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friendship of Massasoit. That Squanto was actu-
ated by his own selfish and ambitious designs was
apparent to the authorities; for about this time in
consequence of the incident of the spring of 1622,
and Hobamock's report of "many secret passages
between Squanto and other Indians," as well as
other things that came to their attention, Bradford


says: ''They began to see that Tisquantum sought
his owne ends and plaid his owne game, by putting
the Indians in fear, and drawing gifts from them
to enrich himselfe; making them beheve he could
stir up war against whom he would and make peace
for whom he would. Yea, he made them believe
they kept the plague buried in the ground and
could send it amongst whom they would, which did
much terrifie the Indians, and made them depend
more on him, and seeke more to him than to Massa-
soyte; which procured him envye, and had like to
have cost him his life. For after the discovery of
his practices, Massasoit sought it both privately and
openly; which caused him to stick close to the
English, and never durst goe from them till he

Fully appreciating the value of Squanto's assist-
ance to the people of Plymouth, the searcher after
truth cannot ignore the fact that his ambitious
scheming probably came near to costing them their
lives. The plot of the Massachusetts and other
tribes in the spring of 1623 which was foiled by
Standish and his indomitable eight, would un-
doubtedly not have been revealed but for Massa-
soit's restoration to health at the hands of Winslow,
and, if not nipped in the bud, would have been quite
likely to have been attended with success. Massa-
soit 's failure to disclose it earher was clearly due to
a doubt on his part of the sincerity of the professed
friendship of the English, and that doubt was
aroused by the conduct of the governor in protecting
Squanto after his perfidy to his Great Sachem be-


came known, contrary to the terms of Carver's and
Massasoit's treaty. Squanto died before the full
effect of his conduct, or before the possible effect of
it became known, and sleeps in the grave where
white men laid him with Christian rites. There let
him rest, and let us not too severely criticise him.
He was but following the dictates of a trait of hu-
man character, that, while inordinately developed
in the race of American Indians, is common to all.
Shakespeare makes Cardinal Wolsey say to his de-
voted follower, "Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away
ambition. By that sin fell the angels. How then
can mortal man hope to win by it?" We do not
agree with this thought, but rather, how can mortal
man win without it? The only difficulty is to direct
it in the right paths and keep it within proper
bounds. Neither of these was Squanto able to do.
In the words of Parkman, let us attribute his act to
the working of ''the ordinary instincts of humanity"
which "should be classed with the other enigmas of
the fathomless heart."

During the brief space of his life after the
discovery of his schemes, the English took full
advantage of this jealousy between him and Hoba-
mock to secure better service from both by playing
them against each other, — the governor "seeming to
countenance one and Standish the other."

Like Squanto, we are told that Hobamock re-
mained with the English until he died. The last
mention made of him by Bradford is in connection
with the Day of Humiliation in July, 1623. Like
Squanto, too, he was of invaluable assistance to the


English, unquestionably of much greater service in
their trading expeditions among the tribes on the
cape and around Massachusetts Bay, by reason of
his rank and standing in his own tribe, than he
could otherwise have been, the mere fact that he
was one of Massasoit's ''chief est men of valor" and
war counsellors, adding to his prestige and the
standing of the men for whom he virtually stood

Thus passed from the stage three men whose
activities had such a marked influence upon the
earliest successful attempt at colonization in New
England that theu- names and deeds are known to
thousands of American children who probably could
not name the first three governors of the Plymouth



WHEN Winslow and Hopkins visited Sowams in
July, 1621, they learned from the Pokanokets
that across the bay lived a powerful federation that
had not been touched by the plague. We find them
sometimes referred to by early writers as Narrow-
hansetts, which perhaps was as nearly correct as the
Englishman who heard the name spoken could re-
produce the sound. The spelling was subsequently
changed to Nariganset and finally to Narragansett, •
and it is by this latter name that they are known
to history. We are told, on authority as reliable
as any we have concerning the Indian tribes of New
England, that they numbered twenty or twenty-five
thousand with a war strength of from three to five
thousand, and occupied all the territory westerly
from Narragansett Bay and Providence River to
the Pequot country, which extended to Wecapoag
about five or six miles east of the Paucatuc River,
the dividing line between Connecticut and Rhode

