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men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes,
etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could
many husbands well brook it. Let none object, this
is men's corruption, and nothing against the course
itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption
in them, God, in his wisdom, saw another course fitter
for them." *

Early in August two ships arrived, the Anne and
the Little James. The latter was a small vessel of
about forty-four tons, which was built for the company
and was to remain at Plymouth. The two vessels
brought sixty passengers. Some of them were very
worthy people and constituted a valuable addition to
the colony. Others were such sad miscreants that
the Pilgrims instructed by the disasters which the

* Bradford's Plymouth Plantation, p. 135.


Weymouth colonists had caused, refused to receive
them into their colony. The thriftless creatures, un-
able to establish a settlement of their own, were com-
pelled to return to England.

The corn harvest was not yet ripe, and the new-
comers were greatly surprised at the destitution in
which they found the colonists. "The best dish,"
writes Bradford, " they could present them with, was
a lobster or a piece of fish, without bread or anything
else but a cup of fair spring water." The new-com-
ers were afraid that the hungry colonists would eat
up all the provisions they had brought with them. On
the other hand the colonists were fearful that the new-
comers would devour their harvest of corn, which
was scarcely sufficient for so large an addition to their
numbers. They therefore decided that each of the
parties should rely upon its own resources.

On the loth of September the Anne returned to
England, laden with clapboards and furs. Mr. Wins-
low also sailed in her, on business for the colony.
The harvest was now in, and there was comparative
plenty. Many had raised more corn than their own
families would consume, and thus they had a supply
to sell to others. About the middle of this month
Captain Robert Georges arrived in Massachusetts
Bay with a number of families, to commence a new
plantation there. His grant of land was very indefi-



nite. It embraced all the land lying on the northeast
side of Massachusetts Bay, together with all the
shores and coasts, for ten English miles, in a straight
line towards the northeast, and thirty miles into the
main land. He selected for his' settlement, the spot
at Weymouth which had been abandoned by the Wes-
ton Colony. Governor Georges visited Governor
Bradford, where he met with a very kind reception.

Some of the seamen, carousing in one of the
houses, built a great fire on a cold and windy night,
which was communicated to the thatch, and four
houses were burnt down. The storehouse was great-
ly endangered. Its loss would have been irrepara-
ble. The Little James went on a cruise to the coast
of Maine, and there, in a violent storm, was wrecked.
Mid-winter now frowned around the Pilgrims as they
entered upon a new year, the year 1624.

Mr. Winslow returned from England, bringing
with him two heifers and a bull, an invaluable acqui-
sition to the colonists, being the first cattle that were
brought over. As they had no money, corn had be-
come the circulating medium. With the opening
spring all hands set to work to raise as much corn as
possible. This led to a petition to the Governor to
have a portion of land assigned, in perpetuity, to each
individual. When assigned yearly, by lot, that field
which one man, by skill and industry, had brought


into a good state of cultivation, was often taken from
him, and he received, perhaps, instead, a field ne-
glected and overrun with weeds. The request was
manifestly so reasonable, than one acre was given to
every man, as near the village as might be, to be held
seven years. It was deemed necessary, for safety
against the Indians, to keep as close together as pos-

With some internal disorders, the affairs of the
colony went on prosperously during the year, nothing
occurring to call the energies of Captain Standish
into requisition. The colony numbered one hundred
and eighty souls. They had some cattle and goats,
quite a number of swine, and numerous poultry.
Thirty-two dwelling houses were now occupied. The
palisades which surrounded the village were half a
mile in extent. A well-built fort stood upon Burial

Mr. Winslow made a trading-voyage eastward one
hundred and fifty miles, in an open boat, " up a river
called the Kennebec." He brought home seven hun-
dred pounds of beaver and other furs, having ex-
changed corn for them. It was mid-winter, and they
encountered much tempestuous weather. The boat
was built by their ship carpenter, and had a small
deck over her midships to keep the corn dry. But
the men were exposed, unsheltered to winter on the


coast of Maine. These furs were purchased of the
natives, at a small price, and were sold in London at
a great profit.

