to form a little
republic of their own, they drew up a set of rules for themselves;
the chief difference from those of Massachusetts being that the
religious tests were done away with, and a man need no longer be a
member of a church in order to have the right to vote. It is also
interesting to remember that in these Fundamental Orders, as they
called their Constitution, there is no mention of the British
King or Government. These colonists had settled new land without a
charter, and they made laws without recognising any authority but
their own. Thus the Colony of Connecticut was founded.
Besides these towns, John Winthrop, the son of the Governor
of Massachusetts, founded a fort at the mouth of the Connecticut
River. For he saw it was a good place for trade with the Indians.
This fort was called SayeBrook after Lord Saye and Sele and Lord
Brook, two Puritan lords who had obtained a grant of land along
the Connecticut River.
But this new colony was very nearly wiped out as soon as begun.
For one of the dangers which the people of Massachusetts foretold
proved a very real one. This was the danger from the Indians. The
Indians are divided into several families, such as the Algonquins,
the Hurons, the Iroquois, each of these families again containing
many tribes. All the Indians in New England belonged to the Algonquin
family, but were, of course, divided into many tribes. One of these
tribes was called the Pequots. They were very powerful, and they
tyrannised over the other tribes round about. They hated the white
men, and whenever they had the opportunity they slew them.
The new Colony of Connecticut was far nearer their hunting-ground
than Massachusetts. It was a far easier prey, and from the very
beginning the Pequots harassed the settlers. They made no open
attack, but skulked about, murdering men and women, now here, now
there, appearing suddenly and vanishing again as swiftly.
This sort of thing could not be endured, and the English determined
to put a stop to it. So messengers were sent to the Indians to
demand that the murderers should be given up to the English. When
the Indians saw the English boats appear they did not seem in the
least afraid, but came running along the water-side shouting, "What
cheer, Englishmen, what cheer? What do you come for?"
But the Englishmen would not answer.
And the Pequots, never thinking that the Englishmen meant war, kept
running on beside the boats as they sailed up the river.
"What cheer, Englishmen, what cheer?" they kept repeating. "Are
you angry? Will you kill us? Do you come to fight?"
But still the Englishmen would not answer.
Then the Indians began to be afraid. And that night they built
great fires on either side of the river, fearing lest the Englishmen
might land in the darkness. All night long, too, they kept up a
most doleful howling, calling to each other and passing the word
on from place to place to gather the braves together.
Next morning early they sent an ambassador to the English captain.
He was a big, splendid-looking man, very grave and majestic. "Why
do you come here?" he asked.
"I have come," answered the captain, "to demand the heads of those
who have slain our comrades. It is not the habit of the English to
suffer murderers to live. So if you desire peace and welfare give
us the heads of the murderers."
"We knew not," answered the wily Indian, "that any of our braves
had slain any of yours. It is true we have slain some white men. But
we took them to be Dutch. It is hard for us to know the difference
between Dutch and English."
"You know the difference between Dutch and English quite well,"
answered the captain sternly. "And therefore seeing you have slain
the King of England's subjects, we come to demand vengeance for
"We knew no difference between the Dutch and English," declared
the Indian. "They are both strangers to us, and we took them to be
all one. Therefore we crave pardon. We have not wilfully wronged
"That excuse will not do," insisted the captain. "We have proof
that you know the English from the Dutch. We must have the heads of
those persons who have slain our men, or else we will fight you."
Then, seeing that he could not move the English captain from his
determination, the ambassador asked leave to go back to his chief,
promising to return speedily with his answer. He was allowed to go;
but as he did not return very soon the Englishmen followed. Seeing
this, the ambassador hurried to them, begging them not to come
nearer, and saying that his chief could not be found, as he had
gone to Long Island.
"That is not true," replied the English. "We know he is here. So
find him speedily or we will march through the country and spoil
Hour after hour went past; the Englishmen always patiently waiting;
the wily Indian always inventing some new excuse for delay. But
at length the patience of the English was exhausted, and, beating
their drums, they charged the savages. Some were killed, and, the
rest fleeing, the English burned their wigwams and destroyed their
corn, and carried off their mats and baskets as booty.
But the Pequots were not in the least subdued, and more than ever
they harassed the colonists of Connecticut. So the men of Connecticut
sent to Massachusetts and to Plymouth asking for help. The people
of Plymouth, however, said the quarrel was none of theirs and sent
no help, but from Massachusetts about twenty men were sent. Besides
this, a few friendly Indians, glad at the chance of punishing their
old tyrants, joined with the white men.
