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Of about one hundred million people in the western hemisphere by the 15th century, probably about ten million were spread out north of Mexico in villages, living tribally and close to nature, hunting, fishing, gathering food, and farming. Some larger communities developed in the Ohio River valley from the first century BC and built mounds there about the fifth century CE. As this culture declined, urban centers developed in the Mississippi River valley, building large mounds between 800 and 1400. Cahokia had a population of many thousands in the region where the Missouri, Tennessee, and Ohio rivers joined the Mississippi River. They used flint hoes, and the farming of corn, beans, and squash spread east and north. Environmental strains caused the Cahokia population to decrease in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
In 982 CE Erik the Red explored and named Greenland after he had been banished from both Norway and Iceland for manslaughter. Four years later Erik led 25 ships, 14 of which began a colony on Greenland. About 1000 CE his son Leif Eriksson was the first European to explore the North American continent, which he called Vinland. Leif's brother Thorvald explored the coast for three years (1004-07) and met natives there, but he was killed by an arrow in hostilities. In trading with the natives in 1010 Thorfinn Karlsefni refused to barter weapons, but he exchanged red cloth and milk for furs. Karlsefni had three ships and 160 people and spent three winters there, but conflicts over the women with them and fear of greater strife discouraged these Vikings from returning again. The last trip to North America described in the sagas was the disastrous expedition of 1014-15 in which Erik the Red's daughter Freydis killed her two brothers and all the other women.
Although little is known of the early history of most tribes in North America, the relatively small populations having much territory probably meant that major wars between tribes were rare. Archaeologists have found evidence of increasing population and environmental deterioration at the Crow Creek village on the Missouri River in what is now South Dakota. About 1325 CE a majority of the village was massacred as five hundred Arikara men, women, and children were killed. Yet in the plains region most conflicts were probably minor ambushes or ritualized battles.
In the northeast by the 13th century the Five Nations that were later named the Iroquois by the French lived in longhouses; their territory extended from Lake Erie to the Hudson River and was divided into five north-south strips. To the west and north were the Hurons and Algonquins, who also had strong tribal loyalties that sometimes resulted in wars for hunting territory, raiding property, revenge, or personal glory. According to the first part of Cadwallader Colden's The History of the Five Indian Nations, written in 1727, "The Five Nations made planting of corn their whole business."1 Deganawidah, whose name means "the thinker," was a Huron holy man who aimed to stop the senseless violence of wars and devised thirteen laws for the nations to live in peace. He had a vision of five nations meeting together under the branches of a tree of great peace. Deganawidah advised them to put aside self interest, saying, "Look and listen for the welfare of the whole people, and have always in view not only the present, but also the coming generations."2 Deganawidah taught three main principles. The first is the peace within individuals and between groups that comes from a healthy body and a sane mind. The second is the justice that comes from correct actions, thought, and speech. The third is spiritual power that comes from physical strength and civil authority.
In the 15th or 16th century the Mohawk or Onondaga sachem Hiawatha spread this message by traveling to the Iroquois tribes. The Onondaga war priest Thadodaho (Atotarho) resisted efforts to end the cycle of violence, but Hiawatha was credited with transforming Thadodaho from a demon into a human being by persuading him to champion the Great Law of the Iroquois Confederacy (Hodenosaunee). Hiawatha's name means "the comber," and it was said that he combed the evil thoughts out of Thadodaho's mind as though he were combing serpents out of his hair. The great council met at the place of the Onondaga fire keepers. Wampum was exchanged to certify treaties, and the Onondagas were also the wampum keepers. Important issues were passed first to the older brothers, the Mohawks and Senecas, for discussion and then to the younger brothers, the Oneidas and Cayugas. The consensus decision then went to the Onondaga fire-keepers for final judgment. The Great Law advised them to carry out their duty with endless patience and to temper their firmness with tenderness toward the people, not letting anger nor fury lodge in their minds. Their words and actions were to be marked by calm deliberation.
About 1450 Hiawatha received his vision from the spirit of Deganawidah so that blood revenge could be replaced by ritualized condolence and a council of fifty sachems from the five nations that met at least once every five years. By using consensus they resolved conflicts between their tribes and negotiated with their Huron and Algonquin neighbors over hunting territories. The Hurons were Iroquoian but remained outside the confederacy while the Algonquins spoke Algonquian. Cannibalism was abolished, although warriors still occasionally ate the hearts of their enemies to gain their courage. Blood feuds were prevented by replacing revenge with condolence rituals and the family of the murderer paying compensation to the family of the victim. Accord to legend, Hiawatha carried his teachings to the Hurons, Eries, Neutrals, Shawnees, Delawares, Miamis, Sauk, and other tribes as far away as the Mississippi River.
In the Iroquois culture land and property were shared communally, and several families lived together in long houses. Their chiefs were often the poorest because they were obligated to help those most in need. Iroquois families were matrilineal, and women were influential in a society that promoted individual responsibility rather than authority. The women chose the male chiefs who spoke in the councils, listening to the advice of the women. The chiefs were older warriors, who had renounced the warpath for the council fire. While men were out hunting, women governed their communities; they could veto a war by not providing the necessary supplies for the expedition. If a male kinsman was killed in a war, a woman could claim an enemy captive as compensation and could torture or kill him.
The Iroquois raised their children naturally with a long period of breast-feeding and no pressure to learn toilet training. The young were allowed to explore their sexuality as a natural process. Divorces were decided by the woman when she put the man's belongings outside the longhouse. Discipline was achieved by shaming those who acted improperly until they learned how to change their behavior. They discussed their dreams as ways of understanding themselves.
The Micmacs spoke an Eastern Algonquian language and lived on the peninsula south of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. They believed that life is everywhere and is both visible and invisible. They considered their ancestors great hunters who were strong, dignified, and healthy. They believed they had supernatural powers that the Europeans did not have. They thought all people should be equal, and, like the Greeks, they found that moderation is better than excess. The shaman Membertou was the leader of the eastern Micmac about 1600.
By the late 16th century the Iroquois were using the power of their alliance to subjugate other tribes and in their struggle with the Hurons and Algonquins. Their policy was to save the children and youths of the people they conquered by adopting them into their own nation and educating them without distinction as their own children. In 1600 the Five Nations of the Iroquois League had about 22,000 people out of nearly 100,000 Iroquoians in the northeast. In the 17th century the Iroquois used the power of their confederation and the firearms they got from the English and the Dutch to dominate most of the other tribes. Being on the eastern border of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Mohawks had the most contact with the Europeans. They lost a hundred warriors at the mouth of the Richelieu River in 1610, and in 1615 some Dutchmen accompanied the Mohawks across Mohican territory to raid the Susquehannocks. According to tradition they made a treaty with the Dutch and the Mohicans about 1618; but the Mohawks attacked the Mohicans in 1624, and the war lasted four years. The Mohawks wanted to have a native monopoly on the trade with the Dutch at Fort Orange (Albany).
The English claimed North America because of the Venetian navigator John Cabot, who sailed to New Foundland and Nova Scotia in 1497 on behalf of King Henry VII. In 1576 Martin Frobisher sailed with three ships from England and reached Labrador and Baffin Island. Two more expeditions in the next two years failed to find gold nor were they able to establish a colony. John Davis tried three times (1585-87) to find a northwest passage. He discovered the strait named after him and entered Baffin Bay. Davis also invented a quadrant to measure the angles and altitudes of stars, and he discovered the Falkland Islands in 1592.
Humphrey Gilbert established a small colony in New Foundland in 1583, but he died at sea that year. In 1584 his half-brother Walter Raleigh gained a patent from Queen Elizabeth to colonize North America. He persuaded Richard Hakluyt to write "A Discourse on Western Planting" in order to urge Elizabeth to invest in colonies. Hakluyt argued that England could drive the Spanish ships from the Newfoundland fisheries, capture their treasure from Mexico and Peru, discover a northwest passage to China, create a market for English industry, increase customs revenues, build up the royal navy, and provide opportunity for the unemployed. Raleigh sent captains Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to explore, and they brought back from Roanoke (North Carolina) young Manteo, who spoke Algonquian. The English queen named the new colony Virginia in her own honor and provided the ship Tiger and £400 worth of gunpowder. Raleigh sent out his ship Roebuck to capture other prizes, and he appointed Richard Grenville commander and Ralph Lane governor. The expedition included the scientist Thomas Hariot and the artist John White.
In May 1585 Grenville had his men build a fort on Puerto Rico; the Tiger captured and sold a Spanish ship to buy cattle, horses, swine, and plants before establishing the colony at Roanoke that summer. Because a silver cup was missing, Grenville foolishly destroyed a native cornfield and burned a village. On the way home the Tiger captured more Spanish prizes, netting investors a profit of £40,000. Hariot designed a fort and reported that the natives considered them divine, because they had no women and refused the native girls. The animals had to be fenced, or they destroyed the natives' corn. By Christmas time the chief Wingina was insisting on fair trading goods in exchange for the food they provided the settlers.
Later in the winter of 1586 Lane explored more than a hundred miles to the west to the village of Chawanoc, whose chief Menatonon helped him map the territory. While Lane was gone, Wingina told the colonists that Lane had died. Wingina moved from Roanoke Island to the mainland and urged his own tribe to abandon the settlers at Roanoke to starvation. Lane returned on Easter Sunday. When Manteo warned him of enmity and a plot, Lane went to meet Wingina on the first of June. His men fired on the native leaders and beheaded Wingina. One week later while they were fearing a counter-attack, Francis Drake arrived with 23 ships after raiding Santiago in Cuba, Santo Domingo, Cartagena, and St. Augustine. All 103 colonists happily boarded Drake's ships on June 18. Two days later the supply ship sent by Raleigh arrived and, finding no one, returned to England. The next month Grenville arrived; he left fifteen men in the fort and also went back to England.
Raleigh's next expedition was led by John White and included 89 men, 17 women, and 11 children. They arrived in July 1587 and learned that the 15 men were dead. They tried to forgive and forget, but White's men mistakenly attacked friendly Croatoans. Manteo was christened and made chief of the Roanoke tribe as vassal of White. After only a month in Virginia, the settlers persuaded White to go back to England for more supplies. Because of the war with Spain in 1588 no ship returned to Roanoke until 1590; by then none were left in the colony, though evidence indicated some might have been assimilated into the Croatoan tribe. Lane was the first Englishman to smoke tobacco, and Hariot and Raleigh made smoking a clay pipe fashionable in the English court. Thomas Hariot wrote A Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia. Between 1589 and 1600 Richard Hakluyt published The Principall Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoueries of the English Nation with John White's drawings made into engravings to illustrate what became a bestseller in the 1590s about the reality of the new world. Raleigh sent Samuel Mace to look for the lost Roanoke colony again in 1602; but after Queen Elizabeth died the next year, Raleigh was imprisoned for treason.
In April 1606 King James issued a charter for England's first permanent colony. Virginia was to be between the 34th latitude and the 45th. To encourage expansion, the first colony might extend as far north as 41 degrees, and the second could go south to the 38th parallel; but neither was to settle closer than one hundred miles from the other. The King appointed a royal council in London, and they elected the original councils that were to govern locally, subject to the Crown's veto. Chief Justice John Popham and Attorney General Edward Coke made sure that the liberties of common law were protected.
The London Company hired Christopher Newport, Bartholomew Gosnold, and John Ratcliffe to captain three ships. Helpful Instructions about colonizing were written by Richard Hakluyt based on lessons from his comprehensive Principal Navigations. He warned them how to guard against surprise attacks by Spaniards or natives, advising them they "must have great care not to offend the naturals."3 The ships left England on the first day of 1607; after several stops in the West Indies they reached Chesapeake Bay in April and chose the site for Jamestown on May 13.
