Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "If liberty and equality, as is thought by some are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Ch. 7: Quaker, Yankee, and King

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 8
    Previous Chapter
    The American principle, simple in that its perfection is human liberty,
    is of complex make. It is the sum of the ways in which a man may
    legitimately be free. But neither Pilgrims, Puritans, New Amsterdamers,
    Virginians, Carolinians nor Marylanders were free in all ways. Even the
    Providence people had their limitations. It is not meant, merely, that the
    old world still kept a grip on them: their several systems were
    intrinsically incomplete. Some of them put religious liberty in the first
    place; others, political; but each had its inconsistency, or its
    shortcoming. None had gone quite to the root of the matter. What was that
    root?--or, let us say, the mother lode, of which these were efferent veins?

    The Pilgrims and Puritans, heretics in Episcopalian England, had escaped
    from their persecution, but had banished heretics in their turn. Tranquil
    Lord Baltimore having laid the burden of his doubts at the foot of God's
    vicegerent on earth, had sought no further, and was indifferent as to what
    other poor mortals might choose to think they thought about the unknown
    things. Roger Williams' charity, based on the dogma of free conscience,
    drew the line only at atheists. The other colonists, since their salient
    contention was on the lower ground of civil emancipation and
    self-direction, are not presently considered.

    But, to the assembly of religious radicals, there enters a plain Man in
    Leather Breeches, and sees fetters on the limbs of all of them. "Does thee
    call it freedom, Friend Winthrop," says he, "to fear contact with such as
    believe otherwise than thee does? Can truth fear aught? And fear, is it
    not bondage? As for thee, George Calvert, thee has delivered up thine
    immortal soul into the keeping of a man no different from what thee
    thyself is, so to escape the anxious seat; but the dead also are free of
    anxiety, and thy bondage is most like unto death. Thee calls thy colony
    folk free, because thee lets them believe what they list; but they do but
    follow what their fathers taught them, who got it from theirs; which is to
    be in bondage to the past. And here is friend Roger, who makes private
    conscience free; but what is private conscience but the private reasonings
    whereby a man convinceth himself? and how shall he call his conviction the
    truth, since all truth is one, but the testimony of no man's private
    conscience is the same as another's? Nay, how does thee know that the
    atheist, whom thee excludes, is further from the truth than thee thyself
    is? Truly, I hear the clanking of the chains on ye all; but if ye will
    accept the Inner Light, then indeed shall ye know what freedom is!"

    This Man in Leather Breeches, who also wears his hat in the king's
    presence, is otherwise known as George Fox, the Leicestershire weaver's
    son, the Quaker. In his youth he was much troubled in spirit concerning
    mankind, their nature and destiny, and the purpose of God concerning them.
    He wandered in lonely places, and fasted, and was afflicted; he sought
    help and light from all, but there was none could enlighten him. But at
    last light came to him, even out of the bosom of his own darkness; and he
    saw that human learning is but vanity, since within a man's self, will he
    but look for it, abides a great Inner Light, which changeth not, and is
    the same in all; being, indeed, the presence of the Spirit of God in His
    creature, a constant guide and revelation, withheld from none, uniting and
    equalizing all; for what, in comparison with God, are the distinctions of
    rank and wealth, or of learning?--Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His
    righteousness, and these things shall be added unto you. In the lowest of
    men, not less than in such as are called greatest, burns this lamp of
    Divine Truth, and it shall shine for the hind as brightly as for the
    prince. In its rays, the trappings of royalty are rags, jewels are dust
    and ashes, the lore of science, folly; the disputes of philosophers, the
    crackling of thorns under the pot. By the Inner Light alone can men be
    free and equal, true sons of God, heirs of a liberty which can never be
    taken away, since bars confine not the spirit, nor do tortures or death of
    the body afflict it. So said George Fox and his followers; and their lives
    bore witness to their words.

    The Society of Friends took its rise not from a discovery--for Fox
    himself held the Demon of Socrates, and similar traditional phenomena, to
    be identical with the Inner Light, or voice of the Spirit--but rather in
    the recognition of the universality of something which had heretofore been
    regarded as exceptional and extraordinary. In the Seventeenth Century
    there was a general revolt of the oppressed against oppression, declaring
    itself in all phases of the outer and inner life; of these, there must
    needs be one interior to all the rest, and Quakerism seems to have been
    it. It was a revolution within revolutions; it saw in the man's own self
    the only tyrant who could really enslave him; and by bringing him into the
    direct presence of God, it showed him the way to the only real
    emancipation. Historically, it was the vital element in all other
    emancipating movements; it was their logical antecedent: the hidden spring
    feeding all their rivers with the water of life. It enables us to analyze
    them and gauge their values; it is their measure and plummet. And this,
    not because it is the final or the highest word justifying the ways of God
    to man--for it has not proved to be so: but because it indicated, once for
    all, in what direction the real solution of the riddle of man was to be
    sought: a riddle never to be fully solved, but forever approximately
    guessed. Quakerism has not maintained its relative position in religious
    thought; but it was the finest perception of its day, and in the turmoil
    of the time it fulfilled its purpose. Probably its best effect was the
    development it gave to the humbler element of society--to the yeomen and
    laborers; affording them the needed justification for the various demands
    for recognition that they were urging. Puritanism banished Quakers, and
    even hanged them; but the Quaker was the Puritan's spiritual father,
    although he knew it not. And therefore the Quaker, who was among the last
    to appear in America as a settler in virgin soil, had a right thereto
    prior to any one of the others. There must be a soul before there can be a
    body.