So one moonlight night the little company embarked, and, sailing
along the coast, landed at a spot about two days' journey from the
Pequot fort. As they got near to it most of the Indians who had come
with the English took fright and ran away. So less than a hundred
Englishmen were left to attack seven hundred Indians.
A little before dawn they reached the fort. The Indians were
all sleeping and keeping no guard, so the Englishmen quietly took
possession of both entrances to the fort.
Then suddenly through the still morning air the sharp sound of a
volley of musketry rang out "as though the finger of God had touched
both match and flint." Affrighted, the Indians sprang from their
sleep yelling in terror. They scarce had time to seize their bows
and arrows when, sword in hand, the Englishmen stormed into the
fort. A fierce fight followed, showers of arrows fell upon the
Englishmen, but they did little hurt, and glanced off for the most
part harmless from their thick buff coats and steel corslets.
During the fight some of the huts were set on fire, and soon the
whole village was a roaring mass of flames. Many perished miserably
in the fire, others who fled from it were cut down by the Englishmen,
or escaping them, fell into the hands of their own countrymen. They
found no mercy, for they had given none; and, remembering the awful
tortures which their fellow-countrymen had suffered, the Englishmen
had no compassion on their murderers.
Ere an hour had passed the fight was over. Out of four hundred
Indians not more than five escaped. The Pequots were utterly wiped
out and their village a heap of smoking ruins. Never before had
such terrible vengeance overtaken any Indian tribe. And all the
other tribes were so frightened and amazed that for forty years
there was peace in New England. For no Redmen dare attack these
Chapter 30 - The Founding of New Haven
In spite of the menace of the Redmen, Englishmen continued to settle
in the land they claimed. Even while the Pequot war was going on
a new colony had been founded, still further south upon the shores
of New England. This colony was founded by a minister named John
John Davenport had fled from persecution in England, and, followed
by his congregation, including many wealthy people, had sought,--like
so many other Puritans,--a refuge in New England. The newcomers
however, would not join the other Puritans, but decided to found a
colony all to themselves which should be ruled only by laws found
in the Bible. They called their settlement New Haven, and here
the law that none but church members should vote was very strictly
Each of the towns was governed by seven men known as the Pillars of
the Church. These men served as judges, but no juries were allowed,
because no mention of them is found in the Bible. The laws were
very strict, but the famous pretended "Blue Laws" of New Haven,
which people used to make fun of, never existed. In these it was
pretended that there were such absurd laws as, "No one shall cook,
make beds, sweep house, cut hair or shave on the Sabbath. No woman
shall kiss her child on the Sabbath or fasting day. No one shall
keep Christmas, make minced pies, dance, play cards or play on any
instrument of music except the drum, trumpet or jew's-harp." Some
of the old Puritan laws seem to us indeed quaint enough, but there
are none quite so absurd as these. They were invented by an early
"tourist," who sought to make fun of these earnest, God-fearing
The New Haven colonists, like those of Connecticut, had no charter
from the King of England. They settled the land not by agreement
with him, but by agreement with the Indians.
Davenport and his followers bought the land upon which they settled
from the Indians. To one chief they gave "twelve coats of English
trucking cloth, twelve alchemy spoons, twelve hatchets, twelve hoes,
two dozen of knives, twelve porringers, and four cases of French
knives and scissors." To another, "eleven coats of trucking cloth,
and one coat of English cloth."
The agreement was all duly and properly written out and signed by
the chiefs, but, of course, as the chiefs could not write they made
their marks. The first agreement was signed not only by the chief
and his council, but also by the chief's sister.
We have now heard of seven New England colonies being founded.
But later on, as we shall see, Plymouth joined with Massachusetts,
and New Haven with Connecticut, thus making only five New England
colonies as we know them today. And of those five, one (Maine) was
not recognised as a separate colony but as part of Massachusetts
after 1677. It remained part of Massachusetts until 1820, when it
entered the Union as a state.