John Smith had been baptized as an infant on January 9, 1580. At age fifteen he was bound as an apprentice; but after his parents died, he ran away and became a soldier, fighting the Spaniards for three years in the Netherlands. Traveling to eastern Hungary, he was made a captain by Emperor Rudolph II and claimed that he killed three Turks in single combats. In 1602 he was captured and sold into slavery to a woman at Istanbul; she sent him to her Pasha brother, whom he killed despite the iron collar around his neck. Smith escaped through Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Bohemia before traveling back to England, where he met Newport and Gosnold. On the voyage to America the box with the names of the elected council was kept sealed. Smith quarreled with aristocratic Edward Wingfield and was put in irons. In Virginia the council elected Wingfield president and kept Smith off the council. He explored the river and at Werewocomoco met the chief Powhatan, who ruled over 28 local tribes. Meanwhile Jamestown was attacked by two hundred Indians, whom Powhatan said were his enemies; one Englishman was killed. After Smith demanded a trial and was acquitted by a jury, he took his seat on the council. Newport sailed for England with wood and sassafras to get more food.
Jamestown had 105 persons in 1607, but that summer about half of them, including Gosnold, died of diseases. In September the council deposed Wingfield and elected Ratcliffe president. He hit and beat the blacksmith James Reed who struck back and was going to be hanged for it until he accused arrested council member George Kendall of plotting mutiny. Kendall confessed; a jury convicted him, and he was shot.
In December while Smith was exploring the Chickahominy River, George Cassen got lost and was killed by Indians. Chief Opechancanough had led his people after a defeat by the Spaniards in the southwest on a trek and joined the Powhatans, but at the time the colonists believed that he was Powhatan's younger brother. He led two hundred warriors in an attack that killed two Englishmen and captured Smith, who showed them his compass and eventually was taken to Werewocomoco. When Smith's head was placed on a stone to be beaten with clubs, Powhatan's 12-year-old daughter Pocahontas begged for his life. (Some scholars doubt this incident because Smith did not tell about it until many years later.) So Powhatan asked for cannons and a millstone, offering Smith land as his adopted son. They escorted Smith back to Jamestown the day Newport returned with supplies. With 120 more people in the colony they needed more corn (maize), and during the winter Pocahontas brought them food. Smith was shrewder at trading with the Indians than the trusting Captain Newport.
In the summer of 1608 Captain John Smith explored Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, meeting an Iroquois tribe of Susquehannocks, who had French hatchets. When he returned to Jamestown in September, Ratcliffe had been deposed. Smith was elected president by the council's only other member, Matthew Scrivener. That month Newport brought a second supply shipment with seventy people, making a total of two hundred. He told them the London Company wanted them to find gold, a route to the South Sea, or White's lost colony. They did follow one order of the London council in that Newport crowned Powhatan, but the soil that glittered turned out not to be gold. Before he left again, Newport sent some swords to Powhatan. The lawyer Gabriel Archer had accused Smith of being responsible for those killed by Opechancanough. So Smith sent Archer back to England with Ratcliffe, along with a detailed map of the area, asking for carpenters, farmers, gardeners, fishermen, blacksmiths, masons, and diggers. Smith went on another expedition exploring the Chesapeake Bay area, and he used diplomacy to make peace among the native tribes. Yet he began to threaten them if they did not provide corn. He got permission from his council to punish an Indian for stealing, but they warned him that threatening the natives was against the Instructions.
When Powhatan asked Smith why they had come, Smith lied they had been driven there by Spaniards; he was afraid to tell him that they came to settle. Smith intimidated the Nansemonds into providing corn by burning one of their wigwams. That winter Powhatan asked for swords and stopped trading corn for other things. Smith sent some Germans to help build a house in Werewocomoco, but Powhatan would only trade corn for swords or guns. Suspecting they had come to take over his country, Powhatan offered some grain and then walked out. Surrounded by warriors, Smith and his companion drew their swords and scared them off. They threatened the Indians with a gun to make them load the corn. Pocahontas warned Smith to leave, or he would be killed. Pistols were also used to take corn and venison from Opechancanough. The Germans and some malcontents were providing the Indians with weapons, but they escaped execution for treason. Smith kept a hostage in order to make an Indian return a stolen pistol. When the prisoner sealed his jail cell and was asphyxiated by smoke, Smith revived him with brandy. After the Indian sobered up, this "miracle" inspired the Indians to return stolen goods.
In Jamestown everyone was supposed to work for the community, but John Smith found that thirty or forty men were supporting the rest. As the only surviving member of the council, he told them all that he would enforce discipline and that those who did not work, excepting those who were ill, would not be given food. Houses were built; a well was dug; thirty acres were planted; nets and weirs were arranged for fishing; and a new fortress was begun. Rats from the ships had multiplied and eaten most of the grain.
That summer Samuel Argall arrived with news that a second charter had made the Company a corporation with 659 shareholders and 56 trade guilds. They were authorized to tax and wage war independently of Parliament, and the local council was replaced by Governor Thomas West, the Baron De la Warr. Emigration to Virginia counted as one share, and after seven years shareholders were granted land. About six hundred volunteered and sailed on nine ships, but a hurricane sank one and caused the Sea Venture to be wrecked on an abandoned island. Named for Juan Bermudez in 1521. Slave-hunters had removed the cannibals, leaving pigs. Because the leaders Thomas Gates and George Somers had not agreed, they had sailed on this ship with all the copies of the new orders; they were stranded there for ten months before they could build ships and get to Jamestown in May 1610. Bermuda was granted to the Virginia Company in 1612 and became a successful venture. By the end of 1614 about 600 settlers found it a healthy place, and they got a royal charter as the Somers Islands Company in 1615.
Meanwhile Captain Smith sent John Martin and George Percy to found a settlement on the Nansemond River and Francis West to settle above the falls. Smith bought some Powhatan land there and criticized the colonists for treating the Indians badly; but the settlers complained that Smith was interfering and threatened him with weapons. Indians attacked the new settlement and killed many colonists. Smith went up there and arrested the ringleaders, but while returning he was badly burned by gunpowder. To get medical treatment he departed for England in October 1609, leaving the unwell George Percy in command of Jamestown.
Powhatan ambushed and killed Ratcliffe and thirty men while they were trading. Francis West managed to obtain corn, but he took it to England. As food ran out, a gang stole a ship and turned to piracy. Others ate horses, dogs, cats, rats, leather, snakes, and roots. Finally some were reduced to cannibalism and dug up bodies. One man was caught eating his wife; Percy tortured him until he confessed to murdering her and then executed him. By the time Gates and Somers arrived, only sixty people had survived "the starving time." They brought food but after a month decided to abandon the colony. Fortunately Gates prevented burning the buildings, because when Thomas West arrived with supplies, they decided to stay. He imposed discipline, but the next winter about 150 died. West became ill and in March 1611 returned to England.
Thomas Dale was appointed high marshal of Virginia; he arrived in May 1611 and immediately enforced strict discipline. Thomas Gates replaced Dale later that year and governed the colony until 1614, when Dale returned for two more years. While in Virginia, Dale and Gates drew up a new Company code called the Laws Divine, Moral and Martial that was published by council secretary William Strachey. This imposed capital punishment for such minor offenses as not attending church services, blasphemy, speaking badly of the King or the London Company, unlicensed trading with Indians, and unauthorized uprooting of crops or slaughtering of livestock. Jeffrey Abbot led a conspiracy to overthrow Dale; but when the plot was discovered, Abbot and four others were tortured to death. Dale motivated industry and thrift by letting proprietors cultivate three acres for their own use. More settlers brought Jamestown's population to eight hundred. In 1612 King James approved a new charter without the usual oath of allegiance, making it easier to get subscribers. A lottery was approved to raise money for the colonies. That year Lieutenant-Governor Gates executed several Indians because he suspected them of spying at Jamestown.
In 1613 Captain Argall kidnapped Pocahontas and held her for ransom to get back several English prisoners and stolen weapons and tools along with corn. Powhatan sent back seven men, a few tools, and a canoe of corn; but the English could not believe he did not still have the weapons, and they kept Pocahontas. John Rolfe was experimenting with growing tobacco. After his wife died, he fell in love with Pocahontas. She was baptized Rebecca, and they were married in April 1614. Marshal Dale and Captain Argall made peace with the Chickahominies, but each bowman had to provide two measures of corn every harvest. Dale established an annual rent for the farmers and tribute corn from the "barbarians," thus replacing the regional power of Powhatan. Rolfe and Pocahontas visited England in 1616, and she met with John Smith there before she died of illness the next year. Smith worked for the Plymouth Company in 1615, renaming North Virginia as New England.
In the anonymously published Counterblast to Tobacco of 1604 King James wrote the following warning about the harmful characteristics of smoking:
A custom loathsome to the eye, hateful to the nose,
harmful to the brain, dangerous to the lungs,
and in the black stinking fume thereof,
nearest resembling the horrible Stygian smoke
of the pit that is bottomless.4
The tobacco in Virginia was of poor quality, but in 1612 John Rolfe had begun experimenting with pink-blossomed tobacco from the West Indies and Venezuela. He began exporting tobacco in 1614, and the cargoes shipped from Virginia and Bermuda increased from 2,300 pounds in 1616 to 18,839 pounds in 1617 and 49,528 pounds in 1618. King James put a duty on tobacco to limit the imports and advised moderation for the sake of health. The colonists were so eager to grow tobacco that Thomas Dale required those planting the weed to cultivate at least two acres of corn for oneself and each servant. Dale encouraged immigration by promising free rent for the first year in a house with twelve acres. Because cattle ran free, the crops had to be fenced. In 1616 Jamestown had 351 persons, 216 goats, 144 cattle, and 6 horses, plus hogs and poultry. When Dale left Virginia in April, Captain George Yeardley became acting governor. In December he took a hundred men and forced the Chickahominies to provide their tribute in corn.
In 1617 without bothering to consult or compensate the natives, the Company offered fifty acres for each person settling in Virginia, the land going to whomever paid for the passage. Captain Samuel Argall arrived as the new governor in May 1617. He abused his despotic power to extort gain for himself, and he made it a capital offense to teach an Indian how to use a gun. The elderly chief Powhatan died in April 1618, and he was succeeded by his decrepit brother Opitchapan, who was soon replaced by Opechancanough. Thomas West, Baron of De la Warr, died, and Delaware Bay was named after him. Yeardley went to England and brought charges against Argall before the Council in London. Edwin Sandys recommended Yeardley, and in November the Virginia Company elected him governor for three years. He arrived in Jamestown in April 1619, the same month that the Company elected Sandys to replace the treasurer Thomas Smith. In August a Dutch man-of-war brought twenty or so Africans to Jamestown and sold them to the Governor for victuals.
The Company instructed Governor Yeardley to establish the General Assembly of Virginia in order to prevent injustice and oppression and to bring about prosperity and happiness. Sandys helped draft the reforms so that the colonists could feel like partners in the Company. The General Assembly was composed of the Governor, six Councilors, and 22 Burgesses elected by the people to represent eleven plantations and towns. The two houses of the legislature also acted as a court of law by a joint committee from the Burgesses and the Council of State. The Governor and the Company still maintained their veto power, but the Assembly claimed the exclusive right to levy taxes. They quickly abrogated Dale's strict punishments and replaced them with more moderate laws. Edwin Sandys solicited £550 from an anonymous donor to raise Indian children in English houses; but Opechancanough proposed keeping the native families together, and they were given their own houses in English settlements. George Thorpe, a former member of Parliament, suggested that English families also live among the Indians.
