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VOL. I. 
163G — 1700. 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in tlie year 1858, 


In tlie Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for Ehode Island. 




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The work, of wliicli the first volume is now i^reseuted, i,s the result 
of many years' labor. To trace the rise and progress of a State, the 
offsj^ring of ideas that were novel and startling even amid the philo- 
sophical speculations of the seventeenth century; whose birth was a 
protest against, whose infancy was a struggle with, and whose maturity 
was a triumph over, the retrograde tendency of established Puritanism ; 
a State that was the second-born of persecution, whose founders had 
been doubly tried in the purifying fire; a State which, more than any 
other, has exerted, by the weight of its example, an influence to shape 
the political ideas of the present day, whose moral power has been in 
the inverse ratio with its material importance, and of which an eminent 
historian of the United States has said that, had its territory " corre- 
sponded to the importance and singularity of the principles of its early 
existence, the world would have been filled with wonder at the phenom- 
ena of its history," is a task not to be lightly attempted or hastily per- 

The materials for Hhode Island history are more abundant than 
many have supposed. They are widely scattered and difficult to col- 
lect or arrange, and hence the opinion has seemed to prevail that too 
much was lost to render the preservation of the remainder an object of 
interest. But some persons have thought otherwise, and three attempts, 
prior to this, have been made to write the history of the State. The 
first was by Governor Stephen Hopkins, one of the signers of the Doc- 
laration of Independence, who, in 1765, commenced to publish '' An his- 
torical account of rrovidcncc/' since reprinted in the second series of 


Massachusetts Historical Collections, volume ix. Only one chapter was 
completed when the struggle for independence interrupted the work, 
which was never resumed. The second was by Hon. Theodore Foster, 
a Senator in Congress from Ehode Island, who collected a large number 
of original papers and made copies of nearly the whole of the colony 
records. But one chapter of this work was ever written. His death pre- 
vented its completion. The third attempt, by the late Henry Bull of New- 
port, was more successful. He published in the Rhode Island Repub- 
lican, 1832-6, a series of articles entitled " Memoirs of Rhode Island," 
embracing the principal events of each year from the settlement of the 
State down to 1799. The care taken in the preparation of these arti- 
cles leads us to regret that Mr. Bull did not extend his labors still 
further, and embody them in a more permanent form. These, with the 
five volumes of the Rhode Island Historical Collections, with the valua- 
ble notes of the editors and authors of each, the more than thirty vol- 
umes of the Massachusetts Historical Collections, the lately published 
Colonial Records of Connecticut, of Massachusetts, and now those of this 
State in the course of publication under the admirable supervision of 
the Secretary of State, the later editions of early Massachusetts authors, 
Morton, Prince, and others, but particularly the Journal of Winthrop 
with the copious notes of its liberal and learned editor, Hon. James 
Savage, the life of the founder of Rhode Island by Professor Knowles, 
a perfect magazine of important facts, — these are some of the principal 
printed authorities most accessible to the general reader. There are 
also a great number of books in the libraries of Harvard and Brown 
Universities, aiid more than all in the unrivalled collection of works on 
American history in the possession of Mr. John Carter Brown, of this 
city, which shed much light upon the annals of Rhode Island. Besides 
these there are several religious discourses, following the plan of Cal- 
Icnder, also historical addresses, and some local nai-ratives, that contain 
interesting facts bearing upon the general history of the State. 

The unpublished materials are the records of the several towns, 
those of this and the neighboring States that have not been included in 


the printed volumes, the private collections of Hutchinson, Trumbull, 
Hinckley, Prince and others, in possession of the Massachusetts His- 
torical Society, of Foster and Backus in the Rhode Island Historical 
Society, and yet more important, the hitherto undeveloped resources in 
the British archives, at London, which clear up many points never be- 
fore explained. These are the chief sources of information that have 
been consulted in preparing this work, and will be found referred to in 
the. notes. 

Several mooths were spent abroad in 1846-7, in the examination 
of government archives, chiefly in England and France, in search of 
materials not to be found in America. The kindness of gentlemen in 
official station, particularly in Her Britannic Majesty's Government, 
in securing permission to examine their records, and of those in the 
State Paper Offices at London, Paris and the Hague, in facilitating his 
labors, should receive the grateful acknowledgments of the writer. 

Copies of the English documents herein referred to are now in Mr. 
Brown's library, he having given orders, jjrevious to the author's visit 
to England, to have every thing pertaining to Rhode Island, and much 
more besides, copied for his private collection ; which was done under 
the supervision of Henry Stevens, Esq., a gentleman whose experience 
eminently qualified him for the task. 

Many of these authorities extend beyond the limits of this volume, 
and with a large number of new ones, both local and general, will be 
used in the later portions of the work. 

The tlianks of the writer are due to many friends who have ren- 
dered assistance in various ways to lighten his labors : to Mr. John 
Carter Brown, to Hon. William E. Staples, late Chief Justice of the 
State, the editor of Gorton, and author of the Annals of Providence, to 
Judge George A. Brayton of the Supreme Court, to Dr. David King 
and llev. Henry Jackson, D. D. of Newport, to Hon. John R. Bartlett, 
Secretary of State, to William J. Harris, E^q., and others, all deeply 
interested iu whatever pertains to the liistory of their State, who have 
given efficient aid by the loan of books and miuuscripts. 

The first object attempted ia this work has been to make it reliable 
both as to facts and dates ; that it should be a standard authority upon 
the subject and period of which it treats. To accomplish this design 
no pains have been spared, and it has been kept steadily in view even 
at the risk of making the book less readable than it might have been. 
Many subjects are mentioned that, to the general reader, can have little 
or no interest, the value of which can only be understood by those who 
consult history for a specific purpose. For the benefit of this latter and 
more limited class of readers, the reference notes are made more nume- 
rous than they would otherwise have been. The most important dates 
have been verified by a tedious mathematical process, unnecessary here 
to describe, but which is essential to accuracy in many cases, owing to 
a strange diversity that existed in the mode of dating under the Julian 
calendar before the adoption of the Gregorian or New Style in 1751. 
The Julian year began on the 25th of March. February was the 12th 
month and March the 1st mouth of the year. Many papers between 
the first and twenty-fifth of March, bear date as of the coming year, 
Avhile others are dated correctly, according to the Julian system, as of 
the expiring year. This diversity of course throws a doubt upon the 
true date of all correlative documents throughout the year, and has led 
many writers into error. That the reader need not be misled on this 
point the double date of the year, between January 1st and March 25, 
is given in the margin. If it is desired to reduce the day of the month 
to New Style, eleven days are to be added to the marginal date. 

That, notwithstanding the labor and care bestowed upon these 
pages, they contain some errors of fact or date, perhaps important 
ones, it would be presumptuous to deny. The more one explores the 
labyrinth of historical investigation, the less positive will he become 
of the entire accuracy of his conclusions. A conscientious desire to 
arrive at the truth, is all that the author dares to claim in submitting 
this work to the judgment of his peers. That it will grate harshly upon 
the ears of some, whose views upon the questions of politics and theol- 
ogy involved in the settlemeut of this State, difi'er from those of its 


founders, lie is well aware. That some may assail it upon these grounds 
is not improbable, and for such he is prepared ; while at the same time 
he courts a generous criticism that may aid his future labors. 

So far as was compatible M"ith the above mentioned object, he has 
endeavored to make the work interesting to those who read simply for 
the sake of reading ; but he can claim nothing upon this score. The 
minutiae of local or of State history, demand an attention to details 
which broader fields do not require, and limit, in the same proportion, 
the power of the pen. To make a State history both authentic and 
popular, where the ground has not already been occupied, would require 
it to be too voluminous. To enlarge upon the philosophy of the funda- 
mental principles involved in the settlement of Rhode Island, would 
afford a pleasing relief from the labor of critical research ; but this can 
be better done by the reflecting reader, or it may furnish a theme for 
some future historian, more fitted for the task than the writer feels 
himself to be, who will reap the laurels that he must forego. 

Providence, May 17, 1858. 


R. I. H. C. — Rhode Island Historical Collections, in 5 vols. 

R. r. Col. Rec. — Rhode Island Colonial Records, 3 vols, now published, 1636- 

Conn. Col. Rec— Connecticut Colonial Records, 2 vols, now published, 1636- 

M. C. R. — Massachusetts Colonial Records, 6 vols, now published, 162S-16S6. 
M. H. C. — Massachusetts Historical Collections, in series of 10 vols, each, of 

which 3 series are completed, and 4 vols, of the fourth. The 

figure before the letters denotes the series. 
Br. S. P. 0.— British State Pap3r Office. 


CHAPTER I. 1620—1636. 

Introduction — From the Settlement of New England to the Banislnuent 
of Eoger Williams, , . . . . . .1 

Appendix A.— Early Life of Eoger Williams, .... 47 

CHAPTER n. 1636—1638. 
The Autinomian Controversy, ...... 51 


The Aborigines of Rhode Island — Peauot War, . . . .72 


History of Providence from its Settlement, 1636, to the Organization of 

the Government under the Parliamentary Charter, May, 1647, . 97 


History of Aquedneck from its Settlement, ^larcli, 1638, to the Organi- 
zation (if tlie (xovernmcnt under the First Cliarter, May, 1647. . 1*24 


History of Warwick and Narragansct down to the Formation of the 
Government under the First Patent, May, 1G47, . . 163 


CHAPTER VII. 1647—1651. 

History of the Incorporation of Providence Plantations from the Adop- 
tion of the Parliamentary Charter, May, 1647, to the Usurpation 
of Coddington, August, 1651, . . . . .200 

CHAPTER VIII. 1651—1663. 

From the Usurpation of Coddington, August, 1651, to the Adoption of 

the Royal Charter, November, 1663, .... 237 
Appendix B. — Proceedings in the case of John "Warner, . . 287 

CHAPTER IX. 1663—1675. 

From the Adoption of the Royal Charter, November, 1663, to the Com- 
mencement of King Philip's War, June, 1675, . . . 290 
Appendix C. — Errors of Grahame and Chalmers, . . . 370 
Appendix D. — Atherton Company Correspondence, . . . 378 
Appendix E. — Conspiracy against John Clarke exposed, . . 383 

CHAPTER X. 1675—1677. 

From the Commencement of Philip's War, June, 1G75, to the Trial of 

the Harris Causes, November, 1677, .... 387 

CHAPTER XI. 1678—1686. 

From the Renewal of the Struggle for the Soil of Rhode Island, 1677-'8, 

to the Suspension of the Charter, June, 1686, . . . 439 

Appendix F. — Answers of Rhode Island to the Board of Trade, . 488 

CHAPTER XII. 1686—1700. 

From the Commencement of the Andros' Government to the Close of 

the Seventeenth Century, ..... 492 

Appendix G. — Founding of Trinity Chm-ch, Newport, . . .559 





1620— 163G. 

The direct causes which led to the settlement of New chap, 
England, had been in active operation for nearly seventy ..^^ 
years before that event transpired. The more remote in- 
fluences that led to this result date back to the com- 
mencement of the English Keformation. The spirit of re- 
sistance to clerical authority and papal aggression, was 
first inculcated in Great Britain by John Wicldiffe, Pro- 
fessor of Divinity in the University of Oxford. It soon 
spread to the continent of Europe, where the teachings of 
Huss and Jerome, in opposition to the claims of the 
hierarchy, roused the vengeance of the Council of Con- 
stance, and led to their martyrdom. 

A period of quiet succeeded the Bohemian struggle, 
until the laxity of the pontifical court, under Leo X., 
gave rise to the Reformation of Luther, From that time 

VOL. I. — 1 


CHAP, the history of Europe presented a continuous scene of ac- 
^' tion and reaction upon the fundamental principles of re- 
ligion and politics. The inquisitive mind of Germany 
was occupied in speculations which were to open a new 
and brighter era to humanity, England, already in some 
degree prepared for the mighty movement, soon asserted 
her sovereignty by severing her allegiance to the church 
of Kome. The spell of the Papacy was broken ; the first 
great result of the Eeformation was achieved, A spirit 
of inquiry was awakened, which could neither be quelled 
by the fire of persecution, nor controlled by the decrees of 
princes or parliaments. During the reign of Edward VI., 
the English Liturgy was completed and promulgated as 
the ecclesiastical law of the land. The priestly vestments 
were retained in the service, although strenuously opposed 
by many of the reformed clergy. The more resolute Prot- 
estants resisted at the outset all attempts to fasten upon 
them the livery of a church from whose communion they 
had withdrawn. Uniformity was the rock upon which 
the early Eeformers split. The first demonstration of 
nonconformity occurred at Frankfort. The virulent per- 

15 5 4. secution of the Protestants, which commenced upon the 
accession of Queen Mary, caused great numbers of them 
to seek refuge on the continent. A small church was 
gathered at Frankfort, who objected to the use of some 
portions of King Edward's service book. These were sup- 
planted the next year by a party of their countrymen 
under Dr, Cox, who restored the English forms in fuU as 
prescribed by King Edward, and were hence called " Con- 
formists," Most of the others went to Geneva, where 
they were kindly received by Calvin, were there organized, 
and adopted a liturgy agreeable to that of the French 
churches. The coronation of Queen Elizabeth was the 
signal for the return of the exiles, and the permanent 
though gradual establishment of the Protestant Faith, 
The reign of Elizabeth was emphatically the age of prerog- 


1 5 5 4. 


ative in England. Never did the authority of the crown chap. 
maintain itself so absolutely. Although some of the Stuarts 
afterwards attempted to exercise arbitrary power in repeat- 
ed instances, yet none of them wielded so uncontrolled 
a sceptre, or conducted with the firmness or the success 
that characterized the last of the Tudors. Mary had been 
a bigot in religion ; Elizabeth became a tyrant in prerog- 
ative ; and because theology was the prevailing topic of 
the times, she seized upon that as the most convenient 
medium for confirming and manifesting her authority. 
The earliest enactments of her first parliament were to 
this end. The act of uniformity, prescribing the regula- 
tions of church service, preceded by a single day the act 
of supremacy, which vested in the queen the right of 
ecclesiastical control. Immediately upon the passage of 
these acts two parties arose in the Protestant Church, one ^^ ^.^ 
favoring the royal prerogative, the other, somewhat more 
true to the spirit of the Keformation, maintaining that in 
things indiiFerent, liberty should be allowed. Both were 
at this time pretty nearly agreed in points of doctrine, 
in the necessity of uniformity in public worship, and in 
the right of the civil power to enforce it. The prerogative 
party, or Conformists, held that the will of the queen was 
the only guide in church affairs ; the Puritans, that coun- 
cils or synods were the proper tribunals. The idea of 
freedom of conscience as applied to the individual was un- 
known, or unrecognized, by cither party. It was reserved 
for another age and a distant land to develop in its full 
significance the grand result of the Reformation. 

The passion of Elizabeth, for pageantry of every kind, 
together with her inordinate love of power, were the chief 
causes which distracted her reign. The one inclined her 
to retain as far as possible the gorgeous ceremonial of the 
church of Rome, the other led her to punish those who 
desired a simpler ritual and plainer robes. The severity 
of her measures against the Puritans at lenj^jth resulted in 


CHAP, the separation, whicli commenced in 1566. The press had 
,^,^_^ already been closed against them by a decree of the Star 
15 5 9. Chamber. The opposition of a large portion of the peo- 
ple to the Komish vestments, and to certain ceremonies, of 
trifling import in themselves, which could easily have been 
assuaged by temperate policy, was increased by the exercise 
of arbitrary power. Accordingly, after solemn delibera- 
tion, a number of the deprived ministers, with their friends, 
determined to withdraw from the communion of the 
established church, and laying aside the English Liturgy, 
they adopted the Geneva forms. Henceforward there was 
to be no longer a cordial union of Protestants against 
Popery, but rather a union of the prerogative and papal 
parties against the Puritans, This was less apparent 
during Elizabeth's reign than in that of her successor. 
But the Eeformation in England, so far as the government 
was concerned, had attained its culminating point. The 
breach thus commenced rapidly widened. The doctrinal 
articles of the church, some of which, in the opinion of 
many learned and pious men, were too strongly tinctured 
with Erastian principles, began to be questioned. Other 
sects arose, distinct in many respects from the Puritan 
church, and carrying the principles of the separation to a 
greater extent, but all who were zealous for the Eeforma- 
tion, were indiscriminately branded with the same invidi- 
ous epithet. In vain did the Puritans seek to appease 
the resentment of their enemies by disowning the sec- 
taries. ■ Papists, Eamilists, Baptists and Brownists, were 
denounced by the Puritans with equal zeal as by the Pre- 
latists, and alike held up as worthy of persecution ;^ but 
the attempt thus made to ingratiate themselves with 
their rulers was without success. In proportion as the 
ranks of non-conformity were augmented, the severity of 
government increased, and exile, or death, for crimes of 

' Neal, 312. 


conscience, became more frequent as the long reign of chap. 
Elizabeth drew to its- close.' .^.; 

The union of the crowns of Scotland and England, 15 5 9. 
in the person of James I., inspired the Puritans with a 
new but delusive hope. This fickle prince, whose con- 
summate vanity as a man, was the source of his weakness 
as a monarch, very soon forgot the precepts of the Scottish 
church, which he had sworn to support, and became the 
tool of ambitious prelates and designing courtiers. Six 
months after he came to the throne, occurred the celebrated 
conference at Hampton Court, between the bishops and 
the Puritans, at which the Idng himself presided, and 
made his first public display of that combination of pedan- 
try with tyranny which has made his character, when 
viewed in the light of history, the object of mingled aver- 
sion and contempt. The result of that conference crushed 
the hopes of the Puritans. The triumphant bishops, no 
longer doubtful of their position, at once proceeded to urge 
severe measures against the whole body of Protestant 
non-conformists, and secretly to court the favor of the 
papal party. At the death of Archbishop Whitgift, 
Bancroft, bishop of London, was raised to the See of Can- 
terbury. This haughty prelate revived the persecution of 
the Puritans, and conducted it with unparalleled rigor, 
excommunicating many who would not receive a set of 
canons prepared by himself and passed by an obsequious 
convocation, although not confirmed by parliament. He 
it was who first asserted in England the divine right of 
the order of bishops, and prepared the church for the 
usurpations of Laud, which afterwards involved the United 
Kingdom in civil war. 

To bring the kirk of Scotland under the dominion of 
the English hierarchy was a favorite project of James, and 
was actively promoted by tlie intrigues of Bancroft. This 
was a bold design, against which the armorial bearings and 

' For tlie lust tliree years of her life slio became more tolerant. 


CHAP, motto of Scotland might have furnished a significant warn- 
^^J^^^ ing. It was an index of that aggressive and intolerant 
15 5 9. spirit which drove a large number of the English non- 
conformists into voluntary exile. Holland became a refuge 
for those whom persecution deprived of their native home. 
The larger portion of the refugees were rigid Separatists, 
whose views, crude as they might appear at the present 
time, were very much in advance of those held by the 
mass of non-conformists in respect to the essential objects 
of the Reformation. These were the men who, with their 
descendants a few years later, made the first permanent 
settlement of New England. The Puritans for the most 
part remained in England, still clinging to the slender 
chance of some favorable current of affairs. The succes- 
sion of Archbishop Abbot to the high position vacated by 
the death of Bancroft, gave them renewed hope. He is 
described as a thorough Calvinist, a sound Protestant, 
and as being suspected of Puritanism. But his views, al- 
though they served for awhile to mitigate the asperities 
of the times, failed to effect permanent relief. The 
worthy primate soon became unpopular at court, and fell 
into disgrace. The pretensions of King James to arbi- 
trary power increased, and all who opposed the preroga- 
tive, although friends of the established church, were de- 
nounced as Puritans, as well as those who were Calvinists 
in theology, or reformers in church government and wor- 
ship. The former were called State Puritans, the latter 
Doctrinal Puritans. The two, when united, comprised 
a majority of the nation. The Arminian party, of whom 
most of the newly appointed bishops, with Laud at their 
head, were the leaders, allied with the Papal faction in 
supporting the king. Such was the condition of affairs at 
the close of the reign of James I. 

Meanwhile, a portion of the refugees in Holland, after 
twelve years' residence in that country, resolved to emi- 
grate to America. Protracted negotiations with the 


Virginia Company to secure a patent to lands, and with chap. 
merchants in London to provide the necessaries for emi- ,^„^ 
gration, together with earnest consultations with their 16 2 
friends in England, now occupied the attention of the 
Pilgrims. After their departure from Holland, further 
delays awaited them at the English ports. Twice were 
they compelled by the insufficiency of their transports to 
return, and on the second occasion their smaller vessel, 
the Speedwell, of sixty tons, in which they had first em- 
barked at Delft Haven, was abandoned as unseaworthy. 
At length, on the 6th of September, 1620, the Mayflower Sept. 
finally set sail from Plymouth, with her precious freight 
of one hundred souls,' to seek a better land beyond the 

Whether we contemplate this act in its intrinsic 
character, or regard it in the magnificence of its results, it 
assumes a degree of importance scarcely equalled in the 
history of our race. The stern devotion to principle which 
impelled them to encounter the severest hardships, when 
a simple act of submission to a creed would ensure them 
peace and plenty in their English homes — the lofty courage 
which inspired even women and children gladly to brave 
the perils of the deep — and, above all, their unwavering 
faith in the promises of an Omnipotent Deity, present a 
picture whose moral sublimity is not enhanced even by 
the success which has crowned their enterprise. After a 
stormy passage of sixty-five days, they dropped anchor on 
the dreary coast of Cape Cod. At the end of another . 
tedious month, consumed in exploring the vicinity, and li. 
in preparations for landing, the Pilgrimg stood at last on "^- ^• 
Plymouth rock. 

About this time a company of merchants and others ^'o^'- 
which had been formed in the West of England, with Sir 
Ferdinand Gorges, governor of Plymouth, at their head, 

' 100, not 101. — Young's Pilgrims, 122, note I, and p. 100, notes 2, 5. 


CHAP, encouraged by the reports of the celebrated Captain John 
.^J^ Smith, and supported by the influence of some of the 
16 2 0. most powerful noblemen in the kingdom, obtained a 
charter of incorporation, with the exclusive right of plant- 
ing and governing New England. This company, known 
as the council of Plymouth, were thereby invested with 
unhmited jurisdiction over a region of almost boundless 
extent, embracing the entire breadth of the continent 
from sea to sea, between the fortieth and forty-eighth par- 
allels of north latitude. But the apparent compass of 
their power was the real measure of their weakness. So 
violent was the opposition to this monstrous monopoly, 
that not even the proclamation of King James, enforcing 
the terms of the grant, and sustained by the utmost stretch 
of the prerogative, could preserve inviolate the charter of 
the company. The spirit of English liberty, nourished 
by the Puritans in proportion as the encroachment of the 
crown increased, spurned the authority of an instrument 
which fettered both sea and land. Extensive fishing ex- 
peditions were fitted out for the coast of New England, 
and conducted without regard to the claims of the coun- 
cil. In vain did the company send out officers 'to main- 
tain their authority in New England, or appeal to the 
king to sustain their pretensions. The parliament stood 
firmly on the rights of the subject, until the company, 
exhausted by fruitless efforts to secure their monopoly, at 
length resorted to the sale of charters as their sole source 
of revenue. In the course of a few years they disposed, in 
various grants, of aU the lands in New England, some of 
them twice over ; nothing of value remained to them ; 
16 3 5. many of the original patentees had already abandoned 
' ^^^® their interests, and the council itself finally surrendered its 
charter and became extinct.' 

From this company the purchase of a large grant of 

' Report of Board of Trade on Duke of Hamilton's claim to Narraganset. 
— British State Paper Office, New England Pajyers, vol. xxxvi. p. 222. 


lands in Massachusetts was made, and a party of emi- 
grants, under the direction of John Endicott, came over the 
same year, and established themselves at Salem, where 
Koger Conant, from New Plymouth, had already made a 
settlement. That enterprise, originating in a commercial 
speculation, and proving unfortunate, had been abandoned 
by all but Conant and a few associates, who, inspired by 
the zeal of friends in England, had remained to found 
another home where the exiles for religion might find rest. 
A few of Endicott's followers settled at Charlestown. 
The next year a royal charter was with much difficulty 
obtained, and the Massachusetts company became legally 1 6 2 9. 
a distinct trading corporation. This was followed by an March 
emigration of about two hundred persons under the pastoral 
care of Kev. John Higginson. These settled at Salem and 
Charlestown. The powers and privileges which the Mas- 
sachusetts charter conferred differed in no essential par- 
ticulars from those of similar companies already existing. 
That it was soon to be virtually erected into a basis of 
civil government became apparent, when, at a meeting of 
the company in London, it was resolved to transfer the 
charter to the freemen of the company inhabiting the 
colony. By this act a powerful stimulus was given to the 
scheme of colonization. Large numbers prepared to cross 
the sea. A meeting of the company was held to transfer ^^*- 
the government to America, by appointing an entire board 
of officers who would agree to emigrate. John Wiuthrop 
was chosen governor. Li the month of March following, 
the great expedition, consisting of about eight hundred 1 G 3 0. 
souls, embarked in eleven ships at Yarmouth, and reached 
their destination in June and July. Nearly as many more 
followed in the course of the year. The settlement of 
Boston and the final establishment of the colony of Mas- 
sachusetts Bay date from this period. 

Although the terms of the patent, and the royal 
intent in granting it, point only to a commercial ad- 


CHAP, venture, yet the circumstances which determined the 
______ emigration, the documentary proofs in relation to it, and 

16 3 0. the character and subsequent conduct of the men, furnish 
sufficient evidence that a large portion of them were ac- 
tuated hy other motives than pecuniary gain. What 
were these motives ? Certainly not those assigned to 
them by Charles I., " the freedom of liberty of conscience ;" 
for scarcely had the royal charter been obtained, and the 
church under Higginson established itself in Salem, while 
the government had not yet been transferred to America, 
or the settlement of Boston commenced, before the per- 
manent policy of the Puritans was developed in active 
hostility to dissenters. Two men named Browne, occu- 
pying influential positions in the colony, were foremost in 
opposition to the new church organization, and strenuously 
demanded that the English liturgy should not be aban- 
doned. Thus the enemy from which they had fled ap- 
peared at once among them. Episcopacy asserted its 
rights in the stronghold of the Puritans. But should the 
exultant hierarchy, which had driven them across the sea, 
be allowed to dictate to them in their new-found homes, 
and perhaps in time expel them from their " New English 
Canaan ? " The colonists thought not, and availing them- 
selves of a clause in the form^ of government prescribed 
by the company under their charter, which permitted the 
expulsion of " incorrigible persons, " the two Brownes 
were summarily sent back to England, by order of Endi- 
cott, in the very ships which had brought them over. 
Thus early was dissent rebuked, and theological con- 
tumacy punished, before the Puritan church itself was 
fairly estabhshed in Massachusetts. "The freedom of 
liberty of conscience " then formed no part of the Puritan 
polity in its inception, nor yet, as we shall presently see, 
in its completion. The Puritans fled from England be- 
cause they could not conform to the usages of the estab- 

■ 1629, April 30.— Young's Cbrons. Mass., 196. 



10 3 I) 

lished church, because they desired a still further exteu- ciiai 
sion of the principles of the Reformation, because they 
would not assent to those forms of church service attempted 
to be enforced by the celebrated act of uniformity. Differ- 
ing widely on these points from the government creed, 
they looked for a home in the new world, where they might 
erect an establishment in accordance with their peculiar 
theological views. " They sought a faith's pure shrine," 
based on what they held to be a purer system of worship, 
and a discipline more in unison with their notions of a 
church. For this they crossed the Atlantic and obtained 
a home, where the Pilgrims had preceded them, on the 
dreary coast of New England. Here they proceeded to 
organize a State, whose civil code followed close on the 
track of the Mosaic law, and whose ecclesiastical polity, 
like that of the Jews, and of all those then existing, was 
identified with the civil power. They thus secured what 
was denied them in England, the right to pursue their 
own form of religion without molestation, and in this the 
object of their exile was attained. The hardships of the 
infant colony are evinced in the fearful havoc which death 
and desertion made in their ranks. More than one hun- 
dred, discouraged at the prospect which pestilence and 
famine presented, abandoned the enterprise, and returned 
immediately to England, while of those who remained, 
double that number, before the close of the year, had 
fallen victims to disease. So great was -the decrease from 
these causes, and so disheartening the effect produced in 
England by the report of those who returned, that the 
accessions by emigration for the next two years were not 
sufficient to make up the losses. A similar series of dis- 
asters had occurred to the Pilgrims in commencing their 
settlement. Sickness and starvation had reduced their 
numbers one-half within a few months, and the additions 
were at no time so considerable as those which the sister 
colony afterwards received. Ten years of hardship and 




CHAP, suffering elapsed before the great emigration of the 
--^-^^•^ Puritans, and at that timo the Plymouth colony contained 
16 3 0. Q^ij ii^YQQ hundred persons. Such were some of the 
difficulties encountered by the early settlers of New Eng- 

The government of Plymouth was for many years a pure 
162 0, democracy. In the cabin of the Mayflower the first solemn 
compact in the history of America, creating a body politic 
by voluntary act of the signers, was subscribed. Upon 
this brief but comprehensive constitution rests the whole 
fabric of American republicanism.^ The right to frame 
laws, and the duty of obeying them, were here simulta- 
neously declared by the free act of the whole people. As 
the Pilgrims were more liberal towards those who differed 
from them in points of religious doctrine than the Pu- 
ritans, so were they more free in their political constitu- 
tion. There were good reasons for this difference. In 
the first place, the principles of the early Separatists, 
although falling far short of the full idea of liberty of 
conscience, were much more liberal than were those of 
either of the two parties into which the Puritans were 
divided in the reign of James I. They were upon the 
right line of action, without having yet attained the ulti- 
mate result of their movement, or having traced back to 
its source, in the philosophy of mind, the secret impulse 

'■ In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the 
loyal subjects of our dread sovereign lord, King James, &c., having under- 
taken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith and honor 
of our King and countiy, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern 
parts of Virginia, do, by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the pres- 
ence of God and of one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a 
civil body politic, for our better ordering and presei-vation, and fui-therance of 
the ends aforesaid ; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame such 
just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to 
time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of 
the colony ; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In 
witness whereof, &c. — Bradford's Sj- Winslow's Journal, Mourt's Relation. 
Young^s Chrons. of Pilgnms, p. 121. 


which urged them onward. Their conceptions of the chap. 
great truth which they were unconsciously developing were _,^ 
but vague and uncertain, but their course seems to have l 6 2 o 
been guided in no small degree by its dawning light. 
Their venerable teacher, Robinson, in his final sermon, 
before their departure from Leyden, had given them a July. 
solemn charge, which seemed to foreshadow the new reve- 
lation that was to spring from the oracles of God. " I 
charge you, before God and his blessed angels, that you 
follow me no farther than you have seen me follow the 
Lord Jesus Christ. If God reveal any thing to you, by 
any other instrument of his, be as ready to receive it as 
ever you were to receive any truth by my ministry ; for I 
am verily persuaded, I am very confident, that the Lord 
has more truth yet to break forth out of his holy word." ' 
The contrast to the bigotry of England which this liberal 
and Christian advice presents, is a proof, how far in ad- 
vance of his age was this learned and pious pastor of the 
Pilgrims, Had Eobinson been able to accompany the 
emigrants to America, the future apostle of religious free- 
dom would have found in him a sympathizing friend. The 
result of his teaching is seen in the milder treatment of 
those who difi'ered from them, which the records of Ply- 
mouth present when compared with those of Massachu- 
setts. The spirit of Eobinson appeared to watch over his 
feeble flock on the coast of New England^ long after his 
body was mouldering beneath the cathedral church at Ley- 
den. Again, their twelve years' residence in Holland had 
brought the Pilgrims in contact with other sects of Chris- 
tians, and given them a more catholic spirit than per- 
tained to those whose stay in England had been embittered 
by the strife of contending factions in the established 
church. Whether these reasons fully account for the 
superior liberality of the Plymouth Colonists, or not, the 
records show, that as they were distinct from the Puritans 

^ Morton's Memorial, p. 29, note. 


CHAP, in England, and had been long separated from them in Hol- 
^J:^.^ land, so did they preserve that distinction in some measure 
1620. in America. The Pilgrims of Plymouth were more hberal 
in feeling, and more tolerant in practice, than the Puri- 
tans of Massachusetts Bay. The simple forms of demo- 
cratic government were maintained in Plymouth for 
eighteen years, until the growth of the colony compelled 
the introduction of the representative system. The laws 
were enacted by the entire people, and their execution 
intrusted to a governor, and council of five assistants, 
afterwards increased to seven. 

The government of Massachusetts was much more 
restrictive, and the circumstances of the colony compelled 
more frequent changes in its forms than was the case with 
16 2 9. Plymouth. The royal charter, with the plan of govern- 
April inent adopted under it, by the company in which John 
Endicott was named as governor, had formed the fun- 
damental law, until the corporation itself emigrated the 
next year to America, with Winthrop at its head. A new 
organization under the king's patent now took place. By 
this patent, a governor, deputy-governor, and eighteen as- 
sistants were to be elected annually by a majority of the 
Aug. freemen of the company.^ Soon after the arrival of Win- 
throp, the first Court of Assistants was held at Charles- 
town. The proceedings of that court were singularly in- 
dicative of the future policy of the colony. The first 
measure proposed was " how the ministers shall be main- 
tained-."^ This question, so honorable to the colonists, 
who, amid the hardships of an infant settlement, made 
the support of the clergy their earliest care, would prove, 
if other evidence were wanting, that the religious senti- 
ment was the most active cause of Puritan emigration ; 
and it might further serve as a premonition to all those 
whose creed was heterodox, or whose conduct was at 

'■ 1 Holmes's Annals, 195. ^ 1 Prince, 246. 

163 0. 



the spirit of the times, that the Massa- 
chusetts colony was no home for them. And, as if to 

variance with the spirit of the times, that the Massa- c^ap 

confirm the latter position beyond mistake, the second 
measure of the court was to order, " that Morton of Mt. 
Wollaston be sent for presently." Thomas Morton was 
one of a company under Capt. Wollaston, who, some 
years before, had located in what is now the town of 
Quincy. Wollaston, on his return to England, left the 16 2 5. 
place in charge of one of his companions, who was dis- 
placed by the intrigues of Morton, and the establishment 
under the new name of Merry Mount, became a scene of 
riot and dissipation, to the infinite annoyance of the neigh- 
boring settlements. The colonists had once equipped 16 28. 
Miles Standish with an armed force to abate this nuisance, 
and having captured Morton, sent him to England as a 
prisoner, with charges against him to be disposed of as the 
company there might see fit. He found means to return the 16 2 9. 
next year, and renewed the orgies of Merry Mount, until 
the summary proceedings of the Court of Assistants broke 
up this resort of idlers.' This was a step for which no one 16 3 0. 
can censure the court. The dissolute character of Morton 
and his crew rendered their expulsion necessary for the wel- 
fare of the colony, while the fact of their supplying the In- 
dians with firearms merited the severest punishment. But 
it is the promptness of the government in taking action 
upon the case, which is chiefly worthy of note. Scarcely 
had they landed in New England, before they provide, first 
for the support of the ministry, and second for the purifi- 
cation of society. The only other measure of the court 
at this session related to the price of labor. However 
much we may approve of their action in the two preceding 

' Morton's houso was burnt by order of the Court at their next session, 
Sept. 7 (1 Prince, 248), and himself imprisoned until sent for the second time 
to England, whence he again returned in 1643, and finally died at Piscataqua. 
For particulars concerning this notorious " old roysterer," see Morton's Now 
England's Memorial, 135-142, with the Editor's note ; also 1 Mass. Hist. Coll. 
iii. 61-64. His own account of himself in his book entitled New English 

163 0. 



CHAP, matters, this certainly was ill-advised, and as the event 
13roved, injurious. Mechanics' wages were fixed at two 
shillings a day, and a fine of ten shillings was decreed 
against giver and taker for any excess above this rate. The 
experiment of arbitrary values, whether placed upon labor, 
or affixed to things intrinsically worthless, has been often 
tried with ruinous results, and the attempt in this case 
displayed a disposition to excessive legislation, incompat- 
ible with the real interests of society.^ 
Oct. The first General Court, composed of all the freemen of 

the colony, was held in the autumn. The spirit of this 
assembly was liberal and yielding. Over one hundred per- 
sons were admitted freemen of the company, many of whom 
were not connected with any of the churches. '^ Among the 
apphcants for freedom was William Blackstone, the earliest 
settler of Boston, having resided there four or five years 
previous to the arrival of Winthrop, and the same who after- 
wards removed to what is now the town of Cumberland, 
being unable to brook " the tyranny of the Lord's brethren " 
at the Bay.3 The influence of the governor and assistants 
and the disposition of the people to repose confidence in 
their authority, led the Court to order that for the future 
the freemen should choose the assistants only, and that 
these should select the governor and deputy from among 
themselves, and should also make laws and appoint officers.'' 

Canaan, by Thos. Morton, Amsterdam, 1637, 4to., 191 pp., a copy of which I 
have read in the British Museum, does not display his character much more 
favorably than does the indignant secretary of the coui-t of N. Plymouth in 
the pages above referred to. 

^ These absurd regulations were several times repealed and re-enacted, and 
were the occasion of much trouble in Massachusetts, frequently requiring the 
intei-position of the courts to adjust variations in the price of labor between 
different towns. — 1 Savage's Winthrop, 31, note. This was not the only sub- 
ject upon which the rulers of the Bay abused their legislative prerogative. 

" 1 Hutchinson's Mass., 26. 

^ 1 Savage's Winthrop, 53, note (1853). He was admitted at the next 
Court, May 18, 1631. 

^ Prince's Annals (1826), 320. 


This was a wide departure from the terms of the charter, 
and a concession of power which, however safely reposed in 
this case, furnished a dangerous precedent for the future. 
At the next General Court, being the first court of election 
in Massachusetts, this power was wisely restricted by the 
people, who reassumed the right to choose their own offi- 
cers, and although they did not at this time expressly limit 
the term of office to one year, they established their right 
to make such annual changes in the board as the majority 
might wish. Thus they partially rescinded the act of the pre- 
vious Court by which they had yielded too much. It would 
have been well if they had stopped at this point, and not 
made the legislation of the two Courts present a still further 
contrast, by an order Avhich entirely reversed the liberality 
of the former in admitting freemen without a religious test. 
This measure, which was to be the exciting cause of future 
troubles, and the means of calling into existence a new 
State based upon principles as yet untried, was considered 
essential to the preservation of purity in the community. 
" To the end the body of the commons may be preserved 
of honest and good men, it was ordered and agreed, that 
for the time to come, no man shall be admitted to the 
freedom of this body politic, but such as are members of 
some of the churches within the limits of the same."' 
This extraordinary law continued in force until the dissolu- 
tion of the government," and the spirit of intolerance which 
it necessarily, if not intentionally fostered, sur\ived in the 
hearts of the people, and was displayed in the conduct 
of the rulers, long after the odious enactment was ex- 
punged from the statute book. The apologists of tliis 

' Prince's Annals (182G), 354. 

^ It was nominally repealed in 16G5(1 Holmes's Annals, 210, note), but its 
leatures were essentially retained, by substituting for church membership a 
minister's certificate that the candidate for freedom was of orthodox princi- 
ples, and of good life and conversation. 1 Hutchinson's Mass., 2G, and note, 
p. 231. 

VOL I — 2 




^Hj^P- law have excused its existence on the ground of dangers, 
^"^ — ' which were feared from the hostility of the prelatical 
party in England, requiring a strong bond of union, and 
the incitement of rehgious zeal in those to whom was in- 
trusted the exercise of political power. They overlook or 
conceal the facts that the requisites for church member- 
ship in Massachusetts were far more strict than in Eng- 
land, and that it was a greater grievance to be deprived of 
civil liberties for this cause in New England than in Old ; 
and again, the direct effect of such a law must be to incul- 
cate hypocrisy, since no rectitude of conduct could procure 
the immunities, which were the reward of profession only, so 
that if any one did not feel himself to be at heart a Chris- 
tian, and could thus conscientiously unite with a church, 
he must submit either to dissemble or be disfranchised. At 
this day it appears strange that mcD, who in so many re- 
spects showed that they were wise and. good, should not 
have seen and shunned the consequences of such a law. 
It would seem as if they believed that the act of legisla- 
tion was omnipotent, having in itself an efficacy to change 
the heart of man, and to reverse the principles of human na- 
ture. How, otherwise, could they sanction a statute which 
placed a premium upon deception, and which required a 
spiritual change, such as they held could only be effected 
by divine grace, as a prelude to the exercise of civil rights, 
while, as the evidence of this change, they could require 
only the assurance of the applicant, accompanied by such 
proofs,- in outward conduct, of his sincerity as might suffice to 
satisfy public opinion ? The external conditions of citizen- 
ship were too easy, and its advantages too great, to be 
overlooked by those whose lives were governed by any 
other motives than those of conscience. The terms of the 
law are such as to defeat its avowed object. To preserve 
men " honest and good," we should avoid the occasion of 
evil, and not offer an inducement to practise it under the 
cloak of sanctity. The spirit of this law is one which 



would blot out from the great canon of petition, " lead us chap. 
not into temptation/' to substitute for the teachings of Infi- 
nite Wisdom the devices of man's invention, which would 
expose frail humanity to a powerful allurement under the 
name of a sanctifying trial, and expect it to emerge un- 
scathed, or even strengthened, from the dangerous ordeal. 
The operation of the law could not fail to introduce into 
the body politic elements the very opposite to what was 
intended, and to assimilate the institutions of the State 
to those from which they had fled, by making still more 
close, in Massachusetts than ever it had been in England, 
the union of civil with ecclesiastical power. To establish 
a tyranny of the church, to cherish a feeling of intolerance, 
and to foster a spirit of dissimulation, were the inevitable 
results of this baleful statute. To infuse discontent into 
the minds of many, and thus to involve the State in con- 
tinual difficulty, was its legitimate and immediate efiect. 
It was the first direct legislative exposition of the feeling 
of the colonists towards those who diifered from them in 
religious opinions, however blameless might be their lives. 
It foreshadowed a similar fate to others, under the sanction 
of law, which had already been visited upon the Brownes, 
by order of Endicott, under a construction of the charter. 
Nor was it many years before the emigration of some pro- 
minent citizens, and the open opposition of others, dis- 
played the light in which independent men viewed the 
infringement upon freedom of thought and action of which 
this statute was the harbinger. 

A few weeks previous to the meeting of this Gene- 
ral Court, the ship Lyon arrived at Nantasket, with Feb. 
twenty passengers and a large store of provisions. Her "• 
arrival was most timely, for the colonists were reduced to 
the last exigencies of famine. Many had already died of 
want, and many more were rescued from imminent peril 
by this providential occurrence. A public fast had been 9, 
appointed for the day succeeding that on which the ship 



readied Boston. It was clianged to a general thanksgiv- 
ing. There was another incident connected with the arri- 
val of this ship, which made it an era, not only in the 
affairs of Massachusetts, but in the history of America. 
She brought to the shores of New England the founder of 
a new State, the exponent of a new philosophy, the intel- 
lect that was to harmonize religious differences, and soothe 
the sectarian asperities of the New World; a man whose 
clearness of mind enabled him to deduce, from the mass of 
crude speculations wliich abounded in the 17th century, 
a proposition so comprehensive, that it is difficult to say 
whether its application has produced the most beneficial 
influence upon religion, or morals, or politics. Tliis man 
was Koger Williams, then about thirty-two years of age.' 
He was a scholar, well versed in the ancient and some of 
the modern tongues, an earnest inquirer after truth, and 
an ardent friend of popular liberty as well for the mind 
as for the body. As "a godly minister," he was welcomed 
to the society of the Puritans, and soon invited by the 
church in Salem to supply the place of the lamented Hig- 
ginson, a-s an assistant to their pastor Samuel Skelton, 
The invitation was accepted, but the term of his ministry 
was destined to be brief The authorities at Boston re- 
monstrated with those at Salem against the reception 
of Williams. The Court at its next session addressed a 
April letter to Mr. Endicott to this effect : " That whereas 
Mr. Williams had refused to join with the congregation at 

' See Appendix A for research into his early life. A Rhode Islander may 
be permitted to notice the coincidence of a general thanksgiving day " by or- 
der from the Governor and Council, directed to all the plantations," to cele- 
brate the arrival of the ship which brought the founder of his State to the 
shores of the New World. With the exception of the thanksgiving held July 
8, upon the arrival of " the great emigration " by the emigrants themselves, 
this was the first instance of what has long since become, by universal cus- 
tom, one of the " institutions " of these United States. And happily for the 
country, the principles which emanated from the cabin of the Lyon have been 
no less widely diffused than has the custom to which her arrival gave occa- 


Boston, because they would not make a public declara- 
tion of their repentance for having communion with the 
churches of England, while they lived there ; and, besides, 
had declared his opinion that the magistrate might not 
punish the breach of the Sabbath, nor any other offence, 
as it was a breach of the first table ; therefore, they mar- 
velled they would choose him without advising with the 
council, and withal desiring him, that they would forbear 
to proceed till they had conferred about it." ' 

This attempt of the magistrates of Boston to control 
the election of a church officer at Salem, met with the re- 
buke it so richly merited. The people were not ignorant 
of the hostility their invitation had excited ; yet on the 
very day the remonstrance was written, they settled Wil- 
liams as their minister.'^ The ostensible reasons for this 
hostility are set forth in the letter above cited. That 
they were to a great extent the real ones cannot be ques- 
tioned. The ecclesiastical polity of the Puritans sanc- 
tioned this interference. Their church platform approved 
it.' Positive statute would seem to require it. Never- 
theless, we cannot but think that, underlying all this, 
there was a secret stimulus of ambition on the part of the 
Boston Court to strengthen its authority over the prosper- 
ous and, in some respects, rival colony of Salem. Salem 
was the oldest town in what was then Massachusetts, and 
had been the seat of power under Gov. Endicott until the 
corporation emigrated to America, supplanting his author- 
ity by that of Gov. Winthrop, and making Boston the 
capital of New England. But the advantages of Salem 
were considerable, and the feeling of independence re- 
sulting from these circumstances was aj)parent. The ex- 
pediency of reducing the people of Salem to more com- 
plete subjection to the central power, could not have been 

' Wintlu-op, i. G3. - Beutley's Hist, of Salem, 1, I\I. H. C. vi. 2t(>. 

* Mather's Magnalia, B. v. cli. 17, § 9. 


163 1. 



CHAP, overlooked by the Court, and accordingly we find tliem 
speedily embracing tbe earliest opportunity to assert that 
power — gently, at first, expressing wonder and requesting 
delay on certain theological grounds, but more harshly 
afterward as we shall presently see. As a political meas- 
ure this interference failed of its object. The people resent- 
ed so great a stretch of authority, and the church disregard- 
ed the remonstrance. The reasons assigned by the Court, 
we do not propose here to discuss. The first involved a 
point in which Williams was not alone. The "great 
John Cotton " himself withdrew from communion with the 
churches of England, and persuaded other eminent di- 
vines to adopt the same course."' The second reason re- 
dounds to the everlasting honor of Williams as " the great, 
earliest assertor of religious freedom."^ What could not 
as yet be accomplished by direct intervention of the Court 
was effected in a surer manner. The fearlessness of Wil- 
liams in denouncing the errors of the times, and especially 
the doctrine of the magistrate's power in religion, gave 
rise to a system of persecution which, before the close of 
the summer, obliged him to seek refuge beyond the juris- 
diction of Massachusetts in the more liberal colony of the 

At Plymouth " he was well accepted as an assistant 
in the ministry to Mr, Ealph Smith, then pastor of the 
church there."^ The principal men of the colony treated 
him with marked attention. Gov. Bradford, in his Jour- 
nal, speaks well of him,^ and Gov. Winthrop, who had 
uniformly opposed him, mentions having partaken of the 
Holy Sacrament with him, in company with Mr. Wilson, 
pastor of the Boston church, when on a visit at Plymouth. 
Williams remained for two years at Plymouth.^ The 

' Magnalia, B. iii. ch. 1, § 10-18. ^ Mr. Savage in note 2, Winthrop, i. 41. 
^ Bentley's Salem, 1, M. H. C. vi. 246. * Morton's Memorial, 151. 
^ Prince, 377. 

" The -weight of authority assigns tliis limit to R. W.'s residence at Ply- 
mouth. See citations in Knowles, p. 55, note. 



opportunities tliere presented for cultivating an intimate 
acquaintance with the chief Sachems of the neighhoring 
tribes were well improved, and exerted an important in- 
fluence, not only in creating the State of which he was to 
be the founder, but also in protecting all New England 
amid the horrors of savage warfare. 

Ousamequin, or Massasoit, as he is usually called, was 
the Sachem of the Wampanoags, called also the Pokanoket 
tribe, inhabiting the Plymouth territory. His seat was 
at Mount Hope, in what is now the town of Bristol, E. I. 
With this chief, the early and steadfast friend of the 
English, Williams established a friendship which proved 
of the greatest service at the time of his exile. 

West of the Pokanoket country, embracing the islands 
in and around Narragansett bay, the eastern end of Long 
Island, with nearly the whole mainland as far as Paw- 
catuck river, was the powerful tribe of the Narragansetts, 
including several subordinate tribes, all owning the sway 
of the sagacious and venerable Canonicus, with his brave 
and generous nephew, Miantinomo, as their chief Sachems. 
Tradition speaks of this tribe as a fierce and warlike race, 
extending their conquests from the main, over all the 
adjacent islands, and it still points to the spot on the 
island of Ehode Island, where in a great battle, anterior 
to the arrival of the English, the former proprietors of 
these beautiful shores were vanquished by the valor of 
their assailants. There is a clause in the Indian deed of 
Aquidneck to Wm. Coddington, which appears to confirm 
tliis tradition. It is, however, certain that at this time 
the schemes of the Narragansetts for territorial aggran- 
dizement had ceased, and their attention had become 
directed in some measure to the arts of civihzation. They 
coined money in their rude way from sea-shells, and were 
skilled in various branches of Indian manufacture. With 
these Indians, as with Massasoit, Williams sought friend- 
ship, and by kindness and attention, making them pres- 





ents and visiting tliem, as his letters describe, " in their 
filthy smoky holes to gain their tongue/' he overcame the 
shyness of the old Canonicus and won the esteem of the 
high-spirited Miantinomo. It proved well for himself and 
for New England that this intercourse was maintained. 

The generous spirit of the Pilgrims preserved Eoger 
Williams in a great measure from the annoyance which 
had caused his removal from Salem, and protected him 
from the offensive interference of the civil authorities. 
Still his own views were too liberal for the times in which 
he lived ; he was misunderstood by the enlightened, and 
misrepresented by the bigoted who sympathized with 
their brethren of the Bay. His attachment appears never 
to have been withdrawn from the people of Salem, who 
reciprocated the warmth of his regard and invited his 
return.' So great was the respect and love entertained 
^yg_ for him at Plymouth, that it was not without difficulty 
16 3 3. be obtained his dismissal from the church, through the 
infiuence of Brewster, the ruling elder, who was one of 
those who dreaded the effect of his opinions. It illus- 
trates the singular power which, through his whole life, 
Roger Williams exerted on the minds of his companions, 
whether savage or civilized, that several members of the 
Plymouth church, unwilhng to be separated from liim, 
desired their dismission at the same time and followed him 
to Salem. ^ Here he again assisted Mr. Skelton, whose 
health was rapidly failing. 

Now, within the jurisdiction of the Bay, was resumed 
a conflict between the despotic spirit of theocracy and the 
genius of intellectual liberty, which was to result in the 
temporary triumph of arbitrary power over abstract right ; 
which was to call into existence an independent State, 
and finally to achieve the emancipation of the human soul 
from the thraldom of priestly oppression. It should be 
borne in mind that in most of the points of dispute which 

^ Backus, i. 56. - Morton's Memorial, 151. 


now arose Williams was not alone or even foremost in the chap. 
discussion, while in respect to some of the most important .^„^ 
encroachments of the Court upon the rights of the people 16 3 3. 
all the inhabitants of Salem were with him. His de- 
tractors have delighted to represent him as if he were the 
only thorn in the side of the authorities, the sole disturber 
of fraternal harmony in the otherwise happy family of the 
Puritans. To fasten upon Koger Wilhams the stigma of 
factious opposition to government, as has often been 
attempted, is to belie history by an effort to vindicate 
bigotry and tyranny at the expense of truth. It is a 
memorable fact, which a careful examination of the evi- 
dence presented by the Puritan writers themselves will 
establish, that of the many singular and bitter contro- 
versies which raged at this time, in most of which Eogcr 
Williams bore a conspicuous part, and for all of which his 
enemies have endeavored to make him solely responsible, 
only one was initiated by him, save that which has become 
his crowning glory. The contentious spirit with which 
he has been charged was characteristic of the age in which 
he lived, and eminently so of the society in which he 
moved. Transition periods are necessarily eras of agita- 
tion, more or less prolonged according to the importance 
of the principles to be evolved. In this case the Protes- 
tant reformation had opened a discussion, in the 1 6th 
century, involving the dearest jights of humanity, which 
had already convulsed all Europe, and was about to sub- 
vert the ancient monarchy of England, To establish the 
inherent right of private judgment, the free agency of the 
mind in spiritual matters, — this was the grand result 
towards which a hundred years of toil and strife, in camp 
and court, in school and closet, were slowly tending. In 
the controversy which directly led to this result, Williams 
had many ardent friends among liis Puritan compeers, the 
more perhaps from his bearing only a secondary part in 
the subordinate agitations which first occurred. 


CHAP. A meeting of the ministers, held at eacli other's houses, 
^...1^.^^ to debate " questions of moment," inspired the cautious 
1633. mind of Skelton with fear lest^ " it might grow in time to 
a presbytery, or superintendency, to the prejudice of the 
church's liberties," In this feeling Williams shared, but 
remained passive, while Skelton openly denounced the 
frequent meetings of the clergy."- They had both seen 
enough of priestly arrogance in England to dread its 
appearance in America. Already had the interference of 
the Court at Boston, at the instigation of the ministers, 
given warning of the actual usurpation from which the 
church at Salem was shortly to suffer. Liberty is rarely 
subverted at a single blow. Its foundations are sapped by 
gradual and regular approaches under the guise of lawful 
authority, and often in the very name of freedom itself 
These manifestations could not escape the vigilance of the 
Salem pastors, or fail to fill their minds with anxious fore- 
bodings. The event justified the anxiety of these watch- 
ful guardians of public liberty, notwithstanding the 
remark of the amiable Winthrop, who was soon to feel 
in his own person the fickleness of popular favor, with- 
drawn at the dictation of the clergy, that " this fear was 
without cause." 

The custom of women wearing veils in public formed 
a theme of j)Hlpit discussion at that time, which has un- 
justly been charged upon WiUiams. The earnestness of 
Endicott and the eloquence of Cotton upon this topic are 
recorded by contemporary writers. It has remained for 
the ignorance or the iU-will of more recent times, to cast 
upon Koger Williams the absurdity of a controversy which 
began before his arrival,^ and in which there is no reliable 
evidence to prove that he took a prominent part.^ 

^ Winthrop, i. 117. ^ Bentley's Salem, 248. ^ Bentley, 245. 

* Hubbard is the earliest Puritan -writer who connects the name of Wil- 
liams with this ridiculous controversy. His tirade upon Eoger Williams, 
chap. 30, General History of New England, is the source whence most of the 
abuse of the Founder of Rhode Island is derived, wherein he is closely fol- 


More serious difficulties soon arose. During Williams' chap. 

residence at Plymouth, he had written a treatise upon 
the royal patent;^ under which the Massachusetts colony 
held their lands, wherein he maintained that the planters 
could have no just title except what they derived from 
the Indians. The Court, as usual, took advice of the 
ministers, "who much condemned Mr. Wilhams' error 
and presumption, and were greatly offended at these 
three passages : " 1. For that he chargethKing James to 
have told a solemn public lie, because in his patent he 
blesses God that he was the first Christian prince that 
had discovered this land : 2. For that he chargeth him and 
others with blasphemy for calling Europe Christendom, or 
the Christian world : 3, For that he did personally apply 
to our present King, Charles, these three places in the Re- 
velation, viz."' As to the first point, we are at loss to 
discover any very strong grounds for clerical indignation. 
If it was "presumption" in Williams to deny to the reigning 
family the honor of discovery, it certainly was not an 
error. To the Tudors, and not to the Stuarts, that 
honor belongs. It was under the auspices of Henry VII., 
more than a century before James I. ascended the throne, 
that New England was discovered.- Politically Williams 

lowed by Cotton Mather a few years later. Other portions of his history are 
equally unrehahle ; in fact, nowhere is he to he trusted as an original author- 
ity. His prejudices color his whole narrative. Ilis plagiarisms and his care- 
lessness arc sufficiently exposed by the diligent editor of Winthrop, in an am- 
ple note on p. 2'JG, vol. i., to which the reader is referred. 

' Mr. Savage's note at this place should be cited : " Perhaps the same 
expressions, by another, would have given less offence. From Williams they 
were not at first received in the mildest, or even the most natural sense ; 
though further reflection satisfied the magistrates, that his were not danger- 
ous. The passages from the Apocalypse were probably not applied to the 
honor of the King, and I regret, therefore, that Wiuthrop did not preserve 
them." — Winthrop, i. 102. In his 2d edition, p. 145, Mr. S. adds: "No com- 
plaint of such indiscretion would have been expressed ten years later, when 
the mother country far outran the colony in these perversions of Scripture." 

' The author does not propose to discuss the question of the iVnte -Colum- 
bian discovery of America. If the claim of the Danish writers for their 


CHAP, niay have been presumptuous ; historically he was correct 
.,J^.^^ in this first charge. Tliat the second point should have 
16 3 3. given offence, displays more earnestness to preserve the 
royal favor than zeal in the cause which they considered to 
he the only true one. Men who had repeatedly denied the 
Christianity of Europe, need not so suddenly have become 
indignant that one of their number should write what aU 
of them spoke and believed. This spasmodic loyalty may be 
attributed to a fear lest the influence of Laud, Archbishop 
of Canterbury, should so far prevail with the Crown as to 
lead to a repeal of the New England patent. The solicitude 
for the honor of the king, manifested in the third stated 
ground of offence, furnishes an amusing contrast to the 
conduct of the same reverend legislators a few years later. 
The arbitrary action of the Court, in calling for a paper 
Dec. written beyond the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, " for the 
private satisfaction of the Governor of Plymouth," and 
which had never been published, would have been properly 
resented by refusing to obey the summons. None of his 
persecutors in those days, or of his detractors in later times, 
ever displayed a more Christian, or less " contentious 
spirit," than did Williams on this occasion. He " offered 
the book, or any part of it, to be burnt, and gave satisfac- 
tion of his intention and loyalty." On a further examina- 
1633-4. tion of the offensive passages by the council, " they found 
24." the matters not to be so evil as at first they seemed." Thus 
the subject rested for a few months until it was found con- 
venient again to caU it up. 

Upon the death of Mr. Skelton, the church ordained 
Eoger Williams as their pastor, although the Court a sec- 

uorthem progenitors were fully established, identifying New England, and es- 
pecially Rhode Island, with the Vineland of Icelandic explorers, it would 
have no hearing upon the New England of our day ; while in the present 
state of the subject it is more a matter for archisological investigation than of 
historical research. For a view of this point see R. I. Hist. Coil's, iv. Ap. 2, 
and for the whole subject, Prof. Rafin's Antiquitates Americanse. 


ond time interfered to prevent it. We shall presently see chai' 
how severely their contumacy was punished. .^-.,1^ 

In the autumn Williams was again summoned to ap- 16 3 4. 
pear at Court, for promulgating his views concerning the 
patent. When we remember that the practice of the 27. 
Puritans accorded precisely with the theory of WilHams, 
in respect to the Indian titles — that all the land they oc- 
cupied, except what they found deserted, owing to the 
pestilence which preceded the arrival of the Pilgrims, had 
been purchased by them of the original proprietors — we 
cannot discover in the ostensible reasons for this second 
arrest, any sufficient cause for such treatment. That he 
took what we should consider a needless exception to the 
language of the patent is apparent. Perhaps he thought 
that words are sometimes things. The sense of justice 
which formed so striking a feature of his character, com- 
pelled him to deny the royal claim to possession by right 
of discovery. Yet this language was in itself harmless so 
long as it remained merely a form of kingly phraseology. 
We are forced to the conclusion that the real reasons for 
pursuing this matter are not upon the record, and that 
the repeated refusal of the Salem church to permit the 
interference of the Court in their choice of a teacher was 
the principal cause. This opinion is strengthened by the 
fact that after this time we hear nothing further of the . 
controversy about the patent ; more tangible and serious 
causes of complaint being found by the Court. 

One other subordinate point remains to be noticed be- 
fore we arrive at the immediate causes of the banishment ^g 3 5 
of Roger Williams. The conduct of Endicott in cutting May. 
out the cross from the national colors, for which singular 
action he was suspended from office for one year by order 
of the Court, has been ascribed to the influence of Wil- 
liams, who has been made, as in the dispute about veils, 
the convenient author of most of the erratic deeds and no- 
tions of the times. The opposition to Popery and all its 


CHAP, symbols, which formed so deep a feeling in the Puritan 
^1-^ mind, was the real cause of this unwarrantable act of the 
16 3 5. Salem magistrate. That Williams countenanced the act 
is nowhere asserted, unless such a construction be given 
to the language of Hubbard. ^ Even Mather, who cannot 
be suspected of any bias in favor of Williams, says of this 
proceeding, " that he was but obliquely and remotely con- 
cerned in it." ^ How far he may be considered as morally 
responsible for this application of an abstract opinion 
which he entertained in common with his fellows, is 
rather a question of ethics than of history. The clear- 
ness with which he discerned the dividing line between 
civil and spiritual concerns, in an age when these subjects 
had scarcely begun to attract public attention, forbids the 
idea that he advised the mutilation of the ensigns. The 
subject afterwards assumed a much greater prominence ; 
the Court, at first divided in opinion as to the lawfulness 
of the cross, at length ordered the ensigns to be laid aside 
entirely, two months before Endicott, from motives of 
May policy, was disgraced for defacing them ; and when a year 
later, at the request of certain shipmasters, these colors 
were hoisted upon the castle, it was done " with the pro- 
testation, that we held the cross in the ensign idolatrous, 
and therefore might not set it up in our own ensigns." ^ 
This was subsequent to the banishment of Wilhams, and 
furnishes fair presumptive evidence to acquit him of re- 
sponsibility for this singular transaction. 

A "more serious occasion for complaint was found in the 
views entertained by Williams on the nature of judicial 
4P/^ oaths. He was cited before the council for teaching "that 
a magistrate ought not to tender an oath to an unre- 
generate man." It appears that he considered taking an 
oath to be in itself an act of worship, recognizing as it 
does the existence and power of a Supreme Being, and 

^ Hubbard, ch. 30, p. 205, in wbich he is followed by Hutchinson, 1, 38. 
^ Magnalia, B. 7, ch. 2, § 8. =* June 16, 1636, Winthrop, ii. 344. 



THE freeman's OATH. 31 

hence, as a direct result of his views in respect to liberty chap. 

of conscience, he denied the right of any one to enforce it. .^ ;^ 

There was nothing in this proposition to excite alarm, so 16 3 5. 
long as it did not come in conflict with the tenets of the 
ministers or the designs of the magistrates. 

Passages in his writings indicate that he had long en- 
tertained, and in some cases had suffered losses in chan- 
cery on account of his views on this subject, which in 
some respects resemble those held by the Society of 
Friends, and for which, to this day, they are liable to pe- 
cuniary damage by the laws of England, Very soon, 
however, the action of the Court, in requiring a new oath 
to be taken by all the citizens, brought Williams' abstract 
notions into practical opposition. Alarmed at the rumors 
of " some Episcopal and malignant practices against the 
country," the Court decreed that an oath of fidelity to 
the laws of the colony should be taken by all freemen. It 
will be remembered that " the freeman's oath" had already 
been taken by all who were admitted freemen of the colony. 
The terms in which it was expressed, requiring obedience 
to laws which should be "lawfully" made by the Court, 
acknowledged the charter as the fundamental law, and the 
source whence it was derived as the sovereign power. But 
this new oath of fidelity ignored the charter, and bound 
the citizens to obey the acts of the Legislature without 
reference to their compatibility with the laws of England. 
What right had the magistrates, with their ever present 
counsellors, the clergy, to adopt this new law ? There 
were more reasons for Williams' earnest hostility to the 
measure than his enemies saw fit to assign. The charter, 
although general in its terms, was yet a safe guide in the 
broad principles of legislation. No laws repugnant to those 
of England could be enacted under it. It shielded the 
colonists from the possible tyranny of the king, and pro- 
tected them from the more probable despotism of their own 
local magistrates. A friend of popular liberty might well 


CHAP, be alarmed at a movement designed to destroy the only 
.^_}^.^^ guarantee of freedom, and whatever his abstract opinions 
16 3 5. in regard to oaths may have been, the illegahty of the 
measure was enough to ensure the opposition of Williams. 
It appears that he was not alone in this opj)osition. So 
many were found to resist the unlawful attempt, that for 
a time "the Court was forced to desist from that proceed- 
ing." It was not until the spirit of free inquiry was more 
effectually checked, and submission compelled by the coer- 
cive policy of the Court, that the act was finally passed, 
and the oath enforced, under severe penalties, upon every 
man over sixteen years of age. 

While the authorities, and especially the ministers, 
were thus diligent in establishing their power over the 
colonists, seeking to punish as seditious persons all those 
who ventured to exercise their freedom by calling in ques- 
tion the acts of the Legislature, they were aiming to ac- 
complish a virtual independence of the mother country. 
At the very time they were arraigning Wilhams as an 
enemy to the patent, for his too faithful defence of the 
rights of the Indians, and disgracing Endicott for mutilat- 
ing ensigns which they had already laid aside as idola- 
trous, they were nullifying their charter by decreeing an 
oath of fidelity to themselves, and were preparing for 
more overt acts of treason, should circumstances render 
it expedient. The council, alarmed by the evidence of 
serious designs against the colony, fomented by the high 
church party in England, convened the clergy to con- 
sider " what ought to be done if a general governor 
19. should be sent out of England." Four months prior to 
this, unusual activity was displayed in completing the 
fortifications, when these designs were first detected, and 
the idea of resistance to the home government was freely 
canvassed by the General Court, Thus early was the 
spirit of colonial independence entertained by the fathers 
of Massachusetts, while as yet they were ignorant of the 


leading principles of national freedom, and were pursuing 
a policy fatal to the existence of popular liberty. That 
they should conceive the idea of eventual separation from 
the mother-country as an act of necessity, was natural 
and commendable under the circumstances in which they 
were placed ; but that they should at the same time ar- 
raign Williams for a constructive hostility to the patent 
they were designing to supplant, and degrade Endicott 
for violating colors which they had already disowned, was 
inconsistent in itself, and accords with the real motive 
which animated the dominant class — to make inde- 
pendence of England the means of establishing a theo- 
cratic despotism at home. The republican feeling with 
which the name of independence is associated in our 
minds was unknown to the authorities of Massachu- 
setts. At this time there was no sympathy with the 
spirit of progress in the stern assemblies of the Puri- 
tans. The all-pervading element of religious contro- 
versy had withered every generous sentiment and dried 
up the fountain of Christian benevolence. No respect 
was felt for individual opinions, and no regard was 
shown for jirivate rights, that conflicted in any degree 
with the rules of a coldly intellectual system of theology. 
The sanctity of domestic life was disturbed by the sur- 
veillance of the State. Even parents were Imown to re- 
port to the magistrates incautious remarks made by their 
children in the familiar intercourse of home. Cotton, 
whose influence was paramount in the colony, preached 
publicly " that a magistrate ought not to be turned into 
the condition of a private man without just cause," a doc- 
trine calculated to perpetuate power in the hands of men 
over whom the clergy already exercised imbounded con- 
trol. The strong common sense of the Puritan masses re- 
jected the dangerous dogma, but was not sufticient, as yet, 
to withstand the organized efforts of the magistrates and 
clergy. Every thing in the polity of Massachusetts was 



1 c 3 5. 



163 5, 

CHAP, made subservient to the interests of the State, and that 
State was virtually and exclusively the Puritan church. 
No wonder that religious toleration and political freedom 
were alike abhorrent to its rulers, or that the conscience 
which could not accept an oath designed to perpetuate 
despotism was treated as an enemy to the State. 

The punishment inflicted upon the people of Salem 
for the alleged contempt of instalHng Roger Williams, 
contrary to the repeated remonstrance of the Court, was 
characteristic, and illustrates the incongruous mingling 

May of temporal and spiritual affairs which must exist with a 
6- church and state estabhshment. The authorities of Sa- 
lem petitioned the General Court for some adjacent land 
which they considered as belonging to their town. The 
petition was refused, " because they had chosen Mr. Wil- 
liams as their teacher." This was certainly an extraor- 
dinary reason to assign for denying an act of justice. The 
Salem people so considered it, and Williams may be par- 
doned for having united with the whole body of his parish- 
ioners in an earnest protest against what they considered 
to be a flagrant wrong. The church at Salem addressed 
letters to the other churches desiring them to remonstrate 
with the magistrates and deputies who were their mem- 
bers on account of this injustice, and warning them of the 
danger to which their liberties were exposed. This appeal 
to the people brought no relief. Popular sentiment was 
not so keenly alive to a sense of violated right, or so vigi- 
lant in guarding the outposts of freedom, as it is in our 

jj^ly day. At the next General Court the deputies from Salem 

^- were refused their seats until their constituents " should 

give satisfaction about the letter."' Subsequently Mr. 

1. " Endicott protested against the action of the Court, and 

' Wiutlirop, i. 16-4. ]\Ir. Savage here justly remarks, in a note : " This 
denial, or perversion of justice, by postponement of a hearing, on a question 
of temporal right, for some spiritual deficiency in the church or pastor, will 
not permit us to think that the judges of Williams were free from all hlame 
in producing his schism." 


justified tile Salem letter; for which exercise of his rights chap. 
as a citizen he was committed by order of the government ^• 
until he acknowledged his fault. By such arbitrary meas- 16 3 5. 
ures, the authorities were shortly to subdue the manly op- 
position of the people of Salem, and to rule without re- 
straint over their submissive subjects. J_Jl3G3^5 
At the same Court which disfranchised the Salem 
deputies, Koger Williams was summoned to answer 8. 
"for divers dangerous opinions, viz. : — 1, that the ma- 
gistrate ought not to punish the breach of the first 
table otherwise than in such cases as did disturb the 
civil peace; 2, that he ought not to tender an oath 
to an unregenerate man; 3, that a man ought not 
to pray with such, though wife, child, &c.; 4, that a 
man ought not to give thanks after the sacrament nor 
after meat." To what has already been said upon the 
first two points, it is only necessary to add, that the con- 
cluding clause of the first charge proves that Williams' 
views were not opposed to civil magistracy, as has been 
represented, but only to the extension of authority over 
subjects for which man is alone amenable to his Maker. 
With respect to the third charge, there is nothing in Wil- 
liams' writings to show that he entertained the views 
therein expressed. It should be borne in mind that the 
only reports we have of his opinions, during the ordeal 
through which he was made to pass while a minister at 
Salem, are given by his opponents, of whom Winthrop is 
the earliest writer, and the only one who was superior to 
the influence of prejudice. And we know that inferences 
from his abstract notions, drawn by those less skilful in lo- 
gical deduction than himself, have been recorded as his 
real opinions, and that, with equal recklessness, he has 
been charged with acts which he never committed, but 
wliich were supposed by his enemies to be the legitimate 
results of views wliich they could not comprehend.^ Wheth- 

' Morton, Hubbard, Mather, and other nearly cotemporary -writers, have 
erred in this way ; e. g. ISIorton's I\Iemorial, 153, says, " he would not pray 


CHAP, er in this case he entertained the precise views alleged 
.^J:^ against him or not, is of little importance. If he did, it 
16 3 5. may be attributed to the effect of the prevailing idea of 
English worship, where all present are supposed fervently 
to unite in the prescribed forms of prayer, however incon- 
sistent may be their lives. An undue prejudice may have 
biased his judgment in this particular. The fourth alle- 
gation is immaterial otherwise than as evidence of his wis- 
dom and zeal in opposing the attempt to establish by law 
" a uniform order of discipline in the churches." Uni- 
formity, the rock upon which, a century before, the reform- 
ed church of England had well-nigh been wrecked, and 
which ever since had been the principal occasion of diffi- 
culty, which had led to the expatriation of the PUgrims, 
and to the emancipation of the Puritans, was about to be 
attempted in Massachusetts. The Court had already 
taken measures to accomplish this object, and, if, as prob- 
able, these minor observances were to form a part of the 
rehgious system, we can well understand why Williams 
should oppose them. 

But these errors of doctrine appear to have had less 
weight in determining the action of the Court than did 
the " contempt of authority," by the Salem church, 
of which he was both the instrument and the victim. 
Church and pastor were each warned to expect sentence 
at the next General Court, unless satisfaction should mean- 
while be given. For two years this harassing treatment 
had continued with little intermission. Wilhams' health 
failed under the accumulated burden of pastoral duties 
and legal vexations. While in this condition, " being 
sick and not able to speak, he wrote to his church a pro- 

nor give thanks at meals with his own wife," &c. Hubbard copies him ver- 
batim. A more open slander Mather in his History has exposed, although 
with no good intent to Williams, in Magnalia, B. 7 ch. 2, § 6, which is cited 
by Knowles, 69, who significantly adds : " We may wonder, nevertheless, that 
Mr. Williams has not been accused of starnng his children, to the horror of 
succeeding generations ! " 



testation, that he could not communicate with the churches chap. 

in the Bay ; neither would ho communicate with them, ,. ; 

except they would refuse communion with the rest." . The 16 3 5. 
cup of his anguish was full when he penned this last epistle, 
the only one upon the record of this protracted contro- 
versy of which even his enemies could say that " it was 
written in wrath ; " nor can we know that the apparent 
bitterness of his rebuke did not spring from a spirit more 
in sorrow than in anger. 

The period of his sufferings was shortly to terminate. 
The letter of the Salem church was an unpardonable sin, 
which he, as its author, was to expiate, while that ad- 
dressed to his parishioners was considered an equally 
proper subject of judicial condemnation. For the fifth and 
last time he was summoned by the authorities to appear 
at the next General Court, where these two letters were Oct. 
presented as the sole charges against him. He justified 
their contents, and remained unmoved by the arguments 
of Hooker, who was appointed to dispute with him. The 
result was a decree of banishment in these words : 
"Whereas Mr. Eoger Williams, one of the elders of the ^ov, 
church of Salem, hath broached and divulged divers ncAv 
and dangerous opinions, against the authority of magis- 
trates ; as also writ letters of defamation, both of the 
magistrates and churches here, and that before any con- 
viction, and yet maintaineth the same without any re- 
tractation ; it is therefore ordered, that the said Mr. Wil- 
liams shall depart out of this jurisdiction within six weeks 
now next ensuing, which, if he neglect to perform, it shall 
be lawful for the governor and two of the magistrates to 
send him to some place out of this jurisdiction, not to re- 
turn any more without license from the Court."'- It is a 

' Wintlirop says the sentence passed " the nest morning " after the 
examination by the General Court, which met in Oct., but the colonial rec- 
ords, which we adopt as being documentary evidence, fix the date Nov. 8d. 
An explanation of the discrepancy may perhaps bo found in the fact recorded 


CHAP, singular fact, that in this Court, composed of magistrates 
.^.^ and clergy, while some of the laymen opposed the decree, 
16 3 5, every minister, save one, approved it. A practical com- 
mentary is thus afforded on the danger of uniting the 
civil and ecclesiastical administrations. It suggests the 
reflection that, of all characters, the most dangerous and 
the most despicable is the political priest. 

Liberty to remain until s]3ring was afterward granted 
him, accompanied by the injunction that he should refrain 
from disseminating his opinions, a restriction not easy to be 
borne by an earnest mind, conscious of possessing important 
truths and actively employed in diffusing them. To con- 
tinue his connection with the Salem church was incompat- 
ible with his present position. The church, subdued by the 
severity of the Court, surrendered at discretion, and apolo- 
gized for the offensive letter. The lands for which they had 
petitioned and been refused, were soon afterwards granted 
to them. The stern exercise of power, although it accom- 
plished its purpose in breaking the spirit of the people, could 
not alienate their affections from one who had been their 
fearless champion and devoted pastor. Great was the grief 
in Salem when the sentence of banishment was pronounced, 
1635-6. a-iid many prepared to follow him into exile. The per- 
Jan. mission to remain until spring was suddenly withdrawn at 
a meeting of the council, and his immediate departure for 
England, in a ship then ready to sail, was resolved upon. 
The reason of this harsh treatment was that he had pro- 
mulgated his views among those friends who visited him 
at his own house, and was planning a settlement in Narra- 
ganset Bay, which was considered as being too near for 

by Winthrop, that "a month's respite" was offered him to prepare for the 
disputation, but " he chose to dispute presently." When the dispute with 
Hooker was ended, the Court doubtless agreed upon the sentence, as Winthrop 
states, but still indulged him with the mouth's respite before entering up the 
judgment, which seems to have been formally done at a meeting of the Court 
of Assistants, Nov. 3d, as appears by the record, which is therefore the proper 
date to assign for this important event in the life of Williams. 


16 3a 

the safety of Puritan institutions. An order was sent for ciiaj 
him to come to Boston, which he declined to do. A boat 
was then despatched to take him by force and place him 
on board the ship. Warned by the previous order, he 
had already escaped three days before, no one knew 
whither. Leaving his wife and two infant children, he set 
out alone in midwinter to perform that arduous journey of 
which, thirty-five years later, he wrote, " I was sorely tossed 
for one fourteen weeks, in a bitter winter season, not know- 
ing what bed or bread did mean." Happily for the world, 
and most fortunately, as the event soon proved, for the 
people of New England, he eluded the vigilance of his 
pursuers. Had their designs succeeded, the grasp of in- 
tellect and the energy of purpose which had evolved the 
grand idea of religious toleration, and was about to estab- 
lish it as the primary article in the government of a State, 
would have been transferred to another field of action, and 
generations might have passed away, in the stormy period 
of English history then commencing, before the man and 
the opportunity again arose to test the great experiment ; 
while the removal of the only man in New England who 
could control the elements of Indian warfare, might have 
given another and fatal termination to the desperate strug- 
gle which Pequot cruelty was preparing. 

Driven from the society of civilized man, and debarred 
the consolations of Christian sympathy, Williams turned 
his steps southward, to find among heathen savages the boon 
of charity which was refused at home. The now venerable 
Ousamequin, who sixteen years before had first welcomed 
the weary Pilgrims to his shores, and with wliom AVilliams, 
during his residence at Plymouth, had contracted a friend- 
ship, received with open arms the lonely and twice-exiled 
Puritan. From him Williams obtained a grant of land 
near what is now called Cove Mills, on the eastern bank 
of Seekonk river, where he built a house, and commenced 
planting with the view of permanent residence. But this vpril. 


CHAP, was not to be Ms home. In the quaint scriptural lan- 
..,J^^^ gu^ge of the day, " he had tarried on this side Jordan, while 
16 3 6. the promised land lay stiU beyond." He was soon advised 
by his friend Gov. Winslow that, as his plantation was 
within the limits of Plymouth colony, who " were loath to 
displease the Bay, he should remove to the other side of 
the water." This he resolved to do, and in company with 
five others, who appear to have followed him from Salem, 
he embarked in his canoe to find at length a resting-place 
on the free hills of Providence. Tradition has preserved 
the shout of welcome, " What cheer, netop,"^ which 
greeted his landing at " Slate Eock ;" poetry has em- 
balmed it in enduring verse ; good taste affixed the name, 
" what cheer " to the adjacent farm, and even the spirit 
of enterprise and the growth of population, which have 
thrown these broad lands into the market of a proud and 
prosperous city, have respected the consecrated spot, and 
reserved " What Cheer Square," with its primeval rock, 
forever to mark the place where the weary feet of Eoger 
Williams first pressed the soil of Providence.- Pursuing 
their course from Slate Eock around the headland of Tock- 
wotten, passing what are now called India and Fox points, 
they entered the Moshasuck river, and sailing up what was 
then a broad and beautiful sheet of water, skirted by a 
dense forest, their attention was attracted by a spring close 
on the margin of the stream, where they landed, and com- 
menced a settlement, to which, in gratitude to his supreme 
June, deliverer, Williams gave the name of Providence. 

There is a singular confusion among the writers as to 

' How are you, friend ? " What clieer, netop, is the general salutation of 
all English toward them (the Indians). Netop is friend." — E. W.'s Key to the 
Indian Language^ ch. 1. 

" The writer hopes that the Ehode Island of the twentieth century will 
not have occasion to question the accuracy of his narrative, by finding that 
the aforesaid square has never been laid out, unless upon some then long-lost 
plat, and that Slate Eock exists only in the pages of history. At present 
there seems a likelihood of this. 


the period at wliicli this memorable event occurred, arising 
rather from ignorance or carelessness than from the absence 
of authentic data. The precise day of Williams arrival 
at Seekonk, or at Providence, cannot be determined, but 
both events may be established with sufficient accuracy 
for historical purposes. The Massachusetts records fix 
the date of his banishment, and also the proximate time 
of his flight, early in January, from which time the " four- 
teen weeks," that he describes as the period of his wander- 
ing, would establish his settlement at Seekonk about the 
middle of April, near the usual planting time of this region. 
The warning letter from Gov. Winslow, after he had " be- 
gun to build and plant at Seekonk," makes it certain that 
he was there after March, 1636, at which time Mr. Wins- 
low became governor of Plymouth, and the only year 
between 1633 and 1644 in which he held that office. A 
letter to Gov. Vane of Massachusetts from Mr. Williams 
is dated from Providence, July 26, proving that he had 
already been some time in his new plantation ; so that in 
placing the foundation of Providence in June, 1636, we 
feel assured of a tolerable degree of accuracy. 

In reviewing the measures which led to the banishment 
of Koger Williams, we find that they all proceeded from 
the firmness with which, upon every occasion, he main- 
tained the doctrine that the civil power has no control 
over the religious opinions of men. To adapt this new 
theory to practical life was to effect a revolution in the 
existing systems of government ; to sever the chain, which, 
since the days of Constantino, had linked theology to the 
throne ; to restore to the free mind the distinctive, but 
long-fettered gift of Deity — free agency ; and, in fine, to 
embody in civil polity that principle, but dimly un- 
derstood by the Keformers, which, from Wittenberg to 
Rome, in the cloister and the camp, had aroused the spirit 
of all Europe — the right of private judgment. 

The entire separation of Church and State had already 



CHAP, been advocated by a small portion of English, dissenters, 
consisting of Baptists and Independents, but tbe great 
majority of Puritans, as we bave seen, still maintained the 
prerogative of tbe crown to interpose in matters of faith. 
Their chief objections to the English Church related to 
forms and ceremonies, and these they sought to alter. 
Persecution failed to make them liberal or tolerant to the 
scruples of others. 

The right of eveiy man to worship God according to 
bis own conscience, untrammelled by written articles of 
faith, and unawed by tbe civil power, implies a degree of 
advancement in moral science and political philosophy, 
utterly at variance with the tone of feeling in that age. 
If to this assertion of natural right we add the denial of 
any power in civil government to enquire even whether a 
citizen believes in the existence of God, we have a propo- 
sition far more bold than many which had already led a 
host of martyrs to the gibbet and the stake. Yet this 
was the sentiment which, in those days of political dark- 
ness, Eoger Williams had the clearness to discover, and the 
courage to defend. He dared assert the freedom of the 
soul. Thus was introduced a new principle in political 
science, by eradicating an old element of civil polity. 
The church was no longer to be a portion of the state, 
and the state must undergo a thorough re-organization, 
when deprived of its powerful auxiliary. Eoger Wil- 
liams saw that government could be more efHcient in its 
object and more just to its citizens, if independent of the 
church ; and he knew that the churcb could best sustain 
its spiritual nature when freed from the clogs of state. 
Keligion, ethics, and politics, as now received, are alike 
indebted to him for their fundamental principle. 

Yet plain and immutable as these truths appear to us, 
they were but dimly comprehended by the wisest states- 
men two centuries ago. Their exponent was driven to 
found a new state, which should illustrate the great prin- 



ciples for wliicli he contended. From England he had fled 
to Massachusetts, seeking sympathy among those who 
had suffered with him in a common cause. But affliction, 10 3 6. 
which should serve to soften the heart to the sufferings of 
others, seemed only to increase the acerbity of the Puri- 
tans. Even among the ministers of Christ, from whom he 
might expect forbearance, if not kindness, he met his 
most virulent enemies. By their influence he was banished, 
and escaping to the headwaters of the Narragansett, he 
found a spot in the pathless wilderness, where he could 
rear a temple of liberty, consecrated to the Lord of the 
whole earth, before whose ample shrine Jew and Gentile, 
bond and free, might each worship Grod according to the 
dictates of his own conscience. 

Although the conduct of the Puritans in this trans- 
action cannot be justified, it may admit of palliation. It 
is a source of regret to be compelled, from the nature of 
the subject, to treat chiefly of the dark side of characters 
who possessed so much true piety and essential greatness 
of soul — to apologize for their errors and expose their 

We observe in the Fathers of Massachusetts a degree 
of virtue and intelligence, and a supreme regard for the 
dictates of religion, and for the preservation of a sound 
morality, such as has never fallen to the lot of any other 
country in its early history. The germs of a powerful 
state, competent to give laws to the world, and to trans- 
mit the heritage of a wise cxami)le to future generations, 
are seen in the feeble band of Pilgrims, j^lantcd on Ply- 
mouth rock, and in the throng of earnest Puritans gath- 
ered along the shores and headlands of Massachusetts 
Bay. But while we recognize these noble attributes in 
the men who persecuted Roger Williams for opinion's 
sake, justice requires that we should relate facts as they 
occurred without abatement or reservation. We may re- 
gret the conduct of our ancestors, but we are not entitled 


CHAP, to defend, or to extenuate, their errors. We may account 
,^J:^ for them from the circumstances of the case, and may show 
16 3 6. that they originated in an honest misapprehension of 
principles, thereby pro^dng that the actors, though mis- 
taken, were consistent, and that their sins were rather of 
the head than of the heart. This view we adopt in our 
judgment of the Puritans. 

In estimating their characters, we are too apt to judge 
them by the light of the present day. Two centuries of 
progress have wrought so great a change in opinions and 
views, by increasing so largely our fund of knowledge, 
that what was expedient or proper, or even right in those 
times, would be justly regarded as absurd or erroneous in 
this age. We might as well revile our ancestors for the 
use of the handloom, since modern science has introduced 
self-moving machinery, as to denounce them for not acting 
upon principles, which, in their day, were unrecognized in 
civil polity. They founded a colony for their own faith 
without any idea of tolerating others. For doing this, 
they have been charged with bigotry, fanaticism and folly. 
Every epithet has been applied to them that can be em- 
ployed to express detestation of the conduct of men acting 
under a sober conviction of truth. Eegarding their con- 
duct from the standpoint of the nineteenth century, all 
this may be just. The like proceedings in this age would 
deserve the severest sentence of condemnation. But not 
so two hundred years ago. The bigotry of the Puritans 
was the bigotry of their times. In every act they illus- 
trated the spirit of the age. They committed some wrongs, 
for which, even with all this allowance, we are at a loss to 
account, which seem to us unpardonable, and to these we 
shall have occasion to refer ; but intolerance is not one of 
them. Toleration was a word conveying to their minds 
an image of terror. It was so held in England and 
throughout Europe. The principle was regarded with 
the same heartfelt abhorrence that conservative statesmen 


now express for the feculent emanations of the Jacobin chap. 
clubs of France ; for, to their minds, it was attended with .^^^^ 
the like fatal results. The simple cobbler of Agawam in- 1 63 G. 
forms us that " he who is willing to tolerate any religion, 
or discrepant way of religion, besides his own, unless it be 
in matters merely indifferent, either doubts of his own, or 
is not sincere in it." To the same end, and about the 
same time, the illustrious Bossuet was employing his al- 
most superhuman eloquence to obtain the royal interfer- 
ence in enforcing the supremacy of the Papal church. The 
churches of Scotland and England were alike zealous in 
effecting uniformity. Edwards, an eminent divine of that 
period, says, " Toleration will make the kingdom a chaos, 
is the grand work of the devil, is a most transcendental 
Catholic and fundamental evil." This was the policy of 
Massachusetts Bay, and with this state of public opinion 
among themselves, and these high authorities to counte- 
nance them abroad, we cannot in fairness condemn them 
for desiring to free the colonies of all dissenters. The 
abuse of their princijjles arose mainly from the tenacity 
with which they maintained them, and the trying situa- 
tion in which they were placed. Had their own views 
been more liberal, we may well doubt whether the home 
government, actuated by the same spirit of intolerance, 
would have allowed the dissemination of free opinion in 
so large and prominent a colony. It was not till some 
years after, when a convulsion had shaken the institutions 
of England to their foundation, and the public mind was 
too intent on the fearful crisis at home to regard the 
affairs of distant provinces, that a free charter was ob- 
tained for the then obscure plantations in Khode Island. 
Again, the Puritans looked on every departure from the 
established creed as being, what in fact it was, an in- 
fringement of the civil code ; for in their constitution 
government was merely secondary, and the church was 
the primary function. Hence they regarded every dissent 


CHAP, from tlieir religious polity as revolutionary, as subversive 
^" of social order, and treated it as a crime. We, therefore, 

16 3 6. find them summoning Koger WiUiams before their highest 
tribunal, to answer for the crime of holding to certain 
opinions of a purely religious nature ; and with these views 
we are not inclined to wonder so much at their expulsion 
of Williams, as to condemn their subsequent conduct to- 
wards him and his colony, and their horrible treatment of 
the Quakers and Gortonists, which form the darkest chap- 
ters in Puritan history. 

It is pleasing to find in the personal kindness of many 
eminent men towards Eoger Williams at this time, a strong 
contrast to the severity of the magistrates and elders. 
The mild and amiable Winthrop, who was the ablest as 
well as the most hberal man of his age and place, appears 
to have regarded Williams with great affection and respect. 
He had ceased to dhect the public councils some months 
before WiUiams' ordination at Salem, and the bigoted 
Dudley had succeeded to the chief magistracy as the leader 
of the most restrictive party in Massachusetts. The per- 
secution of Williams is to be attributed to a policy of 
which Dudley and his successor Haynes were the expo- 
nents. The latter, who was governor when Wilhams was 
banished, openly censured Winthrop for the mildness of 
his administration. The faithful friendship of Endicott, 
who afterwards became governor, has been recorded, and 
Williams' letters bear testimony to the kindness of Gov. 
Winslow and others of the prominent men of Plymouth. 
There was nothing personal in the hostility of his ene- 
mies, the bitterest of whom were among the clergy, who 
sought to establish a political theocracy, and dreaded the 
promulgation of principles which they could not compre- 
hend. A yet greater obstacle to their scheme of uniform- 
ity had already appeared among themselves, and after 
distracting for two more years the councils of church and 
state, was destined in like manner to be violently expelled, 


and to result in the settlement of the island of Rhode- chap. 

Island. v-l^i— 

Roger Williams had scarcely established himself at 16 3 6. 
Providence, before the Antinomian controversy burst forth 
in Massachusetts. 



The early career of Roger Williams has been the sub- 
ject of frequent and labored investigation, but, until very 
recently, with little result. Gradually, however, facts 
have been presented which throw some light on his history 
prior to his embarkation for America, Dec. 1, 1630, The 
discovery of the Sadleir letters, a correspondence between 
Roger Williams and Mrs. Anne Sadleir, daughter of Sir 
Edward Coke, has shed light upon the important point 
of liis education, and established the fact of his being 
a protege of Lord Coke. The original MSS. are in the li- 
brary of Trinity College, Cambridge. Hon. George Ban- 
croft, while Minister at the Court of St. James, procured 
copies, and presented them to the R. I. Hist. Society. 
They are also published in Dr. Elton's life of Roger Wil- 
liams, ch. xiii. By these papers, it appears that his illus- 
trious patron, on account of his ability displayed in taking- 
notes of proceedings in the Star Chamber, placed him at 
Sutton's Hospital, now the Charter House, the records of 
which institution show that he was elected a scholar, June 
25, 1621, and that he obtained one exhibition, July 9, 
1624. (Elton's Roger Williams, ch. ii.) 

The writer regrets that he cannot adopt the other par- 
ticulars relating to the birth-place and university educa- 
tion of Williams, contained in this interesting cliapter. 
The learned author is undoubtedly correct in assigning 


Wales as the country of Koger Williams. The name is 
eminently Welsh, and abounds even more remarkably in 
Anglesea and the northern counties than at the south. 
Still it is not unlikely that Maestroiddyn was the birth- 
place of our Koger Williams. The testimony of the aged 
Nestor of Cayo is conclusive of the fact, that a Eoger 
Williams, of sufficient celebrity to be known, at least 
among the natives of his mountain hamlet and the inher- 
itors of his blood, by the epithet " the great," was born 
there. But two points of difficulty occur in identifying 
him with the founder of K. I. and the graduate of Oxford. 
The records of Jesus College, cited by Dr. Elton, give the 
name as " Rodericus" in the Latin style of the University, 
which we submit should be " Eogerus " to meet this case. 
Or, admitting that the two names were used inter- 
changeably, which is barely probable, we are met with 
a fact which has added greatly to the perplexity and la- 
bor of this research, that there were two other persons of 
the same name, filling somewhat conspicuous positions at 
about the same time. One of these was a distinguished 
soldier in the wars of Holland, and either of them would 
seem as likely as the founder of R. I. to be the " Roder- 
icus" of Conwyl Cayo. But, Roderick and Roger are 
distinct names, and it seems an unnecessary violence to 
assimilate them, when a more natural, and in other re- 
spects also, a more obvious explanation of the difficulty 
may be found. Mr. Collen, the obliging Portcullis of the 
Herald's College, London, has made the genealogy of the 
founder of R, I. the subject of diligent research in the 
archives of that institution, at the instance of a wealthy 
family in Paris, who are lineal descendants of Roger Wil- 
liams. At his suggestion, the writer, assisted by Mr. 
Romilly, the venerable registrar of the University, exam- 
ined the records of Cambridge, the alma mater of Lord 
Coke, and where, from the connection between them, the 
probability is that WilHams would complete his education 


in preference to Oxford, In the admission book of Pern- t;JiAi'. 

broke College is an entry " Williams, 29 Jan., — ^ 

1623." For the better understanding of these facts it ' a. ' 
may be stated that the students in the English Universi- 
ties are classed in three grades, according to their social 
position. At Cambridge the first are called Fellow Com- 
moners. This grade is composed of the nobility and the 
wealthy. The second are called Pensioners, from their 
boarding at the College, and this is the most numerous 
grade. The third, called Sizars, consists of the indigent 
students. When a student enters the University, his 
name is enrolled on the admission book of the particular 
College he joins, and is often very loosely entered, as in 
this case — no Christian name or particulars being given. 
The matriculation, which occurs after an interval of sev- 
eral months, and often, as in this case, of a year or two, 
is the registering the name on the books of the Univer- 
sity. This is done by the registrar, with the student's 
name in full, the date, and a list of degrees taken, each 
in its appropriate column. By this book it appears that 
Koger Williams was matriculated a pensioner of Pem- 
broke College, July 7, 1625, and took the degree of Bach- 
elor of Arts in Jan., 1626-7. He took no other degree. 
A more decisive evidence, in its bearing upon the present 
discussion, is contained in what is called the " subscrip- 
tion book." This was introduced in 1613 by James I., 
who required every student to subscribe to the thirty-nine 
articles. In the first volume of this book, under date of 
1626, the time he took his degree, is the autograph signa- 
ture of KoGERus Williams. A copy of this signatiue, 
carefully compared with the known autograph of the 
founder of Rhode Island, leaves little doul)t of their iden- 
tity of origin. 

Again, the testimony of Williams iu one of his let- 
ters dated July, 1679 (Backus, Hist, of the Baptists, i. 
421), that he was then " near to fourscore years of age," 

VOL. I. 1 


CHAP, ig strongly corroborative of the received opinion that he 
^— . — was born in 1599, and not seven years later, as was Rod- 
A. ' ericus Williams, the Oxonian. In that case he would 
have been only in his 73d year when writing the letter, 
and Avould hardly have described himself as " near 80." 
For these reasons the writer is reluctantly compelled to 
dissent from the conclusions of his early instructor and 
friend, the learned Doctor Elton, on the point of the 
University education of Eoger Williams, and hence like- 
wise as to his being identical with the Roderic Williams 
of Conwyl Cayo. 

The difficulty of this research in England, occasioned 
by there being three persons of the same name there, is 
further continued in this country by the presence of two 
Roger Williams's at the same time in New England, 
which has led the accurate Prince, and all subsequent 
writers, into error with regard to the admission of the 
Roger Williams as a freeman of Massachusetts, until the 
mistake was corrected by the diligence of Mr. Savage, 
the editor of Winthrop's Journal, and late President of 
the Massachusetts Historical Society, than whom no more 
thorough or more liberal historian ever lived. In the 
Massachusetts Colonial Records, i. 79, is a list of '' the 
names of such as desire to be made freemen," among 
whom is Roger Williams. This is under date of October 
19th, 1630, nearly four months before the founder of 
Rhode Island arrived. Most of these, including Roger 
Williams, with many others, took the freemen's oath at 
the next General Court, 18th May, 1631, at which time 
ouf Roger WilUams had been three months in the coun- 
try, but never applied for admission. The freeman was a 
resident of Dorchester at that time, and afterwards re- 
moved to Connecticut. 






