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had often befriended, took sides with him, believing
him to be mainly in the right, Uncas' followers told
the authorities at Hartford that Miantonomo had
engaged the Mohawks to join him and that they
were then encamped within a day's journey of the
frontier, and were awaiting Miantonomo's libera-
tion. The authorities apparently swallowed this
statement, without making any attempt to verify


it, and used it as the deciding piece of so-called evi-
dence; thus establishing the truth of the last part
of the complaint made by King Philip to Governor
Easton thirty-two years later, that if ''twenty of
their honest Indians testified that an Englishman
had done them wrong it was as nothing, but if one
of their worst Indians testified against any Indian
or their King, when it pleased the English it was

The decision of the Commissioners was kept secret
until they were out of the reach of the tribes, other-
wise the commission would probably have had an
unhappy ending. As soon as they had had time
to reach places of safety the authorities of Hartford
took Miantonomo from the jail there, where he had
been confined, and delivered him to Uncas and his
brother Wawequa, and they started back with him
to their own hunting grounds, one of the stipulations
being that he was not to be executed within the
jurisdiction of the colonists.

When they arrived at Sachem's Plain, where the
Mohicans had met the Narragansetts and defeated
them by the trick referred to in the preceding chap-
ter, Wawequa stepped behind Miantonomo and at
a signal from Uncas struck him down with a toma-
hawk. Then followed the incident of the eating of
a slice of his flesh. They buried him there; a
friend piled a heap of stones on the grave and it is
said that for a hundred years every Narragansett
who passed that way turned in sadness and added a
stone to the heap upon his grave, until a large mound
marked the place.


Compare this case with that presented a little
later by the Narragansetts, who complained that
Uncas had received a ransom for Miantonomo's life
and then executed him, and asked, not to have
Uncas brought in and executed if found guilty, but
simply that the English would allow them to avenge
their own wrongs. This request was refused, the
Narragansetts being put off with a promise that
if it was shown that Uncas had received a ransom
they would cause him to return it; and then con-
veniently deciding the issue in his favor. Thirty
pieces of silver against a life ! A few spans of wam-
pum against the man whose lands they coveted!

Winthrop's narrative of the farce that they called
a trial conveys such a different impression of the
merits of the controversy between Uncas and Mian-
tonomo than does that of the Commissioners, that it
gives rise to the suggestion already made that the
latter reported the matter in such a way as to vindi-
cate their participation in what all reliable authori-
ties agree in pronouncing a cold-blooded murder.

And so perished Miantonomo, the best friend the
whites had among the Indians after Massasoit ; that
is, if they valued the friendship of a man rather
than that of a Mohican. Historians, except Brad-
ford, agree that he was guiltless of any offence; he
had many times shown the greatness of his character
in his dealings with the whites; and when it came
to a question of simple justice at their hands, it was
refused, and he was given up to his most cruel enemy
for assassination by a man who could not look him
in the face when he struck the deadly blow.


After the condemnation of Miantonomo by a body
of clergjmien, is it any wonder that for the next hun-
dred years more clergymen fell by the tomahawk in
New England, in proportion to their numbers, than
those of any other class? Is it any wonder that,
instead of the peace the colonists pretended to expect
to follow this unjustifiable act, they found them-
selves confronted by thirty years of reprisal and
vengeance, terminating only in the extinction of the
Narragansetts in King Phihp's war?

If we are inclined to think the penalty exacted by
the Indians severe, let us not lose sight of the fact
that the offence was serious, and that the simple
natives, unable to secure the colonists' consent to
their exacting justice, took the matter into their
own hands, and avenged their leader's death upon
the heads of the accompUces to his murder.

Does any one wonder after reading the stoiy of
the Mohicans and Narragansetts, culminating in
the death of the Narragansett Sachem, that the
chiefs ''had a great fear that any of their Indians
should be called or forced to be Christians," as
stated by Governor Easton?

I fancy there was a shade of irony in the wily
old Ninigret's reply to Mayhew when he asked
permission to preach among the old Sachem's
people. "Make the English good first; try it
on the Pequots and Mohicans and if it works, I
will consider it."