The Narragansetts formed the second of the five
great federations of New England Indians as enu-
merated by Gookin, and dignified by Drake with the
designation Great Sachemries. They had un-



doubtedly been visited by the English before 1621;
some writers, as we have ah'eady seen, claiming that
the episode of Captain Waymouth with the Indians
in 1605, as related by Rofier, occurred in the Narra-
gansett country. The French frequented the bay
for fishing according to the information given to
Winslow by the people of Sowams, and so they
were not unacquainted with the whites.

Hutchinson says Tashtussuch was their Chief
Sachem when the English arrived. If this is true
he did not long remain in that position after their
arrival, his grandson Canonicus being at the head
of the federation in the summer of 1621. It is re-
lated of Tashtussuch that he had two children, a son
and a daughter, and, being unable to match them
according to their station and dignity, he joined
them in marriage. Four sons were born of this
union of whom Canonicus was the oldest, and Mas-
cus, the father of Miantonomo, the youngest.
Miantonomo succeeded his uncle Canonicus, and,
after his murder on Sachem's Plain, he was in turn
succeeded by his brother Pessacus, who was said to
have been only twenty years old when he assumed
the chieftaincy. Pessacus was succeeded by Mian-
tonomo's son Canonchet who was the leader of the
federation in King Philip's war, and who met the
same fate as his father. By what law of descent
the chieftaincy passed from Miantonomo to his
brother and then back to his own line again, we do
not know; unless the line was simply preserved for
Miantonomo 's son by some sort of regency during
his minority; or unless the Great Chieftaincy was


an elective position, or a great Sachem had the
power to name his successor, both of which sugges-
tions will hereafter receive further consideration.

Pessacus is probably better known to history as
Canonicus, his appearance under that name after
the death of the first Canonicus, and especially
after the death of Miantonomo, leading to some
confusion of him with his grandfather by those who
read only superficially. Another son of Mascus
was Meika, who was also called by several other
names, and was probably the Mishuano who mar-
ried a daughter of Ninigret, named Magnus, later
known as the ''Sunke Squaw" or ''Old Queen of the

That Canonicus, who was at the head of the
federation in 1621, was a great warrior seems to be
generally conceded, although almost nothing has
been handed down to indicate the way in which he
earned the reputation, or the particular wars in
which he engaged. The Pequots on the west must
have caused him some trouble to prevent them
from pushing further to the east than they did;
and he did not live in peace and harmony with the
Pokanokets across the bay at all times. Of his
people it is asserted by some writers that they were
related to the Mohicans, and by others that they
were related to the Niantics, both of which state-
ments are probably true in the sense that they were
all Algonquins of the Wolf totem, as indeed were
all the New England Indians. Their relationship
to these two tribes may have been closer than with
some of the others in point of time of their branch-


ing off from the parent stock; and one is sometimes
led to ask how much any one really knows about
the matter, as we find Ninigret spoken of by some
writers as a Niantic Sachem and by others as a
Narragansett, and the leader of the tribes of the
latter federation that joined the English in King
Philip's war. Whatever relationship there may
have been between them, if we are to accept as
final a very doubtful conclusion of early writers, it
was not close enough to allay the alleged jealousy of
Miantonomo, who had succeeded his uncle Canoni-
cus as Chief Sachem of the Narragansetts, over the
division of the remnant of the Pequots among the
three tribes at the conclusion of the Pequot war;
nor to prevent the Mohicans under Uncas from
becoming the ''most deadly enemies of the Narra-
gansetts," when the former, by reason of the de-
struction of the Pequots, became the dominant tribe
in the old Pequot, later the Mohican, federation.

