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ment not to open hostilities until the next planting
of corn, and even then to give the English thirty
days notice. Bradford says they also agreed that
''if any of the Nayantick Pequots should make any
assault upon Uncas or any of his, they would give
them up to the English to be punished, and that
they would not procure the Mowacks to come
against him during this truce."

I have spoken of this agreement as of the time
of the Narragansetts' complaint in the winter fol-
lowing Miantonomo's death, although some writers
fix the time of its making as coincident with the
mockery of a trial that was accorded to Miantonomo.

These events occurred in the summer of 1643 and
the winter following; and, in 1645, the trouble
between the two federations broke out again with
fresh violence, of which Roger Williams wrote to
Winslow on June 25th of that year as follows: ''The
Narragansets and Monhiggens, with their respec-
tive confederates, have deeply implunged them-
selves in barbarous slaughter. For myself, I have
(to my utmost) diswaded our neighbours high and
low from armes, etc. but there is a spirit of des-
peracion fallen upon them, resolved to revenge the
death of their prince, and recover the ransom for
his life, etc. or to perish with him."

Following this outbreak the Colonists patched up
some sort of a truce between the Narragansetts and
Niantics on the one hand and the Mohicans on the



174 MASSASOIT

other, as usual placing all the burden on the former;
for they succeeded in some way, not made entirely
clear, in getting the signatures of their leaders to an
agreement to keep the peace with the English
United Colonies, Uncas and others, without requir-
ing the Mohicans to keep their hands off the Nar-
ragansetts or their alUes west of the Connecticut
River. This was signed by Pessacus, who, as we
have seen, was a brother of Miantonomo and suc-
ceeded him as Chief Sachem of the federation, Mee-
kesano, probably Meika or Mishuanno, another
brother of Miantonomo, who had married Magnus
the ''Old Queen of the Narragansetts " who parti-
cipated in King PhiUp's war, and Witowash, all
described as Sachems of the Narragansetts, An-
nesquem, deputy of the Niantics, Abdas, Pummash
and Cutchamakin.

The spirit of the Narragansetts seems to have
been broken by their failure to secure any satisfac-
tion or justice from the English, and for the thirty-
two years ensuing, before King Philip's war, they
confined their hostilities to constant attacks upon
the Mohicans and to acts of depredation against the
whites and especially the clergy, upon whom they
wrecked a terrible vengeance for their participation
in the farcical trial and subsequent death of their
beloved Miantonomo.

When King PhiUp, roused to frenzy by the injus-
tice of the English, rose in arms in 1675, all the Nar-
ragansetts except a few tribes under the old Sachem
Ninigret, who joined with the English in the destruc-
tion of his countrymen, sided with Philip and played



THE NARRAGANSETTS 175

the part of men, meeting their fate Hke the brave
warriors they were. I say except Ninigret, for while
he is spoken of as a Narragansett Sachem, there is
Httle, or perhaps no doubt in my mind that he was
not a true Narragansett, but a Niantic driven with
his people, across the Paucutuc by the Pequots, and
living there on Narragansett territory under the
protection of the Sachems of that federation.

I have spoken of the advancement made by the
Narragansetts in common with the Wampanoags,
and it is of interest to note in this connection that
DeForest, who is exceedingly skeptical concerning
the figures given by early historians in speaking of
the numerical strength of the various federations,
says that their territory was probably more densely
populated than any other part of the United States,
and, while he attributes this fact to the excellent
fishing about Narragansett Bay, which enabled
more of them to live there than in other places, it
should be borne in mind that this bay had no mo-
nopoly on fishing, Samoset leading the Plymouth
settlers to the shores of Maine for fish, and Cape
Cod Bay itself being a fishing resort of the English
before the settlement at Plymouth. The true reason
for the density of the population, which before the
plague undoubtedly extended to the Pokanoket and
Pocasset territory of the Wampanoags, probably
lies in the fact that these federations were more
advanced in agriculture than the other Algonquin
tribes. In fact, DeForest says, the Narragansett
men, unlike most of the race, did not shirk manual
labor. He also speaks of them as of a much milder



176 MASSASOIT

and more humane disposition than the Pequots and
Mohicans.