Meanwhile Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Plymouth, Connecticut,
and New Haven all joined together, promising to help each other in
case of war with the Indians, Dutch, or French, who were constant
dangers to them all alike. They called themselves the United Colonies
of New England. This union, however, was only for defence. Each
colony was still quite independent of the others and managed its
own affairs as before. It was only the first shadow of the great
Union which was to come many years later. It was also one more proof
that the colonies were growing up and thinking for themselves for
they asked no one's leave to form this union. They thought it was
necessary to their safety, so they entered into it. Only Rhode
Island was not asked to join; there was still too much bitterness
over religious matters between the settlers there and in the other
There were no more Puritan colonies founded, for Puritans ceased
now to come to New England in large numbers. The reason was that the
great fight between King and People, between Cavalier and Puritan
had begun in old England. And when the Puritans won, and could have
their own way at home, they were no longer so eager to set forth
to seek a New England beyond the seas. So the Puritans ceased to
cross the seas, and as we have seen, in their place many Cavaliers
came to Virginia.
Chapter 31 - The Hunt for the Regicides
The Commonwealth of England did not last long. In 1660 King Charles
II was restored. England then became an unsafe abode for all those
who had helped to condemn Charles I to death, and two of those men,
General Edward Whalley and William Goffe, fled to America. They
were kindly received by the Puritans of Boston, and after a time
they moved on to New Haven. But even in America they were not safe,
and Royalist messengers were sent from England to arrest them, and
take them home to be tried.
The Governor of Massachusetts pretended to be very eager to help
these messengers. In reality he did nothing to help, but hindered
them, rather. News of the search for the fugitives soon reached
New Haven, and at once the people there helped them to hide. For
their minister, John Davenport, had bidden them to "hide the outcasts
and betray not him that wandereth."
Goffe and Whalley knew that the people of New Haven would not betray
them. But lest their enemies should gain any inkling of their being
there they left the town and, going to another, showed themselves
openly. Then secretly by night they returned to New Haven.
For a whole month they lay hid there in the cellars of the minister's
house. But soon that refuge became no longer safe, for the men in
search of them had, in spite of their strategy, traced them to New
Haven and set out to arrest them.
One Saturday the Royalists reached Guilford, not sixteen miles
away. Here they demanded horses from the Governor to take them on
to New Haven. But the Governor had little desire to help them. So
with one excuse after another he put them off until it was too late
to start that night. The next day was Sunday, and it was strictly
against the laws of Puritan New England to ride or drive on Sunday
save to church. So the Royalist messengers, chafing with impatience,
might bribe and command as much as they liked; not a man would stir
a hand to help them till Monday morning.
Meanwhile a messenger was speeding on his way to New Haven to warn
the Parliamentarians. And while their pursuers were kicking their
heels in enforced idleness they slipped away, and found a new hiding
place in a mill some miles off. But even this was thought not to
be safe, and they fled once more, and at length found refuge in a
cave deep in the forest.
So on Monday when at length the Royalists arrived, the birds had
flown. The minister owned that they had been there, but declared
that they had vanished away, no man knowing when or whither.
The Royalists scoured the country far and wide in search of the
fugitives. But their efforts were in vain. They were very much in
earnest, but they were strangers, and they did not know the country.
No one would help them in their search, and at length, very angry
with the people of New Haven, they gave it up and returned to
Then, having spent several months in their cave, the Parliamentarians
crept forth again. For two years they lived hidden in a friendly
house. The King, however, was not satisfied, and after two years
messengers again came out from England, and the search was again
begun, more eagerly than before. Again, however, Goffe and Whalley
were warned, and again they fled to the cave.
Here they lived in safety while the Royalists swept the country
round in search of them. But they had many narrow escapes.
Once when they had left the shelter of their cave they were almost
caught. Their pursuers were upon their heels, and to reach the cave
without being taken prisoner seemed impossible. As the two men fled
before their foes they came to a little river crossed by a wooden
bridge. It was their last hope. Instead of crossing the bridge
they crept beneath it, and crouched close to the water. On came
the pursuers. They made no pause. Their horses thundered across
the bridge and galloped away and away, while beneath the fugitives
waited breathlessly. Then when all was quiet again they crept back
to the shelter of their cave.
But at length the cave became a safe retreat no longer, for it
was discovered by the Indians. And the fugitives, afraid lest the
Indians, tempted by the large reward offered, might betray their
hiding-place, resolved to seek another.
By this time the fury of the search for them had somewhat abated
and another minister, John Russell, offered them a refuge in his
house. This minister lived at a place called Hadley. Hadley was
many miles from New Haven. It was a lonely settlement on the edge
of the wilderness, and to reach it about a hundred miles of pathless
forest had to be crossed. But with stout hearts the hunted men
set out. By day they lay hidden in some friendly house, or in some
lonely cave or other refuge. By night they journeyed onward. At
length they reached their new hiding-place.