The settlers were to hear from them again very
shortly, for in November, 1621, Canonicus sent one
of his men, accompanied by a friendly Indian
named Tokamaham^on, probably a Pokanoket,
to Plymouth, with a bundle of arrows tied in a
rattlesnake's skin. Squanto and Hobamock were
both absent at the time of their arrival, and the
Governor decided to detain the messenger until
their return. In the meantime ''Captain Standish
tried to find out from him what it meant. He said
he did not surely know, but thought it meant hos-
tilities." Standish and Hopkins finally succeeded
in allaying his fears, and induced him to talk


whereupon he told them that the messenger whom
Canonicus had sent in the summer to treat of peace,
upon his return ''persuaded him rather to war, and,
to the end that he might provoke him thereunto,
detained many of the presents sent to Canonicus,
scorning the meanness of them, both in respect of
what he had sent the EngHsh and the greatness of

He assured them that "upon the knowledge of the
false carriage of the former messenger it would cost
him his life," and that "upon the relation of their
speech then with him, to his master, he would
be friends with the Pilgrims." Squanto, having
returned, then interpreted the message in the same
way that the bearer of it had done. Governor
Bradford took the skin, filled it with powder and
shot and returned it to Canonicus, with a message
of defiance, and invited him to a trial of strength.
Canonicus refused to receive it and sent it back to
Plymouth, and thus trouble was averted.

I have told the story as related by Bradford, but
I find that some writers put it a little differently,
fixing the time as February, 1622, and saying that
Canonicus' messenger left the challenge and re-
tired. At any rate, the governor's defiance had
the desired effect and the English were not molested
by the Narragansetts for fifteen years; although we
are told by Bradford that the English were in great
fear of them in 1622.

In his description of the building of a fort at Ply-
mouth in the summer of that year, after describing
the fort in detail, he says: "It served them also as


a meeting house, and was fitted accordingly for that
use. It was a great work for them in this weakness
and time of wants; but the danger of the time re-
quired it, and both the continual rumors of the
fears from the Indians here, especially the Narigan-
sets, and also the hearing of that great massacre in
Virginia made all hands willing to despatch the

In 1632, war broke out between the Narragansetts
and the Wampanoags in which the former were,
without doubt, the aggressors. The Enghsh, as in
duty bound by their original treaty with Massasoit,
came to the aid of their allies, the Wampanoags, and
the war was of very short duration.

The first serious affair that threatened discord
between the whites and the Narragansetts directly,
was the murder of John Oldham in 1636. Oldham
had sailed to Connecticut to trade with the Pequots,
and on his return had been murdered by Indians at
Munisses (Block Island). These Indians were Nar-
ragansetts, and one early writer suggests that they
were probably angered by the fact that Oldham was
engaged in trade with their most deadly enemies.
Upon complaint of this atrocity being made by the
whites to Canonicus, he sent his nephew, Mianto-
nomo, with two hundred men to punish the offenders.

Canonicus and Miantonomo succeeded in satisfy-
ing the colonists that this was the act of some reck-
less members of the tribe, and that they were not
concerned in it; and returned Oldham's two boys,
who were taken prisoners at the time of his death,
and had been held by their captors.


On October 21, 1636, Miantonomo with two sons of
Canonicus and twenty other Indians went to Bos-
ton to give notice of the threatening attitude of the
Pequots; and while there entered into an agreement
with the authorities by which each side bound itself
not to make peace with the Pequots without the
consent of the other.

Following close on the heels of this warning by
the friendly Narragansetts came confirmation of the
word brought to Boston by Miantonomo; for on
February 22, 1637, the Pequots attacked Saybrook
and on April 12 Weathersfield, both in Connecticut.
During this period Miantonomo had received other
information which he deemed of sufficient import-
ance to send messengers to Boston to impart to the
authorities there; for at some time during the early
spring he sent word that, following a custom among
the Indians before an impending war of great mag-
nitude, the Pequots had sent their women and chil-
dren away to an island. A force of forty men was
thereupon raised and sent to Narragansett to join
Miantonomo's warriors in an advance against the
Pequots. Aside from the part played by the Nar-
ragansetts in the attack upon the Pequot fortress,
any account of this war would be out of place in
this chapter.