    On the other hand, a soul without a body is not adapted to life in this
    world; and an America peopled exclusively by Quakers would have been
    unsatisfactory. It is a prevailing tendency of man, having hit upon a
    truth, to begin to theorize upon it, and, as the phrase is, run it into
    the ground. Quakers would not fight, would not take an oath, would not
    baptize, or wear mourning, or flatter the senses with pictures and
    statues. A Quaker would resist evil and violence only by enlightening
    them. He would not be taxed for measures or objects which he did not
    approve. He could see but one way of reforming the world, and thought that
    God was equally circumscribed in His methods. But though the leaven may
    make bread wholesome, we cannot subsist on leaven alone. The essence of
    Americanism may be in a Quaker, but he is far from being a complete
    American, and therefore he was fain to take his place only as a noble
    ingredient in that wonderful mixture. By degrees, the singularities which
    distinguished him were softened; his thee and thy yielded to the common
    forms of speech; his drab suit altered its cut and hue; his hat came off
    occasionally; his women abated the rigor of their poke bonnets; he was
    able to say to the enemy of his country, "Friend, thee is standing just
    where I am going to shoot." The disintegration of his individuality set
    free the good that was in him to permeate surrounding society; his fellow
    flowers in the garden were more beautiful and fragrant for his sake.

    When persecution of Quakers was at its worst, they became almost
    dehumanized, attaching more value to their willingness to endure ill-usage
    than to the spiritual principle for avouching which they were ill-used.
    Many persons--such is the oddity of human nature--were drawn to the sect
    for love of the persecution; and gave way to extravagances such as Fox
    would have been the first to denounce. But when toleration began, these
    excesses ceased, and they bethought themselves to make a home in the
    wilderness of their own. There was room enough. George Fox returned from
    his pilgrimage to the Atlantic colonies in 1674, with good accounts of the
    resources of the new country; and the owner of New Jersey sold half of it
    to John Fenwick for a thousand pounds; and the next year the latter went
    there with many Friends, and picked out a pleasant spot on the east bank
    of the Delaware for the first settlement, to which he gave the name of
    Salem. It was at this juncture that William Penn became, with two others,
    assigns of the proprietor of the colony, and thus took the first step
    toward assuming full responsibility for it. He did not, however,
    personally visit America till seven years later.

    Penn was the son of an English admiral: not the kind of timber,
    therefore, out of which one would have supposed a great apostle of
    non-resistance could be made. He was brought up to the use of ample
    wealth, and his training and education were aristocratic. After leaving
    Oxford, he made the grand tour, and came home a finished young man of the
    world, with the pleasures and rewards of life before him. He had good
    brains and solid qualities, and the old admiral had high hopes of him. No
    doubt he would have made a very good figure in the English world of
    fashion; but destiny had another career marked out for him.

    The plain Man with the Leather Breeches got hold of him; and all the
    objurgations, threats, and even the act of disinheritance of the admiral
    were powerless to extricate him from that grasp. Penn had found something
    which seemed to him more precious than rubies, and he was quite as
    resolute as the old hero of the Navy. Penn could endure the beating and
    the being turned into the streets, but he could not stop his ears and eyes
    to the voice and light of God in his soul. He did not care to conquer
    another Jamaica, but he passionately desired to minister to the spiritual
    good of his fellow creatures. He was of a sociable and cheerful
    disposition; he could disarm his adversary in a duel; he could take charge
    of the family estates, and qualify himself for the law; the king was ready
    to smile upon him; but all worldly ambitions died away in him when he
    heard Thomas Lee testify of the faith that overcomes the world. Nothing
    less than that would satisfy Penn. In 1666, when he was two and twenty, he
    made acquaintance with the inside of a jail on account of his
    conscientious perversities; but the only effect of the experience was to
    make him perceive that he had thereby become "his own freeman." When he
    got out, his friends cut him and society made game of him; finally, he was
    lodged in the Tower, which, he informed Charles II., seemed to him "the
    worst argument in the world." They let him out in less than a year, but in
    less than a year more he was again arrested and put on trial. The jury,
    after having been starved for two days and heartily cursed by the judge,
    brought him in not guilty; upon which the judge, with a fine sense of
    humor, fined them all heavily and sent him back to prison. But this was
    too much for the admiral, who paid his fines and got him out; and, being
    then on his death-bed, surrendered at discretion, restoring to him the
    inheritance, and observing, not without a pensive satisfaction, that he
    and his friends would end by "making an end of the priests."

    A six months' term in Newgate was still in store for Penn; but after that
    they gave up this method of reforming him. He spent the next years in
    exhorting Parliament and reproving princes all over Europe; and in the
    midst of these labors he met one of the best and most beautiful women in
    England; she had suitors by the score, but she loved William Penn, and
    they were married. She was the wife of his mind and soul as well as of his
    bed and board. He was now doubly fortified against the world, and doubly
    bound to his career of human benevolence. His studies and meditations had
    made him a profound philosopher and an able statesman; and in all ways he
    was prepared to begin the great work of his life.

    * * * * *

    Meanwhile, the Quakers in the new world were building up the framework of
    their state. They decreed to put the power in the people, and all the
    articles of their constitution embody the utmost degree of freedom, with
    constant opportunities for the electors to revise or renew their
    judgments. When the agent of the Duke of York levied customs on ships
    going to New Jersey, the act drew from the colonists a remarkable protest,
    which was supported by the courts. They had planted in the wilderness,
    they said, in order, among other things, to escape arbitrary taxation; if
    they could not make their own laws in a land which they had bought, not
    from the Duke, but from the natives, they had lost instead of gaining
    liberty by leaving England. Taxes levied upon planting left them nothing
    to call their own, and foreshadowed a despotic government in England, when
    the Duke should come to the throne. The future James II. gave up his
    claim, and in 1680 signed an indenture to that effect. Later, at the
    advice of Penn, they so amended their constitution as to give them power
    to elect their own governor. A charter was drawn up by Penn and confirmed
    in 1681, and he became proprietor. No man ever assumed such a trust with
    less of personal ambition or desire for gain than he. "You shall be
    governed by laws of your own making," said he; "I shall not usurp the
    right of any, or oppress his person." He had already made inroads on his
    estate by fighting the cause of his brethren in England in the courts; but
    when a speculator offered him six thousand pounds down and an annual
    income for the monopoly of Indian trade, he declined it; the trade
    belonged to his people. He was ardently desirous to benefit his colony by
    putting in operation among them the schemes which his wisdom had evolved;
    but he would not override their own wishes; they should be secured even
    from his power to do them good; for, as liberty without obedience is
    confusion, so is obedience without liberty slavery. Instead therefore of
    imposing his designs upon them, he submitted them for their free
    consideration. Pennsylvania now occupied its present boundaries, with the
    addition of Delaware; and western New Jersey ceased to be the nominal home
    of the Friends in America. In 1682, Penn embarked for the Delaware. He had
    founded a free colony for all mankind, believing that God is in every
    conscience; and he was now going to witness and superintend the working of
    his "holy experiment."

