John R. Musick.

The Real America in Romance, Volume 6; a Century Too Soon (A Story online

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Some of them had bought their lands of the Indians before the
proprietary government was established, and they refused to pay the
rent, not on account of its amount, but because it was an unjust tax,
levied without their consent.

For almost two years they disputed over the rents, and kept the entire
province in a state of confusion. The whole people combined in
resistance to the payment of the tax, and in May, 1672, the disaffected
colonists sent deputies to the popular assembly which met at Elizabeth
town. That body compelled Philip Carteret, the lawful governor, to
vacate his chair and leave the province, and chose a weak and
inefficient man in his place. Carteret went to England for more
authority, and while the proprietors were making preparations to recover
the province by force of arms, in August, 1673, New Jersey and all the
rest of the territory in America claimed by the Duke of York suddenly
fell into the hands of the Dutch, who were then at war with England.

When, fifteen months later, New York was restored to the English,
Carteret had a part of his authority restored to him; but sufficient was
reserved to give Andros a pretext for asserting his authority and making
himself a nuisance with the people.

Massachusetts never enjoyed the full favor of the Stuart dynasty. The
almost complete independence which had been enjoyed for nearly twenty
years was too dear to be hastily relinquished. When it became certain
that the hereditary family of kings had been settled on the throne, and
that swarms of enemies to the colony had gathered round the new
government, a general court was convened, and an address was prepared
for the parliament and the monarch. This address prayed for "the
continuance of civil and religious liberties," and requested an
opportunity of defence against complaints.

"Let not the king's men hear your words. Your servants are true men,
fearing God and the king. We could not live without the public worship
of God. That we might therefore enjoy divine worship without human
mixtures, we, not without tears, departed from our country, kindred,
and fathers' houses. Our garments are become old by reason of the very
long journey. Ourselves, who came away in our strength, are, many of us,
become gray-headed, and some of us are stooping for age."

So great was their dread of the new king after the restoration, that, as
we have seen, Whalley and Goffe were denied shelter at all the public
houses in Boston. Their charter was threatened and commissioners sent to
demand it; but, by one device and another, the shrewd rulers of
Massachusetts managed to avert the calamity. The government at home was
kept busy at this time. There was a threatened war with the Dutch, and
then the whole government of England had to be thoroughly renovated.
Charles II. was not much of a business monarch. His thoughts were mainly
of pleasure, and, despite his merciless pursuit of the men who put his
father to death, he was good-natured.

Though the colonists of Massachusetts had levied two hundred men for the
expected war with the Dutch, they wished to maintain their spirit of
independence, and the two hundred were only a free offering. They
regarded the commission sent by the king as a flagrant violation of
chartered rights. In the matter of obedience due to a government, the
people of Massachusetts made the nice distinction between natural
obedience and voluntary subjection. They argued that the child born on
the soil of England is necessarily an English subject; but they held to
the original right of expatriation, that every man may withdraw from the
land of his birth, and renounce all duty of allegiance with all claim to
protection. This they themselves had done. Remaining in England, they
acknowledged the obligatory force of established laws. Because those
laws were intolerable, they had emigrated to a new world, where they
could organize their government, as many of them originally did, on the
basis of natural rights and of perfect independence.

As the establishment of a commission with discretionary powers was not
specially sanctioned by their charter, they resolved to resist the
orders of the king and nullify his commission. While the fleet sent from
England was engaged in reducing New York, Massachusetts, on September
10th, 1664, published an order prohibiting complaints to the
commissioners, and at the same time issued a remonstrance, not against
deeds of tyranny, but the menace of tyranny, not against actual wrong,
but against the principle of wrong. On the twenty-fifth of October it
thus addressed a letter to King Charles II.:

"DREAD SOVEREIGN: - The first undertakers of this plantation did obtain a
patent, wherein is granted full and absolute power of governing all the
people of this place, by men chosen from among themselves, and
according to such laws as they should see meet to establish. A royal
donation, under the great seal, is the greatest security that may be had
in human affairs. Under the encouragement and security of the royal
charter, this people did, at their own charges, transport themselves,
their wives and families, over the ocean, purchase the land of the
natives, and plant this colony, with great labor, hazards, cost, and
difficulties; for a long time wrestling with the wants of a wilderness
and the burdens of a new plantation; having also now above thirty years
enjoyed the privilege of GOVERNMENT WITH THEMSELVES, as their undoubted
right in the sight of God and man. To be governed by rulers of our own
choosing and laws of our own, is the fundamental privilege of
our patent.