The Pilgrims wished to hire money with which ta
purchase in England the commodities which the In-
dians greatly prized, and which they could exchange
with them for furs. Captain Standish was sent to
England to adjust certain difficulties which had arisen
between the colonists and their partners in London,
and also to hire money with which to purchase goods to
trade with the Indians. But the Captain arrived in Lon-
don at a very unfortunate hour. The city was then des
olated by that awful plague which was sweeping thou-
sands into the grave. It would also appear that the
credit of the colony was far from good. With great dif-
ficulty Captain Standish succeeded in raising seven
hundred and fifty dollars, for' which he paid the enor-
mous interest of fifty per cent. The risk to the
lender was indeed great. The only chance the col-
onists had to pay the debt, was mainly in sending
home furs. But the ships thus laden had to run the
gauntlet of the hostile fleets of France and Tur-
key, with both of which powers England was then
at war.

Captain Standish expended the small sum he had
raised, in trading commodities. He also brought
back the mournful intelligence of the death of the


Reverend Mr. Robinson, who died at Leyden the ist
of March, 1625. There were so many vessels sent
from England to the coast o'f Maine, engaged in the
fishing business, that the colonists, in consequence of
the competition, relinquished the fisheries, and en-
gaged in trading and planting, both of which had now
become profitable. Immense numbers of fishes were,
however, taken at their very door, which were used
to enrich the fields.


The rapid brook of fresh water, which ran at the
south side of the town, took its rise in several lakes
in the land above. Early in May vast shoals of her-
ring darkened the waters as they ascended the brook
from the sea to deposit their spawn in the lakes.
The colonists constructed, at the mouth of this brook,
a sort of net, made of planks and trellis work, so
that at one tide they would often take twelve
thousand fishes. Three or four were deposited in
each hill of corn, which promoted a luxuriant growth.
This corn was eagerly purchased by the Indians, they
paying one pound of beaver skin for one bushel of
corn. Fishing vessels occasionally called and pur-
chased their corn at six shillings a bushel. Several
other colonies were also established, which needed
supplies. Thus days of prosperity dawned upon the
colony, which had so long struggled with adversity.
But little occurred during the year 1626 worthy of


especial notice. The coasting-trade was becoming
increasingly important. Governor Bradford writes :

" Finding they ran a' great hazard to go so long
voyages in a small, open boat, especially in the winter
season, they began to think how they might get a
small pinnace. They had no ship carpenter among
them, neither knew how to get one at present. But
they having an ingenious man, who was a house car-
penter, who had also wrought with the ship carpen-
ter that was dead, when he built their boats, at their
request, he put forth* himself to make a trial that way,
of his skill, and took one of the biggest of the shal-
lops and sawed her in the middle, and so lengthened
her some five or six feet, and strengthened her with
timbers, and so built her up and laid a deck on her,
and so made her a convenient and wholesome vessel,
very fit and comfortable for their use, which did them
service seven years. And thus passed the affairs of
this year." *

The prospects of the colony had so far brightened
that Mr. Allerton, who had been sent to England
this year, succeeded in raising one thousand dollars
at thirty per cent interest. During the year 1625
Captain Wollaston, with thirty emigrants, commenced
a settlement at a place they named Mount Wollaston,
in the northerly part of Braintree, now Quincy, in

* Bradford's Plymouth Plantation p. 211.


Massachusetts. Most of these emigrants were men
of low condition, the hired laborers of Wollaston.
He soon became discontented, and took a large por-
tion of his servants to Virginia, where he disposed of
their labor as best he could. He left a man by the
name of Fitcher to guide the labor of those who re-
mained until his return. In the mean time one
Thomas Morton, " a pettifogging attorney of Furni-
val's Inn, a man of low habits," succeeded in persuad-
ing those who were left to renounce the authority of
Fitcher, and to live on terms of perfect equality and
freedom, without any laws whatever. He arranged a
great feast, and induced the men, in the frenzy of
intoxication, to drive Fitcher from the settlement.
They then entered upon an astonishing course of ri-
oting and drunkenness. They prosecuted vigorously
a trade with the natives, which was forbidden by royal
charter, of muskets, powder and bullets. This trade
was very profitable. The Indians, eager to obtain
muskets, would pay almost any sum for them. Mor-
ton taught them how to use the guns, and employed
them to hunt, purchasing their furs.