    On October 29th he was received at Newcastle by a crowd of mixed
    nationality, and the Duke of York's agent formally delivered up the
    province to him. The journey up the Delaware was continued in an open
    boat, and the site of Philadelphia was reached in the first week of
    November. There a meeting of delegates from the inhabitants was held and
    the rules which were to govern them were reviewed and ratified. Among
    these it was stipulated that every Christian sect was eligible to office,
    that murder only was a capital crime, that marriage was a civil contract,
    that convict prisons should be workhouses, that all who paid duties should
    be electors, and that there should be no poor rates or tithes. Then Penn
    proceeded to lay out the city of Philadelphia, where they "might improve
    an innocent course of life on a virgin Elysian shore." It was here that
    the Declaration of Independence was signed ninety-three years afterward.

    In March, before the leaves had budded on the tall trees whose colonnades
    were as yet the only habitation for the emigrants, the latter set to work
    to settle their constitution. "Amend, alter or add as you please," was the
    recommendation with which Penn submitted it to them--the work of his
    ripest wisdom and loving good-will. To the governor and council it
    assigned the suggestion of all laws; these suggestions were then to be
    submitted by the assembly to the body of the people, who thus became the
    direct law-makers. To Penn was given the power to negative the doings of
    the council, he being responsible for all legislation; but he could
    originate and enforce nothing. He would accept no revenues; and, indeed,
    except in the way of helpfulness and counsel, never in any way imposed
    himself upon his people. He was the proprietor; but in all practical
    respects, Pennsylvania was a representative democracy. That they should be
    free and happy was his sole desire.

    In its relations with the Indians, the colony was singularly fortunate;
    the doctrine of non-resistance succeeded best where least might have been
    expected from it. All lands were purchased, conferences being held and
    deeds signed; and the red men were given thoroughly to understand that
    nothing but mutual good was intended. They took to the new idea kindly;
    the law of retaliation had been the principle of their lives hitherto; but
    if a man did good to them, and dealt honestly by them, should not they
    retaliate by manifesting the same integrity and good-will? At one time it
    was reported that a band of Indians had assembled on the border with the
    design of avenging some grievance with a massacre. Six unarmed Quakers
    started at once for the scene of trouble, and the Indians subsided. It has
    long been admitted that it takes two sides to make a fight; but this was
    an indication that it needs resistance to make a massacre. Penn, who was
    fond of visiting the Indians in their wigwams, and sharing their
    hospitality, formed an excellent opinion of them. He discoursed to them of
    their rights as men, and of their privileges as immortal souls; and they
    conceded to him his claim to peaceful possession of his province. Not less
    remarkable was the fate of witchcraft in Pennsylvania. The Swedes and
    Finns believed in witches, upon the authority of their native traditions;
    and a woman of their race having acted in a violent and unaccountable
    manner, they put her on her trial for witchcraft. Both Swedes and Quakers
    composed the jury; there were no hysterics; the matter was dispassionately
    canvassed; impressions and prejudices were not accepted as evidence; and
    in the end the verdict was that though she was guilty of being called a
    witch, a witch she nevertheless was not. The distinction was so well taken
    that no more witch trials or panics occurred. This was in 1684, eight
    years before the disasters in New England. But newspapers did not exist in
    those days, and public opinion was undeveloped.

    The colony, receiving a world-wide advertisement by dint of the
    excellence of its institutions and the singularity of its principles,
    became a magnet to draw to itself the "good and oppressed" of all Europe.
    There were a good many of them; and within a couple of years from the time
    when Philadelphia meant blaze-marks on trees and three or four cottages,
    it had grown to be a real town of six hundred houses. The colony
    altogether mustered eight thousand people. With justifiable confidence,
    therefore, that all was well, and would stay so, Penn, with many loving
    words for his people, returned to England to continue the defense of the
    afflicted there. A dispute as to the right boundaries of Delaware and
    Maryland was also to be determined; but it proved to be a lingering
    negotiation, chiefly noteworthy on account of its leading to the fixing of
    the line by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, which afterward became the
    recognized boundary between the States where slaves might be owned and
    those where they might not. The line was surveyed, finally, in 1767.

    Penn being gone, the people applied themselves to experimenting with
    their constitution. A constitution which is devised to secure liberty to
    the subject, including liberty to modify or change it, is as nearly
    unchangeable as any mortal structure can be. The inhabitants of
    Pennsylvania had never known before what it was to be free, and they
    naturally wished to test the new gift or quality in every way open to
    them. Not having the trained brain and unselfish wisdom that belonged to
    Penn, of which the constitution was the offspring, they thought that they
    could improve its provisions. But the more earnestly they labored to this
    end, the more surely were they brought to the confession that he had known
    how to make them free better than they themselves did. When they resolved
    against taxes, they found themselves without revenue; when they refused to
    discipline a debtor, they found that credit was no longer to be had. They
    fussed and fretted to their hearts' content, and no great harm came of it,
    because the constitution was always awaiting them with forgiveness when
    they had tired themselves with abusing it. The only important matter that
    came to judgment was the slavery question; Penn himself had slaves, though
    he came to doubt the righteousness of the practice, and liberated them in
    his will--or would have done so, had the injunction been carried out by
    his heirs. Slaves in Pennsylvania were to serve as such for fourteen
    years, and then become adscripts of the soil--that is to say, they were
    permitted to become the same thing under another name. Penn ultimately
    conceived the ambition to vindicate the presence of the Inner Light in the
    negroes' souls; but he met with small success--even less than with the
    Indians. The problem of the negro was not to be solved in that way, or at
    that time. No doubt, if a negro slave could be made to feel that the mere
    circumstance of external bondage was nothing, so long as his inner man was
    untrammeled, it would add greatly to the convenience both of himself and
    his master. But the theory did not seem to carry weight so long as the
    practice accompanied it; and the world, even of Pennsylvania, was not
    quite ready to abolish negro slavery in 1687.