It was wonderfully contrived. The minister had lately made some
alterations in his house, and in doing so he had made a safe retreat.
In the attic there was a large cupboard with doors opening into
rooms on either side. In the floor of the cupboard there was a trap
door which led down into another dark cupboard below, and from
there a passage led to the cellar. So that, should the house be
searched, any one in the upper rooms could slip into the cupboard,
from there reach the cellar, and thus escape. Here the regicides
now took up their abode. And so well was their secret kept that
they lived there for ten or fifteen years, their presence being
unsuspected even by the inhabitants of the little town.
Henceforth the world was dead to them, and they were dead to the world.
They were both soldiers. On many a field of battle,-Gainsborough,
Marston, Naseby, Worcester, and Dunbar,-they had led their men to
victory. They had been Members of Parliament, friends of the Great
Protector, and had taken part in all the doings of these stirring
Now all that was over. Now no command, no power was left to them.
The years went by, dragging their slow length of days, and bringing
no change or brightness to the lives of these two men who lived
in secret and alone. It was a melancholy life, the monotony only
broken by visits from the minister, or a few other friends, who
brought them all the gossip and news of the town. These were but
small matters. But to the two men shut off from all other human
beings they seemed of rare interest.
After ten years Whalley died. It is believed that he was buried
in the cellar of the house in which for so long he had found a
hiding-place. Then, for five years or so more, Goffe dragged out
his life alone.
As one might imagine, the King was not at all pleased with
Massachusetts and New Haven for thus sheltering the regicides; and
in 1665 he suppressed New Haven as a separate colony and joined it
The New Haven people did not like this at all, and they fought
against it with all their might. But at length they gave way and
The King was angry with Massachusetts, too, not only for protecting
the regicides, but also because of what is known as the Declaration
of Rights. In this the people of Massachusetts acknowledged the King
as their ruler. But they also made it plain that so long as they
did not make laws which ran counter to English laws they expected
to be let alone. This made King Charles angry, and if it had not
been that he was busy fighting with Holland very likely the people
of Massachusetts would have had to suffer for their boldness at
once. As it was they were left in peace a little longer.
Chapter 32 - King Philip's War
Meanwhile the people of New England had another foe to fight.
You remember that the Pilgrim Fathers had made a treaty with the
Indians when they first arrived. As long as the old Chief Massasoit
lived he kept that treaty. But now he was dead, and his son Philip
You will wonder, perhaps, why an Indian chief should have a name
like Philip. But Philip's real name was Metacomet. He, however,
wanted to have an English name, and to please him the English called
him Philip. And by that name he is best known.
For a time all went well. But very soon Philip and his tribe grew
restless and dissatisfied. When they saw the white men coming in
always greater and greater numbers, and building towns and villages
further and further into the land, they began to fear them and long
to drive them away. And at length all their thoughts turned to war.
Friendly Indians and "praying Indians," as those who had become
Christians were called, came now to warn the Pale-faces and tell
them that Philip was gathering his braves, and that he had held a
war dance lasting for several weeks. In the night, too, people in
lonely farms awoke to hear the wild sound of drums and gun shots.
But still the English hoped to pacify Philip. So they sent him a
friendly letter telling him to send away his braves, for no white
man wished him ill.
But Philip returned no answer.
Then one Sunday while the people were at church and the houses were
all deserted Indians attacked the little town of Swansea, burning
and plundering. The next day and the next they returned, tomahawk
and firebrand in hand, and so the war began.
Other tribes joined with King Philip, and soon New England was
filled with terror and bloodshed. The men of New England gathered
in force to fight the Indians. But they were a hard foe to fight,
for they never came out to meet the Pale-faces in open field.
At first when the British began to settle in America they had made
it a rule never to sell firearms to the Indians. But that rule had
long ago been broken through. Now the Indians not only had guns,
but many of them were as good shots as the British. Yet they kept
to their old ways of fighting, and, stealthily as wild animals, they
skulked behind trees, or lurked in the long grass, seeking their
enemies. They knew all the secret forest ways, they were swift of
foot, untiring, and mad with the lust of blood. So from one lonely
village to another they sped swiftly a the eagle, secretly as the
fox. And where they passed they left a trail of blood and ashes.
At night around some lonely homestead all would seem quiet. Far as
the eye could see there would be no slightest sign of any Redman,
and the tired labourer would go to rest feeling safe, with his
wife and children beside him. But ere the first red streaks of dawn
shivered across the sky he would be awakened by fiendish yells.