Under the guiding hand of the few Enghsh who
appear to have been interested in them as men, and
not simply as cumberers of the earth which the
Enghsh coveted, they made rapid progress toward
civihzation. It was the Narragansetts that gave
refuge to the persecuted Quakers from Massachu-
setts Bay. It was to them that Roger WiUiams
fled when he was banished from Salem in 1636,
after spending a part of the winter at Sowams; and
it was among them that WilUams lived, loved and
respected by them for more than forty years. It
was to them that Gorton fled with his dissenting or
heterodox associates when banished from Pljonouth;
and Deane thinks the council of clergymen who
decided Miantonomo's fate may have been influ-
enced by the fact that the Narragansetts gave him
refuge. There is reason for his conclusion in the
fact, already referred to, that these men who had
fled from the old world to the wilderness of the new
to be free from the restrictions placed upon their
rehgious belief and religious thought, as soon as
they had found the haven they sought, became as
intolerant of dissenters from their views as the
clergy of the established church had ever been of
them. In a word they were especially zealous to
deprive others of the same liberty they came here
to secure for themselves.

The part played by the Narragansetts under the
leadership of Pumham, Canonchet, Quinapen and
the ''Old Queen," in King Philip's war, the defec-



THE NARRAGANSETTS 177

tion of Ninigret, and his aid to the EngUsh in that
war, which resulted in the extermination of his
people, belongs more properly in another place, and
I will pass to the consideration of the greatest chief-
tain produced by the federation during the short
period of its existence of which anything is known.



IX

MIANTONOMO

THIS Great Sachem of the Narragansetts, as we
have seen, was a nephew of Canonicus, whose
activities in the early days of the colonies have been
briefly adverted to, and the great grandson of Tash-
tussuch. Notwithstanding the fact that Canonicus
had two sons at least, who are mentioned in his-
tory as having accompanied Miantonomo to Bos-
ton in 1636, and who fought with him at Sachem's
Plain, where they were both wounded, Miantonomo,
the son of Canonicus' youngest brother Mascus, was
his war captain and trusted counsellor before he
laid down the tomahawk, and his successor in the
Great Chieftaincy. It was Miantonomo whom he
sent to punish the murderers of Oldham in 1636,
and it was Miantonomo who headed the party that
traveled to Boston on October 21 of the same year
to apprise the English of the threatening attitude of
the Pequots.

While we are not familiar with the laws of descent
among the Algonquins, gathering our information
from all available sources, and drawing such infer-
ences as seem warranted by known facts, it would
seem that the Narragansetts had a different rule
than the other federations. We see Passaconaway

178



MIANTONOMO 179

of the Pawtuckets succeeded by his son Wonolan-
cet; Sassacus of the Pequots following his father
Wopigwooit, and Oweneco of the Mohicans taking
up the reins his father Uncas laid down. We find
Massasoit of the Wampanoags succeeded in the
Great Chieftaincy of that federation by his eldest
son Wamsutta, and the latter followed by his
younger brother Pometacom, while Canonicus is
succeeded by a son of his youngest brother, passing
over his own sons and possibly those of two other
brothers. If there was any uniform rule it must
have been that the Great Sachem named his own
successor from the warriors of his blood and family,
or that the royal family selected their Great Sachem
from their own number.

Whichever method was pursued, Miantonomo
must have been a man of parts, either to have been
named by his uncle in preference to his own sons,
or to have secured the election from among the
many men who were eligible to the position. We
have seen much of his friendliness towards the
whites; and there is yet much to be said concerning
him and his activities during the short space of
not more than seven years of his great chieftaincy.

In 1636, after a truce had been declared between
the Pequots and the Narragansetts, Roger WiUiams
reported to Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts
Bay that Miantonomo had told him that the Pe-
quots had labored with the Narragansetts to per-
suade them that the EngUsh were minded to destroy
all Indians. This may have been only a trick of the
wily Sassacus to arouse the other federation to join



180 MASSASOIT

him in the uprising he was then planning; but the
events of the next forty years showed that Sassacus,
if he was sincere in his belief, had read the EngUsh
character and foresaw the result of their continued
occupancy of more and more of the Indian lands,
better than any of the other Sachems of his time.
This incident is related here simply for the purpose
of calling attention to the sincerity of Miantonomo's
friendship or his apparent sagacity in forewarning
the whites against his own most deadly foes in the
hope of compassing their destruction. The chances
are strongly in favor of the first of these alterna-
tives, because the total annihilation of the Pequots
would only result in bringing some other tribe of
the federation to the front, still having a powerful,
though somewhat reduced, nation on his western
border which was likely to be just as hostile.