While the colonists were legislating for the preserva- chap 

tion of sound morals, by enacting sumptuary and other v ,J^ 

laws to regulate their domestic economy, there arrived a '^^'^'^ 
large accession of emigrants with news confirming the re- 
ports of the contemplated encroachments upon their liber- 
ties by the English hierarchy, which led to the adoption 
of prompt measures, on the part of the Greneral Court, to 
place the country in a posture of defence. Among these 
new comers was one who was destined to cause greater 
disturbance to the Puritan settlements than any that they 
were to receive from the prevalence of " immodest fashions " 
at home, or from the designs of ambitious prelates abroad. 
A woman of great intellectual endowments and of mascu- 
line energy, to whom even her enemies ascribed unusual 
mental powers, styling her " the master-piece of woman's 
wit,"' and describing her as "a gentlewoman of an 
haughty carriage, busy spirit, com})etent wit, and a volu- 
ble tongue," ~ who by a remarkable union of charity, de- 
votion and ability, soon became the leader, not only of her 
own sex, but of a powerful party in the state and church, 
so that her opponents have termed her, by a species of ana- 

' Johnson. "Wonder-working rroviJcncc, B. i, cli. 42. 
" Magnalia, B. vii. cli. 3 § 7, 8. 


CHAP, gramma tic wit," The Nonsuch," was Mrs. Ann Hutchinson, 
^^!^ the founder and champion of the Antinomian " heresy." 
16 34. Acting upon the principle that "the elder women were 
to teach the younger." ' she established a weekly meeting 
at her own house, where she promulgated her views in the 
form of comments upon the sermons of Mr. Cotton. These 
meetings soon became largely attended, and to them was 
traced directly the origin of many opinions which were de- 
nounced by the authorities as heretical and seditious. 

We have seen that the Puritans had already changed 
their position in becoming the founders of a State, and 
were disposed to mete out to all dissenters the same meas- 
ure of persecution which had led to their own emigration. 
The system that they had established w^as one of rigid for- 
malism, exacting a great regard to externals, and enforcing 
strict conformity in matters of abstract belief This was 
a position in accordance with the spirit of the existing 
age, but contrary to that which was about to commence, of 
which the premonitions had already appeared in Massa- 
chusetts as well as in England. The new comers, who 
formed a large proportion of the inhabitants of Boston, had 
little sympathy with the established order of the state, 
and were prompt to embrace the novel tenets that were 
started at variance with the prevailing creed. These oj^in- 
ions related primarily to the doctrine of free grace, or jus- 
tification by faith alone, which was stoutly asserted by 
Mrs. Hutchinson, and maintained by her brother-in-law, 
Wheelwright, minister at Braintree, who had recently 
arrived. Although this cardinal article of the Eeformation 
was equally upheld by the Puritans, they did not overlook 
the external evidence of sanctification, or forget the 
apostles' injunction that " faith without works is dead." 
Mrs. Hutchinson artfully contrived, by giving undue pro- 
minence to the scriptural idea of free grace, to make it 

' Titus, ch. 2, vs. 3-5. 


appear that her opponents denied the sovereign efficacy of chap. 
faith, and grounded their hopes of salvation upon their .^^..^^^ 
good works, and she denounced them as being " under a 1 6 3(5. 
covenant of works," while she claimed for herself to be 
living " under a covenant of grace." The starting point 
of disagreement between the two parties related to the 
evidence of justification. The followers of Mrs. Hutchin- 
son contended for an inward light as the only sure wit- 
ness of divine grace, and without Avliich no degree of mo- 
ral rectitude could give assurance of a saving faith, while 
the legalists held that obedience to the moral law, being 
an evidence of sanctification, was thus far a proof of our ac- 
ceptance with Christ. So long as the difference was con- 
fined to this, it made no disturbance. The new views 
were embraced by a majority of the Boston church, includ- 
ing Mr. Cotton himself, and were warmly espoused by the 
governor, afterwards Sir Henry Vane. The prime doc- 
trines of the Eeformation, justification by faith, and the 
right of private judgment, were too nearly allied to 
these views to admit of their being disputed. The 
message sent to England by Cotton, who favored the 
new opinions, and by Wilson, who opposed them, con- 
tains the substance of the controversy up to this point : 
" That all the strife here was about magnifying the 
grace of God ; the one person seeking to advance the 
grace of God witliin us as to sanctification, and another 
person seeking to advance the grace of God toward us as 
to justification," to which Mr. Wilson added, " That ho 
knew none who did not seek to advance the grace of God 
in both."' Soon however the breach widened. The Hut- 
chinson party, who claimed, theologically speaking, to be 
living " under a covenant of grace," not only denied the 
intrinsic efficacy of good works for the salvation of man, 
but carried this scriptural doctrine so far as to pervert 
its obvious meaning, by rejecting all external proofs of a 

^ Mairnalin, B. vii., c. 3, S 1. 


CHAP, change of heart, as being indications that the convert was 

,^1^ living under a " covenant of works/' 

163 6. The idea of inward revelation was no novelty in the 

history of theology. It is one which in all time has been 
effectively employed by the zealot or the impostor for the 
accomphshment of purposes requiring the incitement of 
religious fervor. It appeals to the imagination of men, and 
in this case, it thoroughly aroused the latent enthusiasm 
of the Puritans. The " opinionists," as they were at first 
called, soon received another name, and from the disregard 
of the divine law, both as an evidence and a means of 
grace, with which they were charged by their opponents, 
were termed Antinomians. The controversy increased un- 
til it reached an alarming height, interfering with the effi- 
cient prosecution of the Pequot war, dividing famihes, and 
threatening a dissolution of society. The more enthusias- 
tic people, a large proportion of the new comers, among 
whom was the governor, and those who cherished a secret 
feeling of dislike at the preponderating influence of the 
clergy in secular affairs, espoused the Antinomian cause, 
while those who were attached to the old order of things 
in church and state, with all the ministers except AVheel- 
wright and Cotton, formed the party of the legalists. "With 
these popular elements on one side, based upon a free system 
of theological enquiry, and conducted by ardent and ta- 
lented leaders, it was a natural result that new and often 
startling opinions were promulgated, and the whole com- 
munity involved in a giddy maze of abstruse speculation. 
Questions pertaining to ''our personal union with the 
Spirit of God," " the insignificancy of sanctification to be 
any evidence of our good estate," " the setting up of imme- 
diate revelation about future events, to be believed as 
equally infallible with the Scriptures," with similar recon- 
dite or fanciful themes, were everywhere discussed with 
more than scholastic zeal, and with " the exquisite rancor 
of theological hatred." 


The first evidence that public attention was directed to chap. 

the new opinions appeared in a visit made by the other luin- .^,,,J^ 

isters of the Bay, while the General Court was in session at l 6-^ 0. 

Boston, to ascertain the truth of the rumors, intendinc^, if . 

. . Oct, 

need were, to write to the Boston church, warning them of 
the dangers of heresy. Cotton and Wheelwright both at- 
tended at this conference and satisfied them all, that on the 
point of sanctification as an evidence of justification, there 
was no difference of opinion, while on the question of the 
indwelling of the person of the Holy Ghost there appeared 
no material disagreement, many of the clergy holding to 
that doctrine in a limited degree, but not to a personal 
union of the believer with the Holy Spirit, which was the 
tenet of Mrs. Hutchinson. Some of her followers, who 
were members of the Boston church now sought to have 
Mr. Wheelwright appointed over it as one of the teachers. 
This was opposed by Ex-Governor Winthrop on the .^q 
ground that the church was already furnished with able 
ministers, and that Wheelwright was known to advocate 
certain doctrines at variance with the received opinions, as 
" that a believer was more than a creature," and " that 
the person of the Holy Ghost and a believer were united."' 
A discussion ensued, in which Deputy Governor Winthrop, 
Cotton, Wheelwright, and Governor Vane, took part, re- 
sulting in the success of the former, so that the church gave 
way that Mr. Wheelright might be called to a new church 
about to be established at Braiutree. The defeated mem- 
bers felt aggrieved at this attack upon their candidate, 31. 
whereupon the next day Winthrop apologized for his 
offence, stating that Wheelwright had since denied hohling 
the opinions charged against him ; and then, not satisfied 
with this recantation, most unwisely proceeded to argue 
from the doctrines which Wheelwright admitted, that he 
must necessarily hold to these objectionable dogmas also. 
It was a question of metaphysical distinction too nice io 
bo debated in a mixed assembly, and it would have been 

' Winthrop 1, 202. 


CHAP, well had Winthrop been satisfied with the expiana- 
.^.^J^ tions of his Christian brother. A similar instance of the 
10 3 6. dangerous display of logical acumen had occurred a year 
before at the trial of Eoger Williams where the dialec- 
tics of Hooker convinced the court that Williams did 
maintain opinions which he expressly denied. The habit 
of deducing from the premises of enthusiastic theologians 
conclusions not admitted by themselves, and then charg- 
ing upon them not only errors of doctrine, but of con- 
duct as the legitimate result of these conclusions, was 
one to which the Puritans were addicted, that caused 
them infinite trouble, and was the occasion of great injus- 
tice to the dissenting parties. In the discussion concern- 
ing the settlement of Wheelwright, the first public exposi- 
tion of the new opinions was made. Heretofore they had 
been confined to Mrs. Hutchinson's private assembly, or 
made the subject of anxious deliberation by the ministers 
alone. The rupture resulting from Winthrop's impru- 
dence on this occasion, revealed how deeply the heterodox 
notions had taken root. Cotton and Vane, with many 
others, had adopted them, while Wilson and Winthrop 
resisted the heretical novelties. A disputation concern- 
ing the nature of the Holy Grhost was held in writing, 
that the peace of the church need not be disturbed there- 
by. The prudent conclusion was agreed to, that as nei- 
ther the Scriptures nor the primitive Fathers made men- 
tion of the " person " of the Holy Ghost, that term 
should not be used. 

At this juncture, an unfortunate incident occurred to 
give a political aspect to existing differences, and added 
the bitterness of partisan feeling to the asperity of religious 
controversy. Grovernor Vane convened the Court of Depu- 
ties to tender his resignation, alleging, in the first place, 
that his private aff'airs required his immediate return to 
England, and then assigning as his reason, the prevalent 
dissensions, which he said were, by some, falsely attributed 



to him. The court silently consented to his departure, and chap. 
decreed a new election. In the interval, some members of ._,_^ 
the church represented to the court that the governor's 16 3 6. 
reasons were not conclusive ; whereupon Vane, acting upon 
this demonstration " as an obedient child to the church," 
declared that " without leave of the church he durst not 
go away " although the court had assented. The result 
was that a great portion of the people declared in favor 
of his continuance in office, and the Court of Election was 
adjourned to meet at its usual time, the following May. 
The vacillating conduct of Vane in this affair has greatly 
prejudiced his reputation. He has been freely charged 
with dissimulation in attempting to extort an expression 
of popular opinion in his favor, by a course more becom- 
ing a demagogue than a Christian statesman. The sequel 
gives the color of plausibility to this severe condemnation. 
Happy had it been for Vane and for the country if he had 
embraced the opportunity, given at his own solicitation by 
the court, to withdraw from New England. His career 
in Massachusetts had thus far been unique and brilliant. 
No other man had ever received such honors at her hands, 
or been more warmly admired by the people. Six months 
after his arrival at Boston he was chosen governor, when -^[.^y 
only twenty-four years of age. His high connections and -^■ 
popular qualities, notwithstanding his extreme youth, and 
inexperience in public affairs, combined to place him at 
once at the head of the State — an injudicious choice, as it 
proved in a few brief months. 

At this court an attempt was made to reconcile the Deo. 
differences in the churches, and the ministers were con- 
voked to give their advice. The governor took a promi- 
nent part, and by some unseasonable remarks drew upon 
himself a rebuke from the fiery Hugh Peter, who openly 
charged him with destroying the peace of the churches. 
The session {issuiucd a polemic character, and closed with 
ii debate upon the nature of sanctification. The peace of 


the churches, as might have been foreseen, was more dis- 
turbed than promoted by this attempt at judicial inter- 
ference. A speech made at this court by Mr. Wilson, 
pastor of the Boston church,^ gave offence to some of the 
members, who demanded a public explanation. To this 
Wilson acceded, and the opportunity was embraced by the 
Governor, and others of his congregation, to assail him with 
bitter reproaches. The excited laity were only restrained 
from passing a direct censure upon their pastor, by the 
firmness of Cotton, who, in lieu of it, " gave him a grave 
exhortation." The people seemed beside themselves with 
indignation during this earnest dispute upon nice points 
of polemic theology, which, probably, very few of them 
could understand.^ The efiect of these public discussions 
was to spread the Antinomian doctrines. Those heretofore 
enumerated were now avowed by nearly the whole Boston 
church, while still wider departures from the orthodox creed 
were secretly entertained, and awaited only the stimulus 
of opposition to be openly declared. The defection of Cot- 

'■ The organization of tlie Puritan cliurclies differed from those of the 
present day. Beside the pastor, there were ruling elders and teaching elders, 
the latter of whose duties did not vary materially from those of the pastor, 
while the ruling elders seem to have had equal jurisdiction with him iu the 
government of the church. Wilson was the pastor. Cotton a teacher of the 
Boston church, heside whom were other teachers at various times, the num- 
ber of these seeming to he decided by the size of the church. Beside these 
two classes of elders, there were deacons also, who assisted the elders. Our 
modern deacons approach to the character of ruling elders, while assistant 
pastors, as -in some large churches now, occupy somewhat the position of the 
teaching elders. There were two ruling elders of the Boston church at this 
time, Oliver and Leverett, both Antinomian iu their feelings, as indeed were 
the entire church a little later, excepting Wilson, the pastor, Wiuthrop, and 
some two or three others. — 1 Win. 212. 

^ The hair-splitting distinctions, enunciated with all the energy of an ora- 
cle, by the disputants on either side of this controversy, remind one of the 
Scotchman's definition of metaphysics — " When twa persons be talkin' t'gither, 
an' fane dinna understan' t'ither, an' t'ither dinna understan' hi'self," while 
the violence with which the factions supported their respective leaders, illus- 
trates the intensity of what an eminent writer has termed " the exquisite 
■ rancor of theological hatred." 


ton was a sore trial to tlie clergy, who drafted a list of six- chap. 
teen points of supposed disagreement, upon wLicli they ._i^ 
desired his opinion. His answers were published, and also l c^ 3 7. 
the ministers' reply to them. The dissensions at home, 
together with the distractions and disasters occurring at 
this period throughout the Christian world, were the occa- 
sion of a general fast in Massachusetts. The unhappy j,^^ 
dispute now assumed a more general character, extending 20. 
beyond the limits of Boston, and disturbing the quiet of 
other churches. The baleful distinction of men under " a 
covenant of works," or under a "covenant of grace," divided 
the whole community. It was at this crisis that the mes- 
sage, before recited, was sent to England by Cotton and 3. 
Wilson, which, however truly it might describe the con- 
troversy in its earlier stages, gave no idea of the party 
virulence that had since prevailed. 

The ensuing session of the General Court presented ^J^^^.^■^^ 
more the character of an ecclesiastical council than of a 9. 
legislative or judicial body. The majority were legalists. 
The proceedings against Wilson, arising out of his speech 
at the preceding court, were investigated, but as it was 
impossible to identify those who had prejudiced him, no 
action was taken, except to j)ass a vote aj)pro%'ing of the 
speech. The clergy were consulted as to the authority 
of the court over the churches, and gave the opinion that 
the court might proceed independently in cases of heresy 
dangerous to the State. This advice they immediately 
followed, by summoning Wheclwriglit to answer for a ser- 
mon preached by him on the recent fast day, wherein as 
they alleged, he had fanned the flame of dissension, instead 
of quenching it, thus perverting the object of the fast, and 
adding contempt of court to the crime of seditious preach- 
ing. The sermon was produced by his accusers, and 
defended by its author. After much debate Wheelwright 
was pronounced guilty of sedition and contempt, but sen- 
tence was deferred until the next court. The o;overnor and 



CHAP, some of his ijarty protested against the judgment, but with- 
,.J^ out effect. The Boston church petitioned in his behalf and ' 
16 3 7. justified his sermon. This act was declared to be pre- 
sumptuous ; the petition was pronoimced to be " a seditious 
libel/' and was indignantly rejected. It subsequently fur- 
nished the pretence for unwarrantable severity. So great 
was the excitement, that it was decided to hold the next 
session of the court at Newtown,' a motion which itself 
produced a violent struggle between the two parties. The 
dispute had now become so warm that the leaders of the 
Boston church, Wilson of course excepted, even refused to 
sanction by their presence the ordination of ministers of the 
opposing faction. 

Such was the temper of the people when the Court of 
Elections was held at Newtown. Party tactics were applied 
■^?;y to defer the election as long as possible. It was the last 
struggle of political power on the part of Vane and his 
friends. The zeal of Wilson, who climbed a tree to ha- 
rangue the assembled multitude, decided the fortunes ot 
the day. The people clamored loudly for immediate elec- 
tion, and the governor was overborne by the tumult. 
Fierce denunciations on either side. had already given place 
to acts of violence, when this timely exertion of the Boston 
pastor no doubt prevented actual bloodshed. The legalists 
triumphed at every point. Winthrop, who for the past year 
had been only deputy governor, was restored to his for- 
mer office of governor, and Vane, with his assistants, Cod- 
dington- and Dummer, were no longer magistrates. Boston 
had deferred the election of deputies until the result of the 
general election was known. The next day Vane and Cod- 
dington, with another of the same party, were returned as 
deputies from Boston. The court refused to receive them 
19. on the plea of informality, but on the following day, the 
same deputies were again chosen, and the court was com- 
pelled to admit them. Wheelwright appeared to receive 

' Now Cambridnre. 



his sentence, but was again respited, the triumphant party chap. 
wishing to give an example of leniency by thus affording .^..^:^ 
him further time for retraction. The prisoner remained 163 7 
firm, inviting sentence of death, but threatening an appeal 
to the Icing in case the court should proceed. This con- 
duct was fatal to the Antinomian cause. Thus far, the 
popular feehng, especially in Boston, had been with the 
liberal party, in opposition to the clergy, and to the old 
order of magistrates. The threat of appeal changed the 
political aspect of the case, and created a revulsion of pub- 
lic feeling. Tlie new comers, equally with the old set- 
tlers, dreaded the interference of England, where the pre- 
latical party was now in the ascendant. This feeling was 
more potent than any domestic difference. The right of 
appeal admitted the English claim to regulate the inter- 
nal affairs of the province, so that the question now ap- 
peared like one of independence against subjection, in 
which the legalists supported the popular side. This 
event hastened the downtall of their opponents, and stimu- 
lated the dominant party to those acts of injustice which 
were now to be consummated. An order of court was 
passed, imposing a penalty upon all persons who shoidd 
harbor any emigrant for more than three weeks without 
leave of the magistrates. This combination of an alien 
law with a passport system was aimed directly at the 
Antinomians, who were expecting accessions from Eng- 
land, and occasioned a great outcry. Social \-isiting was 
interrupted, and personal insults were of frequent occur- July, 
ronce. The arrival of a brother of Mi^. Hutchinson, with 
others of the same party, afforded opportunity for a prac- 
tical appHcation of the new law, and thus inereasoil the 
rancor of taction. 

A pamphlet controversy, respecting Wheelwright's ol>- Auj:. 
noxious sermon, occupied both piuties untO the all-en- '• 
grossing synod assembled at Newtown, which was to heal 
every difference, and to settle the creevl of Now Euiiland. 


CHAP. A list of eighty-two "erroneous opinions" and nine "un- 
,^i^ savory siieeches," supposed to embrace the whole cata- 
16 3 7. logue of prevalent heresies, was presented and condemned,' 
Only five points of difference remained between Cotton and 
Wheelwright on one side, and' the rest of the ministers on 
the other.2 An earnest and protracted effort at reconcili- 
ation upon these metaphysical niceties, at length, through 
the mediurh of ambiguous expressions, wrought the de- 
sired end in the case of Cotton, who, with more perhaps 
of prudence than good faith, "explained, distinguished, 
and prepared to yield." ^ Wheelwright maintained his 
ground, and calmly awaited the penalty of contumacy. 
g j._ The synod, after twenty-four days' labor, dissolved, with 
22. the gratifying result that Cotton, heretofore the great 
leader and theological dictator of the Puritans, after 
having suffered a temporary eclipse, " recovered all his 
12. former splendor among the other stars." ^ A day of 
thanksgiving was appointed for the success of the synod, 
and for the recent defeat of the Pequots. A little later 
it was discovered that, in respect to the former, the result 
had not been decisive. Although the pliant Cotton had 

^ These are duly set forth in T. Welde's pamphlet entitled " A short story 
of the Rise, Reign and Ruin of the Antinomians, Familists and Libei-tines 
that infested the Churches of New England," a very scarce and curious spe- 
cimen of our early polemic literature. The copy which I have read is the 
London edition, 1641. It contains, besides an elaborate preface, G6 quarto 
pages, 20 of which contain the catalogue of errors, with their confutation, 
■ by the synod ; 24 embrace the proceedings of the General Court of Nov. 2d, 
(erroneously printed Oct. 2d in the book.) 1637, which punished the Antino- 
mian leaders, and the remainder are occupied with the trial of Wheelwright in 
the preceding March, with an account of Mrs. Hutchinson's excommunica- 
tion. The whole is a bitter and bigoted ex parte statement by an actor in the 
scenes described, and will only repay a reading by the antiquary or the cu- 
rious theologian. A remarkable instance of "bibliographical disingenuity " 
iu relation to this book is exposed by Mr. Savag: in a lengthy note in 1 Win- 
throp, 298-300. 

" They are enumerated in 1 Winthrop, 285. 

' The expression is Hildreth's. Hist, of U. S., i. 247. 

^ Magnalia, B. vii. c. 3, § 5. 



deserted to the stronger party, Wheelwright and his friends 
were none the less active in disseminating their views. _ _ 

At the next General Court a summary course was 1637. 
adopted, based upon the petition or remonstrance that '2?' 
the Boston church had presented, the preceding March, 
in behalf of Wheelwright, and which had then been 
branded as a "seditious libel" upon the court. ^ Wm. 
Aspinwall and John Coggeshall, both deacons of Boston 
church, and deputies from that town, were dismissed from 
the court ; the one for having signed, and the other for 
defending the remonstrance. One of the two deputies 
elected to fill the vacancies thus created, was immedi- 
ately dismissed for the same cause, and the town properly 
refused to elect another in his place. William Codding- 
ton, the third deputy from Boston, acting under instruc- 
tions, then moved a reversal of the censure against 
Wheelwright, and a repeal of the alien law. This demon- 
stration of the firmness of AVheelwright's friends caused 
the court to summon him the same day to receive sen- 
tence, which, since his conviction in March, had been 
from time to time deferred. He was sentenced to banish- 
ment, and required to leave the jurisdiction within fourteen 
days, upon penalty of imprisonment. John CoggeshaU, 
who a few days before had been expelled from his seat, 
was then summoned, and narrowly escaped the same 
punishment, but was released upon being disfranchised, 
and admonished to keep the peace on pain of banish- 
ment.'^ William Aspinwall was next called to trial for 
the same offence, and sentenced to be disfranchised and 

' This petition is preserved in Welde's " Rise, lieign and Ruin," p. 23-25, 
and is copied by Mr. Savage in 1 Wintlirop, App. E., where the reader will 
iiud it diificult to detect sedition or presumption in its earnest but respectful 
language. It was drawn up by Wm. Aspinwall, afterwards the first Secre- 
tary of R. I. Colony, and signed by about sixty of the principal men in Bos- 
ton, some of whom, banished at tliis court, soon after settled the isl.ind of 
Rhode Island. 

■ He was soon after exiled, and became the first President of R. I. Colonv. 


(JHAP. banislied, but was allowed to remain until spring. Several 
_^ other signers of the petition and chiefs of the Antinomian 
163 Y. party, were in turn brought before the court, and pun- 
15/ ished by disfranchisement and fines, among whom were 
William Balstone ^ and Captain Underbill, who thus re- 
ceived the reward of his distinguished services in the Pe- 
quot war. The male leaders being thus summarily disposed 
of, the author of all this commotion, Mrs. Hutchinson 
herself, was brought into court. Her trial occupied two 
days. It was opened in the form of questions between 
the court and the accused, the object of which was to 
deduce from her own admissions the evidence of her guilt. 
Even the report given by Welde, one of her prosecutors 
and judges, leaves her, at the end of the first day, un- 
scathed by the dialectics of the court. The next morn- 
ing, however, she undertook a defence in a lengthy speech, 
wherein she broached the doctrine of inward revelations, 
enforcing her views by scriptural quotations, and claiming 
in a manner to be herself inspired ; in evidence of which, 
she enumerated sundry revelations that she had received, 
and among them that she should go to New England and 
be persecuted, of which revelation she asserted her present 
trial to be a fulfilment. " The court saw now an inevi- 
table necessity to rid her away ;" ^ sentence of banishment 
was j)ronounced, and she was handed over to the marshal 
to await its execution. 

A most remarkable act, unparalleled in the subse- 
quent history of the American States, concluded the pro- 
ceedings of this memorable court. The principal men 
19. of the proscribed party in all the towns were ordered to 
dehver up their arms and ammunition before the 30th 
of the month, unless they would " acknowledge their sin 
in subscribing the seditious libell," before two magistrates,-'' 

' He was one of the four assistants chosen in 1641 in the ishmd of E. I. 
■■^ Welde, 11. 41. For this and all the foregoing cases tried at the Nov. 
court, 1637, see Welde's Rise, Reign and Ruin, pp. 23-42. 
^ Winthrop, i. 296, note. 



Seventy-five names are enumerated as the objects of this ^i^^'^^'- 
astonishing order, which naturally enough, as the finale to "-^f^ 
so much tyranny, aroused a strong feeling of indignation. 
The governor took an early occasion to justify the conduct 
of the court to the excited congregation with whom he 
was a worshipper. 

The secular arm having been so efficiently exercised to 
purge the state, the ecclesiastical authority was next ex- 
erted to purify the church. Many of the signers of the no- 
torious petition were proceeded with " in a church way " 
by admonition, and when this failed to convince them of 
their sin, excommunication was pronounced against them. 
The more serious errors before alluded to, as being secretly i 6 3 8. 
entertained by the followers of Mrs. Hutchinson, were now 
openly avowed, and gave occasion for earnest consulta- 
tions between the magistrates and elders. A few of the 
most intelligible of these notions were : '• That the law 
is no rule of life to a Christian," that " union to Christ is 
not by faith," that " there is no such thing as inherent 
righteousness," that " the Sabbath is but as other days," 
that " there is no resurrection of the body," and many 
other dogmas, which, however harmless they might appear 
when explained by their propounders, were fraught with 
danger when adopted in their literal significance by the 
multitude, unskilled in ethical subtleties.' Mrs. Hutch- aj^.^,.^]^ 
inson was examined before the church upon these latter 15. 
charges, and gravely admonished by the teacher, Cotton. 
A vain hope was felt that she might recant, for which 
end she was permitted to reside for a few days at Cotton's 
house ; but when the examination was renewed her ob- ^^ 
duracy was manifest, and '^the church with one consent 
cast her out." The virus of Antinomianism had become 

' A list of twenty-nine theses, from wliicli tlio above five examples are se- 

leeted, was presented at the examination of Jlrs. Hutchiusou before the 

church, 15 March, 1638, all of which she ilefendeil. They may be found iu 

Welde's book, pp. 59-61. 

VOL. I — i) 


CHAP, neutralized by its own excess. A warrant to execute the 
^^^^ sentence of banisliment was immediately issued, and the 
16 3 8. arch heretic departed into exile, to meet ere long a dread- 
ful death.' Wheelwright with his family removed to the 
head waters of the Piscataqua, where he commenced the 
settlement of Exeter. ^ The larger portion of the exiles, 
among whom was the husband of Mrs. Hutchinson, had 
already gone forth to seek a refuge in the wilderness. 

Thus ended the Antinomian controversy in Massachu- 
setts — the most bitter strife that has ever agitated New 
England, adding the severity of political conflict to the 
fierceness of doctrinal contention. Now that two centu- 
ries have passed away, and the names of Legalist and An- 
timonian are known only to the student of history, we 
may calmly review the causes and trace the results of this 
stormy episode in Puritan annals. 

The different phases presented in the progress of the 
dispute are accounted for by the changiDg elements, which 
at various periods it involved. Originally it was purely 
of a theological character. Matters of abstract belief, 
upon which all were agreed, in their practical application, 
were discussed in their metaphysical bearing. Terms not 
used in the Scriptures were employed to express shades 
of thought in relation to the sublimest mysteries of the 
inspired volume. The specific purpose for which this 
" barbarous terminology " was first applied, was soon over- 
looked, and the fact that such expressions were merely " of 
human invention" was forgotten in the heat of discussion. 
Thus they came to assume a reality in the minds of the dis- 

^ Iler subsequent history is soon told. Slie went first to Providence, and 
thence to Aquedneck, which had just been purchased by the fugitives of her 
party, and where her husband died in 1642. Soon after this bereavement she 
removed with her family to a spot near Hurl Gate, within the Dutch jurisdiction, 
where in a short time she, and, with the exception of one child, all her house- 
hold, sixteen in number, were murdered by the Indians in 1643 — a tragedy 
which the bigoted Welde narrates, as a special providence upon this " Ameri- 
can Jezebel." 

- Belknap's New Hampshire, i. 37. 



putants, and gave to tlie argument a material instead of 
an abstract significance. The people who listened re- 
ceived the subtile theses of the debaters as the words of 10 3 8 
an oracle, while fanaticism readily embraced the doctrine 
of inward revelation, which was first cautiously insinuated 
and then boldly announced. The spread of dangerous 
heresies was stimulated by the rigid discipline of the 
Puritan churches. The desire for uniformity in creed 
and ceremonial produced a stringency of regulation that 
precluded, even in non-essentials, that latitude which a 
sound discretion would allow. This strictness, however 
congenial to those who ordained it, was offensive to subse- 
quent settlers, whose feelings were thus enlisted, from the 
moment of their arrival, in any movement that promised 
relaxation. Furthermore, the principles of the Reforma- 
tion, with which the new-comers were strongly imbued, 
but which had lost some portion of their hold upon the 
Puritan mind, when the possession of power had diverted 
their application, favored a degree of liberality and toler- 
ance distasteful to the rulers of Massachusetts. The riglit 
of private judgment was merged in the authority of cor- 
porate decrees. The doctrine of justification by faith 
alone, which in the hands of Luther and Calvin, had 
shivered the gorgeous ritual of Rome, seemed, to the 
Antinomians, to be lost in the scrupulous attention paid 
to formal and protracted worship. On the other hand, 
'•' Calvinism run to seed " was an expression used by the 
Legalists to describe the position of their opponents. The 
antagonist elements of human character were here de- 
veloped on the arena of religious strife. In its theologi- 
cal aspect, the Antinomian controversy was the system of 
Geneva, logically pursued, in conflict with the practice of 
Massachusetts — a struggle for freedom of thought and ac- 
tion against the spirit of formalism. 

Politically considered, it presents a phenomenon not 
unusual in the history of the world, but singular enough in 


CHAP, a community so entirely controlled, through, moral means, 
^^' by the clerical profession. It was a demonstration by the 

16 3 8. masses against spiritual domination — a protest of the peo- 
ple in opposition to the clergy. The colony was still a 
close corporation in wliich but a small number of residents 
were admitted to the privileges of freemen. The test 
act ^ was now working its legitimate effect in arousing 
a spirit of hostility to existing institutions, which was 
specially directed against those who were supposed to be 
its authors and most strenuous advocates. A sense of in- 
justice was preparing the minds of the joeople for overt 
resistance to the supremacy of the clergy. The shrewd 
and cautious Cotton maintained their cause until the re- 
action, caused by the indiscretion of Wheelwright, was 
apparent, and the political leader of the faction was dis- 
graced at the general election. When the powerful influ- 
ence of Vane was thus withdrawn. Cotton made good his 
reconciliation with his offended colleagues, and still ap- 
peared as the devoted servant of the people. Up to this 
period the political phase of the controversy was as dis- 
tinctly marked as its theological character. 

There is one other point, somewhat akin to this, 
which should not be overlooked, as it helps to explain the 
position of parties in this obstinate strife. Viewed in its 
social aspect, this was a contest between the new-comers 
and the old settlers. Nearly three thousand passengers 
arrived the same year with Henry Vane, and only one 
hundred and forty-five freemen were added to the colony. ^ 
This disparity, together with what has before been writ- 
ten, will account for the feeling which disturbed even the 
proprieties of social life. 

From these various causes the Antinomian party were, 
at one time, far the most numerous in Boston, recruiting 
its ranks from the most accomplished as well as the most 
liberal of her citizens ; while in other towns it was rapidly 

' Passed May 18, 1631. " Holmes's Annals, 229. 


augmenting its forces, and preparing to iml)ue the exclu- chai-. 

sive spirit of tlie Puritans with more of liberality in feel- ^__ 

ing and practice. 1 G 3 8. 

Thus much for the causes of this celebrated dispute. 
Its results upon the Puritans were exhibited in a gradual 
relaxation from the severity of their political system, de- 
manded by the growing jealousy of the peo^jle at the 
power of their ministers and magistrates. Tliis was slow 
but certain in its operation, so that the union of church 
and state became much less oppressive in the next gene- 
ration. Its farther results, upon the victims of its fury 
who were driven to establish their principles in an inde- 
pendent colony, soon afterwards united by parliamentary 
patent with the Providence Plantations, the progress of 
this history will develop. 

By Clark's narrative it appears that during the pre- l G 3 7. 
ceding autumn many of the Antinomians, for the sake of 
peace, and to enjoy freedom of conscience, had determined 
to remove. The suffocating heat of the past summer in- 
duced them to seek a place at the north, but the severity 
of the ensuing winter compelled them in the spring to 
move farther south. With John Clark and William j 637.8. 
Coddington as their leaders, the exiles designed to estab- 
lish themselves on Long Island or near Delaware Bay, 
and while their vessel was doubling Cape Cod they went 
by land to Providence. Narraganset Bay, which seemed 
the destined refuge for outcasts of every faith, attracted 
the wanderers by its fertile shores and genial climate. 
Roger Williams recommended them to settle at Sowams, 
now called Phebe's Neck, in Barrington, on the main 
land, or on the island of Aquedneck, now Rhode Island. 
He accompanied the exploring party, consisting of Clark 
and two others, to Plymouth, to inquire about Sowams, 
when finding that this was claimed to be within Ply- 
mouth patent, they selected the large and beautiful island 



CHAP, of Aquedneck.' Upon tlieir return to Providence a num- 
^^i^ ber of the principal people formed themselves into a body 
1637-8. politic .by voluntary agreement, as the inhabitants of 
Providence had already done, and chose William Codding- 
ton to be their judge or chief-magistrate. 

Through the powerful influence of Koger Williams, 
who in his account of the affair, modestly divides the 
honor with Sir Henry Vane, negotiations were shortly 
concluded with Canonicus and Miantinomi for the pur- 
chase of the island. As soon as the deed was obtained 

' This name is spelled in several ways, a common tiling with all the In- 
dian names, as Aquetnet, Aquiday, Aquetneck, Aquidueck, Acquettinck, &c., 
but the writer preserves the orthography used in the original Indian deed of 
the island. He also, to avoid confusion, wiU apply to the island colony its 
original name down to the time of the second charter, 1663, when the official 
designation in the first patent, 1643, of " The incorporation of the Providence 
Plantations in Narraganset hay in New England," gave place to the title 
which has ever since been preserved of " Rhode Island and Providence Plan- 
tations," now abbreviated in common use to the name Rhode Island. It was 
not tiU 1644 that the colonists changed the Indian name to " Rhode Island," 
or the " Isle of Rhodes." The derivation of this name has given rise to much 
discussion. By what strange fancy this island was ever suj^posed to resemble 
that of Rhodes, on the coast of Asia Minor, is difficult to imagine, and it is 
equally sti'ange that the tradition that it was named from such resemblance 
should he transmitted or be believed, ixnless, indeed, because it is easier to 
adopt a geographical absurdity than to investigate an historical point. 

Verrazauo, a Florentine navigator in the service of Francis I. of France, 
explored the American coast, and spent more than two weeks in the spring of 
1524 in the spacious harbor upon which Newport now stands. The passage 
in his narrative that has been cited as authority by the advocates of this prev- 
alent mistake, refers to Block Island, which with much more geographical ac- 
curacy than in the case of Rhode Island, may be thought to resemble the 
Mediterranean island. 

The celebrated Dutch navigator Adrian Block, gave his own name, still 
preserved with the omission of the Christian name, to that island which Ver- 
razano had before noticed as resembling the Isle of Rhodes. The name in 
full is found on the Dutch charts of that day. Afterward, like his Italian 
predecessor, he sailed into Narraganset Bay, where he commemorated the 
fiery aspect of the placs, caused by the red clay in some portions of its 
shores, by giving it the name of Roodt Eylandt — the Red Island, and by easy 
transposition, Rhode Island ; and Verrazano's casual notice of the neighboring 
island has been inadvertently transferred to this. 


they commenced a settlement called Pocassetj at the cove cuap. 

on the northeast part of the island, in the town of Ports- ^^-,,-1^ 

mouth. The colony increased rapidly during the sum- 16 3 8. 

mer, so that, in the following spring, a portion of their ' 04. 
number moved to the southwest part of the island, and 

began the settlement of Newport. 16 3 9. 





We have now traced the causes which led to the set- 
tlement of Providence and Aqiiedneck. Before s^^eak- 
ing of the later settlements within what is now the State 
of Khode Island, let us glance at the condition of the 
country at the time when Wm. Blackstone first broke 
the stillness of the primeval forest with the axe of the 
English x^ioneer, on the banks of the stream that now 
bears his name ; when Eoger Williams with his little 
band first crossed the Seekonk, to found a State upon 
principles as novel to his own race as to the swarthy- 
Indians with whom he sought a home ; when John Clark 
and his brave companions peaceably purchased " the Eden 
of America" from its aboriginal lords, and founded a 
Christian colony in the midst of heathen barbarism. 

A fertile soil yielded an ample return for the simj)le 
agriculture of the Indians. Numerous streams, frequented 
by the trout and the salmon, discharged themselves into 
a broad and beautiful bay, whose full extent was yet un- 
known to the sails of commerce, but which was dotted 
with emerald islands, and on its shores were found the de- 
licious shellfish that furnished the favorite food and the 
only money to the rude natives. Forests, the undisturbed 
growth of centuries, overspread the land and sheltered 


alike the bear, the panther, the wolf, the red deer and chap. 
the fox, with their natural master the aboriginal Man. JJ:^ 
Dense swamps fiirniKlied a lurking-place for the serpent, 10 3 8. 
and a safe retreat for the feeble in time of war. Hills 
and rocks, sloping valleys, and verdant plains diversified 
the scene, spread out with all the wildness of nature, and 
over all the Indian roamed, unmindful, as yet, of tliat 
other race which was so soon to supplant his own. 

The principal tribes of southern New England were 
the Massachusetts on the east, the Pokanokets inhabiting 
the Plymouth region, and including among their subordi- 
nate tribes the Wampanoags, who dwelt around Mount 
Hope Bay ; the Narragansets, who inhabited nearly all of 
the present State of Ehode Island, including the islands 
in the bay, Block Island, and the east end of Long Island ; 
and the Pequots, who with the Mohegans, with whom 
they soon became blended, occupied the whole of Con- 
necticut. Westward of these in New York were the sav- 
age tribes of Mohawks, part of the Six Nations, who were 
accused of being cannibals, and were every where dreaded 
for their cruelty. The great tribes were ruled by one or 
more chiefs or sachems, and were divided into many sub- 
ordinate tribes, each with its own petty sachem or saga- 
more. The Narragansets were at one time the most 
numerous and powerful of all the New England tribes. 
Shortly before the landing of the Pilgrims a pestilence, 
by some supposed to have been the small-pox, and by 
others the yellow fever, had swept over the seaboard of [^, "" 
New England and nearly depopulated some of the tribes.' ICIS. 
Prior to this the Narragansets had extended their con- 
quests over all the eastern tribes, and at that time their 
dominion spread from the Pawcatuck Eiver to the Merri- 
mack. The Massachusetts and the Pokanokets paid 
them tribute, as did the Montauk Indians of Long Island. 
Wonumetonomy, Sachem of Aquedneck, confessed the 

' Gookin's Indians of N. England, chap. 2. 


CHAP, sovereignty of the Narragansets. The Niantics around 
^^^.^ Pawcatnck Eiver, whose sachem was Ninnigret, a por- 
1613. tion of the wandering Nipmucks to the north and west, 
and the tribes of Pumham and Soconoco, inhabiting what 
is now Kent County, were all subsidiary to and formed 
a portion of the great Narraganset tribe, whose chief 
sachems were the sage and peaceful Canonicus and his 
high-souled nephew Miantinomi. How long the empire 
of the Narragansets had been established over the other 
subject tribes is unknown. At the time of the arrival of 
the English it had reached its culminating point. That 
they were a proud and martial race is proved by the ex- 
tent of their conquests. These were savage virtues in 
which at one time certainly the Narragansets held pre- 
eminence. The empire which the valor of his predeces- 
sors had acquired, was preserved by the wisdom of Canon- 
icus, until the English emigration gave opportunity to 
the Pokanokets gradually to withdraw their allegiance, 
and seek the dangerous friendship of the colonists. The 
policy of Canonicus was peace, and was pursued so far as 
the warlike spirit of his neighbors would permit. Under 
it the Narragansets became the most commercial and 
civilized of any of the natives, and on this account they 
were taunted by the hostile Pequots. At one time the 
Narragansets could bring over five thousand warriors into 
the field, ^ and one would meet a dozen of their towns in 
the course of twenty miles travel. ^ Their weapons w^ere the 
bow and arrow and club. It was not till intercourse with 
Europeans had made them acquainted with the use of 
metals that hatchets were used, which being placed on 
the end of their clubs formed the dreaded tomahawk that 
has since become the adopted emblem of Indian warfare. 
Two years after the English landed at Plymouth the Nar- 
ragansets sent to them, by way of challenge, a bundle 

■■ Gookin's Indians of New England, chap. 2. 
" Key to the Indian language, chap. 1. 

16 22. 


of arrows tied with a snake skin.' The tomahawk was chap. 
of later date, and the horrible custom among the Indians v^^-«^ 
of scalping their prisoners was taught them by the French, 10 2 2. 
before which time the heads of their victims were taken 
as trophies.'^ 

The natives are described, by one who knew them well, 
as being of two sorts. The better class were sober and 
grave, yet cheerful^ and as ready to begin as to return a 
salute upon meeting the English, while the lower class, of 
whom the more obscure had no names, were more rutle 
and clownish and rarely saluted first, " but upon salutation 
re-salute lovingly." ^ Their mode of doing obeisance to 
an offended sachem was by stroking him upon both his 
shoulders, and using a word which signified " I pray your 
favor." ^ Hospitality and a grateful remembrance of 
kindness, proportionate to their vindictive resentment for 
injuries received, were marked traits of Indian character. 
They freely shared their scanty meals with the passing 
stranger, and extended to him the protection of their 
wigwams, often, with a delicacy that finds no parallel in 
civilized life, sleeping out of doors themselves to allay the 
fears or promote the comfort of their temporary guests. 
Their domestic feelings were very strong. So dearly did 
they hold the tie of brotherhood that it was usual for the 
survivor to pay the debts of a deceased brother, and the 
brother of an escaped murderer was executed in his stead 
as full atonement for the crime. Their fondness for their 
children was carried to an excess that made them unruly 
and disobedient. Orphans were always provided for, and 
beggary was unknown among them. Marriage was publicly 
solemnized by consent of the parents. Fornication was 
not considered criminal in single persons, but adultery was 
severely condemned. The injured party might claim a 

' Wiiislow, in I'riiice, p. 200. 

'' Niles' Hist, of French and Indian Wars, p. 17-t iu 3 M. H. C. v. 6. The 
French learned it from the Huns, ' Key to the Indian language, chap. i. 


CHAP, divorce, and if the woman was false, tlie liusband, in 

III • • 

v^_^-^^ presence of witnesses, might beat the offender without 

1622. resistance on his part, and if death resulted from the 
punishment it was not revenged. Polygamy was toler- 
ated, but among the Narragansets monogamy prevailed. 
Dower was given by the husband to the parents of the 
maid, or if he were poor his friends contributed for him. 
Divorce was permitted, as among the Jews, for other 
causes than adultery. The Indians were very prolific, and 
as usual among savage nations where the women till the 
ground and perform the severest manual labor, the pains 
of childbirth were very light. The proportion of deaths 
in infancy was larger than among the English, from the 
want of proper treatment and ignorance of medicine. In" '^ 
sickness they used such simple remedies as experience 
had taught them, and which their Powwaws, or priests, 
or medicine men, dispensed, accompanied with hideous ] 
singing and howling, in which the rest of the people 
joined, until the patient either recovered or expired. The 
/^^ Powwaws extorted large sums for these services, often to 
■^^-l-s"^ the ruin of their patients. The principal treatment in '^ 
/ use among them was the sweat bath, which was taken in 
/ this manner. A small cave made in the side of a hill near 
some brook, was heated with wood placed over a heap 
of stones in the middle ; when the fire was removed the 
stones still retained great heat. Small parties of Indians 
then stripped themselves and entered the cave, sitting 
around the hot stones for an hour or more, smoking and talk- 
ing, while a profuse perspiration opened every pore, cleans- 
\ ing the skin and often removing the sources of disease. 
Emerging from the cave in this condition they would / 
plunge into the brook, whether in summer or winter, and 
receive no harm from this sudden and violent transition.' . 
When one was taken ill the women of the family black- I 

' Among the Tartar tribes of Siberia and in Lapland the same severe 
treatment is in common nse, particularly for fevers. 


enecl their ftices with soot, and when death ensued all the chap. 
men of the neighborhood adopted the same peculiar style v^-,_l^ 
of mourning, smearing their faces thick with soot, which 162 2. 
was continued for several weeks, or if the deceased was a 
distinguished person, for a whole year. Their visits of 
condolence were not less remarkable than the mode and 
length of their lamentations. They were frequently 
made, and were always accompanied by patting the cheek 
and head of the afflicted parties, and bidding them "be 
of good cheer." Their burial service was still more singu- 
lar. The corpse was wrapt in mats or coats, answering 
to our winding sheets. This was a sacred duty not to be 
performed by a common person, but devolving upon some 
one who was held in high esteem. The body was then 
laid beside the grave and all sat down to bewail their loss 
for some time. The corpse was then placed in the grave, Oct. 
and sometimes some of the personal effects of the de- 
ceased were buried with him. A second lamentation was 
then held over the grave, and upon it was spread the mat 
upon which the person had died and the dish, from which 
he ate. Often too his coat of skin was hung upon a tree 
nearest the grave, and there left to decay, as a sacred 
thing which it would be sacrilege to touch. In the case 
of the death of a prince the ceremonies were yet more 
striking. Canonicus, after the burial of his son, burned 
his own residence with all its contents, of great value, in 
solemn remembrance of the dead, and as a kind of 
luunble expiation to the gods who had thus bereaved 
him. The Indians carefully avoided mentioning the 
name of a deceased person, but employed some circumlo- 
cution when referring to the dead. If a stranger acci- 
dentally spoke the name of such he was checked, and 
whoever wilfully named him was fined. If any man bore 
the name of the dead he immediately changed his name, 
and so far was this idea carried, that between ditVoront 
tribes the naming of their departed Sachems was held as 
a just cause of war. 


CHAP. ^ In religion it is difficnlt to say whether the Indians 
.j!^ were Polytheists or Pantheists. They imagined a God in 
16 22. every locahty and connected with every phenomenon of 
nature. Koger Wilhams obtained the names of thirty- 
seven of their deities, to all of which they prayed in their 
solemn worship. Their great God Cowtantowit lived in 
the southwest, the region of halmy airs. From him came 
their grain and fruits, and to his home sped the souls of 
their virtuous dead to enjoy an eternity of sensual bliss, 
while the spirits of the wicked wandered without rest. 
Here we find the doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul 
entertained by a barbarous race who affirmed that they re- 
ceived it from their ancestors, and whose connection with 
civilized nations had not then been sufficient to account 
for its existence in that way. They were ignorant of 
Revelation, yet here was Plato's great problem solved in 
the American wilderness, and believed by all the aborigi- 
nes of the West. 

What connection subsisted between Cowtantowit and 
their many other Gods does not appear. It is probable 
that their religious system was too vague and undefined 
to admit, even in their own minds, of any fixed relation- 
ship among their deities. But Cowtantowit certainly held 
the placo of a Supreme Being, clothed with all the attri- 
butes of Deity, while the existence and nature of their 
many other Gods argues a species of pantheism which 
minds so clear and thoughtful, unaided by higher knowl- 
edge, yet capable of evolving the idea of the soul's im- 
mortality, might readily adopt. They acknowledged the 
power and agency of their Deity in all things whether 
good or ill. If a child died their God was angry, and 
was entreated to withhold his chastening hand from the 
surviving offspring. If an accident occurred, the wrath 
of God occasioned it ; and so in case of good fortune they 
returned thanks to God for the blessing. In the time of 
disaster, and after a plentiful harvest or successful hunt, 


10 2 2 

or on the occasion of peace or war, they held a great feast chai 
or dance. The Powwaws commenced with an invocation 
to the Gods, in which tlie people joined with violent dan- 
cing and shouting. Always once a year, in the winter, 
they held a great public feast, or thanksgiving, to Cow- 
tantowit, for the fruits of the harvest. Private feasts 
upon particular occasions were frequent, where besides 
feasting the whole company, a great amount of money 
and goods was distributed among the guests, a small sum 
to each one, who as soon as he received the gift went out 
and shouted three times for the health and happiness of 
the donor. 

The Indians were fond of sports and addicted to gam- 
bling, using a kind of dice made of plum stones. Pub- 
lic games were often held in houses from one to two hun- 
dred feet long, erected for the purpose, where many thou- 
sands would meet to dance. Towns would often meet to 
play against other towns with dice, on which occasions 
an arbor or play-house was built of long poles sixteen or 
twenty feet high, from which large amounts of their mo- 
ney, staked on the game, were suspended, and two men 
were chosen out of the rest, in course, to play amid the 
shouting of their abettors. Individuals would often stake 
every thing, their money, houses, clothes, and even them- 
selves, like the ancient Germans, described by Tacitus, in 
this absorbing vice. Football was a favorite summer di- 
version, when they would meet, town against town, to 
contend on some smooth plain or sandy shore, and stake 
large sums on the result. 

Hunting, fowling and fishing were the chief occupa- 
tions of the men, in which they often displayed great 
skill and powers of endurance. They often met in large 
parties to drive the woods for deer. In the autumn they 
took them in traps, of which they had many kinds. In 
fowling they were expert, being excellent marksmen with 
the bow or gun, and skiUed in laying snares for the ducks, 


geese, turkeys and other fowl that abounded on the sea 
and shore. Cormorants which frequented the rocks off 
the coast they would take in great quantities at night 
while these birds were asleep. Blackbirds caused the 
Indians great annoyance by their countless numbers. For 
protection against them the seed was planted quite deep, 
lodges were built in the middle of the cornfields, where 
they staid at sprouting time to frighten away the birds, 
and hawks were tamed and kept about their houses 
as a still greater security from the depredation of the 
smaller birds. Crows, although doing some harm, were 
held in veneration by the Indians, and were rarely killed. 
They had a tradition that a crow first brought to them 
a grain of corn in, one ear, and a bean in the other, from 
the fields of their great Grod Cowtantowit in the south- 
west, and from that seed came all their corn and beans. 
They were very fond of fishing, and would endure much 
hardship in its pursuit. They chiefly used nets made of 
hemp, setting weirs across the rivers and killing the bass 
with their arrows as they became entangled in the meshes. 
The head of the bass was considered a great luxury. 
The sturgeon they caught with a kind of harpoon of their 
own invention, going out in their canoes to attack it, and 
so highly was its flesh esteemed by them that they would 
rarely sell it to the English. 

Their canoes were made from the trunk of the pine, * 
oak, or chestnut tree, burnt out and hewn into shape. 
Ten or twelve days were required to complete one. They 
were of all sizes, carrying from two to forty men, and were 
worked with paddles, or when the wind was fair a blanket 
raised upon a pole was used as a sail. In these canoes 
they would push boldly out on the open sea, sometimes 
in fleets of thirty or forty, and if they met an enemy a 
regular sea fight would ensue. They were such expert 
swimmers that if overset two or three miles from land 
they would reach the shore unharmed. 


The Narragansets were skilled in the manufacture of chai'. 
bracelets, stone pijies and earthen vessels, and were the ..J^ 
principal coiners of wampumi)eage, the established cur- 10 2 2. 
rency of the country, and which continued to be no long 
after the European settlement. This was of two sorts, 
the white called wampum, made from the stem or stock 
of the periwinkle shell, and valued at six for an English 
penny, and the black, made from the shell of the quahawg 
or round clam,* and of twice the value of the white, or 
three for a penny. The dark part or eye of this shell was 
ground to a smooth round surface, polished and drilled, 
ready to be strung,*^ and thus worn as a necklace or brace- 
let, or sewed to bits of cloth and used as a girdle, or car- 
ried as a scarf about the shoulders. The name wampum 
or peage was applied to both sorts. The regalia of their 
Princes was made of these beads, with the different colors 
handsomely blended and curiously wrought in figures. 
The people living on the seashore generally made peage, 
and no license from the Sachem was required to do so. 
A string of three hundred and sixty white beads made a 
fathom, and its ordinary value was five shilHngs sterling. 
A fathom of black was worth two of white. Before the 
extent of the fur trade had reduced the value of beaver 
in England the fathom of wampum was worth ten shil- 
lings, and the Indians could not understand wdiy their 
money, in consequence, would bring only half as much as 
formerly. This currency was used by the Indians for six 
hundred miles in the interior, in trading among them- 
selves, and also with the English, French and Dutch, 
who made it legal tender. This money was often coun- 
terleited, but the Indians were quick to detect the real 
value, requiring an allowance for defective pieces and re- 
jecting the spurious article. Their trade consisted chiefly 
in furs, provisions and their rude manutactures, wherein 
the principle of division of labor was well understood, 

' Venus MevciitoriiU Liuiieus. '^ Morton's Memorial, Ap. p. 388. 

vol,. I — G 


CHAP, some making only bows, some arrows, some dishes, wliile 
.^^J:^ some hunted and others fished, and those on the seashore 
1 <j 2 2. made wampum, collecting the shells in summer to coin 
them in winter. They were shrewd at a bargain and 
would try all markets, taking their wares forty or fifty 
miles or more to secure a good price, and being ever sus- 
picious of attempts to dQceive them it required great pru- 
dence and integrity in dealing with them. They eagerly 
sought European trinkets, mirrors, knives, tools and fire- 
arms. The latter it was forbidden by law to sell to them, 
but through the French and Dutch, and from unprinci- 
pled English they obtained them.^ The habit of beg- 
ging, which in their primitive state wag unknown among 
them, they soon contracted after the English came, and 
were very troublesome in that way. True to the maxim 
that '' flatterers always want something," they would pre- 
face their petition with some adulation of the wealth, the 
wisdom, or the valor of the English. They were fond of 
running in debt, and those who trusted them usually lost 
both their goods and their customer. These habits, to- 
gether with drunkenness and gluttony, to none of which 
were they previously addicted, were acquired by contact 
with Europeans. Still there were many fair and honora- 
ble traders among them who scorned alike to beg or to 

Among their primitive virtues punctuality was promi- 
nent. The exactness with which they kept a promise in- 
volving attention to time was remarkable, and they were 
slow to receive excuses from any who failed in this re- 
spect. They measured time accurately by the sun by 
day and by the moon or stars by night, and divided their 
year into thirteen lunar months. They had an intuitive 
sense of justice, were prompt to award it, and quick to 
retaliate where it was withheld. If a robbery occurred 
between different tribes the offended party demanded jus- 

' This was one of the chief complaints against Morton of Mt. WoUaston. 


tice, and if recompense were refused resort to reprisals chap. 
was had, yet care was taken not to seize more than a just ..^^ 
compensation for the loss sustained. A strict regard to 16 2 2. 
public opinion controlled the- action of their sachems, 
whose authority, although hereditary and absolute, was 
rarely exerted, in important affairs, in opposition to the 
popular will. Punishments, whether capital or only 
corporal, were usually inflicted by the sachem, although 
sometimes, when a public execution might endanger the 
peace of the tribe, the sachem would send one of his 
chief warriors secretly to behead an obnoxious person. 

Their love of news amounted to a passion. Their 
civilized successors do not peruse the teeming columns of 
the daily press with more avidity than the red man wel- 
comed to the council fire or the wigwam the bearer- of 
some novel intelligence. Upon these occasions they 
would all sit round in a circle, two or three deep, each 
man with his pipe, while amid profound silence the news 
was told, or a consultation was held, the orator speaking 
for an hour or more with earnest language and impas- 
sioned gesture. Eloquence was a native gift with these 
rude sons of the forest, and exerted as powerful an influ- 
ence upon their deliberations as ever it did on the Gre- 
cian stage, or in the Eoman forum. Their mode of col- 
lecting an audience, especially when the news was of 
groat importance, such as a declaration of war, was to 
send swift messengers to rouse the country, and at every 
town to which the runner came a fresh messenger was 
sent to the next town, until the last, coming near the 
royal residence, shouted often, every man who heard it 
taking up the shout, and all assembled quickly at the 
council place. The speed of these runners was extraor- 
dinary, owing to constant training at races, and ha\dng 
their limbs anointed from infancy. They have been 
known to run from eighty to a hundred mUes in a sum- 
mer day, and back again in two days. The farm labor 


CHAP, and domestic drudgery was performed entirely by the wo- 
J[^^ men, except on the breaking up of new ground, when the 
16 2 2. whole neighborhood, men and women, would unite in the 
task. The women planted, tilled and harvested the crops 
with little or no aid from the men, dried the corn, beat it 
and prepared it for food. They made all the domestic 
utensils of earthenware, and would carry incredible bur- 

\dens of provisions, mats, and a child besides, on their 
backs.w The tobacco plant alone was cultivated by the 
men. \This they used for the toothache, to which they 
were very subject, and as a stimulant, prizing it as highly 
as do their civilized successors. 

Their staple article of food was Indian corn pounded 
to meal and parched, which they mixed with a little wa- 
ter-. A spoonful of this preparation, with an equal quan- 
tity of water, would suffice for a meal. A small basket 
of it would support a man for many days. It was easily 
taken on long journeys, slung to the back or carried in a 
leathern girdle about the loins. Of the unparched meal 
they made a pottage called " nassaump," whence the En- 
glish name " samp," the same which in New England is 
now called hasty pudding or mush. Chestnuts they dried 
and preserved the year round as a luxury. Acorns also 
were used when there was a scarcity of corn, or for a va- 
riety. They extracted the oil from walnuts and used it 
in cooking and also for anointing their persons. Straw- 
berries were very abundant, and during the season they 
lived almost wholly upon a delicious bread made by bruis- 
ing them in a mortar and mixing them with meal. 
Whortleberries and currants were dried and kept the 
year round ; beaten to powder and mixed with their 
parched meal they made a favorite kind of cake. Sum- 
mer or bush squashes, of which the Indian name was 
askuta-squash, and beans, which next to corn was their 
principal dependence, were much used. The sea and the 
forest supplied them with an abundance of animal food. 


Their venison and other meats were dried in the sun and chap. 
smoked for winter use, as were some varieties of fish. ^^. 
But of all their different sorts of food none were more 16 2 2. 
highly esteemed than clams. In all seasons of the year, 
at low tide, the women dug for them on the sea-shore. 
The natural juices of this shellfish served them in place 
of salt as a seasoning for their broth, their nassaump and 
their bread, while the tenderness and delicacy of the flesh 
have preserved its popularity to this day, amid all the 
culinary devices of an advanced civilization. Whales, 
sometimes sixty feet in length, were often cast up on the 
shores, and being cut in pieces were sent far and near as 
a most palatable present. 

Their wigwams were made with long poles, usually 
set in a circle and drawn nearly together at the upper 
end, leaving a hole at the top to serve the double pur- 
pose of a window and chimney. This part was the work 
of the men. The covering and lining was done by the 
women. The summer houses were covered with birch or 
chestnut bark finely dressed ; the winter ones with thick 
mats woven by the women. The interior was lined with 
mats fancifully embroidered. A house of sixteen feet 
diameter would accommodate two families. Some of the 
houses were oblong, and were designated by the number 
of fires that could be made in them. The entrance was 
closed by a hanging mat, although sometimes a door was 
made of bark. They rarely fastened their wigwams, ex- 
cept when about to leave the town, in which case the last 
one secured it on the inside by a cord and got out at the 
chimney. It was a universal custom, which all the In- 
dians strictly observed, to have small detached houses 
where the women dwelt secluded during the term of their 
monthly sickness, and no male ever entered these wig- 
wams.' Their household furniture consisted of large 

' It is very reuiaikablo that, of all other nations of whom we have any 
knowledge, the Jews aloue held to this singular custom. 



CHAP, hemp sacks, baskets, mats and earthenware, the products 
of female industry. They often removed their houses, in 
summer and winter, and for convenience in hunting, or 
for their agricultural labors, and always when a death oc- 
curred among them. The mats were easily transported, 
so that setting new poles was the only labor attending a 
removal, and a few hours sufficed to accomplish the whole. 
Of their houses erected for public purposes we have al- 
ready written. They were larger and often more loosely 
constructed than their wigwams. The great council 
house of the Narragansets was fifty feet in diameter. 

In personal appearance the Indians were very erect, 
with firm, compact bodies, high cheek bones, hazel eyes, 
straight black hair and light copper-colored complexion. 
They painted their faces, chiefly with a red pigment 
prepared from clay or the bark of the pine tree, the 
women for ornament, and the men, in war, to appear 
more terrible to their enemies. During the period of 
mourning, as before related, they besmeared their faces 
with soot or lampblack, and refrained from j)ainting for 

The Indian languages were remarkably rich and co- 
pious, regular in their inflections, and susceptible of com- 
binations beyond almost any other known tongue. The 
native languages of North America have been reduced to 
four classes : 1, the Karalit, of the Esquimaux ; 2, the 
Delaware, of the East ; 3, the Iroquois, of the West, and 
4, the Eloridian, of the Gulf regions. They were divided 
into numerous dialects, of which those of New England 
were considered as varieties of the Delaware. The lan- 
guage of the Narragansets, to which Eoger Williams' 
Key is devoted, was spoken, with more or less of idiomatic 
variation, over a region of country extending north and 
south from Khode Island about six hundred miles. 

Such was the condition of the aborigines of Ehode 
Island when a new and discordant element was engrafted 


on their social and political system by the advent of the chai'. 
English. Massasoit was the first to recognize the im- ^^ 
portance of this new element, and by formal treaty, to 1621. 
enlist the English upon his side, in throwing off the yoke 22. 
of the iNTarragansets ; a treaty which his tribe preserved 
inviolate for more than half a century, and was only 
ruptured when the fiery spirit of Philip of Pokanoket, the 
younger son of Massasoit, could no longer brook the wrong 
and outrage heaped upon him by the whites. The Nar- 
ragansets viewed with a jealous eye this dangerous alli- 
ance, and threatened the English with hostihties ; but ig2 2. 
the bold attitude of the colonists averted the danger. Jan. 

The Pequots, the ancient enemies of the Narragansets, 
perhaps emboldened by the partial defection of the east- 
ern Indians, and by the fact that Miautinomi, the younger 
sachem of the Narragansets, was in his minority, em- 
braced every opportunity to make war against them. 
Block Island and Montauk fell into their hands, and 
the Pequot conquest was extended ten miles east of 
Pawcatuck river. But a fatal disaster was soon to over- 1 g 3 2. 
whelm the Pequot tribe and to efface their name from off" 
the earth. A number of murders had been committed 
in which it was proved that they had participated, cither 
directly or by affording shelter to tlie perpetrators. One 
Captain Stone and his entire crew of ten men, in a ship 
from Virginia, trading on the Connecticut river, were 
murdered while asleep, and during a few months sue- 1 3 3. 
c ceding the death of Oldham some twenty more were 
tortured and killed on Connecticut river. The murder ^.^?.''" 
of John Oldham was the immediate cause of the Pequot 
war. He was a daring trader with the Indians, and was 
pcrliaps the first Englishman who contemi>lated settling 
in lihode Island. So highly was he esteemed by the In- 
dians that Chibacuwese, afterwards sold to Gov. Win- 
throp and Roger Williams and called Prudence Island, 
was freely oficrod to him as an inducement to establish 


CHAP, himself among them. Oldham, with two English boys 
^J^ and two Narraganset Indians, had been upon a trading 
16 3 6. voyage to the Connecticut river ; on his return, touching 
at Block Island, he was murdered and his companions 
carried off. John Grallup, who was also returning from 
the river in a small vessel, seeing Oldham's boat full of 
Indians near the island, bore up for it. The Indians 
made sail for the main land, but Gallup gallantly pur- 
sued them and, after a sharp contest, boarded the craft, 
driving most of the enemy into the sea. The mangled 
corpse of Oldham was found on board. His companions 
and most of the goods had already been taken away. 
^90"^ The news of this outrage reaching Boston caused great 

excitement. In a few days a deputation, including the 
26. two Indians who were with Oldham, arrived from Canon- 
icus with a letter from Roger Williams to Gov. Vane, 
concerning the tragedy, and soon afterwards the two boys 

were safely returned to their homes, with another letter 

from Mr. Williams, stating that Miantinomi had sent an 

expedition to Block Island to recover the boys and the 
property, and to avenge the murder of Oldham. An 
embassy accompanied by Catshamekin, sachem of the 
Aug. Massachusetts, as interpreter, was sent to Canonicus to 
JO treat with him on the subject of the murder. Upon their 
return they reported " good success in their business," 
and that " they observed in the sachem much state, great 
command over his men, and marvellous wisdom in his 
answers' and in the carriage of the whole treaty, clearing 
himself and his neighbors of the murder, and offering- as- 
sistance for revenge of it, yet uj)on very safe and wary 
conditions." It was proved that some of the Narragan- 
set sachems had been in the plot, but that their chiefs, 
Canonicus and Miantinomi, were not concerned in it. 

An expedition, consisting of ninety volunteers, under 
command of John Endicott, was forthwith equipped to 
demand satisfaction of the Indians. They embarked in 


three pinnaces, with orders to take Block Island, and chap. 

thence to proceed to the Pequot country to secure the ^^, 

murderers of Captain Stone, to obtain indemnity for the 16 3 6. 
crime, and hostages for the future good conduct of the 25. 
Pequots. After a short skirmish they landed on the isl- 
and, where they remained two days, and having burnt 
the wigwams and staved the canoes, they left for the 
Connecticut river. At Saybrook they received a rein- 
forcement of twenty men and sailed for the Pequot har- 
bor, at the mouth of Thames river. Sassacus, the chief 
sachem, was absent at Long Island. A skirmish ensued, 
in which some of the Indians were killed, their town was 
burned, and the next day the wigwams on the opposite 
side of the river were destroyed, and the canoes broken 
up, after which the expedition returned in safety-to Bos- , 
ton without the loss of a man. By this affair the Pequots 14 ' 
had fourteen killed and forty wounded, and were greatly 
exasperated. The policy of this hostile expedition has 
been severely condemned by Lieut. G-ardiner, commander 
of Fort Saybrook, in his history of the war. Had the 
instructions to Endicott limited his powers to the Oldham 
matter, the settlers of Connecticut might not have suf- 
fered so much from the fury of the Indians. The gov- 
ernor of Plymouth remonstrated with the Massachusetts 
authorities for having needlessly provoked a war. 

But the mischief was already done. The Pequots 
were thoroughly roused, and wreaked their vengeance, in 
the ensuing winter, upon the defenceless inhabitants of 
Connecticut. They also sent ambassadors to the Narra- 
gansets, with whom they had been in perpetual enmity, 
offering to bury the hatchet, and proposing a league with 
them and the Mohcgans to effect the utter destruction of 
the English, and thereby to avert the calamity which 
they foresaw must soon annihilate the Indian race. It 
was a perilous hour for New England when the envoys of 
Sassacus opened their negotiations witli the assembled 


CHAP, court of their ancient foe, the wary and thoughtful Ca- 
^^^^ nonicus. Eight was on the side of the Pequots — the right 
16 3 6. to the lordshi^j of the soil, in which the rapid encroach- 
ment of the whites must soon restrict them. National 
existence depended upon a prompt and united effort to 
extirpate the race whose moral superiority was aheady 
asserted in reducing the aboriginal princes of the eastern 
tribes to a state of vassalage. Life, liberty, and the pur- 
suit of happiness, the same considerations which in the 
next century were urged as the inalienable rights of man, 
in the struggle with the mother country, were as clearly 
understood by the Indians, and were no less dear to them 
than to their enemies, while to these arguments there was 
the added bitterness of a conflict of races. Every in- 
ducement that could be brought to bear upon the case 
was skilfully employed by the Pequot emissaries to attain 
their end. The decision was one that involved results 
equally momentous to the Indians and the English, and 
already the truthful eloquence of the Pequots seemed 
about to prevail in the wavering council of the Narragan- 
.Oct ^^ fl^is imminent crisis Eoger Williams appeared 

among them. He was the only man in New England 
who could avert the impending evil. His own life, and 
that of the few who were with him, was secure in the 
love of the Narragansets. Still, though smarting under 
the injuries of recent oppression, he threw himself be- 
tween his own persecutors and their relentless foes. At 
the risk of his life, from the Pequot tomahawks and the 
perils of the way, he sought the wigwam of Canonicus, 
and accomplished, what a high authority has pronounced 
" the most intrepid and most successful achievement of 
the whole war ; an action as perilous in its execution as 
it was fortunate in its issue." ^ At the earnest request 
of the Boston magistrates, now seriously alarmed at the 

' 1 Bancroft, 398. 


aspect of affairs, Williams undertook this dangerous mis- chap. 

sion. His own words can best describe the nature and , ,_„ 

result of liis labors :— l ^ ^ '^■ 

" Upon letters received from the Grovernor and Coun- 
cil at Boston, requesting me to use my utmost and speed- 
iest endeavors to break and hinder the league labored for 
by the Pequots and Mohegans against the English, (ex- 
cusing the not sending of company and supplies by the 
haste of the business,) the Lord helped me immediately 
to put my life into my hand, and scarce acquainting my 
wife, to ship myself alone, in a poor canoe, and to cut 
through a stormy wind, with great seas, every minute in 
hazard of life, to the sachem's house. Three days and 
nights my business forced me to lodge and mix with the 
bloody Pequot ambassadors, whose hands and arms, me- 
thought, reeked with the blood of my countrymen, mur- 
dered and massacred by them on Connecticut river, and 
from whom I could not but nightly look for their bloody 
knives at my own throat also. God wondrously preserved 
me, and helped me to break to pieces the Pequots' nego- 
tiation and design ; and to make and finish, by many trav- 
els and charges, the English league with the Nan-agan- 
sets and Mohegans against the Pequots."' 

' Letter to Maj. Mason. It is a singular fact tliat Wintlirop alone, of all 
the old writers upon this war, makes any mention of the part performed by 
Itoger Williams in averting a fatal catastrophe. Had not the well-laid plan 
of the Pequots been frustrated by the influence of Williams, the result of this 
earliest American war of exterminatiou would, according to all human cal- 
culation, have been reversed. Yet none of the Massachusetts historians, be- 
fore the present day, have had the candor to admit the fact. We can excuse 
the military writers. Mason, Underbill, Vincent and Gardiner, for the omis- 
sion, as they aim chiefly to describe the active hostilities m which themselves 
bore a part ; but that Morton, Hubbard, Johnson, Mather, Hutchinson, and 
others, who give a more or less detailed account of tho negotiations connected 
with the war, should omit all mention of the debt of gratitude they owed to the 
founder of Rhode Island upon that occasion, is somewhat remarkable. Even the 
liberal Prince in his preface to Mason's history simply s-iys, " An agency from 
the Massachusetts colony to the Narragansets happily preserved their staggering 
friendship ; " leaving us to apply the remark either to the deputation scut on 


CHAP. Upon the conclusion of tliis all-important negotiation, 

,J^^ Miantinomi, being sent for by Gov. Vane, went to Boston, 
16 3 6. together with two sons of Canonicus, another sachem, 
21 ■ and nearly twenty attendants. He was received with 
military honors, and the preliminaries of a treaty being 
at once agreed upon, it was formally concluded the next 
22. day, when the Indians were dismissed in the same man- 
ner. It was a treaty of amity, and of alliance, offensive 
and defensive against the Pequots ; and, because the In- 
dians could not perfectly comprehend all the articles, it 
was agreed that a copy should be sent to Mr. Williams, 
who could best interpret it. This management was hon- 
orable alike to Mr. Williams and to the government of 
Massachusetts. It showed the confidence which both the 
contracting parties placed in the good faith of their in- 
terpreter, and it attests the integrity of the Puritans that 
^ they should submit an instrument of such importance to 
April the scrutiny of so strenuous an advocate of Indian rights. 
^- The Pequots, foiled in their attempt, both with the 

Narragansets and the Mohegans, rashly resolved to pros- 
ecute the war unaided. The garrison of Fort Saybrook 
was constantly alarmed by their menaces, Capt. Under- 
bill, with twenty men, was sent to the relief. The massa- 
cre at Weathersfield, where six were killed and seven 
^^/^^ taken prisoners and tortured, followed by another slaugh- 


tlie 8th August, (wliicli Johnson, one of the above-named writers, seems to have 
accompanied, and Williams did not,) or to the later and more dangerous mis- 
sion in October, undertaken by Williams alone, whose name, in either case, is 
not even mentioned. There is a maxim of Rochefoucault, which is verified 
in this instance ; " II n'est pas si dangereuse de faire du mal a la plupart des 
hommes, que de leur faire trop de bien." Gov. Winthrop and some of his 
council, in view of the signal services rendered by Mr. Williams throughout 
the war, moved in the General Court, that he be recalled from banishment 
and honored by some high mark of favor. The silence of the court records 
upon the question is significant. But ample, though tardy, justice has since 
been rendered to the memory of Williams by a son of Massachusetts. The 
elegant historian of the United States has more than atoned for the want of 
magnanimity in his literary predecessors, by the generous spirit displayed iu 
the ninth chapter of his eloquent work. 


ter of nine persons, and the capture of two young girls, chai'. 


decided the infant colony of Connecticut to declare war „ ^j^ 

without delay. Three small towns, Hartford, Windsor 10 3 7 
and Weathersfield, which had been organized scarcely a { 
year, and contained in all much less than two hundred 
men, formed the whole colony of Connecticut. The Pe- 
quots could muster nearly a thousand warriors, and had 
two fortified villages, one on the Mystic river, near the 
sea, and the other but a few miles distant, where Sassa- 
cus, the chief sachem, dwelt. A force of ninety men, 
under Capt. John Mason, was immediately despatched to 
the scene of conflict, accompanied by Uncas, sachem of 
the Mohcgans, with about sixty of his warriors. All 
doubts of the fidelity of these savage allies, who preceded 
the main body to Fort Saybrook, were speedily dispelled. 
The Mohegans vanquished a party of Pequots near the 
fort, and brought in the scalps of the slain as trophies of 
their prowess. From Saybrook, Mason, being reinforced 
by Capt. Underbill, sent home twenty of his troops, while 
the main body sailed for Narraganset bay, designing to 
surprise the Pequots in the rear. The forces reached a 
harbor near Wicldbrd on Saturday, passed the Sabbath 
in religious exercises, were detained two days more on 
board their vessels by a northwest gale, and then after 
two days of severe march across the country, and being 
joined by a strong force of the Narragansets, they en- 
camped on Thursday night near Fort Mystic. 

The Pequots spent their last night in carousal, exult- 
ing over the English, who they supposed, from seeing the 
vessels sail by some days before, had abandoned the at- 
tack. Their songs were distinctly heard at the English 
outposts until midnight. At daybreak the English, in 
two divisions, assaulted the fort. The Indian allies, ex- 
cept Uncas and one other, remained behind through fear of 
their redoubtable foe. The Pequots were buried in pro- 
found slumber. The crash of musketry roused them tn 



CHAP, inevitable doom, as the English, bursting through the 
,J^^ palisade of sticks and brushwood, rushed upon them 
16 3 7. sword in hand. It was the intention to put the garrison 
to the sword and to save the plunder, but this plan was 
changed. The Indians, as fast as they awoke either crept 
under the beds or fled, when Mason gave the terrible or- 
der, " WE MUST BURN THEM," and Seizing a firebrand from 
one of the wigwams applied it to the matted roof. A 
northeast wind was blowing at the time. The fire spread 
with great rapidity, soon involving the whole village in 
conflagration. Some of the Pequots, climbing the pali- 
sades to escape, were shot down by the English ; others 
rushed wildly into the flames and perished by fire ; a few 
boldly charged upon the enemy and fell by the sword. 
The allied Indians were stationed in a circle at a distance 
and killed with their arrows the few, who, fleeing un- 
scathed from their fiery furnace, had escaped the triple 
peril of shot and flame and steel. The massacre was 
complete. One short hour had done the work, and when 
the sun arose, a heap of smouldering ruins, over the man- 
gled and crisping corpses of nearly seven hundred Indians, 
was all that remained of this stronghold of the Pequots. 
Men, women, and children fell alike in this indiscriminate 
and wholesale slaughter. Of the hundreds who an hour 
before were slumbering in fancied security, seven only 
were taken captive and but seven escaped. The loss of 
the English was but two killed and twenty wounded. 

As "they were leaving the ground a party of three hun- 
dred Indians from the other fort advanced to the attack, 
ignorant of the fate of their comrades. Upon reaching 
the spot they gave way to the wildest demonstrations of 
grief, and then rushing down the hill, charged upon the 
retiring English whose ammunition was nearly exhausted, 
A few skirmishers sufiiced to keep them at bay, while the 
English reached the harbor just as their vessels, coming 
round from Narraganset, had entered it. There they met 


Capt. Patric with forty Massachusetts troops. Underhill chap. 
placed the wounded on hoard a vessel and sailed for .^.^J^ 
Connecticut river. The remaining troops marched across 16 3 7. 
the country J. and were " nobly entertained by Lieut. Gard- 27.'^ 
ner with many great guns," upon reaching Fort Saybrook 
the next evening. A day of thanksgiving for this signal J^^J.'^ 
victory was held in all the churches. 

About a month after the battle of Mystic Capt. 
Staugliton with one hundred and twenty men arrived in 
Pequot river to continue the war, and was joined by Ma- 
son with forty men from Connecticut. The remnant of 
the Pequot tribe concealed themselves in swamps or tied 
to the westward. One of their hiding-places was broken 
up and one hundred Indians taken. The men were killed, 
the women and children distributed among the Narragan- 
sets, and sent to Boston as slaves. The troops pursued 
the main body of the fugitives to a swamp near New 
Haven. Surrounding the swamp they held a parley with 
the Indians, resulting in the surrender of the old men, 
women and children, not belonging to the Pequot tribe, juij- 
to the number of two hundred. The warriors resolved to ^'^■ 
fight it out, and some sixty of them succeeded during the 
night in breaking through the English lines, after an ob- 
stinate struggle, and effected their escape. One hundred 
and eighty were taken prisoners. In this fight it is said 
that a few of the Indians had fire-arms, which is the first 
account we have of their use by the natives. 

This encounter virtually closed the war. Sassacus, the 
great sachem, whose name but a few months before had 
been a terror to both whites and Indians in New Eng- 
land, was murdered, with twenty of his men, by the Mo- 
hcgans, to whom he fled for shelter, and a part of his skin with 
a lock of his hair was sent as a welcome present to Bos- 
ton. The Massachusetts troops returned home with only ,"= 
the loss of one man. The Pequots now became a prey to 
their savage foes and were hunted down like wolves, the 


16 38. 


CHAP, allied Indians daily bringing in their heads or hands to the 
^^^" English. A general thanksgiving was observed through- 

163 7. out New England for the successful termination of the 
war. The miserable remnant of the tribe delivered them- 
selves ujD at Hartford on condition that their lives should 
be spared. More than eight hundred had been slain in the 
war, and less than two hundred remained to share the 
fate of captives. These were distributed among the Nar- 
ragansets and Mohegans, with the pledge that they 

Sept. should no more be called Pequots, nor inhabit their na- 
tive country again. ^ To make the annihilation of the race 
yet more complete, their very name was extinguished in 
Connecticut by legislative act. Pequot river was called 
the Thames, Pequot town was named New London. 

Thus perished the race and name of the Pequots. 
The first aboriginal tribe who defied the English power, 
had fallen in the desperate struggle for liberty and life. 
In their fate they were but the precursors of a long line 
of Indian races who were, one after another, to disappear 
as the gathering tide of European civilization swept on- 
ward to the west. In quick succession from the Atlantic 
to the Alleghanies, and thence to the Mississippi, the 
native tribes have melted away ; and westward still, from 
the river to the Kocky Mountains, the fatal tide flows 
swiftly on, driving before it the few whom it does not 
slay. Already it breaks in narrow streams through those 
mountain passes, until the far west is no longer the un- 
disturbed home of the red man. A few years more will 
see the fate of the Pequots repeated on our western 
shores ; the great tragedy of New England will be re- 
acted on the hills of Oregon ; the " notes of the last 
aboriginal death song shall mingle with the murmur of 
the Pacific." 

'■ Trumbull's Hist, of Connecticut, vi. pp. 92, 93, Book 1, ch. v. 





The original companions of Eoger Williams, by his 
own account, wore four in number, William Harris, John 
Smith, Francis Wickes, and a lad whom tradition asserts 
to be Thomas Angel. ^ By a letter from Joshua Verin, 
on the town records, it appears that he also accompanied 
the above named j)ersons to Providence, as he speaks of 
" we six which came first." This apparent discrepancy is 
readily explained. The four persons named by Williams 
probably joined him in his first planting at Seekonk, 
while Verin came later but in season to remove with 
them across the river, and thus to become one of the six 
original settlers of Providence. 

That it was not the intention of Roger Williams, in 
seeking a refuge in the wilderness, to become the founder 
of a State, his own declaration proves. Driven from the 
society of civilized men, who showed little sympathy with 
the enlightened and progressive views that placed him so 

' " My soul's desire was to do the natives good, and to that end to have their 
language, (which I afterwards printed,) and therefore desired not to bo trou- 
bled with English company, yet out of pity I gave leave to William Harris, 
then poor and destitute, to come along in my company. I consented to John 
Smith, miller at Dorchester, (banished, also,) to go with me, and at John 
Smith's desire, to a poor young fellow, Francis Wickcs, as also to a lad of 
Richard Waterman's. Those are all I remember." — li. WilUavis' Ansurr to 
W. Harris hrfore the Court of Commissioners, 17th A'^oi:, 1G77. 


1 3 0. 


CHAP, far in advance of his age, his earnest, toiling spirit, sought 
^J^^ among tlie savages a field of action, and their debased 
16 3 6. condition j)resented a fitting object for his philanthropy. 
Had his only motive been to escape from the vexations of 
a discordant community he would have refused, even 
against the plea of pity, all English companionship, and, 
like Blackstone, ^ who at the quiet retreat of Study Hill, 
had preceded him to Ehode Island, would have found, in 
communion with nature in her solitude, that rest which 
human fellowship denied. But the Supreme Kuler of 
events had ordered otherwise. The missionary spirit 
which led Williams to devote his energies to the good of 
the Indians, gave him that hold upon their affection and 
esteem which enabled him to dwell securely among them, 
and to acquire that ascendency in their councils which 
afterwards made him the averter of war, and the virtual 
protector of New England. The humanity of his disposi- 

' There is a mystery in the life of Wm. Blackstone which probably can 
never be explained. When and how he came to America is unknown. The 
first planters of Massachusetts Bay found him already established, the ear- 
liest English settler on the peninsula of Shawmut, now Boston, wliere he 
planted an orchard, the first in Massachusetts. He was a clergyman of the 
church of England, and no doubt left his native country on account of non- 
conformity, the same reason that led him soon after to seek a home for the 
second time in the wilderness, when he used this memorable expression : " I 
left England to get from under the power of the lord bishops, biit in America 
I am fallen under the power of the lord brethren." At his suggestion the 
larger portion of the colonists of 1630, who had settled at Charlestown, re- 
moved to Boston. In 1631 he sold out his title to Shawmut, each inhabitant 
paying him sixpence, and some of them more, and, purchasing cattle, re- 
moved soon after to a spot named by him " Study Hill," within what is knowai 
as " the Attleboro' Gore," in Plymouth patent, now in the south part of the 
town of Cumberland, R. I., near the banks of the Pawtucket river. He thus 
became the first settler of Rhode Island, if we except the three English re- 
ferred to in Winthrop's Journal, (1, 72) as occiipying a house at Sowamset, 
now Warren, which was attacked by Indians in April, 1632, and as this seems 
to have been but a temporary trading post, such as were frequently set up ir 
the Indian country, and not a pennanent settlement, such as Blackstone's was, 
no other reference being anywhere made to it, the honor here claimed prop- 
erly belongs to the proprietor of Study Hill. At the time of his removal he 
is supposed to have resided at Shawmut about ten years. Lechford says. 


tion prompted liim so far to vary his exclusive design in chap. 
favor of the Indians, out of i)ity to tliose who had like- ^i^^ 
wise suffered persecution in Massachusetts, that, contrary 16 3 6. 
to his own desire, he brought with him a small but reso- 
lute band of immigrants and thereby formed the nucleus 
of a State. These were soon joined by others, but at 
what precise time or in what numbers it is now impos- 
sible to Imow, Many of the records were lost, probably 
ill the burning of the town during Philip's war, and those 
which are still preserved were but imperfectly kept. 1637-8. 

The earliest deed upon record is in the form of a 24° 
memorandum dated the twenty-fourth of March in the 
second year of the plantation. It refers to a sale made 
two years previous, of the lands upon Mooshausick and 
Wanasquatucket rivers, by Canonicus and Miantinomi 
to Koger Williams, confirming the same, and by its 
terms extending the grant on either side so as to include 

" One Master Blackstone, a minister, went from Boston, having lived there 
nine or ten years, because he would not join with the church ; he lives near 
JIastcr Williams, but is far from his opinions," p. 42 — Plalne Dealing, London, 
1G41. He lived peacefully at his new plantation the remainder of his days. 
Here he planted an apple orchard, the first that ever bore fruit in Rhode 
Island. " He had the iirst of that sort called yellow sweetings that were ever 
in the world perhaps, the riclicst and most delicious apple of the whole kind." 
(2 M. H. C. ix. 174.) Many of his trees planted one hundred and thirty years 
before were still in bearing when Gov. Hopldns wrote in 1765, and Mr. New- 
man in his Discourse on 4th July, 1855, before the Blackstone Monument 
A:^sociation, says that as late as 1830 three of these trees were living, and 
two of them bore apples. They were then nearly two centuries old ! He 
frequently came to Providence to preach the Gospel, " and to encourage his 
younger hearers gave them the first apples they ever saw." When no longer 
able to travel on foot he rode on a bull that lie had broken to the saddle. 
Ills wife, Mrs. Sarah Blackstone, died in June, 1G73. His own death oc- 
cuiTcd May 2Gth, 1675, at an advanced age, having resided probably more 
than fifty years in New England. He was spared from Avitnessing the deso- 
lation of his place, and the burning of his house and library by the Indians 
in Philip's war, which broke out a few days after his decease. He left but 
one child, John, for whom guardians were a] pointed by Plymouth govern- 
ment in 1G75. His family is now extinct. An inventory of his estate, taken 
ten days after his death, is contained in 2 M. H. C. x. 172. The name was 
originally spelt Blaxton. 


CHAP, all the land between Pawtucket and Pawtuxet rivers, 
^^„.^ with the grass and meadows upon the latter stream. This 
1637-8. extended grant is made " in consideration of the many 
kindnesses and services he hath continually done for us/' 
and the instrument is signed by the original grantors. 
J A memorandum appended the following year states that 

May this was all again confirmed by Miantinomi, " up the 
^- streams of Pawtucket and Pawtuxet without limits we 
might have for the use of our cattle." By this document 
it appears that the sole title to all the lands vested in 
Koger Williams. When years afterwards a bitter dis- 
pute arose among the settlers, in which the opponents of 
Williams denied his exclusive original title to the lands, 
• he wrote, " they were mine own as truly as any man's 
coat upon his back." Nor was it true, as alleged, that 
the purchase was made by him as agent of the com23any. 
The sources of his ability to treat with the Indians, and 
the reasons of his having any companions at all in his set- 
tlement, as above recited, are sufficient proof, apart from 
his own positive statements, that his assertion upon these 
points is correct. But it was not his intention to secure 
to himself the exclusive advantage which his position 
afibrded him. Soon after the purchase he executed a 
deed giving an equal share with liimself to twelve of his 
companions " and such others as the major part of us 
shall admit into the same fellowship of vote with us," It 
was a simple memorandum, like the first Indian deed, 
without date, and known as the " initial deed," from its 
containing simply the initials of the grantees. These 
were Stukely Westcott, William Arnold, Thomas James, 
Eobert Cole, John Greene, John Throckmorton, William 
Harris, William Carpenter, Thomas Olney, Francis Wes- 
ton, Kichard Waterman, Ezekiel Holyman, who, with 
Eoger Williams, the grantor, form the thirteen original 
proprietors of Providence. 

This remained for more than twenty years the only 


evidence of title imssessedby the town, until Dec., 1661, ciiai'. 
when Mr. Williams executed a more formal conveyance ^^' 
by request of the citizens, and five years later he exe- 16 3 7. 
cuted still another deed, being an exact transcript of the 
" initial deed," except that the names of the grantees 
were given in full, and the instrument was dated the 8th 
of 8th month, 1638, to conform as nearly as possible with 
the time the original was given. The sole object of this 
instrument appears to be to explain the first one as to 
date and names. ' It will be observed that only two of 
the original settlers appear as proprietors by this deed. 
Of the remaining four, two at least were minors, one, Ve- 
rin, had already abandoned the settlement and returned 
to Massachusetts, while the non-appearance of John 
Smith, the miller, as a copartner in the deed, is not easily 
explained. Some of the grantees it is known did not 
leave Massachusetts until 1638. But all of them, the 
six settlers and thirteen proprietors, being seventeen per- , ^ „ -, 
sons, had lots assigned them, together with many others, 
fifty-four in all, in the first division of land which took 
place soon after the " initial deed " was accepted. The 
proprietors divided the lands into two parts, one called Oct. 
" the grand purchase of Providence," the other " the 
Pawtuxet purchase." In the first of these divisions fifty- 
four names appear as the owners of " home lots," as they 
were called, extending from " the town street," now- 
North and South Main streets, eastward to Hope street, 
beside which each person had a six acre lot assigned to 
him in other parts of the purchase, some on the banks of 
the Seekonk, where Roger Williams' out lot was located, 
at Whatcheer, the flirthest north of all, and some on the 
Wanasciuatucket river.'- The division known as the " Paw- 
tuxet purchase," which from the beauty of its meadow 

' See Staple's Annals of Providence, pp. 26, 28, 30, 33, for these deeds. 

* The grantees were prohibited from selling to any but an inhabitant 
without consent of the town, and a penalty was imposed npon such as did 
not improve their grounds. 



CHAP, lands soon beo;an to be settled,^ was the source of Ions: 
IV . . 

and angry contention in the subsequent history of the 

colony, as will hereafter appear.^ 

The government established by these primitive settlers 
of Providence was an anomaly in the history of the world. 
At the outset it was a pure democracy, wliich for the first 
time guarded jealously the rights of conscience by igno- 
ring any power in the body politic to interfere with those 
matters that alone concern man and his Maker. The in- 
1 G 3 7. habitants, " masters of families," incorporated themselves 
into a town and made an order that no man should . be 
molested for his conscience. As yet there was no dele- 
gated power. The little community had not swelled to 
the dimensions that required a division of labor in the 
conduct of pubhc affairs. The people met monthly in 
town meeting, and chose a clerk and treasurer at each 
meeting. It is much to be regretted that the records of 
the town were so loosely kept." An experiment like this, 
which had no precedent to furnish in doubtful cases a cri- 
terion of action, must have often presented questions of 
the deepest importance to the colonists, in the decision of 
which there could be no other guide than their own clear 
minds. Principle, not precedent, formed their only stand- 

' The first settlers of Pawtuxet were "VVm. Arnold, \Vm. Carpenter, Zecli- 
ariah Rhodes and Wm. Harris, who removed from Providence in 1638. 

^ The details of the various divisions of land in the town and vicinity, and 
the localities assigned to individual proprietors, so far as they can now be as- 
certained, are given in Judge Staple's Annals of Providence, and are not re- 
peated here because they belong more preperly to a local history of the town, 
which has already been most diligently prepared in the aforenamed book, 
than to a general history of the State. 

^ The only officer whose election is recorded is Thomas Olney, Treasurer. 
The earliest record is dated 16th of 4th mo., (June,) but without year. It 
provides for a fine upon all persons who may be more than fifteen minutes 
late at town-meeting, and but three other entries are made under that year, 
the last of which, dated 3d of 10th month, is but a repetition of the first mem- 
orandum. The next page is headed " Agi-eements and Orders of the 2d year 
of the Plantation," under which but seven entries are made, all relating to 
grants of land and preservation of timber, and but three have a date affixed. 


ard of judgment. Could the record of their proceedings ciiai-. 
have been preserved, with what interest should we now ^^^^^^ 
peruse the debates of this earliest of modern democracies ! 1 6 3 Y. 
The first written compact that has come down to us is as 
follows : " We whose names are hereunder, desirous to 
inhabit in the town of Providence, do promise to subject 
ourselves in active or passive obedience to all such orders 
or agreements as shall be made for public good of the 
body, in an orderly way, by the major assent of the pres- 
ent inhabitants, masters of families, incorporated together 
into a town fellowship, and such others whom they shall 
admit unto them, only in civil things." It is signed by 
thirteen persons — Kichard Scott, William x Eeynolds, 
John X Field, Chad. Brown, John Warner, George Eick- 
ard, Edward Cope, Thomas x Angell, Thomas x Harris, 
Francis x Wickes, Benedict Arnold, Joshua Winsor, 
William Wickenden. The five with the mark x affixed, 
signed by their mark, but whether through inability to 
write their names, or from some other cause, may be ques- 
tioned, as we know that at that period instruments having 
more than one signature were often thus signed by some 
of the parties who knew how to write. This agreement 
is v/ithout date on the original record. It refers in terms 
to an agreement between the first settlers and to their in- 
corporation into a town fellowship, and is therefore pre- 
sumed to be the agreement of the " second comers " — a 
view strengthened by the fact that it is signed by T. An- 
gell and F. Wickes, who came with R. Williams, but be- 
ing, according to tradition, minors, were not named in 
Mr. Williams' deed, and now, having attained their ma- 
jority, they take this occasion to sign the compact of cit- 
izenshi}). The parties bind themselves " only in civil 
things," thus securing the rights of conscience inviolate 
as their predecessors had done. The difterent and often 
conflicting views of the members of this infant State upon 
the exciting topics which caused their exile, and the un- 


CHAP, tried principles upon which their settlement was made, 
.J^^ would afford a curious example of diversity of thought 
16 3 7. and action converging to the same great end. Unfortu- 
nately our only authorities upon these suhjects are the 
scattered and often biassed statements from the chronicles 
of Massachusetts. The fairest of these annalists has 
preserved a fragment of discussion, so curious as an illus- 
tration of the nature of the difficulties which must have 
been constantly arising in the colony, and of the shrewd, 
practical character of the people in their solution of knotty 
questions, that we transcribe it. " At Providence, also, 
the devil was not idle. For whereas at their first coming 
thither, Mr. Williams and the rest did make an order 
that no man should be molested for his conscience, now 
men's wives, and children, and servants, claiming liberty 
hereby to go to all religious meetings, though never so 
often, or though private, upon the week days ; and be- 
cause one Verin refused to let his wife go to Mr. Wil- 
liams' so often as she was called for, they required to have 
him censured. But there stood up one Arnold, a witty 
man of their own company, and withstood it, telling them 
that, when he consented to that order, he never intended 
it should extend to the breach of any ordinance of God, 
such as the subjection of wives to their husbands, etc., 
and gave divers solid reasons against it. Then one 
Greene replied that if they should restrain their wives, 
etc., all the women in the country would cry out of them, 
etc. Arnold answered him thus : Did you pretend to 
leave the Massachusetts because you would not offend 
God to please men, and would you now break an ordi- 
nance and commandment of God to please women ? 
Some were of opinion that if Verin would not suffer his 
wife to have her liberty, the church should dispose her to 
some other man who would use her better. Arnold told 
them that it was not the woman's desire to go so oft from 
home, but only Mr. Williams' and others. In conclusion, 


when tliey would have censured Verin, Arnold told them chai'. 
that it was against their own order, for Verin did that he __;_ 
did out of conscience ; and their order was that no man 10 3 7. 
should be censured for his conscience." This then is the 
earliest record we have of the struggle between liberty 
and law, the rival elements which Rhode Island was to 
reconcile in the novel experiment of a self-governed State. 
The only entry referring to it upon the town books is in ifaj 
these words : " It was agreed that Joshua Verin, upon " " 
the breach of a covenant for restraining of the libertic of 
conscience, shall be withheld from the libertie of voting 
till he shall declare the contrarie." Here was a case in- 
volving the cardinal principle of the Rhode Island settlers 
with the most delicate subject of family regulation. One 
of greater difficulty could not well be imagined. On the 
sujoposition that Mrs, Verin felt bound in conscience to 
attend the meetings, and did so without detriment to her 
domestic duties, the restraint imposed by her husband was 
a violation of the Rhode Island principle, and as such 
the punishment was correctly administered, although the 
report, as given by Winthrop, doubtless derived from 
Verin himself, naturally gives the' best of the argument 
to the latter. 