"A commission under the great seal, within four persons (one of them our
professed enemy) are impowered to receive and determine all complaints
and appeals according to their discretion, subjects us to the arbitrary
power of strangers, and will end in the subversion of our all.

"If these things go on, your subjects here will either be forced to seek
new dwellings or sink under intolerable burdens. The vigor of all new
endeavors will be enfeebled; the king himself will be a loser of the
wonted benefit by customs, exported and imported from hence into
England, and this hopeful plantation will in the issue be ruined.

"If the aim should be to gratify some particular gentlemen by livings
and revenues here, that will also fail, for the poverty of the people.
If all the charges of the whole government by the year were put
together, and then doubled or trebled, it would not be counted for one
of those gentlemen a considerable accommodation. To a coalition in this
course the people will never come; and it will be hard to find another
people that will stand under any considerable burden in this country,
seeing it is not a country where men can subsist without hard labor and
great frugality.

"God knows, our great ambition is to live a quiet life, in a corner of
the world. We came not into this wilderness to seek great things to
ourselves; and, if any come after us to seek them here, they will be
disappointed. We keep ourselves within our line; a just dependence upon,
and subjection to, your majesty, according to our charter, it is far
from our hearts to disacknowledge. We would gladly do anything within
our power to purchase the continuance of your favorable aspect; but it
is a great unhappiness to have no testimony of our loyalty offered but
this, to yield up our liberties, which are far dearer to us than our
lives, and which we have willing ventured our lives, and passed through
many deaths to obtain.

"It was Job's excellency, when he sat as king among his people, that he
was a father to the poor. A poor people, destitute of outward favor,
wealth, and power, now cry unto their lord the king. May your magesty
regard their cause, and maintain their right; it will stand among the
marks of lasting honor to after generations."

The royalists in the days prior to the American Revolution, occupied a
similar position that the monopolists, and wealthy do in politics
to-day. They were the aristocrats, and for the common people to clamor
for political freedom was absurd. The idea of republicanism was as
loathsome to them and watched with as much jealousy as an important
labor movement is to-day. The royalists called the men who clamored for
civil and religious liberty fanatics, just as the monopolists of to-day,
who control the dominant parties, call men who cry out against their
oppression fanatics. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish the
instinct of fanaticism from the soundest judgment, for fanaticism is
sometimes the keenest sagacity. Those men wanted liberty and struggled
and fought for it until it was obtained, just as the toiling millions of
the world will some day sting the heel of grinding monopolies.

From 1660 to 1671, all New England was kept in a perpetual state of
alarm and excitement. Plymouth made a firm stand for independence,
although the weakest of the colonies. The commissioners threatened to
assume control. It was the dawning strife of the new system against the
old, of American politics against European politics, and yet those men
struggling for liberty were called fanatics.

Secure in the support of a resolute minority, the Puritan commonwealth,
in 1668, entered the province of Maine, and again established its
authority by force of arms. Great tumults ensued; many persons, opposed
to what seemed a usurpation, were punished for "irreverent speeches."
Some even reproached the authorities of Massachusetts "as traitors and
rebels against the king"; but the usurpers made good their ascendancy
till Gorges recovered his claims by adjudication in England. From the
southern limit of Massachusetts to the Quebec, the colonial government
maintained its independent jurisdiction.

