Alvin Gardner Weeks.

Massasoit of the Wampanoags; (Volume 1) online

. (page 1 of 18)
Online LibraryAlvin Gardner WeeksMassasoit of the Wampanoags; (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


.-'■■^^









N^^ y^\



•0- N






> •^iany'f^ \










»->-.f^o. - ,%







.> -^^



:^ ^^-.^c^ 0.



ll'^'^^



-^. =,'^-



,A^-^



V ■f.



\ * £,,irr,



li^



^> "" .O^.s^V'., ^^c..'""






^' <-\.^:^!!^-^ -^-^












,H -7-^



vOo.






sX>



•^ >^^



N^^ '



.^ '^.






.^^ .x'^



K?^1fe



'' ^^









.:^^.^.



■<'^- .c^'



■^.













.^<<



x^" ■^^'^-



^o.



vVV .



0^ c.



>



,0



v^-^ -^^



■^ .#'






aV



%'' '^. f ^M^:^ '^■>bo^' ^^






^6t0 tiolume

IS PRESENTED TO



BY

THE MASSASOIT MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION

In token of its appreciation of a contribution to the
fund for the erection at Plymouth, Massachusetts, of a
memorial to Massasoit.



Boston, Mass., 1919





President



CdAtY^Z.'^djLi^ ^^-^^^I^A-i-^-trx^^



Clerk



MASSASOIT OF THE WAMPANOAGS



^wwWH^ra^W^^PMKi^^^K'J:^^




MASSASOIT

OF THE WAMPAXOAGS



WITH A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON INDIAN
CHARACTER; AND SKETCHES OF OTHER
GREAT CHIEFS, TRIBES AND NATIONS; ALSO
A CHAPTER ON SAMOSET, SQUANTO AND
HOBAMOCK, THREE EARLY NATIVE
FRIENDS OF THE PLYMOUTH COLONISTS



BY

ALVIN G. WEEKS

PAST GREAT SACHEM OF THE IMPROVED ORDER OF RED MEN

OF MASSACHUSETTS AND PRESIDENT OF THE MASSASOIT

MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION



PRIVATELY PRINTED
1919






COPYRIGHT 1919, BY

ALVIN G. WEEKS,

FALL RIVER, MASS.



THB'PLIMPTON'PRBSS
NORWOOD' MASS* U'S'A



SEP -6 1319



©Ci.A529789



TO THE

MEMORY OF MASSASOIT

GREAT SACHEM OF THE WAMPANOAG INDIANS, 1620-1661,
WHO, BY HIS FRIENDLY DISPOSITION TOWARDS THE
WHITES, AND HIS FAITHFUL OBSERVANCE OF HIS TREATY
OBLIGATIONS TO THEM, HAS EARNED THE UNDYING
GRATITUDE OF HUMANITY, THIS WORK IS RESPECTFULI^Y
DEDICATED.



FOREWORD

IiV the summer of 1910, while serving as
Great Sachem of the Improved Order of Red
Men of Massachusetts, I had occasion to accom-
pany my Deputy Great Sachem for the Plymouth
District and a party of Great Chiefs and mem-
bers of the order with their families and friends,
on a visitation to the tribe located in that old his-
toric town. Our official duties performed, we
visited the many places of particular interest,
the spots especially consecrated to Freedom by
the restless energy of the men of three centuries
ago.

We saw the beautiful memorial erected to the
Pilgrims, and the memorable rock which their
feet first pressed on December 21, 1620; we
climbed the hill to view the spot where so many
of them were laid at rest during their first winter
of hardship and suffering, and where later the
ashes of many more were mingled with the dust;
we stood on the summit of CoWs Hill from
which we looked out upon the harbor where the
Mayflower once lay at anchor; we saw the relics
of bygone days, exhibited in the Memorial Hall,

vii



VUl MASSASOIT

and traversed the same old streets laid out hy the
fathers.

Many of us had seen it all before, while for
others it was the first visit; hut, whether for the
first time, or to view again and again the old his-
toric spots, the real landmarks of the birthplace
of free government, as exemplified by nearly
three hundred years of colonial and national life,
the patriotic interest and enthusiasm of all alike
was thoroughly aroused.