Ere he could seize his gun the savages would be upon him. And the
sun when it rose would show only blackened, blood-stained ruins
where but a few hours before a happy home had been.
Yet with this red terror on every side the people went on quietly
with their daily life. On week days they tilled their fields and
minded their herds, on Sundays they went, as usual, to church,
leaving their homes deserted. But even to church they went armed,
and while they knelt in prayer or listened to the words of their
pastor their guns were ever within reach of their hands.
One Sunday, while in the village of Hadley the people were all
at church, the Indians crept up in their usual stealthy fashion.
Suddenly the alarm was given, and, seizing their guns which stood
by their sides, the men rushed out of the meeting-house. But they
were all in confusion: the attack was sudden, they were none of
them soldiers, but merely brave men ready to die for their homes
and their dear ones, and they had and they had no leader.
Then suddenly a stranger appeared amongst them. He was dressed
in quaint old-fashioned clothes. His hair and beard were long and
streaked with grey. He was tall and soldierly, and his eyes shone
with the joy of battle.
At once he took command. Sharply his orders rang out. Unquestioningly
the villagers obeyed, for he spoke as one used to command. They were
no longer an armed crowd, but a company of soldiers, and, fired by
the courage and skill of their leader, they soon put the Indians
When the fight was over the men turned to thank their deliverer.
But he was nowhere to be found. He had vanished as quickly and
mysteriously as he had come.
"What did it mean?" they asked. "Who was the strange leader? Had
God in His mercy sent an angel from heaven to their rescue ?"
No one could answer their questions, and many decided that indeed
a miracle had happened, and that God had sent an angel to deliver
This strange leader was no other than the regicide, Colonel Goffe,
who, as we know, had for many years lived hidden in the minister's
house. From his attic window he had seen the Indians creeping
stealthily upon the village. And when he saw the people standing
leaderless and bewildered, he had been seized with his old fighting
spirit, and had rushed forth to lead them. Then, the danger being
over, he had slipped quietly back to his hiding-place. There he
remained hidden from all the world as before, until he died and
was buried beside his friend.
Autumn passed and winter came, and the Indians gathered to their
forts, for the bare forests gave too little protection to them in
their kind of warfare. When spring came they promised themselves
to come forth again and make an end of the Pale-faces. But the
Pale-faces did not wait for spring.
The Indians had gathered to the number of over three thousand
into a strong fortress. It was surrounded by a marsh and the only
entrance was over a bridge made by a fallen tree.
This fortress the New Englanders decided to attack and take. So,
a thousand strong, they set out one morning before dawn and, after
hours of weary marching through the snow, they reached the fort.
Across the narrow bridge they rushed, and although many of their
leaders fell dead, the men came on, nothing daunted. A fierce fight
followed, for each side knew that they must win or die. Shut in on
all sides by impassable swamps there was no escape. But not till
dark was falling did the white men gain the victory. The ground
was strewn with dead and dying, and in the gathering darkness the
remaining Indians stole quietly away, and vanished like shadows.
Then the New Englanders set fire to the wigwams, and, taking their
wounded, marched back to their headquarters.
This was a sad blow to the Indians, but it did not by any means end
the war which, as spring came on, broke out again in full fury. But
gradually the white men got the upper hand. Instead of attacking,
the Redmen fled before them. They lost heart and began to blame King
Philip for having led them into war, and at length he was slain by
one of his own followers.
Soon after this the war came to an end. But whole tracts of New
England were a desert, a thousand of the bravest and best of the
young men were killed. Many women and children, too, had been slain,
and there was hardly a fireside in the whole of Massachusetts where
there was not a vacant place. Numbers of people were utterly ruined
and the colonies were burdened with a great debt.
As to the Indians their power was utterly broken, and their tribes
were almost wiped out. Except the Mohegans, who had remained
friendly throughout the war, there were few Indians left in south
New England, where there was never again a war between white men
Chapter 33 - How The Charter of Connecticut Was Saved
Meanwhile King Charles had not forgotten his anger against the
people of Massachusetts. Besides the fact that they had harboured
the regicides, he had many other reasons for being angry with them.
For they refused to obey the Navigation Laws, and they refused to
allow the Church of England to be established within the colony.