About tliis time Mr. Williams, jointly with Gov, Win- Nov. 
throp, purchased of Canonicus the island of Chibaclm- 
weset, which had formerly been oifered by the Indians to 
John Oldham, on condition that he would settle there for 
purposes of trade, which he failed to do. This he named 
Prudence, and two smaller islands adjacent, which he soon 
after purchased, he called Patience and Hope, These 
lands, with other property, he afterwards sold to meet his 
expenses in England when on service for the colony. 
Gov, AVinthrop retained his half of Prudence island, and 
left it in his will to his son Stephen,' 

' 3 M. H C. i. 1G5. Knowles' R, W. 124. Tlie deed of rrudence island 
is dated 10th Nov. R. I, H. C. iii. 'ii). Williams' letter to Gov. Wiuthrop 
on the subject is dated Oct. 28th. 


CHAP. The annals of crime have rarely contained a more 

..^J:^,^^ atrocious murder than was committed near Providence, 
16 3 8. upon the person of an Indian, by four English from Ply- 
^°' mouth in the following summer. The murderers were 
taken at Aquidneck, and Mr. Williams, writing to Gov. 
Winthrop for advice as to where they should be tried, 
gives the particulars of the tragedy.^ One escaped. The 
remaining three were sent to Plymouth, tried and exe- 
cuted. The chief interes^t of the affair at this day relates 
to the question of jurisdiction, and to the diverse reasons 
assigned for having the trial at Plymouth. Williams 
thought they should be tried at Aquidneck, where they 
were taken, and if not they should be sent to Plymouth, 
where they belonged. The Aquidneck settlers desired to 
send them to Providence, where the crime was commit- 
ted, and this certainly was the correct view. Gov. Win- 
throp advised that they be dehvered to Plymouth if sent 
for, otherwise that the ringleader be given up to the In- 
dians, and the other three be detained till further consid- 
eration, and gives as his reasons that there was no English 
jurisdiction where the crime was committed, and no gov- 
ernment at the island where the criminals were arrested.^ 
Plymouth also applied to Massachusetts for advice, and 
the Secretary assigns opposite reasons from those given 
by Gov. Winthrop himself for his advice, and very dif- 
ferent ones from any that could have influenced the 
Aquidneck people in surrendering the prisoners. He says 
the Massachusetts refused to try them because the crime 
was committed within the jurisdiction of Plymouth, and 
that the Ehode Island men having taken them, delivered 
them to Plymouth " on the same grounds."^ 

The birth of Mr. Williams' eldest son, said to be the 
first male child born of English parents in Ehode Island, 
took place in the autumn of this year. He was named 

^ 3 M. H. C. iii. 170-3. ' Wiuthrop's Journal, i. 267. 

^ Morton's Memorial, p. 208. 


Providence. The first English child horn in the colony chap. 
was a female^ in the same year, but a few months pre- ^J^ 
vious to the birth of Providence Williams, l G 3 8. 

The period had now arrived when a church was to be 
organized in the new plantations. That religious services 
had not previously been neglected in their exile, we may 
fairly infer from the character of the people and the ear- 
nest nature of their leader, himself an ordained preacher 
of the Gospel, as also was Thomas James, another of the 
original proprietors. And we know too that Mr. Black- 
stone, also a regular minister, residing within six miles of 
Providence, was in the habit of visiting the settlement 
for this purpose. As the views entertained by the Provi- 
dence colonists differed so widely from those of their Pu- 
ritan brethren in other respects, a similar variance may 
be looked for in their religious belief ; and as they had 
instituted a civil government on principles entirely novel 
in that age, so were they about to establish an ecclesias- 
tical system, approaching, more nearly, as they consider- 
ed, to that of the primitive church, than any then exist- 
ing in the new world. Grov. Winthrop says : " Many of 
Boston and others, who were of Mrs. Hutchinson's judg- 
ment and party, removed to the isle of Aquiday ; and . 
others, who were of the rigid separation, and savored 3.* 
anabaptism, removed to Providence, so as those imvts be- 
gan to be well peopled." Some time between this date j^"^j."(.\'| 
and the following spring, when the account of the bap- in. 
tism of Williams, Holliman and ten others, -is recorded 
by Winthrop, the event then related occurred, which 
places the formation of the first Baptist church in Amer- 
ica probably in the autunm of 1638, and certainly prior 
to the 16th of March, 1639.- 

' These twelve were Roger Williams, Ezekiel ITollimau, WiHiam Arnold, 
William Harris, Stuliely Westcott, John Green, Richard Waterman, Thomas 
James, Robert Cole, William Carpenter, Francis Weston and Thomas Olney. 
— Benedict's History of Baptists, i. 473. 

• An interesting discussion occurred a few years since between the First 


CHAP. The growth of the colony soon rendered a purely 

^' democratic government impracticable. Too onerous for 
16 40. the individual and too feeble for the purposes of the State, 
it was reluctantly and cautiously abandoned. The jeal- 
ousy of delegated power is conspicuous in the instrument 
that authorized it, as well as in the frequent elections by 
which it provided for a choice of the " disposers." The 
necessity of some change was apparent, and a committee 
was appointed by the inhabitants of Providence to con- 
sider certain difficulties that had arisen in regard to a di- 
vision of the lands, to adjust the same, and to report a 
form of future government for the action of the town. 
This report, consisting of twelve articles of agreement, 
■^^"^y was accepted by the people, thirty-nine of whose signa- 
tures are attached to the only copy in existence, certified 
by the town clerk twenty- two years later.' It was but a 
slight departure from the primitive democracy, still it 

Baptist Churches of Providence and Ne-ivport, the latter claiming seniority, 
contrary to received opinions and the records of the Warren Association. A 
report to the Association was made in 1849, stating the grounds of the New- 
port claim. This report was ably refuted by the Kev. Drs. Granger and Cas- 
well and Prof. Gammell, a committee in behalf of the Providence church, 
and their review presented to the Warren Association at its next annual meet- 
ing, Sept. 12th, 1850, and printed in pamphlet form soon after. In Novem- 
ber of the same year. Rev. S. Adlam, pastor of the Newport church, published a 
pamphlet entitled, " The First Baptist Church in Providence Not the oldest of 
the Baptists in America." This is a very ingenious attempt to show, 1st, That 
the present First Baptist Church is not the original church referred to in the 
text, but a seceder from an older church. 2d, That this older church disap- 
peared about 1718, and 3d, That the Newport church is older than either of them. 
The last proposition, at least, proves too much, for Winthrop settles the fact 
of the formation of a Baptist church at Providence prior to 16th March, 1639, 
while the town of Newport was not founded till May 1st, six weeks after- 
ward. Many of the facts relied on to sustain these positions will be found to 
be already answered in the committee's Review, and the additional statements 
are well weighed by Rev. Henry Jackson, D. D., in " Churches in Rhode 
Island," pp. 15-22, 79-85, 95 and 122, 23. Mr. Adlam's pamphlet is a fine 
specimen of historical reasoning, requiring an intimate knowledge of the 
times and subject, and some experience in critical analysis, to detect the er- 
rors in its premises and the consequent fallacy of its conclusions. 
' Staple's Annals, p. 40-3. 


forms an era in our colonial liistory, and for several years chap. 
constituted the town government, ^,J^ 

The first article fixes the bounds between Pawtuxet 10 4 0. 
proprietors and those of Providence. The second pre- 
scribes that five men be appointed by the town to dispose 
of the common lands, and to do the general business of 
the toAvn, but in receiving freemen they are first to notify 
the inhabitants, lest any objections should exist against 
the applicant. If any one felt aggrieved by the action 
of the " disposers," he could appeal to the town meeting. 
A town clerk was to be chosen in addition to these five 
selectmen, and the guaranty of liberty of conscience is • 
again expressly given. The next two articles provide for 
the settlement of all private difficulties by arbitration, 
and empowered the five disposers to appoint arbitrators 
when either of the disputants refuses to do so. The fifth 
requires all the inhabitants to unite in pursuit of any de- 
linquent. The sixth enables any party, aggrieved by the 
acts of any one of the " disposers," to call a town meet- 
ing, in case of an emergency. By the seventh article all 
land conveyances from the town were to be made by the 
five selectmen. The next two articles provide for monthly 
meetings of the selectmen or " disposers," and quarterly 
meetings of the town, at which the former were to render 
their accounts and a new election to be had. The fees of 
the clerk and his term of office, to be 'one year, are the 
subjects of the tenth article. The eleventh quiets all 
prior land titles. The last article levies a tax of thirty 
shillings upon all inhabitants of the town. 

The provisions for elections, and for a revision of the 
acts of the " disposers " at quarterly town meetings, and 
for extra town meetings in the brief intervals, to redress 
any private grievance infiicted by the selectmen, or any 
one of them, are remarkable proofs of the tenacity with 
which the founders of Providence held in their own hands 
the reins of delegated power. The largest liberty of the 


CHAP, citizen, civil as well as religious, consistent witli the exist- 
^^^3^ ence of society, was their cherished object, and one which 
16 40. they protected with the jealousy of men escaped from the 
tyranny of a church and state combination. But the 
element of strength which it was sought to embody in the 
new system was not there. The passions of men were 
not restrained, and the crude ideas of many who sought 
the new colony as a refuge from oppression, were not defi- 
nitely shaped by this new agreement. Latitude of opin- 
ion upon fundamental points of civil government still 
16 41 existed. Theories subversive of all legal restraint were 
• broached, and although the angry discussions which they 
produced resulted in the triumph of social order, they 
gave occasion for the calumny that " at Providence they 
denied all magistracy and churches." The doctrine that 
conscience was to be the sole guide of the individual, in 
civil as well as in religious matters, was held by some who 
did not see clearly the distinction as it existed in the 
mind of Koger Williams. In the neighboring colonies 
these perversions of the idea of soul liberty were magni- 
fied, and the disorder that threatened during the discus- 
sions, which finally ended in the united triumph of reli- 
gious liberty, and social law, w^as misrepresented as the re- 
sult of the established system in the State. Any attempt 
to enforce the laws was attended with danger to the exist- 
ence of the settletnent, so much so, that on several occa- 
sions aid from abroad was solicited to sustain the deci- 
j^^y sions of arbitrators legally appointed, in accordance with 
17 the new form of government. The earliest instance of 
this impolitic action is found in a letter from thirteen of 
the colonists addressed to the Massachusetts, complaining 
of the conduct of Grorton and his partisans, one of whom, 
Francis Weston, had refused to submit to the " arbitra- 
tion of eight men orderly chosen." To enforce their de- 
cree a levy was made on Weston's cattle. A riot ensued, 
in which some blood was spilt and a rescue effected by his 



friends, who then openly declared that a similar result chap. 
should follow any attempt to attach any property of theirs. .^,J^ 
The writers urge the necessity of the case as the reason 16 41. 
for their asking assistance and advice. In reply the gov- 
ernment of Massachusetts dechncd to send aid, because 
they " could not levy any war without a general Court ; " 
and " for counsel, that except they did submit themselves 
to some jurisdiction, either Plymouth, or ours, we had no 
calling or warrant to interpose in their contentions, but if 
they were once subject to any, then they had a calling to 
protect them." How such a submission by any inhabit- 
ants of Khode Island could operate to extend the Massa- 
chusetts charter beyond its prescribed limits, or, if it 
could do so, how any of the people could invite such a 
usurpation we cannot understand. 

A few months after this affair four of the principal 
inhabitants, then resident at Pawtuxet, dissatisfied with 
the conduct of Gorton and his company, who had moved 
to their neighborhood, offered themselves and their lands 
to the government and protection of Massachusetts, and 
were received by the General Court. These were Wil- 
liam Arnold, Eobert Cole, William Carpenter and Bene- 
dict Arnold. The first three were among the original 
purchasers. The last was the son of the first-named. 
They Avere appointed by the General Court as justices of 
the peace.' Thus a foreign jurisdiction was set up in the 
very midst of the infant colony, which greatly increased 
the difficulties of its existence, and continued for sixteen 
years to harass the inhabitants of Providence, and threat- 
en the peace of Rhode Island long after the Parliamen- 
tary charter had secured to the people the right of self- 
government.- The motives of the Court in this act are 

' Mass. Col. Rec. 2, 27. 

^ It was not till 1658 that this unnatural condition of things was tcrnii- 
nated upon the petition oF Wni. Arnold and Wiu. Carpenter in beiialf of thein- 
Eclves and all the inhabitants of Pawtuxet. asking for a full discharge of their 




CHAP, stated by tlie Grovernor to be " partly to secure tbese men 
_^y^ from unjust violence, and partly to draw in tbe rest in 
1 6 42. those parts, either under ourselves or Plymouth, who now 
lived under no government, but grew very offensive, and 
the place was likely to be of use to us, especially if we 
should have occasion of sending out against any Indians 
of Narraganset, and likewise for an outlet into the Nar- 
raganset Bay, and seeing it came without our seeking, and 
would be no charge to us, we thought it not wisdom to 
let it slip." In a few weeks a letter was addressed by 
Massachusetts " to, our neighbors of Providence," inform- 
ing them of this submission of the Pawtuxet men, noti- 
fying them that the Courts were open for the trial of any 
complaints against these men, and accompanied with the 
assurance that equal justice should there be rendered, and 
with the threat that if violence were resorted to against 
them it would be repelled in like manner.^ This official 
demonstration of the grasping policy of Massachusetts 
alarmed the colonists, who naturally preferred their own 
system of arbitration to the decision of Courts in another, 
and as they had good reason to consider, a hostile juris- 
1642-3. diction. Gorton and his companions, who, as the parties 
specially complained of, deemed this letter to be aimed 
directly at them, shortly removed beyond the limits of 
Providence, and purchasing from the Indians lands at 
Shawomet, south of Pawtuxet, commenced the settle- 
ment of "Warwick. But the rest which they sought was 
denied them in their last retreat. The persecution of 
their enemies followed them to the homes which the 
heathen, in pity for their sufferings, had bestowed. A 
dark contrast between the kindness of the savages and 
the cruelty of their civilized brethren, is jjresented in the 
early history of the Warwick settlement. 

submission to the Massachusetts jurisdiction,' which was granted at the May 
session. M. C. R, v. 4, Part i., p. 333. 

^ The letter is published in 2 R. I. II. Col., p. 53, and in Staple's Annals 
of Prov., p. 47. 



The three colonics now existing in Rhode Island were chap. 
independent of each other. They felt the necessity of ,J3^ 
union in case of an Indian war which constantly threat- 16 42 
ened, and perhaps a still greater need of an authorized 
government, which should cause their rights to be re- 
spected by their neighbors. As yet each settlement de- 
pended solely upon the consent of its inhabitants for the 
efficiency of its government, and tliis basis was not recog- 
nized by the Puritan colonies as valid. The only ties 
that bound them together were those of a common dan- 
ger from the Indians, the memory of sufferings endured 
in a common cause, and the peril to their existence as a 
State, which threatened all alike from the ambitious poli- 
cy of the surrounding colonies. To strengthen their po- 
sition at home, to fortify themselves against encroachments 
from abroad, and above all to secure the enjoyment of that 
liberty of conscience for which they had suffered so much 
and were destined to endure stiU more, they sought from 
the British Parliament a charter which should recognize 
their acts of self-government as legal, and invest with the 
sanction of authority the novel experiment they had com- 
menced. The movement was made by the colony at Seju. 
Acqucdneck. Providence united in it, and Roger AVil- 
liams was selected as the agent. Early in the following 
summer he embarked at New York in a Dutch ship for 1043. 
England, being compelled to this course by the refusal of 
Massachusetts to permit him to pass through their limits, 
or to take passage in one of their vessels. He arrived in 
the midst of the civil war. The King had already fled, 
and the Long Parliament ruled the realm of England. 
The administration of the colonies was intrusted to a 
committee, of which tlic Earl of Warwick was chairman, 
with the office and title of " Govcrnor-in-Chicf and Lord 
High Admiral of the Colonies." His efibrts with this * T ' 
committee resulted in obtaining a charter uniting the i643-t 
three Rhode Island colonies, as '* The Incorporation of ' 14. 

VOL. I. — 8 





CHAP. Providence Plantations in the Narraganset Bay in New 
England.'' 1 The arrival of Mr. Williams with this all- 
important document was the occasion of general rejoicing. 
By virtue of an official letter to the Massachusetts, which 
he brought with him/ he landed in Boston, and was al- 
lowed to proceed unmolested to his home. This letter 
17. however failed, in its chief object, to produce a relaxation 
of the stern policy of the Bay towards the founder of the 
" heretical colony." Hubbard, in his History of New 
England, says : " Upon the receipt of the said letter the 
Grovernor and Magistrates of the Massachusetts found, 
upon examination of their hearts, they saw no reason to 
condemn themselves for any former proceedings against 
Mr. Williams ; but for any offices of Christian love and 
duties of humanity, they were very willing to maintain a 
mutual correspondency with him. But as to his danger- 
ous principles of separation, unless he can be brought to 
lay them down, they see no reason why to concede to him, 
or any so persuaded, free liberty of ingress and egress, 
lest any of their peoj^le should be drawn away with his 
erroneous opinions," 

He passed quietly through the unfriendly territory, 
whose people he had already once preserved, and from 

^ With respect to the exact date of this charter there is some difference 
of opinion, evidently caused by the carelessness of transcribers. It is pub- 
lished in the 2d and 4th vols, of R. I. H. Col., dated 17th March. The 3d 
R. I, H. Col., Hazard's State Papars, and 2 M. H. C. vol. 9, print it with the 
date of "14th March. Various writers have followed each of thes3 authori- 
ties. The latter, however, is the correct date, as ably argued by the learned 
and accurate editor of Winthrop's Journal in a note, vol. ii., p. 236, edit. 
1853. The fact that the 17th March 1643-4 fell on Sunday, not a legal day 
of date, is of itself conclusive against that date. The writer, in the course 
of his investigations in the British State Paper Office at London, examined 
the official MS. charter there preserved. It bears date 14th March. This 
positive evidence, aside from the negative proof adduced by Mr. Savage, ap- 
pears to settle the question. The charter was signed on Thursday, 14th 
March, 1643-4. 

- The letter is given in Winthrop, 2, 193 (236.) 


whom he was destined shortly, for the second time, to chap 
avert the horrors of Indian war, and reached Providence ^J^^ 
by the same route that eight years before he had pursued, 10 44. 
a homeless wanderer, dependent on the kindness of the 
red man. His entry was like a triumphal march. Four- 
teen canoes, filled with the exulting population of Provi- 
dence, met him at Seekonk, and escorted him across the 
river, while the air was rent with shouts of welcome. 
How the contrast which a few short years had wrought in 
all around him must have pressed upon his mind, and 
more than aU the feeling that the five companions of his 
exile, and those who had followed them, were now raised, 
by the charter he had brought, from the condition of de- 
spised and persecuted outcasts to the rank of an inde- 
pendent State ! 

D Liring the absence of Mr. Williams an event of great ^ ^ < ., 
importance in its efiect on the welfare of the colonists oc- 
curred. This was the murder of Miantinomi, the faith- 
ful ally of the English and the steadfast friend of Rhode 
Island. A union for mutual assistance, to which we shall 
refer more fuUy in the succeeding chapter, was formed by 
the other New England colonies, and from which the ,, 
Rhode Island settlements were excluded, upon grounds that 19. 
reflect no credit upon the Puritan confederates. The 
prospect of Indian war was the most urgent cause for 
this union, and the exclusion of Rhode Island was a vir- 
tual abandonment of her inhabitants to the chances of 
savage warfare. A war broke out between Uncas, sachem -,. , 
of the Mohcgans, and Sequasson, a sachem on the Con- 
necticut river, who was an ally of Miantinomi. Both 
parties appealed to the English, who declared their inten- 
tion to remain neutral. Miantinomi espoused the cause 
of his ally against Uncas, his hereditary foe, and applied 
to the Grovernor of Massachusetts, " to know if he would 
be oficndcd if ho made war upon Uncas ? " The Gov- 
ernor replied, " If Uncas had done him or his friends 


CHAP, wrong and would not give satisfaction, we should leave 
,J3^ him to take his own course." That the high spirited sa- 
16 43. chem of the Narragansets should have thus asked leave, 
as it were, to exercise the right of a sovereign Prince 
against his enemies, is explained by the existence of a 
treaty formed six years before, when he aided the English 
to crush, the Pequots. The whole career of this haughty 
chieftain, in his intercourse with the English, displays the 
nicest sentiment of bonor, blended with a proper regard 
for his own dignity and absolute sovereignty. He re- 
garded every article of the treaty he had made as binding 
to the last hour of his life, not only in its terms but in 
its spirit, and expected, though unfortunately, and as it 
proved fatally to himself, to receive from his civiKzed al- 
lies an equally honorable conduct. He had been repeat- 
edly the guest of the authorities at Boston, and his de- 
portment on those occasions, as well as in his own domin- 
ions, when receiving embassies from the English, was such 
as to win the confidence and command the admiration of 
16 42. those with whom he negotiated. But of late suspicions 
^o" had been excited in the mind of the General Court, by 
intelligence from Connecticut, spread, as it appears, by 
the intrigues of the Mohegans.^ At a summons from the 
Sept. Court Miantinomi promptly attended, and vindicated his 
innocence, demanding to be confronted with his accusers, 
and charging Uncas as the author of the calumny. The 
Court were satisfied and Miantinomi was honorably dis- 
missed. A fatal act of kindness soon afterward performed 
by him, in selling Shawomet to the arch heretic Grorton, 
seems to have incHned the Massachusetts more readily to 
entertain suspicions of their high-souled ally, and to have 
had no little weight in causing his death. However this 
jg^g may be, the leading events are well known. Uncas at- 
July. tacked Sequasson. Miantinomi took the field with one 
thousand warriors, and was defeated in a bloody action. 

- An account of this plot is given in 3 M. H. C, 3, 161-4. 

' The particulars of this atrocious sacrifice are giveu by Trumbull, Hist. 
of Conn., i. 135. A justly severe criticism ou the authors of the outrage is 
penned by Mr. Savage in a note on pp. 158-lGl, vol. ii., edit. 1853, of Win- 
throp's Journal. The scathing remarks of the editor, honorable alike to him- 
self and to humanity, come with a better grace from a Massachusetts man 
than any comments from a son of Rhode Island could do — who will find 
enough beside to denounce in the conduct of the Puritans towards his State, 
although nothing more needlessly cruel than the clerico-judicial murder here 



By the treachery of two of his captains he was delivered chap. 
up to Uncas. An effort to obtain his ransom was made ,J^. 
by his subjects, and also by Gorton. Upon this Uncas 16 4 3. 
carried him to Hartford, where at his own entreaty he ' ' ' 
was left as a prisoner in the hands of the English, tiU the 
Commissioners of the United Colonies met at Boston. 

By them his fate was decided. They ^' were aU of 
opinion that it would not be safe to set him at liberty, 
neither had we sufficient ground for us to put him to 
death. In tliis difficulty we called in five of the most ju- 
dicious elders, and propounding the case to them, they all 
agreed that he ought to be put to death ; and we agreed 
that, upon the return of the commissioners to Hartford, 
they should send for Uncas and teU him our determina- 
tion, that Miantinomi should be delivered to him again, 
and he should put him to death so soon as he came within 
his own jurisdiction, and that two English should go 
along with him to see the execution, and that if any In- 
dians should invade him for it, we would send men to de- 
fend him." The sentence was executed in its spirit and 
letter by the savage Uncas.' Thus fell the most power- 
ful of the native princes, and the most faithful and hon- 
orable ally with whom the English had ever dealt. Un- 
skilled in theological subtleties, he received all alike, with 
a noble charity which might be called Christian, did it 
not contrast so strangely witli the cruelty towards their 
brethren, of those who claimed the name and asserted the 
prerogative of the " Saints." Perhaps it was the igno- 



CHAP, ranee of this barbarian upon points of abstract belief 
,.J3^ ^^^^ made him so liberal a protector of " heresy." To 
1643. him and to his uncle, the sage Canonicus, who survived 
him four years, Ehode Island owes more than to all oth- 
ers, Christian or heathen, for the preservation of the lives 
of her founders. The immediate executioner of this re- 
morseless edict was rewarded for his fidelity. His abet- 
tors had reason afterwards to deplore their impolitic 

While these events were taking place in the colonies, 
a yet more dangerous influence was at work in England 
to foil the efforts of Williams at obtaining the charter 
that was to establish the independence of Khode Island. 
The Massachusetts government were attempting to an- 
nex, by a similar patent, the whole soil of Khode Island 
to their jurisdiction, and thereby to legalize their acts of 
^^^- usurpation. The effort was so far successful that a char- 
ter was actually obtained from the Colonial Committee, 
adding to the patent of Massachusetts the whole of what 
is now the State of Ehode Island, and expressly including 
the Narraganset country, three months before the Ehode 
Island charter was granted. The reasons assigned for this 
act in the body of the instrument are the excessive charges 
to which the Massachusetts planters had been subjected 
in founding their colony, its rapid growth, requiring an 
expansion of its territory, and the desire to Christianize 
the natives. By what means this patent was obtained, or 
how, so soon afterwards, the same territory was erected 
into an independent government, and no reference made 
to the previous ^rant to Massachusetts, although the 
boundaries are described in precisely the same language 
in the two documents, or yet why no allusion is made to 
it on the records of Massachusetts, for more than twenty 
months after it was granted, are points which cannot now 
be determined. It is worthy of remark that the Narra- 
ganset patent, as it was termed, provides a reservation of 



all lands previously granted, " and in present possession chap. 
held and enjoyed by any of His Majesty's Protestant sub- _i^ 
jects," while the Providence charter, dated three months 
later, contains no such proviso. In the Narraganset j)a- 
tent this proviso, so far as relates to lands "' heretofore 
lawfully granted," is mere surplusage, no grants ever hav- 
ing been made within- the described territory by the Brit- 
ish government, unless intended to secure the grantees 
under the original Plymouth company, who, as before 
stated, when about to throw up their charter, had made 
extensive sales within what they claimed as their pro- 
priety, among which was one to the Marquis of Hamil- 
ton, of the tract from Narraganset Bay to Connecticut 
river, including all the Narraganset country. But if this 
was the intention of the proviso, why was it not also em- 
bodied in the Providence charter ? The reservation has 
an important bearing, however, in its relation to those in 
actual possession, and could we disconnect the two por- 
tions of this clause of the proviso, it would explain much 
that now appears difficult ; for it would show that it was 
not the intention of the Colonial Committee to extend 
the Massachusetts authority over those who were ac- 
tual residents prior to the tenth of December, but only 
that the natural increase of the Massachusetts population, 
spreading into the granted territory, might carry with 
them the protection of their own laws. The omission of 
the proviso in the Providence charter strengthens this 
view. Mr. Williams had no doubt represented the actual 
relations between the Khode Island settlers and their 
neighbors, and his charter, being absolute and without 
reserve, intentionally cancelled that of December previous. 
The protracted silence of the Massachusetts government 
seems likewise to favor this view. The first notice that 
appears of the existence of this document, is found in a 
letter addressed to Mr. WiUiams at Providence, by order 
of the council, informing him that they had " lately " re- 



CHAP, ceived this charter from England, warning him and oth- 
.^i^ ers not to exercise jurisdiction there, or, otherwise, to ex- 
1645. hibit their authority for so doing at the General Court, 
and temporarily remitting, for that specific purpose, the 
decree of banishment.' It is not the least of the misfor- 
tunes resulting from the destruction of the Providence 
records in Philip's war, that we are ignorant what reply 
was made to this arrogant missive. 

Although the purchase of Providence from the Narra- 
ganset sachems was considered by the contracting parties 
as complete, the settlers were careful to conciHate the 
good-will of the Indians residing within their limits, or 
who claimed any sort of interest in the lands. Those 
who had built wigwams or tilled the soil, received gratui- 
ties in addition to what had been paid to the sachems, 
and even the claim to sovereignty over a part of the land, 
asserted by Massasoit, sachem of the Wampanoags, a tribe 
subordinate to the Narragansets, several years after the 
16 4 6 pi^i^chase, although unfounded, was virtually admitted, 
and compensation made to him by the colonists. The 
claim embraced portions of what is now Smithfield, but 
it is doubtful whether the rights of the Wampanoags 
ever extended west of the Seekonk river. A committee, 
of which Koger Williams was the head, visited the sa- 
^ chem to treat for this pretended claim. The report of 
10. their negotiation presents a curious picture of Indian 
shrewdness and importunity. Many years elapsed before 
the last Indian titles were extinguished. Confirmatory 
deeds from the successors of the first grantors were taken, 
every new deed requiring some further gratuity. 

In their sales to each other the colonists pursued a 
plan which, however ill-adapted it might be to our pres- 
ent modes of doing business, had the advantages of brevity 
and publicity in a striking degree, and perhaps better pre- 

' The letter is printed in R. I. Col. Rec, i., 133, and in Mass. Col. Kec, 
iii,, 49. 


eluded the possibility of fraud tlian any methods that have chap. 
since been adopted. The records for many years contain ^J.^^ 
simply the date of the transfer, the names of the grantor 164 6. 
and grantee, and the location and bounds of the land, A 
dozen lines suffice to contain the whole transaction. No 
consideration is named, and no verbose reiteration of con- 
veyance amplify the deed to the tedious length of modem 
instruments. These transfers were made, or acknowl- 
edged, in open town meeting, and if the town approved 
the sale they voted to record the deed, which made the 
conveyance valid, but if they disapproved the whole was 

The population of the colony rapidly increased; a 
natural effect of the broad system of rehgious freedom es- 
tablished by its founder, which made it the refuge of 
many who differed from the state creed of its neighbors. 
President Styles, in his diary, says that at this time there 
were in Providence and its vicinity one hundred and one 
men fit to bear arms. This corresponds precisely to the 
whole number of proprietors of house lots, in the last 
division of the lands made seventy-three years later. But 
besides the original purchasers, and those who were ad- 
mitted by them to an equal share in the franchise, many 
were received as townsmen who had no interest in the 
lauds, and others were admitted as twenty-five acre or 
quarter-riglit purchasers, who in all subdivisions of land l'j^^-6- 
received one-quarter as much as a full proprietor. The 19.' 
terms of admission to the propriety varied very much at 
different times. The latest agreement upon the records 
is signed by twenty-eight quarter-right proprietors, who, 
having received a free grant of twenty-five acres each and 
a proportionate right of common, promise to obey the 
liuvs, and not to claim any riglit to the purchase, nor any 
privilege of vote, until they shall be received as freemen 
of the town,' 

' Staple's Annals, GO. 


CHAP. With SO tlirifty a growth and with a similar increase 

,J3-^ ill ^1^6 other settlements, it is difficult to understand why 
164 6. a united government. was not organized immediately upon 
receipt of the charter from England. Yet more than two 
and a half years elapsed before this event occurred. The 
patent prescribed no form of government, nor any mode 
of organization. All was left to the people, with the full- 
est powers to adopt and act under it as they pleased. It 
was a task as delicate and difficult as it was imperative 
to consolidate the towns. A spirit of compromise and 
mutual concession was requisite for the work. Although 
the same causes had led to these settlements, they were 
independent of each other in every respect, managing 
their affairs in their own town meetings, and conducting 
for themselves, as best they could, their disputes with the 
Puritan colonies. This very independence must have 
presented obstacles, which local or personal jealousies 
would enhance. The distracted condition of the mother 
country extended in some measure to the colonies, where 
parties for the King and for the Parliament existed, al- 
though with less violence than in England, and both par- 
ties would fear the effect upon their charter liberties, in 
case of the victory of either. These reasons may account 
for the delay which otherwise would appear inexplicable. 
The news of the Narraganset patent doubtless had an 
immediate influence in hastening the consolidation so es- 
sential to their preservation and to the maintenance of 
16 47. their cherished principles. At length all obstacles were 
so far removed that the four towns. Providence, Ports- 
mouth, Newport and Warwick appointed committees to 
meet at Portsmouth on the eighteenth of May.^ A town 
meeting was held in Providence, at which Koger Williams 
May presided, and a committee of ten men were chosen for 
this purpose.^ The committee received full power to act 

^ It appears by the records that the Assembly was held on the 19th, 20th 
and 21st. 

' These were Gregory Dexter, William Wickenden, Thomas Olney, Eob- 



for the town in arranging the General Court, in choosing chap. 
general officers, and, in case the Court should consist of ..^_,J^ 
less than ten from each town, to select from themselves 1 C 4 7. 
this lesser number, to whom the same powers are given. 
They were instructed to obtain a copy of the charter, to 
signify their submission to the terms of the charter, and 
to such laws as might be adopted under it, to secure for 
the town the right to manage its own affairs, trials of 
causes and executions, except such as might be reserved 
for general trials, and to elect its own officers, and to see 
that the powers of general and local officers were clearly 
defined, to provide for appeals of causes to the General 
Court, and, in case charters of incorporation were given 
to the towns for the conduct of their local business, to 
procure one for Providence suited to promote the general 
peace or union of the colony, and securing the equal 
rights of the town in general affairs. The instructions 
close by wishing them " a comfortable voyage, a happy 
success and a safe return." Thus commissioned, the com- 
mittee, accompanied probably by a large proportion of the 
population of the town, embarked in canoes on their 
perilous " voyage." The result of their labors opens a 
new chapter in our Work, and commences the liistory of 
" The Incorporation of Providence Plantations in Narra- 
ganset Bay in New England." 

ert Williams, Richard Waterman, Roger Williams, William Field, John 
Green, John Smith and John Lippitt. 




CHAP. The civil compact formed at Providence and signed 
..^-,1^ by nineteen ^ of the Aquedneck settlers was as foUows : 

mS " "^^^ *^*^ ^^^ °^ *^® ^^^* montt, 1638. We whose names 
7. are underwritten do here solemnly, in the presence of 
Jehovah, incorporate ourselves into a Bodie Politick, and 
as he shaU help, will submit our persons, lives and estates 
unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and Lord 
of Lords, and to all those perfect and most absolute laws 
of his given us in his holy word of truth, to be guided 
and judged thereby. — Esod. xxiv., 3, 4 ; 2 Chron. xi., 3 ; 
2 Kings xi., 17." 

The account of the purchase of the island, through 
the joint influence of Koger Williams and Sir Henry 
Vane, with the Narraganset sachems, has already been 
given. The Indian name of the place where the settle- 
ment was commenced, on the northeast part of the island, 

^ These were Wm. Coddington, John Clarke, Wm. Hutchinson, John 
Coggeshall, Wm. Aspinwall, Samuel Wilbore, John Porter, John Sanford, 
Ed. Hutchinson, jr., Thomas Savage, Wm. Dyre, Wm. Freeborne, Philip 
Shearman, John WaUcer, Richard Carder, Wm. Baulstone, Ed. Hutchinson, 

sen., Henry Bull, Randall Holden. Holden's name is separated from 

the others by a line. He is believed to be the one not concerned in the pur- 
chase, as his name and that of Roger Williams are signed as witnesses to the 
deed. There were eighteen original proprietors and nineteen signers of the 
compact. See BuU's Memoirs of Rhode Island in R. I. Republican, 1832, 
AprU 17. 



was Pocasset, and was retained for some time by the set- chap. 
tiers, until changed to Portsmouth. This name was ._!^ 
equally applied by the Indians to the opposite shore on 1637-8. 
the main land, and probably was the name of the narrow 
strait between them, across which a ferry, now known as 
Howland's ferry, was soon after established. The consid- 
eration paid for the fee of Aquedneck, and for the grass 
on the other islands, was forty fathoms of white peage, 
besides which ten coats and twenty hoes were given to 
the resident Indians to vacate the lands, and five fathoms 
of wampum to the local sachem. The purchasers adopted 
the same policy as those of Providence towards the In- 
dians, giving gratuities to all who claimed any interest in 
the lands. Some of the purchasers expressing dissatis- 
faction that the title stood in the name of William Cod- 
dington, in 1652 he executed a joint deed to them, as Mr. 
Williams had done for the same reason in Providence. 

Callender says that the Aquedneck settlers " were Pu- 
ritans of the highest form," and we know that their op- 
ponents in Massachusetts called the Autinomian doctrines 
" Calvinism run to seed." The peculiar phraseology of 
their civil compact verifies the remark of CaUender. So 
prominent indeed is the religious character of this instru- 
ment that it has by some been considered, although erro- 
neously, as being itself " a church covenant, which also 
embodied a civil compact.'" Their plans were more ma- 
tured at the outset than those of the Providence settlers. 
To establish a colony independent of every other was their 
avowed intention, and the organization of a regular gov- 
ernment was their initial step. That their object was to 
lay the foundation of a Christian State, where aU who 
bore the name might worship God according to the dic- 
tates of conscience, untrammelled by written articles of 
faith, and unawed by the civil power, is proved by their 
declarations and by their subsequent conduct. The dif- 

^ Minutes of the Warrea Baptist Association, 1849. 



CHAP, ference between the Aquedneck settlers and tlie followers 
of Eoger Williams upon this point was, that the latter 
did not confine his principles of toleration to men profess- 
ing Christianity, but allowed room for those of every faith, 
Jew or Gentile, Christian or Pagan. The views of Clarke 
and Coddington were very far in advance of the age, too 
far for the peace of the colony in its intercourse with the 
neighboring provinces. The doctrine of " soul liberty," 
as established by Williams, went still farther, carrying his 
premises to their logical conclusion, and has come to be 
the recognized doctrine of the present age on this conti- 
nent. The distinction between the two, although having 
no practical effect at that time, is important to be borne 
in mind, for it will explain some points in the later his- 
tory of the State which might otherwise appear inconsist- 
ent. The Aquedneck settlements for many years in- 
creasd more rapidly than those on the main land. The 
accessions appear to have been, for the most part, from a 
superior class in point of education and social standing, 
which for more than a century secured to them a control- 
ling influence in the colony. Many of the leading men 
were more imbued with the Puritan spirit, acquired by 
their longer residence in Massachusetts, which sympa- 
thized somewhat more with the law than with the liberty 
element in the embryo State. ^ The evidence of this is 
frequent, and its existence was very early displayed. It 
is foreshadowed in the language of the compact, and in a 
few years was realized in action. It had its advantages, 
however, and the chief of these were that it enabled the 
people at once to organize a government, and strengthened 
them to preserve it better than those of Providence, while 
it also was a means of securing and extending their influ- 
ence over the other settlements, who looked up to them 
in many things, and received from them their first code 

' Judge Durfee's discourse before the E. I. Hist. Soc, January, 1847, pp. 
15, 16. 


of laws. But we are anticipating events in commenting chap. 
upon principles. "'v'^ 

Of the nineteen signers of the compact, William 1G37-8. 
Hutchinson died on the island, the other two Hutchin- 
sons, Savage and Aspinwall, afterward returned to Massa- 
chusetts, were well received and promoted to office there. 
All of them, except Coddington and Holden, had been 
disarmed in the famous act of November previous, but 
the shafts of party malice still followed them in their re- 
treat, and five days after the compact was signed Wm. MarcL 
Coddington and ten of his companions, with their fami- 
lies, were formally banished by the General Court.' This 
event had no influence on their plans. Their government 
was already organized at a full meeting of the signers, at 
which Wm. Aspinwall was chosen Secretary, and Wm. '^• 
Coddington was elected, and took his engagement as 
Judge, or chief magistrate, and Wm. Dyre was elected 
Clerk. This meeting was held in Providence. A few 24 
days afterward the purchase of the island was completed, 
and the settlement very shortly commenced. Town meet- 
ings were frequent. The records are full and pretty well 
preserved, so that we are enabled to know more concern- 1^38. 
ing their early movements than we can of those at Provi- 
dence. But a small number of acts were passed at each 
meeting, relating to matters of immediate concern. 

At the first meeting the earliest recorded act passed -^^j 
in Rhode Island related to the admission of freemen, that 13. 
none should be admitted as such but by consent of the 
Body, and who submit to the established government. 
The other acts fix the location of the town, to be "build- 
ed at the spring ; " order that every inhabitant should be 
fully equipped with certain arms ; establish a site for the 
meeting house ; and make a temporary apportionment of 

' Their names were Wm. CotlJington, John Coggeshall, Wm. Baiilstonc, 
Ed. Hutchinson, Samuel Wilbore, John Porter, Henry Bull, Philip Shearman, 
Wm. Freeborne and Richard Carder.— M. C. R., i., 223. 


CHAP, land to each. inliaMtant, of an acre of meadow for every 
.^J^ beast and sheep, and an acre and a half for a horse, which 
16 3 8, latter act was afterward repealed, and a more definite di- 
vision made. The town was built around the head of the 
pond, or cove, from which there was formerly an outlet to 
the bay deep enough for small vessels to enter. The re- 
mains of this first settlement may still be traced. Some- 
what later a new town was laid out more to the south, and 
east, called Newtown, to distinguish it from the old, which 
j^g^y name that part of Portsmouth still retains. The foUow- 
20. ing week thp town was laid out, six-acre lots were as- 
signed to the proprietors, and provision made for record- 
ing land titles. An inn, brewery and general grocery "to 
sell wines and strong waters and such necessary provisions 
as may be useful," was also established, to be in charge 
of Wm. Baulston. This was doubtless the first tavern 
in the State. A military organization was the next ob- 
Jnne ject of attention. At their third meeting ofi&cers for the 
train bands were chosen.' Already the colony had re- 
ceived accessions to its numbers. Land on the island had 
been taken up, for which the new-comers were required 
to pay into the town treasury two shillings an acre, which, 
price was fixed for all future inhabitants. Two treasur- 
ers, WilHam Hutchinson and John Coggeshall, were 
chosen for one year. The highways were ordered to 
be repaired, and a fine of one shilling was laid upon all 
who should be fifteen minutes late at town meeting, or 
should leave it without permission before adjournment. 
^iig. The first admission of freemen occurred in August,^ and 
at the same time " a pair of stockes ^ and a whipping 

^ Wm. Baulston and Ed. Hutcliinson, sergeants ; Samuel Wilbore, clerk ; 
Randal Holden and Henry Bull, corporals. 

^ There were four admitted, viz., Richard Dummer, Nicholas Easton, Wm. 
Brenton and Robert Harding. 

^ This was a pet punishment Avith the landed aristocracy of the old coim- 
try, and early transplanted to the new. The condition of English society 
which tolerated the stocks, is graphically described by Sir E. Bulwer Lytton 


post ' " were ordered to be made. Three days afterward a chap. 
prison, twelve feet by ten, was ordered to be built, thus .^^ 
completing the preparations for the vindication of violated 16 3 8. 
law, and Kandal Holden was appointed Marshal of the 93^ 
colony for one year. They were very soon required, for in a 
few days eight men having committed " a riot of drunken- ^^pt. 
ness," were brought before the town meeting by warrant, 
and variously fined, and three of them sentenced to the 15. 
stocks. Viewers of corn and other produce were chosen, 
whose, duty was to examine the crops, and report any 
damage that might be done to them by cattle running at 
large. The object of this law was to enable those whose 
crops might suffer in that way to recover damages before 
the court from the owners of the cattle. The military „ 
having before been organized, as stated, a general train- 
ing was appointed, at which all men between the ages of 5. 
sixteen and fifty years were warned to attend on the fol- 
lowing Monday. This no doubt was the first militia mus- 
ter ever held in Rhode Island. 

The growth of the town now required greater pru- 
dence in the apportionment of land. The size of liouse 
lots was fixed at three acres, being one-half the quantity Nov. 
held by each of the original inhabitants. A baker was ^' 
aj^pointed for the plantation, from whom the town was to 

in " My Novel," where the reader will find hi the first three hooks some 
scenes related such as this island may have witnessed two centuries ago ; 
always excepting the one. in hook third, chapter ix., where the inimitahle Kic- 
cahocca pays the forfeit of henevolent curiosity, by being caught in the stocks, 
himself, and is thus found by his friends, quietly meditating under his red um- 
brella. There may have been some Lenny FaLrchilds in Rhode Island, but no 
counterpart to the fatherly and philosophical Italian. I am sure the reader 
will pardon this note if it leads him to pcnise the admirable sketch of English 
life here referred to, and if he is already familiar with it the recollection will 
serve to relieve his mind from the dry record of actual history. 

' This punishment nominally existed until a recent period in this Stnte. 
The last public infliction of it was on the Court House parade in Providence, 
July l-ith, 1837, for horse stealing. It had long been in disuse until this re- 
currence of it aroused public attention to its legal existence, when it was 
soon after stnick from the statute book. It still exists in many of the States. 

VOL. I — 9 


CHAP, purchase the bread used at the meeting of the courts. A 
...^^^ few days after we find that a water-mill was projected by 
1638. Mr. Nicholas Esson/ for the use of the plantation, and a 
16? grant of land and timber made to him for this purpose. 
The earliest case of an absconding debtor in the colony 
occurred at this time. John Luther, a carpenter, fled 
from the island, leaving sundry debts unpaid. His prop- 
erty was duly appraised and sold for the benefit of his 
creditors. The disposition to regulate trade by establish- 
ing prices at which articles should be bought and sold, 
which had already given much trouble in Massachusetts, 
and continued to do so until the repeal of the statute left 
such matters to regulate themselves, showed itself early 
among the Portsmouth settlers. Four " truckmasters," 
as they were called, were appointed for the venison trade 
with the Indians, and the prices fixed upon this staple 
article of food were limited to a penny ha'penny a pound 
to be paid for it, and two pence a pound as the selling 
price. One farthing a pound, being one-half the profit 
thus secured to the dealers, was to be paid into the treas- 
ury. ^ 

Up to this time the government had been a pure de- 
Jan. ' mocracy. All acts had been passed in public meetings 
^- of the whole body. The Judge and Clerk had acted only 
as chairman and secretary of the assembled townsmen, 
by whom all laws had been passed, and all proceedings, 
whether legislative, judicial, or executive, conducted. A 
change now took place by appointing three Elders to as- 

^ The name was also spelt Eason and Easton in the records. This was 
the same who with his two sons, Peter and John, built the first house in New- 
port, six months later. 

^ A net profit of about seventeen per cent, on the capital invested, is here 
allowed, and is a better margin than is usually left to the dealer under re- 
stricted laws of trade. It also compares well with average results of modern 
ti-affic. In this case the capital was all that was required. Deer and Indians 
were both abundant, so that but little labor and no skill were needed on the 
part of the " truckmasters." 



sist the Judge in kis judicial duties, to frame laws, to chap. 
have the entire charge of the public interests, and with s_,-^J^ 
the Judge to govern the colony. These officers were to 1638-9. 
render an account of their proceedings at quarterly meet- 
ings of the town, where their acts were subject to revi- 
sion, or repeal, if disapproved. A jealousy of delegated 
power is here apparent, like that which existed in the 
Providence plantation, and which presents a marked con- 
trast to the feeling then prevalent in the community 
which they had so lately left. Sealed ballots were used 
at this election. Nicholas Easton, John Coggeshall and 
William Brenton were chosen Elders, and their election 
was duly ratified. At the next meeting the town united 
with the Judge and Elders to choose a Constable and 
town Sergeant, and to define their duties, Samuel Wil- 
bore was elected for the former office, whose duties were 
to see that peace be kept, and to inform of any breaches 
thereof, with power to command aid for that purpose if 
needed. Henry Bull was elected Sergeant, to execute 
orders of the Court, to serve warrants and to keep the 
prison, with similar power to demand aid from any per- 
sons in the discharge of his office. The business of the 
town for the ensuing three months was transacted by the 
Judge and Elders, By their act new comers were admit- 
ted as inhabitants, and complaints for exaction in trade 
were redressed. A singular proceeding was taken in re- 
gard to William Aspinwall, upon whom suspicions of se- 
dition against the State rested. Neither the grounds of 
suspicion nor the nature of the sedition is stated, but an 
order was issued forbidding further work upon a boat that 
he was having built. This kind of security for good con- 
duct seems to have been usual, for one Osamund Doutch, 
who at the same Court was admitted an inhabitant, was 
likewise complained of for some wrong-doing, and his 
shallop pledged in a bond of indemnity that he was re- 
quired to give. Probably boats were considered the most 



available and desirable property in ao island settlement,' 
Swine were considered a nuisance, and their removal or 
confinement was early provided for, Tbey were ordered 
to be sent six miles distant from tlie town, or to some ad- 
jacent island, or else were to be shut up so as to be inof- 
fensive, and subsequently the act was enforced by a fine 
of two pence for each hog that was found in the town af- 
ter four days, A cattle pound was also provided. To 
guard against invasions from the Indians, and likewise to 
secure the peace of the settlement from the chances of 
riot, an alarm was estabhshed. The firing of three mus- 
kets, with the cry of " Alarum," was the signal upon 
which all the inhabitants were to repair to the house of 
the Judge. 

The colony had now so greatly increased that a divi- 

2^- sion was deemed expedient. A meeting was held, at which 

the following agreement was entered into by the signers, 

by whom the settlement of Newport was commenced on 

the south-west side of the island, 

"PocASSET, On the 28tli of the 2d, 1639. 
" It is agreed by us whose hands are underwritten, to 
propagate a Plantation in the midst of the Island or else- 
where ; And doe engage ourselves to bear equaU charges, 
answerable to our strength and estates in common ; and 
that our determinations shall be by major voice of judge 
and elders ; the Judge to have a double voice, 

Nicholas Easton, 
John Ooggeshall, 
"William Beentost, 
John Claeke, {- Elders. 

Jeremy Cleeke, 
Thomas Hazard, I 
Henry Bull, J 

"William Dyee, ClerTiP 

' As we hear no more of the charge of sedition, we may infer that it was 


All the members of the Pocasset government, it will chap. 
be observed, are among the emigrants. They carried with ^^;^ 
them their records up to this date. Why they did this 16 3 9. 
does not appear, for although they were the most promi- 
nent men, and their settlement soon became the leading 
one in the State, yet by far the largest number then re- 
siding at Pocasset remained. Thus deprived at once of 
their government and their records, a new organization 
was necessary, and two days afterward they formed a new . .. 
compact as follows : " We whose names are under[writ- 30. 
ten do acknowledge] ourselves the legal subjects of [His 
Majesty] King Charles, and in his name [do hereby bind] 
ourselves into a civill body politicke and [do submit] unto 
his lawes according to matters of justice, '" Thirty-one 
names are signed to this document, '^ foUowins; which, of 

unsustaincd, and that the boat was allowed to be finished, for about three 
mouths later, 28th April, it was attached for debt, which is the only com- 
plaint ever afterward brought against AspiiiwalL He occupied many positions 
of trust in the colony. Early in 1642, probably in April, he returned to 
Massachusetts, and " upon his petition and certificate of good carriage was 
restored again to his former liberty of freedom." M. C. R. , ii. 3. 

^ The record is much mutilated and defaced. The words in brackets are 
interpolated to preserve the sense. These interpolations are all at the end of 
the lines where the edge of the sheet is torn off. The remaining words are 
very legible. 

" "Wm. Hutchinson, Samuel Gorton, Samuel Hutchinson, John Wiokes, • 
Richard Maggson, Thomas Spicer, John Roome, John Geofife, (Sloffe ?) Thom- 
as Beddar, Erasmus BuUocke, Sampson Shotten, Ralph Earle, Robert Potter, 
Nathanyell Potter, George Potter, Wm. Heavens (W. T. Havens ?) George 
Shaw (Chare ?) George Lawton, Anthony Paine, Jobe Hawkins, Richard 
Awarde, John More (Mow ?) Nicholas Browne, Wm. Richardson, John Trippe, 
Thomas Layton, Robert Stamton, John Brigges, James Davis. In R. I. C. R. 
i. 70 but twenty-nine names ai-e given. The other two on the Record have a 
pen mark across them as if to expunge them from the list, and probably for 
this reason are not copied in the printed records. One of these names is that 
of Wm. Aspinwall, who, on the same day, was chosen one of the assistants, 
and contiimed, for three years, a resident of the colony. His signature be- 
longs there, and why erased we cannot say unless it was done after his return 
to Massachusetts in 1G42. We infer the same, although witli less positive 
proof of the other erasure, and hence state the number of signers at thirty- 
one, two more than the printed records show. 


CHAP, the same date, is their agreement of government. " Ac- 
,^J^ cording to the true intent of the [foregoing, wee] whose 
16 3 9. names are above particularly [recorded, do agree] jointly 
or by the major voice to g[overn ^ourselves by the] Eulee 
or Judge amongst us in all [transactions] for the spacr 
and term of one [year, he] behaving himself according to 
the t[enor of the same.]" They then proceeded to elect 
William Hutchinson Judge. The mutilation of the rec- 
ords has destroyed the name, and no clue to it is given in 
any of the subsequent pages, but Winthrop has fortu- 
nately preserved it.^ Seven assistants were also chosen, 

' The writer devoted a whole summer to studying and making extracts 
from the Portsmouth records, a year before they were printed by the State, 
and may be peimitted to follow the results of his own researches, even where 
they differ somewhat from the version since printed by Authority. In the 
foregoing list, where the writer's version differs from that of the printed rec- 
ords, the name, as given in the latter, is enclosed in brackets. It will be ob- 
served that there are four of these variations, besides the two first explained, 
which require that the author should state further reasons, besides the evi- 
dence of his own eyes, why he prefers the versions here retained. The 
names of Goffe, Shaw and More occur often on the records, and are perpetu- 
ated in a very numerous descent at this day on the island, whQe the names 
as printed are nowhere else to be found or traced. W. T. Havens should be 
Wm. Havens, as afterward appears on the records. Middle names were not 
in use in that age. The difBculty of deciphering these ancient records is 
greatly increased by the fact that many of them are written in the German 
script or old English letter, and unless the student is familiar with that lan- 
guage or character, his only mode of reading such passages is by making an 
alphabet, somewhat in the way pursued by Champollion in his application of 
the Rosetta Stone to Egyptian hieroglyphics. The chances of error are much 
increased by this process. 

Lest these remarks should be misapprehended as throwing a doubt on the 
reliability of the printed records, the writer deems it just and proper to say 
that the errors therein contained are few and of little practical importance, 
so far as he has discovered. Some errors have occurred in printing that are 
readily detected. The completeness and accuracy of the work as a whole, 
can only be duly appreciated by those who know the many dilBculties incident 
to such a task. MutQation, erasure, fading ink, blotting, insects, dampness, 
ever-varying orthography, and often bad chirography, to aU which add the 
frequent use of a foreign character, as above stated, and we have some of the 
inevitable hindrances that attend the reading of our earliest records. 

^ i. 295, May 11th, 1639. " At Aquiday the people grew very tumul- 
tuous, and put out Mr. Coddington and the other three magistrates, and chose 


" for the help and ease of conducting public business and chap. 
affairs, and to lay out lands," viz. : William Balston, .^^^^l^^ 

John Porter, John , William Freeborne, John 163 9. 

Wall, Philip Shearman and William Aspinwall. The 
surname of the third assistant, like that of the Judge, 
being near the edge of the page, is torn off. These offi- 
cers were constituted a court for settling any dispute in- 
volving less than forty shillings. Provision was also made 
for a quarterly court of trials with a jury of twelve men. 
Two distinct governments, which lasted the remainder 
of the year, were thus established on the island. That 
at Pocasset was occupied with business of a local nature, 
chiefly in apportionments of land and house lots, which 
were to be forfeited if not built upon within one year. No 
man was allowed either to sell his lot or to offer it to the 

Mr. Will. Hutchinson only, a man of very mild temper and weak parts, and 
wholly guided by his wife, who had been the beginner of all the former trou- 
bles in the country, and still continued to breed disturbance." The " putting 
out " here recorded, is evidently a Puritan version of the emigration from 
Pocasset to Newport a few days previous, which shows how carefully we should 
regard the statements of the Massaclrasetts chroniclers, when the most liberal 
of them all can thus construe the acts of those from whom he differed in 
opinion. He is in error in using the word " only " in the passage above 
qixoted ; the records of Portsmouth showing, as stated in the text, that seven 
Assistants were chosen at the same time with the Judge. There are also two 
singular errors, one of omission and one of misstatement, in Judge Eddy's let- 
ter to the Editor, quoted in the note appended to this passage. 

The first consists in overlooking the fact of the emigration of the Magis- 
trates, and the election of others by those who remained at Pocasset, of which 
Judge Eddy does not seem to have been aware, and which led him to assert 
wrongly of Wm. Hutchinson's election as an Assistant in 16iO, that " this 
was the only time he was chosen to office." The diligence of Judge Eddy and 
his general accuracy is admitted by all who have pursued the same path of 
research in our State Archives. The two errors here noticed could not have 
been avoided by one who only examined, however carefull}-, the State records, 
and it is evident from this letter that its writer had not, up to that time, con- 
sulted the Portsmouth town records. 

It is fortunate that Winthrop has thus accidentally enabled us to supply a 
defect caused by a mutilation of the records. ^Vithout this confirmation we 
should still have conjectiired that Hutchinson was the man selected as Judge, 
for he was one of the eighteen original proprietors, and was perhaps the most 
important person left at Pocasset after the emigration. 


163 9. 



CHAP. town. The only act of public interest was to change the 
name of the place to Portsmouth, which was done at the 
first quarterly meeting under the new organization, and 
confirmed by the united government the next year. 

The nine men who signed the agreement at Pocasset 

April proceeded at once to make their new settlement. By a 

manuscript journal kept by Nicholas Easton, it appears 

30. that he with his two sons, Peter and John, came by boat 
to an island where they lodged, and the next morning 
^^ named it Coasters' Harbor. Thence they came to New- 
port the same day, where they erected the first English 
building.^ The others were not far behind, if they did 
not accompany the Eastons, for in their first meeting they 

16- speak of " the plantation now begun at this south-west 
end of the island," naming it Newport, establishing the 
site of the town " on both sides of the spring, and by the 
seaside southward," and fixing the line dividing it from 
Pocasset at a point five miles north and east from the 
town. The spring referred to was on the west side of 
Spring street, near the State House, whence a stream ran 
a north-west course to the harbor. It appears that some 
doubt existed at first as to the best location for the town. 
A dense swamp skirted the harbor where Thames street 
now is. This fact led them to direct their attention to 
the beach. There they found only an open roadstead un- 
safe for shipping ; so they returned to the harboi', sur- 
veyed it, and wisely decided on the present location. The 

^ This fact entitles N. Easton to the honor of being considered the founder 
of Newport, unless an equal share is claimed for his eight associates, who do 
not appear to have been as prompt in their arrival or in establishing their 
settlement by actual building. That he was endowed with the peculiar en- 
ergy of a pioneer appears by his previous history. The house was on the east 
side of Farewell street, a little west of the Friends' meeting-house. It was 
burnt down in 1641 by the carelessness or the malice of some Indians, who 
kindled a fire in the woods near by. There and in Tanner and Marlborough 
streets the first houses were built. Gov. Coddington's house was on the north 
side of the latter street and fronting Duke street. — Bull's Memoir of Rhode 



1 3 'J. 


swamp has long since given jjlace to crowded thorough- chap. 
fares, and the finest harbor in America remains to attest 
the wisdom of their choice. Provision was made for every 
servant who remained with them to have ten acres of land 
as a free gift upon his admission. The business of laying 
out the lands was soon commenced. The opinion of the 5 
body is recorded " that the land might reasonably accom- 
modate fifty famines." Four acres were assigned for each 
house lot, and six acres were granted to Mr. Coddington 
for an orchard. • Free trade with the Indians was per- 
mitted to all men. Some differences on this subject had 
arisen which probably occasioned this decree. The ap- ggpf 
pointment of " truckmasters " had not given satisfaction 2. 
at Pocasset, and the Newport settlers profited by their 
experience. A justice's court, composed of the Judge Oct. 
and Elders, was appointed to meet the first Tuesday ^• 
in every month, to decide such causes as might come 
before them. At the quarterly town meetings, called also 
courts, a majority was to rule, and the Judge was allowed 
two votes. Under this date appears a list of fifty-nine 
persons, "who by the general consent of the company were 
admitted to be inhabitants of the island, now called 
Aquedneck, having submitted themselves to the govern- 
ment that is or shall be established, according to the word 
of God, therein," and also a supplemental list of forty- two 
" inhabitants admitted at the towne of Niew-Port since 
the 20th of the 3d, 1638," (1639,) making one hundred 
and one registered inhabitants at that time.^ Nearly one 
half of the first list is composed of names signed to the 

' This is the second orchard known in Rhode Ishind. The first was planted 
by W. Bhickstone in 1G35. 

" There is a singular rccurrcnco of this precise number of persons in our 
early history. The Pilgrims landing from the Mayflower in 1G20 were one 
hundred and one. The number of men in Providence fit for military duty in 
1645 was one hundred and one. The number of proprietors there at the last 
division of lands in 1718, was one hundred and one, and wo here see the 
number of registered inhabitants of Aquedncck in Oct., 1639, to be one hun- 
dred and one. 


CHAP. Pocasset agreement of April 30th, and the greater part 
^J!^ of it is made up of those who still resided there, by which 
16 3 9. we may foresee the union of the governments shortly to 
take place. None of the proprietors' names are in either 
list. They were the company by whom, with such as 
they from time to time admitted, all others were received. 
The supplemental list contains only the names of such as 
had come to the island during the summer. 

We have before seen that the organization of courts 
very early occupied the attention of the colonists. The 
administration of justice was promptly provided for, con- 
trary to the slanders of their neighbors, who from the ab- 
sence of any law religion at either Providence or Aqued- 
neck, freely charged them with a disregard for both law 
and religion. A division of labor in judicial matters, it 
is true, was not immediately provided. Their circum- 
stances did not at once permit the establishment of a va- 
riety of courts, with limited and well-defined jurisdic- 
tions, as at the present day. The number of the colo- 
nists was too small, and the nature of the causes arising 
among them did not require any extended judicial sys- 
tem. Yet we have seen that something of this had al- 
ready been undertaken at Pocasset. The Court of As- 
sistants was to have cognizance of small causes, and a 
quarterly court for jury trials was established. This 
progress in one year, with the establishment of justices' 
courts immediately U23on their settlement, fully attests 
their regard for law. The character of the men, with the 
fact that a majority of them were members of the Boston 
church before their exile, and many still continued to be 
Nov. so, answers the other portion of the charge. A formal 
act of the whole people, passed at this time, will set their 
regard for justice, and their care in providing for its ad- 
ministration, in still clearer light. " By the Body Poli- 
ticke in the He of Aquethnec, Inhabiting this present 25 
of 9 month, 1639. 



" In the fourteenth yeare of y° Raign of our Soveraign chap. 
Lord King Charles. It is agreed, That as Natural sub- ^,1^ 
jects to our Prince, and subject to his Lawcs, all matters 16 3 0. 
that concerne the Peace shall be by those that are officers 
of the Peace, Transacted ; And all actions of the case, 
or Debt, shall be in such Courts as by order are here ap- 
pointed, and by such Judges as are Deputed : Heard and 
Legally Determined. 

"Given at Niew-Port on the Quarter Courte*Day 
which was adjourned till y' Day. 

" William Dyre, Sec." 

Meanwhile their spiritual concerns were not neglect- 
ed. We have the same reasons that were assigned in the 
previous chapter for supposing that at Aquedneck, as 
well as at Providence, religious services were regularly 
conducted before any positive notice is found of the forma- 
tion of a church. In Winthrop's Journal we read, 
"They also gathered a church in a very disordered way ; .^'^^ 
for they took some excommunicated persons, and others 
who were members of the church of Boston and not dis- 
missed." The position of this record in reference to what 
precedes it, ' seems to indicate that the church was formed 
at or about the time of the Newport settlement, but 
whether there or at Pocasset, by the emigrants or by those 
who remained, is not so apparent. The construction of 
the sentence makes it probable that the latter is intended. 
No other contemporary record of the formation of such a 
church remains.*^ Whatever were its doctrines it existed 

' Wintlirop, i. 297, under date of May 11th, 1G39, and immediately fol- 
lowing the statement of the ejection of the magistrates quoted in note 1, p. 

" It is this church, if any in Rliode Island, that can be claimed to ante- 
date the Baptist church already formed in Providence. Yet the record of 
Wintlirop mentions the formation of that church nearly two montlis earlier 
than the one at Aqncdneclc. The former is distinctly described as Baptist in 
its ordinances. Of the latter the only clue given to its doctrines is that some 
of its members were still members of the Boston church, which fact, if it 



CHAP, but a short time in its original form, if we may rely on 
the authority of Lechford, but gave place in a few years 
to a flourishing Baptist church, under the pastoral charge 
of the Kev. John Clarke, who had been Elder of the former 
church. ' The same authority states that at Portsmouth 
there was then no church, " but a meeting of some men 
who there teach one another and caU it Prophecie."^ 
That a due regard was felt for religious matters at both 
the Aquedneck towns, as well as at Providence, we think 
has now been sufficiently shown on firmer grounds than 
simple inference. That " at Aquiday they gathered a 
church in a very disordered way," which they could not 

proves notliing else, shows pretty conclusively that they were not Baptists. 
If some writers whose ability entitles their judgment to respect had not, of 
late years, expressed a doubt upon the point, the Author would feel little hes- 
itation m expressmg what is in his own mind a firm conviction, that the 
chui-ch at Aquedneck was formed some little time prior to May llth, 1639, 
and was in its faith and ordinances an Independent Congregational Church, of 
the Puritan pedobaptist order. Mr. Savage, in a note to the passage quoted 
in the text, has a just comment on the way the church is there described as 
being gathered. See note (2) p. 107, ante. 

' Plaine Dealing or News from N. England, London, 1641. ■ The writer 
used the copy in the British Museum, and collated the parts relating to Rhode 
Island, with the re -publication in 3 M. H. C, iii. 96, 7, where the book is 
dated 1642. Perhaps there were two editions. Lechford says : " At the 
island called Aquedney are about two hundred families. There was a church 
where one Master Clarke was elder. The place where the church was is 
called Newport, but that church I heare is now dissolved." He is quoted as 
evidence against the existence of the Baptist church at Providence at the 
time he wrote, but nothing he says on that subject is so direct to that point 
as the passage here given, bearing upon the other side of the question, and 
which is quite overlooked in the discussion referred to in the foregoing chap- 
ter, note (2) p. 107. The probabUity is- that Lechford's statement is correct, 
that this earliest Aquedneck church was dissolved, and that in the change of 
doctrinal opinion so rife in that age, there soon after arose from the materials 
of the old church, and including its pastor, a Baptist church, founded, as Cal- 
lender believed (R. I. H. C. iv. 117), " in 1644, by Mr. John Clarke and some 

■^ The views of " Thomas Lechford, of Clements Inne, in the county of 
Middlesex, Gent.," as he describes himself on his title-page, the High Church- 
man, wi'iting confessedly to prove his right to be so considered, may be pre- 
sumed to differ materially from those of our antinomian progenitors of Aqued- 
neck, upon the controverted question, " What constitutes a church ? " 

3 'J. 



avoid, and tliat " at Providence tilings grew still worse/' chap. 

in Puritan opinion, and a Baptist church was the result, 

will not be held, at this day, to militate against the piety 1 6 
or the j)rudence of our ancestors. 

The military organization was very soon completed, "25. 
as at Portsmouth. It was kept distinct from the other 
branches of government, but subject, in the choice of offi- 
cers, to the approval of the Magistrates. Every man ca- 
pable of bearing arms was enrolled. " The Body of the 
people, viz., the Traine Band," were left free to choose 
their own officers to exercise and train them, who were to 
be approved by the Magistrates. No man was allowed 
to go two miles from town, or to attend any public meet- 
ing, under penalty of five shillings fine, without carrying 
a gun or sword. The danger of Indian hostility occa- 
sioned this great precaution. 

Negotiations with Pocasset were already in progress 
with a view to a united government. A yet more im- 
portant project was discussed. Mr. Easton and Mr. John 
Clarke were desired to write to Sir Henry Vane about the 
condition of the island, in order to obtain his influence in 
securing a charter from the King. Mr. Thomas Burr- 
wood, a brother of Mr. Easton, was also to be written to 
on the same subject. The Court adjourned for three 
weeks. In the interval two men, having broken the peace j. 
by drunkenness, were tried by the Magistrate's, or " par- 3. 
ticular Court," and fined five shillings each, " according 
to the law in that case provided." No respect of persons 
was shown in the infant commonwealth, when any vio- 
lated law required a vindication. At the adjourned meet- 
ing of the Quarter Court the first act was to impose a 
fine of five shillings upon Mr. Easton, one of the Elders, 
or assistants, for attending without his weapon. The 
sanitary precautions, noticed at Pocasset, were taken also 
at NcAvport. Hogs were prohibited from running at large 
between the middle of April and October. A repeal of 


CHAP, the former order on this subject, which, it may he remem- 
^^J^ bered, required their removal to a distance of six miles 
16 3 9. from the town, or to some adjacent island, would make 
lY^' it appear that the orders passed the previous year at Fo- 
casset were held to be in force at Newport, a view that is 
strengthened by the fact of their having carried with them 
all the records, as before stated. A pair of stocks and a 
whipping post were now ordered for the town. 
1639-40. The earliest export trade of Khode Island was in lum- 
ber. The home prices were regulated by law. In the 
earliest enactment on this subject these are fixed at eight 
shillings the hundred for sawed boards, seven shillings for 



foot for clapboards and fencing, to be sound, merchanta- 
ble stuff. Timber was not to be cut or exported without 
a license. By a record at Portsmouth, now much defaced, 
it appears that a ship load of pipe staves and clapboards 
was obtained there about this time. A few years later ' 
ship building was commenced, and has ever since been ani 
important branch of business in the State. 

A scarcity of provisions, which, but for the ample sup- 
ply of fish and game that abounded in the sea and the 
forests, would have threatened a famine, caused a survey 
and census to be taken. This showed that there were 
22. ninety-six persons inhabiting the town, and only one hun- 
dred and eight bushels of corn among them.^ This was 
equally divided, and the stock was calculated to last for 

'■ In 1646 the New Haven colony built a ship of one himdred and fifty 
tons at Rhode Island. Trambull's Conn., i. 161. 

^ The apparent discrepancy between this census of ninety-six persons and 
the registered list of one hundred and one 7nales in October, is reconciled by 
the fact that nearly all of the first list of fifty-nine men resided at Pocasset. 
The second list of forty-two were new comers on the island and lived at New- 
port. The apportionment of only thirty-six quarts of corn to each person to 
last for six weeks, being less than one quart per day, and that too in mid- 
winter, with six months yet to harvest time, shows a fearful scarcity. It was 
evidently contemplated to obtain supplies from abroad within the six weeks, 
but where or how does not appear. 



six weeks. The next quarterly meeting was held four chap. 
days sooner than the regular time, which fell on Sunday. __, 
Provision was made for the annual election of all the of- ^ j^^"^' 
ficers, to be held on the twelfth day of March, forever af- 29. 
ter, in a General Assembly of the Freemen, and sucli as 
could not be present were " to send in their votes, scaled 
up, to the Judge." At the expiration of the six weeks 
from the time the corn was divided, all the sea banks were March 
declared free for fishing, but whether in consequence of the 
scarcity of provisions, or as a simple matter of public 
right, is not stated — probably the latter. 

At the first General Court of Election ever held in 
Newport, very important proceedings were had. William 
Hutchinson, Judge, and several of the principal men of 
Portsmouth, who had not before applied, were reunited 
to the Body, and some who had been registered as inhab- 
itants in October were now admitted as freemen, and a 
general act for the admission of freemen was passed by 
the united Bodies of both towns, hereafter to constitute 
but one government. The style and number of the mag- 
istrates were changed. The titles of Judge and Elder 
were abolished. The Chief was called Governor, the next 
in office Deputy Governor, and the other four Magistrates, 
Assistants. An equal number of the general officers were 
to be chosen from each town, the Governor and two As- 
sistants from one, and the Deputy Governor and two As- 
sistants from the other. The change of the name of Po- 
casset to Portsmouth, which had been there made the pre- 
vious July, was now confirmed. The election resulted in 
the choice of William Coddington, Governor, William 
Brenton, Deputy Governor, Nicholas Easton, John Cogges- 
hall, William Hutchinson and John Porter, Assistants. 
The two latter and Mr. Brenton lived at Portsmouth, 
Kobert Jeff'reys, of Newport, and William Balston, of 
Portsmouth, were chosen Treasurers. William Dyrc, 
Secretary, Jeremy Clark Constable for Newport, and John 


CHAP. Sandford for Portsmouth, and Henry Bull, Sergeant, all for 
^" one year, or till others should be chosen. The Grovernor 

16 4 0. and Assistants were made Justices of the Peace. Five 
^2^ men were selected for Portsmouth and three for Newport 
to lay out lands, and j^rovision was made to record land 
titles in conformity thereto. 

This union of the towns was a most desirable event. 
Already the evils of a divided jurisdiction had become 
apparent, while the rights of the proprietors, in whom 
rested the fee of the whole island, would have oc- 
casioned disputes which were thus happily prevented. 
The idea of a free charter also, which was seriously en- 
tertained by the people, doubtless contributed largely to 
effect a union. The movement was particularly benefi- 
cial to Newport, which at that time was much the smaller 
of the two. It soon became virtually the capital, al- 
though the Quarter Courts, or meetings of the General 
Assembly, and the General Courts of Election were held 
in both towns at various times. The " particular Courts," 
consisting of magistrates and jurors, were ordered to be 
held monthly in each town. These Courts had jurisdic- 
6." tion in all causes not involving "life and limb." From 
their decision there was a right of appeal to the Quarter 
Sessions, which were held the first Tuesdays in March, 
June, September and December. The laws were revised 
and several of them repealed, among which was the one 
forfeiting house lots that were not built upon within one 
year from the grant. 

A formal convention or treaty was made by the gov- 
7. ernment with the Narraganset Indians, and duly ratified 
at the next General Court. It provides that no fire 
should be kindled by the Indians on the island, but such 
as should be extinguished on their departure, and if any 
damage result therefrom it shall be made good on legal 
trial ; that for a hog that had been killed by an Indian, 
ten fathoms of wampum should be paid at the next har- 






vest ; that no traps for deer or cattle should be set by In- chap. 
dians on the island ; that if any Indian was unruly, or .^^ 
committed any small crime, he should be punished by a 16 4 0. 
magistrate, according to law ; but if the charge involved 
a greater sum than ten fathoms of beads, or if the accused 
party was a sachem, however trivial the charge, then Mi- 
antinomi was to be sent for to be present at the trial ; 
that neither English nor Indians should take the canoes 
belonging to the other ; that no bargain once made should 
be revoked, and that no idling about should be allowed. 

A militia law, by far more complete than any law 
upon that subject that had before been passed, and the 
most copious of any of the existing acts, now appointed 
that eight times a year the bands of both towns were to be 
exercised in the field, and that two general musters, one 
at each town, were to be held every year. The unusual 
minuteness of this statute, the penalties attached to its 
violation, and the stringency of its application, including 
as it did every man who should remain for twenty days 
on the island, and exempting no one except by commuta- 
tion, evinces the feeling of insecurity at that time per- 
vading the whole of New England. 

It has been said that at one time Rhode Island was 
behind all other States in providing for the education of 
her people. However true this might be of other portions 
of the State it was not so of the island. At this Court, 
Mr. Robert Lenthal was admitted a freeman. He had 
been invited to come and conduct public worship, which 
had previously been done by Mr. Clark, and to teach a 
school. By a vote of the town of Newport he was 
" called to keep a public school for the learning of youth, 
and for liis encouragement there was granted to him and 
his heirs one hundred acres of land, and four more for a 
house lot ; " it was also voted '' that one hundred acres 
should be laid forth and appropriated for a school, for en- 
couragement of the poorer sort, to train up their youth 

VOL. I — 10 


CHAP, in learning, and Mr. Kobert Lentlial, while he continues 
^- to teach school, is to have the benefit thereof." 

1640. The two towns were placed on an equal footing in all 

respects. They were allowed to draw similar amounts 
from the public treasury. " Two Parliamentary (or Gen- 
eral) Courts" were appointed to be held equally at Ports- 
mouth and Newport, on the Wednesday after the twelfth 
of March and of October.^ 

The local affairs of each town being left to its own 
management, we find occasionally some matters initiated 
there which afterwards became of public interest. Such 

Sept. is the establishment of a ferry by the town of Portsmouth, 
probably at or near the spot long afterwards known as 
Howland's ferry, where " the stone bridge " now is, being 
the narrowest part of the east passage, and but a short 
distance from the original settlement of Pocasset. Thos. 
Gorton was appointed ferryman. The fares were fixed at 
sixpence a man, or threepence each if more than three 
were taken at one trip, and fourpence a head for goats and 

The Secretary was required to attend the two General 
and the four Quarter Sessions courts, receiving threepence 
a day for so doing. The Governor was instructed to write 
to the Governor of Massachusetts to learn the plans of 
that colony with regard to the Indians. Winthrop has 
fortunately given the substance of that letter, which was 
a joint communication from the Governors of Hartford, 
New. Haven and Aquedneck, "wherein they declared 
their dislike of such as would have the Indians rooted out, 
as being of the cursed race of Ham, and their desire of 
our mutual accord in seeking to gain them by justice and 
kindness, and withal to watch over them to prevent any 

' The record so i-eads, but iu fiict tlie fall session was held in September, 
six months after the spring session. The fact and the time both concur in 
rendering it probable that September was intended, and that October was 
written by mistake of the Secretary. 


danger Ly them, etc. We returned answer of our consent chap. 
with them in all things propounded, only we refused to .-^.J^ 
include those of Aquiday in our answer, or to have any ^[\*^^' 
treaty with them." The action of the General Court of 7. 
Massachusetts on this subject is instructive. It gives an 
official stamp to that vindictive spirit which was soon to' 
display itself yet more signally in their treatment of 
Khode Island. "It is ordered that the letter lately sent 
to the Governor hy Mr. Eaton, Mr. Hoi^kins, Mr. Haynes, 
Mr. Coddington and Mr. Brenton, but concerning also the 
Generall Courte shal bee thus answered by the Governor ; 
that the Courte doth assent to all the propositions layde 
down in the aforesaid letter ; but that the answer shall 
be directed to Mr. Eaton, Mr. Hopkins, and Mr. Haynes, 
only excluding Mr. Coddington and Mr. Brenton, as men 
not to be capitulated withal by us, either for themselves 
or the people of the island where they inhabit, as their 
case standeth." ' 

The second General Court of Election was held at 

' M. C. R., i. 305. Upon this record of the Puritan Legislature Mr. Sav- 
iigc comments with uiispai-ing severity in a note to the above quoted passage 
in ^^■inthrop. He says : " This is the most exalted triumph of bigotry. Pa- 
pists, Jews, Musselmen, Idolators, or Atheists, may be good parties to a civil 
compact, but not erroneous Protestant brethren, of unimpeachable piety, dif- 
fering from us in explication of unessential, or unintelligible, points of doubt- 
ful disputation. It was not enough that the common charities of life were 
broken ofiF, but our rulers proved tb« sincerity of their folly by refusing con- 
nection in a just and necessary course of policy, which demanded the concur- 
rence of all the plantations on our coast. This conduct also appears little 
more civil than prudent ; for when those of Aquiday were associated by the 
gentlemen of Connecticut and New Haven in their address, the answer should 
have been directed to all without scruple." The Governor of ^Massachusetts 
at this time was the bigoted Dudley, the man upon whose person there was 
found, when on his death-bed, this originnl couplet, which embodies the pre- 
vailing sentiment of the age : — 

" Let nieu of God in court luul churclios watch 
D'er such as do a toleration hatch." 

a verso no doubt considered equally creditable to the piety and the poetic 
genius of the author. We think it was. That such a Governor should adopt 
6uch a course might bo expected. 


CHAP. Portsmoutli and lasted three days. The court roll of 
^' freemen contains sixty names. An engagement to be 
1641. taken by all officers of the State was framed as follows : 
16^18 " '^^ *^® execution of this office, I judge myself bound 
before God to walk faithfully, and this I profess in the 
•presence of God." The only change in general officers 
was in substituting Kobert Harding and William Balston 
as assistants, in place of Nicholas Easton and William 
Hutchinson. The nature of the government was defined 
in these remarkable words : "It is ordered and unani- 
mously agreed upon, that the Government which this 
Bodie Politick doth attend unto in this Island, and the 
Jurisdiction thereof, in favor of our Prince is a democ- 
EACIE, or Popular Government ; that is to say. It is in 
the Powre of the Body of Freemen, orderly assembled, 
or the major part of them, to make or constitute Just 
Lawes, by which they will: be regulated, and to depute 
from among themselves such Ministers as shall see them 
faithfully executed between Man and Man." Not less 
remarkable is the act establishing forever the tenure of 
lands. " It is ordered. Established and Decreed, unani- 
mouslie, that all men's Proprieties in their Lands of the 
Island, and the Jurisdiction thereof, shall be such, and 
soe free, that neyther the State nor any Person or Persons 
shall intrude into it, molest him in itt, to deprive him of 
anything whatsoever that is, or shall be within that, or 
any of the bounds thereof ; and that this Tenure and Ko- 
priety of his therein shall be continued to him, or his, or 
to whomsoever he shaU assign it for Ever." And thus it 
continued to be for more than two centuries. The feel- 
ing of inviolability which invested real estate in Khode 
Island has ever formed a stiiking characteristic of the 
people. For more than two hundred years the ownership 
of land was essential to the privileges of a freeman, and, 
by the law of primogeniture, entitled the oldest son to 
the same immunities, in right of his father, until altered 


by the adoption of the State constitution in 1843. And chap. 

yet more singular was it that until the revision of the ..^J.^ 

code in January, 1857, nowhere in Khode Island could 1641. 

real estate be attached for debt except in the absence of 

the debtor. So long as he remained anyvdiere within the 
jurisdiction of the State, his land Avas secured to him by 
the operation of this earliest law and its subsequent mod- 

A " State " seal was ordered, to be a sheaf of arrows 
bound up, with the motto " Amor vincet omnia^" en- 
graved upon the leash. The word " State " appears for 
the first time in this decree. The possession of a seal has 
always been held as one of the insignia of sovereignty, or 
of exclusive rights. Its adoption by a yet unchartered 
government was significant. The motto was no less so. 
From the absence of the all-conquering affection, as dis- 
played in the conduct of their brethren, they had sufiered 
too mucli not to feel its value. They thus emblazoned 
their opinions to the world, and at the same time passed 
an ever-memorable law which illustrates their motto : " It 
was further ordered, by the authority of this present 
Courte, that none be accounted a Delinquent for Doc- 
trine : Provided, it be not directly repugnant to y° Gov- 
ernment or Lawes established." Keligious liberty was 
here set forth in terms not to be mistaken, when it is re- 
membered that no laws existed relating to matters of 
faith. " The people having recently transferred the ju- 
dicial power from their own control to the Court and Ju- 
ries, they enacted this law jn'otecting liberty of con- 
science, not choosing to trust tiie Judiciary wdth the keep- 
ing of that sacred principle for which they had trans- 
ported themselves, first from England and then from Mas- 
sachusetts. It was the foundation of the future Statutes 
and Bills of Eights, which distinguished the early laws 
and character of the State and people of Khode Island 
from the other English Colonics in America." ' At no 

' Bull's Memoir of Rhode Islaiul. 


CHAP, period of tlie world lias religious inquiry been more rife 
^' than during the seventeenth century. It was eminently 
1641. an age of progress in spiritual development, and as a 
16-18 ii^tural result, or cause, as different minds may view it, 
it was the palmy era of theological controversy. Else- 
where an avowal of independent thought was attended 
with danger to the liberty, the property, or the life of the 
earnest thinker. Here it was intended to remove all such 
obstacles to free discussion, and to leave a fair field for 
truth to work out its deepest problems. That in this 
process many opinions, which in our day may appear fan- 
ciful, fanatical, or visionary, and which may be regarded 
as idle vagaries or spiritual absurdities, were warmly ex- 
pressed and stoutly maintained, is no reproach to the 
principle that permitted their utterance. In an inquiring 
age, when the minds of men were agitated by new and 
startling theories in religion and government ; when the 
progress of liberal sentiments was awakening to fresh life 
the dormant energies of the old world, and urging its op- 
pressed people to seek an asylum in the new ; when 
education was becoming more diffused, and philosophy 
was no longer confined to the schools, or the elements 
of polity to the court ; when men had begun to thiink 
for themselves, and dared to question kingly preroga- 
tive and priestly assumption ; when all Europe was em- 
broiled in wars and distracted by revolutionary senti- 
ments, it is not strange that crude, grotesque, and 
unstable notions should blend with the essential truths 
which lay at the bottom of all this commotion. Novel 
• ideas were started, new sects were established, secret 
societies abounded, and those phenomena which ever 
attend a transition state, and which, in this case, were 
a continuation of the movement of the preceding cen- 
tury, were everywhere apparent. The law of Ehode 
Island first sanctioned their existence, and foreshadowed 
the spirit of a future age. That "heresies" should 


abound in such a community was inevitable, and our chap. 
Puritan neighbors found delight in recording them with .^^^^ 
more fulness of detail than accuracy or propriety of ex- 16 41. 
pression. Again we are indebted to Winthrop's Journal^ 
for facts of which no record is to be found in our own col- 
lections ; and we prefer to quote him, because he was the 
most liberal man of his age and station, to citing the 
more bitter denunciations of Hubbard and Mather, or the 
many other writers of that and the succeeding century, 
whose Dudleian spirit would perhaps more truly portray 
the prevailing temper of the times. Governor Winthrop 
says : " Mrs. Hutchinson and those of Aquiday island, Aug. 
broached new heresies every year. Divers of them turned 
professed anabaptists, and would not wear any arms, and 
denied all magistracy among Christians, and maintained 
that there were no churches since those founded by the 
apostles and evangelists, nor could any be, nor any pas- 
tors ordained, nor seals administered but by such, and 
that the church was to want these all the time she con- 
tinued in the wilderness, as yet she was ; " ^ and again, 

' ii. 38, 40. The terms anabaptist and antinomian were used generally to 
designate all dissenters from the established faith, and were not applied, as is 
often supposed, specifically to the Baptists and Independents as Christian sects. 
In the above enumeration of doctrines ascribed to the former, there is not 
oih! that was, or ever has been held by tlie Baptists, while the distinctive fea- 
ture of that denomination is not even mentioned. Most of the doctrines 
named were held by the Seekers, who were afterwards chiefly merged in tlie 
Society of Friends, and by their opponents styled Quakers, until that name, 
like that of Christian, has grown from an epithet of contempt to be an hon- 
orable appellation. Many, if not all, of these doctrines, in a modifled focni, 
arc held by them at this day. The term applied by Winthrop is liable to 
mislead. That similarity of name implies concurrence of sentiment, is an 
idea as common as it is superficial — a truth well illustrated in the vague use 
hero made of the word ' anabaptist' by our Puritan journalist, and since so 
often repeated by his Prelatical brethren. 

The slur upon Mr. Easton in the next passage needs no comment. If the 
reader desires one he will find it iu a note to Winthrop, i. 2S1. The firsl. 
three gentlemen there named wore all, at various times, Governors of the 
colony. Some, of whom was Mr. Coddington, became Quakers, and others 
Baptists with Mr. Clarke ; which is no doubt the " schism " that broke up the 
original Aqucdiicck church, of which Mr. Clarke was elder. 


CHAP. " Otlier troiililes arose in the island by reason of one 
^- Nicholas Easton, a tanner, a man very bold, though igno- 

1641. rant. He using to teach at Newport, where Mr, Cod- 

^ ^^' dington their governor lived, maintained that man hath 
no power or will in himself, but as he is acted by God, 
and that seeing Grod filled all things, nothing could be or 
move but by him, and so he must needs be the author of 
sin, etc., and that a Christian is united to the essence of 
God. Being showed what blasphemous consequences 
would follow hereupon, they professed to abhor the conse- 
quences, but still defended the propositions, which dis- 
covered their ignorance, not apprehending how God could 
make a creature as it were in himself, and yet no part of 
his essence, so we see by familiar instances ; the light is 
in the air and in every part of it, yet it is not air, but a 
distinct thing from it. There joined with Nicholas Eas- 
ton, Mr. Coddington, Mr. Coggeshall, and some others, 
but their minister Mr. Clark, and Mr. Lenthall, and Mr. 
Harding, and some others dissented and publicly opposed, 
whereby it grew to such heat of contention, that it made 
a schism among them." 

^^j.^ An event that greatly alarmed the inhabitants of the 

4. island occurred soon after the adjournment of the Court. 
Some Indians, contrary to the treaty of July previous, 
kindled a fire on Mr. Easton's land, whereby his house, 
the first one built at Newport, was destroyed. A misun- 
derstanding ensued that threatened the most serious re- 
sults. An armed boat was fitted out to ply round the 
island to prevent any Indians from landing. Two 
EngHsh were wounded and one Indian killed, in a skir- 
mish. Fortunately peace was soon restored. 

At the ensuing Court, the law of liberty of conscience 

was re-enacted. "It is ordered that the law of the last 

Sept. Court, made concerning Libertie of Conscience in point of 

^'^- Doctrine, is perpetuated." A Hcense to practise surgery 

was granted to Mr. Eobert Jeffreys, the Treasurer of 


Newport. This is the earliest record of a licensed sur- chap. 
geon, but it was not the only case where such a license .^..^j^ 
was granted by the Legislature in this State. The price 1641. 
of corn was fixed at four shillings a bushel. Inspectors 
of pork were appointed, to whom all swine killed on the 
island were to be shown, under penalty of five pounds. 
Earmarks for swine and goats were regulated by the 
Court, the right of property in them recognized, and the 
marks required to be recorded. 

The following si)ring the same general officers were iG4i-2 
chosen, except that Mr. Easton, who had been super- jg J^j-^ 
scded by Eobert Harding at the last election, was re- 
elected an assistant, and Mr. Harding dropped. ^ These 
gentlemen continued in office until the charter govern- 
ment was organized, five years later. Sentence of dis- 
IVanchisement was passed upon four freemen, ^ and their 
names struck from the roll, and in case they came armed 
on the island, they were to be disarmed and put under 
bonds for good behavior. Unfortunately the reasons for 
this earliest decree of virtual banishment are not given. 
Three others were suspended the privilege of voting, two ^ 
until they should give satisfaction for their ofiences, who 
were afterward restored, and Mr. Lenthal, the minister, 
who had returned to England. Amendments and altera- 
tions of laws were constantly made. Only such as were 
permanent or of special interest can here be noticed. 
The fee list was remodelled. Any arms or ammunition 
were forbidden, under heavy fine, to be supplied to the 
Indians. Jurors were elected by the freemen in town 
meeting. Those who were only inhabitants could serve, 

' In the term " officers," are here included the Governor, Deputy 
(Joveruor, the four Assistants and Secretary only. The two Treasurers, two 
Sergeants and two Constables, one of each for each town, are not specified in 
the text, as their duties were mostly local, and the repetition of so many 
names -would be tedious. 

" Richard Carder, Randal Holden, Sampson Shatton and Robert Potter. 

^ George Parker and John Brijss. 


CHAP, as well as freemen, on the jury, by virtue of tlieir freehold 
^^J!^ estates. The pay of the jurors was fixed at one shilling 
16 42. for every cause brought to trial. 
IQ ' The island abounded in wild animals. Deer were 

very abundant and were made a source of revenue ; every 
man who killed one, except on his own land, being, at 
one time, required to give one half of it into the treasury, 
or to pay a commutation of two pounds sterling. Hunt- 
ing parties were sent out to obtain venison for public use 
at the meetings of the Courts. The Indians were not al- 
lowed to kill them, except occasionally by special license, 
nor were traps permitted to be set for them, under a 
penalty of five pounds, except by the freeholder on his 
own land, and at. a later period they were protected by 
game laws. Foxes gave much trouble. A premium of 
six shillings and eight pence a head was off'ered for them, 
to be paid by the treasurer of the town where they were 
killed. Wolves were numerous, and so destructive to the 
cattle that men were hired by the day to hunt them, and 
were paid besides, thirty shillings a head for every one 
killed, which bounty was soon increased to five pounds, 
and a special tax levied for this purpose, to be paid by 
the farmers in proportion to their number of cattle. 
Eoger Williams was commissioned to arrange with Mian- 
tinomi for a grand hunt to extirpate them, wliich, how- 
ever, was not so thoroughly done but that, for several 
years, they continued to be a source of annoyance. ' 

The important subject of a charter^ which three years 
before had been discussed, was again considered at this 
session, and a committee, composed of the general ofiicers, 
with Mr. Jeffreys, Mr. Harding and Mr. John Clark, 

' Wolves are often mentioned in the records of Aqnedneck, as in Jan., 
1658, when Portsmouth asked Newport to aid in driving the island — and 
again on 10th Nov., 1663, when " the island was to be driven the next fair 
day on account of the destruction of sheep by wolves and other vermin." 
On the main land they existed much longer, and were repeatedly the subjects 
of legislation by the Assembly, to the close of the century, and even later. 


was appointed with full power to act. Actual residence chap 
on the island was required to entitle any freeman to vote, ^ — ^ 
but no one could be disfranchised unless the majority of ^^^'^' 
the entire body was present at the meeting. Only eleven 19. 
days before this Court convened, the four Pawtuxet men, 
mentioned in the previous chapter, had submitted them- 
selves and their lands to the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. 
An act so dangerous to the independence of the colony, 
and which might be taken as a precedent by other dis- 
affected persons, could not fail to create much excitement. 
The people of Aquedneck promptly took precaution to 
avoid such a peril to themselves, by adopting an order 
that no person should sell his lands to any other jurisdic- 
tion, or person therein not subject to the government of 
the island, on pain of forfeiture. 

Arrangements were made at this time to establish a 
regular trade with the Dutch at Manhattan. It is indic- 
ative of the feeling existing towards Rhode Island in the 
other colonies that she. was driven to this step ; a feeling 
of which the most painful evidence was shortly to be given. 
The governor and deputy were instructed to " treat with 
the governor of the Dutch to supply us with neces- 
saries, and to take of our commodities at such rates as 
may be suitable." Had there been a spirit of kindness, 
or even of passive indifference, in place of open hostility, 
in the neighboring provinces, Rhode Island would not 
have been obliged to treat wdth the foreign and distant 
settlement at New York for the supply of her wants J 
But the prejudice excited by her different faith, and more 
liberal sentiments, was about to be manifested in an act 
which few men at this day can contemplate without sur- 

' Prior to the arrival of the English the West India Company estahlished 
a trading-post at Dutch Island in Narraganset Bay. Mr. Broadhead says : 
'• About the same time (1G2.^)) the Indian title to tlie island of ' Quotcuis,' 
near the ' Koode Island,' in Narraganset Bay, was secured for the West India 
Company, and a trading-post was established there, under the superintendence 
of Abraham Pietersen." Broadhead's History of New York, cli. viii. vol. 1, p. 
'2GS, and note. Besides this the Dutch had two fortified trading posts on tlie 
«• \\i\-i slioro of Xarray-ansot. in what is now Charlestowu. 


CHAP, prise and indignation. The exposed condition of tlie 
,_X^_, country had suggested the idea of a union of all the New 
164 3. England colonies in a league of defence against the In- 
dians. Six years hcfore, just at the close of the Pequot 
war, when the plantation at Providence was in its infancy 
and the settlement of Aquedneck had not begun, the sub- 
ject was first considered. Many difficulties served to re- 
tard the consummation, chiefly arising from jealousy in 
the other colonies of the power or the designs of Massa- 
chusetts. These fears had no good foundation, unless on 
the part of Rhode Island, which was the only one that 
did not, at some time during the negotiation, display 
them. We have seen that two years ago she united with 
Plymouth and the two Connecticut colonies in a joint 
letter to Massachusetts, upon the subject that formed the 
basis of the confederacy ; and we have read how those 
overtures were approved as related to the rest, and re- 
pelled with unmanly insult as regarded her. The times 
now demanded immediate action. Fears were entertained 
of the Dutch, especially by Connecticut, while the Indians 
daily threatened a general combination to exterminate 
the whites. They were becoming supplied with fire-arms 
and skilled in their use. The peril was imminent. The 
New England confederacy was formed by Massachusetts, 
jQ^ Plymouth, Connecticut and New Haven, with their sub- 
ordinate settlements, and styled the United Colonies of 
New England. By express stipulation no other jurisdic- 
tion was to be admitted. It was mainly a league for 
mutual defence, but contained an article for the rendition 
of fugitive servants and escaped criminals, with some 
other matters of international comity. From some sud- 
denly conceived jealousy on the part of Massachusetts, 
Maine, then a propriety of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, which 
had been included in the preliminary negotiations, was 
not permitted to join the alliance. ' Ehode Island was 

' Hubbard assigns the reason, " because tliey ran a different course from 
the rest, both in their ministry and their civil administrations. Nor indeed 


perhaps the most exposed of all the colonies, yet although chap. 
tliG confederated States already owed their existence to ^^^.^^^^ 
the heroism of her founder, (and Avere shortly again to 164 3. 
receive the benefit of that i^ractical Christianity which jg" 
they could not comprehend, in averting for the second 
time a general war, by his effective influence in the 
wavering councils of the Narragansetts,) neither of the 
colonies within her limits was invited to join the league, 
and her subsequent application for that object met with a 
stern refusal. ^ She was left to stand alone amid dangers 
from famine, pestilence and war. Her only strength was 
in the valor of her sons and the truth of her principles. 
Had the lex tallonis been her guide, as it has been of 
most governments, she would have been justified by the 
necessities to which she was reduced, and might have 
compelled admission to the league, by withdrawing her 
restraining influence from the Indians. It is one of the 
brightest spots in her history that in this dark hour the 
magnanimity of her founder actuated her coimcils. Turn- 
ing from the ingratitude of the Puritans, she appealed to 

were they at that time furnished with inhabitants fit for such a purpose, for 
they had lately made Agamenticus (a poor village) a corporation, and had 
made a mean person mayor thereof, and had also entertained a contentious 
person, and one under offence, for their minister." 2 M. H. C, vi. 467. Yet 
the year before Maine was not considered so unworthy. Wiiithrop's Journal, 
u. 85. 

