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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
could have no peace, but were "hunted," "persecuted," and "clapped up in prison." For this reason they fled to Holland (1607), where, they had heard, there "was freedom of religion for all men."
69. The Separatists, or Pilgrims, resolve to go to America; their Reasons. At length a part of the Separatists, or Pilgrims1, as they now with good reasons called themselves, -- for they had no fixed home, -- resolved to emigrate to America.
Three chief reasons induced the Pilgrims to leave Holland:
1. Though they were with a friendly people, yet they were among those whose language and customs were not English.
2. As their children grew up, they would naturally marry into the Dutch families, so that in a few generations their descendants would become Dutch.
3. Finally, they desired to build up a community on soil belonging to England, where they and those who came after them might enjoy both political and religious liberty, according to the Pilgrim standard of what was just and right.
70. Where they proposed going; how they got Assistance to go. The only English settlement then in America was that at Jamestown, Virginia (§ 46). The Pilgrims could not go to that part of the country, for no worship but that of the Church of England was permitted there. They finally obtained from the London Company (§§ 43, 45) the right to settle at some place near the Hudson River.
A company of English merchants and speculators agreed to help them on these hard conditions:
1. The Pilgrims were to work for seven years without a single day to themselves except Sunday.
2. At the end of that time all the property they had accumulated was to be divided equally between them and the company of merchants.
1 "So they left that goodly and pleasant city [Leyden, Holland (Map, p. 67)] which had been their resting place near twelve years; but they knew they were PlLGRIMS [see Hebrews xi. 13] and looked not much on those things; but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits." -- BRADFORD'S History of Plymouth, 1607-1646. Bradford's MS. is preserved in the State Library in the Statehouse, Boston.
THE PILGRIMS GO TO AMERICA
71. The Pilgrims sail; Myles Standish. The Pilgrims went over from Holland to England, and in the autumn of 1620 the Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, carrying the second English colony that was to make a permanent home in the New World (§ 46). There were only 102 of the emigrants, and of these less than ninety could be called Pilgrims. The others were persons who had joined them, or were servants or sailors.
Among those who were not members of the Pilgrim congregation, but who chose to go with them, was Captain Myles Standish. He was a man with the heart of a lion in battle, and the hand of a woman for the sick and wounded. Without his counsel and his sword it is doubtful if the colony could have succeeded.
72. The Pilgrims reach Cape Cod; the Compact. On a morning late in November (1620) the storm-tossed Pilgrims sighted Cape Cod. They tried to go south of it, in order to reach the vicinity of the Hudson River (§ 70), but the weather was against them. Two days later (November 21), the Mayflower came to anchor in what is now Provincetown harbor, at the extreme end of the Cape.
The Pilgrims had no authority to settle in New England, but they decided to do so. Some of their hired men now declared that they were free and would do what they pleased. Hearing that threat, the Pilgrims gathered in the cabin of the Mayflower and drew up and signed a compact or agreement. In that compact they declared themselves "loyal subjects" of the King. At the same time they declared that they were resolved to make whatever laws might be needful for the "general good of the colony." They then elected John Carver for their first governor. Thus the new commonwealth began; they were but a few score people, but they had the strength that belongs to those who fear God and respect themselves.
73. They explore the Coast, and land; Plymouth Rock; the First Winter. While the Mayflower remained at anchor Captain Standish with a boat load of men went out to explore. On December 21 they reached the harbor which Captain John Smith had called Plymouth on a map which he made when in Virginia (§ 48).
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
On the shore of that harbor lies a part of a granite bowlder. (sic) It is said to be the only one directly on the water's edge for several miles. According to tradition they landed on that bowlder. It is only a few feet square, but Plymouth Rock fills a greater place in the history of our country than any other single stone on the American continent.
A few days later, the Mayflower sailed into that harbor; the men all went ashore and began the work of building a log hut for general use. Later, they erected another cabin, but it had to be used for a hospital instead of a settler's home. The hardships of that winter were so great that by spring nearly half of the colony were in their graves. But when the Mayflower went back, in April (1621), not one of the Pilgrims returned in her. They had come to stay.
74. Governor Bradford; Town Meeting; a Treaty made with the Indians. Soon after the Mayflower sailed, Governor Carver (§ 72) died and was succeeded by William Bradford (1621). The Pilgrims decided all important questions in town meeting. There they made the laws. It was pure government by the people.
But the Pilgrims did more than simply make laws, for they enforced them. The man who resisted was speedily tied neck and heels together on the ground and left there for a reasonable time to meditate on the error of his ways.
Not long before his death Governor Carver had made a treaty with Massasoit, chief of a neighboring tribe of Indians in the southwest. The treaty was faithfully kept for more than fifty years.