They had coined money of their own, never made their officials
swear allegiance to the throne, and had done many things just as
In fact Massachusetts seemed to Charles like a badly brought-up
child, who, having come to manhood, wants to go his own way and
cares nothing for the wishes or commands of his parents. He made
up his mind not to have any more of this disobedience, and he took
away the charter and made Massachusetts a Crown Colony. Thus after
fifty-five years of practical freedom Massachusetts once more
belonged to the King of England, by right of the discovery of John
and Sebastian Cabot. Of course, the people of Massachusetts fought
against this as hard as they could, but their struggle was useless,
and a royal Governor was appointed to rule the colony.
Almost immediately, however, Charles died, and it was not until his
brother, James II, was on the throne that Sir Edmund Andros came
out as royal Governor. He came not only as Governor of Massachusetts
but as Governor of all the New England Colonies. For the King wanted
to make an end of all these separate colonies and unite them into
one great province.
Andros soon made himself very much disliked, for he tried to rule
New England too much as his master tried to rule Great Britain. He
levied taxes as he pleased, he imprisoned innocent men if he chose,
he allowed nothing to be printed without his permission, he seized
lands and goods at will.
All New England felt the weight of the Governor's hand. He demanded
Rhode Island's charter. But the Governor of Rhode Island replied
that the weather was so bad he really could not send it. So Sir
Edmund went to Rhode Island, dissolved its government and smashed
To Connecticut also Sir Edmund wrote in vain, demanding its charter.
The men of Connecticut were, it seemed to him, an unruly lot. So
one October day in 1687 he set out to visit this rebellious state
and subdue it to his will.
He arrived in Hartford with a great train of gentlemen and soldiers.
They made a mighty stir in the little town as they rode, jingling
and clanking through the quiet streets, and drew rein before the
state house. Into the chamber where the Council sat strode Andros
looking pompous and grand in lace, and velvet, and a great flowing
wig. Up to the table he strode, and in tones of haughty command,
demanded the charter.
But the men of Connecticut would not lightly give up the sign of
their beloved liberty. They talked and argued and persuaded. They
spoke of the hardships they had endured, of the blood they had
poured forth to keep their freedom in their new found homes, upon
the edge of the wilderness.
But with such a man as Andros all appeals, all persuasions were in
vain. To every argument he had but one answer,-he must and would
have the charter.
Long and long the argument lasted. The day drew to a close and
twilight fell. Through the dusky gloom men could hardly see each
other's flushed, excited faces. Lights were called for, and candles
were brought. Some were placed upon the table beside the metal box
in which lay the charter. Still the debate went on, either side as
unbending as before. Now many citizens, anxious to know how things
went, slipped into the room and stood behind the members, listening
as the debate was flung this way and that. Outside the night was
dark, within the woodpanelled room the flickering candles shed but
a dim, uncertain light.
They made strange dancing shadows, shining fitfully on the stern,
eager faces of the men who sat round the table, but scarcely
revealing against the gloom the crowd of anxious citizens behind.
Sir Edmund was weary of the talk. He would have no more of it, and,
suddenly rising, he stretched out his hand to seize the charter.
Then, swiftly from out the shadowy circle of listeners, a cloak was
flung upon the table. It fell upon the candles and put them out.
In a moment the room was in total darkness.
There was an outcry and a scuffling of feet, the sound of an opening
window, a call for lights. But lights were no such speedy matters
in those days when matches had not been invented. When at length
the scratching of the tinder boxes was done and the candles relit,
every one looked eagerly at the table. Behold, the charter was
Sir Edmund stormed, and citizens and councilors looked blankly at
each other. But meanwhile through the darkness a man sped. In his
hand he held a parchment, and he never halted in his run till he
reached a great oak tree. This oak he knew was hollow. Reaching it
he thrust the parchment deep into the hole and carefully covered it
up with dried leaves and bark. Thus was the charter of Connecticut
The man who saved it was Captain Wadsworth. Ever afterwards the
tree was called the Charter Oak, and until about sixty years ago
it stood a memorial of his deed. But some wise folk say this story
of the Charter Oak is all a fairy tale. That may be so. But it
deserves to be true.
Yet though the men of Connecticut may have succeeded in saving the
sign and symbol of their freedom, they could not save the reality.
For whether Sir Edmund Andros was in possession of their charter
or not he stamped upon their liberties just the same. In the public
record the secretary wrote: "His Excellency Sir Edmund Andros,
Knight Captain General and Governor of His Majesty's Territory and
Dominion in New England, by order from his Majesty, King of England,
Scotland and Ireland, the 31st of October, 1687, took into his
hands the government of this Colony, of Connecticut, it being by
his Majesty annexed to the Massachusetts and other Colonies under
his Excellency's Government.