The defiance of Massachusetts was not punished as might have been
expected. Clarendon's power was gone, and he was an exile. A board of
trade, projected in 1668, never assumed the administration of colonial
affairs, and had not vitality enough to last more than three or four
years. Profligate libertines gained the confidence of the king's
mistresses, and secured places in the royal cabinet. While Charles II.
was dallying with women and robbing the theatres of actresses; while the
licentious Buckingham, who had succeeded in displacing Clarendon, wasted
the vigor of his mind and body by indulging in every sensual pleasure
"which nature could desire or wit invent"; while Louis XIV. was
increasing his influence by bribing the mistress of the chief of the
king's cabal, England remained without a good government, and the
colonies, despite bluster and threats, flourished in purity and peace.
The English ministry dared not interfere with Massachusetts; it was
right that the stern virtues of the ascetic republicans should
intimidate the members of the profligate cabinet. The affairs of New
England were often discussed; but the privy council was overawed by the
moral dignity, which they could not comprehend.

Amid all the discord and threats, the New England colonies continued to
advance in population, and their villages assumed the dignity of towns.
It is difficult to form exact opinions as to the population of the
several colonies in this early period of their history. The colonial
accounts are incomplete, and those furnished by emissaries from England
are grossly false. The best estimate that can be obtained gives to New
England, in 1675, fifty-five thousand souls. Of these it is supposed
that Plymouth contained not less than seven thousand, Connecticut,
nearly fourteen thousand, Massachusetts proper, more than twenty-two
thousand, and Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, each perhaps four
thousand. The settlements were chiefly by agricultural communities,
planted near the seaside, from New Haven to Pemaquid. The beaver trade,
more than traffic in lumber and fish, had produced the village beyond
the Piscataqua; yet in Maine, as in New Hampshire, there was "a great
trade in deal boards."

A sincere attempt had been made to convert the natives and win them to
the regular industry of civilized life. The ministers of the early
emigration, fired with a zeal as pure as it was fervent, longed to
redeem those "wrecks of humanity," by planting in their hearts the seeds
of conscious virtue, and gathering them into permanent villages. No
pains were spared to teach them to read and write, and in a short time
a larger proportion of the Massachusetts Indians could do so, than the
inhabitants of Russia fifty years ago. Some of them wrote and spoke
English tolerably well. Foremost among these early missionaries, the
morning star of missionary enterprise, was John Elliot, whose
benevolence amounted to the inspiration of genius. He wrote an Indian
grammar, and translated the whole of the Bible into the Massachusetts
dialect. His actions, his thoughts, his desires, all wore the hue of
disinterested love.

The frown was on the Indian's brow, however. Clouds were rising in the
horizon. Since the Pequod war, there had been no great Indian uprising;
but there was a general feeling of uneasiness which seemed to portend a
general outbreak. The New Englanders were to feel the effects of it in
all its fury. Neither Whalley nor Goffe had been seen since the day that
Robert Stevens assisted the latter to make his escape.

The Indians, whose cupidity had been aroused by English gold, had
searched the forest far and near for the regicides. Their knowledge of
the forest and cunning in following a trail had two or three times
brought them face to face with Cromwell's stern old battle-trained
warriors. Then they had learned to their cost that they had roused a
pair of lions in their lairs; but the regicides finally disappeared.
They had last been seen near Hadley, and it was currently reported they
were dead.

Rumors of an Indian outbreak were rife; still the good people of Hadley
were living in comparative security. It was a quiet sabbath morn, and
the drowsy hum of the bees made music on the air. The great
meeting-house stood with its doors thrown wide open inviting
worshippers. The sun, beaming from the cloudless sky upon the scene,
seemed a benediction of peace. The whispering breeze on this delightful
twelfth of June swept about the eaves of the church without a hint
of danger.

The worshippers at the proper hour were seen thronging to the
meeting-house, carrying their guns, swords or pistols with them. It
seemed useless to go armed, when there was not a whisper of danger; but
scarcely had the worship begun, when a terrible warwhoop broke the
stillness. Immediately all was confusion. Children shrieked, some women
trembled, and men, pale and stern, began to fire upon the savages, who,
seven hundred strong, rushed on the place.

They fought stubbornly, driving away the enemy; but their great lack of
discipline promised in the end to defeat them.