Do we wonder that the Christian reUgion failed
to impress Massasoit, who saw the practices of the
Christian English, and who manifested more of the


spirit of true Christianity than all the clergy of
New England of his time, excepting John Eliot and
Roger Williams?

Speaking of Miantonomo and his son Canonchet,
Schoolcraft, who is not noted for many expressions
of sympathy with the Indians or their cause, says :
"His unjustifiable death on Sachem's Plain is not
so remarkable as an act of savage cruelty as it is
of English casuistry. An Indian was made to
strike the executionary blow which Indian clemency
or diplomacy had withheld. Canonchet also fell by
the same questionable system."



THE attention of the reader has already been
caUed to the fact that Schoolcraft speaks of
the '^Wolf totem or Mohicans" as the first of the
three clans of the Leni Lenapee or parent stock of
the Algonquins to migrate from their ancestral
hunting grounds, and that Gallatin thinks it was
the only one to penetrate into strange lands.
Whether either of these conjectures is right or
wrong we do not certainly know, but Schoolcraft
speaks with such positiveness of the identity of the
"Wolfs" with the ''Mahangins," as they seem to
have been originally called, that it is probably safe
to conclude that the Mohicans were of that totem
and adopted as their national cognomen the name
of the entire clan. If Gallatin is correct, we are, of
course, led to the inevitable conclusion that all the
tribes occupying the vast expanse of territory out-
lined in a preceding chapter, except those who contin-
ued to live around New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland
and Eastern Pennsylvania, were originally Mahangins,
who swept out to the north, the south, the east and
the west in successive tides, and as they became
separated from each other formed separate federa-



tions, all closely related, but having a sufficiently
distinct existence, so that in the development of
their customs and their language they eventually
differed so materially that it has required extensive
research by linguists into the common roots of their
various dialects, of which there are said to have
been more than forty, to classify them properly.

Whatever may have been the early scope of the
name ''Mahangin," at the beginning of the seven-
teenth century, Mohican was the name appUed to
a tribe of the Pequot nation as it was then called.
If Schoolcraft's belief that the Pequots were true
Mohicans is well founded, it would be more appro-
priate to speak of them as the Mohican Nation or
federation, in which the Pequots, one of the tribes
of the nation, had gained the ascendency. Other
writers, however, assert that the Pequots were an
inland tribe that had swept down and overwhelmed
the Mohicans, whom they ruled as a conquered
people. If this is true, they simply constituted an-
other of those waves of migration to which I have
referred, that rolled across the Nipmuck territory to
the north and could not be stayed until they reached
the shores of Long Island Sound, compelling the
Mohicans who had occupied this territory to con-
fine themselves to the northerly portion of their
former hunting grounds, while they themselves
settled down on the more desirable portions bor-
dering on the water. These two theories are not
irreconcilable, for, as we have seen, Gallatin says
they were all '^Mahangins."

Whatever may have been their origin or their


relationship, we find some writers who cover the
earUest periods of American history speaking of the
Pequot Nation as having their principal rallying
place near the mouth of the Thames River, which
was in the territory then occupied by the true
Pequots, "where Connecticote, Quinnipoig and
Sassacus" were called 'Hhe three Kings, of whom
Sassacus was the most noted warrior, though Con-
necticote was the Chief of Chiefs." This is hardly
reconcilable with other equally positive statements
by other historians who tell us that Wopigwooit,
sometimes called Pekoath, was the great chief of the
federation until his death at the hands of Dutch
traders about 1633. He was undoubtedly suc-
ceeded by his son Sassacus.

The question that naturally arises, then, is, who
were the other of the three kings? And if Wopig-
wooit was the great chief as was his father before
him, and he was succeeded by his son in the Great
Chieftaincy, how does it come about that Connec-
ticote was Chief of Chiefs? From what we know
of the activities of the tribe from 1635 until its prac-
tical extermination in 1637, it seems safe to con-
clude that the other two kings mentioned were only
the sachems of some subdivisions of the federation,
perhaps of the royal hne of Wopigwooit, and high
counsellors of the War Lord Sassacus; although
Quinnipoig is the name given by some writers to
one of the Connecticut River tribes.