    Of the thirteen colonies, twelve had now had their beginning, and
    Georgia, the home of poor debtors, shed little or no fresh light upon the
    formation of the American principle. The Revolution of 1688, which put
    William of Orange on the English throne, was now at hand; but before
    examining its effect upon the American settlements we must cast a glance
    at the transactions of the previous dozen years in the New England
    division.

    The theory of the English government regarding the American colonies had
    always been, that they were her property. The people who emigrated had
    been English subjects, and--to adapt the Latin proverb--Coelum, non Regem,
    mutant, qui trans mare currunt. Moreover, the English, as was the custom
    of the age, asserted jurisdiction over all land first seen and claimed by
    mariners flying their flag; and though Spain and France might claim
    America with quite as much right as England, yet the latter would not
    acknowledge their pretensions. A country, then, occupied by English
    subjects, and owned by England, could not reasonably assert its private
    independence.

    Such was England's position, from which she never fully receded until
    compelled to do so by force of arms. But the colonists looked at the
    matter from a different point of view. They held the right of ownership by
    discovery to be unsubstantial; it was a mere sentiment--a matter of
    national pride and prestige--not to be valued when it came in conflict
    with the natural right conveyed by actual emigration and settlement. The
    man who transferred himself, with his family and property, to a virgin
    country. Intending to make his permanent home there, should not be subject
    to arbitrary interference from any one; his vital interests and welfare
    were involved; he should be ruled by authority appointed by himself;
    should pay only such taxes as he himself levied for the expenses of his
    establishment; and should enjoy the profits of whatever products he raised
    and whatever commerce he carried on. He had withdrawn himself from
    participation in the advantages of home civilization, and had voluntarily
    faced a life of struggle and peril in the wilderness, precisely because he
    had counted these things as nothing in comparison with the gain of
    controlling his own affairs; but if, nevertheless, the mother country
    insisted on managing them, or in any way controlling him, then all
    enterprise became vain, all his sacrifices had been fruitless, and he was
    in all ways worse off than before he took steps to better himself. An
    Englishman living in England might rightly be taxed for the protection to
    life and property and the enjoyment of privileges which she afforded him,
    and which he, through a representative parliament, created; but England
    gave no protection to her colonies, and the colonists were not represented
    in her parliament; neither had the English government been put to any
    expense or trouble in bringing those colonies into existence; to tax them,
    therefore, was an act of despotism; it deprived them of the right which
    all Englishmen possessed to the fruits of their own labor; it robbed them
    of values for which no equivalent had been yielded; and thus, from
    freemen, made them slaves. Not less unjustifiable, for the same reasons,
    was interference with colonial governments, and with religious liberties
    of all kinds.

    England could not categorically refute these arguments; but she could
    reply that her granting of a charter to the colonies had implied some hold
    upon them, including a first lien upon commercial products; while so far
    as governmental jurisdiction was concerned, it might be considered an open
    question whether the colonies were capable of adequately governing
    themselves, and she was therefore warranted, in the interests of order, in
    exercising that function herself. But the reply was a weak one; and when
    the colonists rejoined that the charter, if it had any practical
    significance at all, merely gave expression to a friendly interest in the
    adventure, as a parent might give a son a letter hoping that he would do
    well; and that the question of government was not an open one, inasmuch as
    the orderliness and efficiency of their institutions were visible and
    undeniable:--it was left to England only to say that, once an English
    subject, always an English subject, and that when she commanded the
    colonies must comply.

    As a matter of fact, she avoided as much as possible putting this
    ultimatum in precise words; and the colonies were at least as reluctant to
    oppose a definite defiance. Diplomacy labors long before acknowledging a
    finality. There was on both sides a deeply-rooted determination to
    prevail; but an open rupture was shunned. Furthermore, a strong sentiment
    of loyalty existed in the colonies, which sentimentally and sometimes
    practically injured the logic of their attitude. They acknowledged the
    English king to be theirs; they addressed him in deferential and
    submissive terms; they wished, in some sense, to keep hold of their
    mother's hand, and yet they protested against the maternal prerogative.
    Their status was anomalous; and it is easy to say that they should have
    declared their purpose, from the first, to be an independent nation in the
    full sense of the world. But the logical and the natural are often at
    variance. Liberty is not necessarily attainable only through political
    independence. The colonists, if they wished to be another England in
    miniature, had not contemplated becoming a people foreign to England, in
    the sense that France or Spain was. They loved the English flag, in spite
    of the cross which Endicott disowned; they were proud of the English
    history which was also theirs. Why should they sever themselves from
    these? It was not until English injustice and selfishness, long endured,
    became at last unendurable, that the resolve to live truly independent, or
    to die, fired the muskets of Lexington and Concord.

