The Pilgrims at
During the early days of Virginia there was bitter persecution in England of those whose religious views differed from the Church of England. This cruelty drove many people to other countries, and because of their wanderings they were called "Pilgrims." Those who remained members of the English church and used their efforts to purify it of what they believed to be loose and pernicious doctrines were nicknamed " Puritans." Those who withdrew from the membership of the church were termed "Separatists" or " Independents." This distinction is often confounded by writers and readers.
One hundred and two Pilgrims, all Separatists, who had fled to Holland, did not like the country, and decided to make their homes in the New World, where they could worship God as their consciences dictated. They sailed in the Mayflower, and, after a long and stormy passage, landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, December 21, 1620, in the midst of a blinding snowstorm.
The Pilgrims were hardy, industrious, and God-fearing, and were prepared to face every kind of danger and suffering without murmur. They were severely austere in their morals and conduct, and, when writhing in the pangs of starvation, maintained their faith unshaken in the wisdom and goodness of their Heavenly Father. All these admirable qualities were needed during the awful winter, which was one of the severest ever known in New England. They built log-houses, using oiled paper instead of glass for the windows, and in the spring were able to buy corn of the Indians, who pitied their sufferings, for in the space of a few weeks one-half of the Pilgrims had died. At one time there were but seven well persons in the colony. Among those who passed away was John Carver, the first governor.
The survivors held their ground with grim heroism, and by-and-by other immigrants arrived, and the growth and prosperity, though slow, was certain. It had no charter, but was governed by an agreement which had been drawn up and signed in the cabin of the Mayflower, about the time the bleak coast of New England was sighted. For sixty years after the settlement of Plymouth, its history was uneventful. It was never very large, but the real work which it accomplished was in bringing thousands of other colonists to follow it to New England, who were opponents of the Established Church, and who gave to that section of our country a distinctive character of its own.
Massachusetts Bay Colony
The Massachusetts Bay Colony included the part of the present State of Massachusetts from the neighborhood of Boston northward. It was founded by Puritans, who, it will be remembered, had not separated wholly from the Church of England, but opposed many of its ceremonies. In the civil war with England they sided with the Parliament and were subjected to the same persecution as the Separatists. In 1628 a number of wealthy Puritans bought the territory from the Council of Plymouth, and, receiving a charter the following year from Charles I, sent small colonies across the Atlantic. Then the company itself followed, taking with it the charter and officers, thus gaining a colony in America that was wholly independent of England. Salem and some other small settlements had previously been made.
The colony was one of the most important that ever settled in this country. Its leaders were not only of the best character, but were wealthy, wise, and farseeing. A large number arrived in 1630, and founded Boston, Cambridge, Lynn, and other towns. Although they suffered many privations, they were not so harsh as those of Plymouth, and the colony prospered. During the ten years succeeding 1630, 20,000 people settled in Massachusetts, and in 1692 the two colonies united under the name of Massachusetts.
It would seem that since these people had fled to America to escape religious persecution, they would have been tolerant of the views of those among them,
but such unhappily was not the case. The most important part of their work was the building of churches and the establishment of religious instruction. The minister was the most important man in the colony, and no one was. allowed to vote unless a member of the church. A reproof in church was considered the most disgraceful penalty that could be visited upon a wrong-doer. The sermons were two, three, and sometimes four hours long, and the business of one of the officers was to watch those overcome by drowsiness and wake them up, sometimes quite sharply.
It would seem that since these people had fled to America to escape religious persecution, they would have been tolerant of the views of those among them, but such unhappily was not the case. The most important part of their work was the building of churches and the establishment of religious instruction. The minister was the most important man in the colony, and no one was allowed to vote unless a member of the church. A reproof in church was considered the most disgraceful penalty that could be visited upon a wrong-doer. The sermons were two, three, and sometimes four hours long, and the business of one of the officers was to watch those overcome by drowsiness and wake them up, sometimes quite sharply.
Roger Williams, a Baptist preacher, told the Puritans, as the people came
generally to be called, that they did wrong to take the land from the Indians without paying for it, and that a person was answerable to God alone for his belief. These charges were answered by the banishment of Williams from the colony. All the Baptists were expelled in 1635. Shortly afterward, Anne Hutchinson boldly preached the doctrine of Antinomianism, which declares that a man is not saved by the help of good works, but by divine grace alone. In other words, no matter how wickedly he lives, his salvation is wholly independent of it. She went to Rhode Island and afterward to New
Netherland, where she was killed in one of the attacks of the Indians upon the Dutch settlements.
The Quakers greatly annoyed the New England colonists. They persisted. in rising in the Puritan meetings and disputing with ministers. Many were fined, whipped, imprisoned, and banished, but in the face of warnings they returned. As a consequence, four were put to death. Then a reaction set in and the persecution ceased.
The most formidable war in which the early colonies of New England were involved was with King Philip, who was the son of
Massasoit, a firm friend of the settlers until his death. Philip was one of the great Indians of history. Like many of his people he saw with anger the growth of the white men, who in time would drive him and his warriors from their hunting grounds. Realizing the magnitude of the work of exterminating all the settlers, he visited the different tribes and used every effort to unite them in a war against the invaders. He was partly successful, and, with the allies secured, King Philip began the war by attacking a party of settlers at Swansea, on Sunday, June 24, 1675, while they were on their way to church. Several whites were killed, when the Indians hurried off to the Connecticut Valley to continue their dreadful work.
All understood their peril, and flew to arms. Every man carried his musket to church, and they were stacked outside the door, while a sentinel paced up and down. More than once the long sermon was interrupted by the crack of the red men's guns and their wild whoops, as they swarmed out, of the woods. Springing down from the pulpit, the minister was among the foremost in beating the heathen back, and, when quiet was restored, probably he resumed and finished his sermon.
The war was prosecuted furiously on both sides. In the depth of winter, when the snow lay several feet on the ground, John Winslow led 1,500 men against the. Narragansett stronghold, which was in the heart of a great swamp, and was one of the most powerful fortifications ever erected by the red men on this continent. In the terrible fight, 200 white men and nearly 1,000 Indians were killed. Finally, Philip was run down in a swamp near his old home on Mount Hope, not far from the present city of Bristol, Rhode Island. While stealing out, of his hiding place, he was confronted by a white soldier and a friendly Indian. The gun of the former missed fire, whereupon the Indian leveled his musket and shot the Wampanoag leader dead. The war, ended a few months later. During its continuance, six hundred white men were killed and many more wounded; thirteen towns were destroyed and five hundred buildings burned, but the Indian power in southern New England was shattered forever.
A New History of the United States, The Greater Republic by Charles
Morris, LL.D., W. E. Scull, 1899.
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