"We are lost! We are lost!" some of the weak-hearted were beginning to
cry, when suddenly there appeared among them, from they knew not where,
a tall, venerable personage, with white flowing beard, clad in a white
robe, and carrying a glittering sword in his hand.

"You are not lost, if you follow me!" he cried.

"Who is he?" was the general query, which no one could answer save: "He
is an angel sent by God to deliver us."

It soon became quite apparent that this celestial being was well posted
in military tactics. He formed the young men in line of battle and
taught them in a few moments to deploy and rally.

When the Indians again rushed to the conflict, they were met with a
volley that stunned them and strewed the ground with dead. The angel
leader of the whites then gave the command to charge, and, with their
pistols and keen swords, they flew at the enemy before they had time to
recover, and they were thrown into confusion and fled in dismay. After
the departure of the Indians, nothing was heard or seen of the white
angel deliverer. It has since been ascertained that Goffe and Whalley
were at that time concealed at the house of Mr. Russel in Hadley, and it
is inferred that Goffe left his concealment when the danger threatened,
and, forming the men, led them to victory.



Oh, there be some
Whose writhed features, fixed in all their strength
Of grappling agony, do stare at you,
With their dead eyes half opened.
And there be some struck through with bristling darts
Whose clenched hands have torn the pebbles up;
Whose gnashing teeth have ground the very sand.

Massasoit kept his treaty with the English inviolate so long as he
lived. He died in 1661, at the advanced age of eighty or ninety years,
leaving two sons whom the English named respectively Alexander and
Philip. Alexander, the eldest son and hereditary sachem, died soon after
his father, when Philip became chief sachem and warrior of the
Wampanoags, with his royal residence on Mount Hope, not far from
Bristol, Rhode Island. He was called King Philip. He resumed the
covenants with the English made by his father, and observed them
faithfully for a period of twelve years.

But it had become painfully apparent to Massasoit before his death,
that the spreading colonies would soon deprive his people of their land
and nationality, and that the Indians must become vassals of the pale
race. Long did the warlike King Philip ponder on these possibilities
with deep bitterness of feeling, until he had lashed himself into a fury
by the continued nursing of his wrath, and resolved to strike the
exterminating blow against the English.

There were many private wrongs of his people unavenged. The whites
already had assumed a domineering manner, and his final resolution was
both natural and patriotic. King Philip was a man of reason, and it is
said he had no hope of success when he began the war. It was a war
against such odds that it must have but one termination, and he had
little if any faith in a successful issue.

The Pokanokets had always rejected the Christian manners, and Massasoit
had desired to insert in a treaty, what the Puritans never permitted,
that the English should never attempt to convert the warriors of his
tribe from their religion.

Repeated sales of land narrowed their domains, and the English had
artfully crowded them into the tongues of land, as "most suitable and
convenient for them," where they would be more easily watched. The two
chief seats of the Pokanokets were the peninsulas now called Bristol and
Tiverton. As the English villages now grew nearer and nearer to them,
their hunting-grounds were put under culture, their natural parks turned
into pastures, their best fields for planting corn were gradually
alienated, their fisheries impaired by more skilful methods, till they
found themselves deprived of their broad acres, and by their own legal
contracts driven, as it were, into the sea.

Mutual distrusts and collisions were the inevitable consequence. There
is no authentic evidence of a deliberate conspiracy on the part of all
the tribes. Bancroft, who is, perhaps, the best authority on all
colonial matters, says the commencement of the war was accidental, and
that "many of the Indians were in a maze, not knowing what to do, and
ready to stand for the English."

There were many grievances among the Indians. The haughty chieftain, who
had once before been compelled to surrender his "English arms," and pay
an onerous tribute, was summoned to submit to an examination, and could
not escape suspicion.

The wrath of his tribe was roused, and the informer was murdered. In
turn the murderers were identified, seized, tried by a jury of which
one-half were Indians, and on conviction were hanged. The younger men of
the tribe were eager for vengeance, and without delay eight or nine of
the English were slain about Swansey, and the alarm of war spread
through the colonies.