    The most galling of the measures which weighed upon New England was that
    called the Navigation Acts. These were passed in the interests of the
    English trading class, and by their influence. In their original form, in
    1661, they had involved no serious injury to the colonies, and had,
    moreover, been so slackly enforced that they were almost a dead letter.
    But after Charles II. came to the throne, they assumed a more virulent
    aspect. They forbade the importation into the colonies of any merchandise,
    except in English bottoms, captained by Englishmen, thus excluding from
    American ports every cargo not owned by British merchants. On the other
    hand, they decreed that no American produce should find its way into other
    than English hands, except such things as the English did not want, or
    could buy to better advantage elsewhere; and even these could be disposed
    of at no ports nearer England than the Mediterranean. Next, by an
    extension of the Acts, the inhabitants of one colony were forbidden to
    deal with those of another except on payment of duties intended to be
    prohibitory. And finally, the colonists were enjoined not to manufacture
    even for their private consumption, much less for export, any goods which
    English manufacturers produced. They could do nothing but grow crops, and
    the only reason that anything whatever was permitted to go from the
    colonies to foreign ports, was in order that the former might thus get
    money with which to pay for the forced importations from England. The
    result of such a policy was, of course, that money was put into the
    pockets of English shopkeepers, but all other Englishmen gained nothing,
    and the colonists lost the amount of the shopkeepers' profit, as well as
    the incidental and incalculable advantages of free enterprise.

    These laws pressed most severely on Massachusetts, because her shipping
    exceeded that of all the other colonies, and the smuggling which their
    geographical peculiarities made easy to them was impossible for her.
    Besides, manufacturing was never followed by the southern colonies, and
    their chief products, tobacco and cotton, not being grown elsewhere, could
    be sold at almost as good a profit in England as anywhere else.

    But if Massachusetts was the chief object of these oppressive measures,
    she was also more inflexible than the other colonies in insisting upon her
    rights. The motto of the Rattlesnake flag carried at the beginning of the
    Revolution--"Don't tread on Me"--expressed the temper of her people from
    an early period in her history. We shall shortly see how resolutely and
    courageously she fought her battle against hopeless odds. Meanwhile, we
    may inquire how and why the other colonies of the New England
    confederation fared better at the hands of the mother country.

    One of the most agreeable figures in our colonial history is the son of
    that John Winthrop who brought the first colonists to Massachusetts Bay,
    on June 22, 1630. He had been born at Groton, in England, in 1606, and was
    therefore fifty-six years old when he returned to that country as agent
    for Connecticut, and obtained its charter from Charles. He had been
    educated at Dublin, and before emigrating to the colonies had been a
    soldier in the French wars, and had traveled, on the Continent. After
    landing at Boston, he had helped his father in his duties, and had then
    founded the town of Ipswich in Massachusetts. None was more ardent than he
    in the work of preparing a home for the exiles in the wilderness; he added
    his own fortune to that of his father, and thought no effort too great. In
    him the elements were so kindly mixed that his heart was as warm and his
    mind as liberal as his energy was tireless; it was as if a Roger Williams
    had been mingled with an elder Winthrop; enthusiasm and charity were
    tempered with judgment and discretion. The love of creating means of
    happiness for others was his ruling motive, and he was gifted with the
    ability to carry it out; he felt that New England was his true home,
    because there he had fullest opportunity for his self-appointed work. It
    is almost an effort for men of this age to conceive of a nature so pure as
    this, and a character so blameless; we search the records for some
    weakness or deformity. But all witnesses testify of him with one voice;
    and it may be borne in mind that the spirit of Puritanism at that epoch
    was mighty in the individual as in the community, purging the soul of many
    self-indulgent vices which the laxity and skepticism of our time
    encourage; and when, in addition, there is a nation to be made on
    principles so lofty as those which Puritanism contemplated, one can
    imagine that there would be little space for the development of the lower
    instincts, or the unworthier ambitions. When all is said, however,
    Winthrop the Younger still remains a surprising and rare type; and it is
    an added pleasure to know that in all that he undertook he was successful
    (he never undertook anything for himself), and that he was most happy in a
    loving wife and in his children. It was a rounded life, such as a romancer
    hardly dares to draw; yet there may be many not less lovely, only less
    conspicuously placed.

    When there was need for a man to go to England and plead before the king
    for Connecticut--of which, for fourteen consecutive years thereafter, he
    was annually elected governor--who but Winthrop could be selected? He went
    with all the prayers of the colony for his good fortune; and it was of
    good omen that he met there, in the council for the colonies appointed by
    the king, Edward Hyde, first Earl of Clarendon and Lord Chancellor, then
    in the prime of his career, and two years younger than Winthrop; and
    William Fiennes, Viscount Saye and Sele, who was in the eightieth and
    final year of his useful and honorable career, and who, in 1632, had
    obtained a patent for land on the Connecticut river. Through his influence
    the interest of the Lord Chamberlain was secured, and Clarendon himself
    was cordial for the charter. With such support, the way was easy, and the
    document was executed in April of 1662. It gave the colonists all the
    powers of an independent government. There was no reservation whatever;
    their acts were not subject even to royal inspection. Nevertheless,
    Charles, by effecting the amalgamation of New Haven with Hartford, not
    altogether with the consent of the former, arbitrarily set aside the
    provision of the federation compact which forbade union between any of its
    members except with the consent of all; and thereby he asserted his
    jurisdiction (if he chose to exercise it) over all the colonies. He could
    give gracious gifts, but on the understanding that they were of grace, not
    obligation. In the oppression of Massachusetts, this served as an
    unfortunate precedent.

    Nor must it be forgotten that the happiness of Connecticut was in part
    due to the fact that, as a matter of high policy, it was desired to
    conciliate her at Massachusetts's expense. Massachusetts was much the
    strongest of the colonies; her tendency to disaffection was known in
    England; and it seemed expedient to place her in a position isolated from
    her sisters. Were all of them equally wronged, their union against the
    oppressor was inevitable. Connecticut and Rhode Island could be of small
    present value to England from the commercial standpoint, and their
    heartfelt loyalty seemed cheaply purchased by suffering that value to
    accumulate. Charles could be lavish and reckless, and he was
    constitutionally "good-humored"--that is, he liked to have things go
    smoothly, and if anybody suffered, wished the fact to be kept out of his
    sight. But he was incapable of generosity, in the sense of voluntarily
    sacrificing any selfish interest for a noble end; and if he patted
    Connecticut on the back, it was only in order that she might view with
    toleration his highway robbery of her sister.