Thus they rioted in abundance, and disgraced
themselves with the most shameless indulgence in
profanity and profligacy. They erected a May-pole,
and danced around it with the Indian women. In
accordance with these scenes of revelry, they changed


the name of the place to Merry Mount Morton was
an Atheist : teaching that this was the only life ; that
there was no responsibility to God, and that it was
the part of wisdom to indulge freely in all one's de-

This state of things created great alarm, in all the
various settlements, which had by this time been
established. The Indians, if once supplied with
European weapons of war, could easily, by combin-
ing, destroy all the colonies. Governor Bradford
complains very bitterly of the peril. The Indians had
muskets in abundance ; they were taught how to re-
pair their muskets when injured ; they were furnished
with moulds for running bullets of various sizes.

"Yea," writes Governor Bradford, "some have
seen them have their screw-plates to make screw-
pins themselves, when they want them, with sundry
other implements, wherewith they are ordinarily bet-
ter fitted and furnished than the English themselves.
It is well known that they will have powder and shot
when the English want it, and cannot get it ; and yet
in a time of war or danger, as experience hath mani-
fested, when lead hath been scarce, and men for their
their own defense would gladly have given four pence
a pound, which is dear enough, yet hath it been
bought up and sent to other places, and sold to such
as trade it with the Indians at twelve pence a pound


And it is likely the Indians give three or four shillings
the pound, for they will have it at any rate.

" And these things have been done in the same
times when some of their neighbors and friends are
daily killed by the Indians, or are in danger thereof,
and live but at the Indians' mercy. Yea, some have
told them how gunpowder is made, and all the mate-
rials in it, and that they are to be had in their own
land ; and I am confident that could they attain to
make saltpetre they would teach them to make pow-
der. Oh the horribleness of this villainy ! How many,
both Dutch and English, have been lately slain by
those Indians thus furnished ! And no remedy pro-
vided, nay the evil more increased, and the blood of
their brethren sold for gain ; and in what danger all
these colonies are is too well known.

" Oh ! that princes and parliaments would take
some timely order to prevent this mischief and, at
length to suppress it, by some exemplary punishment
upon some of those gain-thirsty murderers, for they
deserve no better title, before their colonies in these
parts be overthrown by these barbarous savages, thus
armed with their own weapons, by these evil instru-
ments and traitors to their neighbors and country.

" But I have forgotten myself, and have been too
long in this digression ; but now to return. This
Morton having thus taught them the use of muskets

T r*


he sold them all he could spare ; and he and his con -
sorts determined to send for many out of England,
and had, by some of the ships, sent for above a score,
The which beuig known, and his neighbors meeting
the Indians in the woods, armed with guns in this
sort, it was a terroi unto them who lived strugglingly
and were of no strength in any place. And other
places, though more remote, saw that this mischief
would quickly spread over all if not prevented. Be-
sides, they saw they should keep no servants^ for Mor-
ton would entertain any, how vile soever, and all the
scum of the country, or any discontents would flock
to him from all places, if this nest was not broken ;
and they would stand in more fear of their lives and
goods, in a short time, from this wicked and debauched
crew, than from the savages themselves.

The leading men of several settlements met to-
gether to deliberate upon what measures to adopt in
this emergence. The Plymouth colony was stronger
than all the rest united.

The delegates came from Plymouth, from the
trading-house at the Kennebec, from the small set-
tlement at Salem, from Weymouth, and from several
other places where infant settlements had been com-
menced. They decided to write a joint and friendly
letter to Morton, informing him of the danger to which
he was exposing all the English, and entreating him,


out of regard to the common safety, to change his
course. A messenger was sent with this letter, and
to bring back an answer. Morton replied insultingly
and defiantly, saying that they were meddling with
that which they had no concern ; that he should con-
tinue trade with the Indians just as he pleased, selling
them muskets, powder and shot, without asking any
one's advice. The answer throughout was couched
in the most insulting terms.

