Графични страници
PDF файл

chapTER one of their vessels, having been sent away from Boston


1634. Nov.

1636. July.

with orders not to return without leave, under pain of
death, on his way homeward to Virginia had entered the
Connecticut River, where he was cut off, with his whole
company, seven in number, by a band of Pequods. There
were various stories, none of them authentic, as to the
precise manner of his death, but the Pequods insisted
that he had been the aggressor—a thing in itself suffi-
ciently probable. As Stone belonged to Virginia, the
magistrates of Massachusetts wrote to Governor Harvey
to move him to stir in the matter; but no notice seems
to have been taken of that letter.
The Pequods, soon after, quarreled with the Dutch, by
whom, hitherto, they had been supplied with goods, and be-
ing also at war with the Narragansets, who intervened be-
tween them and the English settlements, they sent mes-
sengers to Boston desiring an intercourse of trade, and
the aid of the colonists to settle their pending difficulties
with the Narragansets. They even promised to give up
—so the magistrates understood them—the only two sur-
vivors, as they alleged, of those concerned in the death
of Stone. These offers were accepted; for the conven-
ience of this traffic, a peace was negotiated between the
Pequods and the Narragansets, and a vessel was pres-
ently sent to open a trade. But this traffic disappointed
the adventurers; nor were the promised culprits given
up. The Pequods, according to the Indian custom, ten-
dered, instead, a present of furs and wanpum. But this
was refused, the colonists seeming to think themselves
under a religious obligation to avenge blood with blood.
Thus matters remained for a year or two, when the
crew of a small bark, returning from Connecticut, saw
close to Block Island a pinnace at anchor, and full of In-
dians. This pinnace was recognized as belonging to Old-

ham, the Indian trader, the old settler at Nantasket, and chosen explorer of the Connecticut. Conjecturing that something must be wrong, the bark approached the pinnace and 1636. hailed, whereupon the Indians on board slipped the cable and made sail. The bark gave chase, and soon overtook the pinnace; some of the Indians jumped overboard in their fright, and were drowned; several were killed, and

one was made prisoner. The dead body of Oldham was
found on board, covered with an old seine. This murder,
as appeared from the testimony of the prisoner, who was
presently sentenced by the Massachusetts magistrates to
be a slave for life, was committed at the instigation of
some Narraganset chiefs, upon whom Block Island was
dependent, in revenge for the trade which Oldham had
commenced under the late treaty with the Pequods, their
enemies. Indeed, all the Narraganset chiefs, except the
head sachem, Canonicus, and his nephew and colleague,
Miantonimoh, were believed to have had a hand in this
matter, especially the chieftain of the Niantics, a branch
of the Narragansets, inhabiting the continent opposite
Block Island.
Canonicus, in great alarm, sent to his friend and neigh-
bor, Roger Williams, by whose aid he wrote a letter to
the Massachusetts magistrates, expressing his grief at
what had happened, and stating that Miantonimoh had
sailed already with seventeen canoes and two hundred
warriors to punish the Block Islanders. With this letter
were sent two Indians, late sailors on board Oldham's
pinnace, and presently after two English boys, the re-
mainder of his crew. In the recapture of Oldham's pin-
nace eleven Indians had been killed, several of them
chiefs; and that, with the restoration of the crew, seems
to have been esteemed by Canonicus a sufficient atone-
ment for Oldham's death. But the magistrates and min-

chosen isters of Massachusetts, assembled to take this matter

into consideration, thought otherwise. Volunteers were

1636. called for; and four companies, ninety men in all, comA"g manded by Endicott, whose submissiveness in Will

iams's affair had restored him to favor, were embarked in three pinnaces, with orders to put to death all the men of Block Island, and to make the women and children prisoners. The old affair of the death of Stone was

now also called to mind, though the murder of Oldham

had no connection with it, except in some distant similarity of circumstances. Endicott was instructed, on his return from Block Island, to go to the Pequods, and to demand of them the murderers of Stone, and a thousand fathoms of wampum for damages—equivalent to from three to five thousand dollars—also, some of their children as hostages; and, if they refused, to employ force.