    All this, however, need not dash our satisfaction at the advantages which
    Connecticut enjoyed, and the good they did her. The climate and physical
    nature of the country required an active and wholesome life in the
    inhabitants, while yet the conditions were not so severe as to discourage
    them. They were of a rustic, hardy, industrious temper, of virtuous and
    godly life, and animated by the consciousness of being well treated. They
    lived and labored on their farms, and there were not so many of them that
    the farms crowded upon one another, though the population increased
    rapidly. Each of them delighted in the cultivation of his private
    "conscience"; and, in the absence of wars and oppressions, they argued one
    with another on points of theology, fate, freewill, foreknowledge
    absolute. They were far from indifferent to learning, but they liked
    nothing quite so well as manhood and integrity. The Connecticut Yankee
    impressed his character on American history, and wherever in our country
    there has been evidence of pluck, enterprise and native intelligence, it
    has generally been found that a son of Connecticut was not far off. They
    were not averse from journeying over the earth, and many of them had the
    pioneer spirit, and left their place of birth to establish a miniature
    Connecticut elsewhere; their descendants will be found as far west as
    Oregon, and their whalers knew the paths of the Pacific as well as they
    did the channels of Long Island Sound. Tolerant, sturdy, pious, shrewd,
    prudent and brave, they formed the best known type of the characteristic
    New Englander, as represented by the national figure of Uncle Sam. They
    were sociable and inquisitive, yet they knew how to keep their own
    counsel; and the latch-string hung out all over the colony, in testimony
    at once of their honesty and their hospitality. Few things came to them
    from the outer world, and few went out from them; they were industrially
    as well as politically independent. They were economical in both their
    private and their public habits; no money was to be made in politics,
    partly because every one was from his youth up trained in political
    procedure; every town was a republic in little. The town meeting was open
    to all citizens, and each could have his say in it, and many an acute
    suggestion and shrewd criticism came from humble lips. It is in such town
    meetings that the legislators were trained who then, and ever since, have
    become leading figures in the statesmanship of the country. In England, a
    hereditary aristocracy were educated to govern the nation; in the
    colonies, a nation was educated to govern itself. Our system was the
    sounder and the safer of the two. But the professional politician was then
    unthought of; he came as the result of several conditions incident to our
    national development; he has perhaps already touched his apogee, and is
    beginning to disappear. The nation has awakened to a realization that its
    interests are not safe in his hands.

    Calvinism prevailed in the colony, as in Massachusetts; but there were
    many of the colonists who did not attend at the meeting-house on the
    Sabbath, not because they were irreligious or vicious, but either because
    they lived far from the rendezvous, or because they did not find it a
    matter of private conscience with them to sit in a pew and listen to a
    sermon. Moreover, it was the rule among Calvinists that no one could join
    in the Communion service who had not "experienced religion"; and many
    excellent persons might entertain conscientious doubts whether this
    mysterious subjective phenomenon had taken place in them. Pending
    enlightenment on that point, they would naturally prefer not to sit beside
    their more favored brethren during the long period of prayer and
    discourse, only to be obliged to walk out when the vital stage of the
    proceedings was reached. But it was also the law that only children of
    communicants should receive baptism; and since not to be baptized was in
    the religious opinion of the day to court eternal destruction, it will
    easily be understood that non-communicating parents were rendered very
    uneasy. What could they do? One cannot get religion by an act of will; but
    not to get it was to imperil not only their own spiritual welfare, but
    that of their innocent offspring as well; they were damned to all
    posterity. The matter came up before the general court of Connecticut, and
    in 1657 a synod composed of ministers of that colony and of Massachusetts
    --New Haven and Plymouth declining to participate--sat upon the question,
    and softened the hard fate of the petitioners so far as to permit the
    baptism of the children of unbaptized persons who engaged to rear them in
    the fear of the Lord. This "half-way covenant," as it came to be termed,
    did not suit the scruples of Calvinists of the stricter sort; but it gave
    comfort to a great many deserving folk, and probably did harm to no human
    soul, here or hereafter.

    Short are the annals of a happy people; until the Revolutionary days
    began, there is little to tell of Connecticut. The collegiate school which
    half a generation later grew into the college taking its name from its
    chief benefactor, Elihu Yale, had its early days in the village at the
    mouth of the Connecticut river, named, after Lord Saye and Sele, Saybrook.
    The institution of learning called after the pious and erudite son of the
    English butcher of Southwark, founded on the banks of the river Charles
    near Boston, had come into existence more than sixty years before; but
    Yale followed less than forty years after the granting of the Connecticut
    charter. New England people never lost any time about securing the means
    of education.

    The boundaries of Rhode Island were the occasion of some trouble; though
    one might have supposed that since the area which they inclosed was so
    small, no one would have been at the pains to dispute them. But in the
    end, Roger Williams obtained the little he had asked for in this regard,
    while as to liberties, his charter made his community at least as well off
    as was Connecticut. Their aspiration to be allowed to prove that the best
    civil results may be coincident with complete religious freedom, was
    realized. Charles gave them everything; liberty for a people who thought
    more of God than of their breakfasts, and whose habitation was too small
    for its representation on the map to be seen without a magnifying glass,
    could not be a dangerous gift. The charter was delivered in 1663 to John
    Clarke, agent in England for the colony, and was taken to Rhode Island by
    the admirable Baxter in November of that year. All the two thousand or
    more inhabitants of the colony met together to receive the precious gift;
    Baxter, placed on high, read it out to them with his best voice and
    delivery, and then held it up so that all might behold the handsomely
    engrossed parchment, and the sacred seal of his dread majesty King
    Charles. What a picture of democratic and childlike simplicity! With how
    devout and earnest an exultation did the people murmur their thanks and
    applause! The crowd in their conical hats and dark cloaks, the chill
    November sky, the gray ripples of Narragansett Bay, the background of
    forest trees, of which only the oaks and walnuts still retained the red
    and yellow remnants of their autumn splendor; the quaint little ship at
    anchor, with its bearded crew agape along the rail; and Baxter the center
    of all eyes, holding up the charter with a sort of holy enthusiasm! Such a
    scene could be but once; and time has brought about his revenges. With
    what demeanor would the throng at the fashionable watering place greet a
    messenger from the English sovereign to-day! John Clarke, the Bedfordshire
    doctor, to whose fidelity and persistent care the colony owed much, fully
    participated in the contagion of goodness which marked the New England
    emigrants of the period. He served his fellow colonists all his life, and
    at his death left them all he had; and it seems strange that he should
    have been one of the founders of aristocratic Newport, and its earliest
    pastor. But it is not the only instance of the unexpected use to which we
    sometimes put the bequests of our ancestors.

