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LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
87. The Salem Witchcraft. Some years later (1692) the Salem witchcraft caused a reign of terror in that town. In Great Britain several thousand unfortunate persons had suffered death for this alleged crime, and the English statute punishing it was not repealed until 1736, or "more than forty years after the excitement in New England had subsided." The whole matter seems to have originated with a few mischief-loving children who accused certain persons of tormenting them. Those so charged were tried for witchcraft, that is, for being in league with evil spirits, and in all nineteen persons were hanged. Then the good sense of the Massachusetts people asserted itself, and the witchcraft delusion came to an end.
88. Massachusetts loses her Charter; Governor Andros. But before this strange outbreak at Salem occurred, Massachusetts lost her charter (§ 77) and was no longer self-governing. For many years King Charles II had watched the Puritan colony with no friendly eye. It was far too independent to suit his arbitrary ideas. The people of Boston were accused of breaking the Navigation Laws (§ 54) by both importing and exporting goods in Dutch ships; they had also coined money without royal authority, and had given a warm welcome to two of the judges who had sentenced Charles I (§ 53) to the scaffold and then fled to Massachusetts. Furthermore, they were notoriously opposed to the Church of England and were believed to be strongly republican in their tendencies.
For these reasons the King took away their charter (1684). Massachusetts then became a royal province, and from that time until the Revolution it was governed by the King and those whom the King sent to represent him.
The first royal governor imposed on the colony (1686) was Sir Edmund Andros, who had been governor of New York. Three years of his tyranny produced a revolt. The people took advantage of a revolution in England which forced King James II to flee the country; they seized Andros and imprisoned him. They then recovered their former power of managing their own affairs in their own way, but only for a short time.
William III of England sent over a new charter (1691), which converted Massachusetts, Plymouth, Maine, and Nova Scotia into one province. Henceforth all forms of religion but the Catholic were permitted, and the right to vote was no longer confined to church members (§ 78). But the people had no power to make any laws except such as the King approved, and the King continued to appoint the governor.
89. Summary. The Separatists, or Pilgrims, settled Plymouth in 1620, and the Puritans settled Boston in 1630. The object sought by both was freedom of worship for themselves. To all of their own faith they gave a hearty welcome, but they regarded others as intruders, and the Puritans did not hesitate to drive them out. The colonists of Massachusetts were the first settlers in America who assembled in town meeting and established government by the people, and public schools for all children. The Pilgrims, for more than half a century, did not restrict the right to take part in the government to church members, but the Puritans did. The object of both was to build up a strong, free, religious, and intelligent commonwealth; in this they were in great measure successful, but eventually (1684) their charter was taken from them and they lost the power of making their own laws, and had to accept governors appointed by the King.
V. NEW HAMPSHIRE (1623)
90. Grant of Territory to Gorges and Mason; Settlement of Dover and Portsmouth. Sir Ferdinando Gorges obtained, with Captain John Mason, a grant of the territory between the Merrimac
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
River and the Kennebec. This region was called Maine, or the Mainland.
The first settlement known to be permanent was made at Dover, on the Piscataqua River, by English colonists (1627). Four years later (1631) Portsmouth was settled. The chief objects of these colonies were to carry on the fur trade with the Indians and to establish fisheries. Most of the inhabitants of the two settlements belonged, in name at least, to the Church of England.
91. Division of the Territory; New Hampshire; Vermont; Maine; Exeter. After a few years the proprietors, Mason and Gorges, decided to divide the territory. Gorges took the part east of the Piscataqua, -- a region now included in the state of Maine; Mason took that west of the same river. He gave it the name of New Hampshire in remembrance of the English county of Hampshire which had once been his home. The region west of the Connecticut River, later called Vermont, was claimed by both New Hampshire and New York.
Sir George Popham had attempted to found a colony on the coast of Maine in 1607, but the undertaking failed. A permanent settlement appears to have been made (1625) at Pemaquid Point, about midway between the Penobscot and the Kennebec. Portland was founded some years later (1632). Massachusetts held control of Maine from 1652 to 1820, when it was admitted to the Union. The Rev. John Wheelwright was banished from Massachusetts (1638) for his openly expressed sympathy with the religious teachings of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson (§ 79). With several of his congregation who had followed him into exile he settled the town of Exeter, New Hampshire.