"Finis, " as you know, means "the end." And one cannot but feel
sorry for that stern, old, freedom loving Puritan gentleman who
wrote the words. For indeed to him the loss of freedom must have
seemed the end of all things.
Sir Edmund's rule, however, did not last long. For the British
soon grew tired of James II and his tyrannous ways, and they asked
Prince William of Orange to come and be their King. William came,
the people received him with delight, King James fled away to France,
and the "glorious Revolution," as it was called, was accomplished.
When the news reached New England there, too, was a little revolution.
One spring morning there was a great commotion among the people of
Boston. There was beating of drums, noise and shouting, and much
running to and fro of young men carrying clubs. Soon it was seen that
the city was in arms. The men marched to the castle, and demanded
its surrender. And Andros, knowing himself to be helpless, yielded,
though not without some "stomachful reluctances." The proud
Governor's rule was at an end. He was taken prisoner, and through
the streets where he had ridden in splendour he was now led a
captive. Then the colonies set about restoring their governments
as they had been before Sir Edmund Andros came.
But Andros had no mind to remain a prisoner. He and his friends
who were imprisoned with him had a good deal of freedom. They were
locked into their rooms at night, but during the day they were
allowed to walk about anywhere within sight of the sentries, and
their friends were allowed to come to see them quite freely. It
would not be difficult to escape, thought Andros, and he resolved
to do it. So he bribed one of his jailers, and, having procured
woman's clothes, he dressed himself in them and calmly walked out
of his prison.
He passed two sentries safely. But the third looked sharply at the
tall woman who strode along so manfully. He looked at her boots. At
once the sentry's suspicions were aroused; for Sir Edmund had not
thought of changing them. No woman ever wore such boots as these,
thought the sentry, and he challenged and stopped her. Then, peering
beneath the rim of her bonnet, he saw no bashful woman's face, but
the well-known features of the Governor.
So back to prison Andros went. After this he was not allowed so
much freedom. But again he tried to escape, and this time he was
more successful. He got not only out of Boston, but out of the
colony. Once more, however, he was recognised and brought back.
The whole of New England had been agog with excitement, but at
length things began to calm down, and "the world moved on in its
old orderly pace," says a writer of the times.
In the midst of this calm two ships arrived from England with an
order to those in power to proclaim William and Mary King and Queen.
Then the colonies went mad with joy. From far and near the people
flocked to Boston. Bells were rung, bonfires blazed, and after
a great procession through the streets there was feasting at the
Townhall. Thus "with joy, splendour, appearance and unanimity, as
had never before been seen in these territories," were William and
Sir Edmund Andros was now sent home to England a prisoner. But King
William was not altogether pleased with all the colonists had done,
and he was set free without any trial. He was not really a bad man,
but he was dogged and pig-headed, without sympathy or imagination,
and altogether the wrong man in the wrong place. Later on he came
back to America as Governor of Virginia, and this time he did much
Meanwhile several changes were made in New England. Rhode Island
and Connecticut kept their old charters, to which they had clung
so lovingly. New Hampshire, too, remained a separate colony. But
Plymouth, sad to say, that gallant little colony founded by the Pilgrim
Fathers lost separate existence and became part of Massachusetts.
Maine and even Nova Scotia, lately won from the French, were for
the meantime also joined to Massachusetts.
Massachusetts was now a great colony and received a new charter.
But things were not the same. The colony was now a royal province,
and the Governor was no longer appointed by the people, but by the
King. This chafed the people greatly, for they felt that their old
freedom was gone. So for a time the history of Massachusetts was
hardly more than a dreary chronicle of quarrels and misunderstandings
between Governor and people.
Chapter 34 - The Witches of Salem
We have all read stories about witches, but we do not really believe
in them. They are exciting enough to read about, but we know they
are merely bad-fairy sort of folk who are only to be met with in
books, and not in real life. We should be very much astonished, and
rather frightened perhaps, if we thought that witches were real,
and that we might some day meet one.
But in those far-off days more than two hundred years ago very
many people believed in witches. Although not always so, it was
generally very old people, people who had grown ugly and witless
with age who were accused of being witches. In almost any village
might be seen poor old creatures, toothless, hollow cheeked,
wrinkled, with nose and chin almost meeting. Bent almost double,
they walked about with a crutch, shaking and mumbling as they went.