In 1638, Arthur Peach and three accompHces
killed a Narragansett Indian who had been to Massa-
chusetts Bay to trade, and they were taken at
Aquidnick by order of Roger Williams. Williams
learned from friendly Indians of the same tribe that
''the natives, friends of the slain man, had consulta-
tion to kill an Englishman in revenge.'^ Mianto-
nomo also heard of this, whether through Williams
or from his own people does not appear, and he
sent word to the English, urging them to be careful
when on the highways, and at the same time
threatened his own people with punishment if they
took the matter of vengeance into their own hands,
telling them the governor (of Plymouth) would
see justice done, as indeed he did in this case.



MIANTONOMO 181

hanging Peach and two of his accomplices, the
other escaping to Piscataqua where the settlers
protected him.

In 1640 rumors reached Boston that Miantonomo
was breeding dissension, and was trying to incite
the tribes to a general rebellion against the whites.
^'Rebellion" is the word used by the early writers;
but my understanding of the term is that it means
a revolt against lawful authority, and by what
process of reasoning the colonial governments of
that day concluded that they had any lawful au-
thority over the Indians is beyond my comprehen-
sion. Why the Massachusetts authorities failed to
take account of the past, of Miantonomo's sincerity,
which had been so often manifested, and of Uncas'
well-known duplicity, in the controversy between
them, which was almost constantly before the Eng-
lish magistrates from that time until Miantonomo 's
death, is another of the mysteries for which history
offers no solution; and their constant support of
Uncas, and abandonment of the man whose char-
acter was so much above that of Uncas that there
is no comparison between them, places a blot upon
the pages of the history of that period that time
cannot efface, an indelible stain upon their judicial
ermine.

When these rumors reached Boston in 1640, Mian-
tonomo was summoned to appear before the gov-
ernor of Massachusetts Bay, the EngUsh or colonial
authorities pursuing their usual high-handed meth-
ods of ordering men who were not under their
jurisdiction around as though they were subject



182 MASSASOIT

to them. Whatever may have been Miantono-
mo's feelings about their assumption of authority
over him, he suppressed them, and went to
Boston, undoubtedly willing to go the whole dis-
tance, and not merely half way, in an effort to pre-
serve the peace and show his readiness to observe
the terms of his treaties and agreements with the
whites. When he presented himself before the
governor he demanded an investigation, and that
his accusers be called to confront him, and if found
to be in the wrong that they be put to death. He
averred that Uncas and the Mohicans had become
his enemies and were circulating this slander against
him. Nothing was shown implicating him in any
wrongdoing, but the circulation of the rumors re-
sulted in a most bitter enmity between him and
Uncas, which was terminated only by Miantonomo's
fall at the hands of the most treacherous Redskin
that the New England tribes produced during the
period covered by our knowledge of them, aided
and abetted by the men Miantonomo had befriended.
This enmity probably extended to the Connecti-
cut tribes that were more friendly to Miantonomo
than to Uncas, including the Niantics and such of
the old Pequot tribe as had been absorbed by them;
and was unquestionably responsible for an alleged
attempt upon the life of Uncas who claimed to
have been shot at and wounded in the arm by an
arrow from the bow of some unknown person, if
any such attempt was actually made. At about
this time a young Pequot was found to be in posses-
sion of more wampum than it was thought he ought



MIANTONOMO 183

to have, and he fled to the Narragansetts who pro-
tected him. Uncas rushed to the colonial authori-
ties again, as usual, with this fresh complaint, and
Miantonomo was once more called to Boston. On
a hearing upon Uncas' complaint, Miantonomo
called the Pequot as a witness, and he told in detail
of a plot on the part of Uncas to involve Mianto-
nomo. He said that Uncas had tried to induce him
to tell the English that Miantonomo had employed
him to kill Uncas; and that the latter, to give color
to the charge, took a flint from his gun and cut his
arm on both sides to make it appear as if an arrow
had gone through it. The English, as usual, re-
fused to beUeve this, and ordered Miantonomo to
give the Pequot up to Uncas, another case of their
assumption of authority they did not possess; ''in-
tending to subject him to their vengeance.'' Mian-
tonomo, still desirous of avoiding trouble, acquiesced,
but claimed the right of returning the Pequot to his
own hunting grounds as he had introduced him.
This was allowed, and some of Miantonomo's men
started out with him to return him, but themselves
killed him while on the way, an act of mercy on their
part which ought to commend itself to any one with
a spark of humanity, for the Narragansetts knew
what Mohican vengeance meant.