A bronze tablet on a house on Leyden Street,
marking the spot where, on March 22, 1621,
Massasoit and Governor Carver entered into a
treaty of peace, friendship and mutual aid and
protection, attracted our attention. I had seen it
many times before, but it seemed fraught with a
new significance on that occasion. Whether the
mental association of the name of our order with
the aborigines, or that of my official designation
with that of the great chief of the Wampanoags
contributed to the thought, I cannot say; but for
some reason the suggestion came to my mind that
in 1920 the people of Massachusetts undoubtedly
would celebrate in fitting manner the third cen-
tenary of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers.
In my report at the conclusion of my term in the
Great Chieftaincy, I brought this matter to the
attention of the Great Council with a recommen-
dation that steps be taken towards erecting, in
connection with the celebration of this Centen-



FOREWORD IX

nialf a monument or other memorial to Massa-
soit, Great Sachem of the Wampanoags, who for
forty years religiously observed both the spirit
and the letter of the treaty he had made with the
colonists, and urged his sons to maintain the
same friendly relations. The recommendation
was not fruitful of immediate results, but even-
tually it took root, and, following it, some of the
members of the order formed a corporation under
the name of the Massasoit Memorial Associa-
tion, for the purpose of carrying out the project.

Primarily the Improved Order of Red Men is
a patriotic society, tracing its descent from the
Sons of Liberty, and limiting its membership to
American citizens; and, while teaching pa-
triotism, it has endeavored to preserve some of
the customs of the aborigines, and to pay due
tribute to their many manly virtues, which we,
as the dominant race, have been too strongly in-
clined to overlook or to ignore. In pursuit of
this general purpose, and in aid of the project
which we have undertaken, this work has been
prepared for presentation to those who may de-
sire to contribute to the success of the enterprise.
It is our plan to make this a popular movement,
that this statute when erected, may be the New
World^s tribute to the noble Red Man who stood
guard over the cradle in which its liberties were
nurtured; and the principal object of the writer
in preparing this compilation of historical facts



X MASSASOIT

has been to array these facts so that they will
present a living, moving panorama of the long
ago, an examination of which will disclose a com-
plete justification of the enterprise in aid of
which the hook is written.



THE MEMORIAL

Fortunately, we have not been left in the dark
concerning Massasoifs personal appearance,
Edward Winslow, who was one of the hostages
for his safe return when he entered the settle-
ment at Plymouth to confer with Governor Car-
ver, and who saw him on that occasion and often
thereafter for many years, who was his friend,
and one whom Massasoit loved, has left us such
a complete and perfect description of him as is
to be found of but few men of those remote times;
and fortunately, we have succeeded in enlisting
the services of Cyrus E, Dallin of Arlington,
Massachusetts, eminent sculptor and portrayer
of Indian character, to translate Winslow^s de-
scription into bronze, Massasoit was forty-one
years old when he first appeared to the Pilgrims,
and Mr, Dallin has created a model of the proud
warrior in the prime of life, bearing the peace
pipe to the strangers from across the great waters.
From this model it is proposed to erect a statue
of heroic size to be appropriately mounted on



FOREWORD XI

Cole^s Hilly immediately overlooking the fa-
mous rock against which the Mayflower^ s shallop
rested and upon which its occupants landed on
December 21, 1620. The Pilgrim Society of
Plymouth has offered the site, and has volunteered
to assume perpetual care of the statue when
erected. And so we present our case to the
people of the United States in an appeal to them
to participate in an enterprise, the purpose of
which is to pay deserved hut belated tribute to
this great Chief, that he may forever stand guard
over the gateway through which the pilgrim
bearers of the torch of Liberty first entered New
England, even as he kept a watchful eye over her
early struggles for existence,

A, G, W.

Fall River, Mass.
May 10, 1919.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE

I. Introductory 1

11. Indian Character 18

III. The Algonquins 45

IV. The Wampanoags 68

V. Massasoit 91

VI. Massasoit's Family 129

VII. Samoset, Squanto and Hobamock . . . 146

VIII. The Narragansetts 160

IX. Miantonomo 178

X. The Pequots, Mohicans and other West-
ern Tribes 194

XI. King Philip and his Captains .... 234



MASSASOIT OF THE WAMPANOAGS



MASSASOIT

I

INTRODUCTORY

ALMOST three hundred years have passed into
history since the Pilgrim ship bearing its
precious freight of human souls dropped anchor in
Cape Cod Bay, and its occupants sent out their
shallop in search of a suitable place for landing.
Enghsh ships had visited the New England coast
many times between the date of the discovery of
the New World by Columbus and that day; but
they had brought only explorers, adventurers,
traders and fishermen. Unlike the long line of its
predecessors, the Mayflower came laden with men,
women and children, bringing with them all their
earthly possessions; and, what was immeasurably
more important, the Anglo-Saxon love of liberty,
which, developed under the new conditions they
found here, has given us the boon of perfect liberty
and equality under the law, but not in contraven-
tion of law.