If any one had an ache or a pain it was easily accounted for. For
why, they were bewitched! The poor old crone was the witch who had
"cast the evil eye" upon them. And sometimes these poor creatures
were put to death for their so-called deeds of witchcraft.
People believed that these witches sold themselves to the Evil One,
and that he gave them power to harm other people. And what made
them more dangerous was the fact that they did not need to go near
people to harm them, but could do evil at a distance by thinking
wicked thoughts, or saying wicked words. Some even of the most
saintly and most learned people, believed in witches and witchcraft.
So there is nothing surprising in the fact that suddenly, in 1692,
whole towns and villages of New England were thrown into a ferment
of terror by stories of witchcraft.
It came about quite simply. Two little girls of nine and eleven, the
niece and daughter of a minister named Samuel Parris, who lived in
Salem village, began suddenly to behave in a most curious manner.
They would creep into holes, hide under chairs and benches, twist
themselves into queer positions, make curious gestures and weird
noises, and talk arrant nonsense. Their parents knew not what to
make of it, and so they called in the doctors. Nowadays a clever
doctor would have found out pretty soon that the children were
merely pretending and playing a foolish trick upon their elders.
But in those days doctors were not very wise, and they knew not
what to make of this new and strange disease. One of them, however,
said he thought that the children must be bewitched.
That was a terrible thought, and at once the minister called in all
the other ministers from round about and they spent a day fasting
and praying that the children might be released from the evil
enchantment. All the neighbours, too, came crowding to the house,
eager to hear about the dreadful happenings. And the children,
finding themselves all at once people of the first importance, and
no doubt enjoying the fuss which was being made, went on more than
ever with their mad antics.
It was quite plain to every one that the children were bewitched. But
who had done it? Every day the children were asked this question,
and at length they accused a poor old Indian woman, who was a servant
in the family. And the poor old creature was beaten and terrified
until she actually confessed that she was a witch, and in league
with the Evil One.
Perhaps the children had a spite against the old woman, perhaps they
did not realise at first how wicked and cruel they were. Certainly
when they found what excitement they caused, and how interesting
they had become to every one they forgot all else. They became
bolder now and accused other old women. Soon more and older girls
joined them, and many innocent people, both men and women, were
accused by them of witchcraft.
They did all sorts of things to make people believe in these
accusations. As soon as an old woman was brought in they would
fall down on the ground screaming. If she moved they would cry out
that she was crushing them to death; if she bit her lip they would
declare that she was biting them and so on. They told strange
tales, too, of how they had been made to write in a long, thick, red
book,--the book of the Evil One. They talked a jumble of nonsense
about a Black Man, a black dog and a yellow bird. They would seem
to fall down in fits or to be struck dumb. And they so worked upon
the superstitious fears of those present that at length both judges
and jury, carried away by mysterious terror, would condemn the old
woman to death.
Soon a kind of madness took possession of the people. Person after
person was accused; wrongs and misfortunes ten or even twenty years
old were remembered, and charged to this person or that. No man or
woman was safe. Neither age nor youth, beauty, learning nor goodness
were any safeguard. Not only the good name, but the very life of
every Man was at the mercy of every other man. Terror and mistrust
stalked abroad, and entered every home. Parents accused their
children, children their parents, husbands and wives turned against
each other until the prisons were filled to overflowing.
It was quite useless for the prisoners to declare that they were
innocent. Few believed them. If any did they hardly dare say so,
lest they should find themselves accused in their turn and lodged
in prison. Yet at length some were brave enough to stand by their
One determined young man with great difficulty succeeded in rescuing
his mother from prison. In getting out the poor woman broke her
leg, but her son lifted her on to his horse and carried her away
to a swamp near by. Here he built her a hut and brought her food
and kept her safe until all danger was passed.
One or two other men escaped with their wives and fled beyond the
borders of the colony. Twenty, however, were put to death by hanging,
among them a minister. All these twenty to the last declared their
innocence. Many others, strange to say, confessed to being witches.
They confessed because they were terrified into it. Many confessed
because they saw that by so doing they might save their lives. But
some, having confessed, were so distressed at having lied that they
took back their confession. Then they were hanged without mercy.
For a year this terrible madness lasted. Then it passed as suddenly
as it had come. The people awoke again to their right senses. The
prison doors were opened and the poor innocent people were set
free. The wicked children who had accused them were never punished
unless their own hearts punished them. One of them at least repented
bitterly, and years later openly acknowledged her sorrow for her
share in the sad business.
The minister in whose house the persecution began was punished. For