' It would be ungrateful not to acknowledge the grace extended by the 
General Court to the people of Aquedneck, by a vote of Sept. 7th, 1643. 
" They of Aquidneck are granted to buy a barrell of powder, provided Lieut. 
Morris give caution that it bee implied for the defence of tlie ilaud by the ad- 
vice of the Governor and Deputy." M. C. R., ii. 44. But even this favor 
was denied to the Pi'ovidence colony, who were forbidden all trade witli Bos- 
ton, even to the purchase of arms and ammunition in this fearful crisis. That, 
after such cruel and ungrateful conduct, Roger Williams should again inter- 
pose to save the United Colonies, when his own life and those of his friends 
were secure in tlie love of the Narragansetts, who made a treaty of neutrality 
with them at this very time, reminds us of Gibbon's comment on the conduct 
of Belisarius in a case of domestic infidelity, " the unconquerable patience 
and loyalty of Belisarius appears cither hdoic or above the character of a 


CHAP, tlie king. Koger Williams was sent to England to inter- 
^' cede for a charter ; and because the tyranny of Massa- 

16 43. cliusetts Bay would not relax, lie was obliged to take 
^^^*' passage at New York. A free charter was obtained. 
The despised colonies soon assumed the rank of a united 
and independent State, and to the subsequent harshness of 
her neighbors, was enabled to oppose the language of bold, 
but courteous remonstrance. One of the earliest proceed- 
ings of the league was to sanction the dark deed recorded 
in the preceding chapter, the murder of Miantinomi, the 
too faithful friend of Ehode Island. 
~ " The frequent alarms led to the establishment of a 

night watch in Portsmouth, which seems to have per- 

1643-4. fected the system of precautions that had so long occu- 
j)ied the attention of the people. The next General 

March Court changed the name of Aquedneck to the " Isle of 
^^- Ehodes or Ehode Island." ' The last recorded act of 
the Aquedneck assembly declared that the majority of 
the major part of the body appearing, should have full 
power to transact business, and to impose penalties upon 
those who did not attend, or who left the meeting with- 

16 44. out leave. 

^ay The alarm of Indian war again spread through the 

colonies. A letter from Canonicus and Pessicus was re- 
ceived by Gov. Winthrop, announcing their intention to 
revenge upon Uncas the death of Miantinomi. Two 
messengers were sent at once to the Narragansetts to dis- 
suade them, but without effect. The people of Aqued- 
Julj- neck applied to Massachusetts for powder, but were re- 
fused, as Plymouth had been, owing, no doubt, to a 
scarcity of ammunition ; a refusal which Winthrop re- 
Q^^ cords as an error of policy, for '• although they were des- 
perately erroneous " it would be "a great advantage to 
the Indians" if they were cut off, "and a great inconve- 
nience to the English should they be forced to seek pro- 

^ See note on the origin of this name at the close of chapter ii. 


tection from the Dutch." The commissioners of the chap. 
United Colonies, at their next meeting, removed the im- ^,J^ 
mediate danger, having summoned the disputants to 10 44. 
Hartford, where an armistice was agreed upon till the 
next year. 

The records of the General Court of Aqucdncck now 
cease, and no town records of Newport remain to enlighten 
us on the current events of the next two years. That 
the same general officers, who had already been elected 
three successive years, and whose term of office was " for 
one whole year, or till a new be chosen," continued to 
carry on the government, and that its judicial powers 
were exercised by them as far as was necessary, there can 
be no doubt. The mutilated pages of Portsmouth aid 
somewhat in filling this unwelcome gap, and confirm 
the fact that if no General Courts were convened in this 
interval, town meetings were held in both the towns, and 
their decrees executed by the general officers. The 
de]3uty governor and one assistant were authorized to 
appoint all town meetings at Portsmouth. Leave was 
given to Osamequin. or Massasoit, with ten men to kill Aug. 
ten deer within the limits of the town, which were to be 
shown to Mr. Brenton and Mr. Balston, and he was to 
quit the island within five days. Several other meetings 
arc recorded during this year relating solely to local af- 
fiiirs. It was at this time that Plymouth colony sent 
a magistrate to Aquedneck to forbid the government Xov. 
there from exercising any authority, and claiming the 
island to be within their jurisdiction, contrary to their 
express admission at the time of the purchase seven years ''■ 

A copy of the instructions given to Mr. John Brown, 
who was commissioned for this purpose, is fortunately 
preserved by Winslow, ' at that time Governor of Ply- 
mouth, These are : 1. That a great part of their sup- 

' Ilypoorisie Unmasked, 83. 




posed government is within the line of the government of 
Plymouth. 2. That we assuredly know that this ever to 
1644. he honored House of Parliament would not, nor will 
when they shall know it, take from us, the most ancient 
plantation, any part of the line of our government former- 
ly granted ; it heing contrary to their principles. 3, To 
forbid them and all and every one of them to exercise any 
authority, or power of government within the limits of 
our letters patent. 4. To certify them that Coweset is 
not only within the said limits, hut that the Sachem 
thereof and his sons have taken protection of this, our gov- 
ernment. And, therefore, to forbid them to enter upon 
any part of his or their lands without due order and leave 
from our government." 

A settled j)urpose was displayed by the Puritan colo- 
nies, soon after the charter was received by Ehode Island, 
to set it aside by every possible plea that could affect its 
validity. The active measures thus taken by Plymouth 
were at the same time pursued, yet more vigorously, if 
indeed they were not directly instigated, by Massachusetts. 
The more liberal Pilgrims were overborne by the dictatorial 
spirit of their Puritan neighbors, and were led to j)i'ess 
claims which, had they ever existed, were become invali- 
dated by their own acts. Yet this very messenger boldly 
withstood the pretensions of Massachusetts to other parts 
of Ehode Island as we shall presently see, and was per- 
haps the only man whose influence could have sustained 
the manly position he assumed in behalf of Shawomet. 
Gov. Winslow says, that Mr. Brown arrived at Aqued- 
neck just as a public meeting was being held to apportion 
lands, a measure disapproved by Mr. Coddiugton and 
Mr. Brenton, who kept aloof from it, and who ap- 
prehended danger from the lawlessness of the people. 
He states also that Gorton, who after his release from 
prison in Massachusetts, had again settled at Aquedneck, 
was appointed a magistrate and had accepted the office — 


a fact which he adduces as proof that the fears of the chap. 
above-named gentlemen were well grounded. Mr. Brown's v^^,.:^ 
mission was futile. Gorton accuses him of privately seek- 1044. 
ing to dissuade the people of the island from recognizing 
the charter. The spirit of his instructions would har- 
monize with almost any means he might employ to fulfil 
them. Winslow says, he performed his duty publicly at 
the meeting. This meeting was probably held in Ports- 
mouth to subdivide the lands there, as was usual at 
that time. No legible record of it, or of any other meet- 
ing for more than a year, remains. 

The fact that a new government was about to be 16 45. 
formed under the charter, no doubt led to this evident 
neglect of the old one so soon to expire. That this apathy 
was increasing is apparent from a vote at Portsmouth, y^^^' 
making nine men a quorum at any town meeting, and re- 28. 
quiring that the business to be done should be specified 
in the warning. ,^,p - 

Newport had passed an order that no deer should be Feb. 
killed for two months, which Portsmouth concurred in, '^• 
assigning as the reason that in that way the wolves would 
more readily come to bate and so be caught. At the 
same time it was ordered that of the five pounds bounty 
on each wolf, which had been established some years be- 
fore, Newport should pay four and Portsmouth one. An 
act like this could not be vahd unless passed by a Gene- 
ral Court or concurred in by a town meeting at Newport. 
A more efficient law for the protection of deer was passed 
at the same meeting, forbidding their being shot in the 
summer, from May to November. 

The most interesting record of this, the last mectiDg 
of the people of Aqucdneck under their primitive gov- 
ernment, contains the first notice of indentured appren- 
ticeship in Rhode Island. " Memorandum : That where- 
as, Nicholas Niles, the father-in-law of Abcll Potter, hath 
[bound him] the said Abell Potter with Mr. William 

VOL. I. — 11 


CHAP. Balstone for the term of eighteen years, with the consent 
,.^,!^:_, of the said Ahell. For the better securitie off Mr. Bal- 
16 47. &tone, the towne consenteth herein and approveth thereof." 
29^ The three months that intervened before the first 

General Assembly of the now chartered State convened 
at Portsmouth we may suppose was employed in discuss- 
ing the all absorbing topic, and in the preparation of that 
admirable code of laws then to be presented for adoption. 



TENT, MAY, 164*7. 

Warwick was settled some years later than Provi- chap. 

clence and Aquedneck, and chiefly by emigralits from 
them ; hut the same primitive cause, the intolerance 
of Massachusetts, forced most of its founders into banish- 
ment, while their peculiar views, differing from those of 
the other Ehode Island settlers, influenced them in select- 
ing another spot for their resting place. No man has suf- 
fered more in reputation from the calumny of his enemies, 
or been made to feel more severely the penalty of non- 
conformity, or the trials of an independent spirit, than 
Samuel Gorton, the founder of Warwick. " A most pro- 
digious minter of exorbitant novelties," "a proud and 
pestilent seducer," " a beast," " miscreant " and " arch 
heretic," are some of the epithets with which he has been 
branded by the malevolence of his age. It was in vain, 
in those days, that any dissenter from the established 
church of Massachusetts strove to deny whatever results 
the authorities saw fit to ascribe to his views. The fate 
of Williams and of Clark, was sure to be his. There was 
no reason why the Grortonists should be treated any better 
than the Anabaptists or the Antinomians had been, cr 
than the Quakers were soon to be. The same power that 
had driven Williams into exile and had disarmed the fol- 
lowers of Mrs. Hutchinson, was ready to vindicate its 



CHAP, superiority upon the sturdy spirit of Grorton. In 1636, 
_I^ Gorton arrived at Boston from London. But little is 
16 3 6. known of Us earlier history, and that little is of no im- 
portance to our present purpose. He soon removed to 
Plymouth, where "he gave some hopes that he would 
prove a useful instrument." These hopes were soon dis- 
pelled by the wayward and independent spirit which he 
manifested. Cotton assigns as the reason of his leaving 
Boston that it was to escape from the claims of a creditor 
in England. Hubhard and Mather, with their accus- 
tomed bitterness, repeat the charge, but more reliable 
historians are silent upon it, and its truth has been 
reasonably doubted, from the fact that a removal to Ply- 
mouth would not secure him from arrest. It soon ap- 
peared that his religious views were widely at variance 
from those of his associates. The key note of a persecu- 
tion that was destined to pursue him for many years, even 
beyond the chartered grasp of civilized man, was early 
sounded by one Mr. Kalph Smith, who had formerly been 
a minister at Plymouth, and a part of whose house Gor- 
ton had hired for four years. Some of Smith's household 
were in the habit of attending the morning and evening 
religious service held by Gorton in his family, which dis- 
pleased the former. Gorton refused to vacate the prem- 
ises. The only mode of ejecting him was by an appeal 
to the popular bigotry through the medium of the Court. 
Opportunity was not wanting in the case of one so pecu- 
liar in his views and so fearless in expressing them. What 
was the form of the notion brought by Smith, or the na- 
ture of the charge against Gorton, is not distinctly stated, 
but the result was that the contract was broken, he was 
ordered to provide for himself elsewhere within a certain 
time, and to give bonds for his good behavior in the in- 
terval, A more serious breach of order was shortly al- 
leged against him. A female servant in Gorton's family 
was seen to smile in church. To escape the proceedings 



which threatened in consequence of this overt act against chai 
the peace and dignity of the State, the woman fled to the 
woods. Gorton spoke in her behalf, for which he was 
called to account by the Court, where, conducting him- 
self in a very rude and contemptuous manner, his bonds 
were forfeited, he was bound over to the next General 
Court, and required to find new sureties for his conduct 
till that time. He obtained the sureties but immediately 
left for Aquedneck. Morton mentions only the difficulty 
with Smith, and assigns this as the cause of his banish- 
ment, which he says was decreed on the fourth of Decem- 
ber 1638, to take place within fourteen days. Winslow 
and Gorton himself, both correct the error of fact, while 
other circumstances make it equally apparent that there 
is also an error of date. Six months before the time of 
his banishment, as given by Morton, Gorton was admitted june 
an inhabitant of Aquedneck, as the records show. It is -^■ 
probable that the date in Morton should be one year 
earlier, and that the sentence of banishment within four- 
teen days was passed at a later court than the one in De- 
cember. The difiiculty with the Court, in the case of the 
servant woman, happened after that with Smith, and is 
not referred to by Morton. Perhaps the Smith case was 
tried in December 1637, and the subsequent one at the 
next March term. Very soon after the latter trial, all 
accounts agree that he went to Aquedneck, where a set- 
tlement had just been commenced by the Antinomian 
refugees. The Massachusetts writers, wliile they freely 
denounce the heresies of Gorton, deny that these were 
the cause of his banishment. There can be no doubt that 
the charge brought by Smith, in the first instance, for the 
purpose of annulling the lease and thus ridding himself 
of a disagreeable tenant, was that of heresy, and the in- 
ference is equally direct that the truth of the allegation 
had aroused popular feeling against the accused. The 
evidence is equally plain that his conduct, when on trial, 


CHAP, was most abusive and his language insulting to the Court, 
^J[^ so much so that " divers people being present desired 
16 3 8. leave of the Governor to speak complaining of his sedi- 
tious carriage, and requested the Court not to suffer these 
abuses but to inflict condign punishment." That he was 
deeply imbued with the principles of " soul liberty " al- 
ready established by Eoger Williams, and indignantly 
repelled any attempt to fetter the free mind in its com- 
munion with the Creator, is so much in his favor, and at 
this day will go far towards exculpating his conduct at 

In fact, it was on this account that he was warmly 
received at Aquedneck, and ever since, his name has be en 
associated in this State, with those whose first coming 
hither was caused by Puritan persecution. That he af- 
terwards so severely suffered from this cause has tended 
to confirm this opinion. But on the other hand, the 
minute account of his offensive bearing towards the Court 
is so consistent with the repulsive traits of his character, 
as afterwards displayed at Portsmouth, and stiU later at 
Providence, in a more dangerous degree, causing his ban- 
ishment from Aquedneck, and his flight to Pawtuxet, that 
we are forced to beheve him not to be so guiltless in his 
course at Plymouth as his defenders allege. This was 
indeed one of those common cases where neither party in 
a contest is altogether right, and in our view of it the 
plea of persecution cannot cover his errors until a later 
period of. his history. Up to this time there is enough of 
wrong apparent on both sides to excuse in some measure 
the conduct of each, according as the sympathies of the 
writer may incline him to either party. 

We might think more favorably of Gorton's course at 
Plymouth, had not his avowed principles, and his acts in 
accordance therewith, been so outrageous as not to be 
borne by the people of Aquedneck ; beside which we know 
that the Plymouth colony was more liberal in its feeling 


than that of the Bay, permitting a greater latitude of in- chap. 
dividual opinion. Assuming as above that the sentence ^^ 
of banishment was passed upon him in March, he must 10 3 8. 
have reached Aquedneck very soon after the settlement of 
Pocasset commenced. His name appears the seventh on 
the list of fifty-nine inhabitants in October, with that of 
his companion John Wickes, who, Morton says, was one 
of his earliest proselytes at Plymouth ; and henceforth 
their fortunes were closely united. As an evidence of the 
distinction in which he was held at that time, it may be 
stated that his is one of only four names on the list to 
which Mr.^ used in that day as a special mark of respect, 
is affixed. The date appended to these names is that of 
their admission as inhabitants, not that of their coming 
to the island, which must have occurred somewhat ear- 
lier. But the time of his arrival at Aquedneck is a point 
of little moment compared with the history of his conduct 
while there. That he Was whipped and banished from 
the island has been doubted, * because the State records 
contain no notice of the fact. The evidence, however, is 
too strong to permit us to doubt it. That it is not found 
on the records is simply because judicial proceedings were 
not entered there. But few of the court trials of that 
day are preserved. Incidental references to them appear 
occasionally on the State archives, as in the case of 
Wickcs, the earliest disciple and constant companion of i642. 
Gorton. The day after the four men, " who were after- ^fj^J'cli 
wards among the first settlers of Warwick, were disfran- 
chised, it was ordered that if they, with John Wickes, 
should come upon the island armed, the constable was to 
disarm and take them before a magistrate, " Provided 
that this order hinder not the course of law already begun 
with J. Wickcs ; " by which it appears that Wickes had 17. 

' Judge Eddy in Wiiitlirop ii. 58, note, and Staple's Simplicities Defence, 

■ Ricliard Carder, Raudul Iloldcn, Sampson Sliattou and Robert Potter. 


CHAP, previously got into trouble and left the island — a virtual 
.._Z!^ banishment, although no record of any proceedings against 
16 3 8, him, and no sentence of disfranchisement is found, any 
more than there is against Gorton. It is probable that 
both were involved at the same time, and that had the 
Court files been preserved, the judicial punishment pro- 
nounced against both, of whipping and banishment, would 
there be found. Lechford, who resided in New England 
" almost for the space of four years," prior to August, 
1641, relates the circumstances ; Winthrop and Morton 
both refer to them, and Gorton himself not only does not 
deny the facts, but, so far as he refers to his sufferings 
prior to the settlement of Warwick, corroborates their 
truth, speaking of " fines, whippings and banishment out 
of all their jurisdiction," as suffered by himself and his 
associates. The most positive and detailed evidence in 
regard to his conduct and treatment at Aquedneck, is 
given by Winslow, in an official form, as agent for Mas- 
sachusetts, replying to Gorton's Simplicities Defence. ^ 
There can be no doubt of the truth of the statements 
there officially promulgated, however much we may dis- 
sent from the author's inferences. That Winslow and 
Gorton were on good terms personally at the time of its 
publication, although both were in England engaged in 
conflicting business pertaining to the Warwick settlement, 
and that Gorton never read but little of it, appears by his 
letter to Morton. - Had the official documents been false 
he would certainly have seen them and denied their truth, 
instead of quoting the indefinite remark of a third per- 
son " that he would maintain that there were forty lies 
printed in that book." The contempt expressed by Gor- 

^ Hypocrisie Unmasked. By Edw. Winslow, London, 1646. 4to., 103 
pp. Published by Authority, and Dedicated to Kobert, Earl of Warwick. It 
is an extremely rare work. The writer examined the copy in the British 
Museum, and since then the " sole duplicate " of that copy, which is now in 
the splendid library of John Carter Brown, Esq., of Providence. 

" Hutchinson's Massachusetts, i. 652 Ap. xx. 

Gorton's views of goveenment, 169 

ton for the government of Aqiiedneck as being self-con- chap. 
stituted, is of itself sufficient explanation of the source ^^ 
whence his troubles arose, while the charges preferred 16 3 
against him by the grand-juiy of Portsmouth justify the 
punishment he received. He says he conducted himself 
'' obediently to the government of Plimouth, so farrc as it 
became me at least, for I understood that they had com- 
ission wherein authoritie was derived, which authoritie I 
reverenced ; but Khode Island at that time had none, 
therefore no authoritie legally derived to deale with me. 
Neither had they the choice of the people, but set up 
themselves. I know not any more that was present in 
their creation but a clergie man who blessed them in their 
inauguration, and I thought my selfe as fitt and able to 
governe my selfe and family, as any that were then upon 
Ehode Island." That he ignored aU civil authority at 
Aquedneck he here admits, and gives his reasons for it, 
thinking himself " as fit and able to govern himself and 
family, as any that were then upon Khode Island." 
This spirit could not long exist in harmony with 
the views of the settlers anywhere in this State, for 
although there was no law religion here, there was an 
organized government demanding respect for its officers, 
and obedience to its statutes. The views of Gorton, as 
above given in his own words, were too much like those 
which the Puritan calumniators of Williams and Clarke 
charged as being held by their associates, that they " de- 
nied all magistracy and churches." The banishment of 
Gorton refutes the slander. And yet Gorton did not 
deny aU magistracy, but only the right of the people to 
set up for themselves a form of government. After the 
charter was received, his mind was relieved upon this 
point. Meanwhile it was the constant source of trouble 
to himself, and of annoyance to his neighbors. 

The origin of his difficulty at Portsmouth, as stated 16 4 
by Winslow, was a trespass by a cow belonging to an old 


CHAP, woman, upon some land owned by Grorton. The woman, 
J?^ while driving off her cow, was assaulted by a servant- 
16 40. maid of Gorton's, and complained to the deputy governor, 
Nicholas Easton, who had the maid brought before the 
court. Gorton appeared in her behalf, refusing to allow 
her to come to court. One of the witnesses called for the 
defence, gave testimony strongly the other way, which 
enraged Gorton, who commenced abusing her, and had 
his friend John Wickes brought to the stand. Wickes 
refused sworn. Gorton sustained him in the refusal, 
and both insulted the court. At length the Governor 
summed up the case to the jury. While doing this, Gor- 
ton was very abusive .to the governor and deputy, inter- 
rupting the former in his charge, insomuch that "many 
of the freemen present desired the court not to suffer such 
insolencies." He was committed, and when the Marshal 
was ordered to take him to prison, he cried out that Cod- 
dington should be taken. Wickes, Holden and others, 
made so much disturbance, that an armed guard was sum- 
moned to clear the way, and Wickes was put into the 
stocks. After this affair, Gorton was indicted by the 
grand jury as a nuisance, upon fourteen separate counts. 
A copy of this remarkable presentment signed by the 
Secretary of the Colony, is given by Winslow, ^ as fol- 
lows : 

" The sum of the presentment of Samuel Gorton, at 
Portsmouth, in Khode Island, by the Grand Jury. 

First, that Samuel Gorton, certaine days before his ap- 
pearance at this Court, said, the Government was such 
as was not to be subjected unto, forasmuch as it had not 
a true derivation, because it was altered from what it 
first was. 

2. That Samuel Gorton contumeliously reproached 
the Magistrates, calling them Just Asses. 

3. That the said Gorton reproachfully called the 

' Hypocrisie Unmasked, p. 54-5. 


judges, or some of the justices on the Bench, (corrupt chap. 
judges) in open Court. ,_!_ 

4. That the said Gorton questioned the Court for 164 0. 
making him to wait on them two days formerly, and that 

now hee would know whether hee should bee tryed in an 
hostile way, or by law, or in sobriety. 

5. The said Gorton alleged in open court, that he 
looked at the Magistrates as Lawyers, and called Mr. 
Easton, Lawyer Easton. 

6. The said Gorton charged the Deputy Governor to 
be an Abetter of a Riot, Assault, or Battery, and pro- 
fessed that he would not touch him, no, not with a pair 
of tongs : Moreover, he said, I know not whether thou 
hast any ears or no : as also, I think thou knowest not 
where thy ears stand, and charged him to be a man unfit 
to make a warrant. 

7. The said Gorton charged the Bench for wresting 
witnesse, in this expression, I profess you wrest witnesse. 

8. The said Gorton called a Freeman in open Court 
(saucy boy and Jack-an-Apes), and said the woman that 
was upon her oath, would not speak against her mother, 
although she was damned where she stood. 

9. The said Gorton affirmed that Mr. Easton behaved 
himself not like a judge, and that himself was charged 
either basely or falsely. 

10. The said Gorton said to the Bench : Ye intrude 
oatlies, and goe about to catch me. 

11. The said Gorton being reproved for his miscar- 
riage, held up his hand, and with extremity of speech 
shooke his hand at them, insomuch that the Freemen 
present said. He threatens the Court. 

12. The said Gorton charged the Court with acting 
the second part of Plymouth magistrates, who, as he said, 
condemned him in the chimney corner, ere they heard 
him speak. 


CHAP. 13. The said Gorton, in open court did professe to 

._I^ maiutaine the quarrell of another, being his maid- servant, 
16 40. 14. The said Gorton being commanded to prison, im- 
periously resisted the authority, and made open procla- 
macion, sajdng, take away Coddington, and carry him to 
prison ; the Governor said again, all you that owne the 
King, take away Gorton and carry him to prison ; Gor- 
ton replyed, all you that own the King, take away Cod- 
dington, and carry him to prison. 

William Dyre, Secretary." 

Gorton was tried, and sentenced to be whipped and 

MarcL. l^anished from the island, upon which he threatened an 

appeal to King Charles. The sentence was executed 

forthwith, and Gorton went to Providence. This was 

when " the weather was very cold," probably in March, 

^ ^ as a few months later we find, bv a letter from Eoger 
Oct. . . ' - ° 

1. Williams to Gov. Winthrop, that he was " bewitching 

and bemadding poor Providence." ^ His reckless and 

' This letter fixes the time of Gorton's heing in Providence earlier by more 
than a year than any other known data. It is as follows : " Providence, 8th 
1st, 1640. Master Gorton having abused high and low at Aquidnick, is 
now bewitching and bemadding poor Providence, both with his uncleane and 
foul censures of all the ministers of this comitry (for which myself have in 
Christ's name withstood him), and also denying all visible and esternall or- 
dinances in depth of Familisme, against which I have a little disputed and 
written, and shall (the most High assenting), to death. As Paul said of Asia, 
I of Providence (almost) all suck in his poyson, as at first they did at Aquid- 
nick. Some few and myself withstand his inhabitation, and town privileges, 
without confession and reformation of his uncivil and inhuman practises at 
Portsmouth : Yet the tide is too strong against us, and I feare (if the framer 
of hearts helpe not) it will force me to little Patience, a little isle nest to 
your Prudence. Jehovah himself be pleased to be a sanctuary to all whose 
hearts are perfect with him ; in him I desire imfeignedly to be, Y^our wor- 
ship's true and affectionate Roger Williams." — Winsloio's Hypocrisie ITnmasJced, 

The trial of Gorton could not have been in 1639, as Hutchinson was that 
year the Judge at Portsmouth, where the indictment was found. Codding- 
ton and Easton, the latter residing at Portsmouth, were chosen Governor 
and Deputy Governor, on 12th March, 16-10, on the union of the two towns. 


lawless spirit, opposed as niiicli to magistrates constituted, chap. 
like those of Khode Island, by the popular will, as to .J^ 
ministers supported hy law, like those of the other colonies, 16 40. 
found a fitting arena for its exercise in the feeble and dis- 
tracted plantation of Providence. A bitter partisan by na- 
ture, with talent and energy to consolidate and control 
discordant elements into a vigorous and relentless opposi- 
tion, he soon made himself the leader of all who were 
factious or discontented, and organized a destructive and 
revolutionary party in the hitherto comparatively peace- 
ful settlement of Williams. The career of Gorton in 
Rhode Island illustrates how completely the extremes 
of conservatism and radicalism in civil affairs may unite 
in a single mind. While on rehgious matters he main- 
tained with Williams the great doctrine of the underived 
independence of the soul, in civil concerns he was an ab- 
solutist, a stickler for authority, yielding, theoretically at 
least, entire obedience to chartered power, but ignoring 
any other, and steadily denying the right of the people of 
Aquedneck or Providence to govern themselves, and 
hence refusing to be controlled by them. And because 
of this defect in the basis of their government he used 
every effort to weaken or destroy it, assuming for that 
object the attitude of the veriest leveller recorded in his- 
tory. His disorderly course in Providence was such as to 
prevent his being received as an inhabitant. It was re- 
quired, as a condition of his reception, that he should 
confess the wrong he had done at Portsmouth and promise 
reformation, which we presume to mean, that he should 
admit the error of his theory of government. So great 
was the contention caused by his presence, that Mr. Wil- 
liams seriously thought of abandoning liis plantation and 
removing to Patience Island. The next year matters 

Gorton was in Providence in Oct., IGIO, .nml had been there some time. The 
weather was cold when he went there, which must tlierefore have been early 
in the spring, after the 12th IMareh, or in April, 16-40. 


grew worse. The refusal of the first application of Gor- 
ton and his associates to be received into town fellowship 
did not discourage them. A second attempt was made, 
upon which William Arnold, then one of the five " dis- 
posers," to whom such applications were referred, ad- 
dressed a letter, " To the rest of the five men appointed 
to manedge ye affaires of our Town," giving reasons based 
upon the weak condition of the town, why this further re- 
quest should be denied. These were, that Gorton had 
" showed himself an insolent, railing and turbulent per- 
son," since, as well as before he came to Providence ; that 
some of his company had insulted the disposers ; that 
their former request had been refused and no new reasons 
advanced why this should be granted ; that they had dis- 
tracted and divided the town into parties, aiming to drive 
away its founders, and had been ringleaders in breaking 
the peace ; and finally he denies that any element of per- 
secution is contained in a refusal to admit into a civil so- 
ciety men so turbulent. He concludes by ofi"ering his 
house and land for sale to the town, as the law required, 
stating that if these men are received he shall sell and 
move away.' Not long after this a riot ensued in which 

^^T^' some blood was spilt, and the aid of Massachusetts 

was invoked by some of the inhabitants.^ Gorton and 

his company moved to Pawtuset soon after this affair, 

1042. wiiere their conduct induced four of the principal residents 

' 8. ' to submit themselves and their lands to the government 
of Massachusetts.^ The " warrant," as Gorton terms it, 
issued by Massachusetts on this occasion, ^ greatly alarmed 

1 Hypocrisie Unmasked, 59-62. New England Gen. Register, 216-18. 

- See ante, chap, iv., pp. 110-111. 

^ " Massachusetts to our neighbors of Providence : "WTiereas, Wm. Ai-nold 
of Pawtuxet, and Robert Cole and others, have lately put themselves and 
their families, lands and estates, under the protection and government of this 
jurisdiction, and have since complained to us, that you have since (upon pre- 
tence of a late purchase from the Indians), gone about to deprive them of 
their lawful interest, confirmed by four years possession, and otherwise to mo- 



his party, and drew from them a letter, addressed " To 
our neighbors of Massachusetts," signed by nearly all of 
them, which afterwards caused them much trouble. In \. -• 
this letter they justly call the document " an irregular 20. 
note," " because it went beyond the bounds and jurisdic- 
tions limited unto them." They then discuss the sub- 
mission of the Pawtuxet men, of which the " warrant " 
was simply a formal notification, denying the claim of 
Massachusetts to extend her jurisdiction beyond her char- 
tered limits on account of any such act, whether done by 
English or Indians. The complaints of the submission- 
ists are fully discussed and their conduct harshly re"vdewed. 
The invitation to implead them in the courts of Massa- 
chusetts is duly considered and declined in terms of unspar- 
ing severity. Through the whole protracted ej)istle there 
is interwoven a mass of abtruse theology, and a parade of 
biblical learning, of which the application is often difficult 
to discover, and the chief object of which is to hurl upon 
those to whom it is addressed a storm of theological in- 
vective. None but a mystical enthusiast could have 
written it, and he must be a zealous antiquary in these 
days, who would read it.^ The bitter rebuke that it con- 
tained rankled in the minds of the magistrates, and the 
heresy they detected in its doctrines soon aiforded a pretext 
for their vengeance. Soon after this letter was written 
the Gortonists left Pawtuxet, and purchasing of the In- 
dians lands at Shawomet, beyond the limits of Providence, 

lest them ; we thought good therefore to write to you on then- behalf, to give 
you notice that they and their lands, &c., being under our jurisdiction, we are 
to maintain them in their lawful rights. If, therefore, you have any just ti- 
tle to any thing they possess, you may proceed against them in our court, 
where you shall have eqiial justice ; but, if you shall proceed to any violence, 
you must not blame us if wo shall take a like course to right them." Signed, 
Jo. Winthrop, Governor. Tho. Dudley, Ri. Bellinghain, Incr. Xowcll. Tlie 
28th of the 8th month, 1042. Simp. Defence, 53. 

' This letter occupies nearly one-fifth of Winslow's book, and twenty-six 
closely printed pages, G0-8G, of Staple's Simp. Defence R. I. II. C, v. 2. 


CHAP, removed to the wilderness, where English charter, or civil- 
._.,J^ ized claim, could legally pursue them no longer. 
1642-3. There were twelve purchasers, but eleven of whom 
12, are recited in the deed.^ The tract extended along the 
bay from Gaspee point to Warwick neck and twenty miles 
inland, embracing the greater part of the present town- 
ships of Warwick and Coventry. The consideration was 
one hundered and forty-four fathoms of wampum peage.^ 
The land was conveyed by Miantinomi, chief Sachem of 
the Narragansets and hereditary lord of the soil, and the 
deed was witnessed by Pomham, the local Sachem of 
Shawomet, with others. 

No form of government seems to have been adopted. 
Their numbers were too small to require an organization. 
Some mode of adjusting differences was all they needed, 
and this was provided for by arbitration, which was the 
essential feature of the government of Providence. This 
was only a temporary arrangement to continue until a 
charter could be obtained from England. Had they re- 
mained unmolested until the settlement attained greater 
size, and no charter had been received, it would have been 
curious to see what method they could devise to secure 
social order without violating their fundamental principles. 
But this experiment was not to be tried. Scarcely had 
the settlement of Warwick begun when a fresh occasion 
of strife was presented, arising from the dissatisfaction of 
the natives, fomented, as there is too much reason to be- 
lievCj by the intrigues of Massachusetts. At the first 
meeting of the General Court a committee of three, one 
of whom was William Arnold of Pawtuxet, who had re- 

^ They were Randal Holden, John Greene, John Weeks (or Wickes), Fran- 
cis Weston, Samuel Gorton, Richard Waterman, John Warner, Richard Car- 
der, Samson Shatton, Robert Potter, William Wiiddall, and Nicholas Power. 
The latter is not named in the deed, but we learn from his letters that he was 
one of the pui-chasers, and Gorton mentions that there were twelve. 

^ Equivalent to £72 sterhng, if black peage is meant, or half that sum if 
the payment was to be in white. 



cently submitted to Massachusetts, was sent to Warwick chap 
" to understand how things were," and to bring back with ,_I^ 
them a certain Indian if possible ' On the same day the 1643. 
magistrates and certain deputies were appointed a com- jq^ 
mittee to treat with the Sachems of Warwick and Paw- 
tuxet about their submission, " and to warn any to desist Ji'w 
which shall disturb them." The next month Pomham, 
with Soconoco, Sachem of Pawtuxet, submitted themselves 
and their lands to the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, de- 
nied having assented to the sale of Warwick, or having 
received any portion of the payment, and by this act of 
submission afforded another pretext, of which their ene- 
mies at once availed themselves, to harass the unhappy 
Gortonists in this their last retreat. The proceedings that 
followed are so extraordinary, that w^e are led to examine 
closely the motives and the means employed by the Gren- 
eral Court. 

Gorton was beyond the reach of any English jurisdic- 
tion. Having left Pawtuxet, he was no longer a tres- 
passer on the lands of the proteges of Massachusetts. 
Some new pretext must be found to secure their object. 
A submission of the Warwick Sachem would furnish it, 
claiming, as Massachusetts always did, that an act of 
submission to their government by any party extended 
their jurisdiction over the lands of such party. Gorton 
had purchased Shawomet of its undoubted lord. The at- 
tempt of Pomham to deny the sale is, to say the least, 
suspicious. The witnesses on this point, at the General 
Court, were deeply interested parties. Arnold had bought 
land of Soconoco, the Pawtuxet Sachem, a short time be- 
fore, and the validity of his title depended on establishing 
the independence of his grantor. The Pawtuxet men 
were bitter against Gorton, and naturally desirous to 
please their new and self-imposed rulers. They were pro- 
minent, if not the instigators, in the whole matter. The 
Narragansct empire Avas rapidly falling. Massasoit liad 

' M. C. R., ii. 35. 
VOL. I — 12 


CHAP, availed liimself of an English alliance to sever liis allegi- 
^J!^ ance to the Narragansets, and the petty Sachems of Paw- 
1643. tuxet and Shawomet wished to follow his example. Eng- 
lish ambition assisted their design. Miantinomi was 
shorn of his vassals by the act of the General Court in 
receiving their submission, as a few months later he was 
deprived of his life by a like interested tribunal. The 
motive in all this is barely concealed. At the time of the 
submission of the Pawtuxet men, Winthrop honestly gave 
as one reason for accepting it, that it would furnish them 
" an outlet into the Narraganset bay ; " an object which 
Massachusetts kept steadily in view, and which furnishes 
a key to this dark intrigue. One other motive animated 
the actors in the coming drama. The heretics yet lived, 
and the sting of their last impolitic, although truthful, 
letter could only be assuaged by their blood. Territorial 
ambition, religious bigotry, and wounded pride, all united 
to demand their persecution, and for the time, blinded 
their assailants to the illegality, the injustice, and the 
dishonesty of the means employed to accomphsh their 
Sept. end. At the next General Court active measures were 
' ■ taken to follow up this scheme to its consummation. The 
22 Comissioners of the United Colonies were in session, the 
same day, at Boston. The case of Gorton was referred 
to them and their assent obtained, in advance, to what- 
ever course Massachusetts might see fit to adopt. ^ A 
letter, or warrant as Gorton again terms it, similar to the 
one sent on the submission of the Pawtuxet men, was 
written to the purchasers of Shawomet, informing them 
of the submission and the complaints of the Sachems, re- ' 
quiring them to appear at once before the court, where 
the plaintiffs were then present, and granting them a safe 
conduct for that purpose. A verbal reply by the messen- 
ger was returned to the court denying their jurisdiction, 
and rightly asserting that they were amenable only to the 

' Hypocrisie Unmosked, p. 79, where the Act of the Commissioners is 

Gorton's letters to Massachusetts. ■ 179 

government of Old England from which they expected chap. 


due season to receive direction for their well ordering 


in all civil respects." A lengthy letter was also sent, ad- 1643 
dressed " To the great idol General now set up in" Massa- j ? ' 
chusetts/' signed by K. Holden, if possible more bitter from 
a sense of accumulated wrong, than that of November 
previous. In this letter they denounce the conduct of 
Pumham and forbid his return to Shawomet ; they com- 
plain of outrages committed by the Indians under the 
shield of Massachusetts, and refer to two rumored threats, 
uttered by subjects of that government, which foreshadow 
the crimes that were to follow — one, that Miantinomi 
should die because he had sold Shawomet to Gorton, the 
other that the Gortonists should be subdued or driven oif 
even at the cost of blood. The proposal to attend the 
court, and the offer of safe conduct for that purpose, are 
rejected with scorn. An array of charges are next brought 
against the two sachems, and a demand is made that the 
Massachusetts should come to Warwick and answer them. 
A postscript refers to their treatment of Mrs. Hutcliinson, 
news of whose massacre had lately been received, and for 
which they are held morally responsible. The letter, as 
usual, is full of scriptural allusions disparaging those to 
whom it is addressed. The General Court could have 
expected no other reply than one that would increase the 
rancor engendered by the former letter. These two let- 
ters were furnished to Winslow, and form the chief evi- 
dence against Gorton, published in his official reply to 
Simplicities Defence. They give occasion for " certaine 
observations collected by a godly and reverend divine," 
classed under three heads : 

1. Their reproachful and reviling speeches of the gov- 
ernment and magistrates of Massachusetts. 

2. Their reviling language against magistracy itself 
and all civil power. 


3. Tlieir blasphemous speeches against the holy things 
of God. 

Gorton says they " framed out of them twenty-six 
particulars, or thereabouts, which they said were blasphe- 
mous, changing of phrases, altering in words or sense ; 
not in any one of them taking the true intent of our 
writings ; " and it is certain, by Winthrop's account of the 
trial, that whatever may have been the real cause of hos- 
tility towards Gorton, his heresy was the ostensible reason 
of their severity. 

The court immediately dispatched another letter, ac- 
19. ceding to the demand of the Warwick men that Massa- 
chusetts should send to them, and informing them that 
they should shortly send commissioners to obtain satisfac- 
tion ; adding, that an armed guard would attend the 
commission, and closing with the assurance " that if you 
will make good your own oflPer to us of doing us right, 
our people- shall return and leave you in peace, otherwise 
we must right ourselves and our people by force of arms." 
The following week Capt. Cooke, Lieut. Atherton, and 
Edward Johnson with forty soldiers were sent to War- 
wick. On their way to Providence they received a 
third letter from the " owners and inhabitants of Shaw- 
omet," informing them that their offer to Massachusetts 
28. was a peaceable and not a warlike one, and warning them 
upon their peril not to invade Warwick. To this the 
commissioners replied that they desired to speak with the 
men of Warwick, to lead tliem, if possible, to see their 
misdeeds and repent, but if they failed in that they should 
" look upon them as men prepared for slaughter," and 
would proceed accordingly. This outrageous missive 
spread terror in the humble settlement of Shawomet. The 
women and children fled for their lives, some to the woods 
and others in boats to gain the neighboring plantations. 
The men fortified a house and there awaited their assail- 
ants. A number of Providence men accompanied the 


troops to see what would Le done, and to aid in effecting chap. 
a peaceable adjustment of the difficulty. A parley was ^^ 
proposed. Four Providence men were selected as wit- 16 43. 
nesses thereto. The commissioners briefly stated their '2s.' 
case ; that the Gortonists had wronged some of the Mas- 
sachusetts subjects, and that they held certain blasphe- 
iiious errors of which they must repent or be carried to 
Boston for trial, or otherwise be put to the sword, and 
their goods seized to defray the charges of the expedition. 
From this proposition the owners of Shawomet dissented, 
on the ground that their adversaries would thus become 
their judges, but offered to appeal to England, which was 
refused. The Grortonists then proposed to refer the dis- 
pute to arbitration, offering their persons and property as 
security that they would abide by the decision of impar- 
tial men mutually chosen for the purpose. This seemed 
so reasonable that a truce was agreed upon until a mes- 
senger could be sent to Massachusetts to learn the views 
of the magistrates. The Gortonists charge the troops 
with many outrages during this truce, which are stoutly 
denied by Winslow. The four Providence -witnesses ' sent ^,^'^- 
a letter to Gov. Winthrop giving an account of the par- 
ley, and entreating him to accept the proposal of arbitra- 
tion. " Oh, how grievous w^ould it be (we hope to you) 
if one man should be slain, considering the greatest mon- 
arch in the world cannot make a man ; especially grievous 
seeing they offer terms of peace," is the earnest language 
they employ. The commissioners also wrote a letter. A 
committee of the General Court happened to be con- 
vened, upon news of the murder of Miantinomi, when 
these letters were received. The elders, as usual, were 
consulted. The result was what we might anticipate 
from such a tribunal. It was '' agreed that it was neither 
seasonable or reasonable, neither safe nor honorable, for 

' They were Chad. Brown, Thomas (Hucy, Williaiu Field, AVilliam Wiok- 
eiiden. Simp. Defence, 108. 


US to accept of sucli a proposition. 1. Because they 
would never offer us any terms of peace before we had. 
sent our soldiers. 2. Because the ground of it was false, 
for we were not parties in the case between the Indians 
and them, but the proper judges, they being all within 
our jurisdiction by the Indians and English their own 
grant. 3. They were no State, but a few fugitives living 
without law or government, and so not honorable for us to 
join with them in such a course. 4. The parties whom 
they would refer it unto were such as were rejected by us, 
and all the governments in the country, and besides, not 
men likely to be equal to us, or able to judge of the 
cause. 5. Their blasphemous and reviKng writings, etc., 
were not matters fit to be compounded by arbitrament, 
but to be purged away only by repentance and public 
satisfaction, or else by public punishment. And lastly, 
the commission and instructions being given them by the 
General Court, it was not in our power to alter them." ' 
Grov. Winthrop replied to the Providence letter, declining 
arbitration. The commissioners were directed to proceed 
at once. They notified the besieged that the truce had 
expired. A final effort was made to sjieak with the 
commissioners, but failed. The Providence men were 
warned to have no more intercourse with those of Shawo- 
met. All hope of accommodation was at an end. The 
cattle were first seized and then the assault commenced. 
The Warwick men hung out the English flag in token of 
their allegiance to Old England. It was immediately 
riddled by the shot of their assailants. The troops had 
entrenched themselves and opened a regular system of 
approaches, so that the siege lasted some days. During 
all this time the Gortonists acted solely on the defensive, 
not firing a shot, although prepared to do so in case the 
house should be set on fire, or a forcible entry be at- 

^ Winthrop, ii. 139, 40. How far these reasons justify Gorton's suspicions 
of the impartiality of his adversaries, the reader can judge. 


tempted. On Sunday morning the works of the besiegers chap. 
were advanced so near the house that an effort was made ..J!^ 
to set it on fire, which failed. The commissioners sent 164 3. 
to Massachusetts for more soldiers. The affair had reached g 
a crisis. The Gortonists must surrender, or a fearful 
slaughter on both sides, with certain death, under form 
of law, to those of the besieged who might survive the 
conflict, would result. They submitted to superior force, 
and were carried in triumph as prisoners to Boston,' where 13 
they were committed to jail to await their trial. The 
next Sabbath morning the prisoners refused to attend ^•^• 
church. The magistrates determined to compel them. 
They agreed to do so if they might have liberty to speak, 
sliould occasion require, after the sermon. This was con- 
ceded, so accordingly tliey came in the afternoon. Mr. 
Cotton preached at them about Demetrius and the shrines 
of Ephesus, after which, Gorton, leave being granted, re- 
plied, somewhat varying the application of the text, to 
the great scandal of his hearers.'^ 

^ Gorton says this was a violation of the articles of surrender, hy which- 
they were to "go along with them as freemen and neighbors," and not as 
captives ; and also that they took eighty head of cattle, besides swine and 
goats which were divided among themselves and their subjects, and broke 
open the houses, robbing the corn and other supplies. A part of these allega- 
tions are rather feebly denied by Winslow, while other parts are admitted 
by Winthrop. Gorton in a note on page 119, Staples' Simplicities Defence, 
taunts his captors with the extent of their triumph, " a whole country to 
carry away eleven men," and says that one had died, Sampson Shatton, be- 
fore, of his hardships, and but ten handled arms in this memorable siege. 
Winthrop, p. 140, says three escaped, and that nine were brought in as pris- 
oners, p. 142, but the Court records show that ten were put on trial. 

'^ This was not the last time that our over-zealous neighbors found, to use 
an expressive phrase, that they had " caught a Tartar." The author of the 
Ecclesiastical History of iVIassachusetts, in a note to 1 M. II. C, i.\. 38, relates a 
pertinent anecdote as having come imder his own observation in Boston. "A 
man from the State of Rhode Island was accused of blasplicmy, and brought 
hrfore a Court of Justices. He was said to be a Deist, an Atheist, blasphemer 
of the Bible, &c. He denied it all. Witnesses were produced who had heard 
him say that the Bible was «o< tim toord o/ Go:i. He acknowledged that he 
said it, and that every Christian would say the same ; that he was no Atheist 



Gorton and his company were brought before the 
court upon the following charge of heresy and sedition : 
1643. " Upon much examination and serious consideration of 
2^' your writings, with your answers about them, wee do 
charge you to bee a blasphemous enemy of the true re- 
ligion of our Lord Jesus Christ and his holy ordinances, 
and also of all civil authority among the people of God, 
and perticularly in this jurisdiction." It is worthy of no- 
tice that nothing is here said about Pumham. The os- 
tensible cause of the first summons by Massachusetts is 
no longer regarded now that the heretics are in their 
power. Upon this absurd accusation, containing no fact 
that admitted of any possible reply, the captives were 
2Q put on trial for their lives, A warrant was also issued for 
the arrest of Waterman, Power, and John Greene and son, 
who had fled during the siege. The two former appeared ; 
the latter escaped entirely. The prisoners' exceptions to 
the jurisdiction were overruled on the ground that Ply- 
mouth claimed them, and had yielded its power, in this 

or Deist, but loved his Redeemer, and venerated his Bible. Being asked how 
he could be consistent, he answered, ' That his Bible told him that Christ was 
the Word of God, and the Bible a record of the divine will. This was all he 
meant by saying the Bible was not the Word of God.' He was dismissed, 
and he laughed heartily at his accusers. This man had been a Quaker 
preacher ; became a preacher of the Universalists, and had a small congrega- 
tion in the county of Berkshire, in 1794 ; but has never been permitted to 
preach in the other churches of Universalists, his notions being very peculiar, 
and such his manner of expressing himself as people of aU persuasions must 
dislike. Yet he possesses that acuteness of reasoning, and recollective mem- 
ory for quoting Scripture, which would have been fully equal to Gorton, had 
he met with the same opposition. But the spirit of persecution has flown 
from this State, to the mortification of many who wish to be of consequence, 
and would fain raise its ghost, for the sake of complaining of the present 
magistrates and clergy, but cannot find even the shadow on the wall." 

The writer of this history desires here to express his concurrence in the 
truth and the spirit of the concluding sentence above quoted, because thus far 
in the progress of this work the hostility between the two colonies was so con- 
stant that a casual reader might infer that the feeling, for wliich there was so 
much occasion two centuries ago, still lingered, at least in the mind of the 
author. This he expressly disavows, and only i-egrets that the nature of his 


case, to the Bay ; and that, if they were under no juris- chap. 
diction, then Massachusetts had no redress for her wrongs, ,Jl^ 
and must either right herself by force of arms, or submit 16 43. 
to their injuries and revilings. This was but a weak de- 9q " 
fence in a desperate cause ; nor is it strengthened by the 
special pleading of Winslow, who says, on this important • 

point, " And if any ask by what authority they went out 
of their own government to do such an act, know that his 
former seditious and turbulent carriage in all parts where 
he came, as Plymouth, Rhode Island, a place of greatest 
liberty, Providence, that place which releived him in that 
his so great extremity, and his so desperate close with so 
dangerous and potent enemies, and at such a time of con- 
spiracy by the same Indians, together with the wrongs 
done to the English and Indians under the protection of 
that government of the Massachusetts, who complained 
and desired relief ; together with his notorious contempt 
of all civil government, as well as that particular, and 
his blasphemies against God, needlessly manifested in his 
proud letters to them. All these considered you shall see 
hereby cause enough why they proceeded against him as 
a common enemy of the country." If these general 
charges were the real cause of their proceedings, why are 
they not all specifically alleged in the indictment, since, 

theme requires liim, wliile speaking of the Puritans, to dwell almost wholly 
upon the d;n-k side of eharacters that possessed so much real piety and essential 
greatness of soul. The Massachusetts writers of recent date have well atone il 
for the injustice committed by their forefathers, displaying the liberality of 
feeling which ever accompanies elegant scholarship. ]5ancroft, Dean, Elliott, 
Felt, Hildreth, Savage, Sparks, Upham, Young, and since this work was coni- 
menced, Mr. Barry's stirring and truthful volumes, have all illustrated the tri- 
umph of truth over prejudice, and shown how a scholar may rise superior to 
the biases that misled his ancestors. The times have changed, and the sev- 
enteenth century was the period of transition. The Puritans exemplifieii the 
spirit of the past ; the founders of lihode Island foreshadowed that of the fu- 
ture ; and we of the present may render justice and do honor to both, by 
placing ourselves, so far as practicable, in the position of those whoso acts 
we record. The Puritans we should view in the light of bygone centuries ; 
their opponents in that of the present age, which has adopted their principles. 


if true, they might easily be j) roved ? — instead of which 
the latter only is brought out at the trial, and the whole 
attention of the Court engaged in proving it. 

Their letters were produced as evidence against them. 
These they were required to retract or explain, which 
they refused to do. " The Court and the elders spent 
nearly a whole day in discovery of Gorton's deep myste- 
ries, which he had boasted of in his letters, and to bring 
him to conviction, but all was in vain." He denied the 
consequences imputed to them by the elders, and shroud- 
ing his opinions beneath an impenetrable veil of mysti- 
cism, maintained them to the last. A series of questions 
were propounded by the Court, upon which he was to 
answer for liis life. These were— 

1. Whether the Fathers, who died before Christ was 
born of the Virgin Mary, were justified and saved only by 
the blood which he shed, and the death which he suffered 
after his incarnation ! 

2. Whether the only price of our redemption, were 
not the death of Christ upon the cross, with the rest of 
his sufferings and obediences in the time of his life here, 
after he was born of the Virgin Mary ! 

3. Who is that Grod whom he thinks we serve ? 

4. What he means, when he saith. We worship the 
star of our god Kemphan, Chion, Moloch ? Written re- 
plies, signed by himself, were given to the Court. They 
appeared so reasonable that even the governor said he 
could agree with them in their answers though not in their 
writings, 1 to which concession the bigoted Dudley object- 
ed, while the more liberal Bradstreet, at Gorton's desire, 
requested that no further questions should be put to him. 

It was a peculiarity of the mystical jjhilosophy of the 
age, that ideas were couched in language of which the 
apparent meaning would lead to every excess, and which 

' Simps. Defence, 132. Hutch. Hist, of Mass., i. 121. Eccles. Hist, of 
Mass., 37. 


were too transcendental to be otherwise understood Ly the chap. 
greater part. Such ideas were announced and defended .J^^ 
by Gorton and the Antinomian school, all of which, as 1643. 
explained by the promulgators, were harmless enough ; but 
their danger consisted in the possible and probable abuse 
of them by the masses, while their opponents, as in the 
present tiial, imputed to them results Avhich the authors 
denied. Heresy was the only charge against the Gorton- 
ists, and the sole object to which the attention of the 
Court was directed. The crime being sufficiently proved, 
the punishment was the next consideration. 

Upon this " the Court was much divided." The case ^^^ 
of Gorton was the most difficult. All the magistrates, but 3. 
three, condemned the great heresiarch to death, but a 
majority of the deputies refused to sanction the diabolical 
sentence. In the end he, with six others, were sentenced 
to be confined in irons, during the pleasure of the Court, 
to be set to worlr, and should they break jail, or in any 
way proclaim heresy or reproach the church or State, 
then, upon conviction thereof they should suffer death. 
They were sent to difl'erent towns, Gorton to Charlestown, 
Wicks to Ipswich, Holden to Salem, Potter to Kowley, 
Carder to Roxbury, Weston to Dorchester, and Warner 
to Boston. The other three were more mildly treated. 
Waddell was allowed to remain at large in Watertowu ; 
Waterman, giving bonds to appear at the next Court, 
was dismissed ^ with a fine, and Power, denying having 
signed the first letter, a year previous, was dismissed with 
an admonition. A warrant was forthwith directed to the 
constables of the several towns to be ready within one 
week to receive the prisoners. Their cattle were appraised 
and sold to defray the cost of the seizure and trial.- The 

' At the Court on the 29th May following, being " found erroneous, he- 
retical and obstinate," he was remanded to prison till the September Court, 
iniless five magistrates shoixld meanwhile see cause to send him away, in 
which case he was banished on pain of death. M. C. R., ii. 73. 

'^ The justice of this piece of judicial robbery can only be defended on 


CHAP, prisoners were allowed to name two of the five appraisers 
^^.^ selected for this pnrj)0se, which, they properly declined to 
16 43. do.' The convicts, secured in chains, were sent off to the 
several towns named in their sentence, not however till 
they had been paraded in a body before the congregation 
at Mr. Cotton's lecture, with their irons upon them, as an 
instructive spectacle. In this condition they were con- 
fined the whole winter, in the course of which Gorton ac- 
cused Cotton of having advised, in a sermon, that he 
1643-4. should be starved to death. This charge could scarcely 
12 ' be credited had not the elders and magistrates, at the 
trial, doomed him to die. This led Gorton to write a let- 
ter to the ruling elder of the Charlestown church, which 
is preserved in his book. But public opinion did not sus- 
tain such severe proceedings, and what was more to be 
dreaded by these zealots, the prisoners corrupted the peo- 
ple with their heresies. Now this offence, by the terms 
of the sentence passed upon them in November, was to 
be punished with death ; but a mightier power demanded 
their release. At the next General Court they were set 
7. " at liberty, and banished from all places claimed to be 
within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts, including Prov- 
idence, and the lands of the subject Indians ; and if found 
anywhere within those limits after fourteen days, they 
were to suffer death. ^ But even this brief period was not 
allowed them, for three days after, while Gorton and a 

some such ground as that taken by the " cannie Scot," in the anecdote quoted 
by Judge Staples, ia a note to Simplicities Defence, p. 136, as having occurred 
several years since in the island of Jamaica. " A Scotch ofScer, with sev- 
eral others of his corps, engaged in a biUiard match with some Jews. The 
children of Israel, it seems, were much too expert at that game for the Cale- 
donian and his companions. The latter, after having lost some money, mus- 
tered their whole joint stock, and staked it against the sons of circumcision ; 
the game was played ; the Scot lost ; but he swept the stakes into his hat, 
drew his sword, and protected by his friends, retired, calling out, ' D — n yere 
sauls, ye scoundrels, yere a' enemies to the Lord Jesus Christ.' " 

^ See M. C. E. ii. 51-4 for official proof of the foregoing facts. 

2 M. C. R, ii. 57. 



few others were awaitinfij tlie arrival of their comrades at chap. 

Boston, a warrant from the Governor was served on them, >^2^ 

ordering: them to leave the town within two hours. They 16 44. 
.... March 

departed for Aquedneck, lodging one night in their own 26. 

houses at Shawomet, whence they wrote a letter to Gov. April 
Winthrop to inquire if their own purchased territory was 
included in the sentence of banishment. To this the 
Governor replied that it was, and ordered them to leave 
on peril of their lives. They did so, and once more sought 
refuge at Aquedneck. Thus ended these atrocious pro- 
ceedings, which form one of the darkest pages in the his- 
tory of Massachusetts. ^ 

The controversy was about to be transferred to England. 
The settlement of Warwick was for a time suspended. 
Its persecuted owners were kindly received at Aquedneck, 
whence they had been driven in disgrace a few years be- 
fore. The cause for which they .had since suffered, and 
the measure of cruelty, they had lately received, Avere 
enough to ensure them an earnest welcome. Here they 
hired houses and lands, and remained till after the recep- 
tion of the charter had deprived their enemies of the last 
semblance of claim to intermeddle with the affairs of 
Rhode Island. 

It produced a curious eft'ect on the minds of the In- 
dians, that, after such harsh treatment, and so many 
threats from their opponents, the Gortonists had returned 

' The details of this memoi-able trial reminds us of the application of a 
nursery rhyme as made by the late Archbishop of Dublin : — 

" Old Father Long-logs wouldn't say his prayers : 
Take him by the right log- 
Take liim by the loft log- 
Take him fast by both logs — 
And throw him down stairs ! " 

" There," said his Grace, " in that nursery verse you may see an epitome 
of the history of all religious persecution. Father Long-legs refusing to say 
the prayers that were dictated and ordered by his little tyrants, is regarded as 
a heretic, and suffers martyrdom." Who shall say hereafter that there is no 
moral conveyed in Mother Goose's Melodies ? 


alive. They imagined tliat two distinct races inhabited 
Old England, one the English, whom they called Watta- 
conoges,' and the rival race they now termed Gortonoges. 
The civil war, of which they had heard, confirmed this 
idea, and the release of the G-ortonists they naturally 
enough attributed to the preponderance of the Gortonoges 
at home, which alarmed the English lest they should 
come over to America, and revenge the injuries that their 
feebler compatriots here had sustained. 

Soon after the return of Gorton the Narragansets sent 
messengers, asking him and his friends to come over and 
speak with Canonicus. The venerable savage, with Pes- 
sicus, the brother and successor of Miantinomi, received 
them with a courtesy to which they had long been stran- 
gers. A council of the tribe was assembled. Their own 
situation, impoverished by the heavy ransom paid in vain 
for the life of their murdered prince, and the condition of 
their guests, robbed by the same remorseless power, formed 
the subject of their conference. The result was most im- 
portant. This powerful tribe, upon whose fidelity, in 
former years, had hung the destiny of New England, vol- 
untarily submitted, in a body, " unto the government and 
protection of that honorable State of Old England." In 
a written instrument they declared their allegiance to 
King Charles, " upon condition of His Majesty's royal 
protection ; " and the signers, as having been successively 
from time immemorial, sovereign princes of the country, 
say that they cannot yield " unto any that are subjects 
themselves in any case." They appointed Gorton, Wicks, 
Holden and Warner their agents to carry their submis- 
sion to England ; soon after which Gorton and Holden 
embarked at New York with the instrument.- The 

^ Signifying coatmen, or those who wear clothes. R. W'ms Key E. I. H. 
C, i. 60. 

^ The exact time of Gorton's departure is tmknown. Staples and Mackie 
say it was " in 1644, probably in the summer; " but by Gov. Winslow's ac- 
count in his answer to Gorton's Simplicities Defence, it appears that in No- 



other two remained at liome. John Greene, of Warwick, chap. 
also accompanied Grorton. Besides their Indian agency, .^_,_^ 
their business was to enter a comjilaint with the Com- 1644. 
missioners of Foreign Plantations against Massachusetts, 
in behalf of the people of Shawomet, to obtain for them 
the restoration of their property. Notwithstanding the 17. 
arrival of Mr. Williams with the free charter of Provi- 
dence, Massachusetts strove, though vainly, to continue 
her usurpation over the lands of Shawomet. A notice 
was issued warning any persons from settling there with- 
out leave from the General Court. The following year a 
yet bolder step was taken by the General Court. A pe- q^^'^* 
tition, signed by thirty-two persons, of whom twenty were 1. 
freemen, asking for the lands of Pumham, was granted. 
Ten thousand acres were given them. They had power 
to admit or keep out others as they pleased. Benedict 
Arnold was appointed to negotiate with the sachem for 
his right in any improved ground. The houses of the 
Gortonists were placed at the disposal of the petitioners, 
provided only that they should pay to the owners what 
the Court should appoint, " if they see cause so to do," 
and that ten families should take possession within one 
year.' No settlement upon this grant was made. Mr. 
John Brown, a magistrate of Plymouth, and then one of 
the Commissioners of the United Colonies, prohibited the 
settlement, claiming the lands as within Plymouth juris- 
diction, and saying it should be restored to the rightful 
owners, Gorton and his associates. This bold stand, so 
creditable to Brown, although partially disowned by his 
government, deterred the settlers,- and before the dispute 

vembcr of that year ho was still at Aqucdncck, and was a maijistrato there 
when Mr. John Brown was sent to assert the Plymouth claim to the island. 
\Vinslow was Governor of Plymouth that year, and signed ]>rown's commis- 
sion Nov. 8, 1G44. Un l-ttli January, 1G45-G, Gorton dates his book at Lon- 
don. I infer that he left dm-ing the winter of 1644-5. Perhaps Brown's 
visit at Aquedneck hastened his departure. 

' M. C. R., ii. 128. - Wiuthrop, ii. 252. 


CHAP, that arose on the question between Massachusetts and 
.J[^ Plymouth was decided by the Commissioners in favor of 
1645. the former, the Parliament had already ordered its resto- 
Iq' ration to the lawful purchasers. Similar annoyances con- 
tinued for many years, summons being often issued to re- 
quire the attendance of parties at the Massachusetts 
Courts, upon the suit of her subjects resident in Khode 

The efforts of Massachusetts to extend her jarisdic- 
tion in this direction seemed to receive a fresh impetus by 
the arrival of that charter which was designed as a shield to 
the feeble colonists of Khode Island against her all-grasp- 
ing ambition. The coveted shores of the Narraganset 
assumed a new importance in her eyes when the action 
of Parliament placed them beyond her reach. Every ef- 
fort was made to attach to herself any residents of Khode 
Island who were dissatisfied with the existing order of 
things, and thus to sow the seeds of discontent more 
widely in the heretical plantations. The insane idea was 
cherished by her rulers and inculcated upon the other 
colonies, that in this way the people of Khode Island 
might be led to question the validity of their charter, and 
be discouraged from organizing their distracted settle- 
ments into one corporate body under its provisions. Plj»- 
mouth, we have already seen, was led to claim the east- 
ern shore and the island, and Connecticut was ere long to 
assert her right to the Narraganset country, while Provi- 
dence and Warwick were apportioned to the fomenters of 
this tripartite division. As we examine the progress of 
this deep-laid scheme, and observe ■ the steadiness with 
which it was pursued through a long series of years, we 
cannot but admire the firmness of our ancestors in foiling 
it at every turn, nor can we fail to recognize the hand of 
a Superior Power in preserving a colony whose peculiar 
principles at first made it an object of aversion, and finally 
were adopted as the cardinal doctrines of a whole nation. 


The result of Gorton's mission, so far as falls within chap. 
the limits of our present chapter, was briefly this. The .^^..^^^ 
Commissioners issued an order requiring Massachusetts to 164 6. 
reinstate the proscribed parties, and forbidding any at- 15 
tempt to exercise jurisdiction over them. It was brought 
over by Holdcn in a ship to Boston. With some difficulty Sept. 
he was allowed to land. Many wished to commit him to 
jail, but better counsel prevailed, and he was permitted 
to pass quietly through to Rhode Island, by virtue of the 
protection given him by Parliament. Upon receipt of Nov. 
this order the General Court seriously debated how far 
they owed allegiance to England, but wisely concluded, 
on advice of the elders, that they were not yet independ- 
ent. ^ They decided to send Mr. Edward Winslow to 
England as their agent. An answer to Gorton's memo- 
rial, a copy of which had been enclosed in the aforemen- 
tioned order, was prepared, which Winslow, being duly Dee. 
commissioned, carried, together with two sets of instruc- ■*' 
tions, one public, in accordance with his commission, the 
other secret, concerning the course he was to adopt and 
the answers he was to make to the objections against the 
conduct and government of Massachusetts, contained in 
the Commissioners' order.^ The controversy in regard to 
the lands of Warwick, so named by Gorton in compliment 
to the Earl through whose influence his mission was suc- 
cessful, was prolonged for thirty-five years. It soon be- 
came involved in the greater dispute relating to the adja- 
cent territory of Narraganset, which will be considered in 
future chapters. The first decision, above given, was final 

■ This ratlicr remarkable discussion is given at length by Winthrop, ii. 
278-284. It shows the temper of the times, and demonstrates more clearly 
than any other proceedings since those of 1635, when a general governor was 
expected from England, (Wiuth. Jonr, i. 154, and ante chap. i. pp. 32-3,) 
the feeling with which the Puritans viewed any act of the home government 
that threatened to abridge their virtual independence. 

'^ Copies of all these papers are given m Winthrop, ii. 295-301, and of the 
most important ones in R. I. Col. Rec's. i. 367-373. 

VOL. I. — 13 


CHAP, in its effect, although, after hearing Mr. Winslow, the 

^^^^ committee wrote to Massachusetts that if the Shawomet 

16 47. lands were in their patent, or in that of Plymouth, the 

25^ case would be altered ; hut they soon afterwards wrote 

J"ly to all the colonies that the Warwick men should be as- 


sisted and not molested during the examination of the 

question at issue.' The purchasers of Shawomet returned 
to their homes, and successfully withstood the pertinacious 
efforts of Massachusetts to retain her unlawful dominion 
over them. 

The Warwick men were strict constructionists of the 
most rigid school. They neither recognized the existing 
governments of Providence and Aquedneck, as we have 
seen, nor did they establish any of their own ; not, as 
their enemies represented, because they were opposed to 
all magistracy, but because, as English subjects, they 
could not lawfully create or submit to any government 
that was not authorized by patent from the Crown or 
Parliament of England. Hence we have no record of 
^^y- their proceedings until after the organization of the colo- 
nial government. They were few in number, so that the 
mode of settling difficulties, by arbitration, adopted by 
them before their expulsion, was probably continued till 
their scruples were removed by the adoption of the char- 
ter. After this took place their rigid adherence to all the 
forms of law, as well as to its spirit, was no less remarka- 
ble than had been their previous neglect. The charter 
supplied their theoretical wants, and devotion to its letter 
and spirit marked all their subsequent conduct.^ 

^ Both tliese letters are in Staples' Gorton. R. I. H. C. ii. 203-6. 

- One or two examples of this may here he mentioned. For many years 
their numbers were few, and some of the requirements of the common law 
bore heavily upon them, especially that requiring twelve men to constitute a 
jury. Accordingly we find them altering that provision to conform, in the 
language of the charter, " to the nature and constitution of the place," in 
these words : " Whereas the townsmen of Warwick having taken into con- 
sideration that it cannot stand with the constitution of the place to continue 




The act of submission arrayed tlic Narragansets m chap. 
hostility to the pretensions of Massachusetts, and virtu- 
ally annexed their country to the State of Ehode Island, 
of which, thereafter, it formed an important part. Three 
years prior to this Eichard Smith had purchased land and 
erected a trading house, in what is now North Kingston,^ 
in the midst of the Indian country, which was the only 
settlement south of Warwick until after the charter went 
into operation, when Koger Williams set up a similar es- 
tablishment for a few years and sold out to Smith, upon 
his second appointment as agent to Engiand.- 

Both English and Indians were now the acknowledged ^ ^^"^ 
subjects of Great Britain, and the haughty spirit of the 

twelve men for the try-al of causes, It is tlierefore ordered that there be estab- 
lished six jurors for the trial of causes, and to have six pence a man for each 
cause, and for counsellor's fees three shillings and four pence, and this to be 
of force notwithstanding any law formerly to the contrary." Warwick Rec- 
ords of Feb. 5, 1656,7. This change might appear as a violation of law in- 
stead of a real conformity to its spirit, if the preamble were not recited and 
their circumstances were not considered. 

But still later we have a more striking instance of their attachment to 
" law and order." At a town meeting, Oct. 12, 1663, -we find it '' Ordered in 
regard that there is a wi-iting directed to the warden or deputy warden of the 
town of Warwick, bearing date the 23 September, 1663, and subscribed 
James (I. R.) Rodgers, and not the title of any office annexed thereto ; the 
To^vTi do therefore protest against it as being contrary to law and order, and 
that report be made hereof to the next Court of Commissioners. It is fur- 
ther ordered that the town being senfible of matters that do depend, which 
concern our agent, Mr. John Clarke, do therefore conclude to choose com- 
missioners to attend the Court notwithstanding illegality of the sayd writing, 
and that justice may proceed notwithstanding the sayd neglect do likewise 
order to choose jurymen to attend the Court of Trials." See Warwick Rec- 
ords of that date. Rogers was General Sergeant of the colony, and should 
have aflixed the title of his office to his name in an oiHcial communication. 

' On the site of the present (183.")) Updike house, which is said to be 
built, partly, of the materials of Smith's. Potter's Early Hist, of Narragan- 
set, R. I. II. C. iii. 32. 

'•^ M. H. C. i. 211. The precedence of Smith was denied by Howlden and 
Greene in their sketch of NaiTaganset, in 1680. They say Warwick was set- 
tled first, and that Williams preceded Smith, but the evidence is all the other 
way, and their error perhaps arose from there being two Richard Smiths, fiither 
and son, in the concern. Br. S. P. 0. New England Papers, vol. iii. p. 81. 


CHAP, native chiefs refused to account for their conduct to 
^^' any but their common Master. A summons was received 

1 644. from Massachusetts for them to attend at the next Court. 
24"^ They declined to do so, and informed the government of 
their submission to King Charles, and of their intention 
to make war on Uncas. This letter, with one of like pur- 
port from Grorton, gave great anxiety to the General 
^^^ Court. Two messengers were sent to the Narragansets 
to counteract the influence of Gorton, and to dissuade 
them from their purpose. They were coldly received and 
failed in their mission. Pumham and Soconoco, dreading 
the anger of the Narragansets, applied to Massachusetts 
for a guard. An ofiicer was sent with ten soldiers to 
build a fort, and to remain for their protection till the 

July danger was passed. Although the Commissioners of the 

United Colonies prevented immediate war between the 

Sept. liostile tribes, they could only avert it for a whUe. In a 

1644-5. few months the Narragansets sent messengers to Boston, 
declaring that unless Uncas should pay a hundred and 
sixty fathoms of wampum, or come to a new hearing of 
the case witliin six weeks, they would make war upon 

In the spring the long restrained wrath of the Narra- 
gansets vented itself upon the Mohegans. One thousand 
men, some of whom were armed with guns, attacked Un- 
cas and defeated him with considerable slaughter. Con- 
necticut and New Haven sent troops to protect Uncas. 
The General Court despatched a letter to the Narragan- 
sets requiring them to desist from war, and soon after sent 
Benedict Arnold as a messenger to them. The Indians 
afterward stated that he had misrepresented their answer, 
and sent for Koger Williams to assist them in their trou- 
bles. A special meeting of the New England Commis- 
sioners was held in this emergency, and messengers ^ were 




Hubbard's New England, cli. li. 

Sergeant John Davis, Benedict Arnold and Francis Smyth, 


sent a second time to require both the hostile tribes to send chap. 
deputies to Boston, who should explain the cause of the war, ..^.,,^^ 
receive satisfaction, and make peace. This attempt failed. 1645. 
The embassy was haughtily treated by the Narragansets, 
who were resolved to have the head of Uncas. On their 
return they brought a letter from Mr. Williams, stating 
that terms of neutrality had been made by the Indians 
with the colonies of Ehode Island, and that war was in- 
evitable.' The United Colonies at once declared war ^^„. 
against the Narragansets, and a force of three hundred 19- 
men, under command of Major Edward Gibbons, was 
raised. 2 Forty mounted men were impressed by Massa- 
chusetts within three days, and sent on in advance under 
Lieut. Atherton. Messengers ^ were also sent to carry 
back a present that the Indians had lately sent as a peace 
offering to the English. The Narragansets, alarmed at 
these active demonstrations, sued for peace. Through the 
mediation of WiUiams, to whose influence, now for the 
second time within eight years. New England owed her 
peace and safety, Pessicus, with two other principal sa- 
chems, and a large train of attendants, came to Boston. 
A treaty was concluded which bore heavily upon the Nar- 
ragansets. They were to pay two thousand fathoms of ^'^■ 
wampum in four equal instalments, the last at the end of 
two years. Captives and can-oes were to be mutually re- 
stored by them and the Mohegans, and the disputes be- 
tween them were to be settled by the Commissioners. 
They were to give up all right to the Pequot country, 

' Hubbard's New England, ch. li. and Trumbull's Connecticut, i. 150-4. 

- The declaration of war contains a. summary of previous occurrences 
with the Indians, signed by John Winthrop, President, and is given at length 
by Hubbard, cli. li. and in 2 M. 11. C. vi. 454-G2. 

^ Capt. Harding, Jlr. Wilbore and Benedict Arnold — the latter as inter- 
liretcr, but he could not be found in Providence, and dared no longer to ven- 
ture among the Indians, who charged him with misrepresenting their reply 
two months previous. Roger Williams, whoso influence was paramount with 
the Indians, acted as interpreter on this occasion at the solicitation of the 
messengers. (Ivnowles, 20-t.) 




CHAP, which they had aided the English in conquering. Other 
^J!^ hard terms were enforced, and hostages were required of 
16 45. them. Sadly they signed this compulsory and oppressive 
treaty, and sullenly they retired to their native fastnesses 
to brood over the wrongs thus newly inflicted. The se- 
vere exaction almost ruined them. The following spring 
they failed to send the tribute, and when a small part 
June only was sent the Commissioners refused to receive it un- 
less they could have the whole that was due. 

The remainder of this painful story, although it car- 
ries us beyond the limit assigned to this chapter, is better 
told here. The next year an extra meeting of the New 
England Commissioners was called on account of the fail- 
ure of the Narragansets to fulfil the treaty, and of their 
alleged attempts to allure the Mohawks to unite in a war 
against the English. A threatening letter was sent to 
Pessicus requiring his appearance at Boston. He excused 
his attendance on the plea of sickness, declared that he 
had been forced by fear to accept the treaty, and prom- 
ised to send Ninigret, sachem of the subordinate tribe of 
Nianticks, to Boston, and to abide by any agreement he 
should make. When Ninigret came before the Commis- 
sioners he denied all knowledge of the treaty, or of any 
reason why the Narragansets should pay tribute to the 
Enghsh, to whom they owed nothing. The case being 
explained to him, he desired ten days to send home for 
the wampum, while he remained as a hostage. His mes- 
senger brought back but two hundred fathoms, which 
Ninigret attributed to his absence. It was finally agreed 
that he should pay a thousand fathoms within twenty 
days, and the rest by the next spring, upon which condi- 
tion he was dismissed. 

The wampum was not paid. Why should it be ? 
When we consider the foul death of their almost idolized 
chieftain, to avenge which — not upon the EngHsh, its real 
authors, but upon Uncas, their ruthless tool — they had 



Legun a war after due notice given, as agreed, to the chap. 
English, who at first gave their consent ; and that then the .^.^-i^ 
English had marched an army against them, and by ter- 1647. 
ror had forced them to a treaty of which the avowed ob- 
ject was to disable them, we cannot blame Pessicus for 
disavowing, or Ninigret for ignoring it, or either for neg- 
lecting to comply with its provisions. Again messengers 
were sent to the Narragansets without effect. Kumors of ^^^g 
an Indian alliance continued to alarm the colonists, who 
persisted in identifying the cause of Uncas with their 
own, and in considering any attempt of the Narragansets 16 4 9. 
to avenge their wrongs upon the Mohegans as a conspiracy 
against themselves. An abortive attempt was made to 
assassinate Uncas. Another special meeting of the United j , . 
Colonies was called upon this occasion, and Ninigret again 23' 
appeared to excuse his breach of faith, and to defend the 
recent attack upon the mortal foe of his tribe. The pa- 
tience of the English was exhausted in this last fruitless 
effort to obtain the tribute. The next year the Commis- 
sioners sent Capt. Atherton with twenty men to collect 
it. Pessicus tried in vain to avoid an interview while he 
assembled his warriors. Seeing this, Atherton forced his Se\>t.. 
way, pistol in hand, into the wigwam, and seizing the sa- ^■ 
chem by the hair, dragged him from the midst of his at- 
tendants, threatening instant death if any resistance was 
offered. This summary conduct, which reflects more 
credit on the courage of the Captain, than on the justice 
or the policy of his government, produced the desired re- 
sult. The debt was paid. The troopers departed, leav- 
ing behind them, in Indian memory, one more act of 
wrong and insult to rankle till the day of retribution. 
From the murder of Miautinomi, down to the savage ex- 
pedition of Atherton, the whole seven years is filled with 
acts of aggression and of unjust interference on one side, 
and with the haughty protests of an injured, a high-spir- 
ited, and a feebler race of Indians on the other. 





GUST, 1651. 

" The Incorporation of Providence Plantations in the 
^yyl' Narraganset Bay in New England," was the legal title 
under which the several settlements in Rhode Island were 
united by the terms of the patent. The origin of this 
charter we have already noticed. Its peculiar character 
deserves attention. It was very general in its provisions, 
and conferred absolute independence on the colony. The 
single proviso with which it was fettered, to wit that " the 
laws, constitutions and punishments, for the civil govern- 
ment of the said plantation, he conformable to the laws 
of England," was practically annulled in the same sen- 
tence by the subjoined words, " so far as the nature and 
constitution of that place will admit." Thus the people 
were left free to enact their own laws, for this qualifying 
clause in effect defeated the proviso. No charter had ever 
been granted up to that time which conferred so ample 
powers upon a community, and but one as free has ever 
emanated since from the throne of a monarch. 

The other remarkable feature in this instrument con- 
sists, not in what it specified, but in what it omitted. 
The use of the word " civil," everywhere prefixed to the 


terms " government " or " laws," wherever they occur in chap 
the patent, served to restrict the operation of the charter vJi/_ 
to purely political concerns. In this apparent restriction 1647. 
there lay concealed a boon of freedom, such as man had 
never known l)efore. A grant so great no language could 
convey, for the very use of words would imply the jiower 
to grant, and hence the co-ordinate power to refuse. 
Here was the essence of the Rhode Island doctrine. They 
held themselves accountable to God alone for their relig- 
ious creed, and no earthly power could bestow on them a 
right they held from Heaven. Hence the expressive si- 
lence of the charter on the subject of religious freedom. 
At their own request their powers were limited to civil 
matters. Beyond this a silence more significant than 
language proclaimed the triumph of soul-liberty. 

More than three years had elapsed since the patent 
was obtained, and for thirty-two months, since its recep- 
tion, it had served only as an apology for the self-consti- 
tuted governments of the several towns. The higher ob- 
ject for which it was designed could no longer bo kept in 
abeyance. The necessity of union was daily becoming 
more apparent. So long as distinct organizations were 
maintained, a color of plausibility was given to the con- 
stant efforts of the neighboring colonies to impair its va- 
lidity. The difficulties in the way of consohdation were 
at length overcome. A G-eneral Assembly of the people 
was held at Portsmouth. Providence sent ten delegates May 
to act for her. The records of Portsmouth and Newport ^^"21. 
do not show that any were chosen from those towns, al- 
though it is probable that this was done. Warwick was 
not named in the charter, and her records do not begin 
till after this Assembly, but she was admitted to the same 
privileges with the rest at the opening of the session. 

This first General Assembly was in fact a meeting of 
the Corporators formally to adopt the charter, and then 
to organize a government under it. It was not simply a 


CHAP, convention of delegates but of the whole people. A ma- 
_,_;^ jority being present their acts were binding upon the whole, 
16 47. as is expressed in the opening of the Assembly, when, 
19-2L li^-ving first chosen Mr. John Coggeshall, Moderator, " It 
was voted and found, that the major part of the colony 
were present at this Assembly, whereby was full power to 
transact." The next step was to provide against the 
withdrawal of so great a number as to defeat the object 
of the meeting by putting a stop to legislation. For this 
purpose the number of forty was agreed upon, who, in case 
the rest should depart, were required to remain " and act 
as if the whole were present, and be of as full authori- 
ty." In the establishment of this compulsory quorum 
we see the germ of the representative system, which the 
increasing number of the colonists now rendered necessa- 
ry. The Assembly being thus organized, and the initia- 
tory steps taken to secure its permanence and authority, 
" It was agreed that all should set their hands to an en- 
gagement to the charter." The engagement is embodied 
in the preamble to the code of laws adopted at this time, 
and hence has no signatures. This was a safer course to 
pursue, as the other might imply that those only were 
bound by the charter who had given in their written con- 
sent. The Assembly then adopted the representative 
system, by ordering that " a week before any General 
Court, notice should be given to every town by the head 
officer, that they choose a committee for the transaction 
of the affairs there," and they also provide for a proxy 
vote in the words " and such as go not may send their 
votes sealed." After unanimously adopting a code of 
laws, which had been prepared previous to the meeting, 
for the government of the colony, they proceeded to elect 
by ballot the general officers, to continue for one year, or 
till new be chosen. 

John Coggeshall was chosen President of the Province 
or Colony, with one Assistant from each town, viz. : Koger 


Williams of Providence, John Sanclford of Portsmouth, chap. 

William Coddington of Newport, and Kandal Holden of „ ___, 

Warwick, William Dyer was chosen General Recorder, ^^^'''• 
and Jeremy Clarke, Treasurer. 19-21. 

The mode of i^assing general laws was then prescribed, 
and deserves attention for the care with which it provides 
for obtaining a free expression of the opinions of the whole 
people. All laws were to be first discussed in the towns. 
The town first proposing it was to agitate the question in 
town meeting and conclude by vote. The town clerk was 
to send a copy of what was agreed on to the other three 
towns, who were likewise to discuss it and take a vote in 
town meeting. They then handed it over to a commit- 
tee of six men from each town, freely chosen, which com- 
mittees constituted " the General Court," who were to 
assemble at a call for the purpose, and, if they found the 
majority of the colony concurred in the case, it was to 
stand as a law " till the next General Assembly of all the 
people," who were finally to decide whether it should con- 
tinue as law or not. Thus the laws emanated directly 
from the people. The General Court had no power of re- 
vision over cases already presented, but simply the duty 
of promulgating the laws with which the towns had in- 
trusted them. The right to originate legislation was, 
however, vested in them to be carried out in this way. 
When the Court had disposed of the matters for which 
it was called, should any case be presented upon which 
the public good seemed to require their action, they were 
to debate and decide upon it. Then each committee, on 
returning to their town, was to report the decision, which 
was to bo debated and voted upon in each town ; the 
votes to be sealed and sent by each town clerk to the 
General Recorder, who, in presence of the President, was 
to count the votes. If a majority were found to have 
adopted the law, it was to stand as such till the next 
General Assembly should confirm or repeal it. The jeal- 


CHAP, ousy with which the people maintained their rights, and 
,.J3^ the checks thus put upon themselves in the exercise of the 
16 47. law-making power, as displayed in this preliminary act, 
19-21. pi'esent most forcibly the union of the two elements of 
liberty and law in the Khode Island mind. 

The " Court of Election " was appointed for " the first 
Tuesday after the fifteenth of May, annually, if wind and 
weather hinder not ; then the General Court of trials irn- 
mediately to succeed." The manner and time of organ- 
izing monthly and quarterly Courts, was left to the town 
councils of Newport and Portsmouth to arrange within 
thirty days. From them had emanated the code of laws, 
and to them it was intrusted to perfect the means of en- 
forcing that code. Acts were passed regulating the pow- 
ers of the towns in specific cases, and requiring that six 
men, to compose a town council, should be chosen by each 
town at its next meeting, " The sea laws, otherwise 
called Laws of Oleron," were adopted " for the benefit of 
seamen upon the island," and two water bailies ^ were 
chosen for the colony. An anchor was adopted as the 
seal of the Province. Keciprocal duties with foreign na- 
tions, upon all imported goods, except beaver, were estab- 
lished, and they were prohibited from trade with the In- 
dians. A military system, very like the one adopted 
seven years before at Aquedneck, was ordered. ^ No arms 
or ammunition were to be sold to the Indians under a 
heavy penalty. The remoter settlements were apportioned 
among the towns. Newport was to have the trading posts 
in the Narraganset country ; Portsmouth, the island of 
Prudence, and the people of Pawtuxet were allowed their 
choice to belong to Providence, Portsmouth or Newport. 
A letter was ordered to be sent to them to make their se- 
lection, and another to Massachusetts respecting her claim 
to jurisdiction over them.^ A form of engagement for the 

^ John Cooke and Thomas Brownell. '■' Ante, chap. v. p. 145. 

^ These letters cannot be found on the records of Massachiisetts or Rhode 


officers was adopted, and what in our day seems curious, chap 
but is not the less just, a form for " The reciprocal en- ,_I^ 
gagement of the State to the officers " was agreed upon 16 4 7. 
as follows : — 19-21. 

" We the inhabitants of the Province of Providence 
Plantations, being here orderly met, and having, by free 

vote chosen you to pubhc office, as officers for the 

due administration of justice and the execution thereof, 
throughout the whole Colony, do hereby engage ourselves, 
to the utmost of our power, to support and uphold you in 
your faithful performance thereof." The clerk of the As- 
sembly represented the State in giving and receiving these 

A tax of one hundred pounds was levied, as a free gift 
to Mr. Roger Williams, for his labor in obtaining the char- 
ter. Of this Newport was to pay one-half, Portsmouth 
thirty, and Providence twenty pounds. By this appor- 
tionment it appears that Newport had rapidly advanced 
in wealth. Although the latest settled, she was already 
equal to the two older towns, and the island embraced 
four-fifths of the strength of the Province. Warwick was 
too weak as yet to bear any part of the burden. 

The preamble and bill of rights, prefixed to the code 
of civil and criminal law adopted at this time, is a re- 
markable production. Brief, simple and comprehensive, 
the preamble asserts in a few words the two cardinal doc- 
trines of the founders of Rhode Island. It declares " that 
the form of government established in Providence Plan- 
tations is Democratical, that is to say, a government held 
by the free and voluntary consent of all, or the greater 
part, of the free inhabitants." This position was no less 
novel and startling to the statesmen of that day, than 
was the idea of religious freedom, which, in the next enact- 
ing clause, it carefully guards. Both of these principles 
were exclusively Rhode Island doctrines, and to her be- 
longs the credit of them both. Tliis first General Assem- 



CHAP, bly aimed to adopt a code that slionld secure eacli of these 
_I^ objects, and thus be " suitable to the nature and consti- 
1^6^47. tution of the place." They succeeded ; and we hazard 
little in saying that the digest of 1647, for simphcity of 
diction, unencumbered as it is by the superfluous verbiage 
that clothes our modern statutes in learned obscurity ; for 
breadth of comprehension, embracing as it does the foun- 
dation of the whole body of law, on every subject, which 
has since been adopted ; and for vigor and originahty of 
thought, and boldness of expression, as well as for the 
vast significance and the brilliant triumph of the princi- 
ples it embodies, presents a model of legislation which has 
never been surpassed. 

The bill of rights embraces in concise terms, under 
four distinct heads, the fundamental principles of all our 
subsequent legislation. In the first it re-enacts a clause 
of Magna Charta guaranteeing the liberty and property 
of the person, and guards against constructive felonies, 
which at that time were sapping the foundations of Eng- 
lish liberty, by restricting criminal suits to violations of 
the letter of the law. In the second it prevents the as- 
sumption or the abuse of delegated power, by forbidding 
any to hold office who are not lawfully called to it, and re- 
quiring those who are, to perform neither more nor less 
than their proper duties. These two heads secure the 
rights of individuals against the government. The third 
protects the right of minorities against the majority, by 
restricting the legislative power of the Assembly to laws 
" founded upon the charter, and rightly derived from the 
General Assembly, lawfully met and orderly managed." 
The last section requires that adequate compensation be 
paid to all officers, that every man should serve when 
elected or submit to a fine, and that " in case of imminent 
danger no man shall refuse." In conclusion they proceed 
to adopt generally the common law of England, with the 
reiterated restriction that they enact only " such of them 


and so far, as tlio nature and constitution of our place chap. 
will admit." Upon this all-important saving clause in J^^ 
the charter they laid great stress. It was their guarantee 16 47. 
and shield of independence. Under their patent they 19.21. 
claimed that they could do as they pleased, so long as 
they did not violate any law of England, and they acted 
accordingly. Practically they declared that " their gov- 
ernment derived all its just powers from the consent of the 
governed,'' and expressly they established, for the first 
time in the history of the modern world, a " Democratical 
form of government." To secure this and their cherished 
idea of religious freedom, were the two objects aimed at 
throughout the digest of laws then adopted. For these 
high purposes they sacrificed their early predilections for 
English laws wherever they conflicted with them. They 
commenced their career as an independent State, by vir- 
tue of a charter that made them such, and which they 
knew, although it might be forfeited by abuse, could not 
be revoked at pleasure. Their statutes were so framed 
as to be within both its letter and its spirit, and so long 
as this was the case they felt secure in their liberties. 

The code, in its divisions of the law, is not remarka- 
ble for precision, and the definitions of crime are not such 
as we should find at this day in a work on criminal juris- 
prudence ; but the meaning is clear and unmistakable. 
Each offence is separately defined, and its penalty dis- 
tinctly stated. A feehng of humanity pervades the whole, 
as if the object were to repress crime rather than to pun- 
ish it. In this_ point it presents a striking contrast to the 
vindictive spirit of cotemporary codes ; sometimes indeed 
erring, it may be, on the side of mercy, and ever display- 
ing a marked respect for the rights of conscience; An 
instance of the former peculiarity is found in the statute 
against burglary, of which the penalty was death, save 
where the convict was under fourteen years of age, or was 
a poor person impelled by hunger to commit the crime ; 


CHAP, in whicli case it was declared to be larceny. The pream- 
J!]^ ble to tlie law against perjury well illustrates the regard 
1647. felt for private scruples. "Forasmuch as the consciences 
19-21. ^^ sundry men, truly conscionahle, may scruple the giving 
or the taking of an oath, and it would he nowise suitable 
to the nature and constitution of our place, who profess 
ourselves to be men of different consciences and not one 
willing to force another, to debar such as cannot do so, 
either from bearing office among us or from giving in testi- 
mony in a case depending ; be it enacted by the authority 
of this present Assembly, that a solemn profession or tes- 
timony in a court of record, or before a judge of record, 
shall be accounted, throughout the whole colony, of as 
full force as an oath ; " and then it proceeds to decree the 
penalty of perjury against any who should falsify such 
testimony. This deference to conscientious motives is the 
more remarkable as at that time the Friends did not yet 
exist as a distinct society, holding to the unlawfulness of 
oaths. It is a practical and legal exposition of the Ehode 
Island doctrine upon one of the very subjects for which 
the Founder of the State had suffered twelve years be- 
fore.^ The law for the recovery of debts contains a pro- 
vision in behalf of the honest debtor, which later codes 
might well embody — " but he shall not be sent to prison, 
there to lie languishing to no man's advantage, unless he 
refuse to appear or to stand to their order." 

Marriage was held as a civil contract throughout New 
England. The statute required the banns to be published 
at two town meetings, and confirmed before the chief offi- 
cer of the town. It was then to be entered on the town 
records, thus providing, in that early day, a registry of 
marriage, such as recent legislation has attempted to re- 
vive. The statute regulating the probate of wills con- 
tains a singular provision in the case of intestates, or of 

' On 30th April, 1635, Roger Williams was called before the Council for 
his views on the matter of oaths. Chap. i. p. 30, ante. 


executors decliiiing to act. The town council were to chap. 
have an inventory taken, and then to distribute the estate ,__,..^ 
among the heirs at law, appointing an executor for that ^^'^'''• 
purpose ; in other words, they were to make a will for ]9.2i, 
him. This was a common thing, and many such quasi 
testaments remain upon the town records, in some of 
which a largely discretionary power appears to have been 
exercised by the councils.* It was not unusual to prove 
a will in the presence of the testator, before his death. 
The instrument being executed, and witnesses examined, 
it was returned to the testator duly certified, and after 
his decease testamentary letters were issued to the execu- 
tor. The advantage of this course where questions of 
sanity or fraud are involved is obvious. 

There are very many points in this digest that make 
it an interesting study, illustrative of the progressive 
views of our ancestors, and of the dangers that surrounded 
them. We can allude to but one other statute, bearing 
upon the latter point. So important was the subject of 
archery considered, in view of the menaces to which they 
Avere exposed from warlike tribes, whose weapon was the 
bow, and of their own liability to be deprived of the use 
of their fire-arms from want of ammunition, that it was 
not left, like the other laws relating to military defence, 
to be established in the acts and orders of Assembly, but 
was embodied in t]ie code itself Every man between the 
ages of seventeen and seventy was required to keep a bow 
and four arrows, and to exercise with them ; and everj^ 
father was to furnish each son, from seven to seventeen 
years old, with a bow, two arrows and shafts, and to bring 

' Judge Staples says upon this subject : " They were not simply a division 
and distribution of the estate of the deceased among his heirs at law, but in 
one instance now in existence in the city clerk's office in Providence, they dis- 
posed of part of the real and personal estate to the ^vidow, part for life and 
part in fee, and divided the residue among the children as tenants in fee tail 
general, ■with cross remainders. This is believed to be peculiar to this col- 
ony." Code of 1647, p. 50, note. 

VOL. 1 — 14 


them up to shooting. Violation of this statute was pun- 
ished by a fine which the father was to pay for the son, 
the master for the servant, and to deduct it from his 

At the close of the criminal and other general statutes 
of the code occur these remarkable words : — 

" These are the laws that concern all men, and these 
are the ]3enalties for the transgression thereof, which, by 
common consent, are ratified and established throughout 
the whole colony ; and, otherwise than thus what is herein 
forbidden, all men may walk as their consciences persuade 
them, every one in the name of his God ; and let the 
saints of the Most High walk in this colony without mo- 
lestation, in the name of Jehovah their God, forever and 

Thus they deny the existence of any crime not speci- 
fied in the code, and expressly permit any act not therein 
forbidden. The famous statutes of 2d Elizabeth, con- 
cerning uniformity and ecclesiastical supremacy were not 
" conformable to the nature and constitution of the place." 
The code preserves as significant a silence on this subject 
as does the charter upon which it is based, while the last 
clause of this appended sentence proves that it was by no 
oversight that the aforenamed acts of intolerance were 
not recognized in Khode Island. 

The concluding sections of the code, " Touching the 
public administration of justice," relate to the appoint- 
ment ■ of ofiicers, very fully defining the duties of each, 
and regulate the proceedings in Courts. By these it ap- 
pears that the President and Assistants had no part in 
legislation. That power was reserved to the General As- 
sembly of all the people, and to the Courts of Commis- 
sioners, six from each town, appointed at this time. Thus 
it remained until altered by the royal charter. They 
composed the General Court of Trials, having cognizance 
of weighty ofi'ences, and were also a Court of Appeal in 


VI 1. 

cases that were too difficult for the town Courts to decide. 

Causes between different towns, or between citizens and 

strangers were also tried by them. This Court met in 1647. 

.... May 
May and October, The town Courts had original juris- 19.21. 

diction in suits among their own citizens. The President 
was conservator of the Peace over the colony, and the As- 
sistants in their respective towns, where they also acted 
as Coroners. Besides these officers there were a General 
Recorder, a Public Treasurer, and a General Sergeant ; 
afterwards ' a General Attorney and a General Solicitor 
were added.'^ 

Such were the proceedings of the first General As- 
sembly of Rhode Island. From them we may gather the 
spirit of all her subsequent legislation, and with a knowl- 
edge of the condition of affairs in England, and in the 
neighboring colonies at this period, we may almost foresee 
the leading events of her history. The young Common- 
wealth was n(J\Y fairly started on its career of progress, 
with no precedents to guide its earnest statesmen in their 
perplexities ; nothing but their own clear minds and 
strong hearts could aid them in solving the two grandest 
problems in civil government. Well has the philosophi- 
cal historian of the United States said of Rhode Island : 
" Had the territory of the State corresponded to the im- 
portance and singularity of the principles of its early ex- 
istence, the world would have been filled with wonder at 
the phenomena of its history.^" 

The death of Canonicus, the earliest and firmest friend Jnno 
of Rhode Island, took place at this time. The venerable 
sachem of the Narragansets, who was an old man when 
the first plantation was made at Providence, just lived to 

^InMfiy, IGoO. 

" The similarity between the New England Confetleracy of 1613 and the 
National Confederation of 1783 has been often remarked ; but there is vet a 
stronger resemblance in the relative position of the four towns of Ilhode Island 
in l()i7, and the States of the Federal Union under the constitution of 1787. 

' Bancroft's Hist, of U. S., i. 880. 



CHAP, see the scattered and feeble settlements of tlie Engiisli 
^J^^ united into one Province. He died at a critical period in 
1647. the history of his nation, when they were striving by vain 
^^^ delays to evade the ruinous treaty imposed on them by 
the New England confederates. As he passed in review 
the events of his long and chequered life, it is no wonder 
that his declining years were clouded by gloomy forebod- 
ings. Under the guidance of his warlike ancestor, Tash- 
tassuck,^ the tribe had become a nation, and successive 
conquests had swelled the nation into an empire. Long 
before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Eock, Canonicus 
had inherited the sceptre of a wide-spread dominion, by 
far the most powerful of any that were found by the Eng- 
lish. He was " a wise and peaceable Prince," aiming 
to advance his race in the arts of civilized life, even before 
any contact with the English had made them acquainted 
with the means and appliances of civilization. When 
conquest had secured his kingdom war was laid aside ; 
commerce and manufactures, limited and rude to be sure, 
were encouraged, and the Narragansets became rich as 
well as strong, spreading the knowledge of their language 
and the customs of their trade over a region of more than 
six hundred miles in extent.- But the spell of their power 
was broken when the Pilgrims received the proposal of 
Ousamequin, or Massasoit, to form a friendly alliance. 
The defection of the Pokanokets carried with them all 
their subordinate tribes, and since that time one after 
another of the native chiefs had deserted their proper 
prince, to seek the dangerous protection of the English. 
In all his intercourse with the English, from the time of 

' The Indian tradition is that he was greater than any prince in the coun- 
try, and having two children, a son and daughter, whom he could not match 
in dignity, he married them to each other. Their issue was four sous, of 
whom Canonicus was the eldest. Hutchinson's Mass., i. 458, note. The Pe- 
ruvian Incas have a similar tradition respecting the origin of the founder of 
their dynasty. 