Eight ships brought 1,261 settlers to Virginia in 1619, including a hundred apprentices. Ninety young women came to choose a husband, who had to pay 120 pounds in tobacco for the woman's passage. The Company elected and sent Francis Wyatt as the next governor in 1621. The Company lost a major source of its funding when King James cancelled the lottery in March 1621. George Sandys, brother of Edwin, was elected treasurer of the Company in July. He tried to establish new industries to produce glass (beads), silk, iron, hemp, and wine. Iron ore had been found by the James River, and a hundred skilled workers were imported; but the furnace for the pig iron was destroyed by Indians before it was completed. Skilled Italians, wanting to return to Europe, sabotaged the glass factory. Bishops in England raised nearly £1,500 for a college to educate Indians at Henrico, but the project was abandoned after the massacre of 1622. Cultivating tobacco required ten months labor each year, but John Smith pointed out that a man's work in tobacco was worth six times as much as in grain. In October 1621 King James required that tobacco and other commodities must pay duties in England before being shipped to other countries. The Virginia and Bermuda Companies were given a monopoly on tobacco; but the King was given one-third of the profits in addition to the duties, and he agreed to restrict the importing of Spanish tobacco. Edwin Sandys and John Ferrar were resented for being given exorbitant salaries as directors of the tobacco monopoly.
On March 22, 1622, which was Good Friday, the Powhatans and other local tribes suddenly attacked and killed 347 settlers. Jamestown had been warned by the Indian boy Chanco, who was a Christian servant, but most of the towns and plantations were taken by surprise. During this massacre about twenty women were taken captive, and the Indians burned houses and destroyed crops and cattle. In revenge the colonists attacked villages, killed Indians, took their corn, and burned their homes and crops. Even the friendly Potomacs were suspected, and Captain Isaac Madison led an expedition that killed more than thirty. A ship arriving in December 1622 brought a plague, and during the continuing Indian war the colonists suffered hunger. Governor Wyatt prohibited all trade with the natives, and companies of colonists destroyed their crops so that they would leave the area.
Captain Henry Spelman had been sold to Powhatan as a youth by John Smith; then he lived with the Potomac chief for a year until Argall ransomed him for copper. In the spring of 1623 Spelman and 26 men tried to obtain corn from the Potomacs, but they were all killed. The Virginia colony was very short of food, and a needed supply ship while at Bermuda was burned by a fire started by careless smokers. Opechancanough offered peace and returned the twenty English women held captive for a year; but the Virginia Council treacherously planned attacks as soon as the corn was grown. Captain William Tucker took poisoned wine concocted by Dr. John Pott to a treaty meeting; two hundred Indians died of poisoning, and fifty others were killed by force. The English were disappointed that Opechancanough had not attended.
On July 23 plantation captains led men against the Indians. George Sandys attacked the Tappahatomaks, George Yeardley the Wyanokes, William Powell the Chickahominies and the Appomatocks, and John West the Tanx-Powhatans. In the autumn Yeardley led three hundred men against Opechancanough and the Nansemonds. A similar coordinated attack occurred in July 1624. Governor Wyatt led 60 men, and in a two-day battle they defeated the Pamunkeys.
Former Bermuda governor Nathaniel Butler, who had been as despotic as Argall, visited Virginia and presented to the King and Company in April 1623 his critical report, "The Unmasked Face of Our Colony in Virginia." The investor Samuel Wrote studied the records and calculated that in the three years before the massacre 3,000 settlers had died. The Company published an answer to Butler's accusations, and King James appointed a commission led by the judge William Jones to investigate. The Company's records were seized, and the deputy treasurer Nicholas Ferrar was imprisoned. The King proposed retaining private interests if the Company gave him control, but in October the Company stockholders rejected this compromise. In May 1624 King James persuaded the House of Commons to dismiss the Company's petition, and in June the Court of the King's Bench dissolved the Virginia Company of London. The King appointed another commission headed by John Mandeville, and Francis Wyatt was appointed governor in August.
The General Assembly of Virginia met in February 1624 and returned the commissioners' paper unsigned, proclaiming their determination to retain their liberty. They enacted laws limiting the governor's power to levy taxes or require public service without the concurrence of the Assembly and to protect burgesses from arrest while the Assembly was meeting. The Assembly did not give its proceedings to the commission but sent them directly to the King. When the Council's acting secretary, Edward Sharpless, delivered copies to a commissioner, he was ordered to have both ears nailed to the pillory; but he was released with the partial loss of one ear.
King James died suddenly on 27 March 1625 and was succeeded by his son Charles, who turned to Edwin Sandys for advice; but in May the new king confirmed his father's decision to make Virginia a royal colony. The 1625 census of Virginia counted 940 European males, 269 European females, 12 African males, and 11 African females. In May 1626 Francis Wyatt returned to England. Yeardley became governor again, but he died in November 1627. Acting governor Francis West called a General Assembly to consider a new tobacco contract with the King. The colonists continued to attack the Indians every year to take their fields, and the population of Virginia increased rapidly with new immigrants, reaching three thousand in 1628. Francis West went to England in March 1629, and Dr. John Pott was acting governor. John Harvey had been commissioned governor in March 1628, but he did not arrive for more than two years. Harvey charged Dr. Pott with stealing cattle and hogs, expelling him from the Council. A jury of thirteen found Pott guilty on two counts, and the Governor confiscated his estate. Harvey released Dr. Pott on bail so that he could perform his medical services, and the King restored his liberty and property. Harvey was autocratic and jealous of his privileges, denying he needed the Council's consent.
In 1630 the price of tobacco fell to a penny a pound. In October the Council offered fifty acres to every person who would settle along the York River in Chiskiack within a year and 25 acres during the second year. Captains John West and John Utie each received 600 acres. In 1633 the General Assembly offered 50 acres for those settling in the Middle Plantation, which later became the city of Williamsburg. Virginia was divided into eight counties governed by commissioners who became known as justices of the peace. The Governor and Council appointed the commissioners, sheriffs, constables, clerks, and coroners. The King ordered limits on tobacco growing, and the Assembly codified it as a law. Governor Harvey ordered two acres of corn planted for every person, and soon Virginia was exporting corn to relieve the New England colony. In 1635 Benjamin Symmes endowed a free school with eight cattle, which multiplied to forty in the next fourteen years. Immigrants continued to die of sickness, as many as 1,800 in 1635.
Governor Harvey obeyed King Charles in supporting Maryland, and this upset some Councilors. They also resented Harvey's ordering without their consent a ship's carpenter to work for the King. Harvey had some men arrested for plotting against him, but at a Council meeting in April 1635 the councilors had troops ready and told the Governor that they were shipping him back to England. As soon as he arrived at Plymouth, Harvey went to the mayor and had John Pott and Thomas Harwood arrested and the Council's papers seized. Although many charges were made against the arbitrary actions of Governor Harvey, King Charles took his side and sent him back to govern Virginia for three more years. Harvey had Claiborne imprisoned and several leaders sent to England for trial before the Star Chamber, but he pardoned all others involved in the “mutiny.” Numerous complaints against Harvey were sent to England, and finally in 1639 the Privy Council replaced him with Francis Wyatt, who was given instructions to revive the regular meetings of the General Assembly. Wyatt charged Harvey and Secretary Richard Kemp with crimes; but Harvey went to England and managed to persuade the King to recall Wyatt and appoint William Berkeley, who agreed not to persecute Wyatt and his friends and sailed to Virginia in 1642. By 1638 Virginia’s tobacco exports had reached three million pounds, and in 1640 the population of Virginia was 8,000.
George Calvert (Lord Baltimore) had subscribed to the Virginia Company, and he was a member of the New England Council and of Parliament from 1609 to 1624, becoming a principal secretary of state in 1619. He purchased an estate in New Foundland from William Vaughan in 1620, and three years later he was granted the province of Avalon in New Foundland as a refuge for Catholics. Seeking warmer weather, he and his associates went to Virginia in October 1629, but they refused to swear to the oath recognizing the King of England as the supreme ecclesiastical authority. After he died, his son Cecil Calvert became the second Lord Baltimore and was granted the Maryland charter north of Virginia on 20 June 1632. A year earlier William Claiborne had purchased Kent Island in the upper Chesapeake Bay from the Indians, and King Charles gave him permission to trade furs. By 1633 Claiborne, working for Cloberry and Company, was employing 22 people including one African slave.
Cecil Calvert (Baltimore) gave instructions that the colony should not just be for Catholics but should allow religious freedom. His brother Leonard Calvert arrived with settlers in February 1634, but most Virginians ignored the royal instructions to help the Catholics. Each settler coming to Maryland received one hundred acres of land for oneself, one's wife, and for each male servant, plus fifty acres for each youth older than fifteen and for each woman servant. All had to pay quitrents to the Proprietor (Lord Baltimore). A colonist bringing five men was given a thousand acres, a manor. The Jesuits Andrew White and John Altham brought 28 servants and were given 6,000 acres. Leonard Calvert served as lieutenant governor for twelve years and began by giving axes, hoes, knives, and cloth to the Yaocomico chiefs and elders. The Yaocomicos wanted the English as allies against their enemies, the Susquehannocks, and so they allowed them to settle there. However, the Maryland authorities did not prevent encroachment on their lands by the English nor did they protect them from northern tribes.
Governor Cecil Calvert told Claiborne that he was now his tenant, but Claiborne took the issue to his colleagues in Virginia's Council. Governor Harvey upheld the royal orders, but many councilors supported Claiborne. Leonard Calvert told the Marylanders that Claiborne was inciting the Indians against them, and Cecil Calvert ordered Claiborne and his property seized. While taking Claiborne's armed ship in April 1635, the Marylanders killed its captain and two other Kent Islanders while losing one man. Captain John West had just been elected governor of Virginia, and he kept Claiborne under bond but refused to deliver him to Maryland. Cloberry and Company sent Captain George Evelin to replace Claiborne, and Evelin negotiated with Governor Calvert who offered to pardon those who would submit to him. Claiborne’s brother-in-law John Butler and Thomas Smith refused to submit. In February 1638 Calvert led thirty musketeers, captured the inhabitants on Kent Island by surprise, arrested Butler and Smith, and pardoned the others. He let them elect representatives for the Assembly and appointed peace officers. The Assembly at St. Mary's passed a law attainting Claiborne for conspiracy and murder, confiscating all his property and the Cloberry Company's. Maryland executed Smith, but Calvert won over Butler and made him a captain in the Kent Island militia. Claiborne petitioned the King Charles who decided that Kent Island was part of Maryland.
In February 1638 Maryland held its first general election. Governor Leonard Calvert recognized as laws those bills passed by the General Assembly that were approved by him and the Proprietor Cecil. The Assembly also acted as a court and punished offenders. The Governor had jurisdiction over civil suits, but cases involving loss of life or limb required a jury trial. All inhabitants had to declare that they believed in God and the trinity and swear allegiance to the King. Every tobacco grower was required to plant two acres of corn, and a five percent export duty was imposed on tobacco shipped anywhere besides England, Ireland, or Virginia.