Again, with the most singular moderation, a mes-
senger was sent to him with another friendly letter,
saying that they were consulting, not for selfish inter-
ests, but for the good of all alike ; that the lives of all
were endangered, and that the King's proclamation
had forbidden the sale of fire-arms to the savages.
Another insolent answer was returned. He assured
them that he cared neither for the King's proclama-
tion nor for them ; and that if they thought they could
coerce him, they might come on as soon as they
pleased ; he was ready for the m.

It was now manifestly time to summon the ener-
gies of Captain Standish to the rescue. He was ex-
actly the man for the occasion. With a small body
of armed men, eight in number, as valiant as himself, .
Captain Standish set out for Merry Mount. In some
way, Morton had heard of his approach. With his
desperate men he had barricaded himself in a strong


log house, with an ample supply of powder and balls.
They well knew the reputation of the foe they were
to encounter, and in order to stimulate their waning
courage, had all become drunk. From their fortress,
which they deemed impregnable, they shouted their
scurrilous defiance to the Captain and his little band.
There are men with whom apparently the most reck-
less bravery is combined with prudence and sound
judgment ; who seem to be endowed with a sort of
instinct which teaches them when an act of seeming
desperation may be demanded by wisdom. Captain
Standish was such a man.

He was making arrangements to carry the house,
perhaps by approaching it from some unguarded
point, and setting it on fire, when Morton, drunk as
he was, saw his danger. Selecting a few of his men,
he emerged from his fortress, with the intention of
making a sudden and simultaneous rush upon Captain
Standish, and shooting him. Morton himself was so
intoxicated that, as afterwards found, his carbine was
overloaded, being nearly half filled with powder and

The captain, though of short stature, possessed
dignity of character and authority of bearing which
often overawed his foes. Without a moment's hesita-
tion, he advanced with stately tread upon Morton,
totally regardless of his weapon, seized him by the


collar, wrenched the gun from his hands, and delivered
him over to his men, a humiliated and helpless cap-
tive. The rest of the drunken crew, deprived of their
leader, were deemed powerless. The culprit was
taken to Plymouth, and was sent to England by the
first vessel that sailed, there to be tried for his crimes.

The Pilgrims, at Plymouth, had for some time
been in the habit of sending yearly to the fishing-
grounds off Cape Ann for a supply of cod. They
had erected quite a commodious stage upon the
cape, where they dressed and dried their fish. Some
London adventurers fitted out a fishing vessel for the
cape, and arriving there before the Plymouth people,
took possession of their stage, which they refused to
surrender when the Pilgrims came and demanded
their own.

The code militaire was, at this time, the rule of
life with Captain Standish. He would do no wrong ;
and he would submit to no wrong. He was immedi-
ately sent to Cape Ann to adjust the difficulty. There
was no room for question about the right and wrong
in the case. The new-comers had stolen the property
of the Pilgrims. Captain Standish peremptorily de-
manded its restoration. The thieves barricaded them-
selves on the stage. Captain Standish prepared for
battle, and would doubtless have recovered the stage
by force. " But Mr. Conant," writes Baylies, " who dwelt


there, and who was a man of a mild and conciliatory dis
position, and Captain Pierce, a fast friend of the Ply-
mouth people, also happening to be there with his
ship, interposing their good offices, the dispute was
compromised, the ship's crew having promised to
build another stage." *

Emigration to the New World was now rapidly
increasing. Many new settlements sprang up and
many worthless characters came over, lured by the
love of adventure. Not a few of these came to the
flourishing Plymouth colony. This led to a new or-
ganization of the colony, the details of which it is not
necessary to enter into here. The company in Lon-
don, who had obtained the charter from the King and
held the territory, sold out their whole property to the
colonists, for nine thousand dollars, to be paid in nine
annual instalments of one thousand dollars. The
general features of this important change is thus given
by Baylies.