While Gookin and, following him, Drake, Galla-
tin and Schoolcraft, give the name Pequot to the
sfirst of the five great nations of New England In-


dians, it is significant that the true Pequot territory
extended only from the Paucatuc River on the
east to the Niantic on the west, and from Long
Island Sound northerly less than half way across
the state of Connecticut. That their territory did
not extend westerly to the Connecticut River is
clearly established, for while they undoubtedly held
sway over the western Niantics, occupying the pen-
insula formed by the Niantic and Connecticut
Rivers, north of these lay the Podunks, whose Sa-
chem Waghinacut went to Boston in 1631 to try to
induce the English to settle in the Connecticut
Valley. He boasted of the fertility of the soil and
offered to provide settlers with corn and to give
them eighty beaver skins if they would send a colony
into his territory. Winthrop says he afterwards
found that he was a very treacherous man and had
been at war with a far greater Sachem named Pe-
koath. DeForest, however, says the Pequots de-
feated them in their battles and compelled them to
submit to Pekoath.

The Podunks, as I have said, lay north of the
western Niantics on the east side of the Connecti-
cut River. To be more accurate I should have said
they were north of the Wauguncks who occupied
the territory immediately north of the western
Niantics and also on the west side of the river.

I am aware that in placing the limit I do on the
Pequot territory, I am running against the claims
of some old writers who assert that Sassacus' sway
extended nearly to the Hudson River, as well as
the statement of others that he had twenty-six sub-


sachems or sagamores under him, because there
were not twenty-six tribes in all Connecticut if the
authorities that seem most reliable are to be be-
lieved; and Gallatin, who appears to have made
extensive research to gather the material for his
Archseologia Americana, says there were seven in-
dependent tribes west of the Connecticut River.
DeForest, who published a history of the Con-
necticut Indians in 1852 under the auspices of the
Connecticut Historical Society, shows a map of Con-
necticut as it was in 1630, on which he locates ten
such tribes, naming them. If it should be claimed
that these were really of the Pequot nation, we come
right back to the fact that one of them had recently
been at war with Pekoath (Wopigwooit) of the
Pequots; and we are confronted with the further
fact that the Tunxis, another of these tribes, if it
was subject to Sassacus, did not constitute any part
of the Mohican nation which Uncas built up on the
ruins of the Pequot; for as we have already seen
Sequassen their sachem was more friendly to Mian-
tonomo than to Uncas, and is said by DeForest to
have been related to the Narragansett sachems.

This same Sequassen owned the land where
Hartford now stands and sold it to the English.
DeForest says these western Connecticut tribes
were all numerically weak, but for that matter he
places the strength of all the New England tribes at
a much lower figure than other writers, estimating
the Pequots at three hundred warriors, the number
seen by Endicott when he was on the coast in 1636,
rather than seven hundred as given by Captain


Mason who overthrew them in 1637, and whose
figures are generally accepted; and the Narragan-
setts he gives but ten to twelve hundred warriors
against the three to four thousand as credited to
them by other writers, except Gookin who places
them at one thousand.

DeForest further contradicts the claims of Pequot
control nearly to the Hudson, saying that a large
part of the inhabitants of the country west of the
Connecticut River became subject to the Mohawks,
and that every year two old Mohawks might be seen
going from village to village collecting tribute and
issuing orders from the Great Council of the Five
Nations at Onondaga.

For that matter they all seem to have been re-
lated, for according to Uncas' genealogy as given
to the whites in 1679 Sassacus' grandmother was a
daughter of the Chief Sachem of the Narragansetts,
Uncas' mother was a sister of Sassacus' grandfather
and Uncas himself married a daughter of Sassacus.
So we see that Uncas the Mohican was of the royal
house of the Pequots and married into the family,
being a distant cousin and son-in-law of Sassacus,
whose position he sought continuously to usurp;
and finally, being so thoroughly despised by all the
tribes of the federation except his own that he
could accomplish nothing unaided, joined the Eng-
lish against his own people for the sole purpose of
securing the overthrow of Sassacus and the Pequot
tribe in order to place his own tribe with himself at
its head in the dominant position in the league.
That he would have betrayed the English with the


same facility had the opportunity presented itself
without danger to his precious scalp goes without

The Chief Sachem of the Narragansetts whose
daughter Woipeguand the grandfather of Sassacus
is said by Uncas to have married, was named
Wekoum. This must have been the father or
grandfather of Tashtussuch, unless the chieftaincy
descended collaterally, and in that case either the
uncle or great uncle. So we see that Wopigwooit,
Sassacus and Uncas were cousins, a few degrees re-
moved, of Canonicus and Miantonomo who were
their most deadly foes.