In 1639 the Jesuits converted the chief (Tayac) of the Piscataway tribe and his wife and daughter. When the Jesuits provided food during the drought that year, the king of the Anacostans asked to live with them. White prepared a grammar and dictionary in the native language. Cecil Calvert (Lord Baltimore) learned that the Jesuits had purchased land from the Indians in his territory, and he demanded that they submit to his proprietary government. In 1641 he issued new "Conditions of Plantation," offering a manor of 2,000 acres to anyone bringing twenty persons into the colony in one year. He asked the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in Rome to send secular priests, and he was authorized to expel the Jesuits. All recipients of land had to take an oath acknowledging him as the Proprietor. Governor Leonard Calvert was reluctant to publish this because he feared excommunication; but the English superior of the Jesuits, Henry More, signed an agreement with Baltimore accepting the new conditions.
In 1642 they decided that a bill had to receive a majority vote by the elected burgesses as well as those that were appointed. Governor Calvert limited trading with the Indians to those he issued licenses, and he prohibited selling them arms or ammunition. John Elkin was tried for killing the Yaocomico chief; but the jury found him not guilty because the victim was a pagan. Calvert sent the jury back to reconsider, and they changed the verdict to murder in self defense. Sent back again, the Governor found the third verdict unsatisfactory also. A new jury decided it was manslaughter, and Calvert was satisfied. Thus the Governor made some effort to restrain the settlers' violence against the natives.
The English navigator Henry Hudson searched for a northeast passage to Asia for the Muscovy Company in 1607. Two years later he sailed for the Dutch East India Company, and looking for a northwest passage he explored the river the English named for him. He returned to Dartmouth, England, where the government ordered him to stop exploring for other nations. His next voyage was financed by the British East India Company, the Muscovy Company, and private investors. He and his crew went farther north and explored Hudson's Bay, but during the winter they quarreled over food and clothing. In June 1611 Hudson, his son, and seven others were set adrift in a small boat and were never heard from again. The leaders of the mutiny were killed fighting Eskimos.
In 1613 fur traders in Amsterdam and Hoorn financed five ships sent to America. Hendrick Christiaensz of Cleves explored the Delaware River, and Adriaen Block went up the North (Hudson) River and explored Long Island Sound and Cape Cod Bay. They built Fort Nassau on Castle Island near what is now Albany and left Jacob Eelkens in charge, returning to Holland with a load of furs and the Figurative Map. The States General gave the United New Netherland Company an exclusive charter in the new world on 11 October 1614. Cornelis Hendricksen traded with the Minquas for furs, and he ransomed three Company employees from the Mohawks and Mohicans with kettles, beads, and other merchandise. Christiaensz also took two Indians back to Holland; but while he was on the North River in 1619, one of them murdered him.
Two months after their Truce with Spain ended, the Dutch chartered the West India Company in June 1621, authorizing them to govern and administer justice, make alliances with natives, build forts, and make war or peace with the approval of the States General at The Hague. In 1623 they sent out the skipper Cornelis Jacobsz Mey of Hoorn with thirty families, who were mostly French-speaking Walloons from southern Netherlands. Fort Nassau was in ruins from flooding, but they erected Fort Orange. Some of the families went to the South (Delaware) and Connecticut rivers, and a few men took possession of Manhattan island. Willem Verhulst was sent to lay out six farms on Manhattan, and he replaced Mey as commissary in the spring of 1625. A few goats and rabbits left by Christiaensz had multiplied. The instructions from the West India Company advised in Article 9 as follows:
In case there should be any Indians
living on the aforesaid island or claiming any title to it,
as also to other places that might serve our purpose,
they must not be expelled with violence or threats,
but be persuaded with kind words (to let us settle there),
or otherwise should be given something for it
to placate them or be allowed to live among us,
and a contract should be made of such an agreement
to be signed by them in their manner,
which kind of contract may be very serviceable
to the Company on other occasions.5
Kryn Frederycks designed Fort Amsterdam, and the first stone building constructed in 1626 was a countinghouse. Caterina Trico lived at Fort Orange for three years and wrote that the Indians were gentle when well treated, but when wronged they held a grudge. Daniel van Krieckebeeck was in charge at Fort Orange. He agreed to help the Mohicans against the Mohawks, violating his instructions not to get involved in the quarrels between the tribes. In the battle the Mohawks killed him and three of his men. Article 18 forbade sexual intercourse with the natives; but the settlers found that the single natives were very friendly and willing, while others remained chaste from fear of their husbands. Settlers not paying their passage were given land but were required to remain in the colony for six years. The Company provided necessities, seed, and saplings for two years but had the first right of purchase on all produce. They paid workers eight stivers a day but Indians only two stivers (four pence). The ordinances of Holland and Zeeland were applied in New Netherland.
Verhulst was criticized for not enforcing the ordinances while punishing those who personally slighted him. So the Council elected Peter Minuit director general. He was instructed to gather the colonists into Fort Amsterdam, and his men killed a Wecquaesgeek. In the summer of 1626 Minuit purchased the title to Manhattan from the Canarsie tribe with sixty guilders (£6) worth of trinkets. Isaac de Rasieres served as his secretary and traveled to the New Plymouth colony to meet with William Bradford, who traded him wampum, the beads and shells woven into belts that were used as currency by the Indians. The first ordained minister, Jonas Michaelius, arrived at Fort Amsterdam in April 1628, but he found it difficult to convert the natives. The trade, mostly furs, increased from 45,000 guilders in 1626 to 125,000 in 1632. They also sold timber but sawed more than they could transport.
Minuit was recalled in 1632 and sailed on the Eendracht, which was seized by English authorities in Plymouth. King Charles decided to release the ship without prejudicing his rights. This incident intimidated the Dutch West India Company from sending ships for a while, causing some hardship in the colony. In the mean time the Fort Orange commander Bastiaen Jansz Krol replaced Minuit. The Company offered tracts of land with sixteen miles of coast land or eight miles on both sides of a river to patroons promising to send fifty settlers within four years. However, the Company reserved Manhattan for itself and kept a monopoly on the fur trade. The most successful patroon was Kiliaen van Rensselaer, a jeweler in Amsterdam who never went to America
At Swanendael the commissary Gillis van Hoosett had put up a piece of tin with the arms of the United Provinces. When a chief took it to make a pipe, Van Hoosett complained. In response some Indians executed the chief, but other Indians got revenge by killing Van Hoosett and the other 33 settlers and by burning the stockade. Captain David Pietersz de Vries arrived, talked with the Indians, and made a peace treaty by giving them axes, bullets, and duffel cloth. Van Rensselaer wanted to send livestock to Fort Orange, but Krol refused to give permission.
In 1632 Van Rensselaer’s nephew Wouter van Twiller, who was appointed to replace Krol, arrived in March 1633 with 140 soldiers. He went aboard the visiting English ship William and got drunk. De Vries criticized him for allowing English raids. At Fort Orange the commissary Hans Jorissen van Houten had offended the Indians by castrating a sachem, who died from the operation. Eelkens knew their language and traded with the Indians, but Van Houten forbade the English to come there and trade. The natives killed the cattle in the area and wanted revenge on Van Houten.
In 1635 George Holmes led 13 men from Virginia and took over deserted Fort Nassau on the Delaware River, but his servant Thomas Hall went to New Amsterdam and told the Dutch, who rounded them up; De Vries took the English back to Jamestown, except for Hall. Van Twiller quarreled with the schout (sheriff) Lubbertus van Dincklage, who was excommunicated by the minister Everardus Bogardus. Van Dincklage was sent back to Holland, and his complaints about drunken brawls and Van Twiller's appropriating land for himself and his associates led to the recall of Van Twiller in 1637.
The Company's Heeren 19 appointed Willem Kieft director general, and he arrived in March 1638. He acted autocratically by appointing only Dr. Johannes La Montagne to his council while giving himself two votes. Kieft forbade personal trading with the natives and smuggling. In September 1639 the States General ended the Company's monopoly on trade and opened up farming to everyone including foreigners. A Dutchman who transported five persons was called a master. More colonists came to get rich quick trading for furs than by farming. According to Isaac Jogues, the Jesuit who escaped from Iroquois captivity, eighteen different languages were spoken in New Amsterdam.
Samuel Bloemaerts owned a brass factory near Stockholm and represented Sweden in Holland. He chose Peter Minuit to lead a Swedish expedition financed by himself, Minuit, and the Swedish-Dutch Company to trade on the Delaware. Minuit left Holland on the last day of 1637 and sailed for Jamestown. Then he went to Fort Nassau, and fifteen miles from there his men built Fort Christina at what is now Wilmington. Kieft sent a threatening letter in May 1638. Minuit took a ship for Florida, but after stopping at St. Christopher in the Lesser Antilles it was lost in a storm.
Also in 1638 some English from Boston started a colony in a place they called New Haven at the mouth of the Quinnipiac River. De Vries visited there the next year and counted three hundred houses. King Charles in 1635 had granted Long Island to William Alexander, Earl of Stirling. The Dutch resisted the efforts of the English to settle there, but Lyon Gardiner established some English settlers on Long Island in 1640. That year George Lamberton tried to buy land on the Delaware, but the Indians, loyal to the Dutch, refused to sell. In August 1641 Lamberton and Captain Turner founded a Delaware Company and moved to the South River. In May 1642 Kieft sent two ships to help Fort Nassau commissary Jan Jansen van Ilpendam, and with the help of the Swedes he arrested most of the English and took Lamberton to New Amsterdam. Lamberton tried again the next year, but he was arrested by the Swedish governor John Printz. Clashes also occurred after the English occupied Hartford, and Kieft ordered a boycott of English goods coming from there and elsewhere in Connecticut. When some English settled in a town near New Amsterdam called Greenwich on the mainland, Kieft offered them freedom of religion as long as he could approve their magistrates.
Kieft prohibited the sale of alcohol to Indians in 1641, but this was not effective. In 1647 the penalty was increased to a fine of 500 guilders for the first offense and banishment for the second. The Company also forbade selling arms to natives, but traders could barter one gun for up to twenty precious furs. The Indians also liked to trade for European cloth, and they helped the colonists by teaching them how to grow and cook corn (maize). For many years the Dutch had good relations with most tribes. In 1638 a New Amsterdam court fined a man for assaulting a native. The minister Johannes Megapolensis traveled around Fort Orange and studied the Mohawk language. In 1644 he published his Short Account of the Mohawk Indians. They distinguished the body from the immortal soul, and they believed every soul had a good spirit called Manitou watching over them. Megapolensis complained that many of the Dutch ran after the Indian girls.
The Indians were concerned that the roaming cattle got into their corn. In Rensselaerswyck guns were sold to appease the warring Mohawks and Mohicans, but the Haversack, Raritan, Tappan, and Wecquaesgeek tribes resented that they were not allowed to trade for firearms. In 1639 Kieft decided to tax the Indians over the objection of David de Vries. The next spring some Raritans attacked a ship collecting taxes and furs, and a few weeks later some pigs were stolen from De Vries' plantation on Staten Island. Although the Company recommended ruling by love and friendship rather than by force, Kieft reacted by sending the secretary Cornelis van Tienhoven with fifty soldiers and twenty sailors. When the Raritans refused to pay for the attack and the swine, he let his men kill several wilden (savages), as the Dutch called the natives. One Dutch sailor was killed, but Govert Loockermans tortured the brother of the Raritan chief in his private parts. The following summer the nephew of the Wecquaesgeek, who had been killed by Minuit’s men years before took revenge by murdering a wheelwright and plundering his house. Two weeks later the Raritans attacked the plantation of De Vries, killed four people, and burned his house and tobacco sheds. Kieft offered wampum rewards to other tribes for killing Raritans, and the Haverstraw chief Pacham was paid for bringing in a dead hand. Peace was made with the Raritans by the end of 1641.