- Koger WilUams' Key, p. 18. 


his first treaty to the day of liis death, they could never chap. 

charge him with violated faitli. Yet he could name ten ^_ 

different instances in which their solemn pledge to him 1C47. 
and his tribe had been broken. " I have never suffered 
any wrong to be ofiered to the English since they landed, 
nor never will ; — if the Englishman speak true, if he 
mean truly, then shall I go to my grave in peace, and 
hope that the English and my posterity shall live in love 
and peace together." These were the truthful and half- 
desponding words once spoken by him to the Founder of 
Rhode Island, " in a solemn Assembly." There were 
reasons, and ho recounted ten, for the doubting spirit that 
oppressed him, and which imparted to his language the 
saddening force of an omen. With the settlers of Rhode 
Island, whom he had received in their weakness, he ever 
maintained the most intimate and friendly relations ; and 
it should be said in justice to our ancestors that, from 
them, he never had cause to repent or to withhold his 
kindness. That he suffered from the jealousy of the other 
colonies, who were hostile alike to him and to them, is no 
fault of theirs ; while the fact that his unwavering fidel- 
ity to the founders of Rhode Island was the principal 
cause of his disasters, affords ample reason why their 
descendants should revere his virtues and embalm his 

The union of the towns under one government did not 
serve to heal the disputes with which each one was more 
or less disturbed. Their distinct powers were in no de- 
gree abridged by the compact they had formed. Their 
local affairs were as much under their own control as be- 
fore, and we shall soon see that even the burden of a gen- 
eral union, so essential to their strength, was more than 
they could bear. Between Newport and Portsmouth a 
difficulty arose as to their relative positions under the new 
government. For the past seven years they had, for the 
most part, acted together as one colony. Whether to 


CHAP, continue tlius, or to act as separate towns, wliich was the 
.JJ^ reasonable construction of the charter, appears to have 
16 4 7. been the question. The loss of the Newport records of 
^ this period leaves us only the fragmentary notices of meet- 
ings at Portsmouth, from which to conjecture the real na- 
ture and extent of this difference. By these it appears 
6. that certain messengers, sent by Newport to Portsmouth, 
were informed " that if they will joyn with us to act ac- 
cording to the General Corte order for this year we are 
redie thereto, if not we must go bye ourselff by the corte 
order." It also appears that forty-one votes were given 
in Newport to act jointly, and twenty-four to act alone. 
Aug. It was proposed to call a special meeting of the General 
Assembly, but the grounds for so doing were deemed in- 
1647-8. sufficient. A few months later it was " voted unani- 
'27' mously by the freemen of Portsmouth that they would 
act apart by themselves, and not jointly with Newport, 
and be as free in their transactions as anie of the other 
towns in the colonie." Providence was more distracted 
than either of the others by domestic difficulties, and 
many were the expedients proposed by her citizens to se- 
cure tranquillity. But they were too general in their na- 
ture, not bearing directly upon the specific causes of con- 
Dec, tention, to effect their object. One of these agreements 
adopted at Providence is transcribed by Judge Stajjles,' 
who justly says that little good could come of such instru- 
ments, since those who signed them did not need them, 
and those who required them would not agree to them, 
and that every one was left as before to decide whether 
his own or other's acts were in accordance with their letter 
or spirit, and hence they would afford new causes of dis- 
pute, thereby endangering the peace they were intended 
to promote. The democratic element was too strongly 
infused, and the conservative principles that underlie it 
were as yet too little understood by a portion of the peo- 

^ Annals of Providence, p. 70. 


pie, to admit of that perfect harmony in civil concerns chai'. 
which the successful application of the same doctrine of -^....^ 
individual responsibility had already produced among •^^^^• 
them in religious matters. It is an easier thing to apply 
the principle of personal liberty in religion than in poli- 
tics, in the affairs that relate solely to man and his Maker, 
than in those that pertain to human intercourse. Both 
applications of the great idea were equally novel. The 
one had already met with triumphant success, for eleven 
years of trial among men of various and earnest faith, 
had established its practicability, while the other was still 
an experiment of which the result as yet appeared doubtful. 
Gorton still remained in England, where his presence 
was required to counteract the designs of the Massachu- 
setts agent. Winslow attempted to justify the conduct 
of his government towards the men of Shawomet, by de- 
nouncing their heresies, but could not satisfy the Admi- 
ralty that the Massachusetts had any jurisdiction beyond 
the bounds of their patent, although he pleaded that, 
" 1st, they were within the jurisdiction of Plymouth or 
Connecticut, and so the order of the Commissioners of the 
United Colonies had left them to those of the Massachu- 
setts ; and 2d, the Indians, upon whose land they dwelt, 
had subjected themselves and their land to their govern- 
ment." ' Upon this the committee of Parliament again 
wrote to Massachusetts, referring to their letter of the ^jj^y 
previous year, and declaring that " we intended not there- 25. 
by to encourage any appeals from your justice, nor to re- 
strain the bounds of your jurisdiction to a narrower com- 
pass than is held forth by your Letters Patent, but to 
leave you with all that freedom and latitude that may, in 
any respect, be duly claimed by you," and adding that if 
it proves, as claimed, that Narraganset Bay fiills within 
the limits of Plymouth patent, it " will much alter the 
state of the question." Soon afterwards the committee 

' Hubbard's New England, 507. Wiutlirop ii. 317. 


CHAP, wrote another letter, saying tliat tliey could not decide 
,.3^ whetlier Shawomet was covered by any of the New Eng- 
164 7. land patents, without an examination on the spot, but if 
22f it should so prove they " commend it to the government, 
within whose jurisdiction they shall appear to be, not 
only not to remove them from their plantations, but also 
to encourage them with protection and assistance, in all 
fit ways ; provided that they demean themselves peacea- 
bly, &c." Letters to the same effect were sent to the 
other New England governments. ' 

It is difficult to see what encouragement could be 
drawn from these letters, by the parties to whom they are 
addressed, yet the Puritan chroniclers are jubilant over 
the prospect of having their illegal and outrageous pro- 
ceedings sanctioned by Parliament, and their agent at 
once " proceeded to have the charter, which they had 
lately granted to those of Ehode Island and Providence, 
to be called in, as lying within the patent of Plymouth 
or Connecticut." In this we know he signally failed. 
The town of Warwick being received into the corpo- 
Aug. ration on equal terms with those mentioned in the char- 
^' ter, conformed to the orders of Assembly by electing a 
town council, and commenced keeping records. They 
made a compact, instigated by their position in regard to 
Massachusetts, and by the troubles resulting at Pawtuxet 
from the same source, binding themselves not to convey 
their property by sale, gift, or otherwise to any but those 
who should sign this agreement, and prohibiting such 
conveyance to any other jurisdiction on pain of disfran- 
chisement and of forfeiture of the whole estate to the 
town. This article formed the fundamental law of the 
town. Every inhabitant was required to sign his name to 
it. It was confirmed a few months later, ^ and was always 
known as " the grand law." 

' Both of these letters are given in Wiuthrop, ii. 318-20, and are copied 
by Hubbard, chap. Iv. 

- 23d January, IGIS. See Warwick records. 


But the Massacliusetts were careful not to lose their chap 
liold upon Warwick through any lapse of watchfulness. ^^JL, 
Homo of their subjects had settled there, and the Indians 1 G4 7. 
of Shawomet were under their protection. Complaints 
were made by both of these of injuries received from in- 
truders. The corn of the natives had been destroyed, and 
an English house had been forcibly entered and its occu- 
pant threatened. The General Court sent three messen- 1G47-8. 
gers to warn off the depredators, and to compel restitu- ^^'■<'^^- 
tion. In case they did not obtain satisfaction at War- 
wick, they were to proceed to Aquedneck and Providence, 
and demand of the authorities there whether they sanc- 
tioned these acts.' 

Gorton, no doubt satisfied that AVinslow could effect ^^,*^- 
nothing, returned to America in the spring. As in the 
case of Holden, the Court, upon his arrival at Boston, or- 
dered his arrest. A letter which he brought from the 
Earl of Warwick saved him froni imprisonment, although 
so many favored violent proceedings, that the most urgent 
considerations of State policy alone prevented the Earle's 
request from being disregarded ; and Gorton was allowed 
to pass safely to his home only by the casting vote of the 

The General Assembly was then in session at Provi- ^^ 
denco. Two messengers ^ were sent to Boston with a let- 
ter " concerning the Warwick business," but on reaching 
Dedham they heard that the General Court was adjourned, 
and one of them. Barton, a resident of Warwick, wrote 22. 
to Gov. Winthrop to ascertain how he would be received 
by him if he continued his journey. AVhat reply, if any, 
was made to this letter, does not appear. The terms in 
which it is expressed arc almost servile in their extreme 
courtesy. The narrow escape that Gorton had just had, 
although protected by the powerful Earl of Warwick, 

' Theh- instructions are found in I\I. C. R.. ii. 228. 
" Captain Clarke and Rufus Barton. 


CHAP, might well teach caution to the humble envoy of Khode 
J^!^ Island, and the more so as he was one of the outlawed 
164 8. company, perhaps himself involved in the recent com- 
^^' plaints. His letter would not here be noticed but for the 
use made of it by Hubbard, the absurdity of which is too 
palpable to be passed over. He says : " By the style of 
this letter it appears how this company were crest-fallen, 
who but a little before had a mouth speaking great things 
and blasphemies ; but thanks be unto God, they had not 
power to continue very long ; for being now reduced to a 
little more sobriety in their language and behavior, they 
were permitted quietly to enjoy their possessions at Shaw- 
omet. This was the issue of the address made by these 
Gortonists to the Commissioners, who after the great 
clamor and noise they had made could make nothing ap- 
pear of that which they had afiSrmed." That the man- 
date of the Lord High Admiral of England, and of the 
Commissioners of Plantations should depend for its fulfil- 
ment upon the courtly expressions of a letter from an 
humble inhabitant of Warwick to the magnates of Mas- 
sachusetts, will excite a smile. That after this the Gor- 
tonists " were permitted quietly to enjoy their posses- 
sions," should have caused them to feel ever grateful to 
their courteous messenger, who had so softened the hearts 
of their magnanimous oppressors,^ Notwithstanding the 
concluding assertion of the Ipswich divine, the event 
proved that they made enough to appear not only to pre- 
vent the- Parliament from revoking their first decision in 

^ Taking Hubbard's absurd comment as correct, no more palpable instance 
can be found in history of the truth of the maxim that " nothing is lost by 
civility." Winthrop inserts Barton's letter, addressed to himself, but does not 
say what he did about it, nor does he make any comments upon it. The 
bigotry of Hubbard must have been of the most Pharisaical and self-satisfy- 
ing kind to enable him to draw, from a private letter of the Warwick mes- 
senger, any solace for the wound inflicted upon ecclesiastical pretension by 
triumphant heresy. To attribiite, as he does, to the accidental phraseology 
of such a letter the subsequent compulsory forbearance of the Puritans, is 
simply ridiculous. 


favor of the Gortonists, but also to have it confirmed, a ciiAr. 
few years later, by Royal charter, to the final discomfiture .^J^ 
of their implacable enemies. 1648. 

An amendment of the law organizing the General 
Court was now made. This Court, composed of six men 
chosen from each town, soon came to be in fact the Gen- 
eral Assembly, although if any others chose to remain, 
those whose help was desired were allowed to do so. In 
case any town refused to elect members, the Court, by 
this amendment, was required to choose for them. The 
General Court, as now constituted, was often called the 
Court of Commissioners, or the " Committee " — a name 
still preserved in styling the two branches of Assembly, 
when united for the choice of officers, " the Grand Com- 
mittee." The act making this body a General Court of 
trials was continued. In their judicial capacity they were 
to hear causes in the place where the action arose or the 
criminal was arrested, and at such times as were aj^poiuted 
by law. Hence, we presume, arose the custom, existing 
until a recent date, of the General Assembly's meeting in 
the different chief towns of the State. 

The first business of the Assembly, or " General Court 
of Election," as it was termed, when opened for the 
choice of general officers, was to go into the election. A 
Moderator and Clerk were chosen ; the State officers were 
then elected. The Clerk of Assembly was required t-o 
send a copy of the proceedings to each town. 

The changes made at this time were remarkable, when 
we consider that it was the first election since the gov- 
ernment was organized. They indicate already the exist- 
ence of opposing parties. William Coddington was elect- 
ed President, Eoger Williams of Providence, William 
Balston of Portsmouth, John Smith of Warwick, and 
Jeremy Clarke of Newport, Assistants. The latter was 
also continued in his office of Treasurer. Philip Sher- 
man was chosen General Recorder, and Alexander Par- 


CHAP, tridge, G-eneral Sergeant. By the list of the twenty-four 
^"- memhers of this Assembly, it appears that one might be 
16 48. a member from any town, and at the same time a general 
^^^^' officer. The towns were ordered to meet within ten days 
to choose their town officers. The " Act made and agreed 
upon for the well-ordering of this Assembly," correspond- 
ing to our modern " Eules and Orders," is worthy of at- 
tention for the conciseness and simplicity with which it 
regulates the business and decorum of the legislative 

" It is ordered. That y' Moderator shall cause y" Clark 
of y' Assembly to call over the names of the Assembly. 

" That the Moderator shall appoint every man to take 
his place. 

" That all matters presented to the Assembly's con- 
sideration, shall be presented in writing by bill. 

" That each bill be fairly discust, and if by y' major 
vote of the Assembly it shall be putt to a committee to 
draw up an order, which being concluded by y' vote, 
shall stand for an order threwout y' whole colony. 

" That the Moderator shall putt all matters to vote. 

" That every man shall have liberty to speak freely to 
any matter propounded yett but once, unless it be by 
lease from y"" Moderator, 

" That he that stands up first uncovered, shall speake 
first to the cause. 

" That the Moderator by y' vote of y' Assembly shall 
rejourne or dissolve y' Court, and not without, at his 
great perile. 

" That he that shall returne not to his place at y" 
time appointed, shall forfeitt sixpence. 

" That they that whisper or disturb y' Court, or useth 
nipping terms, shall forfeitt sixpence for every fault.' 
" Wm. Dyre, Clerk of the Assembly." 

' Were the latter rule, especially the last clause of it, now in force, it 
would aid the revenue of the State ; although it might he difficult to define 
with the precision of a statute what should he held as " nipping terms." 


Complaints were made at this Assembly against tlie ciiai'. 
President elect. He was not present at the election, nor ^''• 
did he apj)ear to repel the charges, whatever they were. 16 48. 
That he was chosen to that high office under such circum- ^^' 
stances seems strange. As he continued to absent him- 
self Jeremy Clark, Assistant, of Newport, was chosen to 
fill his place temporarily, with the title of President Re- 
gent ; and provision was made that in case of vacancy by 
the death, or absence from the colony, of the President, 
then the Assistant of that town from which the President 
was chosen should supply his place. 

The dissensions on the Island were not healed by this May 
Assembly. Just before it met, the Town Clerk of Ports- ^' 
mouth was ordered to inform Newport of their decision to 
act separately The proceedings of the Assembly seem 
to have widened the breach. It appears that even " the 
legality of the Corte and orders thereof" was questioned J^V 
by Portsmouth. There was evidently some serious trou- 
ble on the Island, threatening the existence of the colo- 
ny.' Portsmouth was disaffected, and the conduct of 
Coddington flivored the alienation. His subsequent acts 
may furnish a clue to his motives at this time. Roger 
Williams, who appears as a peacemaker in all the troubles 
of the colony, wrote a letter to the town of Providence, Aug. 
wherein he represents the State as distracted by two par- 
ties, Portsmouth and its partisans being one, and the re- 
maining three towns the other, and suggested a plan of 
reference by which the dispute might be settled, viz. , that 
Portsmouth and its friends should select three men, and 
the other towns three, one from each, whose decision 

' It is probable tliat this difference between Portsmouth and New-port re- 
ferred to the Courts of trials which np to this time had been held jointly by 
the two towns, but were now appointed by the General Assembly to be held 
separately in each town. This view is strengthened by the passage of an 
act at the first meeting of the Assembly after the reunion, giving these towns 
leave to hold their Courts jointly or apart as they pleased. See Act No. 13, 
Sept. session, 1654. 


CHAP, should be final. Unfortunately Mr. Williams does not 
.J^^ mention the causes of disagreement. That affairs in 
16 4 8. England, now ajDproaching a crisis, had some influence in 
these contentions is more than probable. Coddington was 
a royalist, and was about attempting to withdraw the 
island from the other towns and unite it to Plymouth. 
Clarke and Easton were re23ublicans, and leaders of the 
dominant party on the island. 

The hostile attitude of the Indians, occasioned by the 
determination of the United Colonies to protect Uncas at 
every hazard, from the punishment due to his crime at 
the hand of the Narragansets, caused more serious alarm 
than ever before. The dissensions prevaihng among them, 
those of Shawomet and Pawtuxet owning allegiance to 
Massachusetts, and viewing as enemies all Englishmen 
whom she denounced, while the Niantics and Nipmucks 
remained true to their proper princes, made the situation 
of Khode Island, surrounded as she was by these dis- 
S^P*- tracted and exasperated tribes, extremely perilous. The 
inhabitants of Warwick suffered severely from this cause. 
A letter written by Mr. John Smith, Assistant, in behalf 
of the town, was carried by Eandal Holden and John 
Warner to Plymouth, where the New England 'Commis- 
sioners were convened. They complained that the In- 
dians had killed their cattle, abused their servants, en- 
tered their houses by force, maltreating the occupants, 
and stealing their goods ; and desired advice on. the sub- 
ject. This was a proper course to adopt, since those In- 
dians were under their protection. But the island of 
Khode Island went still further. Mr. Coddington, who 
had been chosen President of the colony, but had never 
taken his engagement, with Captain Partridge, the Gen- 
eral Sergeant, presented, at the same time, a written re- 
quest, signed by themselves in behalf of Khode Island, 
" That wee the Ilanders of Koode Hand may be recaived 
into combination with all the united colonyes of New 


England in a prime and perpetuall league of friendship ciiap. 
and amity : of ofence and defence, Mutuall advice and __^__ 
succor upon all just occasions for our mutuall safety and 16 * ^• 
wellfairo, and for preserving of j)eace amongst ourselves, 7. 
and preventing as much as may bee all occasions of warr 
and Diference, and to this our motion we have the consent 
of the major part of our Hand." ^ 

This appears almost like an act of treason against the 
colony ; much more so than those acts which a few years 
later gave rise to the famous trials for that crime. But 
the imminent danger to which they were exposed might 
excuse a greater sacrifice than they proposed, while it 
makes the refusal they received appear absolutely inhu- 
man. That the islanders intended nothing more than a 
defensive alliance which would not compromise their posi- 
tion as members of the colony under the charter, may be 
inferred from their refusal of the offered terms of safety. 
It is unfortunate that any expression occurs in the petition 
that could be construed as an allusion to their mternal 
difficulties, for it strengthens the evidence that Codding- 
ton, and many whom he represented, inclined to accede to 
the terms imposed. The Commissioners, in their reply, 
commiserate the petitioners upon their domestic strifes, 
and the dangers of their position, but, claiming the island , 
to be witliin Plymouth patent, they refuse the request un- 
less this claim should be recognized. This answer might 
have been expected from the treatment Rhode Island had 
before received.'^ It is said that Coddington and the town 
of Portsmouth were willing to accept the condition, but 
were prevented by the other towns. Had they submitted 
the charter would have been virtually annulled by the act 
of its holders, and the schemes of the surrounding colo- 
nies to appropriate the rest of the State might have 

' Hazard's State Papers, ii. 99. 

* In Oct., 16iO, -when a league was first proposed, and iu JI:iy, 1G4" 
when it was formed. 




CHAP, proved successful. ^ Khocle Island would soon have been 
,J!^ absorbed by Massachusetts and Connecticut. 
16 4 8. The notice taken of the Warwick complaint was rather 
remarkable. The Commissioners wrote a letter to the 
sachems, advising them to abstain from such conduct in 
future, and telling them that, if they received any injury 
from the English, satisfaction should be given them, as the 
like would be expected from them."^ The mildness of this 
rebuke to their offending subjects, contrasts with the se- 
verity of the terms dictated to the islanders. Scarcely 
had this missive been sent when letters were received from 
Roger Williams and others, warning the United Colonies 
of preparations making by the Narragansets to renew the 
war on Uncas. Messengers were sent to Pessacus requir- 
ing him to desist, and demanding anew the arrears of 
tribute. Acts of violence were becoming daily more fre- 
quent. The United Colonies, as they were in no small 
degree the cause of these outrages, were looked to for re- 
dress by the sufferers. Henry Bull, of Newport, soon af- 
Qp^ terward complained that he had been beaten by some 
7. Narraganset Indians, and asked aid in obtaining satisfac- 
tion. He was referred to Ehode Island for relief, and 
further referred to the advice lately given to the islanders 
how they might secure protection. A copy of the letter 
to the sachems, that was given to the Warwick men, was 
also furnished to him, " for his future security." This 
paper, in the opinion of the Commissioners, possessed the 
virtue of a passport. 

' HutcMuson, i. p. 150, note, says: " Plymouth would soon have been 
swallowed up in Ehode Island from the great superiority of the latter. Be- 
sides, the principles of the people of the two colonies were so different that a 
junction must have rendered both miserable." But as Plymouth was herself 
annexed to Massachusetts in 1692, when the provincial government was 
formed under Sir William Phipps, the whole of Rhode Island, under this sup- 
position, except the King's province, claimed by Connecticut, would then 
have belonged to Massachusetts. 

^ Hazard, ii. lOO-I. 


Coddington, having failed in bis attempt to detach the chap. 
island from the other towns, soon after sailed for England .^^.^^ 
to procure for it a separate charter. His design was not 1648-9. 
known at the time. His daughter accompanied him, and 29. 
Captain Partridge was left to manage his affairs, includ- 
ing, no doubt, bis political interests. 

The discovery of what was supposed to be gold and 
silver ore upon the island, caused great excitement in the 
colony. A special meeting of the General Assembly was ^^^'^l'- 
held at Warwick. No record of it remains, but by the 
letter of Eoger Williams, and from other sources, we are 
informed of its proceedings. The distracted state of the 
towns, and the importance attached to this discovery of 
precious metals, probably led to the meeting. The vio- 
lence of party spirit had so compromised many of the 
leading men in the colony that, to the sagacious mind of 
Williams, the only mode of escape from increasing dan- 
ger was by the passage of a general " act of oblivion." At 
his suggestion such an act was passed. Mr. Williams 
was not present at that session, but was elected Deputy 
President of the Colony, probably owing to his constant 
efforts to promote peace. He declined the honor, and in 
a letter to Mr. John Winthrop ^ says, " I hope they have 
chosen a better," but they did not, and Mr. Williams 
acted as President till the election in May. 

' The son of Gov. Wintlirop of Massachusetts, himself afterwards Gover- 
nor of Connecticut. The fiithcr died at this time, March, 1G49, so that we 
have no longer his reliable journal, the last entry in which is on Jan. 11th, as 
a guide. This hook, with its full and admirable notes by the editor, Hon. 
James Savage, is worth all the other authorities on this period of New Eng- 
land history put together. The Imes of Milton, quoted by the translator of 
the Decameron, will apply with gi-eater force to Savage's Wiuthrop's Jour- 
nal : — 

" Hither, as to thoir fountains, other stars 
Eepaifing, in tlioir goUlou urns draw light," 

In fact they all draw from him, while Hubbard, whose General History of 
New England was more esteemed when it was less known, in the only reliable 
portions of his work, copies verbatim from the JIS. of Winthrop, which was 
not then (1680) printed, and carefully conceals the source of his information. 

VOL. I — 15 


The Assembly passed an act taking possession of the 
mines in the name of the State of England, and forhade 
all persons from interfering with the ore. The Clerk pub- 
lished the proclamation, and the arms of England and of 
the Earl of Warwick were set up at the mine. Closer 
examination dispelled the illusion. A more certain and 
less demoralizing source of wealth has, within a few years, 
been developed in the discovery of coal mines on the 
island, now in profitable operation.' 

14_ Special charters of incorporation were granted at this 

session to the several towns. That of Providence, granted 
on petition of the town, is given by Judge Staples, and 
follows closely the terms of the colonial charter. War- 
wick had one of the same date. The Portsmouth records 
of their next town meeting held for the election of oflQcers," 
refer to " the particular charter granted unto them for 
choosing their town officers." A similar one must have 
been given to Newport at the same time. 

The intolerance of the General Court of Massachu- 
setts was again shown towards Eandal Holden, who peti- 
tioned that his sentence of banishment might be revoked, 
to enable him to give his personal attention to some bus- 
iness that required his presence in Boston. The favor 
was refused, and he was informed that his affairs could 
be as well conducted by an attorney as by himself.^ 

22. The regular session of the Court of Commissioners 

was held at Warwick and lasted four days. John Smith 
of Warwick was chosen President ; Thomas Olney of 
Providence, John Sandford of Portsmouth, John Clarke 

^ An account of these mines with the causes of their failure when first 
opened, and the reasons for their subsequent success, is given by Dr. Jackson 
in his Report on the Geological Survey of Rhode Island, made in 1840, p. 
95-104. Since the date of this Report the business has been revived, and is 
now conducted with profitable resiilts. 

- On first Monday of June, 1649. 

^ M. C. R., ii. 275. 




of Newport, and Samuel CTorton of Warwick, Assistants ; chap. 
John Clarke Treasurer, and Kichard Knight, Sergeant. .J^^ 

Already had fraudulent voting, the bane of all free 1^6^41 
governments, appeared in the colony. The system of 
proxies afforded facilities for this, which it was attempted 
to prevent by requiring that no one should bring any 
votes that he did not receive from the voters' own hands, 
and that all votes should be filed by the Eecorder in pres- 
ence of the Assembly. The fall in the price of beaver in 
England, and the increased manufacture of peage by the 
Indians, had reduced the value of that currency nearly 
one-half The depreciation was not so great in Ehode 
Island, where this medium continued to be used much 
longer than in the other colonies, but a law was passed 
lowering the standard of black peage, which was double 
the value of the white, one-third. Four, instead of three, 
for a penny was now made the legal rate. Prisons were 
ordered to be built in each town ; meanwhile the one at 
Newport was used for the whole colony, and the General 
Sergeant was appointed to keep it. The organization of 
the Court of Trials, heretofore composed of the members 
of Assembly alone, was amended by adding to it the mag- 
istrates of the town where the Court might be held. The 
sale of ardent spirits to the natives was forbidden, except 
that Mr, Williams was allowed to dispense it, in cases of 
sickness, at his discretion. Tliis law displays a commend- 
able regard for the welfare of the Indians, and an honora- 
ble confidence in the Founder of the State, 

There was a strong feeling in Khode Island in favor of 
Mr, John Winthrop, son of the late Governor of Massa- 
chusetts, who before the Pequot war had made a purchase 
near Thames river, which the government of Connecticut 
had recently refused to recognize. It was thought that 
he might move further east, perhaps to Pawcatuck, in 
which case many desired to make him President of the 
colony, and his name was used for that purpose in this 




CHAP, election. He had been suggested as one of the referees 
^J}};^ in the difficulty with Portsmouth the previous summer. 
1^6^4 9. The liberality of the Winthrops, often displayed by the 
father in his trying position as Governor of Massachu- 
setts, and inherited by the son, their close friendship with 
the Founder of Khode Island, and the sympathy they 
manifested with the struggling colony on more than one 
occasion, all go to account for this partiahty. 

The desire for pubhc service was so little felt by our 
ancestors, that heavy fines were imposed upon any who 
should refuse to accept an office. Any one elected Presi- 
dent, and declining to act, was to be fined ten pounds ; 
or an Assistant five pounds, and his place was to be filled 
by the person having the next highest number of votes. 
A similar law was enacted in the towns to compel the ac- 
ceptance of town offices. In Portsmouth, whoever was 
4. chosen to be a magistrate and refused was fined six pounds, 
and for an inferior office the fine was fifty shillings. The 
reciprocal engagement of the State and its officers was 
also administered to the town councils in the following 
form : " You, A. B., being called and chosen by the free 
vote of the inhabitants of Portsmouth unto the office of 
a town magistrate, in his Majesty's name, do in this pres- 
ent assembly engage yourself faithfully to execute the of- 
fice of a justice of the peace, in the due execution of jus- 
tice in this town, according to the laws estabhshed unto 
us by our particular charter, according to the best of your 
understanding. The town reciprocally engage themselves 
in his Majesty's name, to maintain you in the just execu- 
tion of your office, according to the best of their under- 
standing." The use of the words "in his Majesty's 
name," in a formula adopted just at this time is peculiar. 
The King was beheaded on the 30th of January. News 
of his death had reached the colony either while the As- 
sembly was in session, or shortly before it met, yet no no- 
tice was taken of it by that body — possibly because it yet 





needed confirmation. And this might be the reason why 
the freemen of Portsmouth, as a matter of precaution, 
retained the old form of expression ; or perhaps that they 16 49. 
did so was owing to the fact of the predominance of the '^ 
royalist or Coddington party in that town. The news was 
confirmed by an arrival from England the following week. 

The Warwick men again wrote to the Commissioners 
of the United Colonies, sitting at Boston, to complain of Jujy 
the Indians, and to remind them of the order of Parlia- 
ment that they should be protected.^ The Commission- 
ers, in their reply, deny having received any such com- 
mand, or that the petitioners could reasonably expect aid 
in their position, but say they are ready to obey the order 
requiring them to ascertain under what patent the lands 
of Warwick are included.^ 

The next General Court of election was held at New- 
port at the same time with that at Boston. At both bus- 
iness of great importance, affecting the relations of the 
two colonies, was transacted. That there was some diffi- 
culty in this election is evident from the record of a vote 
that it should " be authentic notwithstanding all obstruc- ^^2^ 
tions against it." 

Nicholas Easton was chosen President ; William 
Field of Providence, John Porter of Portsmouth, John 
Clarke of Newport, and John Wicks of Warwick, Assist- 
ants ; Philip Sherman, Recorder ; Richard Knight, Ser- 
geant, and John Clarke, Treasurer. An Attorney Gen- 
eral and Solicitor General were also appointed, for the 
first time, and their duties defined. William Dyre was 
chosen to the first-named office, and Hugli Bcwett to the 
latter. The committee of each town, which should con- 
sist of six men, were empowered to fill any vacancy in 
their number. It was also ordered that in case any mem- 
ber, upon complaint and trial, should prove to be unfit to 
hold his seat, the Assembly might suspend liim, and 

' In theletter of July 22, 1647, ante. ^ Hazard, ii. 135. 


choose another in his place. Heretofore the Assembly had 
been usually styled " the Court of Commissioners," the 
term General Assembly applying only to a meeting of all 
the people ; but we have seen that gradually the legisla- 
tive power had centred in this Court, and they now, for 
the first time, style themselves the General Assembly, 
and fix their salaries at two and sixpence a day. 

The order apportioning the amount of military stores 
to be kept by each town, gives an idea of their relative 
strength at this period. Providence and Warwick were 
each to have one barrel of powder, five hundred pounds 
of lead, six pikes and six muskets in their magazines, fit 
for service. Portsmouth was to have twice this amount, 
or as much as both of these towns, and Newport was to 
have three barrels of powder, a thousand pounds of lead, 
twelve pikes and twenty-four muskets. Each town was 
to regulate its own militia. 

By an order of the previous Assembly letters had been 
sent to the Pawtuxet men, respecting their allegiance to 
the colony, and a summons issued to the sachems of Paw- 
tuxet and Shawomet to attend upon the Court. This 
procedure led the parties to petition the General Court of 
Massachusetts, complaining, as usual, of injuries received, 
and asking redress. Upon this the General Court ad- 
dressed a letter to Ehode Island, advising all whom it 
concerned, not to prosecute any suits against the subjects 
of Massachusetts, nor to do them any harm till they 
should hear again from the Court, which would not be long, 
June A committee was appointed to treat with Plymouth 
about the title to the land of Shawomet and Pawtuxet, 
and protection to the English and Indian subjects of Mas- 
sachusetts at those places. The Court adjourned for a few 
days to await the issue of the negotiation. The General 
Court of Plymouth was then in session. By a formal in- 
strument they resigned all claim to the territory in ques- 
tion, yielding in every thing to the proposals of Massachu- 




setts, but witli one i^roviso, that does honor to their sense chap. 
of justice, and to their clearness of perception, viz., that ,_33^ 
the lands of Providence should not be included in the relin- 16 5 0. 
quishmcnt, but should remain as before to be freely enjoyed y 
by the inhabitants. That Providence should be named 
at all in the deed of cession, since it was not referred to 
in the instructions of the Committee, is proof that Ply- 
mouth suspected, and not without reason, that the design 
of Massachusetts embraced more than she professed, and 
by making this exception she declared her own opinion of 
the rights of the people in Providence, and barred any 
claim that Massachusetts might afterward set up to that 
territory, based upon the action of Plymouth in this case. ' 
The Court having reassembled at Boston, received the re- 
port of their committee, and proceeded to annex their 
newly-acquired possessions to the county of Suffolk. 
They also, in gratitude to Captain Atherton, for his ser- 20. 
vices in this and in the brutal affair with Pessacus,'- voted 
him a farm of five hundred acres. The officers of the 
County Court were authorized to treat with any of the 
Warwick associates who might appear to complain of this 
outside disposition of themselves and their property. 

There is one question that the high contracting par- 
ties to this remarkable transfer of land and power, to 
which neither had any right, quite overlooked. Admit- 
ting that the claim of either one of them under their pa- 
tents was valid, how could that one lawfully divest itself 
of, or invest another government with, a portion of its 
power ; or how could the recipient, simply on the ground 
that the cession was voluntary, enlarge the limits of its 
own patent ? The illegality on botli sides is apparent. 
The injustice to the rightful owners need not be consid- 
ered after the outrages they had suffered seven years bo- 

These acts called for decisive action on the jiart of 

' M. C. R, iv. Part I. 1-1-20. ^ Close of chap, vi., ante. 



CHAP. Rliode Island. The President of the colony called a con- 
^^^' vention, composed of a special committee of three from each 
16 5 0. town, to meet at Portsmouth, to deliberate on the con- 
^q''' duct of Massachusetts in the premises. No report of their 
proceedings can be found. But these convenient inter- 
changes of jurisdiction were not yet ended. The Com- 
missioners of the United Colonies advised, for many co- 
Sept. g^Jit reasons, that Warwick and Pawtuxet should be re- 
13. stored to Plymouth.' The General Court yielded the 
16,' point, and re-assigned the territory to Plymouth.*^ Pres- 
ident Easton had written to Massachusetts that Ehode 
Island and Warwick now formed one colony, and would 
defend her rights. Letters were sent to Ehode Island, 
forbidding her to exercise jurisdiction over Shawomet, to 
the Pawtuxet men to transfer their allegiance to Ply- 
mouth, and to Gov. Bradford that he should protect them 
and the subject Indians. 

The General Assembly met at Portsmouth. The or- 
der prescribing the mode of passing general laws was re- 
pealed and a new one made. The Assembly, or " Repre- 
sentative Committee," as it is here termed, having enacted 
any laws, these were to be sent to the towns within six 
days after the adjournment, and then, within three days, 
to be read in town meeting. Any freeman who dishked 
the laws or any one of them, was to send his vote, with 
his name upon it, within ten days after the reading, to 
the General Recorder. If a majority were found to op- 
pose it the Recorder should signify the fact to the Presi- 
dent, and the President to the towns, that such law was 
annulled. Silence as to the rest was considered assent. 
Banishment, as a punishment, was abolished. Divorce 
was prohibited except, at the suit of the party aggrieved, 
for adultery. 

Roger WiUiams was urged once more to go to Eng- 
land. The active measures taken by the other colonies 

' Hazard ii. I53-'4. = M. C. R. iii. 216. 


in regard to Warwick and Pawtuxet, required that Rhode chap. 
Island should be represented before the Committee of J^ 
Plantations. The sum of one hundred pounds voted 16 5 0. 
three years before, in remuneration of his services in ob- go. 
taining the charter, had never been paid, although at- 
tempts had been made to raise the money by taxation. 
The Assembly now voted to pay the arrears, and one 
hundred pounds more, if he would go a second time, but 
if he would not, Mr. Balston, John Clarke and John War- 
ner were named, any two of them to go. 

Tliis was the last session of the G-eneral Assembly, as 
at first constituted, under the charter. A more serious 
calamity than any that the malice or the ambition of her 
neighbors could inflict, was about to overwhelm the State, 
and for a time to palsy the arm of the sons of Rhode 
Island. _ 1^5 1_ 

In the following spring there was no meeting of the May 
Assembly. News of Coddington's design had been re- 
ceived, although his success was not yet known. Con- 
sternation pervaded the colony. Within and without, at 
home and abroad, enemies to the peace and liberty of the 
State appeared on every side. The Pawtuxet men com- 
plained to Massachusetts that Providence had assessed 
them to the amount of twelve pounds ten shillings, and 
on their refusal to pay the tax had threatened them with 
distraint. Upon this the General Court sent a letter to 02. 
Roger Williams, warning him that if this levy was made 
they would seek satisfaction " in such manner as God 
shall put into their hands."' Amid these complicated 

* M. C. K. iii. 228, and Iv. part. i. 46. There could be no mistaking the 
meaning of this. The Puritans in their dealings with their weaker neigh- 
bors, English or Indians, evidently believed with the Great Frederick, that 
" Providence favors the strong battalions." Their reliance upon Divine aid 
in all their forays, attempted or threatened, into Rhode Island, was of that 
comniendably precautionary character displayed by Cromwell in the order to 
his troops at " the crowning mercy of Worcester," which was fought on a 
rainy day — " Trust in God but keep your powder dry I "* 




difificulties, an outrage was committed upon some of the 
best men of Kbode Island, whicli is without a parallel 
save in the treatment of the Gortonists. Kev. John 
Clarke, pastor of the first Baptist church in Newport, 
Obadiah Holmes, who shortly before had aided to estab- 
lish a church of that order in Seekonk, and, being pre- 
sented for it by the grand jury at the General Court of 
Plymouth, had fled to Newport,^ and John Crandall, a 

16. member of the same church, were deputed by the church 
to visit an aged member, residing near Lynn, who had re- 
quested an interview with some of his brethren. Arriv- 
ing at the place on Saturday, Mr, Clarke preached the 
next day to those who were in the house. While thus 
engaged two constables served on them a warrant for the 
arrest of the " erroneous persons, being strangers." In 
the afternoon they were carried to church by the officer, 
where, after service, Clarke addressed the congregation 
till silenced by a magistrate. Next day, although being 
under arrest, he administered the communion to the aged 
member of his church and to two others. The party were 
examined and ordered to be sent to Boston, where they 

25. were imprisoned to await their trial the following week. 
At the trial Gov. Endicott charged them with being ana- 
baptists. Clarke denied that he was either an anabaptist, 
a pedobaptist, or a catabaptist, and affirmed, that al- 
though he had baptized many he had never re-baptized 
any, for that infant baptism was a nullity. The others 
agreed in this, and the Court sentenced them upon their 
own declarations, '' without producing either accuser, wit- 
ness, jury, law of God, or man." Clarke was fined twenty 
pounds. Holmes thirty pounds, and CrandaU five pounds, 
and in default of payment each was "to be weU whipped." 
They refused to pay the fine, as that would be to admit 
their guilt when they felt they were innocent, and were 

' After the death of Dr. Clarke he succeeded him as pastor of the New- 
port church. I{Jaowles', 239, note. 




committed to prison. On the following day Clarke, by a ciiAi'. 
letter to the Court, challenged the members to a discus- .JJ^ 
sion of the doctrinal vieWs for which he had been con- 1651. 
demned. The magistrates appointed a time for the de- i. 
bate. Clarke prepared the heads of discussion, but be- 
fore the day arrived an order of Court was sent to the jail 
for his discharge, the fine having been paid by some one n 
without his knowledge. Anxious to hold the debate, and 
seeing how this ill-timed kindness might be represented 
as being caused by his desire to avoid it, Clarke, on the 
same day, renewed the challenge, offering to come to Boston 
at any time they might name. In their rejjly the Court 
seemed to accept the invitation, but fixed no time. Cotton 
was to be the chosen champion of Puritan theology — the 
man of all others, as the leader of their church, with 
whom Clarke most desired to meet, and to discuss the two 
great principles of Baptist faith, voluntary baptism and 
individual responsibility. These were the two grand 
points upon which Church and State in Massachusetts 
were .antagonist to the sentiment of Khode Island. But 
although Mr. Clarke a third time notified the Court of his 
readiness, they failed to appoint a day, so that the debate 
was never held. CrandaU was allowed to go home on 
bail, the jailer being his surety. Holmes was so cruelly 
whipped, receiving thirty lashes with a three-corded whip 
from the public executioner, that for many days he could g,,.,^ 
take no rest except by supporting himself on his elbows 5. 
and knees. Two of the spectators, one an old man named 
Hazel, who had come from Seckonk, fifty miles, to visit 
him in prison, were arrested for shaking hands with him 
after the punishment was over, and were sentenced to pay 
a fine or to be whipped. The fine was paid by their 
friends, but Hazel died before reaching home.' 


' See HI Newes from New England, by John Clarke, London, 1G52, 4to., 
76 pp. The writer consulted the copy in the British Museum. This very 
scarce work by one of the ablest men of the seventeenth century, and a 


Tims severely was the savage law of 1644, against 
the anabaptists, carried out by magistrates and ministers, 
who shunned a discussion of the doctrines which they ig- 
norantly denounced. 

founder of Rhode Island, has lately been reprmted by the Mass. Hist. Soc, 
in the 2d vol. of the 4th series of their Collections. 






When Coddington arrived in England the King was 
already beheaded, the House of Lords had been voted 
useless, the Commonwealth was declared, and the supreme 164 9 
power vested in the hands of forty persons as a Coun- 
cil of State, A revolution as complete had taken place 
in ecclesiastical affairs. Episcopacy had been abolished 
three years before ; the Directory had supplanted the -, ^ .n 
Liturgy ; a greater part of the livings were distributed 
among the Presbyterian clergy, and finally Presbyterian- 
ism was established by act of Parliament as the national 
faith. The new church were as tenacious of their " di- 
vine right," as ever the old one had been. The rights of 
conscience were as little understood or respected by Pres- 
byterians as by Prelatists. Toleration was denied to the 
Independents by both alike. Humanity gained nothing 
by the change till the master-spirit of Cromwell curbed 
the persecuting will of these Protestant Papists. For 
two years the efforts of Coddington were mthout result. 
More momentous concerns than any that related to distant 
plantations employed the Council, At length he obtained ^ ^. 5 j 
a hearing. By what representations, or through what in- 



fluence he succeeded in virtually undoing tlie acts of the 
Long Parliament in favor of Khode Island, we can never 
know. He obtained from the Council of State a com- 
mission, signed hy John Bradshaw, to govern the islands 
of Ehode Island and Connanicut during his life, with a 
council of six men, to be named by the people and ap- 
proved by himself With this authoritative document 

-^"S- he returned home to sever the islands from the main land 
towns, and to be in effect the autocrat of the fairest and 
wealthiest portion of the State. Great was the alarm 
felt throughout the colony, more especially by the large 
party in the now subjected islands who, being opposed to 
Coddington, found themselves, as they thought, at the 
mercy of a dictator. This party at once prepared to send 
John Clarke to England, to obtain a revocation of Cod- 
dington's powers. Providence and Warwick recognized 
the peril to which their charter was exposed, and has- 
tened the departure of Koger WilKams to secure to them 

Sept. again the rights he had first obtained. William Arnold, 
^- one of the Massachusetts subjects at Pawtuxet, wrote to 
the Commissioners of the United Colonies to inform them 
of this movement, that Warwick had already raised one 
hundred pounds, and men in Providence were giving ten 
or twenty pounds apiece to speed the object of Williams' 
mission. John Greene, in behalf of Warwick, the same 
day officially notified the Commissioners, that as the 
United Colonies had failed to conform to the order of 
Parliameiit to protect them, but as they " were bought 
and sold from one patent and jurisdiction to another," had 
been threatened with expulsion since the above order was 
received, summoned to attend Courts in Massachusetts, 
deprived of trade, and exposed to violence from both Eng- 
lish and Indians, therefore they should send a messenger 
to England to obtain redress, and the United Colonies 
might instruct their agents accordingly to prepare their 
answers. This official notice was a gratuitous act of 



courtesy on the part of Warwick that was not appreciated chap. 
by the Commissioners. ^^-r-^ 

The United Colonies coldly recognized the commission 16 51. 
of Coddington, and addressed him a letter inquiring what ' jl ' 
course he would pursue as to fugitives from justice ; 
whether he would return them on legal demand, or bring 
them to trial on the island. The Warwick letter caused 
much discussion. The Massachusetts members of the 
Commission presented a declaration on the subject, to 
which those of Plymouth replied, disowning the cession 
made to Massachusetts the previous year, and protesting 
against the seizures she had made at Shawomet and 
Pawtuxet. The other members, on the ground that Ply- 
mouth had refused to accept the transfer made by Massa- 
chusetts, recognized the claim of the latter, and concluded 
that trespasses committed by the Warwick men should 
be punished by force if necessary, " but with as much 
moderation as may be." * 

A General Assembly of the two remaining towns was Oct. 
called, at which Samuel Gorton was chosen President. 
Eoger Williams was urged, by every consideration that 
could move him in such a crisis, to leave home to advo- 
cate the cause of the colony in England. On the island 
forty-one of the inhabitants of Portsmouth, and sixty- 
tive, being nearly all of the freemen, in Newport, joined 
to persuade Dr. Clarke to go out and obtain a repeal of 
Coddington's commission. They both consented to go. 
Mr. Williams was obliged to sell his trading-house in 
Narraganset, to sustain his family during liis absence. 
The objects of their missions were distinct. Clarke Avas 
the agent of the island towns, to procure a repeal of 
Coddington's commission. Williams was the agent of 
the main land towns, to obtain a confirmation of their 
charter. In eifect the same result was aimed at and se- 
cured — a return to their former mode of government by 

1 Hazard's State Papers, ii. 198-203. 




CHAP, a reunion under tlie charter. The two agents sailed to- 
3^^ gather, with some difficulty securing leave to embark from 
1651. Boston. 

The Court of Commissioners, the relic of the colonial 
Assembly, being the committees of Providence and War- 
wick, met at Providence to consult on the state of the 
colony. They resolved to continue under the charter, 
making laws and choosing officers as before. They re- 
enacted several laws, modified to meet their present con- 
dition, and also passed an act forbidding the purchase of 
land from the Indians, without consent of the State. 
16 5 2. Williams and Clarke presented a joint petition to the 
April Council of State, which was referred to the committee on 


foreign affairs. The island meanwhile quietly submitted 
to the rule of Coddington. The main land towns held 
May their regular Court of Election in the spring. John 
Smith was chosen President of the colony ; Thomas 01- 
ney of Providence, Samuel Gorton of Warwick, General 
Assistants ; John Greene, jr., Eecorder ; Randall Holden, 
Treasurer ; and Hugh Bewett, Sergeant. 

At this session the famous law against slavery was 
passed, believed to be, with one exception,^ the first leg- 
islative enactment in the history of this continent^ if not 
of the world, for the suppression of involuntary servitude. 
This law was designed to prevent both negro and white 
slavery, each of which was in use at that time. By it no 
man could be held to service more than ten years from 
the time of his coming into the colony, at the end of 
which time he was to be set free. Whoever refused to 
let him go free, or sold him elsewhere for a longer period 
of slavery, was subject to a penalty of forty pounds. 

Between Rhode Island and the Dutch at Manhattan, 
there existed quiet an active trade, and occasional inter- 
marriages resulted from the intercourse thus maintained. 
A serious disturbance occurred at this time in Warwick. 

' The Act of Massachusetts, 4th Nov., 101:6, in 2 M. C. R., 168. 


The crew of a small Dutch vessel which had arrived there chap. 
in January, on a trading voyage, hoarded for some two Jl^^ 
months with John Warner, who was this year the Assist- 16 5 2. 
ant, or second magistrate of the town, and had stored 
their goods in his house for sale. One of these men, 
named Geraerd, was a brother-in-law of Warner, both 
having married into the family of Ezekiel Holliman. 
Upon settling their accounts a dispute arose, which it 
was vainly attempted to adjust by arbitration, and the 
Dutchmen appealed to the Court. At their request a ^^ jj 
special session was held. AVarner refused to answer to 
the case, and judgment was entered against him by de- 
fault, and execution granted for the damages assessed by 
a jury. Warner's wife was also indicted upon suspicion 
of felony, and the case carried up to the General Court of 
trials for the colony. The conduct of Warner before and 24. 
at this trial was so bad that he was degraded from his 
office as Assistant and disfranchised. A copy of the dec- 
laration was sent to Providence, and also to Massachu- 
setts, and the whole proceedings upon the case were after- 
wards forwarded to Koger Williams in England. A few j^^^^^ 
weeks later, " upon suspicion of insufferable treachery 7. 
against the town," which is conveyed in the seventh item 
of the declaration, his house and lands were attached. 
For want of proof the property was shortly released, but j„]y 
not without a formal protest being entered upon the rec- 5- 
ords by the leading men of the town. The proceedings 
are so remarkable, and the form of the declaration, re- 
sembling somewhat the indictment against Gorton,' is so 
curious that they should be preserved.'- 

The war between England and Holland having com- y^^,^^. 
menced, the Dutch were forbidden to trade with the In- 19. 
dians in the colony, and the President was instructed to 
notify the Governor of Manhattan '•> of this prohibition. 

^ Ante, chap. vi. p. 120. '^ See Appendix B. 

" Peter Stup'esant. This prohibition was repealed in May, 1657. 

VOL. 1. — 10 


CHAP Letters from Eoger Williams caused a town meeting to 

.^^II. be held in Providence, at wliich a letter was directed to 

16 5 2. be sent to Warwick, proposing a meeting of Commission- 

2^''^ ers to prepare suitable replies. The town of Warwick 

agreed to the proposal, and further suggested a conference 

29. with the island towns, with a view to their all uniting to 

obtain a renewal of the charter, as such united action 

would remove some obstacles then existing, by reason of 

the separate duties of the two agents, and would also help 

to secure to the colony the Narraganset country, which 

^y„ the Greenwich men were striving to obtain. A meeting 

2. was accordingly held, but no record of it remains. 

Another letter from Mr. Williams, saying that the 
3_ ' Council had granted leave to the colony to go on under 
the charter until the controversy was decided, gave great 
satisfaction. A few days later an order of Council was 
issued vacating the commission of Coddington, and direct- 
ing the towns again to unite under the charter. The 
mission was successful at .every point. The agents re- 
mained in England on their private business, and also to 
sustain the rights of the colony, while William Dyre, who 
had probably gone out with them, returned home with the 
joyful news. 

The General Assembly met at Providence, and passed 
two important acts, an alien and a libel law. By the 
former no foreigner was to be received as a freeman in any 
town, or to have any trade with the Indians, but by con- 
sent of the Assembly. The latter made disparaging lan- 
guage, spoken in malice, actionable in every town. They 
also wrote to Eoger Williams a letter of thanks for his 
services, the successful result of which was not yet known 
to them, and proposed that ]ie should get himself ap- 
pointed Governor of the colony for one year, as it would 
give weight to the government. This proposal affords the 
strongest proof of the respect and confidence felt in the 
colony towards its illustrious Founder. But Williams 





had little desire for power. Such a course would have chap 


established a dangerous iireccdent, and might appear to ,. ^^ 

take from the colony a portion of its liberty in the selec- 16 5 2. 
tion of officers. They also wrote a letter to the town of 
Warwick, where doubts had been expressed as to the le- 
gality of the Assembly, protesting against such expres- 
sions as tending to discredit the authority of the Assem- 
bly, thereby weakening the government, and likewise af- 
firming both the validity of the committee chosen from 
WarAvick, and the legality of the Court. The occasion 
for such a letter displays the lamentable distraction that 
pervaded the colony at this time. 

A more serious cause of dissension led to a special I'^^- 

. 20. 

meeting of the Court of Commissioners at Warwick. 
The President of the colony and the Warwick Assistant, 
upon an examination before the Court of Trials, charged 
Hugh Bewett, one of the committee from Providence, 
with high treason. The trial lasted four days, and re- 
sulted in the acquittal of the prisoner, thus reversing the 
decision of the Court of Trials, and thereby increasing the 
divisions in the colony. The grounds of the indictment 
cannot now be ascertained. 

Upon the arrival of William Dyre from England, with 
the repeal of Coddington's power, he wrote letters to 
Warwick and to Providence, naming a day when he w^ould 
meet all the freemen who chose to appear at Portsmouth, 
to communicate the orders of the Council of State. A 20. 
town meeting was held in Providence, at which, in accord- 
ance with a request from Warwick,' a meeting of the 
Commissioners of the tAvo towns was agreed upon. It 
Avas held at Pawtuxet the folknving week. This Assem- 
bly drafted a reply to a letter from the island, relating to 
a reunion of the colony, and appointed two of the mem- 
bers from each town to carry it, and to consult with those 
of the island concerning the peace and welfare of the 

* Warwick records of 22d February, 1652. 



CHAP. State. Tlieir labor was fruitless. The point of difficulty 
3^1^ was this. The mainland towns contended that they were 
1652-3. the Providence Plantations, their charter never having 
been vacated, and their government having continued un- 
interrupted by the defection of the island, and therefore 
the General Assembly to hear the orders of Council, 
should be held with them. The island towns claimed 
that as they formed the greater part of the colony, and 
hence had a larger interest in the matter, the Assembly 
should meet there. The original letters from the Council 
of State were deposited by Dyre with the town clerk of 
Newport, from whom certified copies were obtained, after 
some trouble, by the other towns. Neither party was dis- 
March posed to yield. On the following Monday an Assembly 
1- of the colony, as it was called, met at Portsmouth, " to 
hear and receive the orders from y° right Honorable y' 
Council of State." The officers who had been displaced 
by Coddington's commission were reinstated until the 
next election, which was appointed for the usual time. 
Proposals for reunion, and for the government of the col- 
ony till the ensuing election, were sent to Providence by 
the town of .Newport. The mainland towns replied that 
they were ready to meet by Commissioners, and desired 
the island to appoint the time, to arrange all matters. 
They did not accept the terms proposed by Newport, nor 
was any meeting of Commissioners appointed by the 
island. The division therefore continued for another year, 
to the imminent peril of the liberties of the colony and of 
its internal peace. 

Two distinct Assemblies convened for a general elec- 
j^Iay tion at the same time. That of the mainland towns met 
16-17. at Providence, the other at Newport, each sitting for two 
days. By the former a letter was sent to the island, giv- 
ing as a reason why they did not meet with them, that 
the island had not given any notice of agreement to meet 
them by Commissioners, and hence they must proceed 



with their own election as before. They chose Gregory chap. 

Dexter, President ; Stukely Westcott, General Assistant J^^ 

for Warwick ; John Sayles, General Assistant for Provi- 16 5 3. 

donee, and Treasurer ; John Greene, Kecorder, and Hugh i^-It. 

Bewitt, Sergeant. The Council of State having directed 
the colony to annoy the Dutch, with whom war had been 
declared, it was ordered that no provisions should be sent 
to the Dutch ; that each plantation should prepare for its 
defence ; and that no seizures of Dutch property should 
be made in the name of the colony without a commission 
from the General Court. All legal process was to issue 
in the name of the Commonwealth of England, and in 
Providence and Warwick an engagement in these words 
was subscribed upon their records : — " I do declare and 
j)romise that I will be true and faitliful to the Common- 
wealth of England, as it is now established, without a 
Kinge or House of Lords." * 

The enemies of Khode Island afterwards sought to 
injure her position with the King on account of this en- 
gagement, but did not succeed. The only policy that 
Eliode Island could adopt was that which is pursued at 
this day by the United States in its intercourse with for- 
eign countries, to acknowledge the government de facto. 
To that government, whether royalist, republican, or pro- 
tectorate, she was always loyal, and her success from that 
cause rankled in the breasts of her Puritan opponents, 
whose professions of loyalty to the Kings were equally 
loud and much less sincere. 

The Assembly at Newport elected John Sandford, 
sen., President ; Nicholas Easton of Newport, and Robert 17-18. 
Borden of Portsmouth, Assistants ; William Lytherland, 
Recorder ; Richard Knight, Sergeant ; John Coggeshall, 
Treasurer, and John Easton, Attorney General. They 
re-established the code of 1647, and gave liberty to the 
mainland towns to choose their own General Assistants, 

' Warwick records, 8th March, 1652-3. 


CHAP, in case tliey decided to unite with the island. The next 
.^^^^ day some freemen from Providence and Warwick came to 
16 5 3. the Assembly, and an election for Assistants of those 
18; towns was made. Thomas Olney was chosen for Provi- 
dence, and Kandal Holden for "Warwick, thus making two 
sets of Assistants for the mainland towns, and raising a 
question of conflicting powers to render the difficulties 
yet more complicated. 

Mr. Coddington, upon demand of the Assembly to 
surrender the statute book and records, declined to do so 
without advice from his Council, having received no order 
from England to resign his commission, or any proof, as 
he said, that it had been annulled. A more inextricable 
series of entanglements than now existed in the colony 
could not well be imagined. 

Active measures were taken against the Dutch, Can- 
non and smaller arms, and twenty volunteers were voted 
for the aid of the English on Long Island. Commissions 
to act against the enemy were granted to Capt. John TJn- 
derhill, Wilham Dyre and Edward Hull, and a Court of 
Admiralty for the trial of prizes was appointed, consisting 
of the general officers and three jurors from each town. 
The island was more energetic than the mainland in 
these measures, assuming at once offensive ground, while 
the latter acted chiefly on the defensive. Both did more 
than the United Colonies, who, although they had re- 
ceived similar orders from the Council of State, were more 
prudent, "if not lukewarm, in their conduct. This mili- 
tary proclivity in Khode Island was early shown. Their 
exposed position made it necessary on account of the In- 
dians in the first instance, and long habit cultivated the 
martial spirit of the people till it became a second nature. 
Their maritime advantages favored commercial enter- 
prise, and the two combined prepared them for those 
naval exploits which in after years shed so much glory on 
the State. That the bold proceedings of the Island As- 


165 3. 



sembly were considered rash by the rest of the colony, 
appears from a remonstrance made by the Court of Com- 
missioners, assembled at Providence for this purpose. 
The acceptance of commissions to fight against the Dutch 
was a direct violation of their act in May, and as they 
claimed to be the lawful Assembly under the charter, 
they at once disfranchised those who owned the validity 
of those commissions, until they should give satisfaction to 
Providence and Warwick. The remonstrance recited the 
attempts made at re-union, as before given, and denounced 
the conduct of the Island Assembly in granting com- 
missions of reprisal, not only as rash in the feeble condi- 
tion of the colony, but as subversive of all government, 
in that they assumed to do it by authority of the whole 
colony. In conclusion an appeal to England was threat- 
ened in case the island should attempt to engage the main- 
land towns in the said commissions, or to molest them on 
that account. The Court adjourned to meet at the call 
of either of the General Assistants. This was not long 

The Pawtuxet men again, as two years before, peti- 
tioned Massachusetts on the subject of taxes levied by 
the Providence Plantations. The General Court sent a 
letter protesting against such exaction, or the exercise of 
any sort of jurisdiction over its subjects, and granting 
leave to them to arrest and sue in the county Courts any 
person of another government that should usurp over 
them, whenever such person or his property should be 
found within the jurisdiction of Massachusetts.' To reply 
to this protest a special session of the Commissioners was An- 
held at Warwick. No copy of the reply remains. ^^' 

The decided conduct of the island in the Dutch war 
increased the dissensions of the State, and involved her 
in further controversies with her neighbors. Capt. Hull, 
under his commission, captured a French ship in a mode 

' M. C. R. iv. Part 1, U9. 



CHAP, alleged by Massachusetts, in a letter to Ehocle Island, to 
^"^' be unlawful. Among the reasons for this allegation, the 
16 53. dissolution of the Parliament was mentioned. This was 
seized upon by Gorton as a ground of accusation against 
Massachusetts in England, whither the original letter, 
signed by the magistrates, was to be sent as evidence, 
a with other charges, against them. William Arnold, of 
5. Pawtuxet, wrote to the General Court, informing them 
of this design. 1 Great anxiety was felt by the United 
Colonies lest the Indians should ally with the Dutch. 
The Council of Massachusetts had sent two messengers 
in the spring to question Pessicus, Ninigret and Mexham, 
the son of Canonicus, being the three chief sachems of 
the Narragansets, upon this subject. They all denied 
any such intention, but their denial did not satisfy the 
Confederates, 2 who, at their next meeting, hearing of an 
22 " assault made by the Narragansets upon the Long Island 
Indians, again sent messengers to them, demanding an 
account of their conduct. The explanation not being 
20. satisfactory war was declared against the Narragansets, 
but Massachusetts deeming the cause insufficient, refused 
to raise her quota of troops, so the expedition was aban- 
doned.^ The energy of the Rhode Island privateers had 
alarmed the United Colonies in the spring. Another 
seizure, of one of their own vessels, by Capt. Baxter, un- 
der a commission from this colony, caused them to send 
a special messenger with a letter to Rhode Island, re- 
monstrating against the act. The Desire, of Barnstable, 
belonging to Samuel Mayo, was seized in Hempstead har- 
bor, an English settlement within the Dutch limits, hav- 
ing stores on board, which the owner affirmed were in- 
tended for a plantation of English at Oyster Bay. Lieut. 

' Hazard's State Papers, i. 582. 

"^ The queries, eleven in number, with the answers of each sachem, are 
given in full in Hazard, ii. 205-9. 
3 Hazard ii. 283-5, 288-93. 



Hudson was instructed to learn by what authority Rhode ctiai' 


165 3. 

Island issued letters of marque, and also to demand sat- 
isfaction for Mayo. President Easton replied that the 
colony was authorized to act against the enemies of Eng- jy. ' 
land, and had sent to the supreme authority an account 
of Baxter's proceedings, which they disowned so far as he 
had exceeded his commission. No satisfaction was given 
to Mayo. Upon Hudson's return the Commissioners ad- 
vised Connecticut to hrinoj the Desire to trial if found in 

her harbors, the owner agreeing to pay damages, if it 

should prove true that she had been justly seized by Baxter. 
Baxter also captured a Dutch vessel near New York, 
and was pursued to Fairfield harbor by two armed Dutch 
ships. The New England Commissioners thereupon pro- 
hibited Dutch vessels from entering any English port. 19. 
This was a very mild course to adopt towards a belliger- 
ent foe, and contrasts with the vigorous conduct of Rhode 

The report of dissensions in Rhode Island had reached 
England, and grieved the advocates of liberal principles 
in that country. Among these none were more earnest 
than Sir Henry Vane, whose sympathies, when Governor 
of Massachusetts, were with the party of progress, and 10534. 
who at home opposed in turn the despotism of the Stu- 
arts and the ultimate designs of CromwcU. Vane always 
manifested a deep interest in the weliare of Rhode Island, 
and a cordial appreciation of the principles of its founder, 
who for a considerable time during this visit to England 
became his guest. He wrote to the people of Rhode Isl- ^eh 
and a most kind and imploring letter, urging them to !^- 
reconcile their feuds for the honor of God and the good 
of their fellow-men. " Are there no wise men among 
you ? No public self-denying spirits," he asks, " who can 
find some way of union before you become a prey to your 
enemies ? " This letter no doubt had some effect in com- 


CHAP, pleting a reconciliation which, before it was received, had 

^^^^ already begun. 

16 54. The next spring but one General Assembly was held, 

16-18. although the union was not yet perfected. A majority in 
the mainland towns seem to have agreed to the course 
pursued by the island, as these towns held no separate 
Court of Commissioners. A large minority still held out. 
There was no cordiality between the parties. A commit- 
tee of eight persons, two from each town, was appointed 
to prepare some mode of healing the division, Nicholas 
Easton was chosen President of the colony. Randall Hol- 
den had the next highest number of votes. Thomas 
Olney was elected Assistant for Providence, Richard Bor- 
den for Portsmouth, Edward Smith for Newport, and 
Randall Holden for Warwick ; Joseph Torrey, Recorder ; 
John Coggeshall, Treasurer ; Richard Knight, Sergeant, 
and John Cranston, Attorney General. Some men were 
examined on a charge of illegal trading with the Dutch, 
and another commission of reprisal was granted against 
the enemy. Fugitives from labor, belonging in other col- 
onies, were to be returned on proper proof, at the expense 
of the master. 

Mr. Williams had so often succeeded in calming the 
ruffled spirits of the colonists, that he felt his presence 
might be useful in the existing crisis. Leaving Mr. Clarke 
to protect the rights of the colony in England, he re- 
turned home early in the summer, bringing with him the 
above-mentioned letter of Sir Henry Vane, and also an 
order from the Lord Protector to the government of 
Massachusetts, to permit him in future to pass unmo- 
j^^ly lested through that territory. Soon after his return he 
12. wrote to his friend Winthrop an account of his occu- 
pations while abroad, from which we learn of his teach- 
ing the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, French and Dutch lan- 
guages, thus making his many accomplishments a means 
of subsistence, and also of his intimacy with Milton, then 


Secretary of tlie Council of State, to whom lie taught chap 
Dutch in excliangc for other languages/ That he should ^2i^ 
he ohliged to teach for his support while employed on 16 54. 
public business, is a proof of the j)overty of the colony "2^ 
at this time. He also addressed a most earnest and con- 
ciliatory letter to the town of Providence, concerning the 
dissensions in the colony, wherein he thanks God "for 
his wonderful Pkovidences, by which alone the town and 
colony and that grand cause of Truth and Freedom of 
Conscience, hath been upheld to this day," and suggests 
a mode of settling the unhappy quarrel. He was ap- Aug. 
pointed to reply to the letter from Sir Henry Vane, which 
he did in behalf of the town. From that letter we are 
confirmed in the opinion that the usurpation of Codding- 
ton, and the difficulties arising from the granting of com- 
missions of reprisal against the Dutch, were the chief 
causes of discontent in the colony. 

At length a reunion was effected. A full Court of 



Commissioners, six from each town, assembled at War- 
wick. Articles of agreement, settling the terms of reun- 
ion, were signed by the whole Court. It was agreed that 
all acts of the separate Assemblies from the time of the 
division should remain to the account of the towns, and 
of the persons taking part in those acts ; that the colony 
should proceed under authority of the charter ; and that 
the General Assembly for all public affixirs, except elec- 
tions, should be composed of six members from each town. 
Thus ended this most dangerous period of disunion, that 
had lasted for three years, of which the first half was 
owing to the ambition of Coddington, and the last to the 
local jealousies of the towns, and to the refractory spirit 
of individuals. After this happy consummation the Court 
continued in session two days. They re-established the '^'■'|^^' 
code of 1G47, forbade the sale of liquor to the Indians, 
and prohibited the French and Dutch from trading with 

' This extremely iuterestiug letter is given in Knowles, 261-4. 


CHAP. ttem. The care of the colony to avoid all legislation that 
v^^.^.,^ could in any way aflPect the rights of conscience, is con- 
16 54. spicuous in the action taken upon '^several complaints 
1 ' exhibited to this Assemhly against y' incivilitie of persons 
exercised upon y^ first day of y° weeke, which is offensive 
to divers amongst us." They passed no Sunday laws, 
such as existed all around them, hut, judging rightly that 
such disturbances arose from the want of any regular sea- 
son for recreation, they referred it to the towns to appoint 
days for their " servants and children to recreate them- 
selves," and thus to prevent similar annoyances in future. 
The G-eneral Court of election met at Warwick. 

12. Eoger Williams was chosen President ; Thomas Harris 
Assistant for Providence, John Koome for Portsmouth, 
Benedict Arnold for Newport, and Eandall Holden for 
Warwick ; Wm. Lytherland Eecorder, Kichard Knight 
Sergeant, Kichard Burden Treasurer, and John Cranston 
Attorney General. These were to hold office until the 

13. spring election. The next day the Court of Commission- 
ers fixed the first Tuesday in May for the election of 
members by the towns, and the Tuesday after the fifteenth 
of May for that of general officers. Legal process was to 
issue " in y' name of His Higness y' Lord Protector of y^ 
Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and 
y' dominions thereto belonging." The President and 
Gregory Dexter, then town clerk of Providence, were 
desired to " send letters of humble thanksgiving to His 
Highness the Lord Protector, and Sir Henry Vane, Mr. 
Holland, and to Mr. John Clarke, in y' name of y' colo- 
nic." The two island towns were authorized to hold 
their court of trials together, if they pleased, or apart as 
they had previously done, and the same liberty was given 
to the two mainland towns. This act seems intended to 
remove what was apparently the first source of alienation 
in the colony, soon after the organization of the charter 

' Ante chap. vs. p. 214, 221. 


War had again Ijrokeu out between the Narragansets chap. 
and the Long Island Indians. The United Colonies were Ji}^ 
much alarmed, and sent messengers to inquire of Ninigret 16 5 4. 
the cause, and to demand his presence at Hartford. Nin- ' jg " 
igret replied that the enemy had slain a sachem's son and 18. 
sixty of his people. The haughty spirit of the chieftain 
appears in his answer : " If your governor's son were 
slain, and several other men, would you ask counsel of 
another nation how and when to right yourselves ? " He 
refused to go to Hartford, and desired only that the Eng- 
lish would let him alone. President WilUams wrote to 
the government of Massachusetts a long letter in defence 
of the Indians,' maintaining that the Narragansets had 
always been true to the English, and that the present war 
on Long Island was an act of self-defence. A force was 
sent against Ninigret under Major Willard. The In- 
dians took refuge in a swamp. The troops returned un- 
successful, to the great chagrin of the Commissioners at 
Hartford. But Massachusetts, from humane motives, op- 
posed the war, and the other colonies were obliged to 

Military affairs always received great attention in 
Rhode Island, but were not always a matter of record. 
This year the first mention is made of an election of ofii- j^^,^. 
cers in Providence. All were required to do military duty ; C- 
only one man could be left at home on each flirm, one mile 
from town, on parade days. 

An entry in the Portsmouth records shows that mem- 13. 
bers were elected from that town to attend a meeting of 
the General Assembly to be held the next day at New- i-t. 
port. No record of any such session exists, nor is any 
other reference made to it elsewhere. 

When Aquidneck was purchased, only the grass upon 

' The letter in full is given in R. I. Col. Records, i. 201, nml Knowles, 

- Hazard's State rai)ers, ii. 308, 318, 324-5. 340, etc. 




CHAP, the other islands was conveyed in the deed. The fee still 
^^^^" vested in the native owners. A movement was now made 
16.54-5. in town meeting at Portsmouth to join with Newport in 
2.5." the purchase of Conanicut and Dutch islands, and a com- 
mittee was appointed to treat with Newport on the sub- 
ject. These islands were afterwards bought, the former by 
Coddington and Benedict Arnold, Jr.,^ the latter, together 
with Goat and Coasters Harbor islands, by Arnold and 
others. 2 

Although harmony was for the most part restored to the 
colony, there still remained many who were restive under 
restraint, some advocating an unlawful liberty, and others, 
royalists in feeling, refusing to obey the government. This 
winter was one of unusual turbulence in Providence. 
Under pretence of a voluntary training a tumult occurred 
in which some of the principal people were implicated.^ 
A paper was sent to the town asserting the dangerous doc- 
trine " that it was blood-guiltiness, and against the rule of 
the gospel, to execute judgment iipon transgressors against 
the private or public weal." This dogma was subversive of 
all civil society. If allowed it would pervert one of the 
two distinctive principles of Ehode Island hberty to the 
destruction of the other and the consequent annihilation of 
them both. It was then that Koger Williams wrote to the 
town that masterly letter which will endure so long as the 
principles it so admirably defines shall be cherished among 

" There goes many a ship to sea, with many hundred 
souls in one ship, whose weal and woe is common, and is a 
true picture of a commonwealth, or a human combination, 
or society. It hath fallen out sometimes that both Papists 
and Protestants, Jews and Turks, may be embarked in 
one ship ; upon which supposal I affirm, that aU the lib- 

' April 17, 1657. '' May 22, 1658. 

' Thomas Olney, Robert Williams, John Field, William Harris and others. 
Staples' Annals, 113. 


erty of conscience, that ever I pleaded for, turns upon chap. 
these two hinges : that none of the Papists, Protestants^ -^^.-^ 
Jews, or Turks, he forced to come to the ship's prayers or 16 55. 
worship, nor compelled from their own particular prayers 
or worship, if they practise any. I further add, that I 
never denied, that notwithstanding this liherty, the com- 
mander of this ship ought to command the ship's course, 
yea, and also command that justice, peace, and sohriety, be 
kept and practised, both among the seamen and all the 
passengers. If any of the seamen refuse to perform their 
service, or passengers to pay their freight ; if any refuse 
to help, in person or purse, towards the common charges 
or defence ; if any refuse to obey the common laws and 
orders of the ship, concerning their common peace or pre- 
servation ; if any shall mutiny and rise up against their 
commanders and ofl&cers ; if any should preach or write that 
there ought to be no commanders or oflQcers, because all 
arc equal in Christ, therefore no masters nor officers, no 
laws nor orders, no corrections nor punishments ; I say, I 
never denied, but in such cases, whatever is pretended, the 
commander or commanders may judge, resist, compel, and 
punish such transgressors, according to their deserts and 
merits." ' 

Nowhere have the limits of civil and religious freedom 
been more aptly illustrated than in this letter of the 
christian statesman who first reduced them to harmonious 
union. ^^^^^ 

Complaints made to Cromwell of the divisions in the " 20. ' 
colony, drew from him a brief letter confirming the charter 
and promising to adjust the difficulties. 

At the regular annual election held in Providence the 
same general officers were chosen as in September, except .{"^ 
Harris, who gave place to Thomas Olney as Assistant for 
Providence, Knight who was defeated by George Parker 
for Sergeant, and Burden who was displaced by John Sand- 

' Knowles, 279-80. 



ford, as Treasurer. John tlreene, Jr., was chosen Solicitor 
General, an office not filled at the former election. The 

16 5 5. court roll of freemen at this time numbered two hundred 
22^ and forty-seven persons, of whom Providence had forty-two, 
Warwick thirty-eight, Portsmouth seventy-one, and New- 
port ninety-six. More than two thirds of the strength of 
the colony was on the island. Newport had already hy far 
the largest portion and was rapidly increasing. The dif- 
ference between an inhabitant and a freeman should be 
borne in mind. Not every resident was a legal inhabitant. 
Some time elapsed after one's arrival in the colony before 
he could be received as an inhabitant, particijjating thereby 
in certain rights to the common lands, doing jury duty, and 
being eligible to some of the lesser town offices. If his 
conduct while thus situated gave satisfaction he might be 
propounded at town meeting to become a freeman, and if 
no valid objection was brought against him, at the next 
meeting he was admitted to all the rights of the freemen , 
or close corporators of the colony. 

In the earlier years an admission as freeman sometimes 
brought with it a joint ownership in the land purchased, 
but soon it came to convey only the elective franchise, and 
even this was not always confined to freemen, for afterwards 
by a town law in Providence' any inhabitant was liable to 
be elected to office and finable for not serving. Two years 
later all who held lands in the town were declared to be 
freemen.2 This latter feature remained, with some modi- 
fications-, till the adoption of the State Constitution. 

22-25. At this session the general Court of trials was appointed 
to sit once a year in each town. All persons were required 
to sign a submission to the Lord Protector and the Par- 
liament. Those who refused were deprived of the benefit 
of the colony laws till they did so. Prisons were ordered 
to be built at Newport and Warwick. Providence and 

' Passed at town meeting, June 1656. Annals of Prov., 118. 
= do. do. May 1658. do. do. 124. 


Portsmouth were eacli to build a cage and to furnish it chap. 
with a pair of stocks. Very full laws were passed regulat- Jl^^ 
ing the sale of liquors. This subject received the atten- 16 5 5. 
tion of nearly every Assembly and has been the most fruitful 
theme of legislation for more than two hundred years. 
Two taverns were licensed in each town, and leave was 
granted to the towns to add one more if they saw fit. 
The armed opposition to authority by Olney and others, 
in the winter, was discussed and a committee appointed to 
inform him of the Assembly's view of the matter. That 
the disturbance was not very serious may be inferred from 
the choice of Olney as an assistant and from his taking 
the engagement after conferring with the committee. At 
the next town meeting it was wisely concluded ''that for '^""'^• 
the colony's sake, who have since chosen Thomas Olney an 
assistant, and for the public union and peace's sake, it 
should be passed by and no more mentioned." 

The reception of the letter from Cromwell caused a o,s 
special session of the Assembly at Portsmouth. Letters 
of thanks were voted to the colony agent and to the Lord -^• 
President of the Council, requesting the latter to present 
their submission to His Highness the Lord Protector. A 
law was passed requiring that any who might be convicted 
by the Assembly as leaders of faction should be sent as 
prisoners to England at their own expense, there to be 
tried and punished. 

That strict decorum was not always preserved, although 
its necessity was appreciated, appears by the last act of 
this session ; " that in case any man shall strike another 
person in y" Court, he shall either be fined ten pounds, or 
be whipt, accordinge as y" Court shall see meete." 

The shortness of the sessions, and the early hour at 
which the Assemblies met, are worthy of remark. Three or 
four days were then found to be sufficient for the most im- 
portant business, and the daily adjournments were usually 
until six o'clock, or till half an hour or one hour after 
VOL. I. — 1 7 



CHAP, sunrise tlie next morning. A fine of one shilling was im- 

^^^^' posed for absence from roll call. 

16 5 5. The Warwick dispute remained unadjusted. An action 

' "'^'^^ for damages in the sum of two thousand pounds was brought 
by the Gortonists against Massachusetts, before the Coun- 
cil of State. The Indians subject to Massachusetts there 
and at Pawtuxet continued their depredations. The Eng- 
lish subjects at the latter place, now consisting of but four 
families' only two of whom still held out against Ehode 
Island, were a source of obstruction to the authority of the 
colony. The law prohibiting the sale of powder and arms 
to citizens of Ehode Island was still in force in Massachu- 
setts. Upon these four points, of vital importance to the 

Nov. prosperity of the State, President Williams wrote to the 
Government of Massachusetts, urging them so to alter their 
policy as to prevent complaints against them from being 
sent to England, in ships then ready to sail.^ Although 
the General Court was then in session no immediate notice 
was taken of this communication. 

1655-6. The people of Providence, alarmed by hostile demon- 
strations of the Indians, decided to erect a fort on Stamp- 
er's Hill. 3 At the same meeting they established a jus- 
tice's Court for the trial of cases not exceeding forty shil- 

^ Stephen Arnold, Zachaiy Rhodes, William Arnold and William Carpen- 
ter. Of these the first-named desired to unite with Rhode Island, as did the 
second also, for, being a Baptist, he was yirtuaUy banished by the law of 13th 
Nov. 1644. The last two alone held out, under pretence of fearing to offend 
Massachusetts by withdrawing their allegiance. This they did, however, 
three years later, Oct. 22, 1658, by consent of the General Court. 

= The letter is found in R. I. Col. Rec. i. 322-5, and Hazard's State Pa- 
pers, i. 610-11. 

' The tradition, preserved by Judge Staples, in Annals of Providence, p. 
117, gives a curious derivation for this name, and illustrates the constant dan- 
gers to which the early settlers were exposed. " Soon after the settlement of 
Providence a body of Indians approached the town in a hostile manner. 
Some of the townsmen, by running and stamping on this hill, induced them 
to believe that there was a large number of men stationed there to oppose 
them, upon which they relinquished their design and retired. From this cir- 
cumstance the liill was always called Stamper's Hill." 



lings in amount. Koger Williams, Thomas Olney, and chap. 
Thomas Harris, were chosen judges of this Court, The J^^^ 
former was then President of the colony, Olney was the 1655-6. 
General Assistant for Providence, and Harris was a member 
of the Assemhly, That the smallest tribunal in a town 
should be composed of such members speaks well for the 
public spirit of the leading men, and for the care taken in 
the administration of justice. 

At the general Court of trials held at Warwick, Mr. ^^l^^Q]^ 
Coddington appeared as one of the newly elected commis- 11. 
sioners from Newport. His election caused so much dis- 
satisfaction that an investigation was had by the Assembly, 
the jury meanwhile being dismissed. The result was a 
formal submission to the authority of the colony in these 
words : 

" I William Coddington, doe hereby submit to y" 
authoritie of His Highness in this Colonic as it is now 
united, and that with all my heart." 

The Assembly then adjourned, while the Court of trials 17. 
proceeded, after which it again convened at the same 
lilace. The committee of investigation reported favora- 
bly on Coddington's right to a seat, but advised that a 
letter be sent to the Agent in England, giving their 
reasons for receiving him, and asking for a discharge of 
the complaints entered against him before the Council of 
State. He had incurred a fine for withholding the colony 
records from the last Assembly, and this fine it was voted 
not to remit. Guns, similar to some he had brought over 
from England, were found in possession of the Indians. 
He was therefore required to account for the disposal of 
his. Certain proceedings prejudicial to Coddington during 
the time of his usurpation, were cut out from the records 
and given to him — a mutilation uuich to be regretted, as 
it deprives us of all iiiformation concerning his administra- 
tion. The presentments against him and some of his 
partisans on the Island records were annulled. 




CHAP. The custom of referring particular items of business to 

.3^^ sub-committees, whicb gave rise to the modern system of 
standing committees, was early introduced into our 
Assembly. There is scarcely a session, since the reunion, 
at which one or more sub-committees were not appointed. 
Prior to that time, all business was done by deliberation 
of the whole body. A warrant was issued to bring Pum- 
ham before the Court to answer complaints from the town 
of Warwick, and a committee was appointed to treat 
with him, and to report at the next session. Marriages 
were ordered to be published at town meetings, or on 
training days at the head of the company, or by writing 
posted in some public place, signed by a magistrate. If 
the banns were forbidden, the case was to be heard by 
two magistrates ; should they allow it, the parties might 
marry ; but if not, the general Court of trials were to 
decide it. Tavern bars were to be closed at nine o'clock 
at night. The age of majority was fixed at twenty-one 
years. No magistrate, during the trial of a case, was 
permitted to leave the bench without permission from the 
Court, under a heavy penalty, as such an act might bias 
the jury, and thus imperil a just cause. 

The letter to the General Court, at their November 
session, having received no reply, Williams, in the spring, 
wrote to Grovernor Endicott, who invited him to come to 
May Boston. A second official letter was sent to the Court, 
of the same tenor as the former one ; and a few days 
after, Mr. Williams, then in Boston, wrote to the Court, 
17. expressing his gratification at the progress of affairs with 
Pumham, which, it would seem, were intrusted to his 
management. ^ 

^ An amusing entry in the Warwick records of 15th May of this year 
shows the provision made by that town for this journey of tlie President. 
" Ordered that forty shillings be sent out of the treasury unto Mr. Roger Wil- 
liams, and a jDair of Indian Breeches for his Indian, at seven shillings six- 
pence at 6 pr penny, as also a horse for his journey unto Boston and back 

1G5 6 


At the general election held in Portsmouth, Roger chap. 
Williams was again chosen President. The Assistants ^^ 
were Thomas Olney for Providence, William Balston for 16 5 6. 
Portsmouth, John Coggeshall for Newport, and John 20^ 
Weeks for Warwick, he having the next highest vote to 
Randall Holden, who, being elected, declined to serve, 
and whose fine of five pounds for refusing was offset by 
his services previously rendered. John Sandford was made 
Recorder and Treasurer ; George Parker, Sergeant ; John 
Easton, Attorney-General ; and Richard Bulgar, Solicitor. 
The Assembly, as usual, met the next day, and sat 
three days. 

It was agreed that the controversy with the Pawtuxet 21-23. 
men should be closed by arbitration, after which they 
were to be received as freemen of the colony. Whoever 
should deface or destroy any instrument of justice was to 
make reparation for the injury, and to be confined for six 
hours in the stocks. Leave was granted to William 
Blackstone to enter the titles of his land in the records 
of land evidence in the colony. This was doubtless for 
the sake of convenience, he living near Providence, 
although at that time in the Plimouth jurisdiction, as 
appears from letters of administration granted by that 
colony at his decease. At the autumn session, held like- „ 
wise at Portsmouth, provision was made for supplying 10. 
any vacancy caused by the death of a general officer. 
Whoever had the next highest number of votes was to 
fill the place till the ensuing May election, or in case the 
choice had been unanimous, the town where the vacancy 
occurred was to elect a successor. Tliis action was caused 
by the death of the Sergeant, George Parker, the fii-st 
general oflicer who died in place. He was succeeded by 
Richard Kiught, who had been his competitor at the 
spring election. 

One of the most serious diflercnces that ever disturbed 
the colony commenced about this time. The free priuci- 



CHAP, pies of the State were constantly liable to abuse by tbose 
J^^ whom they attracted hither. The distinction between li- 
16 5 6, cense and legal liberty was not yet so clearly drawn but 
that some strong intellects failed to see it as it existed in 
the mind of Koger Williams, or as set forth in his remark- 
able letter before given. The paper which produced that 
letter expressed a most dangerous idea, but one that found 
an earnest and able champion in William Harris, between 
whom and Williams an inveterate hostility arose. The 
sources of this enmity appear to have been their different 
views of the nature of liberty, and the proceedings result- 
ing from this difference. It was carried to a degree of 
personal invective that mars the exalted character of Wil- 
liams and detracts from the dignity and worth of his op- 
ponent. It was never forgotten by the one or forgiven by 
the other. Both were men of ardent feelings and of great 
address, whose mental activity was never at rest. Harris, 
unfortunately, was almost constantly employed in business 
that was inimical to the interests of Khode Island, and 
from this time forward assumed the position that the Ar- 
nolds of Pawtuxet had before held, either as a leader of 
faction within the State or the agent and representative 
of adverse interests abroad. This is the more to be re- 
gretted because he brought to whatever he undertook the 
resources of a great mind and, to all appearance, the hon- 
est convictions of an earnest soul. On this account he 
was a more dangerous opponent and required stringent 
measures to suppress the errors of his political creed. So 
far only as this controversy had a public character we shall 
follow its development through a long series of years. 
Let the more repulsive features of personal rancor be con- 
signed to oblivion ! Harris had published " that he that 
can say it is his conscience ought not to yield subjection 
to any human order amongst men ;" and had attempted to 
sustain the subversive doctrine by abundant perversions 
of scriptural quotation. It was much such an announce- 



ment as had aroused the pen of Williams two years before, chap. 
He now adopted severer means to crush the reiterated fal- ^^ 
lacy. As President of the colony he issued a warrant for 165G-7. 
the arrest of Harris on the charge of high treason against 12. 
the Commonwealth of England.' 

At the next election held in Newport, "Williams was ^^.^'• 
not a candidate. Benedict Arnold was chosen President : 19; 
Arthur Fenner of Providence, William Balston of Ports- 
mouth, Richard Tew of Newport, and Randall Holden of 
Warwick, Assistants, John Greene Jr., Attorney General, 
and James Rogers, Solicitor. The other three general 
offices remained as before. The trial of Harris could not 
proceed on account of the absence of his accuser. Both 
parties were warned to appear at an adjourned session in 
Warwick. At this special session Harris was required to 

^ Two copies of this warrant are still preserved among the papers of Wil- 
liam Harris, now iu the possession of Wm. J. Harris, Esq., of Providence, 
whose kindness in placing these valuable MSS. in the hands of the writer he 
here begs leave to acknowledge. The warrant reads as follows : " ^Yhereas, 
William Harris of Providence, published to all the towns in the colony dan- 
gerous writings containing his notorious defiance to the authority of his hight 
ness the Lord Protector, (fee, and the high Court of Parliament of England, 
as also his notorious attempts to draw all the English subjects of this colony 
into a traitorous renouncing of their allegiance and subjection, and whereas 
the said William Harris now openly in the face of the Court, declarcth him- 
self resolved to maintain the said writings with his blood ; These are there- 
fore in the name of His Highness the Lord Protector, strictly to will and re- 
quire you to apprehend the said William Harris, and to keep him in safe cus- 
tody until his appearance before the General Assembly of the colony in May 
next ensuing at Newport, before which Assembly he is to be convicted and 
sent for England, or acquitted according to law of the colony established 
amongst us. And you arc also hereby authorized to take all due care that 
his land and estate be faithfully secured to the use of his highness, the Lord 
Protector, in case of the conviction of the said William Harris in the General 
Assembly of the colony as aforesaid ; for the due performance of all which 
premises, all his Highness' officers iu this colony, both civil and military, and 
all his Highness' subjects in this colony are hereby straightly required to be 
aiding and assisting, as they will answer to the contrary at their peril. 

" RoGiui A\'iLLiAJis, PresidiHt. 

" To Mr. Eicii.\RD Knight, General Seri/eant.^' 

This warrant is dated "Newport, 12th of the 1st mo., 1G5G and 1657, so 


read <a copy of his book upon which the impeachment was 
hased while Williams read the original. Williams then 
read to the Court his letter containing the accusation, also 
a copy of his charge, and his reply to Harris' book. It 
was referred to a committee to report what further pro- 
ceedings were desirable. They advised that the papers 
be sent to England for examination and that Harris should 
give bonds for good behavior till the result was known. 
A committee was thereupon appointed to write to John 
Clarke a suitable letter to accompany these papers, and 
Harris and his son Andrew were placed under bonds of 
five hundred pounds. 

The English settled in the Pequot country were ever 
thwarting the efforts of the Narragansets to avenge their 
wrongs upon Uncas. The Mohawks were in league with 
the Narragansets against the Mohegans, and were advanc- 
ing in force to attack them. The Narragansets applied to 
the General Assembly to remonstrate with the English on 
their conduct in always giving warning, through their 
scouts, to Uncas of the approach of an enemy, lest the 
Mohawks, being enraged thereby, should attack the Eng- 
lish themselves. The Assembly wrote a letter to Capt. 
Denison and others in accordance with this request, that 
for peace sake they should allow the Indians to fight out 
their own quarrels — a grain of advice which, if followed, 
would have done more than any thing else to secure the 
good- will of those powerful tribes. 

The" year 1656 will be darkly memorable in the annals 
of New England for the arrival of the Quakers and the 
commencement of their persecution at Boston. The ap- 
pearance of this "cursed sect of heretics"^ so alarmed the 
Puritans that a day of public humiliation was appointed'^ 
to be held in all the churches mainly on their account. 
A stringent law was enacted for their suppression^ and 

' Preamble to law of Oct. 14tli, 1656, M. C. R., iii. 415. 
2 May 14th, 1656, to be held June 11th. 
= Oct. 14th, 1656. ■ 


two years later tlieir tenets were made a capital offence.' chap. 
Fines, imprisonment, whipping, banishment, mutilation, ,^,.^.,1, 
and death, were denounced and inflicted upon them. The 16 5 7. 
wildest fanaticism on their part was met by a frenzied 
bigotry on the other. Acts that made the perpetrators 
amenable to the statute against nuisances were visited 
with the penalties provided against heresies. The strait- 
jacket or temporary confinement would have been the 
proper treatment in many cases that were consigned to 
the scourge or the scaffold. The vagaries of morbid minds, 
not morally accountable for the indecencies they committed, 
were visited with the same penalties that awaited the rob- 
ber or the assassin. 2 Nor was severity confined to cases 
like these, but people of blameless conduct alike suft'ered, 
on the same ground, for heretical opinions. For five years 
this persecution continued, until stayed by an order from 
Charles 11.^ requiring that capital and corporal punish- 
ments of the Quakers should cease, and that such as were 
obnoxious should be sent to England.^ That Khode Island 
became a city of refuge for those who fled from this fiery 

1 Oct. 19th, 1658. 

'^"At Boston one George Wilson, and at Cambridge Elizabeth Ilorton 
went crying through the streets that the Lord was coming with fire and sword 
to plead with them. Thomas Newhouse went into the meeting house at Bos- 
ton with a couple of glass bottles, and broke them before the congregation, 
and threatened ' Thus will the Lord break you in pieces.' Another time M. 
Brewster came in \vith her face smeared and as black as a coal. Deborah 
Wilson went through the streets of Salem naked as she came into the world, 
for which she was well whi2)ped. One of the sect apologizing for this be- 
havior said, ' If the Lord did stir up any of his daughters to be a sign of 
the nakedness of others, ho believed it to be a great cross to a modest woman's 
spirit, but the Lord must be obeyed.' " Hutch. Mass., i. 203-4. A display 
of prurient piety Uke this last occurred also in one of the churches. New 
England Judged, Part ii. p. 69. 

" 9th Sept., 1661. 

'' See Hutchinson's Mass., i. 196-201 ; Bishop's New England Judged, 
Part 1st, 4to., 176 pp. London, 1661, and Part 2d, 4to., 147 pp., 1C67. New 
England Ensign, London, 1659, 4to., 121 pp. Several Rhode Island people 
were victims of this persecution, whose sufferings will be noticed in the proper 
place. Mary, wife of Wm. Dyro, Secretary of Rhode Island colony, was put 
to death, and Thomas Harris and others were severely maltreated. 


ordeal vexed the United Colonies. The Commissioners, 
assembled at Boston, wrote a letter urging Khode Island 
to banish the Quakers already there and to prohibit any 
more from coming to the State. ^ To this request the 
President and Assistants, met at the Court of trials in 
Providence, replied, that there was no law by which men 
could be punished in Ehode Island for their opinions, and 
that the Quakers being unmolested, were becoming dis- 
gusted at their want of success ; but that in case of any 
extravagancies, like those referred to, being committed, the 
1657-8. next General Assembly would provide a corrective. That 
X3 ^ body met at Portsmouth and addressed another letter to 
the Massachusetts on the same subject. In this letter 
they say that freedom of conscience was the ground of 
their charter and shall be maintained ; that if the Qua- 
kers violate the laws or refuse to conform thereto in any 
respect, complaint against them will be made in England 
and the more readily as these people are there tolerated.^ 
On the same day a letter was sent to Plymouth deny- 
ing the claim set up by that colony to Hog island, which 
was purchased by Eichard Smith from Wamsutta, sachem 
of the Wampanoags. The question was left to the Pres- 
ident and Thomas Willett to be settled, by whom it was 
advised to adjust the matter by arbitration, which after 
much delay was done, and the right of Rhode Island to 
the land in dispute ultimately sustained, Hope island 
had been given to Roger Williams by Miantinomi many 
years before but was still occupied by Indians. The Court 
ordered that the Sachems should remove their subjects to 
leave Mr. Williams in possession. Gould island had been 
purchased of the Indians a year before^ by Thomas Gould, 
and about the same time* the great Pettiquamscut pur- 

' Hazard, ii. 370-1. 

- Both these letters and also that to which they are the replies, are given 
in R. I. Col. Rec, i. 374-380. 

= March 28th, 1657. ' January 20th, 1657. 




chase, in what is now South Kingston, was commenced, chap. 
Repeated additions were made to this tract, and difficulties Ji_^ 
with adjoining j)urchascrs arose when the claims of Massa- 16 5 8. 
chusetts to tlie Narraganset country came to be urged.' 
These frequent purchases caused so much trouble that the 
Assembly soon afterwards prohibited any further purchases 
of land or islands from the Indians within the colony with- 
out express permission from that body, on pain of forfeiture 
of the land, and a fine of twenty pounds besides. 

At the general election, held in Warwick, the only 
changes made were in the Assistants for Providence and 
Newport ; William Field being chosen for the former and 
Joseph Clarke for the latter. All the other offices remained 
as before. Upon the conclusion of peace between England 
and Holland the law prohibiting trade with the Dutch was 
repealed, but there were still some lawless persons, who, 
pretending commissions from Rhode Island, annoyed the 
Dutch commerce by seizing their goods and vessels. To 
prevent their recurrence these outrages were denounced as 
felony. The order to build prisons and cages not having 
been obeyed, it was repealed, and the prison built at New- 
port was directed to be for the colony use, the other towns 
contributing towards its cost. 

The long pending difficulties with the Pawtuset men 
were now terminated by their withdrawal from the juris- 
diction of Massachusetts, and acknoAvledgiug allegiance to 
Rhode Island. William Arnold and William Carpenter, 
for themselves and their friends, petitioned the General 
Court for a full discharge of their persons and estates from 
subjection to Massachusetts. This was granted provided 
they rendered an account of their proceedings against the 
Warwick men under the commission of Massachusetts fif- 

' The details and subsequent history of this purchase are given by Jlr. 
Potter, in R. I. II. C, iii. 'i'ZS-OO. The original proprietors were Sanuiol 
Wilbor, John Hull of Boston, John Porter, Samuel Wilson, Thomas Mum- 
ford. At a later period WiUiam Brenton and Benedict Arnold were admit- 



teen years before, and that the Greenes and others should 
have liberty to prosecute them in any of the Massachusetts 
Courts^ for injuries received thereby. This happy result 
was effected by the mediation of Koger Williams. At the 
next Greneral Court in October the sentence of banishment 
against the Warwick men was so far relaxed that leave 
was granted to John Greene, sen., to visit his friends for 
one month. The bond required from Arnold to answer 
any suit brought by the Greenes was limited to one year, 
at the expiration of which period he petitioned the Court 
for certain amounts of damage sustained by him in execut- 
ing the commission against the Gortonists. The account 
was referred and ultimately extended, and in part allowed, 
but the committee's report was better calculated to satisfy 
the Greenes than the petitioner. ^ 
g^ ^^ The Commissioners of the United Colonies wrote to all 

23. the General Courts urging severer measures against the 
IqI Quakers. Massachusetts acted at once on the suggestion, 
and passed a law punishing with death any Quakers who 
should return after sentence of banishment. Ehode Island 
again was urged to join in the fierce oppression. Threats 
of exclusion from all intercourse or trade with the rest of 
New England were made to force her from her fidelity to 
the cause of religious freedom, but in vain. The result 
was an appeal to Cromwell by the General Assembly that 
" they may not be compelled to exercise any civil power 
over men's consciences, so long as human orders, in point 
of civility, are not corrupted or violated." A letter was 
sent to John Clarke to be presented to His Highness, 
which contains this request, and clearly distinguishes be- 
tween the rights of conscience and the duties of the cit- 

' M. C. R. iv. Part i. p. 333. 