I use the expression "as usual" in speaking of
the Massachusetts authorities' refusal to credit the
testimony of the witness introduced on behalf of
Miantonomo because this seems to have been their
constant policy. Miantonomo had repeatedly shown
his friendship and good will towards them, they



184 MASSASOIT

never had a particle of evidence of any breach of
faith on his part, except such as was furnished by
his most inveterate foe, the most resourceful liar of
the times, but they persistently refused to hsten to
evidence in his behalf, prefering to accept the
stories circulated by his enemy whom they knew to
be constantly plotting his overthrow, and whom
they knew equally well to be untrustworthy. The
only plausible explanation I can find for their atti-
tude towards these two chiefs, who were no more to
be compared than are noonday and midnight, is
that Uncas was a ready tool in their hands for the
carrying out of their schemes against the other
Indians, in the police parlance of the day a stool
pigeon; or that the Narragansetts were more to
be feared than the Mohicans in case of an open
rupture.

And Uncas' reason for playing this part was to
secure the overthrow of the other Great Sachems
of the vicinity, to reduce their federations to a state
of vassalage, with himself the great Indian ICing of
the day, supported by English soldiers. He had
neither the prowess in battle, the mental qualities
or the personality to accomplish this without such
assistance; and there was no reason for all the
alleged attempts upon his life. The hostiUty was
not entirely personal, although Miantonomo had
good reason for a strong personal enmity to him;
but there was more than individual hostiUty in-
volved. It was the hostility of one nation against
another, and if any of the numerous alleged at-
tempts upon the life of Uncas had been successful,



MIANTONOMO 185

it would only have resulted in putting in his place
another man who probably would have pursued his
poUcy. Again, there were so many complaints by
Uncas of these plots against his person, rather than
against his federation, that it seems remarkable
that the English did not become suspicious concern-
ing them; but if they had any such suspicion they
carefully concealed it, and always found the issue,
when one was presented, in favor of Uncas. If all
the attempts to remove him, complained of, and
enumerated by Bradford, were actually made, there
must have been some exceedingly poor shots and
weak hands among the conspirators against him;
or he must have been even more skilled in magic,
or under the special protection of the Great Spirit
than was the celebrated Passaconaway.

After the capture of Miantonomo, as already re-
lated, Uncas endeavored to extort from him a plea
for his life, saying that if he were Miantonomo's
prisoner he would beg for mercy at his hands, all
of which was undoubtedly true. Failing by this
means to force a word from the lips of the Great
Chief, who throughout displayed the stoicism of his
race, Uncas then caused some of the Narragansett
warriors, who had been taken prisoners, to be
brought up and tomahawked before his eyes. Even
this, evidently intended as an object lesson of what
was in store for him, failed to move him to the
utterance of a word. Uncas then, well knowing
that a trial before EngUsh judges was equivalent to
conviction and execution for Miantonomo, and to
shirk the responsibiUty for his death, referred the



186 MASSASOIT

case to the English who had just effected a union
under the name of the "United Colonies of New
England," and had provided for the appoint-
ment of two commissioners each from Massa-
chusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut and New
Haven, to consider matters of common interest.
The first Commissioners named for the several colo-
nies were as follows: Massachusetts Bay, John
Winthrop and Thomas Dudley; Plymouth, Edward
Winslow and William Collier; Connecticut, George
Fenwick and Edward Hopkins; New Haven, The-
ophilus Eaton and Thomas Gregson.