They had come to stay. Denied the right to wor-
ship God in such form and manner as they saw fit,
persecuted for their non-conformity to the estab-

1



2 MASSASOIT

lished faith, they had fled from England to Hol-
land, and from the latter country to the wilderness
peopled only by natives who knew nothing of Euro-
pean civilization, European customs or European
religion, beyond what Httle they had learned from
traders; and that was not favorable to the Euro-
peans.

The century preceding their coming had wit-
nessed the most remarkable upheavals in the re-
ligious world of which history furnishes any record,
except the advent of men who have promulgated an
entirely new religion with such vigor that they
have succeeded in impressing their teachings upon
a considerable portion of the people of the world.

In 1517 Tetzel, a Dominican Friar, and the
guardian of the Franciscan Friars had been ap-
pointed by the Cardinal Archbishop of Mainz, joint
commissaries for Saxony and North Germany, to
preach an indulgence to all who would contribute to
the rebuilding of St. Peter's Church at Rome; and
while Tetzel was preaching in the Schlosskirche at
Juterbogk, Luther had nailed to the door of the
kirche his ninety-five theses, in which he chal-
lenged Tetzel to a defence of his position, and took
an attitude contrary to the established order, from
which he ever after refused to recant.

A little later, Henry VIII of England, in conse-
quence of a quarrel with the Pope and Cardinals
concerning the dissolution of his marriage to Cather-
ine of Aragon, had established the Church of Eng-
land as an independent ecclesiastical body; and
still later John Calvin, a Frenchman, born in the



INTRODUCTORY 3

year that Henry ascended the throne of England,
promulgated the Geneva Creed.

All these things had set the leaven of religious
liberty into a ferment which nearly blew the lid off
the mixing pan; and creeds without number sprang
up, especially among people who had chafed under
the restrictions which held them to forms of wor-
ship and to beliefs established by others, whom they
thought no more capable of expounding the teach-
ings of the founders of the religion they professed
than w^ere they. If Luther the priest could dissent
from the teachings that had been inculcated into
his mind through a long course of training for his
profession; if the King of England, who had been
a firm adherent of the established order of things,
and had so ably defended the prerogatives of the
church of Rome that he had been recognized by it
as ''Defender of the Faith," could set up an inde-
pendent church, what limit was to be placed upon
revolts against theological dogmas? What was to
prevent the men who follow^ed Luther, the English
dissenters and Calvin in doing their own thinking,
from doing a little independent thinking on their
own account?

At any rate, this is just what happened, with the
result that the dissenters from the dogma of the first
dissenters found themselves in just as uncomfort-
able a position as that in which those first protes-
tants against the established religion were placed by
their protestations; for it is a peculiar characteristic
of the human mind, that, having discovered what it
considers error in the tenets of any faith, and set



4 MASSASOIT

up its own standard, it at once becomes intolerant
of any one who suggests or even thinks that he has
the same right to dissent from the latest standard
established. So we find the Church of England
refusing to the followers of Calvin the same religious
liberty they had claimed in their defiance of the
Church of Rome.

It was this which drove the Pilgrims across the
Atlantic in search of a home in the wilderness where
they might be free from all restrictions upon their
religious liberty; and by the irony of fate, it was
this same working of the human mind, this same
characteristic of which I have just spoken, that led
them to acts of intolerance and oppression against i
men of other religious beliefs and the heterodox
members of their own congregations, men whose
consciences would not allow them to subscribe to all
the tenets of the creed set up for them. It was this
that drove Roger Williams from Salem to seek ref-
uge first with Massasoit at Sowams, and later with
the Narragansetts at the place which he devoutly
named Providence; that sent Gorton from Ply-
mouth to the same Narragansett country; and
John Easton and a multitude of other Quakers
from the Massachusetts Bay colony to Rhode
Island and other places.