Intermarriages between members of the ruling
houses of the neighboring nations in intervals of
peace would seem from this to have prevailed
among the Indians just as it has among civilized
peoples, but with no better results so far as it
affected the peace of the nations.

English colonies having been established on the
Connecticut River, in 1633 Sassacus began the
series of depradations that terminated in the Pe-
quot war. The first overt act was the murder of
Captain Stone and his crew. Stone was a trader
from Virginia, said to have been unscrupulous in
his deahngs and addicted to drunkenness, but this
does not appear to have contributed to his misfor-
tune, as the Indians did not complain of any mis-
treatment on his part when they made their defence
for his murder, which does not appear to have been
presented until 1636.

Between these dates the authorities had made a


treaty with Sassacus, and had succeeded in patching
up some sort of a peace between him and the Nar-
ragansett Sachems. By the terms of this treaty,
the Pequots were to pay to the whites four hundred
fathoms of wampum for the Narragansetts for some
damage occasioned by their depradations. In this
connection it is of interest to note that we find
mention of payments of wampum much more fre-
quent in the deahngs of the Pequots and Narra-
gansetts than of any other tribes, and this bears out
the statement of Bradford that the Indians about
Plymouth and the Massachusetts had none or very
Httle wampum, ''only it was made and kepte amonge
the Narigansets and Pequentes, which grew rich
and potent by it."

The treaty to which I have referred, and which
was expressly sought by Sassacus who sent messen-
gers to Boston to secure the friendship of the Eng-
lish, was made in 1634, but, in 1636, war broke out
between the Pequots and the Narragansetts, and in
the same year, the authorities charged Sassacus
with having harbored some of the murderers of
John Oldham, and with having failed to pay the
wampum which he had agreed to pay by the terms
of his treaty, and another six hundred fathoms was
added to this by the authorities, probably as a
penalty for harboring Oldham's murderers, although
they do not appear to have been given any hearing
on this charge; but this seems to have been the
only fresh outrage against the whites or charged to
the Pequots which would warrant the demand.

A fleet of small vessels was fitted out at Boston


to sail to the Pequot country to secure satisfaction
or punish the offenders. John Endicott was placed
in command, with Captain Underhill commanding
the miUtary force of ninety men. Endicott 's in-
structions were to go first to Block Island and take
possession of it in the name of the colony, to spare
the women and children but to put all the men to
the sword in punishment for the murder of Oldham,
although more than a dozen of them had already
been slain by Gallop and his crew at the time of
the discovery of the offence, and Canonicus had
sent Miantonomo with two hundred men to punish
them further.

From Block Island Endicott was to proceed to
the Pequot country, obtain the murderers of Stone
and one thousand fathoms of wampum. It is
worthy of note in this connection that Stone was
murdered before the treaty between the Pequots
and the English, so it seems like a stale demand to
us at this remote time. He was also to demand
some of their children as hostages and to take
them by force if the demand was refused. At
Block Island, Underhill reported the killing of four-
teen natives and the wounding of others, but the
Narragansetts claimed that they killed only one.

Arriving at Saybrook, Lieutenant Gardiner, the
commander of the garrison, protested against the
enterprise, saying, "You have come to raise a nest
of wasps about our ears and then you will flee
away." Events that followed showed Gardiner to
be in the right. As the expedition sailed up the
river the natives became much alarmed and called


out to them from the shore inquiring if the EngHsh
had come to kill them, to which Endicott replied
that the Pequots or their allies had destroyed an
EngHsh vessel and killed ten Englishmen on the
river; that their sachem had agreed to surrender
the murderers (tliis appears to be the first mention
of any such agreement) but had not yet fulfilled
his agreement and that the English had now come
for them, and, if the Pequots were wise, they would
immediately give them up. They then demanded
one thousand fathoms of wampum for the destruc-
tion of the EngUsh property and for their faith-
lessness in not observing the treaty. The Pequot
ambassador tried to justify the killing of Stone by
telling about an earlier expedition in which some
whites (Dutch) had seized their sachem and de-
manded a ransom of a bushel of wampum ; that they
had promised to send the sachem ashore upon the
collection of this wampum; that the Indians had
collected the wampum and paid it to them and they
then brought the sachem ashore dead. When Stone
came, they did not know the difference between the
Dutch and the English and did what they did to
avenge their sachem's death.