In 1602 Matthew Gosnold led 32 men and named Cape Cod for its good fishing. Three years later George Waymouth explored the coast from Nantucket to the Kennebec River and brought back to England five Abenakis to learn English. Chief Justice John Popham and Ferdinando Gorges were the leaders of the Plymouth Company. In August 1606 they sent the Richard of Plimouth that was captured near Puerto Rico. The crew was imprisoned at Seville for three months before some, including John Stoneman who had been with Waymouth, were able to return to England. Popham sent a second ship in October that sailed directly to Maine and brought back an encouraging report.
In May 1607 the Plymouth Company sent Popham's nephew George Popham and Raleigh Gilbert on the Gift of God and the Mary and John with 120 men and two Indian interpreters. On an island at the mouth of the Sagadahoc (Kennebec) River they found the cross that Waymouth had erected. They settled by the river, but the colony suffered from lack of food and internal strife. In October the Mary and John went back to England for supplies. Fearing an attack from the French, the Gift of God did not leave until December; only 45 men remained to keep the settlement going. After Gilbert learned that his brother had died in England, he and the rest abandoned the colony. The elderly John Popham died, and others were not interested in investing in a venture without profit. Only the fishing was successful, and that was continued in those waters.
John Smith began exploring the northern coast in 1614. While he was away, Thomas Hunt was left in charge. He abducted 20 Patuxets including Squanto and seven Nauset, selling them in the slave market at Malaga, Spain. This caused the Nauset to hate the Europeans. Squanto escaped and went to England. John Smith sailed again in 1615 for the Plymouth Company, but he was captured by the French and abandoned at New Rochelle. He made it back to England and published “A Description of New England,” and on his map he changed the Indian name Patuxet to Plymouth. About 8,000, or a third of the natives in the New England region, died in the plague (probably smallpox) of 1616-17. Squanto returned to Cape Cod in 1619 and learned that his Patuxet band had been exterminated by the epidemic.
Among the Puritans in Elizabethan England who wanted to purify religion from popish idolatry were separatists led by Robert Browne, who suggested forming their own independent congregations to avoid the sins of the false church. Bishop Freke imprisoned Browne in Norwich, but England's treasurer William Cecil (Lord Burghley) got him released. Browne fled to the Netherlands and avoided the martyrdom of other prominent separatists. William Brewster was influenced by Brownism and formed a group at the manor-house of Scrooby in Nottinghamshire. John Robinson earned a master's degree at Cambridge in 1600 and became their pastor. King James asserted his authority over religion, and in 1604 he persecuted 300 Puritan ministers. The elder Brewster had been a diplomat in Holland, and he led the emigration which was delayed by a month's imprisonment of the entire congregation in 1607. They arrived in Amsterdam the next year and moved on to Leyden in 1609. That year a twelve-year Truce between the Netherlands and Spain began. To avoid the Inquisition the pilgrims planned to emigrate to America. They were so poor in Holland that even their children had to work. They also wanted to protect their children from temptation and spread the gospel in the new world. Robinson became more tolerant and allowed members of his congregation to hold private communion with Anglicans.
In 1617 their deacons John Carver and Robert Cushman consulted with the London Company. King James let them know that he could not officially consent to their colony; but if they were peaceful, he would not disturb them. In the fall of 1618 separatists led by Francis Blackwell from Amsterdam sailed to Virginia and lost 150 out of 200 passengers on the overcrowded ship. Brewster had set up a printing press and got into trouble for publishing Perth Assembly by David Calderhood because it castigated King James for trying to impose episcopal government on the Scots. Copies were packed in French wine vats and smuggled into Scotland. A copy was discovered in April 1619, and it was traced to William Brewster who hid in England until he secretly boarded the ship.
Despite assistance by Edwin Sandys, the pilgrims in Leyden decided not to go to Virginia because the Virginia Company was bankrupt and could not provide them with free shipping. The New Netherland Company offered them free transportation and cattle if they would settle in New Amsterdam. However, the London ironmonger Thomas Weston promised them financial support, and they formed a joint stock company with some English merchants, selling shares for ten pounds and recognizing the labor of each colonist as one share. After seven years they were to divide the profits. Decisions were made by majority vote, but important issues required the consensus of all the stockholders. The pilgrims chose New England for religious freedom, and the stockholders hoped that the fishing would be profitable. The stockholders and one large investor made Cushman agree to eliminate the exemption on the settlers' homes and gardens in the final settlement and on their right to work two days a week for themselves. The pilgrims complained that this made them bond-slaves and would not agree; so Weston let them shift for themselves.
They sailed to Southampton in the Speedwell and the Mayflower, but the Speedwell sprang leaks and was not seaworthy. So on September 16, 1620 only 102 passengers sailed with a crew of thirty on the Mayflower for New England. Brewster led the 41 pilgrims from Leyden that included ten women and fourteen children. The rest were poor adventurers seeking economic opportunity and some children who were being deported. Captain Miles Standish was hired as a military leader. They saw Cape Cod on November 19 and found shelter in the bay. Most stayed on board for five weeks as some explored the land. They agreed on the famous Mayflower compact that was signed by 41 men.
In the name of God, amen; we whose names are underwritten,
the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord King James,
by the grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland
king, defender of the faith, etc. having undertaken,
for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith
and the honor of our king and country, a voyage
to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia,
do by these presents solemnly and mutually
in the presence of God and one of another, covenant
and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic,
for our better ordering and preservation
and furtherance of the ends aforesaid;
and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame
such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts,
constitutions and offices, from time to time,
as shall be thought most meet and convenient
for the general good of the colony, unto which
we promise all due submission and obedience.6
They elected John Carver as governor for one year. Only one passenger and three sailors had died during the passage, but 51 more passengers and half the sailors were weakened by scurvy and died of illness that first winter. More parents died than children, apparently because of how they shared the food. They found some corn (maize) the Indians had stored away and used it as seed corn to prevent starvation.
Samoset came to the pilgrims speaking some English and explained that the Patuxet tribe had lived there but was wiped out by the plague of 1617. Massasoit was the big chief of the Wampanoags. The pilgrims gave Samoset food and clothes, and the next day their stolen tools were returned. Samoset brought Squanto to them. The day after the spring equinox in 1621 the pilgrims made a treaty of friendship with Massasoit, who kept it until his death in 1662. They agreed not to harm or rob each other and to punish any who did. Edward Winslow and Stephen Hopkins gave Massasoit a copper chain to authorize his representative so that Indians would not pester the colonists for food. They were happy to learn that the Wampanoags would trade corn and beaver skins. Squanto stayed with the pilgrims, teaching them how to plant corn by using fish as fertilizer and how to catch herring with traps in the spring. The investors had not supplied the pilgrims with fishing equipment.
Despite the high mortality, none of the colonists returned on the Mayflower when it departed on April 5 with little cargo. A few days later Carver died, and William Bradford was elected governor. In the next 35 years Bradford was elected thirty times; Edward Winslow was governor in 1633, 1636, and 1644, and Thomas Prence was governor in 1634, 1638, and 1657-73. At first the administration consisted of the governor and one assistant. Bradford performed a wedding ceremony for widower Winslow and a widow, as the pilgrims believed weddings should be conducted by a civil magistrate.
The Narragansetts had escaped the plague and were the most powerful tribe in the area. In the summer of 1621 the sachem Corbitant plotted with them and captured the three interpreters Squanto, Hobomok, and Tockamahamon, but Hobomok escaped. Bradford sent Miles Standish with fourteen men, and they rescued the others. On September 13 Corbitant and eight other sachems representing the Nemasket, Nauset, Cummaquid, Manomet, Pamet, and the fierce Gayhead submitted to the English. The pilgrims celebrated their good harvest by sharing a feast of thanksgiving with Massasoit and ninety Wampanoags, who brought venison. The pilgrims celebrated this feast annually in October. In November the Fortune arrived with 35 settlers including a few more from the Leyden congregation. Cushman brought a letter from Weston asking them to sign the agreement, which they did reluctantly after Cushman preached on the "dangers of self-love." Unfortunately the furs and timber worth £500 they sent back on the Fortune were captured by a French privateer that robbed Cushman and the other passengers. Cushman published A Relation, or Journal, of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation settled at Plymouth, in New England, which was attributed to G. Mourt but was probably written by Bradford and Winslow. Cushman included his own essay on "The Lawfulness of Plantations." This propaganda was designed to attract new colonists and minimized their hardships while emphasizing the availability of fish, fowl, shellfish, and planting.
In April 1622 John Pierce gained a new patent for £50 and tried to take control of the Plymouth colony. The pilgrims complained to the Council for New England, and their company had to pay Pierce £500 to get their rights back. The Narragansett sachem Canonicus sent a bundle of arrows wrapped in a snake-skin that Squanto explained was a challenge; Bradford stuffed gunpowder and shot into the snake-skin and sent it back. After fishing captain John Huddleston brought them stores and news of the massacre at Jamestown, the pilgrims began building a fort, which they also used as a meeting hall, courtroom, and jail. That spring Squanto tried to increase his own power by raising a false alarm that Massasoit, Corbitant, and the Narragansetts were going to destroy the colony. Bradford refused to accept several beaver skins from Massasoit to hand over Squanto for execution, sparing the life of their interpreter who died of illness in November.
Thomas Weston sent out 70 men who started a new colony at Wessagusset in 1622. Some of them stole corn and abused the Massachusetts tribe. In the winter Bradford advised them to eat shellfish and groundnuts as the pilgrims were doing. In March 1623 Winslow saved Massosoit's life with timely medicines. A few days later Massasoit warned Hobomok that the Massachusetts were planning to attack Wessagusset. This colony had tried to control its criminals by publicly whipping and stocking them and even hanged one settler. Standish took eight men and killed Chief Wituwamat and six braves who had come to Wessagusset. Modern historians have questioned the justifications made by Bradford and Winslow for this preemptive attack. Three of Weston's men, who had moved out of the village, were killed three days later. After this, Weston's men abandoned the plantation. In his Good News from New England published the next year, Winslow criticized the colony at Wessagusset for making Christianity stink.
In 1623 hunger stimulated the Plymouth colony to abandon their communal system in regard to the growing of food, and the personal motivations increased their crops. Fishermen from Dorchester arrived, and Roger Conant, who withdrew from Plymouth, led them to Naumkeag, which later became Salem. The Council for New England sent out Captain Robert Gorges, son of Ferdinando, as governor along with the Anglican minister William Morrell; but they were ignored by the Plymouth colony, and Gorges took his group to the abandoned town of Wessagusset. Soon some went with Morrell back to England, while others moved on to Virginia. In the summer a drought threatened Plymouth's crops, but after a day of prayer, gentle rains came. The pilgrims enjoyed a bountiful harvest in the fall of 1623.
In March 1624 Bradford asked to be relieved of his responsibility as governor; he was re-elected, but the number of assistants was increased to five and became the council with the governor having two votes. Pastor John Robinson believed that the merchant adventurers did not want him transported, and they sent Reverend John Lyford instead. He and the elder Brewster sat with the council; but Lyford and John Oldham were found to be stirring up resentments when Lyford's letters were discovered aboard the Charity. Oldham quarreled with Standish and after drawing his knife was put in irons. Lyford and Oldham were tried for disturbing the peace, and the Council expelled them from Plymouth. Oldham went to Nantasket, but Lyford was given six months' grace. Lyford's wife accused him of wronging her and meddling with their maids. Oldham came back and was forcibly ejected through a gauntlet. Bradford claimed that the fairness of the trial persuaded many settlers to join their church. Lyford became the preacher at Naumkeag until 1628, and Oldham prospered there as a trader.