Historians tell us that the Narragansetts were of
very little service in the attack upon the Pequot
fort, holding themselves aloof and contenting them-
selves with stopping such as fled. It is inconceiv-
able that Narragansett warriors, who have never been
accused of cowardice in the face of their enemies,


led by such men as were at their head at that time,
would refuse or hesitate to go against their mortal
foes, when aided by the English, without some good
cause; and this well-known propensity of theirs to
mingle in the thickest of the fighting lends color to
their claim that they had been slighted by the Eng-
lish; and that Miantonomo, after performing good
service, had been insulted and even threatened with
bodily injury. It must be borne in mind in this
connection that the Mohicans under Uncas fought
with the Connecticut troops in this war; and that
the natives were inordinately jealous of any slight
placed upon their chiefs or tribe. It is among the
possibilities that the Mohicans, and Uncas, their
sachem, being on very friendly terms with Captain
Mason, the commander of the expedition, may have
received some recognition or consideration at the
hands of the whites that was not extended to the
Narragansetts and their chief. Probably nothing
would sooner kindle their resentment, as they were
the much more powerful federation of the two;
their chief came of an illustrious ancestry; and
they, like most other Indians, were likely to con-
sider themselves a little superior to their neighbors.
If this surmise is correct, it was the fault of the
whites themselves that they received no assist-
ance from the Narragansetts; for they had lived
among the Indians long enough to have learned
this trait of their character, and they should have
avoided anything that would arouse the jealousy
of one of their allies as against the other. With
them a slight would be an insult to their chief, and


the threat of bodily injury might have followed
some protest on his part against the treatment of
his people, and resulted from it. If the Indian
claim of insult is well founded, it shows a woful lack
of diplomacy on the part of the whites, and their
usual utter failure to manifest any appreciation of
favors done or services rendered; for it was Mian-
tonomo himself who had gone to Boston in October
to warn the English, and had sent word of the re-
moval of the Pequot women and children, and ap-
prised the authorities of what such a removal meant.

Besides, Bradford tells us that in 1636 there had
been a war between the Pequots and the Narragan-
setts, saying, ''these Narigansets held correspond-
ance and termes of friendship with the EngUsh of
the Massachusetts." In this war the Mohicans un-
doubtedly fought with the Pequots, being of their
federation, and the Narragansetts probably saw in
their abandonment of the then titular head of the
federation a crafty scheme on the part of Uncas to
overthrow Sassacus, as he had several times before
attempted to do, and place his own tribe in the
dominant position, and himself at the head of the
nation, supported by English muskets in the hands
of English soldiers. That this was a fact was sub-
sequently clearly demonstrated.

Bradford also tells us that following the truce
after this war Governor Vane of Plymouth, with
Roger Williams' assistance, made a treaty with the
Narragansetts. This would be at about the same
time that Miantonomo made the treaty with the
authorities of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, of


which I have already written. These are the first
formal treaties between the whites and the Narra-
gansetts of which I find any record, unless we are
to dignify the agreement before referred to with
the name of a treaty.

At the conclusion of the Pequot war in which
they were practically wiped out, some two hundred
survivors were distributed among the Mohicans,
Niantics and Narragansetts. This division is said
to have angered the Narragansetts, and is given as
a reason for an alleged attempt on the part of the
latter to raise a general conspiracy against the
English in 1640, the details of which belong more
properly in the chapter devoted to Miantonomo.

1643 was the year of Miantonomo's ill-fated
expedition against the Mohicans. Sequassen, a Sa-
chem of the Connecticut Valley, apparently not con-
nected with any of the great federations, unless
DeForest's conclusion that all the tribes of West-
ern Connecticut were related to the Narragan-
setts is correct, was friendly to Miantonomo and
hostile to Uncas. Some difficulty arising between
him and Uncas over the killing of one of the subjects
of the latter by one of Sequassen's men, and an
alleged attempt upon the life of Uncas by shooting
at him while he was paddling his canoe in the Con-
necticut River, Uncas, as usual, instead of taking
the matter into his own hands, neither he nor Se-
quassen being under the guardianship of the English,
complained to the authorities at Hartford, claiming
that, for this and other acts, he ought to have six
of Sequassen's men that he might put them to


death. The authorities for some unaccountable
reason thought this unfair, and the governor
finally induced him to be content with the man who
had committed the murder. I say for some unac-
countable reason, because a careful reading of the
history of that time leads one to the conclusion that
the Connecticut authorities, frequently aided by
those of the Massachusetts colonies, seemed more
intent upon aiding the Mohicans than upon doing
justice; and I am at a loss to understand this lapse
from their usual policy.