    The early vicissitudes of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are hardly of
    importance enough to warrant a detailed examination. Vermont was not
    settled till well into the Eighteenth Century. Maine had been fingered by
    the French, and used as a base of operations by fishermen, long before its
    connection with Massachusetts; the persistency of Gorges complicated its
    position for more than forty years. After his death, and in the
    irresponsiveness of his heirs, the few inhabitants of the region were
    constrained to shift for themselves; in 1652 the jurisdiction was found to
    extend three miles north of the source of the Merrimack, and Massachusetts
    offering its protection in enabling a government to be formed, and acting
    upon the priority of its grant, annexed the whole specified region. But
    more than twenty years afterward, in 1677, the English committee of the
    privy council examined the charter, and found that Massachusetts had no
    jurisdiction over Maine and New Hampshire (the separate existence of which
    last had scarcely been defined). The direct object of this decision of the
    committee was to provide the bastard son of Charles, Monmouth, with a
    kingdom of his own; no one knew anything about the resources or
    possibilities of the domain, and, omne ignotum pro magnifico, it was
    surmised that it would yield abundant revenues. But Massachusetts did not
    want the Duke for a neighbor; and while Charles was considering terms of
    purchase, she bought up the Gorges claim for some twelve hundred pounds.
    The Maine of that epoch was not, of course, the same as that of to-day;
    the French claimed down to the Kennebec, and the Duke of York, not content
    with New York, asserted his ownership from the Kennebec to the Penobscot;
    so that for Massachusetts was left only what intervened between the
    Kennebec and the Piscataqua. Being proprietor of this, she made it a
    province with a governor and council whom she appointed, and a legislature
    derived from the people; the province not relishing its subordination, but
    being forced to submit. Two years later, in 1679, New Hampshire was cut
    off from Massachusetts and made the first royal province of New England.
    The people of the province were ill-disposed to surrender any of the
    liberties which they saw their neighbors in the enjoyment of; and
    disregarding the feelings of the king's appointee, its representatives
    declared that only laws made by the assembly and approved by the people
    should be valid. Robert Mason, who had a patent to part of the region,
    finding himself opposed by the colonists, got permission from England to
    appoint an adventurer, Edward Cranfield, governor; Cranfield went forth
    with hopes of much plunder; but they would not admit his legitimacy, and
    he took the unprecedented step of dissolving the assembly; the farmers
    revolted, and their ringleader, Gove, was condemned for treason, and spent
    four years in the Tower of London. It was another attempt to convince the
    spirit of liberty by "the worst argument in the world"; but it was
    ridiculous as well as bad in Gove's case; he was but a hard-fisted
    uneducated countryman, whose belief that the patch of land he had cleared
    and planted among the New England mountains was his, and not another's,
    was not to be dissipated by dungeons. The disputed land-titles got into
    the law courts, where judges and juries were fixed; but no matter which
    way the decisions went, the people kept their own. Cranfield sent an
    alarmist report of affairs to London, declaring that "factions" would
    bring about a separation of the colony unless a frigate were sent to
    Boston to enforce loyalty. Nothing was done. Cranfield tried to raise
    money through the assembly by a tale about an invasion, which existed
    nowhere save in his own imagination; the assembly refused to be stampeded.
    The clergy were against him, and he attempted to overcome them by
    restrictive orders; but they defied him; he imprisoned one of them, Moody;
    and succeeded in disturbing church service; but the people would rather
    not go to meeting than obey Cranfield. His last effort was to try to levy
    taxes under pretense of an Indian war; but the people thwacked the tax
    collectors with staves, and the women threatened them with hot water. A
    call for troops to quell the disturbances was utterly disregarded. How was
    a governor to govern people who refused to be governed?

    Cranfield gave it up. He had been struggling three years, and had
    accomplished nothing. He wrote home that he "should esteem it the greatest
    happiness to be allowed to remove from these unreasonable people"; and
    this happiness was accorded to him; it was the only happiness which his
    appointment had afforded. New Hampshire was in bad odor with the English
    government; but the farmers could endure that with equanimity. They had
    demonstrated that the granite of their mountains had somehow got into
    their own composition; and they were let alone for the present, the rather
    since Massachusetts was enough to occupy the king's council at that time.

    The fight between Massachusetts and Charles began with the latter's
    accession in 1660, and continued till his death, when it was continued by
    James II. The charter of the colony was adjudged to be forfeited in 1684,
    twenty-four years after the struggle opened. While it was at its height,
    the Indian war broke out to which the name of the Pokanoket chief, King
    Philip, has been attached. Thus both the diplomacy and the arms of the
    colony were tested to the utmost, at one and the same time; the American
    soldiers were victorious, though at a serious cost of life and treasure;
    the diplomatists were defeated; but Massachusetts had learned her strength
    in both directions, and suffered less, in the end, by her defeat than by
    her victory. The issue between England and her colony had become clearly
    defined; the people learned by practice what they already knew in theory
    --the hatefulness of despotism; and their resolve to throw it off when the
    opportunity should arrive was not discouraged, but confirmed. From the
    Indian war they gained less than a wise peace would have given them, and
    they lost women and children as well as men. Such conflicts, once begun,
    must be pushed to the extremity; but it cannot but be wished that the
    people of Massachusetts might have found a means of living with the red
    men, as their brethren in Pennsylvania did, in peace and amity. The
    conduct of Indians in war can never be approved by the white race, but, on
    the other hand, the provocations which set them on the warpath always can
    be traced to some act of injustice, real or fancied, wanton or accidental,
    on our part. King Philip was fighting for precisely the same object that
    was actuating the colonists in their battle with King Charles. Doubtless
    the rights of a few thousand savages are insignificant compared with the
    higher principles of human liberty for which we contended; but Philip
    could not be expected to acknowledge this, and we should extend to him
    precisely the same sympathy that we feel for ourselves.