In December 1624 some of the London merchants wrote to Bradford that they wanted to abandon the venture. The pilgrims were saddened when they learned that John Robinson died in 1625. Standish went to London but could not borrow money for less than 50% interest. A shipment of beaver skins and cod worth £277 on the Little James was also stolen by pirates and taken to Morocco. De Rasieres from New Netherland traded wampum to the pilgrims that they used for trading with the Indians. In November 1626 Isaac Allerton signed an agreement for the pilgrims to buy the stock by paying £200 annually for nine years, and they also took on the debt of £600. Each share was worth twenty acres and a portion of the livestock. Until the debt was paid, Governor Bradford formed a partnership with Standish, Allerton, Winslow, Brewster, Howland, Alden, and Prence. Bringing over a hundred more saints, as they called the members of their church, increased Plymouth's debt by £550.
In 1625 Captain Wallaston brought indentured servants, but they soon moved to Virginia, where he sold them. The lawyer Thomas Morton became the leader of those remaining at Wallaston's colony and freed the indentured servants, making them equal partners. He called the colony Mare Mount, meaning mountain by the sea, but the pilgrims referred to it as Merrymount. His men perturbed the pilgrims by frolicking with natives around a Maypole, and the Plymouth settlers resented their selling firearms and rum to the Indians for beaver pelts and corn. Morton taught the Indians how to shoot and hired them to hunt. In the fall of 1628 the outlying settlements urged Governor Bradford to control Morton's men. Letters were sent, and Plymouth authorities warned them they would not tolerate their violating the royal proclamation of 1622 against selling weapons to Indians. Miles Standish with nine men dispersed the Merrymount settlers. Morton was isolated on an island without winter clothes or a gun or a knife and then was sent back to England with Oldham. Morton in New English Canaan satirized the Puritans' ways and called the short Standish "Captain Shrimp." He described the Indians as just, honest, generous, and wise, and the English as the opposite. What bothered the English was their openness to sexual love and pagan celebrations. Thus Morton's activities around the maypole were perceived as a threat to the Puritan way of life.
In 1629 Isaac Allerton arrived with Morton as his secretary, and Plymouth expelled Morton to Massachusetts. After he used a gun to intimidate some Indians to give him a canoe, Morton was fettered and shipped back to England. In 1630 the Plymouth Company was granted a new patent in the name of Bradford and his associates; but they did not get a charter because Allerton and the treasurer James Sherley insisted on exemption from customs duties for a few years. Sherley hired Edward Ashley to trade for furs on the Penobscot River in Maine, but he traded firearms and committed "uncleanness" with Indian women. So the pilgrims sent Ashley back to England as a prisoner. Allerton borrowed money at such high interest that the debt had ballooned from £400 to £4,770 in four years. They also had the £1,000 mortgage. Yet Allerton had made £400 profit and claimed they owed him £300 more. They dismissed Allerton in 1631, and two years later he was the richest man in Plymouth. The debt was not paid off until 1648, when Winslow, Prence, Alden, Standish, and Bradford sold their property to do so.
In 1630 John Billington shot to death John Newcomen in a quarrel. A jury convicted him, and after consulting with Governor John Winthrop who advised the death penalty, they hanged him. In 1632 a French ship from Canada robbed the Penobscot post of goods worth £500. The Plymouth settlers came into conflict on the Connecticut River with the Dutch trading post, House of Hope, which had been purchased from the Pequots in 1633. So the Plymouth traders bought the same land from a native who had been driven out by the Pequots. In 1634 the assistant governors John Howland and John Alden got involved in a skirmish on the Kennebec that resulted in two deaths, causing Governor Winthrop to complain that they were killing each other over beaver. Invited by a tribe that had been removed by the Pequots, in October 1634 William Holmes led some men from Plymouth up the Connecticut River past the Dutch settlement at Hartford to establish a trading post at Matianuck (Windsor). In England the attorney Morton accused the layman Winslow of teaching in church publicly and desecrating the sacraments by marrying people, causing Archbishop William Laud to put Winslow in prison for months. In 1635 the Plymouth colony lost their trading post in Maine to the French.
In 1636 the Plymouth partners calculated that in the past five years they had sent Sherley 12,530 pounds of beaver, plus thousands of otter, fox, mink, and other skins worth at least £10,000. Because the goods they received were worth less than £2,000 pounds, they believed their debt of £5,770 was paid. Until 1636 the Plymouth colony had only forty statutes, but then a committee of eight revised and extended them. The death penalty was limited to treason, murder, witchcraft, adultery, rape, sodomy, and arson, but only two people had been executed. Sentences were less for those in higher stations. One had to have the consent of the parents to apply for marriage. Idlers could be forced to work by the government, and the governor or two of his assistants could order a stranger to leave the colony. One could be fined for smoking tobacco in public. In 1639 every householder was required to plant a rod of hemp or flax, and idleness was banned. That year the freemen elected their first representatives. Plymouth had four representatives, and the towns of Duxbury and Scituate each had two; they met with the governor and his seven assistants. They also elected a treasurer and a secretary and had a coroner, constables, and other officers. Only freemen with an estate of £20 could vote, and in 1643 the colony had 3,000 people in ten towns but only 232 freemen. That year they sent delegates to Boston, and in September they signed the Articles of Confederation for the United Colonies of New England.
In 1623 the Dorchester Company sent out fishermen and planters on the Friendship, and they arrived at Cape Ann and established a fishing stage. Fourteen men stayed there during the winter, and the Friendship brought more men in the next two years. In 1625 the Company invited Roger Conant to be manager, John Lyford to be minister, and John Oldham to conduct trade with the Indians. Conant persuaded Plymouth captain Standish to move their fishing stage from Cape Ann to Kennebec; but Lyford left for Virginia, and by 1626 the Dorchester Company was in financial difficulty. On March 19, 1628 the Council for New England gave a patent to the New England Company for the portion of New England from three miles north of the Merrimac River to three miles south of the Charles River. They had a fund of £2,915 with about ninety members including several prominent men and six from the Dorchester group. The next day the Dorchester Company managed to send two ships with supplies to Naumkeag.
In June 1628 Captain John Endecott led about fifty colonists, who were mostly hired servants, and they settled at Naumkeag, which was renamed Salem the next year. Endecott claimed that the New England Company had acquired the rights of the Dorchester Company, but some denied this and resented his leadership. He ruled autocratically until he was elected on 30 April 1629. When 200 settlers arrived in June, Endecott quickly sent a hundred to occupy Charlestown because of a previous grant given to the New England Company that its president Ferdinando Gorges handed to his son Robert and the pesky Oldham, who had refused to give up his right to manage the fur trade. By written ballots they elected the nonconformist ministers Samuel Skelton and Francis Higginson to be minister and teacher. Samuel Fuller came from Plymouth and persuaded them to establish an independent Church of Christ in Salem. John and Samuel Browne wanted to keep to the Church of England, but Endecott sent them back to England.
John Winthrop was born in Suffolk on 12 January 1588 and was brought up to manage Groton Manor. He attended Trinity College at Cambridge, married at age 17, and the next year became a justice of the peace. Puritans believed strongly in the Bible, and those who urged others to do so were called precisians. At first Puritans supported the Anglican church, but by 1630 separatists, such as the pilgrims at Plymouth, were also considered Puritans. King Charles came into conflict with Puritans resisting his policies, and on 2 March 1629 he blocked Parliament from adjourning. The royal guard took Puritan leaders to the Tower, and Winthrop lost his position at court as an attorney. For the next eleven years Charles tried to govern without Parliament. The pilgrims had remained loyal to King James while rejecting the Anglican church. Most of the Puritans wanted to get away from King Charles but adhered to the Church of England. Though many Puritans rejected the Book of Common Prayer and the sacraments, they wanted to reform the Church. On March 4 Charles granted the Massachusetts Bay Company a charter, and they selected Matthew Craddock as governor. After much discussion, on August 26 twelve leaders that included Richard Saltonstall, Thomas Dudley, Isaac Johnson, and John Winthrop signed an agreement at Cambridge to embark for the plantation the following March provided that the government and the patent were transferred by a legal court order to their Massachusetts Bay Company. They did not want to be governed from England. Craddock retired in October, and Winthrop was chosen as governor.
On 29 March 1630 the Arbella and three other ships carried 400 colonists, and 600 more followed a month later. Reverend John White of Dorchester, who had helped inspire the early ventures and in 1630 wrote “The Planters Plea” suggesting that emigration to New England was the best remedy for the economic difficulties of many, urged the Puritans on the Arbella to avoid separatism and sign his tract on loyalty to England and its Church. On the Arbella Winthrop gave his famous sermon on “A Model of Christian Charity.” He suggested that the two rules for living are justice and mercy as taught in the Bible. He concluded that love is real, necessary, free, and courageous. They are a company knit together in the love of Christ. Care of the public must overcome private considerations so that their posterity may be preserved from the corruption of the world. With brotherly love for one another with pure hearts they must bear each other's burdens because they have entered a covenant with God for this work. They will keep the unity in peace. He said,
For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill.
The eyes of all people are upon us,
so that if we shall deal falsely with our God
in this work we have undertaken,
and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us,
we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world.7
Winthrop urged them to choose life and good by obeying the voice of God.
Yet Governor Winthrop believed that the natives had only a natural right to the land because they had neither settled habitations nor tame cattle to improve the land. He wrote that as long as they left the Indians enough land for their use, they could "lawfully take the rest." Letting their livestock graze on the cultivated land of the Indians often caused natives to abandon their land, or alcohol was used to persuade them to sell it cheap. When a dispute over ownership was decided in an English court, the Indian rarely won. Indians could be convicted for violating English laws such as working on a Sabbath or being in a town, and they often paid their fines with land.
During the “great migration” between 1630 and 1643 a reported 198 ships carried 16,000 people and supplies at a cost of £192,000 from England to Massachusetts. Winthrop chose the Charlestown area, but they soon moved to find better water and founded Boston. In the first official meeting on August 23 Winthrop and his eight assistants set maximum wages at two shillings a day. Later when English goods arrived, they limited prices to no more than four pence per shilling above the cost in England. In September they put Thomas Morton in the stocks for trading illegally with the natives and then sent him back to England. They prohibited selling guns to the Indians and chose constables for the towns. In October the stockholders opened their membership to freemen, who were to elect the assistants, but they also gave the magistrates the power to make the laws instead of the members. In November they set the price for beer and the ferry, and they provided a bounty for killing wolves. Saltonstall had two persons whipped without the concurrence of a second magistrate and was fined for the infraction. Endecott was convicted of battery and was also fined.
During the first year about two hundred people died from scurvy and fever, and about the same number returned to England in the spring of 1631. Only ninety settlers arrived that year. In May the General Court allowed 116 freemen to vote for the assistants, who then re-elected Winthrop as governor and Thomas Dudley as his deputy. The stricter Dudley often criticized Winthrop for being too lenient. Six of the nine assistants were appointed magistrates. Only freemen who were members of a Congregationalist church were allowed to vote. Planting was successful, and they suffered no more starvation. Shipwrights led by William Stephens began building ships. Winthrop's third wife Margaret and their family arrived in the fall of 1631.
