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- A Brief History of the United States - 10/72 -


PLYMOUTH COLONY.

SETTLEMENT.--_Landing of the Pilgrims._--One stormy day in the fall of 1620, the Mayflower, with a band of a hundred pilgrims, came to anchor in Cape Cod harbor. The little company, gathering in the cabin, drew up a compact, in which they agreed to enact just and equal laws, which all should obey. One of their exploring parties landed at Plymouth, as it was called on Smith's chart, December 21.

[Footnote: The exact number of the pilgrims was 102.]

[Footnote: This was Dec. 11, Old Style. In 1752, eleven days were added to correct an error in the calendar, thus making this date the 22d. Only 10 days, however, should have been allowed, and therefore the correct date is the 21st, New Style.]

Finding the location suitable for a settlement, they all came ashore, and amid a storm of snow and sleet commenced building their rude huts.

[Footnote: They were called _Pilgrims_ because of their wanderings. About seventy years before this time the state religion of England had been changed from Catholic to Protestant; but a large number of the clergy and people were dissatisfied with what they thought to be a half-way policy on the part of the new church, and called for a more complete purification from old observances and doctrines. For this, they were called Puritans. They still believed in a state church, that is, that the _nation_ of England was the _church_ of England; and that the queen, as the head of both, could appoint church officers and prescribe the form of religious worship. They, however, wanted a change, and desired the government to make it to suit them. The government not only refused, but punished the Puritan clergy for not using the prescribed form of worship. This led some of them to question the authority of the government in religious matters. They came to believe that any body of Christians might declare themselves a church, choose their own officers, and be independent of all external authority. When they began to form these local churches, they separated themselves from the Church of England, and for this reason are called Separatists and Independents. One of these churches of Separatists was at Scrooby, in the east of England. Not being allowed to worship in peace, they fled to Holland (1608), where they lived twelve years. But evil influences surrounded their children, and they longed for a land where they might worship God in their own way and save their families from worldly follies. America offered such a home. They came, resolved to brave every danger, trusting to God to shape their destinies.]

[Footnote: The little shallop sent out to reconnoitre before landing, lost, in a furious storm, its rudder, mast, and sail. Late at night, the party sought shelter under the lee of a small island. They spent the next day in cleaning their rusty weapons and drying their wet garments. Every hour was precious, as the season was late and their companions in the Mayflower were waiting their return; but "being ye last day of ye week, they prepared there to keepe ye Sabbath." No wonder that the influence of such a people has been felt throughout the country, and that "Forefathers' Rock," on which they first stepped, is yet held in grateful remembrance.]

THE CHARACTER of the Pilgrim settlers was well suited to the rugged, stormy land which they sought to subdue. They had come into the wilderness with their families in search of a home where they could educate their children and worship God as they pleased. They were earnest, sober-minded men, actuated in all things by deep religious principle, and never disloyal to their convictions of duty.

THEIR SUFFERINGS during the winter were severe. At one time there were only seven well persons to take care of the sick. Half of the little band died. Yet when spring came, not one of the company thought of returning to England.

THE INDIANS, fortunately, did not disturb them. A pestilence had destroyed the tribe inhabiting the place where they landed. They were startled, however, one day in early spring by a voice in their village crying in broken English, "Welcome!" It was the salutation of Sam'-o-set, an Indian whose chief, Mas-sa-suit, soon after visited them. The treaty then made lasted for fifty years. Ca-non'-i-cus, a Narraganset chief, once sent a bundle of arrows, wrapped in a rattlesnake skin, as a token of defiance. Governor Bradford returned the skin filled with powder and shot. This significant hint was effectual.

[Illustration: WELCOME--PLYMOUTH, 1621]

The progress of the Colony was slow. Their harvests were insufficient to feed themselves and the new-comers. During the "famine of 1623," the best dish they could set before their friends was a bit of fish and a cup of water.

[Footnote: As an illustration of their pious content it is said that Elder Brewster was wont over a meal consisting only of clams to return thanks to God who "had given them to suck the abundance of the seas, and of the treasures hid in the sands."]

After four years they numbered only 184. The plan of working in common having failed here as at Jamestown, land was assigned to each settler. Abundance ensued. The colony was never organized by royal charter; therefore they elected their own governor, and made their own laws. In 1692, Plymouth was united with Massachusetts Bay colony, under the name of Massachusetts.

MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY.

SETTLEMENT.--John Endicott and five associates having obtained a grant of land about Massachusetts Bay, secured (1628) a royal charter giving authority to make laws and govern the territory. This company afterward transferred all their rights to the colony. It was a popular measure, and many prominent Puritan families flocked to this land of liberty. Some gathered around Governor Endicott, who had already started Salem and Charlestown, some established colonies at Dorchester and Watertown, and one thousand under Governor Winthrop founded Boston (1630).

RELIGIOUS DISTURBANCES.--The people of Massachusetts Bay, while in England, were Puritans, but not Separatists. Having come to America to establish a Puritan Church, they were unwilling to receive persons holding opinions differing from their own, lest their purpose should be defeated. They accordingly sent back to England those who persisted in using the forms of the Established Church, and allowed only members of their own church to vote in civil affairs.

_Roger Williams_, an eloquent and pious young minister, taught that each person should think for himself in all religious matters, and be responsible to his own conscience alone. He declared that the magistrates had, therefore, no right to punish blasphemy, perjury, or Sabbath-breaking. The clergy and magistrates were alarmed at what they considered a doctrine dangerous to the peace of the colony, and he was ordered (1635) to be sent to England. It was in the depth of winter, yet he fled to the forest and found refuge among the Indians. The next year, Canonicus, the Narraganset sachem, gave him land to found a settlement, which he gratefully named _Providence_.

_Mrs. Anne Hutchinson_, during the same year, aroused a violent and bitter controversy. She claimed to be favored with special revelations of God's will. These she expounded to crowded congregations of women, greatly to the scandal of the clergy and people. Finally she also was banished.

_The Quakers_, about twenty years after these summary measures, created fresh trouble by their peculiar views. They were fined, whipped, imprisoned, and sent out of the colony; yet they as constantly returned, glorying in their sufferings. At last four were executed. The people beginning to consider them as martyrs, the persecution gradually relaxed.

A UNION OF THE COLONIES of Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, New Haven, and Connecticut, was formed (1643) under the title of THE UNITED COLONIES OF NEW ENGLAND. This was a famous league in colonial times. The object was a common protection against the Indians and the encroachments of the Dutch and French settlers.

KING PHILIP'S WAR.--During the life of Massasuit, Plymouth enjoyed peace with the Indians, as did Jamestown during that of Powhatan. After Massasoit's death, his son, Philip, brooded with a jealous eye over the encroachments of the whites. With profound sagacity, he planned a confederation of the Indian tribes against the intruders. The first blow fell on the people of Swansea as they were quietly going home from church on Sunday (July 14, 1675). The settlers flew to arms, but Philip escaped, and soon excited the savages to fall upon the settlements high up the Connecticut valley.

[Footnote: At Hadley the Indians surprised the people on Fast day, June 12,1676. Seizing their muskets at the sound of the savage war-whoop, the men rushed out of the meeting-house to fall into line. But the foe was on every side. Confused and bewildered, the settlers seemed about to give way, when suddenly a strange old man with long white beard and ancient garb appeared among them. Ringing out a quick, sharp word of command, he recalled them to their senses. Following their mysterious leader, they drove the enemy headlong before them. The danger passed, they looked around for their deliverer. But he had disappeared as mysteriously as he had come. The good people believed that God had sent an angel to their rescue. But history reveals the secret. It was the regicide Colonel Goffe. Fleeing from the vengeance of Charles II, with a price set upon his head he had for years wandered about, living in mills, clefts of rocks, and forest caves. At last he had found an asylum with the Hadley minister. From his window he had seen the stealthy Indians coming down the hill. Fired with desire to do one more good deed for God's people, he rushed from his hiding-place, led them on to victory, and then returned to his retreat, never more to reappear.--One learns with regret that recent research throws great doubt over the truth of this thrilling story. It is curious to notice also that there is no proof that Philip possessed any eloquence or was even present in any fight, though all these statements have hitherto been made by reliable historians.]

[Illustration: A FORTIFIED HOUSE.]

The colonists fortified their houses with palisades, carried their arms with them into the fields when at work, and stacked them at the door when at church. The Narraganset Indians favored Philip, and seemed on the point of joining his alliance. They had gathered their winter's provisions, and fortified themselves in the midst of an almost inaccessible swamp. Fifteen hundred of the colonists


A Brief History of the United States - 10/72

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