The Block Islanders fled inland, hid themselves, and escaped; but Endicott burned their wigwams, staved their canoes, and destroyed their standing corn. He then sailed to Fort Saybrook, at the mouth of the Connecticut, and marched thence to Pequod River. After some parley, the Indians refused his demands, when he burned their village, and killed one of their warriors. Marching back to Connecticut River, he inflicted like vengeance on the Pequod village there, whence he returned to Boston, after a three weeks' absence, and without the loss of a man.

The Pequods, enraged at what they esteemed a treacherous and unprovoked attack, lurked about Fort Saybrook, killed or took several persons, and did considerable mischief. They sent, also, to the Narragansets to engage their alliance against the colonists, whom they represented as the common enemy of all the Indians. Williams, informed of this negotiation, sent word of it to the Massachusetts magistrates, and, at their request, he visited Canonicus, to dissuade him from joining the Pe- chores quods. This mission was not without danger. In the - wigwam of Canonicus, Williams encountered the Pequod 1636. messengers, full of rage and fury. He succeeded, however, in his object, and Miantonimoh was induced to visit October. Boston, where, being received with much ceremony by the governor and magistrates, he agreed to act with them against the Narragansets. Canonicus thought it would be necessary to attack the Pequods with a very large force; but he recommended, as a thing likely to be agreeable to all the Indians—so Williams informs us—that the women and children should be spared, a humane piece of advice which received in the end but little attention. The policy of this war, or, at least, the wisdom of Endicott's conduct, was not universally conceded. A letter from Plymouth reproached the Massachusetts magistrates with the dangers likely to arise from so inefficient an attack upon the Pequods. Gardiner, the commandant at Fort Saybrook, who lost several men during the winter, was equally dissatisfied. The new settlers up the Connecticut complained bitterly of the dangers to which they were exposed. Sequeen, the same Indian chief at whose invitation the Plymouth people had first established a trading house on Connecticut River, had granted land to the planters at Wethersfield on condition that he might settle near them, and be protected; but when he came and built his wigwam, they had driven him away. He took this opportunity for revenge by calling in the Pequods, who attacked the town, and killed nine of the inhabitants. The whole number killed by the Pequods during the winter was about thirty. A special session of the General Court of Massachu- Dec. 7. setts organized the militia into three regiments; the magistrates to appoint the field officers, called sergeant ma

chorn jors, and to select the captains and lieutenants out of a

nomination to be made by the companies respectively.

1636. Watches were ordered to be kept, and travelers were to

go armed. - -
The pending Indian hostilities were not, however, the
sole subject of interest, the attention of this court being
still more seriously occupied by some new religious dis-
sensions lately broken out. It was very difficult to rec-
oncile the doctrine of the special personal enlightenment of
each believer with that strict unity of faith and discipline
esteemed in Massachusetts no less essential than at Rome.
Already had several of the churches been sorely rent by
local controversies—accidents to which they were ever
exceedingly liable, and which it cost the magistrates and
ministers much pains to compose. A still more serious
schism now threatened to divide the whole colony into
two bitter and hostile religious factions. -
In power, their career of opposition and reform finish-
ed, heads and fathers of a church and state of their own,
the founders of the Massachusetts polity had lost that
position which gave its chief glory to the Puritan name.
The established authorities of the new theocracy, assum-
ing the power and actuated by the spirit of the English
bishops and the hated Court of High Commission, them-
selves pursued, without mercy or remorse, as heretics and
schismatics, the very persons by whom their own late
position was occupied; for, however satisfied the New
England fathers might have been with the system they
had established, the spirit of opposition to forms and au-
thority was by no means extinct. The new comers, now
so numerous, brought with them from England new no-
tions, to which the fermentation of opinion in that coun-
try was every day giving rise. Among these new com-
ers was Mrs. Anne Hutchinson, a woman of talent, ready

« ПредишнаНапред »