Early in 1632 the people of Watertown refused to pay a tax, and in May the freemen were allowed to elect the governor and his deputy as well as the assistants. Richard Hopkins was flogged and branded on the cheek for selling guns and ammunition to the Indian John Sagamore. In June they passed a law that each town must have a trading post for Indians so that they would not come to the houses. In 1633 the General Court outlawed idleness in order to punish “common coasters, unprofitable fowlers, and tobacco takers.” Between autumn 1633 and the summer of 1634 a smallpox epidemic wiped out thousands of Indians in the region. William Pynchon was one of the merchants who obtained the original charter, and in 1632 he was given a monopoly on fur trading. In 1635 he founded the town of Agawam, where the Westfield and Connecticut rivers joined. English immigrants bought Musketaquid from the Indians and named it Concord. John Mason was given a royal charter for New Hampshire in 1635, and four years later Ferdinando Gorges got a charter for Maine.
Unmarried men and women were required to live with some family, and parents were expected to teach their children and apprentices to read. A 1635 law fined those who did not attend church services, and after 1638 taxes were used to help support the ministers. Church members by consensus carefully selected new members based on their morals. The Presbyterians were more tolerant than the Congregationalists in accepting members. The Puritans’ ordinances banned sin but tried to stop short of prohibiting temptation. For example, Cambridge minister Thomas Shepard complained that to forbid drinking toasts would provoke God by making more sins than God had. Robert Coles was fined £10 and had to stand with a “drunkard” sign on his back. When he was found drunk again six months later, he was disenfranchised and had to wear a red “D” on white clothing for a year. Indentured servants were not permitted to marry until they had served their time, thus increasing sexual temptations among that class.
Edward Winslow of Plymouth was also the agent for Massachusetts in the patent controversy over the 1632 petition by Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason. The issue was turned over to the Commission for Plantations in General, but they could not get the Massachusetts charter. Gorges criticized the Puritans, and the Commission's new head, Archbishop William Laud, put Winslow in prison. Questions were raised as to why the Governor and magistrates had taken over the legislative power of the General Court. No one could settle in Massachusetts without the permission of Winthrop, Dudley, Endecott, or two of their assistants. Anyone “defaming” the court or a magistrate could be fined, imprisoned, disenfranchised, or banished.
After petitioning, in May 1634 Winthrop and his assistants agreed to let the General Court with the freeman have the exclusive power to make laws, raise funds by taxing, dispose of land, elect and appoint officers, and set their duties. In November the General Court learned that Roger Williams was teaching that the royal patent was invalid before God and that it did not give them legal title to the land. They summoned him then and again the following April because of his objection to the oath, and they questioned him a third time in July. When King Charles gave Ferdinando Gorges and Mason a commission to govern New England, Winthrop prepared the fortifications and militia. The King and deputies were still asking Governor Winthrop to show them the charter. That year they elected Dudley governor, and in 1635 John Haynes was chosen governor.
John Cotton arrived in 1633, began preaching, and was quickly elected a teacher. He believed that the magistrates, the ministers, and the people should concur. Thomas Hooker preached at New Town, advocating “in matters which concern the common good a general council, chosen by all,” as what is “most safe for the relief of the whole.”8 Watertown and Dorchester organized town governments. By 1635 Massachusetts Bay had a dozen churches. Influenced by Roger Williams, Endecott cut out the royal cross from the Salem Company flag, and the Boston General Court banned him from holding office for a year. Winthrop suggested that he should have brought the issue to the magistrates, and in December 1636 the military commissioners decided to leave the cross off all the flags. Salem elected Williams as their teacher, and Boston punished them by withholding a tract of land. In January 1636 they ordered Williams to sail for England, but he escaped into the forest instead.
By 1636 Anne Hutchinson had fourteen children, and she was helpful as an advisor on pre-natal and post-natal care. She also gave religious lectures in her home that grew from half a dozen people to fifty or more twice a week; one was for women only, but men attended the other. Anne was supported by the preacher John Wheelwright, the minister Cotton, Captain Underhill, and even Governor Henry Vane who had been elected at the age of 23. She rejected what she called the “covenant of works” because she believed that one is saved by the grace of God and not by good works alone. She and Wheelwright called those who believed that good works bring redemption “legalists,” and he warned that those in the covenant of works may not know the work of grace and the ways of God. In January 1637 Wheelwright said that they were not libertines nor antinomians, but this latter term came to be used to describe this movement. In March 1637 Stephen Greensmith was fined £40 for saying that he thought all the ministers except Cotton, Wheelwright, and Hooker taught a covenant of works. Wheelwright was convicted of sedition and contempt, but his sentencing was postponed.
After Winthrop was elected governor again in the spring of 1637, Anne Hutchinson was questioned by the General Court. She maintained her conscientious viewpoint and cited Titus 2:3-4 that the elder women should instruct the younger; but Governor Winthrop reminded her that they were to train them to love their husbands and be submissive to them. She was convicted of violating the fifth commandment, because they believed that magistrates should be honored as parents. Finally she warned them that God would ruin them, their posterity, and the state because of what they were doing to her. When asked how she knew this, she replied it was “by an immediate revelation.” After a synod of ministers gave their advice, the Court expelled Hutchinson, Wheelwright, and William Aspinwall from the colony. Eight men who had signed a petition supporting her were disenfranchised; ten others confessed their sin and remained freemen. Five days later all 75 who had signed the petition were ordered to surrender their guns, swords, and ammunition even though because of the Pequot War all men were required to carry muskets. These included the baptist John Clarke and William Coddington.
Anne Hutchinson was also interrogated in her church on March 15 and 22. In between she was in the custody of Cotton, and he and John Davenport urged her to make retractions. Finally the Boston minister, John Wilson, ordered her to withdraw “as a leper,” and she walked out with her friend Mary Dyer, saying that it is better to be thrown out of church than to deny Christ. Winthrop had called Dyer a “very proud spirit” who was “much addicted to revelations.” During this time both Anne, who was 46, and Mary Dyer had miscarriages, and Winthrop argued that this proved God was condemning them. The General Court prohibited new arrivals from remaining in the colony for more than three weeks without the permission of a magistrate, and now none of the magistrates tolerated the antinomians. In the next dozen years Mary Oliver was brought to court six times for criticizing the ministers and magistrates, and she was put in the stocks, whipped, imprisoned, and had a cleft stick placed on her tongue.
In 1636 the General Court of Massachusetts authorized £400 for a college, and two years later it was named after John Harvard, who died and left his library and half his estate to the college in New Town, which was renamed Cambridge. The first master Nathaniel Eaton was so severe in his punishment of students that Thomas Shepard had to intervene to protect the boys. The General Court was shocked by the beatings and the poor food, and they dismissed Eaton in September 1639. That year Stephen Daye used the first printing press to publish the pamphlet The Free Man's Oath and an almanac. The next year he printed The Bay Psalm Book and a volume of poems by Anne Bradstreet. Henry Dunster became president of Harvard in 1640, and two years later Harvard's first class of nine graduated. Dunster was converted to the idea that infant baptism had little value or scriptural authority, and in 1654 he was forced to resign. The Confederation of New England did not collect any taxes, but the Commissioners urged every family to contribute to the college.
Thomas Dudley was elected governor of Massachusetts again in 1640, and the next year Richard Bellingham defeated Winthrop by six votes. Nathaniel Ward drew up a new code of laws that were called the Body of Liberties because its hundred provisions protected the equal rights of men, magistrates, churches, animals, servants, children, and women. Every wife was protected from being struck by her husband. All fugitives from tyranny and oppression were to be given hospitality. Only those captured in just wars or those who freely sold themselves or were sold to them were to be slaves. Some African slaves were brought to Salem in 1638, but very few were imported in the next forty years. Every magistrate was to be elected annually. No man could be forced to go beyond the plantation for any offensive war. Neither monopolies nor feudal restrictions on land were permitted. Trial by jury and the process of law were protected, and generally the laws were simpler than those in England, which they were not allowed to oppose. Capital punishment was authorized for idolatry, witchcraft, blasphemy, murder, bestiality, sodomy, adultery, stealing a person, false testimony, and treason; England had the death penalty for about fifty crimes. Freemen were to elect all officers annually, and the freemen of each town could make their own ordinances. No general assembly could be dissolved without a majority vote. The General Court accepted this code of liberties in December 1641. The next year they passed a law requiring parents to teach their children to read. In April 1642 Massachusetts annexed New Hampshire, and their freemen and deputies were not required to be church members.
Winthrop was elected governor again in 1642. The next year he proposed a confederation with Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven to defend against Indians and foreign attacks. In June 1643 Governor Winthrop allowed La Tour and some French Catholics to take refuge in Boston and raise support for his struggle against d’Aulnay for Acadia; but this was unpopular, and Winthrop was only deputy governor the next two years. After that he was re-elected governor, and he died on 26 March 1649. Winthrop believed that the colony should follow the rule of God, but he did not think that penalties had to be imposed for all infractions. He differentiated the liberty that makes people more evil from the moral liberty which obeys proper authority and is good, just, and honest.
Chief Wopigwooit and his son Sassacus of the Pequots gained hegemony over the Indians in the Connecticut Valley. Some Western Niantics subject to Sassacus killed Captain John Stone and seven other traders on the Connecticut River in the spring of 1634. The Indians accused Stone of abducting two braves who came aboard his ship to trade, and he had a record of having tried to steal a Plymouth ship at New Amsterdam and of nearly stabbing Plymouth governor Prence. In November the Pequots signed a treaty with the Bay colony. This treaty was later lost, and the unfairness of the terms as remembered by John Winthrop have been questioned. When the Pequots rejected the one-sided demands, Massachusetts denounced the treaty. The Pequots were expected to hand over two assassins and pay 400 fathoms of wampum, 40 beaver skins, and 30 otter skins; these were worth nearly half of the annual taxes paid in Massachusetts in 1634. In addition the Pequots were giving the Connecticut Valley to Massachusetts. The Pequots would have irritated their tributaries in trying to apprehend the killers. The Mohicans split off from the Pequot nation in 1635.
That year a few pioneers from Dorchester trekked through the wilderness to the Plymouth fort at Matianuck that was renamed Windsor, and some from Watertown founded Wethersfield, also in the Connecticut Valley. Connecticut held its first court at Newtown on 26 April 1636, and Thomas Hooker led a congregation of a hundred to Hartford in June. The Dorchester and Watertown congregations followed, and by the following May some 800 people were living in Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield. The Saybrook Company claimed territory with John Winthrop Jr. as governor near the Western Niantics of sachem Sassious and their Pequot allies of sachem Sassacus. The Eastern Niantics were allied to the Narragansetts. In June 1636 Jonathan Brewster, a trader from Plymouth, sent a warning to Fort Saybrook that Mohegan sachem Uncas said the Pequots expected an attack from the English.
On 4 July 1636 the Standing Council of Massachusetts instructed the younger Winthrop to give the Pequots an ultimatum. Sassious offered his land to this Winthrop in exchange for his protection of the Western Niantics. Marauding Indians attacked the trading post of John Oldham, who was killed. A few days later John Gallop found Oldham's mutilated body on his pinnace near Block Island; Gallop's men caused several Indians to drown, and they bound two prisoners and threw them into the sea. Gallop believed these Indians were subject to the Narragansetts, who blamed Oldham for bringing the smallpox epidemic of 1633 that killed 700 Narragansetts. Roger Williams talked to the Narragansett chief Miantonomo, who went with 200 warriors and paid Block Islanders for executing Audsah, the murderer of Oldham while arranging with the Niantic sachem for Oldham's two boys and his goods to be returned to the Bay colony.