2 The petition was Oct. 18th, 1659. The report was made Nov. 12th. 
See M. C. R., iv. Part i. 411, and R. I. H. C, ii. 206-12. He afterwards, 
1663, presented an extended account, which was settled by compromise, Oct 
21st, 1663. M. C. R., iv. Part ii. p. 78, 93. 

' This letter is in R. I. Col. Rec, i. 396-9. 




While Ehotle Island was thus defending her liberal 
sentiments, her citizens without distinction of sex or age 
were suffering from Puritan persecutions. A Mrs. Gardner 16 5 8. 
of Newport, the mother of several children, and a woman \'i^ 
of good report, having become a Quaker, went to Wey- 
mouth, with an infant at her breast, taking with her a 
nurse, Mary Stanton, to attend the child. There they 
were arrested and taken before Governor Endicot by whom 
they were sent to prison, flogged with ten stripes each, and 
closely confined for two weeks. ^ Thomas Harris of Bar- 
badoes, who had settled in Rhode Island, went to Boston 
with two others of the same sect, where, after service at j^ne 
church, he gave great offence by haranguing the congrega- 1 ''• 
tion, an indiscretion which may have deserved some pun- 
ishment but not the severity he received. He was flogged, 
imprisoned for eleven days, during five of which he was not 
allowed food or water, because he refused to work at the oo 
jailer's bidding, severely whipped by the jailer, and again 
publicly with several others, receiving fifteen stripes.- 

Catharine, wife of Eichard Scot of Providence, and sister 
of the celebrated Ann Hutchinson, met with a similar fate. 
She went to Boston to witness the mutilation of three ^[P*' 
of her brethren, whose right ears were cut off by the hang- 
man in execution of the law against Quakers. For re- 
monstrating upon this cruelty she was imprisoned for two 
weeks and then publicly flogged.^ She was advanced in Oct. 
life, had been married twenty years, and was the mother of 
several cliildren, two of whom suftered in the same cause. 
The severity of these proceedings and the increasing rigor 
of the statutes passed at every session of the General Court 
against the Quakers, caused many of them to seek a home 
in Ehode Island. But the spirit of fanaticism was not 
yet appeased. From fine and imprisonment it proceeded 

* New England Ensign, 72-3. Bishop's New England Judged, -17. 
" July lOth. New England Ensign, 73-5. 
" New England Judged, 75. 


CHAP, to a-pjAj whipping and mutilation, then banishment, and 
J^^ finally death to the unfortunate Quakers. This last out- 
16 5 8. rage upon humanity was opposed by the deputies and by 
19/ the great mass of the people, who were always ahead of 
their rulers in liberal feeling and in their sense of justice 
and of right. The magistrates and clergy^ were zealous 
in its favor. The deputies yielded by a majority of one, 
and thus placed another blot on the annals of Massachu- 
setts to the eternal disgrace of Puritan legislation. The 
next year was to witness the execution of this cruel statute 
in the case of a Ehode Island victim. 
Nov. To prevent further trouble like that which had just 

2- been so fortunately ended with Pawtuxet, the Assembly, 
convened at Warwick, decreed that no one should here- 
after submit his lands to any other jurisdiction, or attempt 
to bring in any foreign government within the colony on 
pain of confiscation. No law was to be in force until 
twenty days after the adjournment of the Assembly. This 
was to allow ten days for the recorder to furnish each town 
clerk with a cojDy of the acts of the session, and ten more 
for the towns to consider them, and if they disapproved to 
notify the President and thus to annul the statute. The 
Assembly decided to have but one annual session, to be 
held at the May election, but this was rarely found to suf- 
fice. They also reduced the sittings of the Court of trials 
to two, in March and October. The President and General 
Council might call extra meetings of the Assembly. This 
council was composed of the President, Assistants, and 
Qgj. town Magistrates. No law creating it can be found, and 
14. but three meetings appear on the records — one at War- 
wick, just prior to this session, at which no business of im- 
portance was transacted, and the other two at Providence 
in the following spring. At the first of these, warrants 

^ " In hsereticos gladio vindicandum est," was a motto of Calvin, as well 
as of Rome, and too faithfully followed by his stern disciples in Massachu- 


were issued to arrest Pumham for insurrection in causing chap. 
a riot to rescue a felon in Warwick, and some other Indians ^,,^ 
for robbery committed upon William Arnold at Pawtuxet, ]^.^^'^' 
Two days afterward the council met for the last time to 9. 
publish the proclamation of Richard, Lord Protector, who 
had succeeded to the supreme authority on the death of ^^' 
his father in September, It was ordered to be read at 
town meeting, and at the head of every militaiy company , ,, 
in the colony on the following Tuesday. 

At the general election held in Providence the same l G 5 9. 
officers were retained throughout, except Knight, Sergeant, ^^ 
who was displaced by James Rogers. The dispute with 
Plymouth about Hog island not having been settled, the 
Assembly again appointed four Commissioners to meet 
the same number from Plymouth to adjust this matter, and 
also the general boundary of the two colonies, and notified 
Plymouth accordingly. Four men, one from each town, 
were also appointed to mark out the western bounds of the 
colony, but nothing was done about it for the present. 
The Indians gave much trouble by stealing the goods and 
cattle of the colonists. A severe law was passed to prevent 
it. If the damage exceeded twenty shillings, the convict 
might be sold as a slave to any English plantation abroad, 
unless he made restitution, and if less than that sum he 
should restore twofold, or be whipped not more than fif- 
teen stripes. The Assembly addressed a letter to Richard 
Cromwell asking a confirmation of their charter. It was 
never presented, as the Protector had resigned his power 
before it reached England. A tax of fifty pounds was laid 
to pay for ammunition, and to meet the expenses of the 
agent in London, Providence and Warwick were each to 
pay nine pounds, Portsmouth fourteeen, and Newport 
eighteen pounds. Providence was allowed to buy out and 
remove the Indians within its Hunts, and to enlarge its 
bounds by further purchase. Leave was also granted to 
purchase certain other lands, and a committee appointed 




CHAP, for that purpose. Fox island and an adjoining tract on 
^"^" tlie main near Wickford, were bouglit by Holden and Gor- 
16 5 9. ton, and soon afterwards Humphrey Atherton, John Win- 
throp and others, not citizens of Khode Island, bought two 
large tracts on the bay, one called Quidnesett, south of 
Wickford, and the other, called Namcook, now Boston 
neck, north of it. This purchase was in violation of an 
4.'' express law of Ehode Island. Its vahdity depended on the 
decision of the question of jurisdiction over the Narragan- 
set country, claimed by Khode Island and disputed by Con- 
necticut and Massachusetts. Koger Williams warned Ath- 
erton upon this point, and refused the offers of land made 
to induce him to aid as interpreter in the purchase. It 
became a fruitful source of difficulty for many years. The 
23r Assembly met at Portsmouth, and appointed a committee 
of two from each town to write to the Commissioners of 
the United Colonies, to Massachusetts, and to Atherton, 
respecting these purchases. During the Debate on this 
question the Assembly sat with closed doors. They pre- 
pared to prosecute the claims of Rhode Island before Par- 
liament, and empowered the committee to call together 
the Assembly when they saw fit. 

Potowomut was ordered to be purchased for the colony 
from the Indians. Hog island continued to be a source 
of trouble. Eichard Smith claiming it adversely to the 
colony, and threatening any who should molest him in his 
possession, the Assembly resolved to bear them harmless. 
Smith sought to place the island under the jurisdiction of 
Plymouth. Eobert Westcott, a member from Warwick, 
was tried for a similar offence and suspended, and John 
Weeks was chosen by the Assembly to fiU his place. A 
further tax of fifty pounds was laid, of which Newport was 
to pay twenty, Providence eleven, Portsmouth ten, and 
Warwick nine pounds. Newport it appears had doubled 
in wealth over Portsmouth, and Providence for the first 
time seems to have gained upon the other two towns. 


Letters from John Clarke informed the colony of the Pro- chap. 
tcctor's resignation, and that the Parliament was the sole Jl!^ 
authority, as before the accession of Cromwell. All legal i ^ "^ '■'• 
process was therefore ordered to issue " in the name of the 
supreme authority of the Commonwealth of England." 
The first instance of the appointment of a deputy sergeant 
occurred at this session. James Kogers, Sergeant General, 
was allowed to appoint a deputy to serve writs and execu- 
tions, he being responsible for the acts of such deputy. 

The zeal of Puritan persecution was inflamed by the 
rancor of the magistrates and clergy. Among those who 
had already suffered imprisonment for their adhesion to 
the novel and " cursed heresy," was Mary, wife of William 
Dyre, the first secretary of Aquedneck. Returning from 
England, whither she had probably accompanied her hus- 
band when he went over with Williams and Clarke, but 
had remained behind and there had embraced the new 
tenets, with no knowledge of what had been done in Mas- 
sachusetts, she was arrested and thrown into prison. Witli 
difficulty she was released by her husband giving bonds 
to take her immediately away, and not to sufter her to 
speak to any one on the journey homeward. Afterwards 
in company with other friends, Hope Clifton, and JMary, 
daughter of Catherine Scot, whose sister Patience, a girl of g. " 
only eleven years, was then in prison for the same offence, 
she ventured again into Massachusetts to visit some friends 
confined in Boston as Quakers. Her two companions were 
only imprisoned, but Mary Dyre, having been before ban- 
ished under pain of death, was tried, together with Wil- 
liam Eobinson and Marmaduke Stevenson, and condemned 
to death. The sentence was executed upon the two men. lo. 
Mary was reprieved while on the gallows, after her two .,7 
fellow-sufferers had been swung off.' With singular in- 
fatuation she returned in the following spring, for the tliird l 6 r, 
time, while the General Court was in session, was arrested .^^; 

' Now Kiisland Judged, 38, 07, 109. 
vol,. 1—1 S 


and hung.' There were other instances of this revolting 
cruelty practised upon persons not resident in Khode 
Island, and which continued till Charles II. peremptorily 
forhade any further murders to be perpetrated, in the name 
of Grod, by these infuriated zealots. 

The next general election was held at Portsmouth. 
William Brenton was chosen President, WOliam Field of 
Providence, WilHam Baulston of Portsmouth, Benedict 
Arnold, late President, of Newport, and John Greene of 
Warwick, Assistants, John Sauford, Kecorder and Treas- 
urer, James Kogers, Sergeant, John Easton, Attorney 
General, and Richard Bulgar, Sohcitor General. An im- 
portant modification of the statute regulating the mode 
of annulling laws was made. In place of ten days, three 
months was allowed for the towns to return their votes 
upon any new law, after its presentation, and instead of a 
majority of freemen in each town being necessary to annul 
a law, a majority of those in the Colony was now sufficient, 
even although any one town made no returns against it. 
This was a great step towards consolidation, and tended 
29. to strengthen the Colonial Government. 

A great change was in progress at this time in Enghsh 
affairs. Charles II. landed in England, and amid the joyful 
shouts of his subjects, entered London in triumph. The 
restoration was complete, not only in form but in sub- 
stance. The great mass of the people received their mon- 
arch with delight, for they desired relief from the turmoil 
of civU strife. The religious parties united in the ovations 
that welcomed his return, and each vied with the other in 
demonstrations of loyalty. The EjDiscopalians hated 
Cromwell because he had crushed them, the Puritans dis- 
liked him for curbing their persecuting zeal, while the 
Eoman Catholics hailed the return of the Stuarts as being 
a family of their own faith. 
^g*' The news of the restoration of Charles II. occasioned 

a special meeting of the Assembly at Warwick. His 

' M. C. R. iv. Part i. 419. 


Majesty's letter to Parliament, his declaration and pro- chap. 
clamation were read and entered npon the records. The .._^_ 
King was formally proclaimed at eight o'clock the next 16 6 0. 
morning, in presence of the Assembly, with military 21.' 
honors, and the following Wednesday was appointed for 
his public proclamation throughout the colony, and was 
made a general holiday. All legal process was to issue in 
His Majesty's name. A commission was sent to John 
Clarke confirming his position as agent for the colony, and 
desiring him to obtain a confirmation of the charter from 
the crown. 

A committee was also appointed to treat with Ather- 
ton and his company about their purchase in Narraganset, 
and to arrange the terms upon which they might come 
into the colony, or if they refused to treat, then to forbid 
them from entering on their lands. They reported but 
partial progress at the next session, and were continued. 

Meanwhile a great wrong was committed upon the ^Y 
Narraganset Indians by the commissioners of the United 
Colonies, who, for alleged injuries inflicted upon the 
Mohegans, which were denied by the Narraganset Sa- 
chems, levied a heavy fine upon them, and compelled 
them, by an armed force, to mortgage their whole country ^ . 
for the payment of a sum, amounting to five hundred and 29 
ninety-five fathoms of peage within four mouths. In a Oct. 
month from this time the Sachems mortgaged to the 
Atherton company all the unsold lands in Narraganset, on 
condition that they would pay the fine to the United 
Colonies, and further bound themselves to sell no more 
lands without consent of the mortgagees. Six months 
was allowed for redemption. Atherton paid the fine ; the 
land was not redeemed, and afterwards, in the spring of 
16G2, the Sachems delivered formal possession to the 
mortgagees. Upon so slight a transaction, founded in 
force, and followed up in that spirit of acquisition which 
aimed at the possession of the whole of Rhode Island, 





CHAP, rested the claims of a company tliat was destined to give 

.—^ so much trouble to the colony. 

16 61. rj\-^Q game President, Assistants, Attorney-General 
May J " 

21. and Sergeant were re-elected at Newport. Joseph Torrey 
was chosen Eecorder, Caleb Carr, Treasurer, and Peter 
Tallman, Solicitor-General. The assembly passed a 
lengthy act acknowledging their submission to the King, 

22. proposing to send a special agent to England to present it 
in a humble address to His Majesty, and voting a tax of 
two hundred pounds for that purpose. The plan was 
given up on receipt of letters from John Clarke, which 
were read at the next meeting of the court of commission- 
ers at Portsmouth. A letter of thanks to Mr. Clarke was 
voted, and the commission, prepared in October, was order- 
ed to be sent to him. The tax was apportioned, eighty- 
five pounds to Newport, forty pounds each to Providence 

4." and Portsmouth, and thirty-five pounds to Warwick. It 
was to be raised by voluntary contribution for the use of 
the agent. 

An extensive purchase, made the previous year, by 
some Newport men, in the south-west part of the Narra- 
ganset country, called Misquamicock, now Westerly, be- 
gan to be settled, and gave rise to further difl&culties of 
propriety and jurisdiction. ^ At this session the purchasers 
petitioned for the approval and assistance of the colony in 
making a settlement there, which was granted. The 
commissioners of the United Colonies took up the dispute 
in behalf of Massachusetts, and wrote to Khode Island re- 

' This tract was given to Socho, a brave captain of the Narragansets, by 
Canonicus and Miantinomi, for services rendered about 1635, in driving oflf a 
party of Pequots who had settled there prior to the war between the Pequots 
and English in 1637. It was deeded by Socho, Jan. 29th, 1660, to William 
Vauglian, Robert Stanton, John Fairfield, Hugh Mosher, James Longbottom 
and others of Newport, and the original deed to Socho was confirmed by Pes- 
sicus, 24th June, 1661, at which time Ninigret claimed the tract, but his 
nephew Pessicus denied his right thereto. The documents relating to this 
subject and the records of the Westerly proprietors are given by Mr. Potter in 
Early Hist, of Nar't. R. I. H. C, iii. 241-75. 



specting tins and the Pettiquamscot purchase, protestmg chap. 
against the conduct of Rhode Island m permitting them ^^ 
to he made. Massachusetts, by whom the Pequot country 10 6 1. 
was claimed by right of conquest, had erected the tract on 13 * 
each side of the Pawcatuck river into a township called 
Southertown, and attached it to the county of Suffolk. 
Complaints from this town were now made to the General 
Court, of the intrusion of some thirty-six settlers from 
Rhode Island into that part of the town east of Paw- 
catuck river, being the Westerly purchase, claiming it as 
their own. Upon this a warrant was issued by the coun- 
cil of Massachusetts to the constable of Southertown to ar- 
rest the trespassers. Tobias Saunders, Robert Burdett, 
and Joseph Clarke were seized. Clarke was released, and ^ov. 
the others were taken to Boston as prisoners, and commit- 
ted for want of bail. The magistrates sent a letter to Dec. 
Rhode Island, inquiring if the conduct of these trespass- ^■ 
ers was sanctioned by that government, and saying if it 
were so, Massachusetts would prepare to defend her peo- 
ple in their just rights. Receiving no reply, another let- 1 (• g o 
ter was soon after sent, by special messengers, asserting Marcli 
her claim to all Rhode Island, " from Pequot river to Ply- 
mouth line," under the Narraganset patent,' and avowing 
her determination to make it good. At the next session 
of the General Court the two prisoners were brought to 
trial. They were sentenced to pay a fine of forty pounds, May 
and to be imprisoned till it was paid, and also to give '^• 
sureties for one hundred pounds to keep the peace.'- A 
third letter was then written, informing Rhode Island of 
the trial of these men, and requiring her to cause the set- l^- 
tiers at Pcttiquamscot and Southertown to vacate their 
lands before the end of June, or they should be treated as 
Saunders and Burdett had been. But Rhode Island was 
not to be intimidated by the threats of her powerful neigh- 

■ Obtained Dec. 10th, 1643, ante ch. iv. 
= M. C. R. iv. Part 2d, p. ii. 


bor, wliose efforts against her peace and existence had so 
often been thwarted by her firmness, sanctioned by the 
subsequent approval of her conduct by the Supreme Gov- 
ernment in England. Kelying, as she ever had done, on 
the justice of her cause, and looking to her right of appeal 
to the King and Parliament, through the medium of her 
able and faithful agent, John Clarke, she maintained her 
position. The Court of Commissioners, met at Warwick, 
20. sent to Daniel Gookin and others, subjects of Massachu- 
setts, who had intruded at Westerly, prohibiting them 
from planting or building there until the order of the 
^^ King on that matter could be known. ^ A letter in reply 
to Massachusetts was prepared, defending the conduct of 
Saunders and Burdett, and denying that the Pequot re- 
gion ever extended east of Pawcatuck river, or that Massa- 
chusetts had any claim to the Narraganset country. The 
terms of the letter were as courteous as the subject would 
permit. Two messengers were appointed to carry it to 

At this general election Benedict Arnold was chosen 
President, over William Brenton ; Kichard Tew, Assist- 
ant for Newport, John Sandford, Treasurer, and Richard 
Bulgar, Solicitor. The other officers continued as be- 
fore, but the Attorney General declining to serve, John 
Sandford was chosen to that place in June. These offi- 
cers were re-elected the following year, and served until 
the adoption of the Eoyal Charter. 

Wampum-peage up to this time had been the princi- 
pal circulating medium in Rhode Island. The other colo- 

^ This prohibition does not appear on the records of the May session, 
which began on the 22d, while this document is dated the 20th. There was 
perhaps a special meeting of the Court prior to the general election two days 
later. It is found in the files of the General Court of Massachusetts, and is 
printed in R. I. Col. Rec, i. 463, with the three letters from Massachusetts 
above referred to, and other papers on the same subject. 

^ These were John Green and John Sandford. The letter is in E. I. Col. 
Rec, i. 469-73. 


nies had lono; since abandoned it. It had now ftillen so chap. 

mucli in vahie that it was declared to be no longer legal ^__ 

tender, and all taxes and costs of court were required to be l '^ c> -■ 
paid " in current pay," that is, in Sterling or in New Eng- 
land coin.^ The confusion of land titles had become so 
great, that a law was passed vesting the fee in whoever, 
having possession, should record his claim within thirteen 
months, if on the spot ; and this record, if undisputed 
within that time, should perfect the title even against the 
real owner. To those living in other colonies one year 
more was given, and to those living beyond the sea two 
years longer were allowed to establish their right. The 
President or any Assistant was empowered to appoint con- 
stables at any of the new settlements in Narraganset to 
keep the peace. This act evinced the fixed determination 
of Rhode Island to maintain her rights in the disputed 
territory. Tlie Court adjourned till the next month, to 
await the return of the messengers sent to Massachusetts. 
They did not reach Boston till the General Court had ad- June 
journed. To prevent the mischief that might result from '' 
the contents of their letter not being generally known, 
leave was granted for any person to send copies of it, and 
of the prohibition, to their friends in Massachusetts. 
Liberty to buy land of the Indians was also given to sev- 
eral parties. These purchases soon became too frequent 
to bo specially noticed. 

Letters were constantly passing between the colony 
and its agent. Measures of vital importance to the wel- 
fare of Ehode Island were in progress. The position she 
occupied was anomalous, and required great tact and 
ability to sustain. The charter, by which she existed, 
was obtained from an authority inimical to the king, 

' Massachusetts had begun to coin silver in 1G52. Shillings and six- 
pences, all of which bear the same date, although the coinage was continued 
throughout several years, are still extant. Thirty shillings of New Kugland 
silver was equal to twenty-two shillings sixpence sterling. 


and wliich bad afterwards dethroned and beheaded bis 
royal fjither. The principles sbe avowed were totally un- 
recognized among men. No form of civil government 
tben existing could tolerate ber democracy, and even 
Christian charity denied ber faith. To obtain a renewal 
of privileges so remarkable, to secure the regard of a sove- 
reign whose arbitrary will was an inheritance, to obtain 
his sanction to a system which, initiated as an experi- 
ment by a republican parliament, had come to be no longer 
a philosophical problem but an established fact, and which, 
if extended, must inevitably in time overthrow the fabric 
of monarchical power — these were the difficult and perhaps 
dangerous duties that now devolved on the agent of Khode 
Island. Well did he conduct his delicate mission, and 
triumphant was the success that crowned his labors. 
Two petitions or addresses were presented to Charles II. 
by John Clarke, in behalf of the people of Khode Island, 
wherein he recites briefly the origin of the colony, and 
states clearly the grounds of their first and second removal 
for the cause of religious liberty, asserting that they 
" have it much on their hearts, if they may be permitted, 
to hold forth a lively experiment, that a flourishing civil 
state may stand, yea, and best be maintained, and that 
among English spirits, with a full liberty in religious con- 
cernments," and finally surrendering their lands and 
charter to the crown, and craving "a more absolute, 
ample, and free charter of civil incorporation." ' 

While- the existence of the colony hung on the yet 

doubtful success of its agent at the English court, afiairs 

at home were scarcely more propitious to its safety or inde- 

Sept. pendence. The subjects of Massachusetts in Narraganset 

' The precise date of these two addresses is unknown. They were found 
among the archives in the British State Paper OiSce in London, and belong 
no doubt to the year 1 G62. Copies were made for the splendid library of Mr. 
John Carter Brown, which contains probably the richest collection of MSS. 
and of rare and valuable works on American history to be found. These two 
papers are printed in Mr. Secretary Bartlett's R. I. Col. Rec, i. 485-91. 





complained to the commissioners of the United Colonies 
of the conduct of Rhode Island, in maintaining her char- 
tered rights over that country. The appointment of con- 
stables by the last General Assembly had filled the cup 
of New England indignation. The commissioners now 
wrote to Ehode Island, claiming Narraganset for Connec- 
ticut, under the new charter to that colony which had just 
been received, as the previous year they had claimed it 
for Massachusetts under the old Narragansec patent. 
The letter concludes with the usual threat in case of non- 
compliance with their demands.' Connecticut, upon the Oct 
proclamation of her charter, ^ ordered the inhabitants of ^• 
Mystic and Pawcatuck not to exercise authority under 
commissions from any other colony. =* This order was 
aimed equally at Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and 
was justified by the terms of the new charter, which em- 
braced the whole Narraganset country. At the meeting 
of the Court of Commissioners in Warwick, another letter 
was ordered to be sent to Massachusetts about the lands 
of Pawcatuck, in reply to the one from the United Colo- " ' * 
nies. This letter was more severe than was usual in the 
official communications of Rhode Island, justly charging 
the Massachusetts with habitual injury to Rhode Island by 
wrongful accusations and unchristian acts, and asserting 
that the Connecticut charter, so far as it conveyed juris- 
diction over the Narraganset country, was procured by 
" underhand dealing,'" and that it would be revoked. The 
letter further demanded the release of Saunders and Bur- 
dett, who still remained in prison, and also claimed dam- 
ages for the wrongs inflicted upon them. In conclusion, 
it offered equal justice in the courts of Rhode Island, to 
all parties aggrieved by any illegal acts of the Westerly 

' Hazard, ii. 462-9. R. I. Col. Rec, i. -199. 

'^ Dated 23d April, 1GG2, and received in September. 

= Comi't Col. Rec, i. 389. 

' See R. I. Col. Rec, i. 493-5. 


That the subject of education received early attention 
in Eliode Island we have already shown in the chapter on 
Aquedneck. An ample foundation for its support was 
also made in Providence, by the reservation of one hundred 
acres of upland and six acres of meadow for the mainte- 
nance of a school, which was voted in town meeting at this 
22. No changes were made in the general officers at the 

next election. The session, held in Providence, was very 

The continued imprisonment of the two Ehode Island 
men in Massachusetts exasperated the settlers at West- 
erly, and led to a system of reprisals, and to acts of vio- 
lence, seriously disturbing the border towns. A house 
that had been built on the east side of Pawcatuck river 
by residents of Southertown, being within the asserted ju- 
risdiction of Ehode Island, was torn down. William Mar- 
ble, a deputy of the Marshal of Suffolk, bearing a letter 
to the Westerly men upon this subject, was arrested, sent 
to Newport, and confined in prison for eleven months. 
Soon after his release he petitioned the General Court of 
Massachusetts ^ for redress. The petition is on the files 
of the Court, but no action upon it is recorded. 

By the third article of an agreement made between 
Y^^ Clarke and Winthrop, the Atherton Company were to 
choose whether they would be under the jurisdiction of 
Ehode Island or of Connecticut. This agreement was im- 
mediately sent over to America. The action of the com- 
pany was prompt and decided. They preferred the gov- 
ernment of Connecticut, and so declared in a formal meet- 
ing, every one subscribing a paper to that effect, which 
was sent to Hartford. The Governor and Council imme- 
diately accepted the jurisdiction, as being included in the 
limits of their charter, named the plantation Wickford, 
and appointed Eichard Smith, sen., Edward Hutchinson, 

' August 3d, 1664. 





and Joshua Hewes, Selectmen, and Richard Smith, jun., ciiap. 
Constable, Mr. Smith's trading-house was the place de- ___ 
signated for the transaction of public business. 1 '^ ^ ^• 

The hopes of Rhode Island received a further blow in 21. 
a letter from the king to the United Colonies, commend- 
ing to their care the interests of the Atherton purchasers 
against the vexatious proceedings of Providence colony.' 
How that letter was obtained will appear in the succeed- 
ing chapter. But steps had already been taken by Clarke 
which prevented the injury that the State would other- 
wise have sustained from these causes. The Assembly 
met at Portsmouth soon after the receipt of this letter, to i4-i'j. 
expedite measures for the support of their agent. 

The General Court of Massachusetts sent special 
agents to Rhode Island, to inform the government of their 
views of her acts against the peace of that colony in regard 
to Southertown, and to propose a reference of the matters 
in dispute, until which time further molestation should 
cease.2 Soon afterwards warrants were issued to all the 
towns by the President, requiring the freemen to accompany Xov. 
their commissioners, with their arms, to solemnize the re- 
ception of the charter, as advised by the colony's agent. 
The President also wrote to Massachusetts, enclosing a let- ^g. 
ter from the king in behalf of Rhode Island, and received 
a reply that the council should be called at once to delib- -^• 
erate on the subject. They met at Boston, and proposed 
by letter to President Arnold that all subjects in dispute ,, 
between the two colonics be referred to arbitrators, to meet 
at Plymouth at such time as Rhode Island might select, 
and naming Grovernor Prince and Josias Winslow as refer- 
ees on the part of Masstichuscttjs. 

Once more, and for the last time under the parliamen- 
tary patent, the general Court of Commissioners convened 
at Newport on the appointed day, to receive at the hands 

' Hazard ii. 498. R. I. Col. Rec, i, 4G6. 
'^ M. C. R., iv. Part 2d, p. 95. 


of Captain George Baxter, lately arrived from England, 
the rich result of the labors of John Clarke — the Eoyal 
Charter of Charles II. 

" At a very great meeting and assembly of the freemen 
of the colony of Providence Plantations, at Newport, in 
Rhode Island, in New England, November the 24th, 1663. 
The abovesayed Assembly being legally caUed and orderly 
mett for the soUome reception of his Majestyes gratious 
letters pattent unto them sent, and having in order thereto 
chosen the President, Benedict Arnold, Moderator of the 
Assembly," it was, " Voted : That the box in which the 
King's gratious letters were enclosed be opened, and the 
letters with the broad scale thereto affixed be taken forth 
and read by Captayne George Baxter in the audience and 
view of aU the people ; which was accordingly done, and 
the sayd letters with his Majesty's RoyaU Stampe, and the 
broad seal, with much becoming gravity held up on hygh, 
and presented to the perfect view of the people, and then 
returned into the box and locked up by the Governor, in 
order to the safe keeping of it." 

The humble thanks of the colony were voted to His 
Majesty and to the earl of Clarendon, and also a gratuity 
of one hundred pounds to John Clarke and one of twenty- 
25 five pounds to Captain Baxter. The next day the com 
missioners again assembled, and having passed such acts 
as were necessary to prevent the failure of justice, " dis- 
solved and resigned up " to the government appointed by 
the charter. 
26. On the following day the Governor and council named 

in the charter, held a meeting to receive again the sub- 
mission of the sachems to the crown of England, and to 
order the government of the colony, by receiving anew the 
engagements of all the existing officers to hold their places 
until the session of the General Assembly, which was ap- 
pointed for the first Tuesday of the ensuing March. 

The government of the colony under the parliamentary 


patent was ended. "The incorporation of Providence chap. 
Plantations/' as a legal title, had ceased to exist. Hence- J.^ 
forth the colony was to assume another name, and to be gov- 1 G 6 :j. 
erned under a royal charter, not less free tlian that which 
it su2")plantcd, and better adapted to the exigencies of the 
State. The patent of 1644 had accomphshed the chief 
end for wliich it was sought. It had gathered the scat- 
tered settlements of fugitives from persecution into one 
corporate body, and compelled their recognition as a body 
politic by their ambitious and vindictive neighbors. But 
it was too feeble to answer the full purposes of a charter. 
The very freedom of its provisions, which in later days 
would give it strength, was in those jirimitive times a 
source of weakness. It was more a patent for the towns 
than for the peo[)le, legalizing, in effect, so many independ- 
ent corporations, rather than constructing one sovereign 
power resting upon the popular will. It produced a con- 
federacy, and not a union. Its defects are seen in the fa- 
cility with which Coddington, contrary to the wishes of the 
people at Aquedneck, severed that island from the rest of 
the colony, and usurped a power almost dictatorial. Under 
its operation, in every town and hamlet were spread the 
seeds of discontent and disunion, and nothing but tlie pres- 
sure from without, and the supreme law of self-preserva- 
tion, kept the discordant settlements from utter destruction, 
and from being absorbed by the adjoining governments. 
Its reception had been hailed with extravagant joy by a 
despised and persecuted people. Its expiration was at- 
tended with no regret, for twenty years had Avrought that 
change in the feeble colony which the same period works 
from infancy to manhood. As a basis of ciWl polity it had 
" outlived its usefulness," and was suffered to depart with- 
out a murmur. 

Thus closed the second epoch of Rhode Island history. 
The first presents a view of scattered cabins reared in the 
primeval wilderness, till they become a little village on the 


CHAP, river bank. One after another these feeble hamlets strug- 
w^ gle into life, remote from each other, amid virgin forests 
16 63. and on the ocean shore. The hardy settlers, twice exiled 
for opinion's sake, have become the pioneers of principles 
immortal as truth itself. What, though wild beasts dis- 
turb their rest at night, and the Indian warwhoop rings 
around their dwellings ! They have won the savage by 
acts of kindness and of justice, and have less to fear from 
his untamed but generous spirit than from the brethren 
they have left. Here, each village, by itself, they must 
frame their own laws, and submit to their own enact- 
ments, till, by force of habit and of necessity, each vil- 
lager becomes, unconsciously, a statesman. The school 
of practice precedes the school of theory, and thus four in- 
dependent governments are formed, self-constituted, in the 
wilderness. But one common sentiment pervades the 
whole. The spirit of liberty animates every heart. Soul 
liberty and civil freedom is their aim, and with one accord 
each separate village declares that " all men may walk as 
their consciences persuade them, every one in the name of 
his God." Thus in obscurity these outcast men indeed 
proclaimed "freedom to the world," and from their seclud- 
ed settlements sent forth a law which was to redeem the 
human soul from spiritual thraldom, and in time to free 
a nation, perhaps all nations at some future day, from civil 
tyranny, by teaching the doctrine of self-government. 

But the villages have grown to be towns, " heresy and 
treason " are rampant in the plantations, and Puritan zeal 
for Church and State seeks to extirpate the source of so 
dangerous an example. Eoused to a sense of impending 
danger, and conscious of the vast significance of their 
common principles, the towns obtain a patent which re- 
cognizes their corporate existence, yet leaves them freely 
to enjoy their cherished sentiments. With this patent of 
incorporation the second epoch of their history begins. 
Through the last two chapters we have traced this second 


period of doubt and change, of conflict and disunion, of chap. 
threatened anarchy within, and of aggression and insult s^.,-^ 
from without. We have seen how, amid all the troubles 10 6 3. 
that environed them, the townsmen kept steadily in view 
the fundamental principles of their organization, and tri- 
umphantly sustained their peculiar notions against the 
arguments and the menaces of the rest of New England ; 
and how the material prosperity of the people kept pace 
with their fidelity to the truth, until the arrival of a new, 
'■'■ more absolute, ample, and free charter of civil incorpo- 
ration," ushered in the third epoch of our history — the 
period of colonial maturity. 




'• The twentie-fourth of Aprill, 1G52. 

"At a town meeting or law making assembly ordered that 

" John Warner for his misdemeanurcs under annexed is degraded 
by the unanimos consent of the town from bearing any office in the 
town, and that he is hereby disenabled for ever after bearing any of- 
fice in the Town untill he gives the town satisfaction. 

" It is further ordered that the abovesayed John "Warner is put out 
from having any vote in the town concerning its aflairs. 

" The charges against John AVarner are these, first 

"Item — for calling the oflBcers of the town rogues and theives with 
respect to their office. 

•' Item — for calling the whole town rogues and thieves. 

" Item — for threatning the lives of men. 

" Item — for threatning to kill all the marcs in town. 

" Item — for his contempt in not appearing before the town now 
met, being lawfully (assembled ?) by a summons from the officer with 
two magistrates hands to it. 

" Item — for threatning an officer of the colony in open Court that 



CHAP ^f ^^ ^^^ ^™ elsewhere he would beate out his braynes, as also call- 
VIII. ing him rogue. 

"T^C~" " Item — for his employing an agent to write to the Massachusetts, 
B. thereby going about to inthrall the liberties of the t own, contrary to 
the privileges of the town, and to the great indignity of the Honorable 
State of England who granted the sayd privaledges to us. 

" It is ordered that another be immediately chose for Assistant to 
supply John Warner's place while (until?) the next choice." 

Mr. John Smith was chosen Assistant in place of "Warner. At 
the annual town meeting on 7th June it was 

" Ordered, that the answer read by Mr. S. Gorton in the town 
meeting, to the motions of the Town of Providence with respect to 
John "Warner, be forthwith drawn forth and signed by the Clarke and 
sent to the Town of Providence forthwith. 

" Ordered, that the declaration that hath been drawn up in the 
town concerning John Warner and the Dutchmen, which hath been 
sent to the Bay, as also to Providence, that a copy of it be drawn forth 
and signed by the Clarke and sent to Mr. Roger Williams, and or- 
dered that Mr. Samuel Gorton is to write a letter to Mr. Roger Wil- 
liams in the Town's behalf, to give him information concerning the 
town and Colonies proceedings with John Warner and his wife." 

The only notice taken of the case bythe General Assembly was 
on the 19th May, when the matter . was left to the decision of the 
Court of Trials in these words, "It is agreed that the case of Priscilla 
Warner, now depending in the General Court of Trialls, shall there be 

At a town meeting on the 22d June it was ordered, 

" That the house and land of John Warner situate and being in 
the sayd town be attached forthwith upon suspicion of unsufferable 
treacherie against the town, to the forfeiture of the sayd house and 
land, and that notice may be given him of the attachment thereof that 
so hee by himself or aturney may answer at the next court of Trials 
to be held in Warwick the 3d Tuesday in August next ensuing the 
date hereof. It is also ordered that all persons are hereby prohibited 
from laying any claim or title unto it, or any part thereof by bargain 
and sale or otherwise untill he hath answered the law and be cleered 
by order of the Court held as aforesayd, but remains in the hand and 
custody of the town in the mean time. 

" Ordered, that the Sergeant shall have a copie of this order and 
set it up upon the door of the house. 

" Ordered, that if hereafter John Warner or any for him shall sell 
that house and land abovesayd, any part or parcel of it, to any but 
such as shall subscribe to our order it shall as before be wholly forfeit 
to the town." 


On tlio 5th of July the property was released, under protest, as (;}j\i> 
follows :— VIII.' 

'• Ordered by the town of "Warwick that the house and land of '~^>'JP 
John Warner, situated in the sayd Town of "Warwick, being of late B. 
atached upon suspicion of the breach of the grand law of the To\vii. 
be resigned up to the said John "Warner again. 

" We whose names are here underwritten being unsatisfied with 
'the above voate upon the resigning of the abovesayed house of John 
Warner which was atached upon suspicion of the breach of the grand 
law of the Town, do hereby enter our protest against the act, as wit- 
ness our hands. 

Kandal Iloulden, John Wickes, 

John Greene, Jan., Samuel Gorton, 

Robert Potter." 

Thirty-one years later, June 2Gth, 1G83, he was divorced from his 
wife upon her petition, on the ground of infidelit}-. and of personal 
• violence towards her, and at the same session was expelled from the 
General Assembly as he had before been from town offices, in terms 
as follows : — 

. " Voted : Whereas, Mr. John Warner was by the town of Warwick 
chosen to be a Deputy in this Assembly, and being from time to time 
called, and not in Courte appearing, and there havcing been presented 
to this Assembly such complaints against him, that the Assembly doe 
judge, and are well satisfied, he is an unfitt person to serve as a Dep- 
uty ; and therefore see cause to expel him from acting in this present 
Assembly as a Deputy." 

VOL. I — 19 




JUNE, 1675. 

^?x^' ^^^ restoration of the Stuarts, annulling the acts of 

— ■ — the Long Parliament, compelled Kliode Island to seek a 
renewal of her privileges by another charter. It was at an 
auspicious moment, when Charles II. was yet hut recently 
seated upon his throne, that the talent and energy of Dr. 
Clarke obtained this instrument. It confirmed every 
thing that the previous patent had given, and vested even 
greater powers in the people. Under it the State was an 
absolute sovereignty with powers to make its own laws, 
religious freedom was guaranteed, and no oath of alle- 
giance was required, Khode Island became in fact, and 
almost in name, an independent State from that day. 

There are three points in this charter deserving of 
special attention, which distinguish it from all other royal 
patents that have ever been granted. To mention these 
in the order in which they occur, the first is the acknowl- 
edgment of the Indian titles to the soil. Among the 
reasons assigned for granting the charter is this, that the 
petitioners " are seized and possessed by purchase and 
consent of the said natives to their full content, of such 
lands, islands," &c., and farther on, in the enumeration 


of powers granted, the inhabitants are permitted " to di- chap. 
rect, rule, order and dispose of all other matters and ..^..^^ 
things, and particularly that which relates to the making 
of purchases of the native Indians." These paragraphs 
would appear unimportant, if they did not concede a prin- 
ciple for which the founders of Khode Island liad con- 
tended from the beginning, and which was not incorpo- 
rated in any other charter. Possession by right of dis- 
covery was a European doctrine coeval with the days of 
Columbus and de Gama. First exercised by the Su- 
preme Pontiff, who claimed the exclusive right, as God's 
Vicegerent, to the temporal control of aU newly-discov- 
ered countries, it was soon adopted by the maritime poAv- 
ers as a part of the royal prerogative. Overlooldng that 
principle of justice which establishes propriety in the 
original possessor, the sovereigns of Europe did not hesi- 
tate to assert their claim over both Americas, The rights 
of the aborigines, heathens and barbarians as they were, 
presented no obstacles to these enlightened and Christian 
legislators. Their heathenism was handed over to the 
tender mercies of the church, their barbarism to the civ- 
ilizing agency of gunpowder and steel. Although the 
method of administration was more summary in tlie Span- 
ish and Portuguese j)Ossessions, the ]irinciple, in its broad- 
est extent, was recognized by the British crown, though 
rarely acted upon by the English colonists. Against the 
abstract right, as well as the positive abuse of these pre- 
tensions, the settlement of Rhode Island was the first 
solemn protest. Mercy and justice combined to raise the 
voice of indignant rebuke against the wholesale assump- 
tion of territorial rights, urged by the Council of Ply- 
mouth under their patent from King James. For the 
bold denunciation of those words of the patent in which 
the King, as the " Sovereign Lord " of this continent, 
grants by his " special grace, mere motion and certain 
knowledge," a large portion of America, roacliing from 



CHAP, the Atlantic to the Pacific, to the Council of Plymouth, 
Roger Williams was twice subjected to the censure of the 
authorities of Massachusetts, This principle was the 
only one, save that of " soul liberty," which Roger Wil- 
liams initiated in Massachusetts, of the many factious 
proceedings that later writers, following Hubbard, have 
laid to his charge. Upon this point, the exclusive right 
of the , aborigines to their native soil, Mr. Williams was 
decided, and his views were maintained by those who fol- 
lowed him to Rhode Island. They were set forth by Dr. 
Clarke in his addresses to the King, and thus became em- 
bodied in the Royal charter. The operation of the thing 
was the reverse in this State from what it was elsewhere. 
The other colonies claimed the soil by virtue of grants 
from the King, and confirmed their titles by purchase 
from the Indians, or by conquest. Here the paramount 
title was held to be in the aborigines, and the right, first 
obtained from them by purchase, was only confirmed by 
patent from the crown. 

The second remarkable point in this charter is the am- 
ple protection which it .extends to the rights of conscience. 
So full and absolute is this guarantee, and so different 
from the prevailing spirit of the age, that the principle it 
embodies has come to be considered, not only as the pecu- 
liar honor of Rhode Island, but as being the sole distin- 
guishing feature of her history. It declares " that noe 
person within the sayd colonye, at any tyme hereafter, 
shall bee any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or 
called in question, for any difference in opinione in mat- 
ters of religion which doe not actually disturb the civill 
peace of our sayd colonye ; but that all and everye per- 
son and persons may, from tyme to tyme, and at all tymes 
hereafter, freelye and fuUye have and enjoye his and theire 
owne judgments and consciences, in matters of religious 
concernments, throughout the tract of lande hereafter 
mentioned ; they behaving themselves peaceablie and 



quietlie, and not using tliis liLcrtie to lycentiousnesse and cilvi- 
profanenesse, nor to the civil injurye or outward disturb- 
ance of others." It should be remembered that the laws 
of England rigidly required uniformity in religious belief. 
Church and State were essential portions of each other. 
This grant therefore repealed the laws of England, so far 
as Rhode Island was concerned, by excepting her from 
their operation, and left the people of this colony precisely 
where the parliamentary patent, by its significant silence 
on this subject, had left them. It was a signal triumph 
for what is now recognized as the fundamental principle 
in ethics, in religion, and in politics.' 

The remaining point to be noticed as distinguishing 
'this charter from all others that have emanated from the 
throne of a monarch, is its purely republican character. 
When the colony was organized under the previous pa- 
tent, the Assembly declared " that the form of government 
established in Providence Plantations is Democratical, 
that is to say, a government held by the free and volun- 
tary consent of all, or the greater part of the free inhabit- 
ants." This was a novel doctrine, at least in the history 
of the modern world, and although it was sanctioned by 
the charter of a republican parliament, it could hardly be 
expected to pass the seals of a Koyal Council. Yet it did 
so pass, and in almost the same terms in which it had be- 
fore been secured. After conferring power to elect their 
own ofiicers and to make their own laws^ " as to them 
shall seem meet for the good and welfare of the said Com- 
pany," it requires only that such laws " bee not contrarie 
and repugnant unto, but as near as may bee, agreeable to 

■ It is worthy of notice that Charles IL, in his famous letter to the Com- 
mons, known as the "Declaration," from Breda, April 4-14, 1660, promises 
religious freedom to his subjects, in the event of his restoration, in precisely 
the language used in the charter of Rhode Island, " that no man shall be din- 
quieted or called in question for diffirences of opinion in matter.^ of religion 
which do not disturb the peace of the kingiloin" Eehard's Hist, of Eiijrland. ii. 
897 ; Rapin book, 22d vol. xi. p. ISO, where the declaration is cited in full. 



the laws of tliis our Eealme of England/' and adds the 
same qualifying and practically annulling words, " consid- 
ering the nature and constitution of the place and people 
there." The extent of the powers conferred by this 
charter is indeed surprising. The military arm, always 
relied upon as the distinctive barrier of the throne, is for- 
mally and fully surrendered to the people, in this instru- 
ment, even to the extreme point of declaring martial law 
— a grant which, in repeated cases, the government of 
Khode Island successfully defended, in later years, against 
the threats and the arguments of the royal governors of 
New England. 

Thus it was that Khode Island continued, as she had 
begun, an independent State, through all the vicissitudes* 
of the Mother country, and was unaffected, save at one 
brief interval, by the changes that swept over the neigh- 
boring colonies. With this charter, serving as the basis 
of government rather than prescribing its form, the State 
led the way in the final struggle for national indej^end- 

Under it Ehode Island, as being no less truly than 
professedly republican, adopted the Constitution of the 
United States and was received into the American Union. 
So far as this charter was concerned, a single provision, 
fixing the apportionment of representatives for the several 
towns, which time had rendered unjust in its operation, 
and which, it was contended, could not be remedied other- 
wise than by an alteration of the organic law, led to its 
abrogation in 1843, at which time this venerable instru- 
ment was the oldest constitutional charter in the world. 
For one hundred and eighty years it had been regarded as 
the shield of popular freedom against Eoyal jjrerogative or 
Federal encroachment. It was the last remaining beacon 
planted by the Eepublicans of the seventeenth century, 
and so firmly that the war of the Eevolution had not 


changed its position, for they both rested upon the same chap. 
foundation — the inherent right of self-government. .J^^ 

The Government was vested in a Governor, Deputy- 
Governor, and ten Assistants, named in the charter, with 
a House of Deputies, six from Newport, four each from 
Providence, Portsmouth and Warwick, and two from 
every other town. The former were to he chosen annual- 
ly at Newport on the first Wednesday of May, the latter 
by their respective towns. The whole legislative body was 
called the General Assembly, and was to meet twice a 
year, in May and October, but they could alter the time 
and place of meeting at will, Benedict Arnold was ap- 
pointed the first Governor, and William Brenton, Deputy 
Governor. ' 

In view no doubt of the acts of non-intercourse exist- 
ing against Rhode Island in the neigh])oring colonies, the 
charter specially required that the peojile of this colony 
should be permitted to pass unmolested through the adja- 
cent provinces, and an appeal to the King was guaranteed 
in case of further disputes. In all cases the charter was 
to be construed most favorably for the benefit of the 
grantees. The boundary lines were minutely defined. 
They are those whicli, after more than a century of con- 
test Avith the adjoining colonies, were finally established 
in accordance with the charter, and exist at this day. 

The western boundary was the source of immediate and 
violent dispute, prolonging instead of quieting the difticul- 
ties already commenced. The charter of Connecticut 
bore date fifteen months anterior to that of Rhode Island, 
and bounded that colony on Narraganset Bay. The peo- 
ple of Rhode Island, upon the first notice of this legalized 
robbery of so large a portion of their territory, charged 
those of Connecticut with underhand dealing in the 

' The Assistants were William Balston, John Porter, Kogcr Millianis, 
Thomas Olney, John Smith, John Grccuc, John Coggeshall, James Barker, 
William Fl'eild, and Joseph Clarke. 


CHAP, means employed to obtain that result, and maintained 
,^^ that upon a proper representation of the facts the obnox- 
ious portions would be revoked — and so indeed it proved. 
The Rhode Island charter, referring in terms to that of 
Connecticut, and expressly limiting the territory therein 
conveyed in accordance vs^ith the claims of Rhode Island, 
designated the Pawcatuck river as her western boundary, 
" any graunt, or clause in a late graunt, to the Governor 
and Company of Connecticut Colony, in America, to the 
contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding; the afore- 
sayd Pawcatuck river haveing byn yeilded, after much de- 
bate, for the fixed and certain boundes between these our 
sayd Colonies, by the agents thereof; who have alsoe 
agreed, that the sayd Pawcatuck river shaU bee alsoe call- 
ed alias Narraganset river; and, to prevent other disputes, 
that otherwise might arise thereby, forever hereafter shall 
be construed, deemed and taken to bee the Narraganset 
river in our late graunt to Connecticut Colony mentioned 
as the easterly bounds of that CoUony." Nothing could 
be more explicit than this recital, yet it did not suffice to 
settle the difficulty. The agreement made by the two 
agents, Grov. Winthrop and Dr. Clarke on the part of their 
respective colonies, was disowned by Connecticut, on the 
ground that their agent had no longer any authority to act 
for the colony, his commission having expired, as they 
said, upon the completion of his labors in obtaining the 
charter.^ Even if this were so, we do not see how that ob- 
jection could set aside a Royal grant. It could only affect 
the force of a^statement in the charter which is simply 
explanatory and altogether secondary to the main question 
at issue. Of the fact of the agreement there is no denial. 
Of its binding effect upon the two colonies there might be 
a question if the plenary powers of the Connecticut agent 
had ceased, as was asserted, when his charter passed the 

' See Report of tlie Royal Commissioners, October, 1683, in 1 M. H. C, y. 


seals. But the validity of the grant itself is untouched chap. 
by the error or the accuracy of one of the reasons therein ^^ 
assigned for making it. l 6 G 3. 

This agreement was the result of arbitration. The 
l^oints of difference being subixdttcd to five referees were 
decided by them in four articles. The first fixed Pawca- 
tuck river as the boundary and named it Narraganset. The 
second gave the Quinnebaug" tract to Conneciiicut, The 
third allowed the inhabitants around Smith's trading house, 
being the Atherton company, to choose to which of the 
two colonies they would submit ; and the fourth declared 
that the rights of property should be maintained through 
the colonies. To these four proposals the two agents as- 
sented, as a final issue of their differences. The second April 
and fourth are unimportant, the other two include the '' 
whole real matter in dispute.' We cannot understand 
how any such agreement could of itself bind either colony. 
If Winthrop exceeded his powers, as charged by Connecti- 
cut, in giving up territory, Clarke equally exceeded his in 
yielding jurisdiction over a purchase made in violation of 
the laws of Rhode Island ; for the desire of the Atherton 
men to submit to Connecticut was well known, and the 
giving them this choice was nothing less than abandoning 
all control over their lands. It was in fact admitting a 
foreign colony into the heart of the State ; an evil from 
which Rhode Island had already sufiered too much in the 
case of Pawtuxet. But Rhode Island did not set up the 
plea that her agent had exceeded liis powers. She stood 
on the terms of her charter in the question of boundary, 
and in that of jurisdiction she adopted conciliatory meas- 
ures towards the people of Narraganset. 

We have already seen abundant reasons why the New 
England league should symiiathize with Connecticut in 

' The agreement is printed in 1 M. H. C, v. 248, where it is dated 17tli 
April, and in R. I. Col. Rec., i. 518, with tlio correct date, 7th April, follow- 
ing the copy preserved in the British State Paper Olliee. New England pa- 
pers, vol. 3, p. 90. 



16 63. 

CHAP, this new occasion of dispute. The fact that tlieir writ- 
ers have steadily endeavored to defend the claim of Con- 
necticut against the rights of Ehode Island, confirmed by 
the King, and to uphold the conduct of Winthrop at the 
expense of Dr. Clarke, while Ehode Island has to this day 
silently submitted to the imputations cast upon her agent, 
conscious of his rectitude, yet careless to preserve his name 
unsullied, has wrought great injustice to one whose charac- 
ter and whose talents appear more exalted the more closely 
they are examined. That foreign historians, seeking to 
give an impartial account of this transaction, should have 
been misled by the only authorities within their reach, and 
thus unwittingly have attached an unmerited stigma to 
the name of John Clarke, is natural and perhaps inevitable.' 
But that New England authors should attempt to honor 
Winthrop by disgracing Clarke does wrong to both, and is 
alike ungenerous and unjust. Between these two great 
men there appears to have existed a cordial friendship, 
which was not broken even by the delicate position into 
which they were thrown by the singular conduct of Con- 
necticut colony. It is true that Winthrop in his letters 
complained that Clarke had not obtained his charter sooner, 
and that he had done him wrong in opposing the Connec- 
ticut charter after its confirmation, thereby hindering his re- 
turn ; and in the same letter he sends a kind message to 
his Khode Island friends, declaring that he had no intent 
to injure them, but only " to render a service to their old 
charter," as well as to the people of Narraganset,^ The 
geography of New England was but little understood, in 
the minutise of courses and distances, even by its inhabi- 
tants, at that time, and the reply to that letter, written by 
the people of Narraganset, as the Atherton settlers were 

^ For a refutation of the charges brought by Grab am e and endorsed by 
Quincy against Clarke, and for an examination into the reliability of Chal- 
mers, see Appendix C. 

- This letter is No. -47 of the 22d vol. of the Trumbull MSS. in the ar- 
chives of the Mass. Hist. Soc. See Appendix D., No. II. 


now called, shows a singular misconception on this point chap. 
either in their minds or in that of Winthrop. It would vJ^^ 
seem as if Winthrop had first, in obedience to instructions 16 6 3. 
from Connecticut, hounded that colony on Narraganset 
hay ; that, upon being convinced by Clarke of the injustice 
thereby done to Rhode Island, he agreed to the adjustment 
mentioned in the Rhode Island charter, and that thus, 
while trying to discharge his duty as the agent of one and 
the friend of the other, he deeply oftended both, through 
want of exact knowledge of the position and limits of the 
disputed territory. "^ To retort upon Winthrop the charges 
that his defenders have made against Clarke, would be to 
pervert the truth of history, as has been steadily done by 
those who, anxious to shield their own infomy, or ignorant 
of the secret history of this transaction, have sought to cast 
upon Clarke the stigma of " underhand dealing" tliat at- 
taches to themselves, or have blindly copied the falsehoods 
of his enemies. Where this disgrace properly belongs, and 
how, and why it was shifted upon the shoulders of Clarke, 
will now be shown. The Atherton company who, it will 
be remembered, had bought lands in Narraganset contrary 
to the law of Rhode Island, and who had constantly re- 
fused every overture made by the Assembly for their legal 
and proper settlement in the State, being composed of res- 
idents of the other colonies, and of wlipni Winthrop liim- 
self was one, were earnest in their desire to be placed 
under the jurisdiction of Connecticut. They maintained 
a constant correspondence with Winthrop during his 
mission at London ; the burden of which was that he 
should so establish the boundary of Connecticut as to 
accomplish their purpose. They also had a special agent 
of their own in Lcndon, one John Scot, whose incautious 
pen has furnished the evidence of his own infamy, and of 
that of his employers, while it pays a tacit tribute to the 

' Tlio reasons tliat lead to this conclusion would be tedious to embody in 
tlie text, and will best appear by perusing the letters inserted in Appendix D. 




CHAP, purity of Winthrop. It was lie who obtained the famous 
^^' letter from the King to the United Colonies, committing 

16 6 3. to them the protection of the Atherton Company against 
the claims of Ehode Island, ' after Winthrop had embarked 
for America, and only seventeen days before the final pas- 
sage of the Ehode Island charter which effectually repeals 
the powers conferred in that letter. It seemed unaccount- 
able that so soon after an agreement had been made by 
which the controversy was supposed to be settled, and one 
of the agents had embarked for home, a royal letter should 
appear, virtually repealing the substance of the agreement, 
and that in less than three weeks from the date of the let- 
ter a royal act of the most solemn nature, an absolute 
charter, should issue, making special mention of the said 
agreement, and practically annulling the royal letter. 
There was a confusion of dates, a confounding of powers, 
and a manifest contradiction of purposes about all this, 
which indicated underhand deahng somewhere. Winthrop 
had left England almost immediately after signing the 
agreement. He, then, was clear of suspicion. Clarke re- 
mained. That circumstance aided the plan of the con- 
spirators to divert suspicion from themselves to him. The 
letter of June was triumphantly exhibited as proof of the 
real intentions of the King, and the fact that its tenor was 
contradicted by the charter of July was held up as proof of 
baseness on the part of the agent of Ehode Island. 

We can now show which was the true document, and 
which was obtained by fraud. An obscure manuscript 
heretofore unnoticed, perhaps from the insignificance of its 
author, fastens upon himself the charge of underhand deal- 
ing, describes the manner in which his object was effected, 
and names the bribe that he gave to obtain it. John Scot, 
the special agent of the Atherton company, wrote the let- 
ter, now for the first time printed,- which after the lapse 

^ Ante, chap. 8, p. 283. The letter is dated June 21, 1663. 
- See Appendix E for this remarkable letter, M'ith more cooious comments 
thereupon than are given in the text. 



of two hundred years, exposes the baseness of the enemies chai'. 
of Clarke, shows for itself why they so freely charged ._f^ 
him with dishonesty, and subjects its author and his abet- 1663-4. 
tors to the double shame of corruption to obtain their ends, 
and of meanness in seeking to hide their conduct by de- 
faming the character of an honest man. To the honor of 
Wintlirop it should be mentioned here that seven years 
later, while Governor of Connecticut, he refused to exercise 
jurisdiction east of Pawcatuck river, alleging as a reason 
his agreement with Clarke, which although ignored by 
Connecticut, he at least deemed to be both legally and 
morally binding upon that colony. The questions of 
boundary and of jurisdiction were virtually one, and are so 
treated in Governor Winthrop's message to the General 
Assembly at Hartford. 

A great amount of business, as varied in kind as it was :Nrareli 
complicated in its nature, devolved upon the new Legisla- ^• 
turo. The Assistants were now, for the tirst time, invested 
with legislative power by the charter, and acted conjointly 
with the deputies. The Courts required to be remodelled 
in accordance with the charter. Many laws were to be re- 
pealed as being " inconsistent with the present govern- 
ment," and others enacted in conformity thereto. Diffi- 
culties of a most serious nature within and without the 
colony demanded attention. The new territory of Block 
Island was embraced in the charter, and must be provided 
for. Magistrates were to be apportioned among the towns, 
and the usual amount of private business was to be trans- 

Notice being given to all the people to draw near, the 
charter was read, together with Mr. Clarke's letter accom- 
panying it, and Mr. Koger Williams was requested to 
transcril)e it. A committee was appointed to draw u[) a 
prologue to the proceedings of the Court, which prefaces 
the records, and contains a formal acknowledgment of grat- 
itude to the kino- for his favor. The Assembly then en- 


CHAP, tered ujoon the business of legislation by prescribing the 
^^' mode of calling courts, and the times and manner of hold- 

1663-4. ing them. Two General Courts of trials in each year were 
^l^^ established, to be held at Newport in May and October, 
and were to consist of the Governor, deputy Governor, or 
either of them, with at least six Assistants. Two other 
Courts of trials were appointed to be held annually, one at 
Providence in September, and one at Warwick in March, 
at which at least three Assistants, and a jury of twelve 
men selected equally from each town, should be present. 
. An appeal could be taken from these to the General 
Courts. Special Courts might also be called, at the re- 
quest and expense of any person, with the sanction of 
the Governor or deputy Governor. In the apportionment 
of grand and petty jurors, Newport was to furnish five of 
each, Portsmouth three, Providence and Warwick two each ; 
but in that of State magistrates, the two Executives and 
ten Assistants, five were to be inhabitants of Newj^ort, 
three of Providence, and two each, of Portsmouth and 
Warwick ; and the precedency of the towns was settled 
in this latter order, it being that in which they were named 
in the charter. The Assistant " nearest the place occa- 
tion shall present " was to act as Coroner. 

A question arose whether by the charter it was pro- 
vided that the State magistrates, or Council, should be 
elected by the freemen in town meeting, or by the Gen- 
eral Assembly. It was decided that, unless otherwise ex- 
plained by advices from England, the right of electing 
these officers should vest in the freemen. 

An act was passed taking cognizance of the intru- 
sions and attempted usurpations of the Atherton com- 
pany, and a summons was issued requiring them to ap- 
pear at the next session of Assembly, to answer for their 
conduct ; and similar attempts to settle in the colony, 
without leave first obtained from the Assembly, were for- 
bidden under pain of fine and impiisonment. A com- 


mittee was named to treat with Massachusetts upon the chai--. 
pending difficulties between the two colonies. Pumham, ,J^ 
who, at the instigation of Massachusetts, had subjected ]^^^'^ 
himself and his lands to her jurisdiction, and retained i. 
possession of part of the tract purchased by the War- 
wick men, was notified, upon their complaint, that he 
was within the government of Rhode Island, and must 
adjust his differences with the complainants or submit to 
legal process. A remonstrance to Connecticut colony 
upon the riotous conduct of the men of Southertown, 
and a notice of intention shortly to run the westerly line 
of Rhode Island, were ordered to be sent. 

A curious act is recorded at this session in favor of 
Capt. John Cranston, who, for skill in liis profession, was 
licensed " to administer phisicke and practice chirurge- 
ry," We have before mentioned instances of physicians 
being licensed by the Legislature, but in this case the act 
went further, and we have now to record, for the first 
time, the formal conferring of the degree of M. D. upon 
Capt. Cranston in these words : " and is by this Court 
styled and recorded Doctor of phissick and chirrurgcry, by 
the authority of this the General Assembly of this Col- 

Notice was sent to Block Island that the people should 
appear at the May Court to be received into the colony, 
and James Sands, already a freeman, was appointed Con- 
stable. This island, the earliest authentic liistory of 
which dates from the Pequot war, and has already been 
noticed in that connection, remained subject to Massa- 
chusetts until it was annexed to Rhode Island by the 
royal charter. It was granted, as a reward for public 
services, to Gov. Endicott and three others,' who sold it 
two years later for five hundred pounds to Simon Ray 
and eight associates. The following year they commenced 
a settlement, liquidated the Indian title, subject to a res- 

' 19th Oct., 1658. Sec M. C. R., iv. Part L, p. SoG. 


CHAP, ervation in favor of the natives, and set apart one-six- 

^J^^ teenth of the lands for the support of a minister forever. 

1663-4. Soon afterwards James Sands, who had followed Ann 
Hutchinson in her exile to the hanks of the Hudson, re- 
turned and settled on the island. Ahout two years had 
elapsed since the settlement was commenced, when the 
jurisdiction was transferred to Ehode Island. The re- 
moteness of the island rendered it almost independent of 
the colony, and produced a different system of internal 
regulation from that which prevailed in the other towns. 
Its exposed situation rendered it peculiarly liable to suf- 
fer, not only from the native Indians, but also from the 
attacks of piratical vessels, by which it was constantly 
threatened. The local history of Block Island, truthfull}' 
written, would present an interesting study. The tradi- 
tionary history of the aborigines is full of the romance of 
war ; their authentic history in connection with the 
whites, abounds in stirring incidents ; the peculiarities of 
the English settlers and their posterity, their customs, 
laws and domestic institutions, are among the most singu- 
lar and interesting developments of civilized life ; while 
the martial deeds of a people, within and around whose 
island there has been more hard fighting than on any ter- 
ritory of equal extent, perhaps, in America" and where 
the horrors of savage and of civilized warfare have alter- 
nately prevailed, almost without cessation, from the ear- 
liest traditionary period down to a recent date, would, 
altogether, furnish materials for a thrilling history that 
might rival the pages of romance. 
10. A friendly letter was sent to Connecticut, in con- 

formity to the vote of the Assembly, reciting a recent 
outrage at Westerly, asking that such acts be prevented 
in future, and requesting the concurrence of Connecticut in 

J (5 g4_ running the line between the two colonies at an early date. 

March The conflict of jurisdictions placed the Narraganset men* 
in a difficult position. They wrote to Connecticut for 


advice, saying that Richard Smitli, jr., was under bonds chap. 
to answer to Rhode Island, and that a constable appointed ,JI^ 
by Rhode Island might soon be expected at Wickford. ' 16 64. 
The Council at Hartford erected a court at Wickford, I*" 
and conferred on the inhabitants power to choose their 
officers, recommended them to obtain " an able orthodox 
minister," and appointed Capt. Hutchinson to exercise 
all males between the ages of sixteen and sixty in the 
use of arms, six times a year. Wickford was now a fully 
organized settlement, with control over " the places ad- 
joining within the colony of Connecticut." Fortunately, 
at this crisis, a measure was adopted in the King's Coun- 
cil, that prevented a fatal collision between the deter- 
mined and excited disputants. A commission was issued 
to Col. Richard Nichols, Sir Robert Carr, George Cart- 
wright, and Samuel Maverick, to reduce the Dutch prov- 
inces in America to subjection, and to determine all 
questions of appeal and of jurisdiction, and all boundary 
disputes arising in the New England colonies.- 

At the same time a new and formidable claimant ap- 
peared for the contested territory of Narraganset. The 25. 
Duke of Hamilton petitioned the King for confirmation of 
his rights in all that country, and much more, against all ^J^">' 
persons "who had intruded upon the gmnt made to his 
father, the late Marquis, by the council of Plymouth.' Tire 
deed held by the Marquis of Hamilton was given by the 
Plymouth company when on the point of surrendering 
their charter, and was of little intrinsic value. ^ It how- 
ever served, in the hands of a powerful nobleman, still 
further to complicate this intricate question. It was a 

' MS. records of Connecticut in R. I. Hist. Soc. 

' S. P. 0. New England papers, vol. i. p. 19i, and Mr. Brown's MS. Col- 
lection, vol. i. 39. 

^ S. P. 0. New England paper.*, vol. i. p. 200, aud Mr. Browu's MS. Col- 
lection, vol i. 40. 

* Auto, chap. i. p. 8. The deed was dated April 22d, 1G35, less than 
seven weeks before the surrender. 

VOL. I.— 20 


CHAP, deed of feofment, and conveyed a tract extending from 
^J:^ Connecticut river to Narraganset bay, " a.bout sixty miles" 
16 6 4. up the west side of the bay to the head thereof, and thence 
^^'' north-west sixty miles, where the line turned in a south- 
west course to a point sixty miles up north-west from the 
mouth of Connecticut river, and including all islands with- 
in five leagues of these limits. The name given to this 
magnificent grant was " the county of Cambridge." ' 

The session in March had been held chiefly for organ- 
ization and for the preparation of business. The first reg- 
ular Assembly, as established by the charter, met at New- 
4. port in May. Benedict Arnold was chosen Governor, Wil- 
liam Brenton, deputy Governor, Joseph Torrey, Kecorder, 
James Rogers, Sergeant, John Coggeshall, Treasurer, John 
Easton, Attorney, and Laurence Turner, Solicitor. The 
latter officer declined to serve and was excused. Ten As- 
sistants were also elected, and these seventeen, with eigh- 
teen deputies chosen by the towns, composed the General 
Assembly. As full lists of the seventeen general officers, 
chosen annually by the Assembly are given under each 
year in the printed Colonial Eecords, we shall hereafter, 
to avoid a tedious catalogue of names, mention only the two 
executive officers. For the same reasons we have not here- 
tofore recorded the hsts of commissioners, or deputies un- 
der the first patent. They were eighteen in number at 
this session, and increased two with the addition of every 
new town. The deputies were chosen for each session of 
the Assembly, always twice a year, and frequently oftener. 
The name of " Ehode Island and Providence Planta- 
tions," with the word '"Hope" above the anchor, was 
adopted, or rather continued, as the seal of the colony. 

The affairs of Block Island were definitely settled at 
this session. Three messengers aj^peared'^ from the island 

^ S. p. 0. New England, vol. i. 8, and Mr. Brown's MSS., vol. i. No. 10 ; 
also see Report of Board of Trade on this claim, lOth May, 16D7, in Mr. 
Brown's MSS., vol. 7, No. 21. 

^ James Sands, Thomas Terry and Joseph Kent. 


to signify their obedience to liis Majesty's will. A petition chap. 
in behalf of sundry householders on the island, that they ^^^^^ 
be received as freemen, was granted. The government of 1 G 6 4. 
the town was vested in the hands of three selectmen, who 4; 
might call town meetings, hear causes of less amount than 
forty shillings, grant appeals to the General Court of 
trials where a larger sum was involved, and issue warrants 
in criminal cases. Liberty to send two deputies to the 
Assembly was given to the town ; a copy of the laws was 
to be furnished them, and their attention was specially di- 
rected to that clause of the charter declaring freedom of 

Massachusetts having appointed two agents to treat 
with Rhode Island in regard to Block Island and the Pe- 
quot country, John Greene and Joseph Torrey were com- 
missioned to meet them at Rehoboth on the last day of 
the month. Richard Smith, jr., and Thomas Gould of 
Narraganset, were bound over in the sum of four hundred 
pounds each, and two Newport men in one-half that sum, 
to appear when called for, upon the charge of seeking to 
bring in a foreign jurisdiction within the limits of the col- 
ony. These bonds were afterwards released. A warrant 
for the same offence was issued against John Greene, sen., 
who appeared and confessed his fault. Upon petition he 
was pardoned, and received again under protection as a 
freeman of the colony. Richard Smith, sen., was written 
to, to appear before the Court on a similar charge. He 
made no reply to the letter, but enclosed it to Cai)t. Hutch- -.^^ 
in son, desiring him to inform Connecticut of the aflair, 
which he did.^ 

An active correspondence now ensued between Rhode 
Island and the rival claimants for her soil. The meeting 31. 
at Rehoboth with the Massachusetts agents had no im- 
portant results. Block Island had become private prop- 
erty before the transfer, and its owners had since cheerfully 

' These three letters iire in li. I. Col. Roc., ii. i3-0. 



CHAP, adopted the provisions of the charter annexing it to Khode 
Island. The Pequot country, still claimed by Massachu- 
setts in right of conquest, was by the Connecticut charter 
entirely within her jurisdiction, while the claim of Ehode 
Island for that portion of it east of the river, under her 
more recent chartei', still left Massachusetts out of the 
question ; besides which, the royal commissioners had 
power to arrange all such disputes, so that further discus- 
sion was useless. The report of the agents was accepted 
by the General Court.' Plymouth now entered the field, 

^" complaining in a letter to Khode Island of intrusions upon 
her limits. But the most serious dispute in progress was 
that with Connecticut. No direct reply having been re- 
ceived to the letter written in March, but only an intima- 
tion from Governor Winthro]3, that its contents would be 
July considered by the Assembly at Hartford, another letter 

^' was sent, by a sjiecial messenger, referring to the former 
one, and stating what had since been done by Ehode 
Island with regard to the Connecticut officers in Narra- 
ganset, whose commissions, it was urged, should be re- 
voked. These officers, Kichard Smith and William Hud- 
son, with Edward Hutchinson then residing at Boston, also 

12. wrote to Connecticut about some resistance offered to the 
administrator of Capt. Atherton's estate, who, in behalf of 
the heir, had endeavored to take possession of the property, 
but was resisted by the tenant who claimed allegiance to 
Rhode Island, although he was one of those who had sub- 
scribed the submission to Connecticut two years before. 
Indeed, several of the Narraganset settlers had already 
changed their views, and were inclined to Rhode Island, 
while the original purchasers, many of whom resided in 
Boston, remained firm in their preference for Connecticut. 

20. Connecticut replied to both of the Ehode Island letters, 
proposing a joint commission to meet in October to settle 
all disputes, but asserting her claim to jurisdiction, defend- 

' 19th Oct., M. C. R., Vol. iv. Part ii. p. 140. 


ing the acts of her officers, and desiring Rhode Island to chap. 

forbear further interference with them. -^,-^ 

On the arrival of the English commissioners at Boston, 16 6 4. 
Gov. Endicot assembled the Council, to receive the royal os^ 
letter and the instructions that required them to raise a 26. 
force to act against the Dutch, if it should be necessary. ^ 
A special session of the General Court was held, and two '3." 
hundred men were voted for the service, to be ready by the 
twentieth of the month. But their services were not re- 
quired, for upon the appearance of the fleet ofi" the port, 
New Amsterdam, now New York, surrendered to the Brit- 07 
ish crown. Arania, now Albany, soon followed, and after- Sept. 
wards Delaware castle, and other forts held by the Dutch 
and Swedes, likewise surrendered to Sir Robert Carr. The 
whole conquered territory was placed under the government 
of Col. Nichols. 

The Commissioners of the United Colonies, sitting at 
Hartford, of course took ground against Rhode Island, and 9. 
addressed to her a letter full of warning and advice, based 
upon the royal letter of the previous year, wherein the Nar- 
raganset purchasers were j)laced under their protection.' 
Probably they did not know by what means that letter 
had been obtained. Rhode Island took no notice of this 
missive, but acknowledged receipt of the one from Cou- 4,^ 
necticut, and referred it to the General Assembly for a 
more full reply. 

The royal Commissioners, having nearly completed the 
subjugation of the Dutch provinces, had their head-quarters 
on board the English fleet now being in the harbor of New 
York. A delegation consisting of John Clarke, who had 
lately returned home, Capt. John Cranston and Wilham 
Dyre, was sent on with a letter from the authorities of 
Rhode Island, expressing the gratitude of the colony to his - 
Majesty for the charter, and congratulating the Commis- 
sioners. It appears by this letter that a previous one, of 

' Hazard's State Piiper.*, ii. 499. 


CHAP, -like purport, liad Leen sent by the hands of Capt. Baxter, 

^J^ but at that time it was not known where the Commission- 

16 64. ers could be found. The messengers were kindly received, 

^ ' and a gracious answer was sent back on their return. The 

courtesy was acknowledged by deputy Governor Brenton, 

8. in another letter, inviting the Commissioners, upon their 

visiting Khode Island, to make their home at his house. ' 
13. The Connecticut Assembly, at their next meeting, ap- 

pointed a committee to arrange the boundary questions 
pending between that colony and both Ehode Island and 
Massachusetts, but ordered that they should not give up 
any portion of their charter limits.^ This, so far as con- 
cerned Khode Island, was equivalent to making no ap- 

At the meeting of the General Assembly the name of 
John Clarke appears at the head of the list of deputies. 
He had returned in June, after an absence of twelve years, 
spent in the faithful service of the colony, in England, and 
again resumed a place in the public councils, where, under 
the first patent, he had been so useful. The joy of the As- 
sembly in having him once more among them, is evinced 
in a singular and emphatic manner in the preamble to the 
first public law passed at this session, establishing proxy 
voting ; " and this present Assembly (now by God's gra- 
cious providence enjoying the helpfuU presance of our much 
honoured and beloved Mr. John Clarke,) doth declare and 
ordayne, &c." 

It was ordered that at every meeting of the Assembly, 
whether regular or adjourned, the charter should be read. 
The inconvenience to the freemen of the remote towns, oc- 
casioned by having to vote in person at Newport, had at- 
tracted the attention of the Assembly at its May session, 
and been referred to this Assembly to devise some legal 

^ The original letters are both in S. P. 0. New England papers, vol. i. pp. 

^ Col. Rec. of Connecticut, ii. 435. 


mode of voting by proxy. They enacted that all who did chap. 
not come in person to Newport might give their votes, ,J^ 
sealed up and subscribed with their own names on the 1 6 G 4. 
outside, into the hands of a magistrate at any regular town 90. 
meeting, to be delivered to the Executive at the Court oi 
election in Newport, there to be opened and counted. If 
the voter was prevented from attending town meeting, the 
magistrate miglit yet receive his vote in tlic same manner. 

Edmund Calverly, a deputy from Warwick, had made 
serious charges against the Governor, in respect to his of- 
ficial conduct, which were discussed, and the complainant 
required to prefer his charges in writing. He did so, but 
failing to sustain them, in the opinion of the court, he 
was suspended from voting until he should give satisfac- 
tion for his offence.' 

A committee was appointed to revise the laws, to see 
if any were left unrepealed that were inconsistent with the 
present charter, and to codify them for more convenient 
reference. At the head of this committee was John Clarke, 
and the second member was Koger Williams ; two names, 
of which the presence of either sufficiently refutes the slan- 
der contained in Chalmers,- and copied by later writers, 
attributing the interpolated restrictions upon religious free- 
dom to the act of this Assembly, That these words [pro- • 
fessing Christianity] and [Roman Catholics excepted] were 
the additions of later times, is as clear as any fact in his- 
tory. That they were never placed there at all by the 
deliberate act of the Legislature of Khode Island, but were 
occasioned by some contingency of English politics, we fully 
believe, and that the time will come when this unjust as- 
persion upon the freedom of the State will be explained, 
and its character be vindicated beyond a doubt — as recent 
developments have brought to light the conspiracy against 

' At the May session the next year, Calverly failing to prove his charges, 
the Governor was declared hy a vote of the Assemhly to be innocent of tho 
matters charged. 

'■^ Political Annals, Book i. chap. xi. 


the reputation of Clarke — we are firmly convinced. This 
subject will be considered at length in a later volume when 
we come to the repeal of the interpolated phrases. 

Agents were appointed to treat with Plymouth, two 
of whom were the deputy Governor and Roger Williams. 
They were commissioned to run the eastern line of the 
colony in connection with Plymouth agents. A letter was 
sent to Plymouth, suggesting the time and place for a 
meeting to arrange differences between the colonies. A 
similar course was adopted as to Connecticut. John 
Clarke, John Greene, and Joseph Torrey were commissioned 
to run the western line, and to arrange all other disputes 
with the Connecticut agents ; but should these refuse to 
run the line, the Rhode Island men were to do it alone. 
A letter was also sent to Connecticut, regretting that the 
day fixed by the Hartford Assembly for this purpose was 
passed, and naming the twenty-ninth of November as the 
time for a meeting at Southertown, alias Pawcatuck. 
Nov. Warrants were ordered for the arrest of William Hud- 

son, of Boston, and Richard Smith, sen., of Narraganset, for 
unlawfully exercising the office of constable within the 
limits of the colony under a Connecticut commission ; but 
these warrants were not to issue till after the time ap- 
pointed to treat with Connecticut. 

A law was passed at this session which shows the wis- 
dom and foresight of our ancestors, in obviating the diffi- 
culties that might arise from the existence of third parties 
at a general election ; " that whereas there may happen 
a division in the vote soe as the greater halfe may not pitch 
directly on one certaine person, yett the j)erson which hath 
the most votes shall be deemed lawfully chosen." It will 
thus be seen that a plurality choice was early adopted in 
this State. It was also provided, that in case of refusal 
to accept office, the vacancy was to be filled by the Gen- 
eral Assembly until the place was supplied. 

The old law requiring each town to furnish itself with 


a cage, or a pair of stocks, wherein to secure offenders, was chap. 
reenacted. ^r^ 

An audit of the accounts of John Clarke sliowed a sum 10 4. 
of three hundred and forty-three pounds to he due to him 
by the colony for his expenses while obtaining the charter, 
one hundred and one of which were to be paid in England, 
and one hundred pounds had been voted as a gratuity the 
previous year. To meet this debt, and the expenses of the 
several boundary commissions recently appointed, a tax of 
six hundred pounds, current money, was laid. Of this 
Providence and Portsmouth were taxed one hundred 
pounds each, Warwick eighty pounds, Petacomscot twenty 
pounds, Conanicut thirty-six pounds. Block Island fifteen 
pounds, and Newport the balance, being two hundred and 
forty-nine pounds. In the collection of this tax wheat was 
valued, in colony currency, at four and sixpence per bushel, 
peas at three and sixpence, and pork at three pounds ten 
shillings per barrel. It was a heavy burden for the im- 
poverished towns, and years elapsed before it was paid. 
Warwick sent a formal protest against the large proportion Dei', 
assessed to her.' More than a year elapsed before Ports- 
mouth levied her proportion, and then she sent a deputa- 
tion to treat with Dr. Clarke on the subject.'^ Providence 
was equally backward in meeting the demand. The 
northern towns complained that they had been at heavy 
charges for the two missions of Roger Williams, and there- 16G4-5 
fore should not bear so large a proportion of those for that 
of Dr. Clarke. The rate remnined uncollected until en- 
forced by a subsequent Assembly. That it should be so, 
and that Mr. Williams also was never fully paid even his 
expenses, attests the poverty of the colonists at this time. 

The arrival of Sir Robert Carr at Newport, where he j.^j^ 
was detained some days by a storm, gave great satisfaction -23. 
to the people of Rhode Island. Whatever fears were felt 

' Printca in R. I. Col. Rec. ii. 78. 

^ See Portsmouth Records, JIarch 1GG5- 



CHAP, by the rest of New England at the coming of these men, 
J;^^ their presence was no source of regret in this jurisdiction. 
1664-5. The protection that a royal commission invariably afforded 
to the oppressed and hated colony, while it embittered the 
animosity of her neighbors, increased the feeling of loyalty 
that a sense of gratitude had inspired, and which was dis- 
played in something more than fulsome or hollow profes- 
27. sions. Leaving Newport Sir Robert spent some days with 
Mr. Willet, at his residence on Narraganset bay, and per- 
suaded him to go to New York, where, it will be remem- 
bered, he became the first Mayor of that city. The letter 
that Carr wrote at this time to Col. Nichols is full of in- 
terest. ^ He had brought to Rhode Island the royal letter, 
and one from Lord Clarendon to the colony, which had 
been given them on their departure from England to be 
delivered in person to this Government. A grateful ac- 
3. knowledgment was made by the Governor to Col. Nichols, 
wherein the conduct of the Narraganset company was ad- 
verted to and protection sought against their proceedings.- 
Complaints were made to Connecticut by the Pawca- 
tuck Indians of the conduct of James Babcock and other 
inhabitants of Westerly in demanding rent, and threaten- 
ing to drive them from their lands. The Council at Hart- 
ford warned the. Ehode Island men to forbear from urging 
10. their claims while the question of jurisdiction remained 
open. A special council was called to appoint a committee 
to attend Gov. Winthrop to Narraganset, there to meet the 
royal commissioners and urge the claim of Connecticut to 
that country under her charter. 
15, Upon the return of the three commissioners from New 

York, leaving Col. Nichols there in command, they pre- 
pared at once to visit the several colonies, and to investi- 
gate the conflicting claims for the soil of Ehode Island. 
Plymouth received their first attention. The General As- 

' Original in S. P. 0. New England, Vol. i. p. 218. 
■^ R. I. Col. Rec. ii. 86-9. 



scmbly lield a special session to prepare for tlicir reception chap. 
at Newport, and appointed a committee" to meet with the s^„„J^ 
commissioners at Seaconck to adjust the boundary with ^^t^' 
Plymouth. All the expenses of the royal commissioners 27. 
were to he borne by the colony. The commissioners could 
not make a definite settlement of the line between Ply- 
mouth and Khode Island. In tlicir report to Lord Arling- 
ton they say that the two colonies could not agree, for that 
Khode Island claimed a strip three miles in breadth east 
of the bay, which Plymouth could not concede without 
great prejudice to her interests, and therefore they had, for 
the present, established the bay as the boundary until his 
Majesty's will could be known. Thence the commission- March 
ers came to Rhode Island, In their instructions they were 
furnished with a series of propositions to present to each 4. 
of the colonies, a copy of which was forthwith given to the 
Governor.- Soon afterwards the commissioners went over 
to Pettaqnamscot to settle the affairs of Narraganset. 
There the submission of the Narraganset sachems was con- 
firmed. The Indians agreed to pay an annual tribute of 20. 
two wolf skins, and not to make war or to sell land with- 
out consent of the authorities appointed over them by the 
crown. ^ The whole country from the bay to Pawcatuck 
river was named Kings Province, and all persons were for- 
bidden to exercise jurisdiction therein without autliority 
from the commissioners. The governor and council of 
llhode Island, fourteen in number, were appointed Magis- 
trates of Kings Province, to hold office until the annual 
election in May. The mortgaged lands held by the Ath- 
erton company, were ordered to be released upon [layment 
of seven hundred and thirty-five fathoms of peage by Pcs- 

' John Clarke, John Samlfonl, John Cranston, Roger Wilhanis and Kau- 
dall Holden, 

- These are printed in K. I. Col. Roc., ii. 110, with the action of the .Vs- 
scnibly thereon. 

=* S. P, 0. New England papers. Vol. i. p. '231. 


CHAP, sicus or Ninecraft to any of the claimants. The purchase 
>,J^_ of the two tracts, actually bought by this company, was 
16 6 5. declared void for lack of consideration in the deed, and be- 
cause the country had previously been surrendered to the 
crown, and the purchasers were ordered to vacate the 
premises within six months, provided the Indians should 
refund the sum of three hundred fathoms of peage, which 
was all they had ever received for the land.* At the ex- 
piration of the time the order to vacate was revoked, and 
the settlers were permitted to remain till his Majesty's will 
was further known. From Pettaquamscot the commis- 
. ., sioners proceeded to Warwick. There the controversy 
4. about the lands of Westerly was decided in unequivocal 
terms, by a decree that no lands conquered from the na- 
tives should be disposed of by any colony unless both the 
cause of the conquest was just and the soil was included 
in the charter of the colony ; and further that no colony 
should attempt to exercise jurisdiction beyond its chartered 
limits. The grants made by Massachusetts " or by that 
usurped authority called the United Colonies," were de- 
clared void, the settlers upon such grants were ordered to 
vacate before the twenty-ninth of September, and not to 
prevent the Pequots from planting during the summer nor 
to interfere with the improvements of the lawful pur- 
chasers.2 Pumham, the subject of Massachusetts, who 
still refused to leave Warwick Neck, although the land 
had been fairly purchased from his superior sachem many 
years before, was ordered by the commissioners to remove 
within a year to some place to be provided for him either 
by Massachusetts or by Pessicus. For this he was to re- 
ceive twenty pounds from Warwick, and if he subjected 
himself to Pessicus, the latter was to receive ten pounds, 
upon furnishing him and his men v;ith a place. The 
money was paid by Warwick, but Pumham refused to ful- 

' This important decree is in Potter's Narroganset R. I. K. C, iii. 179. 
^R. I. Col. Rec, ii. 9!. 


fil liis former contract or to obey the order of the commis- chap. 
sioners, relying, as it ajipears, upon the continued protec- ,^;^J^ 
tion of Massachusetts. ' A further decree was issued making 16 6 5. 
the governor, deputy, and twelve assistants, who might ^^^ 
hold these offices, from time to time, by election in Rhode 
Island, to be likewise magistrates of Kings Province, hav- 
ing the entire control of that territory, and any seven of 
them might constitute a court therein. 

At the May election a great change was made in the M«.v 
list of Assistants, but three of the old set being returned. 
Two additional deputies, elected from Block Island, took 
their seats. A new form of engagement to be taken by 
the officers, and of reciprocal engagement to be given to 
them, by the administering officer, in the name of the State, 
was adopted. The royal commissioners had not only to 
adjust the disputes of a public nature in the colonies, but 
a great number of private matters Avere submitted to their 
decision upon petition of the parties. Such were, for the 
most part, referred by them to the local authorities to de- 
termine, and much of the time of the Assembly at this 
session was occupied in those affairs. Some of them had a 
bearing upon the public interests, involving charges against 
the Assembly itself, as did the cases of Calverley and of 
William Harris, which, for this reason, were referred back 
to the commissioners. William Dyre, the newly chosen 
Solicitor for the colony, having been guilty of a similar im- 
propriety, in a petition to the commissioners, admitted his 
fault, in writing, to the Assembly, and received pardon. 

The five propositions presented by the commissioners 
on their first coming to Rhode Island were placed before 
the Assembly. They are as follows : "It is his Majesty's 
wll and pleasure ; 

" 1. That all householders inhabiting this colony take 
the oath of allegiance, and that the administration of 
justice be in his Majesty's name. 

' K. I. Col. Kcc, ii. iri2. 


" 2. That all men of comjDetent estates and of civil con- 
versation, wlio acknowledge and are obedient to the civil 
magistrate, though of different judgments, may be admit- 
ted to be freemen, and have liberty to choose, and to be 
chosen, officers both military and civil. 

" 3. That all men and women of orthodox opinion, com- 
petent knowledge, and civil lives, who acknowledge and 
are obedient to the civil magistrate, and are not scandalous, 
may be admitted to the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, 
and their children to Baptisme, if they desire it, either by 
admitting them into the congregations already gathered, 
or permitting them to gather themselves into such congre- 
gations where they may enjoy the benefit of the Sacra- 
ments, and that difference in opinion may not break the 
bond of peace and charity. 

" 4. That all laws and expressions in laws derogatory to 
his Majesty, if any such have been made in these late and 
troublesome times, may be repealed, altered and taken off 
the files, 

" 5. That the colony be put into such a posture of de- 
fence that if there should be any invasion upon this island, 
or elsewhere in this colony (which God forbid) you might 
in some measure be in readiness to defend yourselves, or if 
need be, to relieve your neighbors according to the power 
given you by the King in your charter, and to us in the 
King's commission and instructions." 

Upon these proposals the Assembly took immediate 
action. For the oath required in the first, they plead the 
scruples of many in the colony against that particular 
form, but prepared " an engagement " of similar purport, 
and which, so far as concerned its binding force, was to the 
same effect. This was to be administered to all the free- 
men at their next town meetings, whoever refused to take 
it was to be disfranchised, and no one could be admitted 
a freeman without first taking it. The second proposal 
was accepted, and the mode of application for those who 


desired to be made freemen was prescribed. The third chap. 
met with the cordial concurrence of tlie Assembly. It was ^,1^ 
in unison with the spirit of the colony, and with the terms 16C5. 
of the charter. In embodying it in the instructions of the 
commissioners, for the good of all the American colonies, 
Charles II. exhausted the force of his famous jaromise con- 
tained in the Declaration of Breda. The toleration thus 
extended to the remote dependencies was denied to those 
to whom it had first been pledged. The hearty accept- 
ance by the Assembly of this recommendation contrasts 
with the qualified assent given to it by Plymouth, the 
most liberal of the other colonies, where payment for the 
support of the settled ministers was insisted upon, in their 
reply, to be made by all " until they have one of their own." 
The essence of an established church, the compulsory sup- 
port of its clergy, was thus maintained even in the liberal 
colony of the Pilgrims, Connecticut assented to the same 
proposition on condition that the maintenance of the 
public minister was not hindered.' Upon the fourth pro- 
posal the Assembly declared that aU acts of the nature re- 
ferred to were repealed when the King was proclaimed, 
and a further revision of the laws was ordered for that spe- 
cific purpose. It was probably owing to this step that 
the leaf of the Warwick records was afterwards torn out by 
order of the town.'- 

In obedience to the last command, to place the colony 
in a posture of defence, the Assembly jiassed a militia law 
requiring six trainings a year, under a heavy penalty, and 
allowing nine shillings a year for the pay of each enlisted 

' S. p. 0. New England, v. i. p. 248-r)8. 

" The inscription records the contents and is as follows : " This leafe was 
torn out by order of y" towno the 29th of June, 1007, it being y ' submition 
to y' Stat of England without y*" King Majesty, it being y 13th page." Yet 
a former entry to the same effect as the one here destroyed seems to have es- 
caped the observation of the clerk, and remains to this day on the ancient 
records of the town as passed March 8th, 1052-3. The Providence records 
were not mutilated, and the entry remains in the same words as that of War- 


soldier. Every man was required to keep on hand two 
pounds of powder, and four of lead. Each town was obliged 
to maintain a public magazine for its own defence, for 
which Newport was taxed fifty pounds and the other three 
towns each twenty pounds. 

Coddington, who with Easton and others had become 
Quakers, had sent a paper to the commissioners in March, 
of what nature we are unable to say, to which an answer 
was made immediately and communicated to the gov- 
ernor, to be presented to the Quakers in presence of the 
Assembly. This was done, and at the same time a copy 
15. of the five propositions was served upon them to consider 
and obey. 

The action of the General Assembly, in private cases, 
was not limited in these early times, to legislative meas- 
ures. Indeed the Court of trials was made up from its 
members, and the whole body often exercised strictly ju- 
dicial powers upon petition of individuals. Not only 
were divorces granted and a separate maintenance award- 
ed to the wife, but the whole property of the husband 
was attached and held by the Assembly, until the pro- 
visions of the decree had been satisfied. In the case of 
John Porter, at this session, they went even further, and 
annulled all transfers of projjerty, that had been made by 
him since the separation from his wife, which had not al- 
ready been recorded. Upon his settling a satisfactory 
estate upon the wife these disabilities were removed. 

Criminal causes were likewise tried, upon petition, by 
the Assembly. Peter Tollman applied for a divorce from 
his wife on the ground of adultery. The woman, being 
brought before the Assembly, admitted the charge. The 
petition was granted at once, and then the criminal, upon 
her own confession, was arraigned for sentence. The pen- 
alty was a fine and whipping, and she was accordingly 
sentenced, by the terms of the law, to pay the fine of ten 
pounds, and to receive fifteen stripes at Portsmouth on 


the ensuing Monday, and on the following week another chap. 
fifteen stripes at Newport, and to be imprisoned until the ^^ 
sentence was fulfilled. Upon her petition for mercy the 16G5. 
Court again examined her as to whether she intended 
to return to her husband. This she refused to do upon 
any terms. Her petition was denied, and she was re- 
manded for punishment. ' 

The wide distinction recognized in our day between 
the three branches of government was not so early under- 
stood. Under the first patent the President and Assistants 
were executive officers, and had no share in legislation in 
virtue of their position. By the royal charter the governor 
and council became ex-oflficio legislators in common with 
the deputies, and all alike exercised judicial powers. At 
this time they sat together as one House of Assembly, and 
although a movement was made the next year to alter 
this system, it was stiU thirty years before the two bodies 
were fully recognized as separate and co-ordinate branches 
of the legislature, and more than eighty years before judi- 
cial powers ceased to be exercised by them, upon the 
establishment of a supreme court of judicature. 

The necessity of a harbor at Block Island was so ap- 
parent to the first settlers, that they took the earliest oc- 
casion afforded by the presence of their deputies in the 
General Assembly, to petition for a committee of inquiry 
upon the subject ; and so important was it, in the opinion 
of the Assembly, that the governor, deputy governor, and 
John Clarke, were appointed to visit the island to see if 
a harbor could be made there, and wliat encouragement 
could thus be given to the fisheries. This was the first 
movement in a matter that has ever since occupied, at 

' She escaped from prison aiul was gone two years. Upon her return to 
the colony in May 1667, she was arrested and petitioned the Court for miti- 
gation of sentence. The fine and one-half of the corporal pnnishnient was 
remitted, and the remainder, fifteen stripes to be inflicted at Newport, was ex- 

VOL. I. 21 


CHAP, various times, the public attention, and whicli has re- 
^^- cently assumed its proper form as a national measure, 

16 6 5. more important to American commerce than to the hardy 

^ ^^" islanders themselves. 

The Warwick men had presented to the commissioners, 
upon their first coming to Ehode Island, a petition set- 
ting forth the grievances they had suffered from Massachu- 
setts, and asking redress. They had in vain sought jus- 
tice from their oppressors, by letters and remonstrance, 
before appealing to the king,' and had once voluntarily 
informed the United Colonies of their intention to appeal, 
so that they might prepare their answer to the crown. ^ 
Attention to their case was within the scope of the royal 
commission. It was presented in proper season, and laid 
before the authorities of Massachusetts for them to answer. 
This they did at the session of the General Court, in a 
30. very lengthy, abusive, and rambling document, made up 
of theological discussion, personal invective, and positive 
misstatements, wherein they profess "to compare the 
petition, first, with its authors, second, with their princi- 
ples, and third, with the whole transaction," and which 
they style " an apologetical reply." ^ 

The commission itself was very distasteful to Massa- 
chusetts. They regarded it, justly, as an interference 
by the crown with their self-assumed prerogative to con- 
trol New England, and they dreaded that any such power 
should come among them. The proceedings of the com- 
missioners were bitterly denounced by the General Court. 
Among the alleged wrongs committed by them, " the 
great countenance given to the Ehode Islanders," and 
their " calling, in their public declarations, the United 
Colonies ' that usurped authority,' " occupy a conspicuous 

' One of these letters dated August 22d, 1661, is printed in E. I. H. C, 
ii. 224-31. 

^ Sept. 1, 1651. R. I. H. C, ii. 217-19. 