Bradford relates that at their first meeting held
September 7, 1643, at Boston, ''amongst other
things they had this matter of great consequence to
consider on; the Narigansets, after the subduing of
the Pequentes thought to have ruled over all the
Indians about them; but the English especially
those of Conightecutt, holding correspondence and
friendship with Uncass, Sachem of the Monhigg In-
deans which lived nere them (as the Massachusetts
had done with the Narigansets) and he had been
faithful to them in the Pequente Warr, they were
ingaged to support him in his just liberties, and
were contented that such of the surviving Pequentes
as had submitted to him should remain with him
and under his protection. This increased his power
to such an extent that it was unendurable to the
Narigansets and Miantonomo, their Chief Sachem
(an ambitious and politick man) and he sought
privately and by treachery (according to the Indian
manner) to make way with him by hiring some to



MIANTONOMO 187

kill him. Some sought to poyson him, to knock
him in the head in his own house and to shoot him
and such like attempts. None of these taking
effect, he made open warr (contrary to the covenants
between the English and the Narigansetts and the
Mohicans and Narigansets)."

Bradford, and other writers following his con-
clusions, seems not to take account of the fact that
the Mohicans, even if augmented by all the surviv-
ing Pequots, would have been no match for the
Narragansetts. It requires but the application of a
little common sense to known facts to refute all this
nonsense about Miantonomo's jealousy on this
score, and about the increase of Uncas' power by
this means to such an extent "as to be unendurable"
to the Narragansetts. The two hundred survivors
of the Pequot warriors had been distributed, one
hundred to the Mohicans, eighty to the Narragan-
setts, and twenty to the Niantics; and the Niantics
were more friendly towards Miantonomo than to
Uncas at that time. Then why all the talk about
Miantonomo's jealousy and the increase of Uncas'
power? He also apparently forgets, or did not
know, that in "making open warr," Miantonomo
took the counsel of the Massachusetts Bay authori-
ties, and so it was not "contrary to the covenants
between the English and the Narragansets."

Bradford simply follows the report of the Com-
missioners, and later writers follow Bradford; and
it is not difficult to guess that the Commissioners
were hard put to it for an excuse for deciding in
Uncas' favor; and found it in this alleged jealousy



188 MASSASOIT

of the increase of Uncas' power; that is, jealousy of
something that did not exist unless Uncas was har-
boring other Pequots than those assigned to him.
The Commissioners' report was so worded as to
justify the dastardly act recommended by their five
scape-goats and perpetrated by themselves. Upon
what evidence they found the facts they do not say,
nor is it necessary. A careful reading of history
will convince any fair-minded man that Uncas had
devoted six years to scheming and planning the
overthrow of the enemy he dared not face in fair
fight, preferring to rely upon the favor of the
English; and that every complaint he ever made
against Miantonomo was deUberately framed for
that purpose.

It was on the evidence of Uncas' witnesses that
the alleged facts were established. The Commis-
sioners, unwilling to assume the responsibility for
deciding a matter upon which they had probably
already agreed, called in fifty clergymen, who were
holding a conference at the time, and who chose
five of their number to decide the fate of the Narra-
gansett Sachem. Thus the question of life or death
was left to five men who were willing to be made
the scape-goats, and who belonged to the profession
that subsequently showed itself to be made up of
the most blood-thirsty of all the English, and even
more so than any of those whom they delighted in
calling savages.

Who the five men were history does not relate,
probably because they feared the vengeance of the
outraged Narragansetts; but they decided in favor



MIANTONOMO 189

of Uncas, and the Commissioners then passed sen-
tence; that is, they authorized Uncas to put Mi-
antonomo to death, advising moderation in the
manner of his execution; and promised to assist
Uncas if the Narragansetts or others should unjustly
assault them for the execution. As if any assault
upon them or upon their accomplices, the whites,
for the execution, could be unjust. One is naturally
led to ask why the English meddled in the affair at
all? The only plausible answer is that they sought
to terrify the natives for their own advantage.

Bradford informs us that "Uncass followed this
advice, and accordingly executed him in a very faire
manner, according as they advised, with due respect
to his honor and greatness." And he might have
added that Uncas paid a high tribute to his mur-
dered foe in cutting a slice of flesh from his still
quivering body and eating it, declaring, ''it is the
sweetest meat I ever ate. It makes my heart
strong."

One piece of the evidence upon which the issue
was decided is of sufficient importance to warrant a
word of comment. When the people of Rhode
Island, who lived near Miantonomo, and whom he


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