The Pilgrims and the Puritans came here in
search of a home where they might be free, but
closed their doors to others impelled by the same
love of freedom to flee their native land, thus fol-
lowing the example of those whose persecutions they
themselves had fled. In this they were but fol-



INTRODUCTORY 5

lowing the inscrutable workings of the human mind,
and indirectly and unintentionally laying the foun-
dations of a broader liberty than they ever be-
held in their wildest flights of fancy; for the very
intolerance which they displayed but sharpened the
spirit of resistance, and led to a more thorough
understanding of true liberty, the hberty to pursue
one's own inclinations until the purstiit reaches the
bounds of positive evil, or trespasses upon the hke
liberties of another.

These reflections are peculiarly apphcable to the
settlers of Southern New England, because they
were the first to attempt to establish upon these
shores the principle of religious liberty for them-
selves, though denied to others. The Roman
Catholics in Maryland and the Quakers in Penn-
sylvania but followed the trail they blazed; and it
is in consequence of these facts that we of New
England claim for our barren soil the title of Birth-
place of the American Ideal, which if carefully con-
served and safeguarded, will become the ideal of the
world. Our New England soil may not be as pro-
ductive as that of the plains of our middle west or
of our sunny south; but the atmosphere of New
England civil and rehgious liberty that has sur-
rounded us has been highly productive of men and
women who have left the impress of their character
upon the hfe of the country. In fact, I question
whether any one will attempt at this late day to
gainsay the claim so often made that December 21,
1620, was the natal day of the American system of
government. Somewhat crude at its birth was the



6 MASSASOIT

idea out of which that system has grown; but the
intolerance of restraint in matters of thought was
there, and it is this spirit of resistance to attempts to
hmit the freedom of thought and action, running
through all our colonial history, that finally devel-
oped into that immortal document, the Declaration
of Independence, written, it is true, by a lover of
humanity from fair Virginia, but breathing in its
every line the traditions of New England, which
had ere that time become the traditions of an in-
cipient nation.

The importance of that twenty-first day of De-
cember, 1620, and of the landing of the Pilgrim
fathers at Plymouth as an event in the history of
the country, aye of humanity, cannot be over-
estimated; nor can too high a valuation be put
upon all the agencies that contributed to the suc-
cess of the venture which drove them across the
water. Foremost among those agencies was the at-
titude of the natives towards these invaders of their
domain. Had they, in resentment of their treat-
ment at the hands of white adventurers, explorers
and traders, assumed a hostile attitude, with the
limited means of making the long and dangerous
voyage across the sea at that time, they could un-
doubtedly have wiped out the colonies as fast as
they could have been planted, and thus set back
the history of our country for at least a hundred
years; the early history of New England would
have been written in characters of blood on every
hillside and plain instead of characters of living
light for the illumination of the world; and without



INTRODUCTORY 7

the history of New England, the history of the
United States, aye, even of humanity, would be a
different tale from that we teach our children and
read in the record of current events.

The present moment, with the statesmen of the
free nations of the world assembled at Versailles
for the discussion of a means for securing the peace
of the world, seems a peculiarly appropriate time
for calUng attention to the first peace conference
ever held on American soil, in which the white race
participated on equal terms with the aborigines, of
which we have any record; and its coming, as it
does, on the eve of the three hundredth anniversary
of that original conference, adds to the significance
of the treaty growing out of that conference.

It is not my purpose to write a history of the
early colonial days. Events as they occurred were
recorded by men who participated in them; and
later writers, whose name is legion, drawing their
information from these early historians, have dwelt
upon the facts they set down, with all the embel-
lishments capable of being given to them by the
thoughtful mind and the facile pen. He who at-
tempts to write history three hundred years after
the happening of the events he records, with no
new facts, disclosed by research at sources hitherto
unexplored, must needs possess the skill to paint his
narrative in colors never before essayed, or content
himself with being a mere compiler of facts gathered
and recorded by others. Unless his is the faculty of
saying things in a more pleasing manner or of array-
ing his facts in such a way that they will present a



8 MASSASOIT

more attractive picture than has been before por-
trayed by them, his excuse for writing is indeed
small.

No new facts will be presented by the narrative
I am undertaking, nor do I lay claim to any magic
in the wielding of the pen that will make the oldi
appear new. All that I shall attempt is to rescue
from a mass of other matter in which they are so
buried as to be almost inaccessible to the reader
who has not the time or the inclination for wide
research, certain historic facts, with a view to calling
attention to some of the errors that have sprung up
concerning the aborigines whom our fathers found
in possession of this fair land when they first set
foot upon its shores; to array those facts, gleaned
from the writings of the men who participated in
the stirring events of which they write, in such
form that the array will assist in a better under-
standing and higher appreciation of the true rela-
tions between the original possessors of the land
and the invading settlers from the old world, than
the average reader is likely to gather from a limited
reading of early history in which the subjects to
which I desire to call attention are passed over
with a word.