92. Settlement of Londonderry; Union with Massachusetts. Many years later (1719) several hundred thrifty Scotch-Irish emigrants -- or Scotch Protestants coming from the north of Ireland -- settled Londonderry, New Hampshire. They introduced the manufacture of linen; and soon in every log cabin the hum of the housewife's little flax wheel made cheerful and profitable music for the family.
One of the descendants of an industrious Scotch settler of this class, but who came at an earlier period, was the eminent orator, patriot, and statesman, Daniel Webster.1
New Hampshire dreaded Indian hostilities, and having but a small and scattered population, petitioned (1641) for union with Massachusetts. The petition was granted. Furthermore, the citizens of New Hampshire, in accordance with their request, were permitted to vote and hold office without first having to prove that they were church members, as people were obliged to do in Massachusetts (§ 78). Finally (1679), New Hampshire became a royal province and remained so until the Revolution.
93. Summary. New Hampshire originally formed part of the region called Maine, or the Mainland. English colonists settled Dover and Portsmouth. Emigrants from Massachusetts and Scotch-Irish later founded the towns of Exeter and Londonderry. The Scotch-Irish set up the manufacture of linen. Eventually New Hampshire was united with Massachusetts, and many years later it became a province governed by the King.
1 Mr. Webster was born in 1782, in Salisbury, New Hampshire, about fifty miles northwest of Portsmouth. He once said, in a public speech: "It did not happen to me to be born in a log cabin; but my elder brothers and sisters were born in a log cabin, reared amid the snowdrifts of New Hampshire at a period so early that when the smoke first rose from its rude chimney and curled over the frozen hills, there was no similar evidence of a white man's habitation between it and the settlements on the rivers of Canada."
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
VI. CONNECTICUT (1634)
94. Emigration to the Valley of the Connecticut; Hooker's Colony. The rich lands of the beautiful valley of the Connecticut River early attracted the Dutch of New Amsterdam (§ 81) and the settlers of Plymouth. Both made an attempt to get a foothold on the coveted territory. But emigration did not begin in earnest until later (1635). Then a number of settlements were made, which finally united under one government. We shall now take up the history of these separate colonies.
1. Emigrants from the vicinity of Boston (1635) founded the towns of Wethersfield and Windsor.
2. In the autumn of that year an English company sent out John Winthrop, son of Governor Winthrop of Boston (§ 77), with the title of "Governor of the River of Connecticut." He built a fort at Saybrook, at the mouth of the river, and thus effectually shut out the Dutch from that quarter.
3. The next June (1636) the Rev. Thomas Hooker of Cambridge, Massachusetts, started with a company of one hundred men, women, and children for what was then called "the West." They traveled on foot, driving a hundred and sixty head of cattle, besides hogs, through the wilderness. There were neither roads
THE PEQUOT WAR
nor bridges, and the emigrants had to find their way by the compass, crossing rivers on rafts, sleeping under the stars, and living mainly on the milk of their cows.
After a journey of two weeks through a country which express trains now cross in three hours, they reached Hartford, where a small settlement of English had already been made.
95. The Pequot War. The next spring (1637) the new settlers declared war against the Pequot Indians, who threatened to destroy the white settlers. The three towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor contributed ninety men led by Captain John Mason. The Pequots had a fortified village near the present town of Mystic. The little army of white men, accompanied by Indians of tribes hostile to the Pequots, and with some help from Massachusetts, attacked the enemy in their stronghold. They set fire to their wigwams and literally burned them out. The blow was a terrible one to the Pequots. From that time they were hunted down like wild beasts, until in a few months the tribe was practically destroyed.
96. The Connecticut Constitution, 1639. In 1639 the inhabitants of the three towns of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor met at Hartford and drew up the first written American constitution,' or form of government made "by the people for the people." In the words of that document, its object was "to maintain the peace and union" of the settlers of the colony.
One remarkable fact about that compact is that it made no mention either of the King of England or of the English Company which held a royal grant of the Connecticut lands. It was in reality the constitution of a republic, and the men who framed it refused to bow to any authority outside or above themselves, except that of their Maker.
Constitution: For the same reason that a game of ball cannot be played successfully without some rules to govern it, so, whenever a number of people join to form a community or a state, they must have some form of agreement or principle of union. Such an agreement is a constitution of government. Its object is to secure individual liberty on the one hand, and order on the other. The advantage of having such an agreement in writing is that it can be readily consulted; and misunderstandings and disputes about its meaning and application are less likely to occur than if it was not so preserved.