    A great deal of pains had been taken to convert and civilize these New
    England tribes. John Eliot translated the Bible for them; and it was he
    who made the first attempt to determine the grammar of their speech. But
    though many Indians professed the Christian faith, and some evinced a
    certain aptitude in letters, no new life was awakened in any of them, and
    no permanent good results were attained. Meanwhile, the Pokanokets, with
    Philip at their head, refused to accept the white man's God, or his
    learning; and they watched with anxiety his growing numbers and power.
    They had sold mile after mile of land to the English, not realizing that
    the aggregate of these transactions was literally taking the ground from
    under their feet; but the purchasers had the future as well as the present
    in view, and contrived so to distribute their holdings as gradually to
    push the Indians into the necks of land whence the only outlet was the
    sea. It was the old story of encroachment, with always a deed to justify
    it, signed with the mark of the savage, good in law, but to his mind a
    device to ensnare him to his hurt. In 1674, Philip was compelled to appear
    before a court and be examined, whereat his indignation was aroused, and,
    either with or without his privity, the informer who had procured his
    arrest was murdered. The murderers were apprehended and sentenced to be
    hanged by a jury, half white and half Indian. The tribe retaliated and war
    was begun.

    Philip, or Metaconet the son of Massasoit, may at this time have been
    about forty years old; he had been "King" for twelve years. The portraits
    of him show a face and head that one can hardly accept as veracious; an
    enormous forehead impending over a small face, with an almost delicate
    mouth. But he was obviously a man of ability, and his courage was hardened
    by desperation. His aim was to unite all the tribes in an effort to
    exterminate the entire English population, though this has been estimated
    to number in New England, at that time, more than fifty thousand persons.
    The odds were all upon the colonists' side; but they had not yet learned
    the Indian method of warfare, and the woods, hills and swamps, and the
    unprotected state of many of the settlements, gave the Indians
    opportunities to prolong the struggle which they amply improved. Had they
    been united, and adequately armed, the issue might have been different.

    Captain Benjamin Church, a hardy pioneer of six and thirty, who had
    watched the ways of the Indians, and learned their strategy, soon became
    prominent in the war, and ended as its most conspicuous and triumphant
    figure. At first the colonists were successful, and Philip was driven off;
    but this did but enable him to spread the outbreak among other tribes.
    From July of 1675 till August of the next year, the life of no one on the
    borders was safe. The settlers went to the meeting-house armed, and turned
    out at the first alarm. They were killed at their plowing; they were
    ambuscaded and cut off, tortured, slain, and their dissevered bodies hung
    upon the trees. At the brook thereafter called Bloody Run, near Deerfield,
    over seventy young men were surprised and killed. Women and children were
    not spared; it was hardly sparing them to carry them into captivity, as
    was often done. The villages which were attacked were set on fire after
    the tomahawking and scalping were done. Horrible struggles would take
    place in the confined rooms of the little cabins; blood and mangled
    corpses desecrated the familiar hearths, and throughout sounded the wild
    yell of the savages, and the flames crackled and licked through the
    crevices of the logs.

    In December, Church commanded, or accompanied, the little army which
    plowed through night and snow to attack the palisaded fort and village,
    strongly situated on an island of high ground in the midst of a swamp, in
    the township of New Kingston. The Narragansetts were surprised; the
    soldiers burst their way through the palisades, and the red and the white
    men met hand to hand in a desperate conflict. Then the tomahawk measured
    itself against the sword, and before it faltered more than two hundred of
    the New Englanders had been killed or wounded, and the village was on
    fire. The pools of blood which the frost had congealed, bubbled in the
    heat of the flames. None could escape; infants, old women, all must die.
    It was as ghastly a fight as was ever fought. The victors remained in the
    charred shambles till evening, resting and caring for their wounded; and
    then, as the snow began to fall, went back to Wickford, carrying the
    wounded with them. It is said that a thousand Indian warriors fell on that
    day.

    At Hadfield had occurred the striking episode of the congregation,
    surprised at their little church, and about to be overcome, being rescued
    by a mysterious gray champion, who appeared none knew whence, rallied
    them, and led them to victory. It was believed to be Goffe, one of the men
    who sentenced Charles I. to be beheaded, who had escaped to New England at
    the time of the Restoration, and had dwelt in retirement there till the
    peril of his fellow exiles called him forth. The war was full of harrowing
    scenes and strange deliverances. Annie Brackett, a prisoner in an Indian
    party, crossed Casco Bay in a birch-bark canoe with her husband and infant
    and was rescued by a vessel which happened to enter the harbor at the
    critical moment.

    Church hunted the Indians with more than their own cunning and
    persistency; and at last it was he who led the party which effected
    Philip's death. The royal Indian was hemmed in in a swamp and finally
    killed by a traitor from his own side. The savages could fight no more;
    they had caused the death of six hundred men, had burned a dozen towns,
    and compelled the expenditure of half a million dollars. Scattered alarms
    and tragedies still occurred in the East, and along the borders; but the
    war was over. In 1678 peace was signed. And then Massachusetts turned once
    more to her deadlier enemy, King Charles.
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 8
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Julian Hawthorne essay and need some advice, post your Julian Hawthorne essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?