Many of the most important features of that
early history are almost entirely lost to the majority
of readers for the reasons that I have suggested.
True, every reader of American history knows of
the struggles of the early settlers with hostile bands
of natives, and of their privations and hardships in
every form; he knows of the visit of Samoset to



INTRODUCTORY 9

the Pilgrims a few months after they landed at
Plymouth and of his greeting, ''Welcome, EngUsh-
men''; he has heard something of Squanto and of
Hobamock; but how much does he really know
about them? And yet, the part played by them
and others of their kind in the early struggles of
the infant colony, their faithfulness to their treaty
obligations and their loyalty and devotion to those
to whom they had thereby bound themselves, form
the brightest pages in the annals of Colonial New
England.

The story of Canonicus of the Narragansetts, and
his haughty challenge to the colonists at Plymouth,
sent in the form of a bundle of arrows bound in a
rattlesnake's skin, and of Governor Bradford's
defiant reply, is familiar to every American school-
boy; but how many know that, following and
probably in consequence of this incident, the Nar-
ragansetts were firm friends of the whites for more
than twenty years, until the death of their beloved
sachem Miantonomo, the nephew of Canonicus, at
the hands of the fierce Uncas of the Mohicans?
Probably every reader of American history remem-
bers the story of that unjustifiable death, and of
Uncas' cutting a slice of flesh from the shoulder of
his still quivering victim and eating it, declaring it
to be the sweetest meat he ever ate; but how
many know that eight commissioners of the colonies
in Massachusetts and Connecticut authorized this
cold-blooded murder of one of the most faithful
friends the whites had among the red men, and
thereby aroused the hostility of the Narragansetts,



10 MASSASOIT

the most powerful confederation in New England,
to such an extent that it was never allayed until
the extermination of that federation in King Philip's
war?

Every one knows something about that war, but
what percentage of even the well informed men of
today can tell you any of the causes that led up to
it, except possibly, the land question, which was
really the least of the causes? How many know
that Philip, the so-called "vindictive, bloodthirsty,
cruel savage," showed more humanity in his treat-
ment of whites during the war than was shown b}^
the colonists towards their enemies?

Since writing the foregoing lines, my attention
has been called to a matter which gives added force
to what I have said concerning the general lack of
information upon the subject of which I write.
AVithin a few days the following appeared in a daily
paper published in Providence.

''Miss Elizabeth B. Champlin, a direct descend-
ant of the old Ninigret tribe of Indians which was
so prominent in Southern Rhode Island more than a
century ago, died at Westerly yesterday. She was
100 years and 10 months old, having been born
just over the line in Connecticut on June 23, 1818.

''She was a resident of Westerly all her life prac-
tically, and was a daughter of Jesse and Hager
Champlin, her father being a member of the Nini-
gret tribe."

I am not sufficiently familiar with the history of
Rhode Island for the past hundred years to assert
positively that there was not a tribe there known



INTRODUCTORY 11

as the Ninigret Indians; but if a tribe under that
name did exist, the appellation Ninigret was a mis-
nomer, and probably was given to the remnant of
the Niantic tribe which followed its sachem — Nini-
gret — in taking sides with the English in King
Philip's war. The whites may have given them the
name of their sachem after the war, meaning thereby
simply Ninigret's Indians or Ninigret's tribe. The
nearest approach to this name in the early histories
is found in the records of one of the old writers who
speaks of the Eastern Niantics as Ninnicrafts, this
also being the name sometimes given to the sachem
Ninigret; but Ninigret was a Niantic, and the
Eastern Niantics being under the protection of the
Narragansetts, and perhaps closely related to them,
most early writers speak of him as one of the Nar-
ragansett sachems.

The news writer may be speaking from exact
knowledge, but to the man interested in tracing
names to their sources, the article referred to leaves
too much to be further inquired into or simply in-
ferred; and I call attention to the matter at this
time solely for the purpose of emphasizing what I
have said on the subject.

Wherever there is a lack of knowledge of many
of these interesting facts, it is due simply to the tend-
ency of the dominant race to exploit the deeds of its


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryAlvin Gardner WeeksMassasoit of the Wampanoags; (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 18)