Endicott refused to accept this explanation and
persisted in his demand for the heads of those who
had slain their people. Endicott's men accom-
plished nothing but the burning of wigwams, wast-
ing the corn, and staving canoes, and then returned
to Boston. This exasperated the Pequots to such
an extent that they endeavored to induce the Nar-
ragansetts to join with them in a general uprising,


as related by Miantonomo to Roger Williams. Mas-
sachusetts colonists, though having banished Wil-
liams because of his heterodox views, appealed to
him to use his influence with the Narragansetts to
prevent the culmination of this attempt, and, for-
tunately for the colonists, W^illiams succeeded, if
indeed the Narragansetts seriously entertained the

The Pequots seem to have become actively hos-
tile to the English from this time, attempting, as
we have already seen, to secure the assistance of their
constant enemies, the Narragansetts, in a general
uprising, and, failing in this, they started in on their
own account in the spring of 1637, by attacking
Weathersfield and Saybrook.

These open acts of aggression aroused the Con-
necticut colonies, and their anxiety soon spread to
those of Massachusetts. At Hartford on May 1,
the general court adopted an order the beginning
of which was as follows: "It is ordered that there
shall be an offensive war against the Pequoitt, and
that there shall 90 men be levied out of the three
Plantacions, Harteford, Weathersfield and Windsor
(vizt) out of Harteford 42, Windsor 30, Weathers-
field 18, under comande of Captaine Jo. Mason.''
June 2, a second levy of thirty was made, as follows,
"Harteford 14, Windsor 10, Weathersfield 6," and on
June 26 still another of ten apportioned to "Harte-
ford 5, Windsor 3, Weathersfield 2."

Massachusetts, alarmed by the disquieting re-
ports brought in and sent in by Miantonomo, and
the Saybrook and Weathersfield massacres, had'


started preparations even earlier than Connecticut,
for on April 18, at a session of the General Court, a
levy of one hundred and sixty men had been ordered,
and the sum of six hundred pounds had been appro-
priated to meet the expenses. It was expressly pro-
vided that the forty men that ''were lately sent to
Saybrook" were to be accounted of said number.
These forty were the men who made up the expedi-
tion sent to the Narragansett country to join Mian-
tonomo's force as referred to in an earlier chapter.

Plymouth, on June 7, provided for raising thirty
men for the land forces and as ''many as necessary
to man the barque," by voluntary enlistment.
Forty men volunteered unconditionally and three
more "if they should be prest."

Mason's orders were to sail down the Connecti-
cut to Saybrook and attack the Pequot forts, of
which there were two, from the west; but he decided
to disobey the order and to attack from the east.
His expedition left Hartford on May 10, and arrived
in Narragansett Bay on the twentieth. The next
day being the Sabbath they stayed on their boats.
Tuesday they disembarked and Wednesday re-
ceived word from Roger Williams of the arrival of
forty men from Massachusetts under the command
of Captain Patrick. Williams requested them to
wait for this reenforcement; but, leaving thirteen
men in charge of the boats. Mason pushed on with
seventy-seven whites, sixty Mohicans and two hun-
dred or more Narragansetts. The next morning
they reached a fort of the Niantics twelve miles
east of the Paucatuc River; and not being entirely


sure of the friendliness or even neutrality of Nini-
gret, the Niantic Sachem, they surrounded the fort.
Two hundred warriors from this tribe then joined
them and they started out, seventy-seven whites
and a motley gathering of five hundred Narragan-
setts, Niantics and Mohicans.

One writer of comparatively recent times, who

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Online LibraryAlvin Gardner WeeksMassasoit of the Wampanoags; (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 18)