^ Tlie petition and answer are given in full in M. C. R., vol. iv. Part ii. 
p. 253-65, and in R. I. H. C, ii. 231-45. 


place. The temper of the Court may be gathered from a chap. 
letter to the author of the petition, by one of the com- ..J^ 
missioners, while the subject was under discussion in that 16 65. 
body.' The controversy was again transferred to Eng- ^^' 
land. The General Court, fearing the effect of such a 
report as the commissioners must necessarily make, j^^„_ 
adopted an address to the King, sufficiently humble in its 1- 
terms, but peevish in its spirit, complaining that the 
commissioners had violated the royal instructions by frus- 
trating the objects for which they were sent. Deprecat- 
ing the misrepresentations that these commissioners 
would probably make with regard to Massachusetts, the 
address vaunts the superiority of its authors by denounc- 
ing most of those who complain against them, " as In- 
dians, Quakers, libertines and malefactors." It concludes 
with a display of piety and loyalty as repulsive, in this 
connection, as it was unfounded. ^ 

Most of the towns being still in arrears for the debt Oct. 
due to John Clarke, the General Assembly renewed the -^• 
order to collect the tax, and notified the delinquent towns 
to that effect. 

The commissioners, havino; completed their examina- ^*^'^- 
^ ^ 14. 

tion of all the New England colonies, seven in number, sent 

home a long report, giving a sketch of the history and ac- 
tual condition of each one. That concerning Massachu- 
setts is the longest and expresses the most dissatisfaction. 
It was the last colony visited, as the commissioners vainly 
hoped that the condescension of the other colonies might 

' " Mr. Gorton. These gentlemen of Boston -would make us believe that 
they verily think that the King has given them so much power in their char- 
ter to do unjustly, that he reserved none for himself, to call them to an ac- 
count for doing so. In short they refuse to let us hear complaints against 
them, so that, at present, we can do nothing in j'our behalf. But I hope 
shortly to go for England, where, if God bless mo thither, I shall truly rep- 
resent your sufferings and your loyalty. Your assured friend, George Cart- 
wright. Boston, 2Gth Jlay, 1GG5." R. I. II. C, ii. 246. The goveniment 
copy is in British S. P. 0. New England papers, vol. iii. p. 3. 

^ M. G. K., vol. iv. Part ii. p. 27-4-5. 


CHAP, tend to dimimsb. the refractory spirit there shown ; but 
.J^^ they could not obtain a hearing even upon some cases 
16 65. specified in the royal letter, to be determined by them.' 
The substance of the report on Ehode Island may be 
gathered from what has before been written. Of the 
Narraganset Bay, it says, "it is the largest and safest 
port in New England, nearest the sea, and fittest for 
trade." A very remarkable point in this report is the al- 
lusion to what is probably the earliest known temperance 
petition, that of Pessicus, Sachem of the Narragansets, 
desiring " the commissioners to pray King Charles that 
no strong liquors might be brought into that country, for 
he had thirty- two men that dyed by drinking of it." This 
and all the other original papers referred to, were un- 
fortunately lost, the ship in which Col. Cartwright sailed 
for England having been captured by the Dutch, 

Although the labors of the commissioners were now 
apparently ended, some of their decrees remained un- 
noticed, and required further attention. Pumham still 
lingered in the sylvan retreat of Warwick Neck. Sir 
Robert Carr held a conference with Cheesechamut, son 
28. of the old Sachem, at Smith's trading house, that resulted 
in an agreement to remove at once beyond the bounds of 
Kings Province, upon receiving the ten pounds that Pes- 
sicus was to have, and ten pounds more from the people of 
1665-6. Warwick. He acknowledged receipt of thirty pounds^ be- 
Jau. -j^g ^gj^ pounds more than was formerly promised, and sis 
days later the additional ten pounds was paid into the 
9. hands of Pumham. John Eliot, the Indian apostle, im- 
mediately wrote to Sir Eobert Carr, interceding in behalf 
of Pumham, but without efi'ect. Sir Robert, after waiting 
24.' nearly a month, sent a peremptory order for the Indians to 
move within one week, and also replied to Eliot, rather 
sharply, for what he justly considered an ill-timed although 

' The entire report is iu S. P. 0. New England, vol. i. p. 248-58. The 
Pteport on Rhode Island is in R. I. Col. Rec, ii. 127-9. 



well intended, interference on the part of the missionary, chap. 

for whose satisfaction he graciously forwarded copies of the v^^ 

transactions in regard to Pumham. Ro";er Williams also 166 6. 

. March 

wrote to Carr upon the same subject, giving the history i_ 

of the dispute, and wisely advising him that force could 
effect nothing permanent against Pumham, until the 
commissioners had first reduced Massachusetts to obedi- 
ence to his majesty, because these Indians were sustained 
by Massachusetts in their resistance. He concludes by 
suggesting that they be allowed to remain until harvest, 
that thus, through his mediation, a peaceable adjustment 
may be reached. Sir Robert sent for Mr. Williams, and, 
satisfying him of the proceedings, obtained his active as- 
sistance in the immediate removal of Pumham. Thus 
this " old ulcerous business " was finally concluded, to the 
great relief of the people of the colony, who, for more than 
twenty years, had been harassed by the intrigues of their 
neighbors with these turbulent natives.' 

The delay of the towns, in paying Dr. Clarke, called 
forth a severe letter from Roger Williams, addressed to 
Warwick, as the greatest delinquent, which gave deep of- 
fence. It was received on a training day, and was read at .,g 
the head of the company ; not an unusual mode of publi- 
cation in those times, for even the banns of marriage were 
by law proclaimed in the same manner. The action of 
the town is worthy of note. It was at once emphatic, and 
under the circumstances, feeling as they did insulted by 
the tenor of the missive, it Avas perhaps the most digni- 
fied course they could adopt. They " voted that the said 
letter is a pernicious letter, tending to stir up strife in the 
town, and that the town clerk record this vote and send a 
copy of it to Mr. Williams, as the town's answer to the 

' The orders and letters here referred to, relating to Pumham, are printed 
in R. I. Col. Rcc, ii. 132-8. The diligence of Secretary Bartlett in collect- 
ing the documents that go to make up a continuous history of the State, and 
inserting them between the bare records of the Assembly's proceedings, is 
worthy of all commendation. 




CHAP, said letter, no man dissenting." It should be remembered 
sj^^ that Warwick had, at the time, protested against her 
16 6 6. proportion of the tax, giving some cogent reasons for her 
dissent ; and it is probable that Williams's letter was not 
so mild in its language as so delicate a subject required. 
But that the colony agreed with his view of the case ap- 
pears from the action of the Assembly that met the next 
day. The Warwick protest was considered, and it was 
ordered " that a letter shall be sent to them from the 
Court to provocke and stirr them up to pay the rate 
29. spedilye," and a similar letter was prepared to be sent to 

The form of the engagements to be taken by freemen 
and officers was a frequent matter of legislation. So great 
was the variety of opinion, and the latitude given to ten- 
der consciences in the colony, that it was a work of time 
to devise some form of words that should not be objection- 
able to any. Verbal alterations and slight modifications 
were made at different sessions, some of which, in our less 
scrupulous times, appear puerile. At this session a com- 
mittee consisting of the Governor and Nicolas Easton, the 
latter being a Quaker, reported upon the subject of the 
freemen's engagement, recommending either the form al- 
ready prescribed by the Assembly, or the oath of allegiance 
as required in England, or if objections to either of these 
forms existed, the party might adopt any equivalent words 
satisfactory to the Court. ^ 

An important subject brought to the notice of previous 

' The officers' engagement was adopted May 1664, altered May 1665, 
amended May 1667. See R. I. Col. Rec, ii. 57, 97, 187. That for the free- 
men was adopted May 1665, modified March 1666, pp. 112, 141-2, and gave 
rise to the slander circulated by Brinley in 1 M. H. C, v. 219, and transmit- 
ted by Holmes, Annals, 1, 341, that the Quakers were outlawed by Rhode 
Island in 1665. This has been sufficiently refuted by Judge Eddy in 2 M. H. 
C, vii. 97; by Knowles' Memoir of Roger Williams, 324, and cursorily by 
Bancroft U. S., ii. 67. In fact at that time there were two Quakers, if not 
more, members of the Assembly, and one of them was the next year, 1666, 
chosen Deputy Governor. 


Assemblies by petition from Warwick and Portsmoutb/ chap. 
was now acted upon. This was that the deputies miglit >^_^ 
sit apart from the magistrates as a separate House, thus 1 6 6 G 
creating two Houses of Assembly, w^ith equal powers, acting 
as a check upon each other. The rule was adopted, to 
take effect in May, when the details of the change were to 
be settled. This act was soon afterwards repealed, and the 
measure was not adopted till thirty years later. The April 
King having received from the commissioners an account 
of their proceedings in New England, wrote to the colony, 
expressing his approbation of its conduct, and promising 
his continued favor and protection." 

At the general election Governor Arnold retired from 
office. He had served for three years, since the adoption ^^f^ 
of the new charter, and had been for four years president 
of the colony under the first patent. William Brenton, 
who had been deputy governor for the past three years, 
was chosen governor, and Nicolas Easton was elected to 
fill that place. The same general officers were re-elected 
except Torrey, general recorder, who gave place to John 
Sandford, but there was a great change in the list of As- 
sistants, only three of the former ones being retained. It 
was the practice to admit as freemen those whose names 
were sent in for that purpose by the clerks of the respec- 
tive towns, as well as those who personally ajipeared before 
the Assembly, being duly qualified. A largo number were 
thus admitted from all the towns at the opening of this 
session. It was also allowed to the former Assistants, by 
law, to sit as deputies in the General Assembly, in the ab- 
sence of a full delegation, a contingency which now actually 
occurred, so that several of the old Assistants were sent for 
to aid the Court. William Blackstonc petitioned for re- 
lief from molestation by Plymouth in regard to his lands. 

' See Warwick Record?, Oct. 8, 1G64, and Portsmouth Records Feb. 21, 

= The letter is in R. I. Col. Rcc, ii. 149. 


The petition was recorded, and answer returned tliat, if his 
land proved to he within this jurisdiction, justice should 
be secured to him. The Assembly, or Court as it was 
commonly termed, could not proceed to legislation owing 
to the absence of deputies, and after waiting two days for 
4_ their appearance, adjourned till June, but for some cause 
no session was held till September. At that time, the 
Sept. capture of Col. Cartwright by the Dutch, with the loss of 
all his papers, having been known, a new address to the 
King, and letters to Lord Clarendon were ordered. Maps 
of Plymouth, Connecticut and Ehode Island were prepared 
to accompany this address, in order to show their respec- 
tive boundaries, which it was prayed might be confirmed ac- 
cording to the charter. The letter to Lord Clarendon ex- 
presses regret that no adequate return can be made by 
the colony for the many favors he has conferred upon it, 
but states that the colony had designed to set apart a 
tract of one thousand acres, suitable for a farm, and to beg 
his acceptance thereof The present wants of the colony, 
for which they petition, are, that Narraganset bay should 
be fortified, that such commercial privileges be extended 
as may develope the resources of the place, and that a 
portion of the fund for propagating the gospel among the 
Indians may be applied to establish a school for the Nar- 
ragansets. Enclosed in this letter was a paper setting 
forth seven reasons why the Kings Province should remain 
a part of Ehode Island, and another paper presenting also 
seven arguments why the eastern line of the colony should 
be made to conform to the terms of the charter. 

The difficulty experienced of late, owing to the non- 
attendance of deputies, who hitherto had served without 
pay, caused the passage of an act to pay all the members 
of Assembly, and of the Courts, three shillings a day, while 
employed on these duties. The per diem of the Assembly- 
men was not paid in cash, but their accounts, certified by 
the Moderator, were to be allowed in offset of taxes levied 


in their respective towns. The Court fees were paid in ciiai'. 

cash, upon orders, signed by the governor, to the public ,J^ 
treasurer. In case of absence a fine of six shillings a day 16 6 6. 
was imposed. If the general sergeant, or any town, failed 
to give due attention to the summons of the governor 
calling an Assembly or a Court of Trials, a fine of five 
pounds was imposed upon the delinquent party. To hold 
a colony court of trial, the presence of the governor, or his 
deputy, and of four Assistants was required, and should 
that number not be present, every absentee was subjected 
to a similar fine of five pounds. Whoever should attempt 
to vote at any election, not being a freeman of the colony, 
was to pay a fine of five pounds, or to be otherwise punish- 
ed as the General Assembly might see fit ; and no one 
was to be admitted a freeman upon election day. 

The delay in paying the debt due to Dr. Clarke was 
likely to involve him in serious trouble. His house was 
mortgaged to Kichard Dean for one hundred and forty 
pounds, advanced some years before in London, on account 
of the colony. The time for payment had long passed, and 
a foreclosure was threatened. The Assembly now assumed 
the debt. A special committee of eleven men was ap- 
pointed, with extraordinary powers, to collect the arrears 
of the six hundred pound tax levied for this object two 
years before. The town sergeant and constables of every 
town and village were placed at the disposal of the com- 
mittee, at whose order they were to assemble the people, 
and to levy by distraint, if required to do so. William 
Harris was placed at the head of this committee, who, with 
any other four of the number, were to act at their discre- 
tion and to report, the ensuing month, to the Assembly. 
They were unable fully to accomplish the object in so short 
a time, and were continued at the next session ; and, be- 
cause of the difficulty of obtaining exchange on England, 
they were empowered to send an adventure to Barbailoes, 
or elsewhere, at the risk of the delinquent parties. Power 




CHAP, was also given tliem to collect arrears due upon other rates 
J:^!^ laid by the colony, prior to the one for Dr. Clarke. 
16 6 6. John Clarke was appointed to make a digest of the 
laws, " leaving out what may he superfluous, and adding 
what may appear unto him necessary," and a committee 
of three was named, to examine the work when done, and 
to report at a future Assembly. 

The next year there were very few changes made at 
l'' the general election. Charges were brought against Wil- 
liam Harris, one of the Assistants from Providence, for ex- 
ceeding his powers as an officer. The specific allegations 
are not given. The engagement was administered to him 
notwithstanding a motion for delay. This caused a pro- 
test to be entered upon the records by those who thought 
that the charges should be examined before he was quali- 
fied as a magistrate. 

England was now at war with France and Holland. 
Symptoms of disaffection on the part of the Indians were 
manifested. Invasion on one hand and treachery on the 
other threatened the feeble colony. Prompt measures 
were taken for defence. In each town a council of war 
was organized, consisting of the town council with the cap- 
tain and lieutenant of the train band. These were re- 
quired to provide ammunition to the value of fifty pounds 
for Newport and of twenty pounds for every other town. 
Commissions were issued by the Assembly to the military 
officers, who were required to be freemen of the colony. 
Cannon were mounted at Newport, and cavalry corps were 
formed in all the towns. The governor and council held 
frequent meetings between the sessions of. Assembly. 
Their acts were equally binding with those of the latter 
body. The council empowered any magistrate to require 
assistance in case of need, and to impress men or appro- 
priate property to the public service, being responsible only 
to the General Council. The Indians upon the island were 
disarmed, and the mainland towns were advised to adopt 



the same measure. A few days later all male Indians, ciiap. 
over sixteen years of age, were sent oif the island, and no .^^,,1^ 
Englishman, above that age, was permitted to leave with- 1^6 7. 
out a passport, or to go on board of any vessel that might lo. 
approach the island, until her captain had reported him- 
self to the chief magistrate of the town. All ammunition ^■^• 
in private hands was required to be given up for the pub- 
lic use. A committee was appointed to examine and re- 
pair all arms belonging to the citizens. A special tax of 
one hundred and fifty pounds was levied in Newport for 
defence. Letters having been received from Plymouth 
concerning a suspected conspiracy by King Philip, a com- 
mittee was appointed to treat with the Narraganset Sa- 21. 
chems on the subject, and a letter was sent to them re- 
quiring their presence on a certain day at Warwick. The 
Assembly confirmed the acts of the council, and established 
a series of beacons, where signal fires should be lighted in 
case of attack, to spread the alarm without delay over all 
the colony. The principal beacon was on Wonemyton- 
omi hill, whence the alarm could be spread along the whole 
coast by bale-fires on the rocks at Sachuest, at Pettaquam- 
scot, and on Watch hill, and northward on Windmill hill, 
the highest point of the island, and thence to Mooshausuck, 
now Prospect hill, in Providence ; and a general system 
of defence was adopted for all the islands and exposed set- 
tlements in the colony and in Kings Province. These 
were the ])reliminary steps taken in view of a crisis which 
proved to be still quite remote. 

Internal dissensions supplied the excitement that hos- june 
tile demonstrations failed to bring. At the annual town "•• 
meeting in Providence two sets of town oflicers were elected, 
and two sets of delegates chosen to the Assembly, at two 
separate meetings called by the Assistants resident in the 
town, at the same time and place ; one by Arthur Fonneij 
the other by William Harris in concert with William Car- 
penter, another Assistant. It was the duty of one of the 


CHAP. Assistants to call town meetings, but of wliicli one, in this 
.^i^:^ case, does not appear, nor is it known why two calls were 
16 6 7. issued ; but it is supposed to be owing to a sharp contro- 
versy then existing upon local questions relating to the 
town limits. The result was unfortunate in creating a 
bitter feeling that it required many years to assuage, A 
narrative of the affair, entitled " The Firebrand Discov- 
ered " was drawn up, by vote of the town, and sent to the 
other three towns. This presents the view of the Fenner 
faction. The other side entered a complaint to the Gov- 
ernor against Fenner, which led to a special session of the 
July Assembly at which both sets of deputies appeared. The 
2. seats were awarded to the Fenner party. The complaint 
of Harris against Fenner, charging the latter with " acting 
in a route " upon town meeting day, was then examined, 
and Fenner with his deputies were acquitted. The town 
officers elected by the Fenner meeting were pronounced 
to be the legally chosen officers for the year. A letter 
was sent to Providence stating the action of the Assembly 
with the reasons thereof. Harris having upon insufficient 
grounds caused this session to be held, expressly for the 
trial of Fenner, was fined fifty pounds, and for other more 
serious reasons was expelled from the office of Assistant, 
two of his colleagues protesting, and another was chosen 
in his ]3lace. The fine was remitted the next year by 
advice of Col, Nichols, governor of New York, to whom 
Harris had complained. To prevent similar vexatious 
suits in future, an act was passed that no Assistant should 
indict any person, for matters pertaining to another's in- 
terest, without the sworn evidence of two witnesses under 
the hand of another Assistant, whose names should be en- 
dorsed on the bill of indictment. 

The first troop of horse organized in Ehode Island re- 
m ' ported for duty at Newport in August, and was commis- 
sioned by the governor and council. It numbered twenty- 


one men well mounted and equipped.' The Assembly con- chap. 

tinned to the towns, tiU further notice, the full military :___ 

powers before conferred on them. The strife about the •^!^^^- 
Narraganset country still continued. The mode in which 30/ 
Rhode Island had run her western line, beyond the Paw- 
catuck river, caused great dissatisfaction, and many depo- 
sitions on that subject were given by the people of South- 
ertown, or Stonington as it was now called.'- Hermon Gar- 
ret, the English name of Wequashcooke, who had been 
made chief of the Pequots by the United Colonies, renewed 
the complaints formerly made by the Indians against the 
Westerly settlers, who had driven them across the river, 
and sought relief from Connecticut. The deputies from 
Stonington also complained of intrusions on the west side 
of the river, committed by John Crandall, who had laid 
out a mile square of land for his son within the limits of 
their town.^ These acts on the part of Rhode Island were 
unjustifiable. They proceeded no doubt from a spirit of 
retaliation in the minds of those who had formerly suifercd 
so much from the men of Southertown. The Assembly at 
Hartford ordered notice of these encroachments to be given lo. 
to Rhode Island with a request that they be discontinued, 
and should this not suffice then the constable was required 
to arrest the intruders. A letter to this eftect was sent to 17. 
Governor Brenton. 

Massachusetts, although her claims had been super- 
seded by those of Connecticut, and her right to interfere, 
even with the Indians had been denied by the royal com- 
missioners, embraced an opportunity presented by the 

' Their names, from the CouiicLl records, are giveu in R. I. Coi. Rec, ii. 

- Southertown was incorporated by Massachusetts Oct. 19th, 16r)8. Tbo 
name was changed to Mistick by the Connecticut Assembly Oct. I2th, 1G65, 
and then to Stonington, and bounded by the Pawcatuck river, Jlay 10th, 
1G{J6. Conn. Col. Rec, ii. 20, 36. 

■' Garret's petition was dated May Gtli, that of the deputies was presented 
Oct. 10th. Conn. Col. Rec, ii. 80. 


Nipmucks, who acknowledged her supremacy, to impose 
terms on the Narragansets. The Nipmucks petitioned 
for redress for spoliations committed hj the Narragansets. 
The Greneral Court took up the matter, as of right, and 
settled the difficulty. It was a measure of peace and 
therefore commendable, but it does not admit of rigid 
scrutiny into the claim of jurisdiction over the Nipmuck 
country upon which the interference was based.' A corres- 
pondence was carried on between various parties in Ehode 
^'^^- Island, and Col. Nichols, Governor of New York, as the 
heacd of the late royal commission. His replies were made 
in a private capacity, his power as a commissioner having, 
in his opinion, ceased. 
16 68. An urgent petition was presented by the town of 

4 Stonington to the Assembly at Hartford for protection 
against Rhode Island,^ and on the same day the people of 
Wickford also petitioned to be again received under the 
jurisdiction of Connecticut. 

g The general election made but httle change in the of- 

ficers, and is only remarkable for the triumph of the Har- 
ris party ; William Harris, notwithstanding his expulsion, 
being again chosen an Assistant, and the other two As- 
sistants from Providence being of his faction, while Fenner 
himself was dropped. This is the more singular as there 
is evidence that Harris at this time had, or was about to, 
become the agent of Connecticut in prosecuting her claim 
against Rhode Island. A very long document from his 
pen is preserved in the archives of Connecticut, arguing 
against the Assembly's apportionment of the taxes for the 
payment of Dr. Clarke, on the supposed ground of the 
rightful jurisdiction of Connecticut in the Narraganset 
country. 3 But the governor refused to administer the 
engagement until Harris should clear himself from an in- 

^ M. C. E., vol. iv. Part ii. p. 357-9. 
"" Conn. Col. Rec, ii. 530. 

= This was filed Oct. 1666. A copy is in R. I. Hist. Soc, MSS. vol. of 
Conn, papers, p. 49-67. 




clictment brought against him for charging the Court of chap. 
Trials with injustice. The deputy Governor was less ■ — ^^ 
scrupulous ; by him Harris was duly qualified, and a cer- ^^^ ^• 
tificatc sent as usual to the towns. The town of Warwick 13. 
protested against this act as being irregular, and refused 
to acknowledge him as a legal officer.' The town of Prov- 
idence sent a bitter remonstrance to the Governor and 
council against the election of Harris and his colleagues, 
but no notice was taken of it.'' 

Connecticut appointed agents to treat with Rhode 
Island upon the foregoing complaints, who were instruct- 
ed to require the withdrawal of intruders, to assert the 
jurisdiction of Connecticut according to her charter, and 
to demand a written reply. These propositions were sub- 
mitted to the council at Newport, who replied to Gov- 
ernor "Winthrop, referring to the decision of the Royal 
Commissioners, and to the Pawcatuck River clause in 2o7 
the charter, but saying that if any violations of those 
terms had been committed, justice would be rendered 
upon due course of law. 

Massachusetts again interfered in the affairs of Narra- g^pt. 
ganset, by sending messengers to request the sachems to *. 
appear at the General Court to answer complaints made 
against them, by the Narraganset purchasers. The Wick- _ 
ford men renewed their petition of May, to have the gov- s. 
ernment of Connecticut extended over them. The Hartford 
assembly desired advice from Col. Nichols on this matter. 
They also notified Rhode Island to send commissioners to 
meet a committee appointed by them to adjust differ- 
ences at New London.^ This notice was not received tiU 
after the Assembly had adjourned, and hence could not be 
acted upon before the next spring. The Wickford peti- 

• See Warwick records, June 1, 1G68. 

^ It is dated 31st August, 1668, and is found in Staples' Annals, 1 17-50. 
=■ Conn. Col. Rec, ii. 102, 103, 532— also R. I. Col. Rec, ii. 225-;!0, 
whore most of the foregoing papers arc printed. 


CHAP, tion was referred to England, and Mr. Willys, and Robert 
^^^ Thompson of London, were appointed to present tlie sub- 
16 68. ject for tbe decision of his Majesty, but nothing decisive 
^ ■ was effected. 

29_ The G-eneral Assembly remitted the fine of fifty 

pounds imposed upon William Harris the previous year. 
Upon William Blacks tone's petition, John Clarke was re- 
quested to write to Plymouth, warning that colony not to 
molest him in the quiet possession of his lands. A large 
number of freemen were admitted. The Assembly ad- 
journed until March, to give place to the Court of Trials. 
1668-9. Up to this time, it was usual for any party who was 

jj'' indicted to plead his own cause before the courts, but as 
this required more wisdom, or knowledge of the law, than 
every man possessed, the Assembly now enacted that any 
person who was indicted might employ an attorney to 
plead in his behalf, and further, that a pending indict- 
ment should not prevent any general officer, fairly elected, 
from holding his ofiSoe ; but that he should nevertheless 
be subject to trial. Tliis statute seems to be intended to 
meet the objections brought against Wilham Harris by 
the town of Warwick. A sharp controversy existed be- 
tween that town and the Assistants of Newport, who sus- 
tained Harris in the vigorous measures he had adopted, 
as chief of the committee for collecting the famous tax of 
25. six hundred pounds, levied in 1664, At a town meeting, 
held to hear a letter from the Newport Assistants on this 
subject, action was taken that deserves a place among the 
curiosities of legislation. ^ 

' "Voted: Upon the reading of a letter directed to 'Mr. Edmund Calver- 
ley and JIi-. John Greene and the rest of that faction,' &c., desiring to be 
communicated to the honest inhabitants of Warwick town, subscribed John 
Cranston, to the end of the chapter, dated the 20th January, 1668, and find- 
ing the same doth not answer the town's letter to that part of the committee, 
&c., who reside at Newport, touching the rate ; but is full of uncivil lan- 
guage, as if it had been indicted in hell ; Therefore the town unanimously do 
condemn the same, and thinli it not fit to be put amongst the records of the 


The General Assembly met on Tuesdaj^, a recent cHAr. 
law requiring them to meet the clay before election, that ^^i^ 
a full attendance might prevent delay in the choice of 1 G 6 0. 
officers. Benedict Arnold was again made governor, and 5^ 
John Clarke was chosen deputy governor. There was 
but little change among the other general officers. The 
Harris party again prevailed in the choice of the three 

Assistants from Providence ; William Hams himself be- 

ing, as before, one of the number. On Saturday they ad- 
journed for the Court of Trials, and met again the fol- 
lowing Friday, when the letter from Connecticut of the 1.4. 
previous October, was read, and a reply was sent, apologiz- 
ing for the delay, and accepting the proposal to send com- 
missioners to New London. The letter was forwarded by 
a special messenger, whose expenses, as also Avere those 
of the committee named in the letter, were paid by volun- 
tary contribution on the spot. The sums thus raised 
were to bo deducted from the amount of the next tax. 
Misqnamicut, as it had heretofore been called, was now 
incorporated as the fifth town in the colony, and named 
Westerly. Two deputies were allowed to it, and the 

town, but do ortler that the clarko put it ou a file where impertinent papers 
.shall be kept for the future ; to the end that tliose persons who have not 
learned in the school of good manners how to speak to men in the language 
of sobriety (if they be sought for) may be there found." Warwick records, 
March 25th, 1669, (New Year's day, 0. S.) We doubt if the idea of an "im- 
pertinent file " ever entered the minds of any other people, or if anywhere 
else in the arrangement of State Papers, so expressive, yet so conveuieat, a 
classification was ever employed. We have already referred to one document, 
" the pernitious letter " of Roger Williams, which probably served as the foun- 
dation stone for this remarkable structure. The notion of keeping a sepa- 
rate file for disagreeable communications was not started till this second let- 
ter, "indicted in hell," w^as received. This was not the last of the kind, as 
we shall presently see, and the character of the documents consigned to this 
significant receptacle, seems to have grown worse and worse as the collection 
increased. It is much to be regretted that the " impertinent file," or as it 
was afterwards t(>rmed more energetically, the " damned file," has disappeared, 
witli many other of the records of this ancient town, for it would no doubt 
furnish materials that would amply justify the votes of the townsmen. 
VOL. 1—22 


usual courts for the trial of small causes, were tliere or- 
ganized. John Clarke was desired to write to Providence 
to persuade the people to settle the quarrels there ex- 
isting. At the same time a measure was adopted that 
produced a contrary effect in Warwick. Execution was 
granted to William Harris against Edmund Calverly, and 
John Harrod of Warwick, unless the litigants should at 
once come to a mutual agreement, in the case of a land 
dispute of long standing between them, upon which Har- 
ris had recovered judgment in the courts. Against this 
act, John Greene, Assistant, and the deputies from War- 
wick, of whom Calverley himself was one, protested, and 
desired to have their protest entered, but were refused, al- 
though the fee was tendered for that purpose to the re- 
corder. The town took up the matter in public meeting, 
refused to assist in serving the execution, and entered the 
protest upon their records in full, with the grounds of 
their action.' 
2j^ The council appointed six additional justices of the 

peace in Kings Province, one of whom was Eichard 
Smith, the earhest settler in Narraganset, and who had 
formerly given so much trouble in connection with the 
Atherton Company. In the commissions issued to these 
justices, the bounds of Kings Province are accurately de- 
fined. They embraced all of the present State west of the 
bay, south of the latitude of Warwick, being the south 
half of Kent and the whole of Washington counties. 
Monthly meetings of the council were established, but 
the posture of affairs caused them to be held much oftener 
July at this time. Governor Lovelace, who had succeeded 
Col. Nichols at New York, wrote to Rhode Island con- 
cerning a plot against the English, supposed to be form- 
ing between the Long Island Indians and Ninecraft, sa- 
chem of the Narragansets. The governor and council of 
Connecticut also wrote on the same subject. The coun- 

' See Warwick records, June 7tli, 16G9. 



cil met at once, and sent some discreet persons to Narra- chap. 
ganset to inquire into these complaints. They found ^'X^ 
some emissaries from Philip of Mount Hope at the camp 1 6 c 9, 
of the sachem, which confirmed their suspicions. On '20; 
their return the Council issued a warrant to apprehend 
Ninecraft and bring him before them. A violent storm, 
that lasted two days, preventing the immediate service of 
the writ, it was renewed, and a letter was at the same 
time written to Plymouth, advising that colony to ques- 
tion King Philip on the subject. Ninecraft appeared be- 
fore the Council and sustained a long examination. He 28. 
declared his innocence of the charge of conspiracy, and 
explained many suspicious circumstances that were 
brought against him, but his. answers not being in all re- 
spects satisfactory, he was dismissed upon his promise to 
appear again if sent for. Letters were sent to Connecti- 
cut and to New York, giving details of the examination, 
and desiring that any evidence in their possession against 
Ninecraft might be forwarded in season for his next ap- 
pearance before the Council. A broil between some 
English and Indians soon occasioned another meeting of is. 
the Council. Summons were sent to Ninecraft and Maw- 
sup, another sachem, to appear before them. The Coun- 19. 
cil recommended the five towns to take speedy measures 
for defence, and also required the justices to assemble all 
the people of the villages for consultation on the same "^" 
subject. The two sachems appeared, with the ringleader 
in the recent broil, who was bound over for trial. Four 07. 
Long Island Indians accompanied Ninecraft. They were 
examined at length, and so clearly explained what had -^• 
caused the rumors of a plot, that the whole were dis- 
charged, and the excitement soon passed away. 

The Commissioners of the United Colonies took up ^^Pt- 
the complaints of the people of Stonington, denounced 
Rhode Island, and advised that the General Court of Con- 
necticut should demand satisfaction, and if refused, that 


CHAP, notice should be given to the several colonies, and their 
,J[^ advice asked upon the mode of seeking redress. The 
16 6 9. New England league exercised less influence than for- 
merly. It had become essentially weak, and a proposal 
Oct. to revise the terms of union was submitted at this time, 
but although it was approved and acted upon, nothing de- 
cisive resulted. ^ In a few years the confederacy expired 
by default, and Khode Island was thus relieved from what 
had often been to her a source of oppression, and had al- 
ways given her great annoyance. 

So far from an amicable settlement with Harrod, as 
desired by the Assembly, Harris, the repeated verdicts in 
whose favor entitled him to the final process of the law, 
wrote to him a letter, wherein he so abused the people of 
Warwick that it was made the occasion for a town meet- 
4. ing. An address was prepared to be presented to the 
Assembly, condemning the conduct of Harris as danger- 
ous to the existence of the colony. The address was read 
18. at the next town meeting ; and the feeling of the town 
was expressed in a vote too plainly to be mistaken, ^ The 
27. letter was read in the General Assembly, and the parties 
to the lawsuit were earnestly entreated to settle their dif- 
ferences by arbitration, but in vain. 

The quarrel at Providence was renewed with fresh vir- 
ulence. Certificates from two town clerks, claiming to be 
legally chosen, were presented, one of which declared that 
there had been no election of deputies, and the other cer- 

^ Hazard's State papers, ii. 

" " Voted, That the letter prepared by the town council touching William 
Harris shall be read, which was done accordingly, and ordered to be signed 
by the town dark in the name of the town, and by the deputies to be deliv- 
ered to the next General Assembly, by a unanimous consent ; and that the 
town dark do put the paper of William Harris, that occasioned the letter, 
upon the dam — Jile amongst those papers of that nature." "Warwick records, 
18th Oct., 1069. It will be seen by this that the remarkable file, referred to 
in the note a few pages back, was rapidly increasing in size, and becoming 
more intense in its character. 


tifying to the election of the four deputies who claimed chap. 
their seats under it. They were rejected, so that Provi- _!^:^ 
dence was unrepresented at this session. This deplorable 1 « 69. 
feud caused the Assembly to appoint a special committee 
of five to go to Providence, and call a meeting of the 
townsmen, to endeavor to persuade them to refer the sub- 
jects of dispute to the decision of disinterested parties. 
If this was agreed to, they were then to call a town meet- 
ing to elect officers and deputies ; meanwhile all actions 
at law growing out of this quarrel were to be suspended 
till another meeting of the Assembly. The six hundred 
pound tax, the real cause of much of the disaffection now 
existing in the impoverished colony, was not yet all col- 
lected. The powers of the committee were renewed, and 
the sergeant was ordered to distrain at their bidding. 
Warwick prepared to resist this act, and warned Harris Nov. 
not to enter the town without leave. 

The Council of Connecticut wrote to the men of Wes- ^3 
terly to require them to give satisfaction for injuries in- 
flicted, not only upon those of Stonington, but also upon 
the heirs of the Atherton company, saying that time 
would be allowed them till the next March to arrange 
these matters. No notice was taken of this missive till 1669.70. 
the time had expired, when an answer was returned, re- ^"^^^ 
ferring to the injuries formerly received by them from tlie 
Stonington men, and stating that if Connecticut had any 
complaints to make, the Courts of Rhode Island would do 
justice to the litigants. 

An extra session of the Assembly was called in conse- --• 
quence of internal, as well as of external troubles. Four 
men ' were appointed to go to Providence, two of whom 
were empowered to make a list of the freemen, and to call 
a meeting of all such to elect officers and deputies, and 
to forbid any others from voting under j)eril of arrest as 

' John Easton and Joshua Coggoshall, with Lott Strange ami Joseph Tor- 
rey added for couiipoI. 




CHAP, rioters. All names, titles and passages in the laws de- 
^■^' rogatory to the King, which under the various govern- 
16 70. ments prior to the restoration had been used, were for- 
mally repealed ; but the laws in which they occurred were 
to be retained in full force. This was simply carrying 
out, more fully than had yet been done, the recommenda- 
tion of the royal Commissioners on that jDoint. A spe- 
cial commission was issued to the justices of Kings Prov- 
ince to arrest any person pretending authority from Con- 
necticut, or elsewhere, who should presume to exercise 
jurisdiction in that province. 
April The Providence committee performed their duties by 

-• calling a town meeting, at which officers, selected from 
both the contending parties, were legally chosen. Affairs 
1^- at Warwick proceeded less quietly. Writs were served 
upon the town clerk and upon Samuel Gorton, sen., and 
John Wickes, sen., two of the town Council, at the suit 
of the Attorney General, for debts due to the colony by 
the town on account of the old tax of 1664, and they 
28. were imprisoned. The town protested against this act as 
repugnant to the laws of England, and agreed to stand 
by their officers and each other in resisting it, in a paper 
entered upon their records and signed by nearly all the 
freemen. This difficulty was soon after settled. 
jj£ay -^t the general election the same officers were chosen, 

4. but John Clarke declining to serve again as Deputy Gov- 
ernor, Nicolas Easton was chosen in his place. In the 
choice of second Assistant from Providence, there being 
some doubt which of the rival candidates, William Har- 
ris or Arthur Eenner was elected, and neither being will- 
ing to serve under these circumstances, Koger Williams 
was chosen to that office. A committee was appointed, 
upon petition from Block Island, to obtain contributions 
for making a harbor there. 

The Connecticut Assembly appointed a committee to 
meet such as Khode Island might authorize, to treat on 




the cLuestion of boundary at New London, with full pow- chap. 
ers to settle all disputes, and also in case Rhode Island _:,J^ 
refused to treat, to reduce the people of Westerly and 16 7 0. 
Narraganset to submission. A letter to that effect was 
sent to Gov, Arnold, The people of Stonington renewed 13. 
their former petition for i-edress. Gov. Winthrop now 
took that manly stand, against the popular clamor, which 
his own high sense of personal honor and of jmblic right 
dictated. In a formal message to his Legislature he dis- 17. 
sented from the extreme course they had decided to adopt, 
and refused, upon the ground of his agreement with Dr. 
Clarke, to exercise jurisdiction east of the Pawcatuck 
river until his Majesty's pleasure was further known, or 
till the question should be settled by treaty. The Gov- 
ernor and Council of Rhode Island replied to the Con- 23. 
necticut letter, deprecating the threats it contained, ex- 
pressing a desire for peace, and agreeing to the proposal 
to send Commissioners to New London, A special ses- June 
sion of the Assembly was called to appoint them. John ' " 
Greene, Assistant, Joseph Torrey, Recorder, and Richard 
Bailey, Clerk of the Council, were empowered to treat on 
the part of Rhode Island, Their instructions gave them 
full powers, within the terms of the charter, and of the 
decree of the royal Commissioners. The two committees 
met at New London. The negotiations were conducted 14. 
entirely in writing, at the suggestion of the Rhode Island to 
men. They occupied three days, and embrace seventeen 
letters. Connecticut claimed jurisdiction over Kings 
Province by her charter. Rhode Island replied that that 
only could mean Narraganset river, in the charter, which 
was therein expressly described to be such. This was the 
substance of the whole correspondence, which closed by 
an assurance on the part of Rhode Island, that if Con- 
necticut should attempt to usurp the government of 
Kings Province she would appeal to the King. Thus 
ended this fruitless eflbrt at conciliation. The Connecti- 


CHAP, cut men, tlie same evening, read a declaration of tlieir 
^J^ intention to establish, a government at Westerly, and 
16 7 0. Wickford, in Ms Majesty's name. The next day they 
l^^^ went to Stonington and formally proclaimed the author- 
ity of Connecticut over the people of Westerly, and sum- 
moned them, as being a part of the township of Stoning- 
ton, to submit thereunto. They also issued a warrant to 
John Frincke to warn the inhabitants east of Pawcatuck 
river to appear the same day at Captain Gookin's house, 
in Stonington, to hear the proclamation, but they failing 
to obey the summons the paper was publicly read on Goo- 
kin's land. That night Frincke and two of his aids were 
arrested and sent to Newport jail, by James Babcock, 
sen., a Rhode Island officer, under a warrant issued by 
Tobias Saunders of Westerly. Saunders and Babcock 
were in turn arrested and brought before the Commis- 
sioners, to answer for the seizure of Frincke. They ad- 
mitted the charge, defending it by virtue of their com- 
missions as Ehode Island officers, and were discharged on 
bail. The next day news of these occurrences reaching 
Newport the Council was called together. A commission 
was issued to certain officers to proceed to Narraganset, 
there to forbid any one usurping government under au- 
thority from Connecticut, and to bring any such as pris- 
oners to Newport, or in case of resistance, to read pub- 
licly the prohibition, and then to deliver it to the offend- 
ing parties. The Connecticut Commissioners, with a 
force of fifty mounted men, went to Wickford on that 
day, proclaimed their government and read their charter. 
They then sent messengers to Petaquamscut, who were 
seized on the road, but were afterward delivered up on re- 
quisition. At this juncture the four men ^ sent by the 
Council at Newport reached Wickford, bringing the pris- 
oner Frincke with them, and delivered their letter to the 
Connecticut officers. It was immediately answered in a 

■ Joseph Torrey, Ricliard Bailey, James Barker aud Caleb Carr. 






tone corresponding to the policy that Connecticut Avas chap. 
now engaged, with a high hand, in cariying out. Har- ^^ 
vard college had received a grant of five hundred acres of i 67 0. 
land in Southertown, at the time of the annexation by 
Massachusetts, and now petitioned Connecticut for relief 21. 
against the people of Westerly. A similar proclamation 
to that at Stonington was set up at Wickford, nailed on --• 
the door of Captain Hudson's house, and local officers 
were appointed to administer the government in behalf 
of Connecticut, The like declaration was also made at 
Petaquamscut. The next day they went to Stonington 
and issued another proclamation, warning the Khode Isl- 
and officers not to exercise authority in Westerly, and 
enjoining upon the peoj^le of that town obedience to the 
magistrates, named in the paper, appointed by Connecti- 
cut, They also gave them liberty to use the County 
Court at New London for justice when required. Upon 
these bold proceedings being known, the Council of Ehode 
Island called a special session of the General Assembly 
to meet at Warwick on the following Wednesday. This 
was the first session under the new charter that had been 
held at any other place than Newport. The proximity 
of Warwick to the scene of disturbance doubtless occa- 
sioned this deviation from what had now become a settled 
usage. The charter named Newport as the place for the 
Assembly, but permitted it to be held " elsewhere, if ur- 
gent occasion doe require." The Assembly appointed 
Governor Arnold, as the agent of the colony, to proceed 
to England, there to defend the charter against the in- 
vasions of Connecticut ; or if he could not go, then Dr. 
John Clarke, who had obtained the charter, was appoint- 
ed, with Capt. John Greene, Assistant, of Warwick, as 
joint agents for this object. The Governor was requested 
to write to Connecticut and the other colonies, as also to 
New York, on the same subject. 

A debt of eighty pounds still duo to riicliaid Dean 



CHAP, for services in obtaining the cliarter, was ^Daid "by a loan 
,^^^;^ from private individuals to tlie colony, and a tax of three 
16 70. hundred pounds was levied to meet the expenses of the 
new agency. Of this tax Newport was assessed one 
hundred and twenty-three pounds, Providence and Ports- 
mouth fifty-one each, Warwick thirty-two, Petaquamscot 
sixteen. Block Island fifteen, and Conanicut twelve 
pounds. The most favorable result of this Assembly was 
that it quieted the feeling of discontent, so rife in War- 
wick for six years past, if we may judge from the readi- 
2. ness with which the town now voted their portion of the 

new tax and of the arrears still due on the old one. 
11. Gov. Arnold wrote a long and friendly letter to Gov. 

Winthrop, informing him of the preparations of the As- 
sembly to appeal to the King in the autumn, attributing 
the conduct of Connecticut to the influence of men ac- 
tuated by private interests, and also asking the surrender 
of a fugitive from Ehode Island, who had twice broken 
jail and was now harbored at Stonington.' The murder 
of Walter House by Thomas Flounders at Wickford, an 
12 act of private revenge, now served stiU further to compli- 
cate the difficulties between the two colonies. The Con- 
necticut coroner held an inquest on the body. When the 
Ehode Island coroner came for that purpose he was de- 
nied access to the corpse. He forbade the burial, which 
however was performed. The Council at Newport or- 
dered the body to be disinterred, that a legal inquest 
might be held, and sent a constable, with sufficient force, 
to arrest the murderer, and also those who had obstructed 
the coroner, as well as any who might attempt to prevent 
the execution of this order. Thomas Stanton, one of the 
newly appointed magistrates at Stonington, wrote to Con- 
necticut what had been done in the premises. The mur- 

^ This letter of July 11th, with all the papers relating to the acts of Con- 
necticut, and of the joint commission from May 12th, are printed in E. I. 
Col. Rec, ii. 309-328, presenting a complete documentary liistory of this im- 
portant period. 





derer was arrested on tlie Khode Island warrant and taken 
to Newport. Samuel Eldredge and John Cole, two of 
the Connecticut officers at Wickford, who had obstructed 16 70, 
those of Khode Island, were also taken prisoners. Floun- "-'^ 
ders was indicted for murder, and afterwards, in October, 
was tried and executed. The two officers were commit- 
ted to the custody of the Sergeant till they should give 
bail to appear at the October Coin-t. The Council of 
Connecticut appointed another constable at Wickford in 2I 
place of Eldredge, and issued warrants to arrest Samuel 
Wilson and Thomas Mumford, the Rliode Island officers 
who had torn down the declaration of authority that had 
been set up by the Commissioners at Hudson's house. 
They also wrote a letter to Rhode Island, complaining of 
the zeal with which she strove to maintain her rights over 
the Kings Province. 

That the people of Connecticut were not unanimous 
in their approval of the conduct of their authorities in 
such high-handed jjroceedings, but that these were insti- 
gated, as Gov. Arnold intimates in his letter to Gov. 
Winthrop, by parties having private interests to subserve, 
appears, not only by the refusal of Winthrop to exercise 
jurisdiction, as Governor, east of Pawcatuck river, but 
also in a letter from Major John Mason of Norwich, to Anir. 
the Connecticut Commissioners, enclosing that celebrated • 

letter, recently received by him from Roger William.s, 
which contains so lucid a sketch of the early history of 
Rhode Island.' Mason, in this communication, depre- 
cates the action of the Commissioners in Narraganset as 
unwise, and describes the territory to be gained as of 
doubtful value compared with the cost of contesting it, 
and significantly suggests that " the toll may prove to be 
more than the grist." 

The General Assemblies of Connecticut and of Rhode 


■ This important letter is printed at length in 1 I\I. II. C. i. 27.'.--'83, and 
in part iu R. I. H. C, iii. 159-1G3. 


CHAP. Island met on the same day, one at Hartford, the other 
^^' at Newport. The Connecticut Commissioners reported 

16 70. their j)roceedings at Narraganset, which were approved, 
23 ■ and the officers named by them in Kings Province were 
confirmed. The former bounds of Southertown, as incor- 
porated by Massachusetts, were granted to Stonington, 
which included the whole of Westerly. A new set of 
Commissioners, including one of the former body, were 
appointed to treat once more with Rhode Island on the 
questions at issue, and were invested with the same pow- 
ers that their predecessors had received. Governor Win- 
throp sent in his resignation to this Court, but it was not 
accepted. The posture of affairs in Ehode Island is sup- 
posed to have influenced him in this step, as he had pre- 
viously refused to violate his agreement with Clarke, and 
to trample on the rights of Rhode Island. 

The Assembly at Newport issued new summons to the 
witnesses at Wickford to attend at the trial of Flounders, 
the former ones having been seized by a Connecticut offi- 
cer before they could be served. A conciliatory letter 
15. was sent by two messengers to Connecticut, desiring that 
an easier mode of settling the differences than by appeal 
to England might be devised, and relying upon the tem- 
perate spirit of Gov, Winthrop's letter, it suggests a new 
commission, and that Connecticut meanwhile should forbear 
to exercise jurisdiction in the King's Province. To this 
overture Connecticut replied, approving the acts of her 
Commissioners in June, dissenting from the points of 
Gov. Arnold's letter of July, and accepting the proposal 
of a new treaty, but declining the proviso upon which the 
offer was made, that Connecticut should in the interval 
suspend the exercise of authority in Narraganset. This 
of course put an end to further negotiation, and Rhode 
Island resumed her preparations for a final appeal to the 
King, A special session of the Assembly was held, at 
which it was ordered that such persons as were qualified 



10 70. 


for public service in holding offices, should he made free- ciiAi'. 
men hy their respective towns, whether they desired it or v^,:^ 
not. This was a compulsory act, akin to that which im- 
posed a fine on any one elected to office who should refuse 
to serve, and presents a striking contrast to the spirit of 
later years on this subject. Summary means were adopted 
to collect the taxes levied for the purpose of sending 
agents to England. If not paid within two months the 
process of distraint was to be employed. The details of 
the act acquaint us with the maiket values of the cliief 
articles of produce at that time. Pork was three pence, 
or two-and-a-quarter cents a pound ; butter, six pence ; 
wool, one shilling ; peas, three shillings and six pence a 
bushel ; wheat, five shillings ; Indian corn, three shil- 
lings ; oats, two shillings and three pence. A penny at 
that time was equal to a fraction less than three-quarters 
of a cent at the present day, and one shilling was about 
eight and one-quarter of our cents. Forty shillings of 
New England currency was then equal to thirty shillings 
sterling. For those who paid in silver coin of New Eng- 
land, one shilling was taken for two shillings in produce 
at the above rates. 

By English statute the estate of a lelon was forfeited. 
The murderer. Flounders, having been executed, the As- 
sembly restored to his widow the residue of his property, 
after deducting the expenses of his trial, as an act of 
mercy. Continued acts of violence on the part of Con- 
necticut again led to an extra session of the General As- April 
sembly, the sole purpose of which was to pass an act con- 
fiscating the estates of those who presumed to exercise 
authority in Kings Province without a commission from 
Khode Island, and also of those inhabitants of Westerly 
who shoukl place their lands under the control of Con- 
necticut ; while the fiiith of the colony was pledged to 
make good any loss sustained by those who reuiaiucd 



CHAP. The alarm of Indian war again aroused the colonies. 

^^^.^ Grov. Prince wrote to Rhode Island concerning the suspi- 
1 6 71. cious attitude of Philip of Pokanoket. A council was 
|\ called to reply. to the letter, and a conference, to be held 
at Taunton, was |)roposed, but for the present was post- 
May The regular session of Assembly was held the day be- 

^- fore the election, for the admission of freemen. At the 
2 election John Clarke, who had been Deputy Grovernor the 
previous year but had declined office the past year, was 
again chosen to that place. Another outrage occurred at 
Westerly. Two of the Connecticut constables, while lay- 
ing out lands east of Pawcatuck river, were driven off by 

the Ehode Island officers, one of wbom, John Crandall, 
was afterwards seized and taken to New London for trial. 
He applied to this Assembly for advice whether to give 
bonds or to go to prison. They advised him to give no 
bond in any matter pertaining to his acts performed in 
maintaining his Majesty's authority in the colony, and as- 
sured him of protection. This violence drew forth another 
letter to Connecticut, again tendering an appeal to the 
King as the only remaining solution of the difficulty. 
The Hartford Assembly replied, reiterating their claim, 
but taking no notice of the proposed appeal ; to avoid 
which, if possible, they appointed another set of Com- 
missioners to open a new treaty with Rhode Island. The 
General Assembly appointed meetings of the Court of 
Justices, that had been clothed by the roj^al Commission- 
ers with the exclusive jurisdiction of Kings Province, to 
be held at Westerly and other places, to examine the af- 
fairs of the province, and to restore quiet to its inhabit- 
ants. They accordingly met at Westerly, the Deputy 
Governor, John Clarke, presiding, and directed the Con- 
stable, James Babcock, to summon the people to attend 
on the morrow. Babcock refused to obey, and was ar- 
17. rested by order of the Court. Another officer warned the 




people to assemble, when the charter, the royal commis- chap. 
sion of the Justices, the agreement between Clarke and ,J^^ 
Winthrop and other j)ertinent papers were read. The 
meeting was disturbed by the intrusion of a mounted 
force from Stonington, who asserted the authority of Con- 
necticut, and ordered the Court to desist, but no collision 
ensued. A written protest was delivered to the intruders, 
maintaining the authority of Ehoile Island. The free- 
men were then examined as to their fidehty, and nearly 
all agreed to stand by the King and this colony. A dec- 
laration was issued by the Court, wherein John Crandall IS* 
and Tobias Sanders were confirmed as Justices, and the 
reciprocal engagement of the colony to protect the people 
of Westerly was affirmed. The Court then proceeded to 
Petaquamscot, where, the inhabitants being assembled, 19. 
similar proceedings were held without interruption, and 
the Court adjourned to meet at Acquidneset. The pro- 
prietors there inquired if the Court claimed ownership of 
their lands in behalf of the colony, and upon being as- 
sured of the contrary, they readily gave their engagement 
to Khode Island, and elected officers, who were confirmed 
by the Court. 

All legal and peaceable means having thus been taken June 
to secure the loyalty of Kings Province, the General As- 
sembly met at Newport. One Uselton, having been sen- 7. 
tenced at the last Court of Trials to leave the island, but 
still remaining, was brought before the Assembly, where 
his conduct was so insulting that he was sentenced to be 
whipped with fifteen stripes, and to be sent away forth- 
with, and if again found within the colony he was again 
to be punished in the same manner. A burglar, under 
sentence of death by the Court of Trials, petitioned for 
reprieve, but was refused, and his execution was ordered 
to take place without delay. The sum of three pence 
per day was allowed for the support of each prisoner con- 
fined upon eriniinal process. Commissioners wore again 




appointed to treat with Connecticut, and a letter was 
sent to that colony reaffirming the authority of Ehode 
1671. Island over Kings Province, until the King's will could 

""® be known, accepting the proposals for a new treaty, the 
Commissioners to meet at some place not within either 
colony, and proposing that the two agents, Dr. Clarke and 
Gov. Winthrop, should be present at such meeting. An 
active correspondence relating to Indian affairs was car- 
July ried on with Plymouth. A letter from Gov. Prince, sug- 
gesting a conference at Taunton, was considered so im- 

21. portant that the Council ordered copies of it to be sent 
to the other towns. The Connecticut Council replied to 

-^- the last letter from Ehode Island, that they could not al- 
ter the place of meeting except by act of their General 
Court, to whom the proposal should be submitted at the 
next session. 

Kumors of Indian hostilities again summoned the coun- 
4''^"- cil at Newport, who wrote to Governor Prince, and the 

31. next day called a council of war to be held the following 
bept. ^qq]^^ and ordered a troop of horse to attend as a guard. 

,,- A special session of the Assembly was called at Newport. 
The vote of the previous year, appointing Dr. Clarke and 
John Greene as joint agents to conduct the appeal in 
England, was revised, and Clarke was named as sole agent 
for that purpose. His commission was directed to be made 
out by the Governor, and a new tax of two hundred and 
fifty pounds in silver was assessed. The accumulation of 
large tracts of land, upon the main, in the hands of a few 
persons incapable of improving so much, attracted the at- 
tention of the Assembly. While the tax necessary to the 
defence of these lands was onerous, the effect was to dis- 
courage many upon whom the burden rested without a 
hope of their sharing in the advantages of a freehold. The 
Assembly recommended that some of these wild lands be 
purchased on public account, that those in immediate 


want of land, or who might hereafter be received into the chap. 
colony, could be supplied. ^^ 

Upon a petition of the people of Westerly, the Gen- 1671. 
eral Assembly of Connecticut promised them protection, 12. 
and also a temporary cessation from all suits upon land 
titles, or for trespass, provided they peaceably submitted 
to her authority. The proposal in the Rhode Island letter 
of June was so far accepted that commissioners were au- 
thorized to settle all disputes, either by agreement with 
those of Rhode Island, or by a mutual reference of the 
subject to gentlemen selected from the other colonies, to 
meet at Rehoboth or in Boston, either in November or in 
April, and a letter to this effect was sent to Rhode Island. 
The General Assembly met at the usual time, and after 25. 
hearing the correspondence read, adjourned one week to Xov. 
secure a further attendance of deputies. The alarm of ^• 
war had subsided, as appears by a letter from the Assem- •_>. 
bly to Plymouth ; but not so the troubles on their western 
borders. A reply was sent to Connecticut, selecting See- 4. 
conclc, called also Rehoboth, as the place, and April as the 
time, to renew the attempt at a treaty ; but further stat- 
ing that the Rhode Island men would only be empowered 
to decide disputed questions of land title, and not the mat- 
ter of jurisdiction, upon which they could concede nothing. 
To this end a committee was again aj^pointed. When 
the letter reached Hartford, Governor Winthrop was ab- 
sent, so that no definite answer could be returned. 

Most of the towns were, as usual, in arrears for the last 
assessment, so that the act was renewed. Warwick re- 
fused to furnish her portion of it while the negotiation with ~*^ 
Connecticut was yet in progress. At length a formal no- ,^;.j o 
tice was sent by Connecticut, declining the meeting at Jan. 
Rehoboth, as a useless labor, unless the question of juris- 
diction could be entertained. Thus ended, for the present, 
the attempt at negotiation. 

Internal dissensions again occupied the attention of 
VOL. I.— 23 


CHAP, the council. William Harris was now openly employed, 

^J^:^ on the side of Connecticut, against the chartered rights of 

1671-2. Ehode Island, with a zeal and ability that could not be 

suffered to pass unnoticed. For this act of treason, 

whether real or constructive, a warrant was issued for his 

24, arrest, and he was committed to prison without bail, to 

await his trial at the May term. 

March An extra session of the Assembly was convened, at 

^- which John Clarke, for the third time within two years, 
was selected as the agent to appear for the colony before 
the King. The repeated renewal of this appointment, and 
the frequent revision of laws, especially in relation to taxes, 
arose from a feeling prevalent in those times, that the acts 
of one Assembly were not binding beyond the next session, 
unless then ratified ; each Assembly being in itself a sov- 
ereign body wielding the entire power of the colony. The 
absence of deputies from the mainland towns obliged the 
Assembly to dissolve, and a new one to be called, to meet 
^^- speedily. At a town meeting in Providence deputies were 

-. nH-o elected for the next Assembly, which was to meet in April ; 

March but as it was ascertained that these men would be unable 
^^- to attend at that time, another town meeting was held, ' 
to select such as could attend, and who were declared by 
the Assembly to be legally chosen. 

April A paper from William Harris was read, but not re- 

ceived, as it was not directed in a proper manner to the 
General Assembly. This being a full Assembly, the act 
of the previous one, appointing Clarke as the agent to 
England, and providing for his suj)port, was renewed. It 
was also enacted, that no tax, raised for a specific purpose, 
should on any account be diverted to other uses, much 
harm having been sustained in this way by the colony. A 
very important bill was passed at this session, which de- 
servedly caused great commotion among the people, and 
cost a large portion of the members their election. This 

' New Year's day, old style, was 25lh March. 



was the famous sedition act, the origin of which appears, chap. 
in the preamble, to have been the opposition made in the v^.^ 
several towns whenever a new tax was assessed. The bill 1672. 
declared that whoever opposed, by word or deed, in town 9. 
meeting or elsewhere^ any rate laid, or any other of the 
acts and orders of the General Assembly, should be bound 
over to the Court of Trials, or imprisoned till it met, at the 
discretion of the justice, for " high contempt and sedition ;" 
and if found guilty, should either be fined, imprisoned, or 
whipped, as the Court might adjudge. A bolder assertion 
of the omnipotence of a Legislature could not be made, 
and it speedily received the rebuke that it merited. But 
the act, severe as it appears, was not passed^ without reason. 
The grasping spirit of Connecticut on one hand, the fear- 
ful symptoms of savage hostility on the other, and now 
the evidence of treachery within, requiring prompt and 
vigorous measures in the Government to provide means 
of defence against these-threatening calamities, dismember- 
ment of territory and Indian war, would seem to justify the 
assumption, for a time, of the almost dictatorial power here- 
in usurped. It was not intended to abridge the liberties of 
the people, although represented to be so by George Fox, 
the founder of the Friends, who was then in Rhode Island. 
An Assembly that was subject to two, and often to three, 
or four ordeals of popular election every year, could not do 
that, or even attempt to do it. But the framcrs of the bill 
seem not to have reflected, amid the difficulties that sur- 
rounded them, upon the abuses to which such an act might 
be perverted. The people saw this directly, and within one 
month, applied the remedy. 

More violent proceedings, by the inhabitants of Ston- 
ington, than any that had yet occurred, demanded the at- 
tention of the Assembly. They had crossed the river, 
and by force and arms had carried away several persons in 
Westerly to prison. Redress Avas refused by Connecticut. 
An act was now passed to confiscate the estates of the as- 


CHAP, sailants, being on tlie east of Pawcatuck river, and also 

,_,^_, those of such Westerly men who might be intimidated by 

16T2. these outrages into submission to Connecticut, while any 

2^ ■ damage sustained by those who remained faithful, was to 

be made good from the estates thus forfeited. 

A committee was appointed to examine the waste lands 
in Narraganset, and to notify the owners, Indian or Eng- 
lish, to appear at the May session to contract for a sale of 
the same to the colony. The schedule of salaries was re- 
vised, to ensure fuUer attendance on the Assembly, and at 
the Court of Trials. The Governor was allowed six shil- 
lings, the deputy Governor, five shillings, the magistrates, 
four sliillings, and the deputies, the same as by a former 
law, three shillings, for each day's attendance, with double 
fines in case of absence. A dinner was also to be provided 
each day, at pubhc expense, for the whole Assembly, and 
also, during the Court of Trials, for the magistrates. 

A further source of peril, and occasion of expense, was 
about to come upon the too heavily burdened colony. 
War was declared by England against the States General 
^' of the United Provinces, and letters warning the colonists 
to prepare for defence were forthwith despatched to 

The Assembly met as usual the day before election, 
Mav ^^^ admitted many freemen. This election was the most 
1." remarkable one that had occurred for twenty years. The 
changes were almost complete, while repeated refusals to 
accept office threatened to leave some places unfilled, 
William Brenton was elected Governor, but refused to 
serve. He was absent in Taunton at the time, and as his 
answer could not be received for some days, the Court of 
election, after choosing the other officers, adjourned for two 
weeks, when Nicolas Easton was elected. His two sons 
were likewise chosen as general officers, John as Attorney, 
and Peter as Treasurer, John Cranston was made deputy 
Governor. Of the ten former Assistants, but four were 


retained, while the change in the twenty deputies was en- chap. 
tire, not a single one in the former Assembly being returned ^J_ 
from any town. ^\f^^' 

The charter and other important papers were always j. 
kept in the custody of the Governor, who, on a new elec- 
tion, delivered them to his successor, taking a formal 
receipt therefor from the committee appointed to receive 
them. This was deemed so important that the receipt, 
specifying the separate papers delivered, was usually en- 
tered upon the records. It was also the custom to open 
every session of the Assembly by reading the charter, 
thereby preserving fresh in the memory of the legislators, 
the provisions of that fundamental instrument. 

The Assembly adjourned for two weeks, after writing 
a letter to Connecticut, rcc[uesting that Government not to 
molest the people at Westerly, as it was intended soon to 
propose a method of adjusting all difficulties. The Con- 
necticut Assembly, as soon as it met, appointed new com- ^• 
missioners to treat with Ehode Island, and empowered 
them, in case of failure, to establish their government in 
Narraganset, They also wrote a conciliatory letter to 
Rhode Island acceding to her request, and another to the 
Westerly men, less mild in its import, requiring their sub- 
mission until the treaty with Rliode Island was concluded. 

The General Assembly met by adjournment, and hav- 
ing received Governor Brenton's refusal to return to office 
elected Nicolas Easton Governor. Mr. Easton had been 
for two years, President of the colony, just prior to the 
usurpation of Coddington, and was more recently deputy 
Governor for four years. The charter being then read, as 
usual, the Connecticut question was at once debated. 
Commissioners were appointed with full powers to treat, 
and to conclude all differences, and a letter announcing 
this fact, was sent by a special messenger. The subse 
quent correspondence upon this subject, for the next four 
years, has not been preserved ; a loss of no great iinpor- 



CHAP, tance, as nothing more definite resulted from these writings 
^^^^ than came from this renewed attempt to settle, by treaty, 
16 72. what could only be adjusted by the power that conferred 
ll^ the charters whose terms fonned the basis of the dispute. 
This done, the Assembly proceeded to undo the acts 
of their predecessors- This was performed as thoroughly 
as was the change eifected by the recent elections. Not 
a single public act of the previous session remained unre- 
pealed at the close of their labors, nor was there any new 
act passed by them. The mutability of legislation was 
never so perfectly exempHfied. A preamble recites that 
" several acts and orders were made in the General As- 
sembly in April last, some whereof seeminge to the in- 
fringeinge of the libertyes of the people of this colony, and 
settinge up an arbitrary power, which is contrary to the 
laws of England, and the fundamentall laws of this colony 
from the very first settling thereof, others seeminge much 
to the prejudice of the collony, and impoverishinge the 
people thereof, to the great disturbance and distraction of 
the good and well minded people thereof, who have many 
of them been sufferers in a great measure already, and like 
more to undergoe, if not timely prevented." 

This strikes first at the sedition act, and then at the 
tax law, including the purposes for which the rate was 
laid. Accordingly, the sedition act was first repealed, the 
appointment of Clarke as agent to England, and the taxes 
for that object, were cancelled, the schedule of salaries 
was then rescinded, leaving them as fixed by the old law, 
the commission upon waste lands in Narraganset was re- 
voked, as if it contemplated a forced sale by the owners to 
the colony, the confiscation of estates in Westerly was de- 
clared void, and fir^ally, upon a complaint made by Arthur 
Fenner, a censure was passed upon the April Assembly, 
for having sanctioned the second election of deputies in 
Providence, after it was found that those first elected 



could not attend. The bitterness of party spirit could go chap. 
no farther, and the Assembly adjourned. .J^l^ 

But the conduct of the Assembly was severely con- 16 7 2. 
demned in some portions of the colony. The Assistants 
and deputies of Warwick dissented, in behalf of their 
town, from the action in reference to Connecticut. To 
them it ajjpeared like a concession of rights that was not 
to be tolerated. The town sustained the views of its rep- 3. 
resentatives, and at a full meeting, called for the purpose, 
agreed " to oppose to the uttermost the intrusions of Con- 
necticut," and engaged, at their own expense, with the aid 
of those freemen in the other towns, who might be willing 
to unite therein, to maintain the appeal to the King, and 
to send an agent to England for that purpose. This noble 
and spirited pledge, signed by all of the town council, and 
of the freemen present at the meeting, is still preserved in 
the records of that ancient town. 

The declaration of war with Holland caused meetings 
of the council, at which measures were taken to proclaim 16. 
it in all the towns, and afterward to place the colony in a 
posture of defence. Eichard Smith was intrusted with ^^• 
these duties in Kings Province. Letters to the other New 
England colonies were also prepared, projwsing a confer- 
ence on these matters, as suggested in the King's letter. 

A new subject of agitation now arose. Rhode Island 
had long been taunted by her Puritan neighbors, as the 
refuge of every kind of religious or political vagary. In 
the fierce persecution to which the Quakers had been sub- 
jected, she offered a free asylum to the oppressed, and re- 
sisted alike the threats and the entreaties by which it was 
sought to force her from her fidelity to the cause of relig- 
ious freedom. The security which this firmness afforded 
to the preachers of the new sect, led Rhode Island to be- 
come a favorite resort of many of the followers of Fox, who 
came hither from England and Barbadocs, to disseminate 
their doctrines, as from a central point whence they might 



CHAP, easily make excursions in all directions throngli the Amer- 
^J^;:^ ican colonies. Their great leader himself spent two years 
16 72. in America, and was at this time in Ehode Island, to- 
" ^' gether with Edmundson, Burnyeat, Stuhbs, and Cart- 
wright, all active and eloquent missionaries of the new 
faith. Everywhere, except in Khode Island, toleration of 
doctrine implied, in the main, concurrence of sentiment. 
Hence it was asserted that the public feeling of this colony 
was friendly to the theology of Fox, and the assertion car- 
ried greater weight because, at this time, some of the mag- 
istrates were of that sect. Koger Williams, as the peculiar 
champion of intellectual freedom, wished to give evidence 
at the same time, of the devotion of his colony to the cause 
of " soul liberty," and of their dissent from the teachings 
of George Fox. " I had in my eye the vindicating of this 
colony for receiving of such persons, whom others would 
not. We suffer for their sakes, and are accounted their 
abettors." How could he better effect this object than by 
showing that the new doctrine was not generally accepted 
in Khode Island, although its followers were not only pro- 
tected here, but were admitted to the highest places of 
^5 government ? For this purpose, Williams drew up a pa- 
per containing fourteen propositions, denouncing in strong- 
est terms, the tenets of Quakerism, and challenged Fox 
and his adherents to a public discussion of seven of these 
points at Newport, and of the remainder at Providence. 
For this he has been charged with inconsistency, and ac- 
cused of " persecuting the Quakers ! In our day there 
appears indeed to be more of zeal than of wisdom in the 
conduct of this controversy. Yet, although he stren- 
uously condemned the teachings of the Friends, and per- 
formed a marvellous feat of physical and mental labor to 
oppose them, he would have laid down his life sooner than 
have a hair of their heads injured on account of their doc- 
trinal views. The qualities that enabled him to accom- 
plish the one would have sustained liim equally in the 


other. It should be remembered also that these public chap. 


disputes, upon points of dogmatic theology, were as com- ,^^.,,1^ 
mon in Europe and America, in those times, as political ^^J-- 
discussions are in our own day. In Germany especially, ' ' ' 
for more than a century, they had furnished the arena for 
those brilliant displays of intellectual gladiatorship wliich, 
in the progress of civilization, had succeeded the martial 
strifes of the feudal ages. 

The challenge was sent, through some friends of Fox, 
to Deputy Governor Cranston, to be delivered by liim to 
the Quaker apostle. Several days elapsed before Crans- 
ton received it, and meanwhile Fox had left the island. 26. 
Just before his departure he w^ote a singular paper to ^. 
Thomas Olney, jr., and John Whipple, jr., at Providence, 
known as " George Fox's instructions to his friends," 
which was answered with unseemly severity, the follow- 
ing year, by Olney, in a lengthy article entitled " Ambi- 
tion anatomised." Fox's departure excited a suspicion 
that the challenge was purposely retained until he had 
gone away, which gave rise to an unbecoming pun by 
Williams about " George Fox's slily departing." 

The most remarkable incident connected with this xi\^_ 
controversy was that Mr. Williams, then seventy-three ^• 
years of age, rowed himself in a boat from Providence to 
Newport to engage in it. The effort occupied an entire 
day. He reached his destination near midnight before 
the appointed morning. The discussion was held in the q 
Quaker meeting-house and lasted three days. His oppo- to 
nents were three of the disciples of Fox, before named. 
Burnyeat and Stubbs were able and learned men, and all 
of them were well trained in the school of polemic divin- 
ity. Williams' brother Robert, then a teacher in New- 
port, offered to aid him in the discussion, but was jn-e- 
vented by his opponents. The first seven propositions 
being concluded, the debate was resimied at Providence 17. 
by Edmundson and Stubbs, but continued only one day. 


CHAP. That no immediate good resulted from the discussion, or 
^^^ that there was more of human frailty than of Christian 
16 72. meekness displayed in the mode of conducting it, is not 
"^' surprising. But the object of Williams was attained in 
opposing what he held to be error, while defending the 
principles upon which that error was tolerated, as being 
a matter beyond the pale of human legislation.^ 
July. A most unexpected invasion of the rights of Khode 

Island occurred at this time. Among the many worth- 
less grants with which the Council of Plymouth overlaid 
their boundless dominion, was one to the Earl of Stirling, 
that embraced a large part of Maine, and included also 
Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard and Long Island, with the 
adjacent islands. This right he afterwards sold to James, 
Duke of York, brother and successor of Charles IL, on 
whom the King, in his reckless bestowal of empire in the 
new world, likewise conferred a large portion of the re- 
cent conquests from the Dutch, including the present 
State called after his title. Prudence Island, originally 
purchased by Koger Williams and Gov. Winthrop, sen., 
had long since passed out of their liands, and was now 
the property of John Paine, a merchant of Boston. He 
had contributed liberally to rebuild fort James, at New 
25. York, and now received from Gov. Lovelace, as attorney 
of the Duke of York, a grant of Prudence island, to be 
held as a free manor, by the name of Sophy Manor, for 
an annual quit-rent of two barrels of cider and six pairs 
l^' of capons. The following week the grant was confirmed, 

' We have before had occasion to refer the reader to dull treatises npon 
doctrinal theology, where he may verify, if he chooses, the statements of the 
text. There are many authorities whence the above account is derived, 
which the theological student or the devout antiquary can consult for the de- 
tails of this famous dispute. Williams' own account is in a book of over 300 
pages, entitled " George Fox digged out of his Burrowes." The opposite 
side is given in " A New England Firebrand Quenched," written by Fox and 
Burnyeat in reply to the foregoing. See also " A Journal of the Life, &c., of 
William Edmundson," London, 1713; "The Truth Exalted;" Burnyeat's 
Memoirs, London, 1691 • and Knowles' Roger Williams, pp. 836-40. 


and Paine was made Governor for life, with a Council to cuap. 
be chosen from the inhabitants of the island, of whom .^4~- 
there were now a considerable number, and Courts for the 1672. 
trial of small causes were establislied, larger ones to be 
tried at the New York assizes. The seventh article of 
the constitution of government contained in this grant 
asserted the principle of religious freedom, as then under- 
stood abroad, limiting it to Christians, and requiring dis- 
senters to aid in support of the church established by the 
authorities of the place. On account of further pay- 
ments made by Paine towards fort James he was relieved 
from quit-rent, and the island was released from all taxes. 
The estate was held by him in fee simple, and was now 
an absolutely independent government, the smallest in 
America. A few days later Paine's commission as Gov- 
ernor for life of Sophy Manor was confirmed. It will be 
seen that this act of Lovelace was a great stretch of the 
Stirling grant, and might with equal justice have in- 
cluded Acquednick, as the Plymouth Council patents 
were long anterior to the first charter of Providence Plan- 
tations. Prudence island had pertained to Portsmouth 
since the first settlement of Acquednick. 

This act of intrusion aroused the spirit of the colony 
Paine was at once arrested and thrown into prison, as ap- g 
pears from the acts of the Council of New York, but was 
discharged on bail. He wrote a long letter to Lovelace, 
giving an account of the conflict of patents in Khode Is- 
landj and of his own difficulties from that source. At 
the Court of Trials he was indicted, under the law of 
1658, for attempting to bring in a foreign jurisdiction, 
and found guilty. The pleadings are preserved among 
the records of New York. The matter was finally settk^l, 
as many other difticulties Avere in those times, by tacit 
consent, without any formal act of adjustment, and Pru- 
dence island quietly relapsed from the condition of inde- 




CHAP, pendent sovereignty to its early dependence on the town 



of Portsmouth. 

16 72. Certain men in Westerly petitioned the Assembly at 
^ ■ Hartford to be incorporated as a distinct plantation, and 
to be released from fines incurred and from taxes for one 
year. To this it was answered, that, being a part of 
Stonington, the first request could not be granted, but 
that the fines should be remitted, and also the colony tax, 
but not the town rate or the minister's dues. 

Nov. The General Assembly incorporated Block Island, and 

at the request of the inhabitants named it New Shore- 
ham, " as signs of our unity and likeness to many parts 
of our native country." The freemen were authorized to 
choose two Wardens, who should have the power of Jus- 
tices of the Peace, and to add three other good men to 
compose the town Council, who were to hold quarterly 
meetings, to see that a registry of births, marriages and 
deaths was kept by the Clerk, and to conduct the trial of 
causes under five pounds. The town was to send two 
Deputies to the Assembly, which had not been done since 
the year the island was annexed to the colony, and was 
not done for some years after this time. New Shoreham 
thus became the sixth town received into the colony, and 
was in reality at this time the fifth, since the controversy 
with Connecticut had practically withdrawn Westerly 
from all participation in colonial affairs. 

The care of our ancestors to prevent any important 
act from becoming a law, without a fair expression of the 
will of the people, has been often illustrated in the course 
of this work. The neglect of deputies to attend the 
General Assembly led to further legislation on this sub- 
ject. As the charter vested the full powers of the As- 
sembly in the Governor and Council in cases of invasion, 
it was enacted, that in sudden emergencies of this sort 
the acts of the Assembly should be binding although but 
few deputies were present ; but as the bill of rights of 


tliird Charles I., protected the subject from cany tax not chap. 
levied by consent of Parliament, it was declared that no v-i^V^ 
rate should be assessed upon the colony without a full 1 ^ T 2. 
representation from all the towns ; neither could any act " y_ ' 
affecting the King's honor, or the people's liberties, be 
valid unless a majority of the deputies were present. The 
pay of the deputies was reduced to two shillings a day, 
and the fine for absence from any Assembly was laid at 
twenty shillings, or double that amount if a quorum was 
not present. The deputies were also, for the first time, 
required to take an engagement, to be administered by 
the Governor, upon entering on the duties of their office. 
This was an innovation that met with strenuous opposi- 
tion from the mainland towns. The owners of the Ath- 
erton purchase petitioned for relief from the law by which 
their land was forfeited. Their prayer was granted, by a 
repeal of the act so far as it applied to their direct pur- 
chase. Their title was confirmed, with a proviso that no 
lawful complainant should be debarred from his right of 
action by any thing contained in the said act of confirma- 

It would seem that the separate powers of the magis- 
trates were not distinctly defined or well understood, for 
a censure was passed upon John Greene, Assistant of 
Warwick, for having granted, by his owti authority, a bill 
of divorce. This proceeding was sharply reproved by the 
Assembly, as being a usurpation of judicial power in su- 
perseding the action of the Court of Trials. The town 1672-3. 
of Warwick declared the divorce to be legal, and pro- "^23 " 
tested against this censure upon their leader, and also 
against the acts in favor of the Atherton company, and 
that requiring the engagement to be taken by the depu- 
ties, as being repugnant to the accepted law of the col- 
ony. A remonstrance prepared by the clerk was adopted 
at a special town meeting, and copies were ordered to be 
sent to the other towns and to the General Asscmblv. 


CHAP. When this body met, the Warwick deputies refused to 

^^ take the engagement, although all the others conformed 
16 7 3. to the new law. Governor Easton was re-elected. For the 
7^"^ office of deputy Grovernor, four persons were successively 
chosen and declined, until William Coddington accepted. 
This was the first public office he had held since the usur- 
pation, except that once he had been a deputy, and then 
an Assistant from Newport.^ Eichard Smith was again 
chosen an Assistant, but declined, having then in view the 
acceptance of an appointment from Connecticut. The 
change in the list of Assistants was as great as it had been 
at the former election, but three of the old set remaining. 
William Harris having cleared himself of the charges 
against him, and given satisfaction to the Court, was again 
elected an Assistant. Of the old deputies less than one- 
half were returned. The general officers remained nearly 
as before. The only act, worthy of notice, was the appoint- 
ment of a committee to consult with all the chief sachems 
upon some means for preventing the excess of drunkenness, 
to which the Indians were addicted. 

The Connecticut Assembly again appointed resident 
magistrates in Kings Province, and made Richard Smith 
president of the court thus erected. 
July The capture of New York by a Dutch fleet, caused a 

special session of the General Assembly, to provide against 
an expected assault upon this colony. A pension act was 
passed for the relief of those who might be wounded in the 
13" war, or of the families of the slain, who were to apply to 
the general Treasurer for necessary support, and if they 
failed to obtain it from him, they were to have an action 
of debt against him, to be prosecuted in their behalf, by 
the proper officers, free of charge. An exemption act was 
likewise passed in favor of those whose consciences were 
opposed to war. A very long and curious preamble recites 
the scriptural and other arguments against war, by reason 

^ In 1666 he was deputy, and in 1667 an assistant. 





of which the Quakers were excused, with a i^roviso refjuir- chap. 
ing them to do civil duty, in removing the sick and aged, .^..,.1^ 
and vahiahle property, out of harm's way, in keeping watch, 16 73. 
although without arms, and in performing any other duty 
of a civil nature that might be required by the magis- 
trates. At the next session, these acts were confirmed, and Sept. 
a lengthy statute against selling liquor to the Indians, was ^* 
passed. The committee on this subject had consulted 
with the sachems, at whose request heavy penalties were 
imposed upon Indians found drunk, as well as on the deal- 
ers who made them so. A Sunday law was enacted to re- 
strain gaming and tippling on that day, but with careful 
reservations, for the liberty of conscience, that the act 
should not he construed as enforcing attendance upon, or 
absence from religious services. The quaintness of many of 
these early statutes is not more remarkable than the ear- 
nestness with which they insist that nothing therein con- 
tained shall be construed as permitting any violation of the 
fundamental principles of the colony. The preambles to 
the exemption act, and to the Sunday law, are striking ex- 
amples of this watchfulness. 

The last two had been extra meetings of the Assembly. 
These, although of frequent occurrence, never superseded 
the regular sessions prescribed in the charter, although but 
a few weeks, or even days, sometimes intervened. An In- 
dian being about to be tried for the murder of another, the 
Assembly ordered that one-half the jury should be com- Oct. 
posed of Indians, and that Indian testimony might be re- 
ceived in such cases, which was not allowed when English- 
men were the sole parties. The accounts of John Clarke 
had not yet been settled. Four hundred and fifty pounds 
was claimed by him, as still due from the colony. Wil- 
liam Harris was empowered to negotiate with Dr. Clarke, 
in writing, upon this matter, to examine the items of the 
claim, and to report to a future Assembly. 

At the next <i;eneral election, William Coddington was 


CHAP, chosen Governor and John Easton deputy Governor, The 
.^J:^!^ offices of Treasurer and Attorney General were united in 
16 74. Peter Easton, the late Treasurer, his brother, the late At- 
({^ torney, being now deputy Governor. The Assistants re- 
mained nearly the same. The deputies were always chang- 
ing more or less. The office was esteemed a burden, which 
but few would assume for more than one or two sessions as 
required by law. 

The people of Narraganset felt the want of certainty 
in their condition of Government, and desired the Assembly 
to settle this point, for vdiich purpose a committee was ap- 
pointed. It was quite common for the Assembly to take a 
recess of several days, in which the Court of Trials was held. 
This was now dene, and at the remeeting, the difficulties 
which the conflict of jurisdiction caused in the business of 
18. the Courts, led to the passage of an act, by which any per- 
son summoned as a witness was freed from liability to ar- 
rest, during his attendance on the court. 

The events of this year were few and unimportant. 
The news of peace between England and Holland removed 
the chief source of solicitude to the colonists. The Con- 
necticut Assembly confirmed the Massachusetts grants of 
land in Westerly to Harvard college, and to divers individ- 
uals, and also, upon petition of Wickford men, established 
a Court there, and soon proclaimed the same in due form 
June at that place, and afterwards appointed a Court to meet 
Q^^ at Stonington, in behalf of the people of Narraganset, 
8. which was never held.^ These demonstrations were lightly 
regarded, and were effectually met by the Governor and 
council, who proceeded to Narraganset, and established the 
township of Kingston ; which act was approved by the 
Assembly, and Kingston was incorporated as the seventh 
town of the colony, upon the same terms with New Shore- 
ham. The excise of liquors which, by an old law, pertained 
to each town, was now ordered to go into the general treas- 

" Conn. Col. Rec, ii. 227, 231, 246. 





iiry, and was to Lc farmed out to an officer engaged for ciiai'. 
the purpose, who might regulate the quantity to be used. _!^ 
The probate of wills, which heretofore had been in the head 1^74. 
officer of the town, was at this session vested in the town 

At the next general election, the same officers were 1075. 
continued with uncommon unanimity. The only subject ^^■'>' 
of interest that was acted upon, was that of weights and 
measures. These were ordered to be procured of the Eng- 
lish standard, and one man in each town was to inspect 
and to seal with an anchor, all that were in use, in confor- 
mity therewith. 

The quiet that, for the past few months, had every 
where prevailed, was not unlike that ominous calm which, 
in the natural world, so often precedes some fearful con- 
vulsion of the elements. Slowly, but surely, for many 
years, the storm of Indian war had been gathering. At 
times the clouds had loomed above the horizon, and the 
mutterings of discontent had warned the colonists, as the 
rumbling of distant thunder foretells the approacliing 
tempest. We have seen how active preparations wc>-o 
made at such times to avert the danger, and with apparent 
success. But the clouds were only broken, not disjierscd. 
An unusual period of peace had lulled to fancied security 
the unsuspecting English ; but this time had been em- 
ployed by the great leader of the native tribes in perfect- 
ing his secret plans. The moment had now arrived when 
the terrible truth should be revealed. The massacre at 
Swanzey startled all New England with the fearful ven- 
geance that for years had been brooding in the dark mind 
of Philip of Pokanoket. 

Three men, remarkable in the history of Rhode Island 
as pioneers of the infant settlements, passed away as the 
clouds of war arose to threaten the destruction of their life 
labors. William Blackstone deceased ' but a few days be- 

' May 2Gtli, 1075, auto, cliap. iv. 
VOL. 1. — 24 



^^^ stroyed by tlie savages, John Weeks, one of tlie founders 
16 7 5. of "Warwick, was butcliered by tbe Indians at tlie com- 
mencement of hostilities, and Governor Nicolas Easton 
died soon after at Newport. He was indeed a pioneer. 
In the spring of 1634 ^ he landed in New England with 
his two sons, Peter and John, and the following spring 
they commenced the settlement of Agawam, or Newberry. 
Three years later, they built the first English house in 
Hampton, whence they removed to Pocasset, in consequence 
of the Antinomian controversy, the same year. The next 
spring they went to Newport, and there again erected the 
first European dwelling, and in 1663, they built the first 
windmill on the island. ^^ Governor Easton was several 
times chosen an Assistant, and was for two years, prior to 
the usurpation of Coddington, President of the colony un- 
der the first patent, and again for the two years previous 
to his death, he was elected Governor under the second 
charter. His sons became equally distinguished, and to 
one of them, John, now deputy Governor of the colony, we 
are indebted for an authentic history of the war which we 
are about to narrate. 



APF. Grahame in his History of North America, vol. i. -p. 

373, edition 1833, says : — 

'• The colony of Rhode Island had received the tidings of the res- 
toration with much real or apparent satisfaction. It was hoped that 

' May 14th, 1634. 

- These facts are chiefly taken from marginal notes in the handwriting of 
Peter Easton, in an old copy of Morton's Memorial, now owned by his de- 
scendant, J. Alfred Hazard, Esq., of Newport. 




the suspension of its charter by the Long Parliament would more 
than compensate the demerit of having accepted a charter from such IX 
authority ; and that its exclusion from the confederacy of which Mas 
sachusetts was the head, would operate as a recommendation to royal o 
favor. The King was early proclaimed ; and one Clarke was soon af- 
ter sent as deputy from the colony to England, in order to carry the 
dutiful respects of the inhabitants to the foot of the throne, and to 
solicit a new charter in their favor. Clarke conducted his negotiation 
with a baseness that rendered the success of it dearly bought. He 
not only vaunted the loyaltj' of the inhabitants of Rhode Island, 
while the only proof he could give of it was, that they had bestowed 
the name of Kings Province on a territory which they had acquired 
from the Indians ; but meeting this year the deputies of Massachu- 
setts at the Court, he publicly challenged them to mention any one 
act of duty or loyalty shown by their constituents to the present King 
or his father, from their first establishment in New England. Yet the 
inhabitants of llhode Island had taken a patent from the Long Parlia- 
ment in the commencement of its struggle with Charles II., while 
Massachusetts had declined to do so when the Parliament was at the 
height of its power and success." 

In tlie London edition, 1836, p. 315, some slight ver- 
bal alterations appear in the above passages, which do not 
affect their purport. In the revised American edition the 
word " baseness" is changed to the expression " supple- 
ness of adroit servility," which is equally inaccurate and 
unjust. The harsh charge here laid upon Dr. Clarke was 
rebutted by Mr. Bancroft in a note to chap. xi. vol. ii. p. 
64, edit. 1837, of his History of the United States, 
wherein he says : " the charge of baseness is Grahame's 
own invention," an expression, perhaps, in itself too se- 
vere to api)ly to the learned and friendly Briton, whom 
Mr. Bancroft in the same note says, '' is usually very can- 
did in his judginents," since the accusation of '" baseness " 
was not invented by Grahame, but was evidently the result 
of his misapiu-ehension of the authority he cites — the 
partisan historian Chalmers. After the emendation ap- 
peared in the revised edition, Mr. Bancroft, in 1841, soft- 
ened the charge of invention to that of ''unwarranted mis- 
apprehension," in which he is fully sustained "by the facts. 


CHAP. This note occasioned a prolonged controversy between Mr. 
_;,_ Bancroft and Mr. Quincy, the American editor of Gra- 
^^^- hame's history, upon the merits of which we do not pro- 
pose to touch, only so far as injustice has been done therein 
to Ehode Island, in the attempt to display the superior 
honesty and candor of the Massachusetts agents at the 
expense of Clarke. The passages in Chalmers' Political 
Annals, Book I. chap, xi. p. 273, 274-6, cited by Gra- 
hame, as his authority for the above quoted remarks on 
Ehode Island, read as foUows. After referring to the ex- 
clusion of Rhode Island from the New England league, 
owing to the dislike felt in Massachusetts for her liberal 
principles, he says : — 

" Necessity therefore obliged them to provide for their security by 
other means. They cultivated the friendship of the neighboring sa- 
chems with the greatest success ; whereby they acquired considerable 
influence over their minds, which was of considerable importance. 
And that ascendancy they employed, during the year 1G44, to procure 
from the chiefs of the Narragansets a formal surrender of their coun- 
try, wliich was afterwards called the Kings Province, to Charles I., 
in right of his crown, in consideration of that protection which the 
unhappy monarch then wanted for himself. Yet no measure could 
be more offensive to Massachusetts, or could provoke more her resent- 
ment ; because it was equally inconsistent with her usual practice and 
present views of acquiring the subjection of the same territory to her- 
self. The deputies of these plantations boasted to Charles II. of the 
merits of this transaction, and at the same time ' challenged the agents 
of Boston to display any one act of duty or loyalty shown by theii 
constituents to Charles I. or to the present King, from their first es- 
tablishment in New England.' The challenge thus confidently given 
was not accepted." p. 273. " That event [the Restoration] gave 
great satisfaction to these plantations, because they hoped to be re- 
lieved from that constant dread of IMassachusetts which had so long 
afflicted them. And they immediately proclaimed Charles II., because 
they wished for protection, and intended soon to beg for favors. They 
not long after sent Clarke as their agent to the Court of that mon- 
arch, to solicit for a patent, which was deemed in New England so 
essential to real jurisdiction. And in September, 16G2, he obtained 
the object of his prayers. Yet, owing to the opposition of Connecti- 
cut, the present charter was not finally passed till Jul}^, 1663." 


The remainder of the reference contains an abstract chap. 
uf the charter, and some erroneous statements of the ac- ^'^ 
tion had under it, to Avhich we shall hereafter refer, ^^^^^• 

Now, admitting, for the moment, that Chalmers is 
good authority, which we shall presently disprove, so far 
at least as regards this portion of his annals, an examina- 
tion of the foregoing quotations from the two authors will 
show that Mr. Grahame has drawn two erroneous infer- 
ences, not warranted by his citations, and has stated them 
as facts. First, that the name of Kings Province was a 
proof, and, as he states, "the only proof " that Clarke 
could give of the " vaunted loyalty of the inhabitants of 
Rhode Island." Chalmers, it will be seen, says parenthet- 
ically, that the surrendered country " was afterwards 
called the Kings Province," which is correct, but is very 
different from the statement of Grahame. The fact is, 
that the name of Kings Province first appears in the in- 
structions to the commissioners, at the head of whom was 
Col. Nicholls, who were sent by the King to visit New 
England, and were furnished with three sets of instruc- 
tions regulating their conduct, one as to Massachusetts, 
one as to Connecticut, and the other secret, all dated 23d 
April, 1664, and also a commission to determine appeals, 
l)oundary disputes, &c., dated two days later. They are 
in New England Papers, bundle 1, pp. 182-194, in the 
British State Paper Oftice, Article 3 of the set of in- 
structions for Connecticut relates to the Rhode Island 
boundary, a-nd in article 4, referring to the submission of 
the Narraganset sachems, it orders that if it prove true, 
the commissioners should take rent from the occupants, 
and shall call the country Kings Province. This order 
took efliect on 20th March following, by formal proclama- 
tion of the commissioners, as appears in Now England 
Papers, vol. iii. p. 4, British State Paper Office, printed 
in 3 R. I. H. Col., 179-81. This is the earliest mention 
of the name of Kings Province, which was given by royal 


CHAP, decree, nearly two years after the Rhode Island charter 
_i^ was issued, and in relation to the time of the submission 
APP. })j the sachems just twenty years " afterwards." Upon 
this point then Chalmers is correct and Grahame wrong. 
The second false statement in which Grahame is not 
borne out by his authority is that Clarke " meeting this 
year (1662) the deputies of Massachusetts, challenged 
them to mention any one act of duty or loyalty shown by 
their constituents." A due attention to the above ex- 
tract will show that Chalmers says no such thing. The 
faulty connection of the passage would perhaps give to a 
cursory reader the idea received by Grahame, and very 
distinctly and injuriously perpetuated by him. Chal- 
mers' words are obscure, it is true, relating to another and 
later affair, as will directly be shown ; but certainly Mr. 
Grahame, before thus cruelly assailing Clarke, should 
have examined the authority to which Chalmers refers. 
He would have there found that Chalmers' citation was 
not to Clarke's conduct, but to a very different point, and 
he would thus have been led either to suspect the accuracy 
of the Annalist, or to discover his own misapplication of 
his language. Upon these two points, therefore, Mr. 
Grahame has erred in drawing inferences that are not sus- 
tained by his authorities, and as he has thus done a great 
wrong — ^all the greater from the acknowledged excellence 
of his character and general accuracy of his work — we 
have felt compelled to furnish what we consider as the 
proof of "unpardonable carelessness in a historian. The 
only other reference which he gives, Hazard ii. 612, is to 
a copy of the charter. 

It really seems as if Mr. Bancroft's charge of " inven- 
tion," or rather of " unwarranted misapprehension," was 
not so unfounded as has been represented, or so unjusti- 
fiable, when we consider the pains that a writer of history 
is morally bound to bestow upon his work before assailing 
the private character or the public acts of any man whom he 


has occasion to mention ; and also when we see, as in these ciiap. 
two points, how Mr. Grahame has distorted the authority sj^ 
upon which he relies. The note and reference attached ''^^^''■ 
to this passage of Chalmers, the first one before quoted, 
reads thus : " There is a copy of the Indian Surrender in 
New England Papers, bundle 3 ; and see the same, p. 
25," the latter clause referring plainly enough to the doc- 
ument whence his extract is made. That document 
could be found in five minutes by the clerks in the State 
Paper Office, and placed before any applicant authorized 
by government to have access to its archives. The Brit- 
ish Government are veiy liberal in granting permission, 
even to foreign students of history, who apply for this 
privilege, only limiting their range of research, in the case 
of Americans at least, with the commencement of the 
revolution. A British subject would, of course, as easily 
obtain entrance, and without such limitation. That Mr. 
Grahame did not use the privilege to verify his authority in 
this case is evident. The paper referred to is a " Petition 
of the Warwick deputies (Randall Holden and John 
Greene) to the Board of Trade, together with their reply 
to the Massachusetts agents," who on the 30th July, 
1678, had answered a complaint made by the Warwick 
men, wherein was exposed the former conduct of Massa- 
chusetts toward Gorton and his company. The document 
embraces four pages, 24-27 of the volume, or bundle, and 
on page 25, the precise reference of Chalmers, occur the 
words, or nearly those, quoted by him. The aggravated 
circumstances of that case justified the challenge of the 
Warwick deputies, and the silence of those of Massachu- 
setts, was a discreet reserve for which they could hardly 
be expected to receive the praises of any man conversant 
with the facts. Chalmers' obscurity and Grahame's over- 
sight have furnished IMr. Quincy with an occasion for un- 
due elation in contrasting the conduct of the two colonies 
at this time. We onlv reu'ret that he should lend the 


sanction of his revered and distinguislied name to the 
slander against Clarke, and to the defamation of Ehode 
Island. (See 3 Mass. Hist. Colls., vol. ix. p. 28, note, 
and " The Memory of the late James Grahame Vindi- 
cated," 8vo. 59 pp. Boston, 1846, passim.) 

If, as he says, " The agents of Massachusetts would 
not condescend, for the sake even of saving their charter, 
to feign a sentiment which they were sensible had no ex- 
istence," it is more than can he said of the general Court 
that deputed them, the first article of whose instructions 
to them is to " present us to his Majesty as his loyal and 
obedient subjects." (Hutchinson's Collections, 355.) 
Whatever else we may render to our sister colony as her 
just due, it is not in the qualities of honesty or of candor 
that Ehode Island or John Clarke should yield the palm 
to Massachusetts or her agents. 

We have now to examine the reliability of Chalmers 
himself, with particular reference to chapter xi. on Ehode 
Island. No one can read the " Political Annals " with- 
out being impressed with the partisan spirit of that work. 
If the reader were ignorant of the circumstances of the 
author's life, he could scarcely fail to discover the princi- 
pal points of it from a perusal of his pages. The bitter- 
ness of the loyalist refugee appears in the title-page, and 
is conspicuous to the last passage of his book. He writes 
in 1780, when the Declaration of Independence had been 
four years in operation, and but a faint hope remained 
that the prerogative of the crown could ever be re-estab- 
lished in America, and yet he styles the country " the 
present United Colonies," and he closes the volume with 
a formal denial of the " immutable truths " upon which 
that Declaration is based. Whenever an opportunity oc- 
curs to flout the principles of freedom by maligning the 
motives of its friends, he does so with an evident satis- 
faction which he takes no pains to conceal. An honest 
regard to the truth of history is everywhere secondary to 



his hatred of civil and religious liberty. With such sen- 
timents for a groundwork it is only remarkable that his 
statements should be received without suspicion, and his -^^^ 
ample references taken without verification by writers 
who, like Grahame, are imbued with opposite opinions. 
The position he held as a Secretary of the Board of Trade, 
to whose custody the colonial archives were intrusted, 
and the fulness of his references to original papers, have 
so long given currency to his work as the highest author- 
ity, that it seems bold at tliis day to question its correct- 
ness upon any point of colonial history. Nor w^ould the 
writer venture to do so now except upon the clearest evi- 
dence, and because in the chapter that most concerns us 
the spirit of the author is more than usually apparent, 
and his erroneous statements have done more than those 
of all others to misrepresent the motives and the conduct 
of our ancestors. 