Later, Canonicus, chief of a tribe of hostile Indians, threatened to attack Plymouth. He sent Governor Bradford a declaration of war in the shape of a bundle of arrows tied round with a rattlesnake
WHAT MADE THE PILGRIMS GREAT
skin. The Governor took the snake skin, stuffed it full of powder and bullets, and sent it back. Canonicus looked at it, felt of it, and then said, "We had better let the Governor alone." When trouble with the Indians did arise later, Myles Standish 71) soon made them confess that though "he was a little man, he was a great captain."
75. The Pilgrims buy out the English Company; what made the Pilgrims Great. After some years had passed, the Pilgrims bought out the English merchants' shares in Plymouth colony (1626). In order to do it, they had to borrow the money in London at from thirty to fifty per cent interest, but they were determined to be free of the Company at any cost. Henceforth every man had a right to whatever he could gain for himself by fishing, fur trading, or farming.
The colony increased slowly. At the end of ten years there were only 300 people in Plymouth. Massachusetts colony, founded ten years later (1630), overshadowed and finally absorbed it.
It was not what the Pilgrim Fathers actually accomplished which made them great: it was the spirit in which they worked. There is one thing in this world that is better than success that is, to deserve success. They had gained that; as their brethren wrote them from England: "Let it not be grievous to you that you have been instrumental to break the ice for others. The honor shall be yours to the world's end."
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
IV. MASSACHUSETTS (MASSACHUSETTS BAY COLONY, 1630)
76. Settlement of Salem; Governor Endicott; Toleration. A number of years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, the Massachusetts Bay Company1 in England sent out John Endicott to take charge of a small colony at Salem (1628).
Governor Endicott was a strict Puritan (§§ 53, 67). He lived in an age when the toleration of religious liberty was unknown in Great Britain. If he had found "toleration" in his dictionary, he would have cut the word out, just as he drew his sword and cut the red cross out of the English flag because it represented the ancient Catholic faith of England.
77. The Great Puritan Emigration; Winthrop's Colony; Settlement of Boston, 1630. But the great emigration to New England began in 1630. The royal charter gave the Massachusetts Bay Company the territory extending along the coast from the Charles River to the Merrimac. Westward it extended, like Virginia (§ 43), to the Pacific.
The Company appointed John Winthrop,2 a wealthy Puritan, governor. He came, bringing the charter with him, and a colony of over 700 persons with horses and cattle.
The colonists named the place where they finally settled, Boston, because of their affectionate remembrance of the ancient city of Boston, England. (Map, p. 67.)
In the course of the next ten years more than 20,000 of Governor Winthrop's countrymen came to New England. Among them were highborn men and women, with graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, besides people of property and influence, the very flower of the English Puritans."
1 The Plymouth Company of England which had never succeeded in planting a permanent colony (§§ 43, 45) was reorganized in 1620 under the name of the Council for New England. In 1627-1628 this Council issued a grant to the Massachusetts Bay Company which was confirmed by a royal charter.
2 Governor Winthrop of Groton, Suffolk County, in the east of England. He came for the same reason that Endicott did, because the Puritans, as he said, had "no place to fly unto but the wilderness." He also felt that Great Britain needed an outlet for her unemployed thousands. "This land" (England], said he, "grows weary of her inhabitants, so as man, who is the most precious of all creatures, is here more vile and base than the earth we tread upon, and of less price among us than a horse or sheep." -- WINTHROP'S Life and Letters.
HOW MASSACHUSETTS WAS GOVERNED
78. How Massachusetts was governed; Town Meetings; who could vote; Occupations of the People. At first all the public affairs of the colony were managed by a council. Later (1634), the towns sent representatives to the Legislature to make the laws.
In all cases the towns managed their own local business, such as the making of roads and the care of schools, in town meeting as the Pilgrims at Plymouth did (§ 74).
Thomas Jefferson of Virginia lamented that his colony did not do the same. He said the New England town meetings had proved themselves the "wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government."
We have seen that in Virginia (§§ 51, 53) the right to vote on colonial matters was finally restricted to men of property; in Massachusetts it was confined to members of the Puritan church. The Virginians wished to keep the government of their colony in the hands of the royalist landholders or responsible citizens; the Puritan commonwealth of Massachusetts wished to keep theirs under the control of Puritans. This corner of the continent, said they, is ours. If others come to it who want a different religion and different kind of government, we give them full liberty -- to move on.
Governor Winthrop, like Governor Berkeley of Virginia (§ 53), wanted a state governed not by the majority, but by a select few. "The best part of a community," said he, "is always the least, and of that part the wiser are still less."
In Massachusetts much of the soil was poor; the farms were small, and there were no great plantations like those of Virginia. A large number of the people were engaged in the cod fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland, and many were employed in the construction of vessels. Boston had some of the best shipbuilders in the world. It had also a thriving commerce with the West Indies. The colonists sent out cargoes of staves and lumber, and imported quantities of sugar and molasses from which they distilled the famous "New England rum," an article which people then believed to be one of the necessaries of life.