But, to return to the assassin, he was found to be
a friend and relative of Miantonomo, and Sequas-
sen refused to give him up, probably relying on the
Narragansetts to support him. And again the
magistrates showed remarkable acumen, for, being
unable to effect a reconciliation, they dismissed both
Uncas and Sequassen, advising Uncas, however, to
avenge his own grievances. Uncas thereupon in-
vaded Sequassen's territory, burned and plundered
as he went, and killed some seven or eight men and
wounded others.

Miantonomo was not the kind of man to sit by
and see his allies treated in this manner without
taking some action looking towards their assistance,
and he accordingly complained to Uncas' friends,
the authorities of Connecticut. The governor re-
fused to interfere; and Miantonomo gave notice to
the governor of Massachusetts Bay, and inquired
if the people of Massachusetts would be offended if
he made war against the Mohicans. This notice and
inquiry was in strict compliance with the terms of


the treaty he had made with them. The governor
rephed, ''If Uncas had done him or his friends any-
wrong, and had refused to grant satisfaction, the
EngUsh would leave him to choose his own course."

He then collected a force of nine hundred or a
thousand warriors and marched to the Connecticut
Valley. Uncas went out to meet him and adopted
just such a course as one would expect of him. He
asked for a conference with Miantonomo between
the two opposing forces (a virtual truce) and Mian-
tonomo, with the honor of his race, believing that
his enemy would adhere to its traditions and cus-
toms, granted his request. Uncas then submitted a
proposition that he knew Miantonomo would not
accept, and which he probably would not have
made if he had believed it would be accepted. He
proposed that the two chiefs settle the conflict by
a personal combat between them. Miantonomo re-
fused, saying, ''my men came to fight and they shall
fight." Uncas then fell to the ground, this being
the prearranged signal for a shower of arrows from
three hundred Mohican bows against their unpre-
pared enemies who were within easy shot, and en-
tirely unsuspicious of any such an act of perfidy.

This is the incident of which Bradford writes
that Miantonomo "came suddenly upon him with
nine or ten hundred men, never denouncing any war
before. Uncas had only about half so many but it
pleased God to give Uncas the victory." If they
believed that the God they worshipped was
"pleased" with such treachery as this, it may ex-
plain their own treatment of the Indians; and as to


the Narragansetts ''never denouncing any war be-
fore," I am unable to find any record of Uncas'
''denouncing any war" before he invaded the terri-
tory of Sequassen, Miantonomo's weak ally, and
kilhng his men and laying waste his country; or,
for that matter, of the Plymouth authorities them-
selves "denouncing any war" at a later date when
they sent Major Winslow with an armed force to
seize Wamsutta in his own domain and bring him
to Plymouth at the point of a loaded pistol, because
of some suspicion.

When the shower of arrows fell upon them the
Narragansetts fled. Miantonomo was wearing an
Enghsh corselet which impeded his flight, and some
pursuing Mohicans contented themselves with get-
ting in his way so as to hinder him further, in order
that Uncas himself, who appears not to have been
in the front ranks of the pursuers, might have the
honor of taking him. The story of Miantonomo's
fate belongs in another place; and I will pass on to
the effect of his murder upon the Narragansetts.

The following winter the Indians on the Connect-
icut River, probably Sequassen's men, made much
trouble; and the Narragansetts urged the Governor
of Massachusetts "that they be allowed to make
war upon Uncas, saying he had received a ransom for
Miantonomo's life and then executed him; but per-
mission was refused, and they were put off with a
promise that if it was shown that ransom had been
received they would cause Uncas to return the

With their usual happy faculty for believing


what they wanted to, the colonial council decided
the issue against the Narragansetts. The latter,
unable to get any satisfaction, then signed an agree-

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