King Philip was thus unwillingly hurried into war, and he wept when he
heard that a white man's blood had been shed. It is a rare thing for an
Indian to weep, least of all a mighty chief like Philip; but in the
cloud of war hovering over his people, he read the doom of his tribe. He
had kept his men about him in arms, and had welcomed every stranger, and
yet, against his judgment and his will, he was involved in war almost
before he knew it. The English had guns enough, while but few of the
Indians were well armed and were without resources when their present
supply was exhausted. The rifle, though not in general use, had been
invented many years before, and for hunters and backwoodsmen was an
effective weapon, though it was regarded as "a slow firing gun" compared
with the smooth-bore. Many of the Indians had firearms and were
excellent marksmen, and had overcome their superstitious dread of the
white man's weapons.

The minds of the English are said to have been appalled by the horrors
of the impending conflict, and superstition indulged in wild inventions.
There was an eclipse of the moon at which they declared they saw the
figure of an Indian scalp imprinted on the centre of the disk. The
perfect form of an Indian bow appeared in the sky. The sighing of the
wind was like the whistling of bullets. Some heard invisible troops of
horses gallop through the air, while others found the prophecy of
calamities in the howling of the wolves.

Despite all his aversion to war, Philip found it forced upon him, and
when he took up the hatchet he threw his soul into the issue, and fought
until death ended the struggle. There were many Christian converts among
the Indians, who were firmly attached to the English. One of these, John
Sassaman, who had been educated at Cambridge, where John Harvard had
established a college, was a royal secretary to Philip. Becoming
acquainted with the plans of the sachem, he revealed them to the
authorities at Plymouth. For this he was murdered, and his
murderers hanged.

Soon after the attack on Swansey, Philip left his place of residence and
his territory to the English. The following is the reason of his
precipitate retreat. Additional assistance being needed, the authorities
of Boston sent out Major-General Savage from that place, with sixty
horse and as many foot-soldiers, who scoured the country all the way to
Mount Hope, where King Philip, his wife and child were supposed to be at
that time.

Philip was at dinner when the news reached him of the near proximity of
his enemies, and he rose with his family, officers and warriors and fled
further up the country. The English pursued them as far as they could go
for the swamps, and overtook the rear of the detachment, killing
sixteen of them.

At the solicitation of Benjamin Church, a company of thirty-six men were
placed under him and Captain Fuller, who on the 8th of July marched down
into Pocasset Neck. This force, small as it was, afterward divided,
Church taking nineteen of the men and Fuller the remaining seventeen.
The party under Church proceeded into a point of land called
Punkateeset, now the southerly extremity of Tiverton, where they were
attacked by a body of three hundred Indians. After a fight of a few
moments, the English fell back to the seashore, and thus saved
themselves from destruction, for Church perceived that it was the
intention of the Indians to surround them. Every one expected death, but
resolved to sell their lives as dearly as possible. Thus hemmed in,
Church had a double duty to perform - that of preserving the spirit of
his followers, several of whom viewed their situation as desperate, and
erecting piles of stone to defend them.

Boats had been appointed to attend the English on this expedition, and
the heroic party looked for relief from this quarter; but, though the
boats appeared, the bullets of the Indians made them preserve a
respectable distance, until Church, in a moment of vexation, cried:

"Be off with you, cowards, and leave us to our fate!" The boats took him
at his word.

The Indians, now encouraged, fought more desperately than before. The
situation of the Englishmen was most forlorn, although as yet not one
had been wounded. Night was coming on, their ammunition was nearly
spent, and the Indians, having taken possession of a stone house on the
hill, fired into the temporary barricade of the English; but at this
moment a sloop hove in sight, and bore down toward the shore. It had two
or three small cannon on board with which it proceeded to knock down the
stone house. The sloop was commanded by a resolute man, Captain Golding,
who effected the embarkation of the company, taking off only two at a

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Online LibraryJohn R. MusickThe Real America in Romance, Volume 6; a Century Too Soon (A Story → online text (page 13 of 20)