Governor Vane sent John Endecott in August with ninety men who ravaged Block Island after the Indians had fled. According to Captain John Underhill, the Pequots greeted these men in a friendly way but then asked if they came to kill them. When the Pequots on the mainland refused to give him 1,000 fathoms of wampum, the forces from Massachusetts killed 13 Indians, stole their ripe corn, and burned their wigwams. Lion Gardiner at Saybrook Fort complained that Endecott stirred up wasps and left. A few days later five men from Saybrook were ambushed and killed. Winslow wrote to the senior Winthrop that the Bay colony was fomenting a war unilaterally. According to Gardiner, the Pequots asked the Europeans if they killed women and children.
After his father Wopigwooit was murdered, Chief Sassacus tried to form an alliance with the Narragansetts. The Narragansetts were accused in Boston of killing John Oldham, but Roger Williams wrote a letter that the Pequots had done it and that the Narragansett sachems Canonicus and Miantonomo had gone with two hundred warriors to retaliate against the Pequots. These two chiefs were exonerated. John Winthrop Sr. wrote a letter to Williams, and Governor Vane and the Council asked him to prevent the Narragansetts from making an alliance with the Pequots. Williams went alone in a canoe to Chief Canonicus while the Pequot envoys were there. He persuaded the Narragansett leaders to go with him to a meeting at Providence in which Canonicus amazed the English with his wisdom.
Then Miantonomo and two sons of Canonicus went to Boston in October and made an alliance with the English that was signed by Governor Vane. Williams urged Winthrop to send sugar to Canonicus to sweeten the deal, and he kept the Massachusetts government informed about the movements of the Indians. Williams also explained in detail the Narragansett tactics for defeating the Pequots that proved to be devastatingly effective. Miantonomo asked Williams to convey to Boston that the natives would be pleased if women and children were spared. The Puritan historian William Hubbard ignored Williams' diplomatic role and implied that the Narragansetts begged Massachusetts for an alliance.
The Wethersfield settlers had agreed to share the land with the sachem Sowheag; but after they quarreled and drove him out, he appealed to the Pequots. On 23 April 1637 about 200 Pequots killed nine people in Wethersfield and abducted two girls. Massachusetts planned an offensive war against the Pequots in June and ordered 160 men enlisted. Plymouth was supposed to send forty men but declined to participate. Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield organized 90 men and did not wait until June. They were joined by Chief Uncas with 70 Mohegans, but the Eastern Niantics would not let the soldiers inside their fort. After John Winthrop Sr. was elected governor on May 17, he immediately sent forty soldiers. Williams persuaded about 50 Narragansetts to participate, and this encouraged 400 Eastern Niantics to join; but most of them deserted when they learned that Mason was going to attack the people at Mystic instead of the Pequot fort of Sassacus. Gardiner and Underhill opposed his ruthless plan until the chaplain gave his moral approval. The 300 Indian allies made a circle around the Pequot stronghold at Mystic Fort. At first Mason wanted to use the sword to get more plunder; but because there were so many Pequots, he decided to burn them and began setting fire to the wigwams. On May 26 the army massacred about 500 Pequots while suffering only two English killed and 20 wounded. The Narragansetts complained that the English way of fighting killed too many people.
When 300 Pequots appeared on a hill, they were attacked by Underhill with a dozen men. As the Pequots fled west, many more were killed. About 100 were captured, and the women and children were given to the Bay colony and the Narragansetts; but 22 warriors were executed. About 50 were killed after a swamp near Quinnipiac was surrounded. Mason said that about 180 were captured there, and they were divided equally between Massachusetts and Connecticut. This was the first major enslavement, and Mason observed that Pequots did not usually live long in servitude. Sassacus went to the Mohawks, who killed him, his brother, and five other sachems, sending their scalps to Boston. By the end of 1637 the remaining sachems begged for peace. In March 1638 the last 200 Pequots surrendered to the Narragansetts, but they were seized by Massachusetts troops and were divided at Hartford; 80 went to Uncas and 20 to Ninigret. The Treaty of Hartford was signed on September 21. Many Pequots joined the Mohicans and thus became allies of Connecticut. The Pequots ceased to exist as a tribe. The Narragansetts and the Mohicans promised not to fight each other without the approval of the English. This extermination of the Pequots opened the Connecticut coast to colonization, and parcels of land were given to Connecticut veterans.
New Haven was founded at Quinnipiac in the spring of 1638 with annual elections. On 31 May 1638 Hartford held its first General Court, and Hooker preached on founding authority on the free consent of the people. The freemen who had been accepted as members of the three towns met at Hartford on 14 January 1639 and adopted a written constitution. Each of the three towns elected four deputies to the general court. John Haynes was elected the first governor in April, and they adopted a bill or rights that everyone should enjoy the same law and justice without partiality or delay.
During the Pequot War the Connecticut General Court asked William Pynchon to buy corn from the Indians; but when he could not get it at the price they demanded, he was summoned to Hartford and was fined forty bushels of corn. In 1638 Massachusetts made Connecticut cede Agawam, and the next year the name was changed to Springfield. In April 1638 John Davenport and Samuel and Theophilus Eaton moved their company from Boston to Quinnipiac. In November they made an agreement with Momauguin to protect his tribe and share the land, and a month later they purchased another large tract from Montowese. In June 1639 the free planters at Quinnipiac formed a constitution for New Haven that based their laws on the scriptures, and only church members were to be free burgesses. In October they elected Theophilus Eaton their first governor. That year the Connecticut court sent Major John Mason with a hundred men to punish Chief Sowheag at Mattabeseck for harboring Pequot murderers, and they burned wigwams and carried off Indian corn. The court at Hartford appointed a committee to work on forming a general confederation. In 1640 Connecticut and New Haven purchased more territory.
Roger Williams was born about 1603 in London. He learned shorthand writing, and by about 1616 he was working as a recorder for Chief Justice Edward Coke, who made him his protégé. Williams had converted to “the true Lord Jesus,” and after graduating from Pembroke College at Cambridge in 1627 he became a minister. He married Mary Barnard in December 1629, and a year later they embarked for Massachusetts. He declined to be teacher to the Boston Church because they were “unseparated.” Williams objected to civil magistrates punishing people for religious sins such as idolatry, Sabbath-breaking, and blasphemy. To find the separatists he moved to Plymouth in 1631, and he began working as a missionary to the Algonquins, learning their language. He came into conflict because he questioned the colonial patents and suggested that the genuine land rights belonged to the Indians. In 1633 Williams accepted an invitation to be a minister at the church in Salem. He preached that the cross should be removed from their flags because it is an idolatrous image. He questioned whether the state can require religious oaths. In May 1635 the Salem church made Williams their teacher. By August he had withdrawn from communion with the Bay churches, and he became ill. In October the leading clergy told him to renounce his errors, but he refused. Because of his illness he was given more time.
In January 1636 Williams was going to be deported to Boston, but he fled into the forest with a servant. He found that the Wampanoags and the Narragansetts were involved in a “great contest,” and he worked to mediate their conflicts. He was given refuge with the Narragansett sachem Canonicus and his nephew Miantonomo and purchased land from them. Plymouth leaders asked him to go beyond their borders, and he crossed a river to found Providence where three more men accompanied him. Williams was joined by his wife and two daughters in the spring. Williams did not exercise any proprietary authority, and at first there was neither a magistracy nor a church. The masters of families met and made decisions by mutual consent. After a few months enough single people had joined that in August 1637 they began making decisions by the majority of householders, but “only in civil things.” His diplomacy shifted the balance in the Pequot War by persuading the Narragansetts to be allies of the English. Winslow contributed a gold coin, and in the first year the community of conscience grew to thirteen households.
In January 1638 Roger Williams and Henry Vane purchased Aquidneck (Rhode Island) from Canonicus and Miantonomo. They decided that no one shall be molested because of one's conscience. While John Wheelwright led a group that went north from Boston to the Piscataqua River and founded Exeter in New Hampshire, Anne Hutchinson and her friends joined Williams in Rhode Island. In March 1638 William Coddington, Anne’s husband Will Hutchinson, and others signed an agreement to become joint proprietors of Rhode Island. Williams led a group of baptists, but he soon gave up that sect to be an individual seeker and so had no group. In May the Assembly decided that Joshua Verrin did not have the prerogative of beating his wife because she attended private religious meetings with Williams, and they withheld his vote for restraining liberty of conscience.
Samuel Gorton was in Boston during the Ann Hutchinson controversy, and in 1638 he went to Plymouth. After his servant, Ellen Aldridge, was charged with “smiling in church” and making “unworthy speeches,” Gorton was banished in December for preaching that happiness could be found while in this world. He went to a small colony of Pocasset (Portsmouth) started by William Coddington in Aquidneck (Rhode Island). Many “antinomians” came to Aquidneck from Massachusetts in the second half of 1638. In late April 1639 Gorton and a dozen men rebelled against Coddington, and thirty persons signed a new compact, electing Will Hutchinson judge. After a year Will resigned because the Hutchinsons no longer believed in governors and judges. Coddington had used the laws of Moses, but they replaced these with the laws of the realm. Coddington and his supporters fled south and founded Newport by a deep harbor, and in November they also gave up theocracy and put themselves under King Charles.
In March 1640 representatives from both ends of the island met at Newport. They formed a coalition government and elected Coddington governor, but the offices were divided between those from newly named Portsmouth and Newport. Gorton rejected the reunion, and during the summer he appeared in court to defend another of his serving maids, who had attacked a woman for fetching her cow from their land. Gorton verbally abused the witnesses and was chastised and banished. In August the Newport delegates voted to establish a public school. In September the Governor and his deputy Brenton joined a letter from the governors of Hartford and New Haven to Massachusetts suggesting they treat the Indians with justice and kindness instead of as the “accursed race of Ham.” Governor Dudley replied he agreed but said he would not capitulate with those from Rhode Island.
In March 1641 they met at Portsmouth and declared Rhode Island a democracy in which a majority of the freemen make just laws and depute ministers to enforce them. Also they considered it repugnant to their government for anyone to be accounted delinquent for doctrine, and six months later they confirmed liberty of conscience. The seal contained the motto Amor vincet omnia (Love conquers all). In September 1642 they prohibited the sale of Aquidneck lands to any outside jurisdiction. Because Massachusetts refused to let people from Aquidneck or Providence purchase in their markets, they turned to their Dutch neighbors for necessities.
At Providence they had only a treasurer chosen monthly and a clerk for each meeting until 1640, when they decided to choose five men to dispose of lands. Complaints were to be settled by arbitration. In the fall the board of arbitrators at Providence decided that Francis Weston, who had recently become a Gortonist, owed £15, and they had some of his cattle attached. Gorton and his followers assailed the legal officers in the street, and some blood was spilt. Thirteen settlers, including the Arnold family but not Williams, appealed to Governor Winthrop in November, and they subjected themselves to Massachusetts in September 1642.
One of Anne HuHutchinson’s sons, Francis, and a son-in-law, William Collins, were fined and imprisoned in Massachusetts for having written a letter on her behalf. They joined Anne’s household in Aquidneck. Fearing persecution from the English, in the summer of 1642 after her husband died, Anne fled to Dutch territory. During Kieft's war in August 1643 Siwanoy warriors massacred her entire household of sixteen people, except for one daughter who was captured.
1. The History of the Five Nations by Cadwallader Colden,
2. 500 Nations by Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., p. 48.
3. Old Virginia and Her Neighbors, Volume 1 by John Fiske, p. 87.
4. Colonial Virginia, Vol. 1 by Richard L. Morton, p. 39.
5. History of the State of New York, Vol. 1, p. 242-243.
6. Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford, p. 75-76.
7. Old South Leaflets, no. 207 in The Puritans in America ed. Alan Heimert and Andrew Delbanco, p. 91.
8. The Beginnings of New England by John Fiske, p. 151-152.
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