" Every head of a family, and every prudent young
man who was of age, both of the first and later comers,
were admitted into a general partnership; and all
agreed that the trade should be managed as usual,
devoting all its profits to the payment of the debt ;
that every single freeman should have a single share,
and that every father of a family should have leave
* Baylies' Memoir of Plymouth Colony, p. 140.


to purchase a share for himself, another for his wife,
and one for each of his children who lived with him,
and that every one should pay his share of the debts,
according to his number of shares. One cow and
two goats were divided by lot to every six shares, and
the swine in proportion. And to every share, in addi-
tion to the acre lots, which they already held, and the
gardens and homestead of which they were possessed,
twenty acres of tillage land was assigned by lot,
which were to be five acres broad on the water and
four acres deep."

The meadow lands, for mowing, being quite small
in extent, were held in common, mowing places
being assigned, as the seasons came around, to all
the families, according to their number of cattle. As
the Pilgrims were living in constant apprehension of
a combination of the Indians against them, it was
deemed important that they should not be widely
scattered in their fields of labor. A sudden attack
might expose them to destruction, unless they could
be speedily rallied. Twenty acres of land was much
more than any one man could cultivate with the agri-
cultural facilities then at their control. It was there-
fore agreed, before any lots were cast, that those
whose lots should fall next to the town, should take a
neighbor or two, whom they best liked, to plant corn
with them for four years. By that time it was sup-


posed the colony would be out of danger from any
hostile attack. This arrangement gave general sat-
isfaction, and inspired the colonists with new en-


Increase and Growth of the Settlements.

The Virginia Emigrants. Humanity and Enterprise of the Govern-
or. Envoy Sent to England. Trading Posts on the Kennebec
and Penobscot Rivers. Capture by the French. The Massa-
chusetts Colony. Its Numbers and Distinguished Characters.
Trade with the Indians. Wampum the New Currency. Trad-
ing Post at Sandwich. Sir Christopher Gardener. Captain
Standish Moves to Duxbury. Lament of Governor Bradford.

An incident occurred at this time, quite interest-
ing, as illustrative of the adventurous life upon which
these men had entered, in the wilderness of this New
World ; a life of excitement and heroic achieve-
ments, with its full share of earthly joys as well as

A ship, laden with passengers and goods, left
England for Virginia. The captain was taken sick,
so that he could not leave his cabin. The inefficient
mate became bewildered. After six weeks at sea
their provisions were exhausted. Starvation stared
them in the face. Knowing not where they were, in
the night, and in a gale of wind, they were almost
miraculously swept over the shoals of Cape Cod, and
striking a sand bar, were driven over it into a little
bay, then called Manamoyake, now Chatham. The


vessel leaking badly, with many of her planks sprung,
was forced high upon the beach, so that, with the re-
ceding tide, not only the crew safely landed, and the
cargo, though much damaged with salt water, was
taken on shore.

The shipwrecked people, rejoicing to have escaped
with their lives, reared their huts upon the shore, not
knowing where they were or what would become of
them. While in this state of suspense and sadness,
they were alarmed one morning in seeing several
birch canoes coming around a headland filled with
Indians. They seized their guns and stood upon de-
fense. But the Indians paddled rapidly along as if
apprehending no harm, and addressing them in Eng-
lish, inquired if they were the Governor of Ply-
mouth's people, or his friends. The Indians told
them where they were, offered to conduct them to
Plymouth, or to take letters for them. The English-
men were greatly comforted by this intelligence.
They gave the Indians several valuable presents from
their shipwrecked stores, and despatched, under their
guidance, two men, with a letter to Governor Brad-
ford, entreating him to send a boat to them wifh
spikes, oakum, pitch and sundry other materials, with
which they hoped to repair their vessel, and again to
get her afloat from her soft bed in the sand.

The Governor immediately loaded a large boat


with the needful articles, including a generous supply
of corn, and taking also trading commodities with
which to buy additional supplies of the Indians, went
himself to the aid of his unfortunate countrymen. It
was winter, when the chill sea was swept by angry

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Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottMiles Standish, the Puritan captain .. → online text (page 14 of 21)