Chalmers was born in Scotland, studied law in Edin- 
burg, emigrated to America, and practised at the bar of 
Maryland for ten years. As a stanch loyalist, he re- 
turned home at the time of the revolution. There he de- 
voted himself to historical pursuits. His situation with 
the Board of Trade was not obtained till six years after 
the publication of the Annals, when it was bestowed as 
a reward of his loyalty, and as a compensation for the 
suftcrings he had endured. It is evident, however, that 
he had free access to the colonial papers before his ap- 
pointment in that office. His ability is unquestionable ; 
but the facts we have stated require that discretion 
should be exercised in perusing the Annals, and demand 
the application of the severest canons of historical criti- 
cism, before receiving as truth the statements and deduc- 
tions therein presented. As a general rule, in this case it 
may be said that whatever Chalmers states favorably for 
the colonists may be relied upon. The evidence nuist be 
very clear to his mind when he does so. Whatever he 


CHAP, states as fact unfavorable to them requires that his refer- 
.J^l^ ences should be verified, and if no reference is given, the 
^PP- statement would more safely he thrown aside. Whatever 
he offers as a deduction from stated facts, as philosophy, 
or as " remarks," should for the most part he discarded, 
as being only the reflections of a mind opposed at every 
point to the principles of the colonists, and hence unable 
to appreciate their motives. And finally, those state- 
ments that are susceptible of confirmation by the archives 
of the plantations, kept by the Board of Trade, are iu 
the main reliable, while those which could only be verified 
by the records of the colonies themselves, as being chiefly 
matters of local concern, should not be credited without 
examination of the original evidence in this country. 
There is not an American colony that has not suffered 
injustice in some way by this work, through those who 
have blindly relied upon its accuracy ; and none more so 
than Khode Island. To specify the errors of fact and of 
inference contained in the single chapter upon this State, 
would be tedious and superfluous. Suffice it to say, that 
the comments upon the charter near the close of the chap- 
ter begin with an error of date, and are so interwoven 
with misstated facts and partial truths, and so colored by 
party biases, as to destroy the value of the whole. 





Boston, 29th Sept., 1661. 
Hon'rd Sr. — After our services presented to yo'selfe we make 
boulde to request this favor to be added to al yo' former, considering 
it may be for our further comforte to have the Lands wee have at 


Narragansett in some pattent and yo'selfe being now in England and cHAP. 
having an interest with ourselves therein, we conceave that if you IX. 
could procure them into Connecticut pattent it would be best, and ^"^^^ 
therefore if you could procure the line to rnnne alonge from Conecti- L>. 
cot by the Bays pattent til it meete with Plimoth pattent, and then 
by plimoth pattent tile it come into Naraganset Bay and soe into the 
sea, and bounded by the sea til it meete with the further parte of Co- 
necticot jurisdiction with all the islands adjoyueing it would reach y« 
whole. But notwithstanding this our advice wee desire to have our 
particular Interest from the Indians to be reserved to us and onely y" 
jurisdiction or government to be within Conccticot, onely we leave it 
to yo'sehe which way you finde most feaseable whether in Conccticot 
pattent or Plimoth provided whichever it be our particular Interest 
be reserved to ourselves. If you cannot attain these boundes yet wee 
desire if it may be that our particular lands, the propriety alwaies re- 
served to ourselves, may be got into Conccticot pattent, however freed 
from Roade Island. Thus craving excuse for our bouldness we take 
leave, onely subscribing ourselves yo'' real servants apointed to sub- 
scribe our names in the behalf of the rest. 

Edward Hutchinson Piiclv' Lord 

Will'" Hudson Am Richison. 

The former is what we formerly writ by ]Mr. Lord and not haveing 
anything to add send the same again, onely the Lord hath maide a sad 
breach amongst us by taking to himselfe Maj'' General Atharton who 
was slaine by a fall from his horse. 

ffor the Right Worshipful 

John Winthrope, Esqr 

these present. 


Hon"' S'. 

According to j-o'' desires in those Letters from yo'^self and Mr 
Richardson, and the others of yo' Company (of) y" Plantation of Nar- 
ragansett was included within Connecticott Charter, yet so as it was 
according to the very words of their old charter which was to Narra- 
gansett River, I had onely those words put in for Explication and 
avoiding controversie about the meaning of Narragansett River ; these 
words are added [commonly called Narragansett Bay where the said 
River fallcth into the Sea] and by what I saw of y' coppy of Provi- 
dence charter the words are these, that the Whole Extent of y>' Tract 
was about 25 miles, which by calculation from y" further part of Prov- 
idence would reach but to the Narragansett countrey. 




After the Charter was under the Greate Seale and finished Mr 
IX. Clarke then appeared w"' great opposition, as Agent for Road Island 
Collony, he never before made it known to me that he was agent for 
D. ' them, nor could I imagine it for a good while after my arriveale heere. 
jMr Alderman Peake told me hee had Received Letters from Road Isl- 
and, with an Address Inclosed, and was desired by those Letters to 
Deliver y** Address, and afterwards told mee he had procured Mr 
Mandrick to Deliver it. I could not by this conceive they had any 
other Agent, but was resolved in my Businesse to keep to y* words of 
the old Pattent, as neere as might be. I am sorry there should be 
any Controversye between friends. If they had Desired to have 
Joyned w"' our Collony I doubt not but they might have had all 
Equall Liberties with them. Mr Clarke might have done their Busi- 
ness before my arriveall or all y time since ; I should not have op- 
posed anything therein, and whether he had done any thing, or were 
about it, I did not enquire, but that he hath done nothing in it (if it 
be so) is not through the least act from myselfe ; who only minded 
our Businesse according to a former Grant : And when y' was fin- 
ished then Mr Clarke began to stirr and oppose what he could, w"'* was 
a great wrong to y'^ hindi'ance of my voyage. Why he did not Rather 
act about their Businesse before when hee would have none to oppose, 
or all this time when he should have no opposition from myself or 
any other, but so act onely by making a Controversye after our Busi- 
nesse was finished I know not y'' Reason. I desire y" to present my 
Remembrances to ]Mr Brenton and Mr Arnold and jMr Williams and 
our friends of those parts, and let them know that this is the whole 
truth of the Businesse, however Mr. Clarke may Represent itt to them ; 
they are friends that I alwaye did and doe Respect and Love and had 
not the least Intent of wronging them. Intending onely that service 
to the Collony to their old charter w"^ they had purchased At a great 
price, and according to the Desires of yo'selves the Purchasers of that 
in Narragansett. 

I shall not add at present by (but ?) ray love and respects to yo'- 
seife and Mr Smith and the rest of yo'' Company, and Rest 
Your Loveing friend 

John Winthrop. 

Ln» September 2, 1662, 

For Capt. Edw. Hutchinson 

at Narragansett. 



Boston, IS, 9 m. 1662. 
Honu"^ S"'. — Wee have Received yo" from London. We thought 
good to send you a copy of what wee sent to Connecticot to consider 


of, oncly wee think good to add, y' Avee are bold to presume you doc (jjj^yp. 
not consider y' wliat you have procured in y** Charter Reaches the IX. 
Whole of y Narragansett Countrey, and Whereas you speake of 25 ^^^^^^ 
miles wee understand not yo'" meaning, for yo'' Pattent and Plimoutli 1). 
Joyns Reaching both y^ Narragansett River, and whereas Mr Clarke 
pretends a Pattent, Wee have sent a Coppy of one to the Massachu- 
setts of the same Land dated before theirs w,i, answers theirs, and 
wee conceive may give satisfaction. But, however, It is necessary for 
uvoyding Contention to yield no way to Road Island for they are not 
Rationall. It seems Mr Clarke hath much abused you, but I wonder 
not at it, for their Principles leads them to no better. But for any 
Tract of Land of 25 miles there is not any such Tract, for thcire Pat- 
tent is bounded by the Countrey inhabited by the Indians (though 
after there be an expression reaching to Pequod River) yet the whole 
Countrey of y" Narragansett lyes betwixt Pequod River and Provi- 
dence w'='' is Inhabited by Indians, and therefore that Exprrffsion is 
no better than a Cheate, for from the outside of Providence bounds to 
Pequod Iliver is at least GO miles taking in all the Indian COuntrey 
w'^'' they are not to do by their Pattent, therefore if Providence Town- 
ship and Road Island should be granted a Pattent yett y" Countrey 
Inhabited by Indians is Excepted, which is that wee have purchased, 
therefore wee are bold to crave of you to consider w' you yeild to be- 
fore you yeild, and w'ever you doe to Reserve our particular Interest. 
But if y' Providence, Warwick and Road Island should procure a 
Pattent for the Bounds of those 4 Towns to come as far as Warwick 
rails where they now stand, and so goc along by the Riv^r pawtuckct 
not by the Bay but to Warwick pointe w'^' will be about 20 or 25 
miles to Reach to Boston Line wee should not oppose w^'' is indeed 
more than anything they can pretend claime to. Thus not further to 
trouble you wee take our leave and rest 

Yc servants to our powers 

Ed. Hutchinson by appointment 

of the Company. 

These letters are now for the first time printed. The first is given 
to show the earnestness of the Atherton company to " be freed from 
Rhode Island," whatever else might be their lot, long before the char- 
ters were obtained. It breathes the true spirit of ^Massachusetts at 
that day, and proposes a series of boundary lines that would annihi- 
late the existence of Rhode Island. It refers to Mr. Winthrop's own- 
ership in the purchase, and closes with the news of the fiital accident 
that terminated the life of their gallant but unscrupulous leader. 
From this time the name by which the company was first commonly 
called in his honor was changed, in general use, to that of the Xarra- 
ganset company. 


CHAP. The second letter recites the difficulties which Winthrop encoun- 
IX. tered, chiefly at the hands of Clarke, after he had obtained the Con- 

""2^^ necticut charter. That he should feel restive under the delay that 
D. Clarke's opposition occasioned was natural, but we see no reason why 
Clarke should have made known his intentions in regard to Rhode 
Island before he was obliged to do so by the course of events. He 
was surrounded by the agents of adverse interests, who, he had good 
reason to fear, if they faithfully represented their principals, would 
leave no means untried that bitter hostility could suggest, to accom- 
plish the overthrow of Ehode Island. That influences to this end 
were brought to bear upon Winthrop the first letter shows, and it is 
due to his purity alone, and not to the justice or honesty of his princi- 
pals and advisers, that the worst fears of Clarke were not realized. 
Under such circumstances sound judgment dictated the conduct of the 
Rhode Island agent in keeping his own councils. Winthrop's friendly 
feeling towards Rhode Island is seen at the close of his letter in his 
message to some of her leading men, to whom he says he intended no 
wrong, but thought he was doing a service to their old charter, as well 
as to the Narraganset company, in what he had secured for Connecti- 
cut. There is no reference in this letter to his agreement with Clarke, 
which in fact was not signed till seven months later, but an allusion in 
the next letter, which is the reply of Hutchinson to this one, would 
indicate that some compromise between them was already in view, and 
had come to the knowledge of the writer, probably through Win- 
throp's official correspondence with Connecticut. 

The third letter displays the usual animosity of its authors against 
Rhode Island. It is chiefly valuable as showing, in connection with 
that portion of the preceding one to which it specially replies, the in- 
accurate notions of both the corresponding parties concerning the 
courses and distances of the territory in question. It will be seen 
that there is an irreconcilable difference between them on this point, 
and hence if either party were correct in his statements the other was 
entirely wrong, Winthrop is pretty nearly accurate in his distance 
of twenty-five miles " from the further part of Providence to the Nar- 
raganset country," if he means from Narraganset Bay to Pawcatuck 
river in an east and west course, which is probably what he does mean, 
as it is upon that basis the agreement was made and the charter of 
Rhode Island was granted. Hutchinson, on the contrary, is as nearly 
correct in his widely different estimate of distance, taking a north and 
south, or rather a northeast and southwest course from Providence to 
Pawcatuck. So that it is probable the misunderstanding between the 
writers was in regard to the courses rather than the distances. The 
reading of each letter would seem to convey the idea that a north and 
south course was meant in both cases. But if this were so, Winthrop 
was very wide of the mark and Hutchinson pretty nearly correct. 


Another remarkable point in this letter is the allusion to the old cu^^ 
Narraganset patent held by Massachusetts, of which a copy appears IX. 
to have been sent by the Atherton company to Mr. Winthrop. The j^pp~ 
references to this ancient patent are very few, and are almost always D. 
merely incidental, as in this case, as if no great weight was attached 
to it. Why this should be so we cannot tell, but so it is. Every al- 
lusion to the patent of Dec. 10th, 1G43, is worthy of notice from this 
peculiarity. In its proper place, chapter iv.. this subject is more 
fully considered. 




April 29, 1G63. 

Mr. Hutchinson, and my honoured friend. — ^ 

]Mr. "Winthrop was very averse to my prosecuting yo'' affaires, he 
having had much trouble with INIr. Clarke, whiles he remained in 
England ; but as soone as I received intelligence of his departure from 
y» Downes, I took into the Societye a Potent Gentleman, and pre- 
ferred a Petition against Clarke, &c., as enimyes to the peace and well 
being of his jNIajestyes good subjects, and doubt not of effecting the 
premises in convenient tjnne ; and in order to accomplish y' businesse, 
I have bought of Mr. Edwards a parcel of curiosityes to y*^ value of 
GO : to gratifye persons that are powerfull, that there may be a Letter 
filled with Authorizing E.\pressions to the Collonycs of the Massa- 
chusetts and Connecticut, that the proprietors of the Naraganset coun- 
trye, shall not onlye live peaccablj^e, but have satisHvction for Injuryes 
already received, by .some of the saide Proprietors, and the power 
y' shall be soe invested (viz.,) the Masachusets and Coneticott by ver- 
tuc of the saide letter, will joyntlyc or severallj-e have full power to 
doe us Justice to all intents as to our Naraganset concerncs. S^ Mr. 
Sam" Sedgwick disburst y'' monye, the obligation I doubt not of sat- 
isfaction of accordinge to tyme which is by March next and by y' time, 
or long before, I doubt not of satisfyinge yo' desires, or elcc I will 
satisfye y'' saide Bill to Sedgwick myself T cannot deeme those termcs 
Mr. Winthrop made with Clarke any waye to answcre yo' desires, 
were there a certaintve in what Clarke hath granted. 

Yo'' friend and servantt 

John Scott. 


The foregoing letter is the most important evidence 
that has yet been brought to light upon this subject. 
Nothing could more clearly explain the whole conspiracy 
against Clarke, its authors, their plans, and the means 
adopted to accomplish their purpose. Their motive is 
shown in previous letters, the desire " to be freed from 
Rhode Island " in whatever way, and " the way " is here 
explained after the lapse of two hundred years. Parties 
who could adopt such means, " uncerimoniouslye," in- 
deed, would hesitate at no other degree of baseness to 
shield their crime. Why the character of Clarke was 
traduced in every mode that unscrupulous corruption 
could devise, can no longer remain a mystery. That the 
slanders originated by these violators of both moral and 
statute law, and eagerly perpetuated by their sympa- 
thizing brethren in the adjoining colonies, by some, no 
doubt, through ignorance, but by all with a zeal that does 
no honor to their hearts, should now be traced to their 
source after so long an interval, must be gratifying to 
those who have steadily defended the purity of Clarke in 
this matter of the charter, reasoning from his exalted 
character in all the other relations of life. It furnishes 
one more proof of the fact, that the general character of a 
man is no unsafe criterion of his conduct in particular 
circumstances, and that the reputation which he holds in 
his own community is a tolerably safe standard of his real 
character. It thus affords a triumphant vindication of 
what Mr. Quincy (pamphlet on Grahame, p. 36) is pleased 
to term " a studied eulogy on the general character of 
Clarhe" in Mr. Bancroft's 2d vol. p. 64, which must be 
grateful to that eminent historian who, in the face of so 
much printed evidence on the other side, has examined 
our records for himself, and in this, as in other disputed 
points, has dared to do Rhode Island justice. 

The letter opens with a striking acknowledgment of 
Winthrop's purity, for although Winthrop had had diffi- 


scot's infamy exposed. 385 

culty with Clarke, lie was so averse to the writer's scheme, chap. 
that Scot dared not pursue them until Winthrop had ._i^ 
emharked for America, He then gave an interest in the 
company to "a potent gentleman/' preferred charges 
against Clarke and his principals as enemies to the crown, 
Avith what purpose is evident, and, these two points se- 
cared, he doubted not of speedy success. But to render 
assurance doubly sure, he adopts another form of bribery 
to apply to other powerful personages, whose taste for cu- 
riosities he supposed to be greater than their sense of right 
or their pride of character, and invests the sum of sixty 
pounds for that purpose. The object of all this nice cal- 
culation was twofold ; to hide his own infamy under the 
ruin of Clarke, and to obtain a letter from the King plac- 
ing the Narraganset country under the jurisdiction of the 
United Colonies. No description could be more accurate 
in every item than is here given on the 29th April, of the 
royal letter of the 21st June following. 

Corruption moved apace to further the plans of Scot. 
In seven weeks the character of Clarke was branded with 
infamy to remote posterity, and the Atherton company 
had accomplished their selfish purposes by a baseness that 
cannot easily be surpassed. We have no clue to the mean- 
ing of the paragraph about Mr, Sedgwick. Possibly it 
relates to some private matter, but not unlikely it refers 
to some other disbursement in connection with this nefa- 
rious scheme. A letter of this stamp might well be con- 
fined to the one subject of its infamy. It concludes with 
a doubt as to Winthrop's agreement being satisfactory, 
even if Clarke were authorized to make it ; and the last 
word it contains implies the confidential nature of the 
topic and the free and easy character of the writer. " Un- 
ceremoniously " indeed ! A cooler stab at all that an 
honest and honorable man holds most dear, or a clearer 
exposition of successful bribery was never made ; and but 
for the sometimes dangerous habit of preserving private 
VOL. 1 — 25 


CHAP, papers, wMch Capt. Hutchinson possessed, we might never 
_J^ have known, in this world, the secret and real history of 
APP- this transaction. 

The agreement between the two agents was signed on 
the 7th April. That Winthrop liad implicit confidence 
in Clarke's honor is evident from his embarking for home 
immediately afterwards, leaving Clarke, unfortunately for 
the latter as it proved, still in England. The above let- 
ter was written on the 29th April. The King's letter to 
the United Colonies, so accurately predicted and described 
in that of Scot was issued on the 21st of June, and the 
charter of Rhode Island passed the seals on the 8th of 






To trace the causes of the most disastrous conflict that 
ever devastated New England, it will be necessary to take x. 
a rapid review of the intercourse between the English and I'eYa 
the Indians from the time of the landing of the Pilgrims. 
Shortly before this event, a pestilence had wasted the 
strength of the natives of this region, and caused them to 
become an easy prey to the martial spirit of the Narragan- 
sets. Soon after their landing, Massasoit, Sachem of the 
Wampanoags, a powerful tribe who had formerly ruled the 
whole country east of Narraganset bay, and extending 
north to the territory of the Massachusetts, but who were 
now, with their dependent tribes, subject to the conquer- ig21. 
ors, made a treaty with the Pilgrims, which he kept in- 
violate for forty years till the time of his death.' He left 
two sons, Wamsutta, by the English called Alexander, and 

' In the wintsr of 1661-2, Drake's Indians, B. 3, ch. ii. Various ilatos 
from 1G56 to 1G60 are assigned by different authors as the period of the 
death of Massasoit, but the diligence of Drake entitles his opinion to the 
greatest weight, and the reasons given for it in Book 2, ch. ii., p. 28, are con- 
clusive that the death of Massasoit did not occur till later than Sept., 1661. 



CHAP. Pometacom or Metacomet, whose English, name was Philip. ' 
_.^_ The faith with which Massasoit or Ousamequin, as he was 
16 21. also called, maintained the treaty on his side, was not so 
well kept on the other. He quietly submitted to repeated 
aggressions upon his land and liberties, and besides having 
sold large tracts of territory at various times to the Eng- 
lish, he witnessed the gradual withdrawal of his subject 
tribes to a condition of independence. The fatal alliance 
which had released him from his recent subjection to the 
Narragansets, was destined to place a severer yoke upon 
his own neck, to weaken, instead of strengthening, his in- 
fluence over the subordinate tribes, and finally to effect the 
extermination of his race. He had several residences, the 
principal of which, in the town of Bristol, was called So- 
wams by the Wampanoags, and Pokanoket by the ISTarra- 
gansets, and by the English Mount Hope. The decay of 
the nation, and the proportionate increase of the English, 
made a deep impression upon the minds of the two sons 
of Massasoit. Wamsutta, the elder, succeeded his father, 
16 6 2. but survived him only a few months. The manner of his 
death added to the sting which the accumulated wrongs 
of forty years had planted in the hearts of Philip and his 

We have seen that Massasoit claimed portions of the 
land of Providence, west of Seeconk river, and that Wil- 
liams and others had satisfied his claims, although the 
Narraganset supremacy was undoubted, and their Sachems 

' The Indians often changed their names. Wamsutta was fu-st called 
Mooanam, and later Wamsutta or Sepauquet, both of which latter names are 
signed, together with his English name, to the deed of March, 1661-2, to 
Providence men. Any great event in life seems to have given occasion to 
these changes ; as Massasoit, upon commencing his war against the Narragan- 
sets in 1632, took the name of Ousamequin, by which he was afterwards 
more generally known. This custom complicates the difficulties of Indian 
history very much. The English names of Alexander and Philip were be- 
stowed on the two young sachems at Plymouth Court about 1656, ahhough 
Mather says it was not till 1662 when the two sachems came to Plymouth. 
Morton's Memorial, 286-7, and Drake, Book 3, p. 6. 


had conveyed a clear title to tlie original purchasers.' chap. 

There is reason for more than suspicion that these claims .,^,^ 

were instigated hy our neighbors, in their desire to possess 16 62. 
themselves of an outlet to Narraganset bay, and that they 
were not well pleased with their faithful ally that he should 
consent to release his pretended right to those who already 
held it from his superiors. Wamsutta was associated 
with his fother in the government for some years before the 
death of Massasoit, and joined with him in conveying lands 
to Plymouth.^ Upon the death of his father he became 
the chief Sachem, and conveyed to the town of Providence 
some land on the west of Seeconck river, which had been 
claimed by Massasoit as belonging to the Wampanoags.^ 
This act was never specifically charged against him as the 
cause of the harsh treatment which he received under pre- 
tence of his plotting against the English, and which re- 
sulted in his death ; but in the absence of any proof of the 
truth of those charges, and in view of the murder of Miau- 
tinomi, a few years before, whose greatest crime was his 
kindness to Grorton, and his having sold Shawomet to the 
" arch-heretic," we are inclined to think that this deed of 
sale was one cause of the prejudice against him. He had 
strengthened his position by marriage with Weetamo, 
squaw sachem of the Pocassets, who inhabited what is now 
Tiverton, This was a step toAvards restoring the ancient 
unity of the tribes, which was still further eifected>^t a 
later day, by the marriage of Metacomet with the sister 
of Weetamo. 

It was soon after the sale to Providence that "some 
of Boston, having been occasionally at Narraganset, wrote 
to Mr, Prince, who was then Governor of Plymouth, that 
Alexander was contriving mischief against the English, 

1 This satisfaction occurred Sept. lOtli, IGIG, See ch. iv, ante. 

- March 9th, 1653, these two sachems joined iu the sale of a largo tract 
including Papasquash neck. Drake, Book 2, p. 27-8, 

^ The deed is dated 12th March, 16(51-2, and is given in Staple's Annals, 
p. 574. 


CHAP, and that he had solicited the Narragansets to engage with 
_J^ him in his designed rebellion." ' We know that '' some 
16 6 2. of Boston " were at this time anxious to gain possession 
of Narraganset, and also that the Wampanoags claimed 
a portion of that country, and had long had a feud with 
Pumham about the lands of Shawomet.^ These rumors 
furnished sufficient grounds for the arrest of Wamsutta 
upon the charge of conspiracy. Capt. Willet, who resided 
near Mount Hope, was sent to require his presence at the 
next Court at Plymouth. He did not appear, but, it was 
said, continued his intercourse with the Narragansets. 
Upon this. Governor Prince despatched Major Josiah 
Winslow, afterwards governor, with a small force, to seize 
Alexander and bring him to Plymouth. Winslow found 
him at one of his hunting stations, a few miles distant, and 
captured him without resistance, although the anger of the 
Sachem at this interference obliged the Major to adopt the 
same resolute means resorted to by Atherton in his visit 
to Pessicus twelve years before, and to present a pistol at 
his breast. The Sachem yielded, and with his whole train 
of warriors and women, some eighty in number, who were 
allowed to accompany him, was carried a prisoner towards 
Plymouth, and stopped at Winslow's house in Marshfield. 
Here the haughty chieftain, under the combined effects of 
rage, fatigue and heat, was taken ill. The day was very 
hot, and although Winslow offered his horse to the Sachem, 
it was gallantly decHned, because there were none for his 
squaw or" the other women to ride. On account of his 
sickness, his attendants entreated that he might be sent 
home. This was granted upon his promise to appear at 
the next Court, and meanwhile to send his son as a host- 
age. But his death ensued almost immediately. Hub- 
bard says he " died before he got half way home." ^ 

' Increase Mather's Relation, p. 70. 

- President R. Williams' letter to Mass., May, 1656. Knowles, 290. 
^ Hubbard's Narrative, London, 1677, p. 10. Mather's Relation, p. 70-1 
See also Davis's Morton, 287-9, note, and Drake's Indians, Book 3, p. 6-9. 


Thus ended the brief and bitter reign of Wamsutta, chap. 
the eldest son and successor of the earliest and firmest ...J^. 
friend of the Pilgrims. Dr. Mather, in the passage before 1 6 G 2. 
cited, accuses Alexander of not being '' so faithful and 
friendly to the English as his father had been." Forty 
years had changed the condition of the tribe. They were 
no longer in fear of the Narragansets, from whose power 
old Massasoit had sought refuge in a friendly alliance with 
the white man. Yet during his own life, he had more than 
once been called on to explain his conduct. Their jealousy 
of the natives was natural in view of the immense dispar- 
ity of numbers between them ; but had their care in pre- 
serving the terms of treaties been as great as was that of 
their savage allies ; had there been less of the old theo- 
cratic spirit of dominion, " the saints shall judge the world " 
— ' we are the saints,' and more of the religion they jjro- 
fessed, in their dealings with the red man ; had there been 
the same strict regard to the letter and spirit of their 
agreements that was shown upon the other side ; or had 
the temper of the founders of Rhode Island, in their inter- 
course with the aborigines, been displayed by the other col- 
onies, there would have been less occasion, perhaps none at 
all, for the alarms that so often distracted New England, 
and the hope of the old Canonicus would have been real- 
ized, " that the English and my posterity shall live in love 
and peace together." The jealousy with which the Puri- 
tan colonies regarded the powerful Sachems around them, 
was signally displayed towards those who showed Idndness 
to any whom they had placed under the ban of proscrip- 
tion. The style of their negotiations with Canonicus, the 
clerico-judicial murder of Miantinomi, the savage treatment 
of Pessicus, and now the unfeeling harshness that hastened 
the death of Wamsutta, are examples of this, whicli it is 
in vain that the Puritan writers attempt to justify or ex- 
plain. That Major Winslow conducted himself with cour- 
tesy towards his royal captive, or that the best medical at- 


CHAP, tendance and careful nursing Was obtained for him in his 
.^:^ illness, does not palliate the manner of his arrest, or miti- 
16 6 2. gate the insult offered to a sovereign prince upon his na- 
tive soil. Nor did the peculiar allies of the Puritans es- 
cape the frequent evidence of their displeasure. Uncas, 
their willing tool, Pumham, their abject slave, and even 
old Massasoit their most faithful friend, were often called 
before their severe tribunals, to answer for suspected trea- 
son or alleged misconduct. One cardinal error prevailed 
in all their treatment of the Indians. They regarded the 
submission of the tribes to the British crown, always cheer- 
fully and often voluntarily made, as being an act of sub- 
jection to themselves. Nothing could be farther from the 
intention of these haughty Sachems. Kepeatedly they 
asserted that they were the allies, not the subjects, of the 
colonists ; but the latter, taking the servihty of Pum- 
ham, himself a renegade, as the type of the conduct they 
desired from all, insisted upon a like submission from his 
superiors, and when this was denied, they construed the at- 
titude of equality into an act of hostility, and busied them- 
selves in conjecturing plots where none existed. This was 
a certain method of producing the result they so much 
dreaded. What was only suspected in regard to Wam- 
sutta was clearly proved, a dozen years later, in the case 
of Metacomet. 

The treatment of Alexander was openly condemned, 
even among the Puritans, for its harshness and impolicy, 
although their own conduct towards Miantinomi had been 
if possible, yet more unjustifiable. Upon the savages, it 
produced a deep and lasting influence. They did not hes- 
itate to charge the English with having poisoned their 
victim. False as this accusation was, it was less unjust 
than the act upon which it was grounded. Weetamo, the 
widow, although she subsequently soothed her sorrows by 
a second marriage vf ith an Indian of lower rank, never for- 
gave the death of her royal husband, but secretly nursed 


her feelings of revenge, and gave currency among the chap. 
tribes to the story of English perfidy. ~-J^ 

Mctacomet, or King Philip as he was now called, sue- 16 6 2. 
ceeded his brother as chief Sachem of the Wampanoags. q^' 
Being sent for by the Court at Plymouth, he appeared and 
renewed the treaty' of amity with the English. He was a 
prince as politic in counsel, as he was undaunted in war, 
and he was a man too high-spirited tamely to submit to 
private injuries or public wrongs, without seeking the 
means of redress. His designs required concealment until 
they could ripen into a general union of all the tribes 
against the English. There were local jealousies to ap- 
pease, and ancient rivalries to adjust, for which time and 
diplomacy were requisite. Meanwhile he preserved, in a 
measure, the same friendly aspect to the colonists that his 
father had done ; and even after the demonstrations that 
had led to the first disarming of the Indians, and to the 16 6 7. 
subsequent alarms in Plymouth, he freely made a treaty, 
confessing his fault, and agreeing to surrender all his guns, ^ ' .q' 
to be kept by the English so long as they saw fit. But 10. 
seventy of them were given up. Strange Indians contin- 
ued to resort to Mount Hope. The Court of Plymouth 
again sent for Philip to require his presence. He, with 
his counsellors, chanced to be in Boston when news of this 
order was received there, and so favorably did he state his 
case that the government of Massachusetts suggested to 
Plymouth, that instead of commencing hostilities as threat- 
ened, that colony should refer the dispute to the arbitra- 
tion of the other colonies. When the mediators met at Sept. 
Plymouth, Philip signed an agreement to pay one hundred "''' 
pounds within three years, and five wolves' heads annually 
to that colony, to refer to them all disputes between his 
tribe and the English, and neither to seU lands nor to make 
war without their consent. This was a forced arrange- 
ment on the part of the Sachem, made under the alter- 
native of war for which he was not yet prepared. That he 


CHAP. SO considered it, is evident from his remarkable reply to Mr. 
_^:^ John Borden of Ehode Island, an intimate friend of Philip, 
16 74. who, when the war was about to commence, attempted to 
dissuade him from it by urging the reciprocal benefits that 
would result from peace. " The Enghsh who came first 
to this country were but an handful of people, forlorn, 
poor, and distressed. My father was then Sachem. He 
reheved their distresses in the most kind and hospitable 
manner. He gave them land to build and plant upon. 
He did all in his power to serve them. Others of their 
own countrymen came and joined them. Their numbers 
rapidly increased. My father's counsellors became uneasy 
and alarmed lest, as they were possessed of firearms, which 
was not the case with the Indians, they should finally un- 
dertake to give law to the Indians, and take from them 
their country. They therefore advised him to destroy 
them before they should become too strong, and it should 
be too late. My father was also the father of the English. 
He represented to his counsellors and warriors that the 
English knew many sciences which the Indians did not ; 
that they improved and cultivated the earth, and raised 
cattle and fruits, and that there was sufficient room in the 
country for both the English and the Indians. His advice 
prevailed. It was concluded to give victuals to the Eng- 
lish. They flourished and increased. Experience taught 
that the advice of my father's counsellors was right. By 
various means they got possessed of a great part of his ter- 
ritory. But he stiU remained their friend till he died. 
My elder brother became Sachem. They pretended to 
suspect him of evil designs against them. He was seized 
and confined, and thereby thrown into sickness and died. 
Soon after I became Sachem they disarmed all my people. 
They tried my people by their own laws, and assessed dam- 
ages against them which they could not pay. Their land 
was taken. At length a line of division was agreed upon 
between the Enghsh and my people, and I myself was to 


be responsible. Sometimes the cattle of the English chap. 
would come into the cornfields of my people, for they did ^^;^^ 
not make fences like the English. I must then be seized 16 7 4. 
and confined till I sold another tract of my country for 
satisfaction of all damages and costs. Thus tract after 
tract is gone. But a small part of the dominion of my 
ancestors remains. I am determined not to live till I have 
no country." ' This is the preamble to a declaration of 
war, more striking from its origin, and more true in its 
statements, than any with which we are acquainted. It is 
the mournful summary of accumulated wrongs that cry 
aloud for battle, not for revenge alone, but for the very ex- 
istence of the oppressed. It is the sad note of preparation, 
sounded by a royal leader, that summons to their last con- 
flict the aboriginal lords of New England. It is the death 
song of Metacomet, chanted on the site of his ancestral 
home, before plunging into the fatal strife that was to end 
only with his life, and to seal for ever the fortunes of his 

The fact that the war broke out before the conspiracy 
was complete, has caused some historians to doubt whether 
there was really any concerted design among the Indians ; 
but the evidence of Col. Church, in his interviews with 
Awashonks and Weetamo, queens of Seaconnet and Po- 
casset, appears conclusive of Philip's intrigues in that 
direction, while other cotemporary writers adduce the testi- 
mony of captives, taken at Had ley and elsewhere, to show 
that the plot embraced the remoter Indians of the Con- 
necticut Eiver, as well as the powerful tribe of the Narra- 
gansets. An event that precipitated the war probably 
averted the utter destruction of the English, by distracting 
the yet incomplete alliance of the Indians. Sausaman, 
one of Mr. Elliot's " praying Indians," a man of unstable 
mind, after being educated at the college, and employed 
as a teacher at Natick, returned to savage life, and re- 

' Foster papers, MSS., vol. ix. last page. 


mained for many years witli Philip as Ms secretary and 
chief counsellor. The persuasions of Elliot induced him 
to abandon Philip, and resuming civilized hahits, he be- 
came a preacher. Being thrown in company with some 
16 75. of his old companions, he discovered the plot that was 
forming against the English. This he made known to 
Governor Leveret. He was soon afterwards murdered, as 
a betrayer of his tribe. Three Indians who committed 
the deed were seized and executed at Plymouth. Philip 
expected his own arrest as the instigator of the crime. 
Enraged at his subjects being thus tried by English laws 
for fulfilling his commands, in executing the vengeance 
denounced by Indian custom against all traitors — that 
they should suffer death, and determined not to submit 
to the indignity of personal violence, Philip mustered his 
warriors and commenced to scour the country in all direc- 
tions. His forces rapidly increased by accessions from the 
neighboring tribes, and at length the border town of Swan- 
^^- zey received the first blow in this sanguinary war. Houses 
were robbed and cattle killed. Four days later the mas- 
sacre commenced. Nine of the inhabitants were slain and 
seven wounded. The troops of Plymouth marched at once 

28. to the defence of Swanzey. Forces were also despatched 
from Boston, who attacked the Indians and drove them to 

29. a swamp. The next day other troops arrived, the whole 
were placed under the command of Major Savage, and 
marched. into the Indian country to break up the head 
quarters of Philip at Mount Hope. The savages fled be- 
fore them leaving the traces of their retreat in burning 
buildings, and the heads and hands of slaughtered English 
stuck upon poles by the wayside, but not an Indian could 
be seen. The wigwams were found deserted, with evident 
marks of haste, A few prowling dogs were the only ves- 
tiges of life that remained. A fort was thrown up at 
Mount Hope, much against the advice of Church, and a 
small garrison left to guard it. The enemy had crossed 



1 G 7 5. 

church's fight at fogland ferry. 397 

over to Pocasset where it was now proposed by Mr., after- chap, 
wards Colonel, Churcli to follow them.' With a small 
band of volunteers, he readily attempted the daring exploit. 
Having, previous to the war, negotiated with the squaw 
sachems of the two tribes in that vicinity, he hoped, on 
this account, to withdraw their men from the alliance with 
Philip. Crossing over to Rhode Island, he there found 
boats to transport him the next night to Pocasset, where 
the party laid in ambush for the Indians, but in vain. 
The next day they followed the trail south, to a point near 
Fogland ferry, where they were attacked by a greatly su- 
perior force. The skirmish continued for six hours till the 
English ammunition was nearly spent, when a sloop from 
Rhode Island came down and relieved them from their per- 
ilous condition. They returned to the garrison at Mount 

It was of vital importance to prevent an oifensive al- 
liance between Philip and the Narragansets, for it was said 
that the latter had promised to join him in the spring with 
four thousand warriors. Commissioners were sent to treat 

'■ There were many men who distingiiisheJ themseU'es by their courage 
and address in the course of this war, but none more so than Col. Benjamin 
Church. He was the first English settler at Seaconnet, now Little Compton, 
then filled with Indians, and was just commencing his plantation when the 
war broke out. He thoroughly understood the Indian character, and their 
partisan mode of warfare, which latter he adopted with great success in the 
subsequent struggle. His conquests were conducted with more humanity 
than was displayed by many of his colleagues, while his courage and military 
skill wei-e conspicuovxs. He was to Rhode Island what Miles Standish had 
been to the first generation of Plymouth colonists — a buckler and shield in 
the hour of danger ; but he had far more experience in military affairs than 
fell to the lot of the Pilgrim captam. It was destined for him to strike the 
first and the last decisive blows in Philip's war, by which he is now best 
known to fame. So great was the reputation he gained, that he was after- 
wards constantly called to the field to repel the French and Indians at the 
north and east. He served in no less than five expeditions against Canada 
and Maine, as commander-in-chief of the colonial forces sent out by the royal 
Governors of New England. The first time was at the request of Sir Ed- 
mund Andros, in lG8i) ; again in 1G90 by Hinckley ; then in )002 he was 


CHAP, with them, and the Massachusetts troops marched into 
-^-^-^ their country to enforce the terms that might be dictated. 
167 5, They found the villages in Pumham's district deserted. 
He had shaken off his English shackles, and joined with his 
countrymen against the common foe. Some days were 
spent in negotiating with the sachems before the articles 
15- of agreement were concluded. These required the sur- 
render of any of Philip's subjects who might come in their 
pow'er, stipulated rewards for such surrender, declared war 
against him, agreed that stolen goods should be restored, 
confirmed all former grants of land and agreements made 
with the United Colonies, pledged perpetual peace, and 
granted hostages for the full performance of all the arti- 
cles. It was a forced affair throughout, calculated to irri- 
tate rather than to appease the Narragansets, and justly 
regarded by them as no longer binding when the restraint 
that compelled it was removed. 

Meanwhile the war raged with, great fury. In all di- 
rections the mangled corpses and burning towns of the 
English bespoke the relentless wrath and ceaseless ac- 

coramissioned by Sir William Pliipps ; next in 1696, by Staughton, and final- 
ly in the sixty-fifth year of his age he was urged by Gov. Dudley in 1704, to 
command the forces for the fifth time sent out against the French, and ac- 
cepted. That no brilliant acts were performed in these expeditions, either by 
the English fleet or the New England forces is to be ascribed to the nature of 
the country. Operations were mostly conducted on the coast of Maine and 
Nova Scotia, a vast wUderness, where security to the enemy was certain and 
pursuit was vain. Col. Church died January 17th, 1717-18, in his seventy- 
eighth year.- The history of his wars was written by his son Thomas before 
his father's death, and a Latin ode by his grandson, at the close of the me- 
moir, attests the scholarship of his descendants. Some branches of the fam- 
ily have settled in different parts of the State, or moved elsewhere, but many 
of the direct descendants of the old hero still reside in Little Compton, where 
they preserve the position and the patrimonial estates inherited from their il- 
lustrious ancestor. Gov. Winslow in his letter to the King, June 26th, 1677, 
accompanying presents of the spoils of Philip, "being his Crowne, his Gorge 
and two Belts of their own making of their goulde and silver taken from him 
by Capt. Benjamin Cliurch," speaks of Church as " a person of great loyalty, 
and the most successful of our commanders." The original letter is in the 
British State Paper Office. New England papers, vol. iii. p. 16. 


tivity of the omnipresent foe. We cannot follow these chap. 
bloody chronicles in all their details of destruction, but v — ,^^ 
must pass rapidly over the field, touching only upon the ^^ '^ ^• 
prominent points of the war, or on those which had a spe- 
cial reference to this colony. Khode Island was not a 
member of the New England confederacy, and therefore 
not bound to take part in hostilities provoked by the other 
colonies. She disapproved of the war, which, from her 
exposed situation, threatened her very existence. The 
government too was in the hands of the Quakers, yet she 
did what she could, in an unofficial way, to aid the English 
with provisions and volunteers, and to protect herself. 
Her inaction was perhaps the reason why she suffered less 
than her neighbors at the beginning, but the case was 
changed when her own territory became the battle-ground.^ 
Upon the return of the troops to Taunton, they found 17 
that Philip had fortified himself in a swamp at Pocasset. 
Joining with the Plymouth forces, the army marched to 
the attack, and were repulsed with some loss. It was an 18. 
unfortunate affair, for it strengthened the firm and con- 
firmed the wavering natives, and thus completed a gen- 
eral rising in behalf of Pliilip. He withdrew from the 
swamp, effected a skilful manoeuvre in the passage of 
Taunton river, accompanied by Weetamo who was ever at 
his side, and hastened to join the Nipmucks, who had al- 
ready taken arms against the English. Plymouth was thus 
for awhile relieved, and the burden of the war transferred 
to Massachusetts. Brookfield was burnt, and Captain Auc;. 
Hutchinson with twenty mounted men was defeated with -• 
the loss of half his troop, and himself mortally wounded. 
The Connecticut river Indians were fully enlisted in the 

' Hubbarcl, in the table of assaiilts at the end of his narrative, says that 
eighteen houses were burnt at Providence, June 2Sth, 1675, and tliat on 2i)th 
March following, fifty-four houses were there destroyed. The latter statement 
is correct, but wo can fiud no verification of the former, which is probably an 


CHAP, war^ and committed fearful ravages upon the defenceless 
^^^^^^ towns. Hatfield, Hadley, Deerfield, and NortMeld were 
16 75. successively attacked, many of the inhabitants slain, and 
' ^^ ■ the houses destroyed. These devoted villages were des- 
tined to feel still further the horrors of savage warfare. 
The commissioners of the United Colonies, whose union, 
at one time almost abandoned, had of late been revived, 
9. reviewed the causes of the war, gave it their official ap- 
proval, and adopted the expenses of conducting it as a 
just charge to be paid proportionably by the confederates. 
]2. The slaughter of Capt. Beers, with a troop of twenty 

men near Northfield, was followed by the defeat of Capt. 
Lathrop with a corps of young men, "the flower of the 
county of Essex," who were attacked by a force of seven 
or eight hundred Indians, near Hadley, and almost the 
whole party, including their leader, were cut off". This 

18. was the greatest loss the country had yet sustained. 
Nearly one hundred of the best troops of Massachusetts 
fell in this unequal fight. The English had not yet be- 
come accustomed to the Indian mode of warfare. Their 
small detachments could stand no chance against the 
lurking savage, in the deep forests and dense swamps of 
the country. The commissioners now ordered an army 
of one thousand men to be raised, one-half to be heavy 
dragoons. Springfield was the next object of attack. 
Near this town the Indians had a fort, into which some 
three hundred of Philip's warriors were received the night 
before the assault was made. The town was partly 
burned, when the arrival of Major Treat with a body of 
Connecticut troops saved the inhabitants from a general 
massacre by dispersing the assailants. For his gallantry 
on this and other occasions, Major Treat was offered the 
command of all the Connecticut troops, by the Assembly 
of that colony. A second attack was made upon Hat- 
field, where there was now a garrison, by a body of eight 

19. hundred Indians, who surrounded the town. It was a fu- 




rious but unsuccessful assault. Major Treat with Lis chap. 
field force, and the neighboring garrisons, coming to the ^^^^ 
relief of the besieged, the Indians were repulsed with 16 75. 
great loss, and became so discouraged that the greater 
part retired to Narraganset, and Massachusetts, in her 
turn, was for a time relieved from peril, except only from 
the small marauding bands that lingered within her bor- 

The General Assembly of Ehode Island, acting upon 27. 
the petition of Capt. Cranston, referred the defence of the 
colony to the councils of war established in the several 
towns, whose decisions were to be absolute. The Narra- 

. . \()V 

gansets gave a cordial reception to the hostile Indians, 
in violation of the compulsory treaty of July, and were 
more than suspected of having taken an active part in 
the recent battles, for some of their young men had re- 
turned home wounded. The United Colonies resolved to 12. 
send an army of a thousand men to attack them in their 
winter-quarters, and thus to prevent their openly joining 
with Philip in the spring, an event that must have been 
most disastrous to the English. The haughty reply of 
Canonchet, son and successor of Miantinomi, and chief 
sachem of the Narragansets, made to the English when 
they sent to demand the surrender of Philip's Indians, 
who had placed their women and children under his pro- 
tection, displayed the spirit of the royal savage, and cut 
off all hopes of peace. " Not a Wampanoag, nor the 
paring of a Wampanoag's nail, shall be delivered up," 
was the answer of the indignant sachem. All attempts 
at reconciliation were henceforth abandoned, and the colo- 
nies prepared for their last appeal to the stern arbitra- 
ment of arms. Massachusetts was to raise five hundred 
and twenty-seven men, Plymouth one hundred and lifty- 
eight, and Connecticut three hundred and fifteen. The 
latter colony exceeded her quota, and sent three hundred 
English and one hundred and fifty friendly Indians, Mo- 
VOL. I. — 26 





hegans and Pequots, so that the whole force numbered 
eleven hundred and thirty-five, besides volunteers from 
16 7 5. Khode Island, many of whom joined the army as it marched 
through Providence and Warwick to the scene of action. 
When all was ready a solemn fast was held, before setting 
out on the expedition. 

Strange to say, this enterprise was undertaken by the 
United Colonies without consulting the government of 
Ehode Island, although the express command of the 
King, embodied in the royal charter, was in these words : 
" It shall not be lawful for the rest of the CoUonies to 
invade or molest the native Indians, or any other inhab- 
itants, inhabiting within the bounds and lymitts hereaf- 
ter mentioned (they having subjected themselves unto us, 
and being by us taken into our speciall protection), with- 
out the knowledge and consent of the Governour and 
Company of our CoUony of Ehode Island and Providence 
Plantations." The Narragansets had always been friendly 
to Ehode Island, and although portions of the tribe might 
engage in the war, the -greater part were still subject to 
her restraint ; and whether they were so or not, the at- 
tack now made upon them, contrary to the advice and 
without the consent of Ehode Island, was a direct viola- 
tion of the royal order, an unscrupulous disregard of the 
rights, and a wanton act of indifference to the welfare of 
a sister colony, which no exigency of State could excuse, 
since the remedy was easy, involving only a simple act of 
courtesy or friendship. But these feelings were strangers 
to the confederated Puritans, by whom heathens and her- 
etics were classed together as beneath the regard of Chris- 
tian fellowship.' The invasion of the Narragansets was 
kindred in spirit with the desertion of Ehode Island after 
the battle, leaving Providence a prey to the fury of sav- 
ages, without a garrison to protect her from enemies whom 
they had roused against her. 

' Eastou's Nan-ative, pp. 27-31. Albany, 1858. 


The Massachusetts troops left Boston under command chap. 
of Major Appleton ; those of Plymouth were led by Ma- ^;^ 
jor Bradford, and the Connecticut troops by Major Treat. 167 5. 
The whole army was divided into thirteen companies of j^ ' 
infantry and one of cavalry, and placed under the com- 
mand of Gov. Winslow of Plymouth. Captain Church 
rode in the General's guard as a volunteer. We have no 
means of ascertaining the number of recruits that joined 
the expedition from this colony. It must have been con- 
siderable, for the people were roused to a full sense of the 
mortal struggle at hand by the massacres which had al- 
ready commenced, and although the government took no 
direct part, yet they had placed the full power in the 
hands of the councils of war. Bull's garrison house in 
South Kingston was attacked, fifteen persons were slain 
and but two escaped. This was the first overt act of war 
within the limits of Khode Island. The precise day is 1.5 
not stated in the chronicles of the time, but is probably 
that which we affix. The Connecticut troops expected 
to find shelter at Pettaquamscot, but on their arrival 
found the buildings destroyed and the inhabitants butch- 
ered. The next day they joined the other forces, and the jg. 
whole army encamped that night in the open air. The 
weather was cold and stormy. At the dawn of the Sab- 19. 
bath morning they took up their line of march towards 
the strong fort of the Narragansets, fifteen miles distant. 
This fort occupied a rising ground, some three or four 
acres in extent, in the centre of a dense swamp, about 
seven miles west from Narraganset south ferry. It was 
just one o'clock when they reached the scene of action, 
wearied by a long march through the snow. A renegade 
Indian whom they found at the edge of the swamp served 
as a guide to the fort. The position was a very strong 
one, well fortified with palisades and breastwoiks. and en- 
closed by an impenetrable hedge. The single narrow en- 
trance was flanked by a block house, whence a nuinlerous 


CHAP, fire was i^oured upon the advancing English. No less 
than six of the captains, with a large number of men, fell 
in the first assault. The entrance was choked with the 
bodies of the slain. Over the mangled corpses of their 
comrades the desperate assailants climbed the logs and 
breastwork to effect an entrance. The struggle on either 
side was one for life. Whichever party triumphed there 
was no hope of quarter to the vanquished. Christian and 
savage fought alike with the fury of fiends, and the sanc- 
tity of a New England Sabbath was broken by the yells 
of conflict, the roar of musketry, the clash of steel, and 
all the demoniac passions which make a battle-ground an 
earthly hell. It was the great conflict of New England. 
A century was to roll by before the sons of the Puritans 
were again to witness upon their own soil so fierce a strug- 
gle. The carnage was immense. The acts of personal 
daring performed upon both sides were worthy of a wider 
field of fame. The English were at one time repulsed. 
For three hours the battle raged and the result was yet 
doubtful, until an entrance was in some way effected in 
the rear of the fort by a reserve guard of the Connecticut 
troops. The Indians, who were all engaged at the first 
point of attack, were surprised and confused by a heavy 
fire in their rear. Their powder was nearly consumed, 
still their arrows rained a deadly shower upon the charging 
foe. The wigwams within the fort were set on fire, con- 
trary to the earnest entreaty of Church, whose military 
forecast discerned the imj)ortance of shelter to the ex- 
hausted conquerors. The tragedy of the Pequots was 
thus re-enacted upon their ancient enemies. Humanity 
and pohcy alike sustained the advice of the gallant Church, 
but it was too late. The infuriated troops had already 
commenced the work of destruction. In a few minutes 
the frail material of five hundred Indian dwelHngs fur- 
nished the funeral pyre of sick and wounded, infant and 


aged. The blazing boines of the Narragansets lighted chap. 
their path to death. v-4^^ 

The victory was dearly bought. Accounts of the lfi7 5. 
losses on both sides differ widely. The entire loss of the ^g^' 
Indians, in Idlled, wounded, and prisoners, was not less than 
one thousand, of whom at least three hundred perished 
in the flames and as many more in the fight. The Eng- 
lish loss is variously estimated from two to four hundred, 
including a majority of the superior officers who fell lead- 
ing the assault. More than one-half of this number 
might have been saved had the advice of Church been 
adopted. He was himself severely wounded, and with his 
suffering comrades was the next day carried over to Khode 
Island, and there carefully attended until recovery. But 
the period of most intense suffering to the combatants 
was yet to come. When the night closed over the field 
of blood there was no shelter for victors or vanquished. 
The fort was a smouldering ruin. The Indians escaped 
to an open cedar swamp near by, where many perished 
without food or covering on that fearful night. Still 
worse was the fate of the English. They had taken a 
weary march of some fifteen miles, through deep snow, 
since daybreak, without halting for food, and had 
spent the remainder of the day in desperate conflict. 
They had now to retrace their steps in the dark, through 
a dense forest, with a deep snow beneath their feet and a 
December storm howling around them. By the glare of 
burning wigwams they formed their line of march, and 
bearing away their dead and wounded, their retreat was 
soon covered by the darkness of the forest. It was two 
o'clock at night before they reached their camping ground. 
The cold was severe. Many died on the march. The 
limbs of the wounded were stiffened, fatigue had disabled 
the rest, there was no shelter or provisions of any sort, 
and when the morning dawned death had done a melan- 30. 
choly work. A heavy snow storm during the night had 




CHAP, wrapped many a brave soldier in liis winding-slieet. The 
■^' survivors could liardly move from the depth of the new 

16 7 5. fallen snow. The providential arrival of a vessel with 
provisions, in the course of the night, at Smith's landing, 
alone saved the remnant of that gallant army from de- 
struction. The Connecticut troops were so disabled that 
Major Treat led them home to recruit. The other forces 
scoured the country during the winter, cutting off the 
Indian supplies or straggling parties, and burning their 
wigwams, but did nothing decisive. The Narragansets 
returned to their ruined fort but no attempt was made to 
dislodge them. 

By some it is supposed that Philip was himself in the 
fort during the battle, while others state that he was not. 
It is, however, certain that his winter-quarters were with 
the Narragansets, and that soon after the fight the In- 
dians sued for peace, but their overtures were rejected 
through distrust. The remnant of the English army gar- 
risoned at Wickford. A reinforcement of one thousand 
men was soon sent from Boston. So intense was the cold 
at this time that eleven of their number were frozen to 
death on the march, and many others were disabled by 

Philip removed his camp some twenty miles north to 
a rocky swamp in the Nipmuck country. The distress of 
the Narragansets for the want of provisions, all their win- 
ter stores having been destroyed in the battle, was ex- 
treme. A protracted and unusual thaw at midwinter, by 
enabling them to obtain roots, ^ relieved their wants. The 
army, now sixteen hundred strong, the Connecticut troops 
having returned, proceeded to dislodge Philip from his 
new position. The people of Warwick made arrange- 
26 ments to entertain the army as they should march through 
that place. It was the last town meeting held there for 

' " Ground nuts," as they are called by the old writers, meaning the wild 
artichoke, a staple article of food with the Indians. 


J fin. 


fifteen months. The pLace, left defenceless by the retiring chai'. 

army, was abandoned, and the inhabitants took refuge on ^\ 

the island, where their town meetings were regularly held, ifi7r.-G. 
as if at home, for the choice of deputies and jurors. The 
town was annihilated for the time, but the corporation 
survived, and continued to discharge its legitimate func- 
tions. The Indians fled at the approach of the English, 27. 
and retreated northward, driving off the live stock from 
Warwick. The army pursued them but a few miles, and Feb. 
soon after returned home and was disbanded. By this 
memorable campaign the power of the Narragansets was 
broken for evfer. But the war was not ended, nor scarcely 
checked. It could not be, so long as the master-spirit of 
Philip survived. He went on an expedition to the Mo- 
hawks to obtain ammunition, and to secure if possible 
their alliance against the common enemy. The war was 
again transferred mainly to Massachusetts, but became 
more general than before. Everywhere the burning 
towns and mangled bodies of the English gave token of 
the relentless foe. Lancaster was burnt, and about forty 10. 
persons killed and captured. Medfield next sufi'ered to 
nearly the same extent. The boldness of the savages led 
them within about fifteen miles of Boston, where, at 
Weymouth, they burned several houses. The exposed ^0. 
condition of Providence led to an urgent call upon the 
governor for help. The reply of the deputy governor .,- 
shows the exhausted condition of the colony, and their ut- 
ter inability to support the force asked for, while at the 
same time it tenders to the distressed inhabitants the 
hospitalities of the island as a refuge — an off'er of which 
they had speedy occasion to avail themselves. The let- 
ters addressed to Providence and Warwick by the Gen- 
eral Assembly, especially convened on account of the war, y^.^^.^.l^ 
were to the same effect. 1^5- 

The Indians on the island, above twelve years of ago, 
were jdaccd in custody of the whites, and were required 


CHAP, to be guarded "by day, and to Tbe securely locked up at 
,_^:_ niglit. A further order was passed, " that no Indian in 
1675-6. this colony be a slave " — a statute to which we shall again 
16. refer at the close of the war. An attack was now made 
upon Warwick. The town was entirely destroyed except 
one house, built of stone that could not be burnt. Only 
one of the inhabitants was slain. At the north and east 
the Indian ravages were still greater. Six towns in Mas- 
sachusetts ^ were sacked, and more or less wasted by fire, 
and many persons slaughtered during this month. Dis- 
asters in the field were fearful and frequent. Captain 
Wadsworth, with fifty men, marching to the relief of 
1 G 7 G. Sudbury, was overwhelmed by a large body of Indians, 
26. and eveiy man slain. The like fate attended Captain 
Peirse with the same number of English and some friendly 
Indians, a few days afterward, near Pawtucket Falls, and 
28. two days later Eehoboth, near which hostilities first be- 
gan, was assaulted, and forty dwellings were burned 
This was the darkest period of the war. Success attended 
the savages on every side. The army had been too soon 
disbanded. The Narragansets, although broken, were not 
. beaten in the great swamp fight, and terrible was the 
vengeance they executed far and wide over the land. 
Providence was nearly deserted, leaving it an easy prey 
to the enemy. Less than thirty men remained, as ap- 
pears by a list, j)reserved on the records, of those " that 
stayed and went not away." Two places in the town 
had been" fortified mainly through the efforts of Koger 
Williams, who, although seventy-seven years of age, ac- 
cepted the commission of captain. A tradition is pre- 
served, that when the enemy approached the town the 
venerable captain went out alone to meet and remonstrate 
with them. '•' Massachusetts," said he, " can raise thou- 
sands of men at this moment, and if you kill them, the 

' Northampton, Springfield, Chelmsford, Groton, Sudbury, and Marlbo- 



King of England will supply their place as fast as they chap. 
fall." " Well, let them come," was the reply, " we are ^' 
ready for them. But as for you, brother Williams, you 
are a good man ; you have been kind to us many years ; 
not a hair of your head shall be touched."' The savages 
were true to their ancient friend. He was not harmed, 
but the town was nearly destroyed. Fifty-four houses 
were burned.^ The records were saved by throwing them 29. 
from the burning house of John Smith, the miller, then 
town clerk, into his mill-pond. It was the north part of 
the town that was consumed, Within the memory of 
aged persons but recently deceased, the cellar walls of 
some of these houses were still standing, on the east side 
of the road just south of Harrington's lane, or North 
street, the northern limit of the city."-"' 

At an adjourned meeting of the Assembly, a flotilla of April 
gun-boats was ordered for the defence of the island. There 
were to be four boats manned by five or sis men each, the 
force to be increased if necessary. These were employed 
in constantly sailing round the island to prevent invasion 
from the mainland. Of the size of these boats we have 
no certain knowledge, except that some of them were 
sloops.'' This is the first instance, in the history of the 

' Knowles, 3iG, aud references in the note. 

^ Accounts vary as to the number. Some say twenty-nine, others thirty, 
aud fifty-four. Tlie largest number is probably nearest the fact. The dis- 
crepancy may arise from a distinction made but not stated, between dwellings 
and buildings. There is a difference of one day also in the date of this as- 
sault. The 29th and 30th of March are both assigned by different writers. 

^ The venerable John Ilowland, late President of the Rhode Island His- 
torical Society, who died Nov. Hth, 185-1, aged ninety-seven years, has often 
pointed cut this spot to the writer, and told him that when he was a boy the 
foundation walls of several of these buildings were visible. 

* A petition from Wm. Clarke in 1679, recites that he was " commander 
of one of the sloops in 1676," which was taken from him by the government, 
and for which he now asks indemnity. By a letter of Roger Williams in the 
archives of Connecticut, dated 27th June, 1675, it would appear that this 
naval force was composed of sloops, and that it was sent out nearly a year 
before it appears upon our records. Conn. MSS. vol. i. p. 200, in R. I. Hist 


colonies, wliere a naval armament was relied upon for de- 
fence. It was tlie germ of a future Ehode Island squad- 
ron, one century later, and of an ultimate American navy. 

A classified census of all the people on the island was 
ordered, English, negroes, and Indians, with those also who 
had taken refuge there, and the amount of corn and arms 
possessed by each, to he reported in detail to the Assem- 
bly. The record of these interesting statistics cannot be 
found. Two heavy cannon were mounted at Portsmouth. 
Sixteen " of the most juditious inhabitants " of the colony 
were desired to attend the sittings of the Assembly, to ad- 
vise with that body " in these troublesome times." 

On the very day these proceedings were had, an event 
took place that contributed more than anything which had 
yet occurred to put an end to the war. The capture of 
Canonchet, the leader of the Narragansets, next to that of 
Philip himself, was the most decisive blow. It was he 
who had defeated Capt. Peirse, nine days before, and had 
cut off his entire command. This terrible defeat roused 
the United Colonies to more vigorous action. Four com- 
panies of Connecticut volunteers, with three of friendly 
Indians, immediately marched to attack Canonchet. Capt. 
George Denison of Stonington, who led one of the compa- 
nies, was conspicuous for his zeal and bravery. This force 
surprised Canonchet near the scene of Peirse's massacre at 
Pawtucket, and a rout ensued. The Sachem fled, but 
having slipped in wading the river, was overtaken on the 
opposite" bank by a Pequot and surrendered without re- 
sistance. The first Englishman who came up to him was 
a young man named Kobert Stanton, who put some ques- 
tions to the royal captive. " You much cliild ! No under- 
stand matters of war ! Let your brother or chief come. 

Soc. The same appears from Holden and Greene's petition in reply to the 
Massachusetts agents. " The colony of Rhode Island and Providence, did, at 
the request of the other colonies, assist them with several sloops well manned, 
when the war was hegun in Plymouth colony, to the utmost they could do, 
and to the great damage of the enemy." Br. S. P. 0. N. Eng., voh iii. p. 26. 


Him Iioill ansiver ! " was the contemptuous reply after re- chai'. 
garding the youth for a moment in silence. His life was ._^^ 
offered him on condition of the submission of his tribe. 10 76. 
He treated the offer with calm disdain, and when it was ^" ' 
urged upon him, desired " to hear no more about it." He 
was sent in charge of Capt. Denison to Stonington, where a 
council of war condemned him to be shot. When inform- 
ed that he must die, he made this memorable answer, 
which may challenge the loftiest sentiment recorded in 
classic or modern history. " I like it well ; I shall die 
before my heart is soft, or I have said any thing unworthy 
of myself." His conduct on this occasion has been justly 
compared with that of Regulus before the Roman Senate, 
than which the chronicles of time present but one sublimer 
scene. A higher type of manly character, more loftiness of 
spirit, or dignity of action, the cpialities that make heroes 
of men, and once made demigods of heroes, than are found 
in this western savage, may be sought in vain among the 
records of pagan heroism or of Christian fortitude. To 
ensure the fidelity of the friendly tribes, by committing 
them to a deed that would for ever deter the Narragansets 
from seeking their alliance, it was arranged that each of 
them should take a part in the execution. Accordingly 
the Pecpiots shot him, the Mohegans cut off his head and 
quartered him, and the Niantics, wlio under Ninigret had 
joined the English, burned his body, and sent his head as 
" a token of love " and loyalty to the commissioners at 
Hartford. Thus perished the foremost of Philip's cap- 
tains, and the last great Sachem of the Narragansets ! 

The death of Governor Winthrop of Connecticut was a 5 
severe loss to New England. Rhode Island had good rea- 
son to mourn his decease, for his inflexible justice would 
not assent to the spurious claims set up by his own colony 
in the Narraganset country, even while he was their chief 
magistrate. His personal qualities had endeared him in his 
youth to the people of Rhode Island, so that he was urged 



CHAP, to move liitlier and Lecome the governor. The conduct of 
.^^.^ his later years had served to confirm the esteem in which he 
1 6 76. was held, and now his death left Ehode Island without an 
^^^ ■ influential friend in the councils of her ambitious neighbor. 
Within a few days a still heavier loss befell Ehode 
Island. The two men who had been so long rivals in their 
public life, as agents of their respective colonies, but who 
had always maintained a mutual friendship, passed from 
the world almost together. Dr. John Clarke expired two 
weeks after Governor Winthrop, in the sixty-seventh year 
of his age. To him Ehode Island was chiefly indebted for 
the extension of her territory on each side of the bay, as 
well as for the royal charter. He was a ripe scholar, 
learned in the practice of two professions, besides having 
had large exj^erience in diplomatic and political life. He 
was always in public life under the old patent, as commis- 
sioner and as general treasurer, from the first election of 
commissioners held under it, until sent to England, where 
he was employed as agent of the colony for twelve years. 
On his return, he served as a deputy in the Assembly from 
the first election under the charter till he was made 
deputy governor, to which position he was three times 
elected, and served twice, closing his public life with that 
office, five years before his death. With all these public 
pursuits, he continued the practice of his original profes- 
sion as a physician, and also retained the pastoral charge 
of his church, as its records show. His life was devoted to 
the good of others. He was a patriot, a scholar, and a 
Christian. The purity of his character is conspicuous in 
many trying scenes, and his blameless, self-sacrificing life 
disarmed detraction and left him without an enemy. He 
was three times married but left no children. The colony 
was largely indebted to him for advances made in securing 
the charter, and this debt was not extinguished till many 
years after his decease.' 

' He had mortgaged his Newport estate in July, 1GG3, to Capt. Eichard 


The General Assembly having provided for tlie naval chap. 
defence of the island, adjourned one week and then created .^^^^^ 
the oflice of Major-General. They elected Captain John 1 6 7 G. 
Cranston, with the title of Major, to command all the ji ' 
militia of the colony. The commission is signed by Gov. 
Coddington, whose religious tenets were compelled, in this 
case, to succumb to the popular will under the stimulus 
of pressing danger. Providence was in ruins ; but as the 
time for planting was near, the handful of men who re- 
mained there again applied to the governor for aid in 
maintaining a garrison. Deputy governor Clarke replied, 
agreeing to sustain ten men at the colony's expense, until jo. 
the next session of Assembly, when a committee was sent 
to Providence upon that business, and further action was ^^y 
postponed for another month. 

At the general election, deputy governor Walter Clarke 
was chosen governor, and Major John Cranston deputy 
governor. Ten barrels of powder and a ton of lead were 
ordered to be bought. 

For two months after the capture of Canonchet, there j^^^^ 
were no events of importance in the war. The Indians had 5. 
gone north, and thither the Connecticut troops under Ma- 
jor Talcot pursued them. Their march to Brookfield and 
Northampton was a long and weary one, known, to this 
day, as " the hungry march," from the sufferings of the 
soldiers for want of food. They came in good time, for 
only four days after their arrival at the latter place, a force 
of seven hundred Indians made a furious assault upon 
Hadley, now for the third time attacked. It was then 
that the sudden appearance of Gofte,* the regicide, who 

Dean, of London. The last payment was not made till Sept. oth, 1G99, when 
£115 was paid to the heirs of Capt. Dean, and the mortgage was lifted. 
Backus's Hist, of the Baptists. 

' The tradition that GofFe and Whaley were at one time concealed in Xar- 
raganset, is strengthened by the suspicious of the royal Commissioners to that 
effect. In a letter from Fort James, New York, 31st Oct., IGGG, to Mr. Rich- 
ards, a constable in Kings Province, they, at his request, authorize him to 



CHAP, inikown to the people was concealed near the town, served 
,_^:^ to rally the terrified inhabitants to battle until the troops 
16 7 6. from Northampton came to the rescue. His venerable as- 
22. pect, mysterious appearance, and as sudden departure, so 
bewildered the population of Hadley, that they ascribed 
their deliverance to the interposition of an angel, so super- 
natural, in their minds, was the whole transaction. At 
this time, Col. Church concluded a treaty with Awashonhs, 
queen of Seaconnet, by which her tribe was detached from 
the cause of Philip, and soon after united in the expedition 
under Church, that terminated the war. The daring dis- 
played by Church in this negotiation, was equal to his 
skill in effecting the result.* Awashonks sent a messenger 
to Eliode Island, whose safe conduct was provided for by 
14. the Assembly. The Providence petition was granted by 
establishing a garrison of eight men, with two more, to be 
found by the owner of the garrison house at his own cost, 
Eoger Williams, Arthur Fenner, William Harris, and 
George Lawton were appointed to select, from the garri- 
sons already existing in Providence, the one best suited 
for the purpose, which was to be called the king's garrison. 
Captain Arthur Fenner was placed in command and duly 
commissioned. The Assembly had a series of adjourn- 
ments all through this year, sitting every few weeks, as 
the exigencies of the time required. The army in pass- 
ing through Providence, after the great swamp fight, had 
left there certain hostages or prisoners in charge of Eoger 
Williams, who sent them for safe keeping to Newport. 
30. The Assembly ordered them to be returned to Providence, 
'^judging they properly belong to Plymouth colony." It 
should be noted that the army left no garrison at Provi- 

retain the cattle in his custody, giving security in the sum of £100 to the 
Governor of Rhode Island, for the surrender of said cattle when required, " as 
it appears to us by several testimonies and circumstances that the cattle are 
truly belonging to them," Goffe and AVhaley. Br. S. P. 0., New Eng. vol. 
i. p. 357. 

1 Church's History, 35-41. 




dence, although, by tho act of the confederates, the de- chap. 
fenceless towns of Ehode Island Avere exposed to the mer- w^/-^ 
ciless savages, who could not be expected, after the de- 
struction of their fort by the English, to distinguish friend 
from foe among the whites. In fact every house between 
Providence and Stonington, except the stone one at War- 
wick, was burned, and every fertile field laid waste. The 
Assembly repealed the law exempting Quakers from bear- 
ing arms or paying military fines, and now required every 
citizen to do his part in personally defending the State. 
The exemption act was restored when the war was ended. 

After the repulse at Hadley the Indians deserted that 
part of the country, and resumed their ravages to some 
extent in Plymouth. The English army marched to the 
south, and surprised them in a cedar swamp near War- 
wick. A great slaughter ensued. Magnus, the old queen 
of Narraganset, a sister of Ninigret, was taken, and with 
ninety other Cciptives put to the sword. One hundred 
and seventy-one Indians fell in this massacre without the 
loss of a single man of the English. Thence they scoured 
the country between Providence and Warwick, killing 
many more. The effect of these repeated reverses was 
soon visible. The Indians were divided in their councils, 
and many sued for peace. Many came to Conanicut isl- 
and, and submitted to the government of Rhode Island, 
and largo numbers surrendered at discretion to the Eng- 
lish forces. Others fled westward, and were chased from 
swamp to swamp. The main body of those were over- 
taken near the Housatonic river, by Major Talcot, and 
cut to pieces. Still Philip maintained his ground with a 
band of trusty followers. lie had said that he would not 
live till he had no country, and the time was drawing 
nigh when his word would be redeemed. 

Capt. Church was commissioned by Gov. Winslow to 
proceed with a volunteer force of two hundred men, chiefly 
Indians, to attack Philip in his retreats near Mount Hope. 



CHAP. For several days they pursued the Indians from place to 
,._5_, place, killing many and taking a large number prisoners, 
16 76. among whom were Philip's wife and only son. The sa- 
l^' chem himself narrowly escaped being shot. Still his in- 
domitable spirit sustained him. Two Khode Island com- 
panies under Lieut. Eichmond and Capt. Edmonds, 
7, brought in forty-two captives. These and all other pris- 
oners were ordered to be sold into service in the colony 
for the term of nine years, one-half the proceeds to go to 
the captors and the rest to the treasury. No Indians 
were permitted to be brought into the island, or to be 
sent out of it without permission of the magistrates, un- 
der a penalty of five pounds. 

Church closely followed up his successes, and in three 
days had captured over one hundred and seventy of Phil- 
ip's followers. The sachem was driven to a swamp near 
Mount Hope, where one of his followers, advising him to 
sue for peace, was slain on the spot by the indignant 
chief. This indiscreet act hastened his own death. Al- 
derman, a brother of the murdered man, deserted to 
Church, and guided the enemy to the place where Philip 
12. was concealed. The thicket was surrounded. Capt. 
Eoger Goulding of Khode Island went into the swamp to 
drive out the Indians. Philip in attempting to escape 
was shot through the heart by Alderman himself, thus 
singularly fulfilling the prophecy of the powaws at the 
beginning of the war, that Metacomet should never fall 
by English hands. The body was dragged out of the 
swamp, beheaded and quartered by an Indian. The head 
was sent to Plymouth, where it was set up on a gibbet 
for twenty years ; one hand was sent to Boston as a 
trophy, and the other, which had a well-known scar, was 
given to Alderman, who made money by exhibiting it. 
The mangled body was hung upon four trees, a monument 
of the barbarity of the age. The great chieftain of the 


aborigines fell by a traitor's arm, and was denied the rite chap. 
of Christian burial by his vindictive foes ! ^.-^^ 

Among those who fell in this attack was the Indian 1 6 7 c. 
who. had fired the first gun in the war. An idea was cur- ^'' 
rent in those days that whichever side began the war 
would be defeated, which may account for the rejiort that 
Philip wept when he heard of the massacre at Swanzey. 
When we consider these two events, the manner of Phil- 
ip's death, and the fall, at the same moment, of the In- 
dian who commenced the war, and recall the two prophe- 
cies or traditions which contemporary writers record, the 
whole tragedy of the war assumes the air of an acted 
drama. The coincidences certainly could not be more re- 
markable in a written tragedy. 

Most of the Indians escaped from the swamp guided 
by old Annawon, a noted warrior under Massasoit, and 
the chief counsellor of Metacomet. He was a wary sav- 
age, and none but a master of the art of Indian warfare, 
like Church, could have taken him alive. This was ac- 
complished by Church a few nights after the death of 
Philip. Church wished to spare his life, but, in his ab- 
sence, the Plymouth authorities ordered him to be shot. 
The most renowned captives met a similar fate. Quina- 
pin, a cousin of Canonchet, and next to him in command „^ 
at the great swamp fight, was sentenced to death by a 
council of war at Newport, and he with his brother were 
shot the next day. Pumham liad already efliiced the 05 
stain of a servile life by a manly death.' The friends of 
Philip were all executed, or met a fate worse than death 
in being sold away into perpetual slavery. Such was the 
fate of the young Metacomet, the only son of Philip, and 
hundreds of other captives were shipped to Spain and tlie 
West Indies. 

One thing should be said to the lasting honor of the red 

■ He fell on the 25th July at tlic lieiul of lii# warriors, in i\ hattle near 
Dcdham. Drake, Book iii. p. 75. 
VOL. I. — 27 


CHAP. man. The treatment of their prisoners was generally hu- 
._^:^ mane, more so than was that of their Christian conquerors, 
1 6 76. Some of the soldiers, it is true, were tortured, but only a 


few, while the captives taken by the English were mostly 
butchered in cold blood, or sent into Spanish slavery. 
The English women were uniformly treated with respect. 
In not a single instance was violence offered to their per- 
sons during their captivity. The chivalric honor of the 
savage was the inviolable protection of his female captive. 
This is the unvarying testimony of many women, of all 
ages and conditions, who were carried away in the sacking 
of the towns. ^ 

The war was ended. Desolation reigned over New 
England, and destiny had placed the seal of annihilation 
upon the Indian race. Victors and vanquished were alike 
exhausted. Thirteen English towns were in utter ruin, 
and except in Connecticut, which altogether escaped, 
scarcely one remained unscathed. The rural districts 
w6re everywhere laid waste. One-eleventh of the avail- 
able militia of the country had fallen in battle, and a stiU 
larger proportion of buildings were destroyed." A heavy 
debt weighed upon the United Colonies, ^ while Khode 
Island, excluded from the league and always opposed to 
the war, had suffered most severely of all. Her mainland 
had become a desert, her islands fortresses for defence and 
cities of refuge. We have already adverted to the sad 
fate of the captive Indians. A few of the foremost in 
the war were condemned to death, but the greater part, 

' See Mrs. Eowlandson's narrative of her captivity. 

^ TnimbuU's Connecticut, 350, note. 

= Edward Eandolpli in his report to the Board of Trade, Oct. 12th, 1676, 
states the cost of the war at £150,000, that about twelve hundred houses 
were burnt, over eight tliousand head of cattle destroyed, besides thousands 
of bushels of grain. The English loss he puts at six hundred, with twelve 
captains, and the Indians at more than three thousand. The original report 
is in the British S. P. 0. N. England papers, vol. ii. p. 93-100. See also 
Davis's Morton's Memorial, p. 458, Appendix, and Thatcher's Indian Biogra- 
phy, vol. i. p. 162. 


in the other colonies, were sent abroad and sold into hope- chap. 
less slavery. The conduct of Rhode Island was more hu- ^^^^i^ 
inane, and her legislation on this subject, when we con- 16 7 6. 
sider the spirit of the age and the example of her neigh- "' 
bors, was more enlightened. The act of March, to which 
we before referred, declared " that no Indian in this col- 
ony be a slave, but only to pay their debts, or for their 
bringing up, or custody they have received, or to perform 
covenant as if they had been countrymen and not taken 
in war." This was in fact a true apprenticeship system, 
whose terms were strictly carried out, such as generally 
existed until a recent day among the wliite population 
everywhere, differing only in the fact that one was volun- 
tary while the other was not. It was not slavery either 
as it is recognized now or as it existed then ; and writers 
who have wasted regrets over the part that Roger Wil- 
liams had in the iinal disposition of the Rhode Island 
captives, might have spared their words had they more 
carefully examined the nature of the transaction, or taken 
into account the spirit of the age and the conduct of the 
other colonies. At a town-meeting held in Providence 
upon this subject, a committee of five, of whom Williams 
Avas chairman, reported a scale by which the proceeds of 
the sale of Indians was to be divided among the towns- U. 
men. The inhabitants were to be supplied at the rate 
current on the island. All captives under five years of 
age were " to serve till thirty ; above five and under ten, 
till twenty-eight ; above ten to fifteen, till twenty-seven ; 
above fifteen to twenty, till twenty-six ; from twenty to 
thirty shall serve eight years ; all above thirty, seven 
years." ^ An Indian named Chuff, who had be^n a ring- 
leader in the assaults on Providence, was condemned by 
the council of war and shot. Still it was necessary to 25. 
preserve a strict watch over the natives. A warrant was 

' An extract from an account of sales at this time, and showing tho value 
of Indian service, is given in Judge Staple's Aunals, 171. 



CHAP, issued to stop all the canoes on Prudence Island, and 
>._^:^ not to permit any Indian to leave tlie island tiU further 
16 76. orders. Care was also taken to prevent their obtaining 
any arms or ammunition.^ The refugees began now to 
return from Newport. Mrs. Williams was brought up in 
a sloop belonging to her son Providence, who on the same 
day carried away all the Indian prisoners to be sold at 
Newport. The eastern Indians, instigated by the French, 
continued for some years longer to harass the frontiers, 
and Col. Church was repeatedly sent against them. But 
the death of Metacomet closed the war in the settled por- 
tions of New England. 

This war was the last struggle of an expiring nation. 
Before taking leave of the subject we may be allowed to 
present a few reflections suggested by the results. The 
Wampanoags and the Narragansets suffered the fate of 
the Pequots, and successive tribes, however powerful or 
warlike, have in their turn followed the same path to 
death. All history points to an inevitable law controlling 
the occupancy of the earth. Three races, and probably 
four, perhaps even more, have occupied this continent, 
but two of which remain, and one of these is fast retiring 
before the onward progress of the other, A century hence 
there will scarcely be a vestige of the Indian race upon 
this continent. They will have utterly disappeared, and, 
unlike their predecessors whose western tumuli and Aztec 
monuments survive the knowledge of their builders, and 
attest the existence of two successive races anterior to 
the Indians, they will not leave a proof upon the earth 
that they ever have existed. What is the law by which 
race after race of humanity succeed each other, each one 
continuing for untold ages, and then giving place to 
another utterly dissimilar to its predecessor ? The ques- 
tion involves the very mystery of creation, and can never 

^ A copy of this warrant is in "Letters and Papers, 1632-1678," No. iii. 
p. 161, in the Mass. Hist. Soc. 


"be determined by finite minds. What we see daily oc- chap. 
CTirring in our own and in other lands, where a higher ^„^ 
type of civilization is steadily and rapidly supplanting a 16 76. 
grosser and weaker barbarism, may serve to show the op- 
eration of a law that seems to have existed since the 
formation of man. Wherever the arts, the customs, or 
the religion of a superior race is brought in contact with 
an inferior, the latter perishes. As geological science 
teaches that successive eras in the material history of our 
globe have produced steadily progressive forms of animal 
life, adapted to each new change, so the law of progress 
in the human family seems to be that a race wliich has 
expanded to its utmost, filling the position that nature 
assigned it, when brought in contact with a superior type 
of humanity, must gradually but certainly disappear. 
The Caucasian is the highest type of mankind, and 
wherever it has appeared the inferior races have been 
subdued or annihilated. The degree of resistance which 
the inferior race opposes to this positive law is propor- 
tioned to its approach to, or its remoteness from, the in- 
tellectual scope of the Caucasian. The changes that his- 
tory presents in the different nations of the white race, 
by conquest or assimilation, prove nothing against the 
general law. Like modifies but cannot destroy like. The 
different nations of the same type are improved by the 
mixture of their elements. The history of Europe estab- 
lishes this fact. It matters not whether the Anglo-Nor- 
man or Saxon race is superior to all others of the Cau- 
casian type, as some have claimed, or not. The question 
is higher and deeper than that ; it is one of races, not of 

It is a singular fact that the Indians, who before the 
coming of the English were very prolific, soon ceased to 
be so. Sterility became the rule and not the exception. 
As the natural proclivity of mankind is to evil rather 
than to good, the inferior race rapidly adopted the vices, 


CHAP, while it rejected the religion, and but slowly apprehended 
.^^.^ the arts and sciences of the white man. The Indians 
1676. had attained their culminating point in mental and phys- 
ical progress. Their intellectual powers admitted of no 
higher development, and hence they were doomed, by this 
inevitable law of Nature, to annihilation. They had ful- 
filled their destiny, and this continent was to be given up 
to a higher type of humanity. Thus has it been in every 
portion of the world where the white race has extended. 

We do not present this as an excuse for the wrongs 
inflicted upon the aborigines by our ancestors, and con- 
tinued upon their feeble remnants at this day by our- 
selves ; but we do say, that this extinction of races is 
something in the Providence of God which we cannot 
avert if we would, and that everywhere the introduction 
of the arts, religion, and commerce of Caucasian civihza- 
tion has been attended with the same results. Centuries 
may be required to accomplish the end, according as the 
field of operation is extensive or limited, and as the influ- 
ence exerted by the new race is concentrated or scattered ; 
but the result is the same. From one cause and another, 
some apparent and others not, the inferior race will grad- 
ually die out. So has it been on the Atlantic coast, and 
thus is it progressing to the Pacific. "War does not do it ; 
the prevalence of new vices cannot fully account for it ; 
famine and pestilence contribute but little in the aggre- 
gate towards it, for all of these evils exist as actively, or 
more so, among the dominant race. The law that gov- 
erns it appears to be that which we have stated, and 
which a recent writer thus announces, " that the organi- 
zation God has created for one species of develo]3ment is 
radically unfitted to receive another." ' That " other " 

' Confessions of an Inquirer, by J. J. Jarves, Part I., p. 192. The writer 
regrets that his limits do not permit him to expand this subject, but only to 
throw out thus briefly a view whicli is the result of some reflection upon the 
most interesting problem of human history. Tlie curious reader will find a 



has now been for two centuries at work ujion this conti- 
nent, and before its resistless advance the Indian dis- ^' _ 

appears. It is the fiat of the Ahnighty. 167 6. 

The Greneral Assembly discharged Capt. Fenner and ^g** 
the King's garrison at Providence from further service. 
They also provided that all Indians who should come 27. 
upon any islands in the bay, must have written authority 
therefor from the committee appointed to dispose of In- 
dians, without which they would be liable to be sold into 
service as captives. The law of May, compelling every 
man to bear arms, was repealed, and that of 1673, ex- 
empting those who were conscientiously opposed to war 
from so doing, was re-enacted. Scarcely had the Indian 
war closed before the Connecticut colony renewed their 
claims to the Narraganset country. The council at Hart- Aug. 
ford, in addition to the words of their charter, now as- 
sumed to hold the Kings Province by right of conquest. 
The vigor with which they had prosecuted the war con- 
trasted v/ith the comparative inaction of* Kliode Island, 
and to those who overlook the difference in their respective 
positions during tliis struggle, the claim appears reasona- 
ble. Connecticut had suffered nothing upon her own 
soil by hostile tribes. The Indians within her borders 
were friendly to the English, as the Narragansets had al- 
ways been to Khode Island, until exasperated by the wan- 
ton destruction of their stronghold by the United Colo- 
nies. She was thus enabled to send her troops abroad, 
and to render invaluable services to her more distressed 
neighbors, while Rhode Island, the most exposed of the 

similar train of thought clahorated in chapter xxi. of the work ahove cited, 
which will richly repay the perusal. The observations of what is termed the 
American school of ethnologists, so far as tliey incidentally touch upon this 
branch of the subject, go to confirm the view here laid down, and that, too, 
altogether independent of the question mainly involved in their works, whether 
the Mosaic account of the creation is to be received in its literal signification. 
See Types of Mankind, Philadelphia, 1854. Indigenous Races of the Earth, 
Philadelphia, 1857. 



CHAP, colonies, doing what slie could to protect lierself, and ren- 
.^^.^j^ dering efficient and acknowledged aid to the others, in 
16 7 6. supplies and men, according to her means, was now re- 
f[uired to pay the penalty of her weakness, by surrender- 
ing the fairest portion of her domain. The council or- 
dered that all persons, English or Indian, who had any 
rights in Narraganset, should apply to them for leave to 
occupy the same, and whoever should do otherwise would 
he dealt with severely. The Assembly took this mat- 
ter in hand as the first business of the session, and 
sent a letter to Connecticut remonstrating in strong terms 
Oct. against the act of her council, and protesting also against 
the policy and conduct of the late war, as well as the in- 
justice of depriving her citizens of their property because 
they had been compelled to abandon it temporarily. 
They also set up a prohibition in Narraganset, forbidding 
any one to exercise jurisdiction there, or to dispose of 
lands except by authority of Khode Island, 

A fatal epidemic prevailed on the island at this time, 
so sudden in its effect, that two or three days sufficed to 
destroy the victim, and so general, that but few families 
escaped without the loss of some of their number.^ 
Among the deaths that occasioned business for the As- 
sembly was that of James Eogers, who had been longer 
and more steadily in public office than any other man in 
the colony, having been elected for twenty successive 
years, the first three as general solicitor, and the last eigh- 
teen as general sergeant — for one year he filled both offi- 
ces. Thomas Fry was chosen as his successor. 

' See A Journal of the Life, &c., of William Edmundson. London, 1713. 
After his first visit to Rhode Island, before referred to, in 1672, he returned 
to Ireland. In 1675 he made another missionary tour to the West Indies, 
and thence came to Rhode Island, made a journey to the eastward, and re- 
turned to Rhode Island at the close of the v/ar, where he remained some 
time. He describes this pestilence, and was himself taken sick with it at 
Walter Newberry's house in Newport, but does not give the namo of the dis- 


A curious original document exists, showing the results 
of the sale of the first company of Indians on account of 
the townsmen of Providence. It is a receipt to the com- 
mittee of sale, appointed by the August town-meeting, 
signed by those who were entitled to the proceeds, and 
showing the share of each man, thus far received, to be 
sixteen shillings and four pence half penny.' The In- 
dians caused trouble by erecting their wigwams and mat 
sheds on the commons of the island and on private lands, 
where they became disorderly and drunken. Armed In- 
dians also passed on and off the island without the re- 
quired certificate. The governor and council ordered 
these wigwams to be removed, all liquors found therein 22. 
to be seized and the bottles broken, and any armed In- 
dian found without a proper passport to be brought before 
the magistrates. That the natives were not yet entirely 
peaceable, appears from the proceedings of a town-meet- 
ing at Providence, where a constant watch and ward March 
was maintained, and armed bands or scouting parties, 
were ordered to scour the woods, and provision was made 
in favor of those who might be wounded on these expedi- 
tions. This precaution was often taken in later times 
whenever any alarm existed, and was required by the ex- 
posed situation of the town. 

Peace being restored and planting time at hand, the 
people of Warwick and Narraganset returned to their 
now desolate plantations. But the latter were not per- 
mitted to rest in quietness. Three of their number were Ajiiil 
seized by Capt. Denison and carried prisoners to Hart- l ^ ' '!'• 
ford.'^ They immediately informed Gov. Clarke of the 

' The committee of sale were Arthur Feuner, William Hopkins, and John 
Whipple, jr. Foster Papers, vol. i. MSS. 

- Thomas Gould, James Reynolds, and Henry Tibbitts. Gould afterwards 
compounded with Connecticut, and on 14th Jtlay petitioned for himself and 
others for leave to replant in Narraganset, acknowledgmg tho authority ot 
Connecticut. Conn. Col. Kec, ii. 5-10, note. 




CHAP, outrage, soliciting protection. The council promised re- 
^^^^ lief, and also wrote to Connecticut, the same day, de- 
1677. manding their release, and threatening to make reprisals 
in case it was refused. This was the first business that 
occupied the new General Assembly. 

At the election Benedict Arnold was chosen governor, 
in place of Walter Clarke, and Major John Cranston was 
continued as deputy governor. The Assembly confirmed 
the positions taken by the council in their letters to the 
Narraganset men and to Connecticut, and took measures 
for the re-settlement of Kings Province. A court of Jus- 
tices was appointed to be held in Narraganset, with full 
powers to protect the settlers from the acts of the Con- 
necticut ofiicers. Ten thousand acres of land, to be 
equally divided among one hundred men, were appropri- 
ated for new settlers who should be approved by the As- 
sembly, and all persons were forbidden to enter within the 
province except by authority of the Court. They also 
addressed another letter to Connecticut, reiterating their 
right to Narraganset, and declaring their intention to ap- 
peal to the King if these molestations were continued. 

The election of Gov. Arnold was a triumph of the 
war party in Khode Island. The militia law was now 
thoroughly revised ; but lest it should be considered as 
intrenching upon the rights of the Quakers, the preamble 
and the concluding proviso recited the necessity of mili- 
tary defence, and carefully proclaimed, in the words of 
the charter, the freedom of conscience. It was ordered 
to be published by beat of drum in all the towns of the 
colony. The King's garrison, as it was called, in Provi- 
dence, which had been discharged in October, was re-es- 
tablished in the very words of the act by which it was 
first organized. The forms of engagement of officers, and 
of reciprocal engagement of the colony were redrafted, to 
be employed the nest year, and an engagement to be at 
once administered to constables, who heretofore had never 


been formally qualified, was adopted. That Sabbatarian ciiai'. 
views were already maintained in the colony is shown by ^^^ 
a petition presented at this time to change the market 16 7 7 
day, which heretofore had been Saturday only. The As- 2!"* 
sembly saw no sufficient reason to alter the day, but or- 
dered that a market should likewise be kept in Newport 
on Thursday of each week. This and all other acts of 
the Assembly were " published in the town of Newport 
by beat of drum, under the seal of the colony, by the 
clerk of the Assembly." An adjournment was taken to 
allow time for a reply to be received from Connecticut, 
upon the most important business of the session. 

The Assembly at Hartford, acting upon a petition of 
John Saffin in behalf of the Atherton claimants, ap- 
pointed a committee to meet at Narraganset in June to 10. 
lay out lands, and also encouraged the Wickford planters 
to return under their auspices. They replied to the two 
letters from Rhode Island, asserting their claims to juris- 
diction, and acquiescing in the appeal to the King, but 
proposing, in a postscript, by way of compromise, that 
Cowesett, now East Greenwich, should be the boundary 
between the two colonies. This reply not being satisfac- 
tory, the General Assembly appointed Peleg Sandford and 2-i, 
Richard Baily as agents of the colony, to proceed to Eng- 
land, and voted the sum of two hundred and fifty pounds 
for their outfit. A letter was sent, notifying Connecticut 
that Rhode Island would proceed at once to settle and 
govern Narraganset, and also offering to that colony one- 
lialf of all the unpurchased lands in the disputed territo- 
ry, to be at their disposal, provided the settlers thereupon 
should submit to the government of Rhode Island. This 
was a futile attempt at compromise, suggested no doubt 
by the proposal made " for peace sake " by Connecticut. 
The Assembly then adjourned to the time appointed by 
Connecticut for the meeting of her committee in Narra- -^JJ'^' 
ganset. Upon reassembling, steps were taken to raise 


CHAP, money in Newport and Portsmouth for the expenses of 
^.^^^.^^ the agents to be sent to England, The sums raised were 
^677. to be credited to account of the appropriation of ten 
11_^ thousand acres in Narraganset, at the rate of one shilhng 
an acre. The Connecticut committee met on the same 
day in Narraganset, examined the country, and reported 
16. to their government concerning the quality and ownership 
of the lands. The proceedings of the Court of Justices 
held by Ehode Island are not preserved, although, upon 
its rising, the Assembly was again convened by warrant 
of the Governor, and ordered that the transactions of that 
20, Court should be a part of the public records. The coun- 
cil of Connecticut replied, rejecting the offer of land, and 
renewing their proposal to make Cowesett the boundary 
between the two charters. 



Oct. At the fall session of the Assembly the law requiring 

^1- deputies to take an engagement on entering upon the du- 
ties of their office, was repealed. It had been just five 
years in operation, was stoutly opposed, especially by the 
mainland towns, at the time of its passage, and had 
caused much hard feeling ever since. There seems to us 
no valid reason for all this, but the cause assigned for the 
repeal was that, as every freeman had already engaged 
true allegiance to the King and colony upon his admission, 
it was unnecessary to repeat the ceremony upon his tak- 
■ ing office. This shows a degree of respect for the nature 
of an oath or engagement, more creditable to the morals 
of our ancestors, than is the constant and frivolous admin- 
istration of oaths, in judicial and commercial affairs at 
this day, to ourselves, A tract of five thousand acres of 
land in Narraganset was laid out in two parts, one of five 
hundred acres on the bay, for house lots, and the remain- 
der in farms of ninety acres each, and distributed among 
fifty men, who were now incorporated as the town of East 
Greenwich. The parties were to build upon their lots 
within one year or lose the land, and no one was to sell 


his land within twenty-one years, unless by consent of the cuap. 
Assembly, on pain of forfeiture. They were also to lay .J^ 
out convenient roads from the bay up into the country. 10 7 7. 

The death of Samuel Gorton, the founder of War- 
wick, which occurred at this time, should not be passed 
over in silence. He was one of the most remarkable men 
that ever lived. His career furnishes an apt illustration 
of the radicalism in action, which may spring from ultra 
conservatism in theory. The turbulence of his earlier 
history was the result of a disregard for existing law, be- 
cause it was not based upon what he held to be the only 
legitimate source of power — the assent of the supreme 
authority in England. He denied the right of a people 
to self-government, and contended for his views with the 
vigor of an unrivalled intellect, and the strength of an 
ungoverned passion. But when this point was conceded, 
by the securing of a patent, no man was more submissive 
to delegated law. His astuteness of mind and his Bibli- 
cal learning made him a formidable opponent of the Pu- 
ritan hierarchy, while his ardent love of liberty, when it 
was once guaranteed, caused him to embrace with fervor 
the principles that gave origin to Rhode Island. He lived 
to " a great age." The time of his birth is not certainly 
known, and the precise day of his death is equally ob- 
scure. " The exact spot," says his biographer, " where 
his ashes repose, is marked by no pious stone or monu- 
mental marble. Yet, if without other honors, may it at 
least ever be their privilege to sleep beneath the green 
sward of a free State ! "' 

A combination of local disputes, relating in the first 
instance to proprietary rights, then involving questions 
of boundary between Providence and Pawtuxet, and 
finally extending beyond the present county of Provi- 
dence, had commenced almost with the first settlement of 

' He died between 27tli Nov. and lOth Dec, 1677. Muckio's Lile of Gor- 
ton, chap. viii. m Sparks' Am. Biog., vol. xv. pp. 378, 380. 


CHAP, the town, and now assumed a magnitude and importance 
^^^^^ that bring them within the legitimate province of State 
16 77. history. The details of these disputes are prolix and un- 
interesting. A survey of their chief points is all that 
we propose in this place.' They originated in a differ- 
ence of construction put upon the deeds of Canonicus and 
Miantinomi to Eoger WUliams, and which was further 
complicated by a memorandum, added the following year, 
confirming the same. The last clause in the deed con- 
tained the words of disputed interpretation, " we do freely 
give unto him all that land from those rivers, ^ reaching 
to Pawtuxet river, as also the grass and meadows upon 
the said Pawtuxet river," which the confirmation made 
still more inexact by the words, " up the streams of Paw- 
tucket and Pawtuxet without limits, we might have for 
our use of cattle." Hence arose a question, in after years, 
whether the tract whose limits, in the confirmation clause, 
were thus general and undefined, formed a part of the 
purchase, or whether it was merely a grant of the right 
of pasturage to the head waters of the two last-named 
rivers, with the fee still reserved in the grantors. It was 
a question of no importance at first, but when the town 
increased it gave rise to bitter dissensions, one party main- 
taining the former view, at the head of whom was Wil- 
liam Harris, while the other, with Koger Williams as its 
leader, sustained the rights of the Indians. Williams 
had made the original purchase for himself, before the 
settlement of the town, and two years later drew this 
deed or memorandum, which does no credit to his legal 
acquirements. He however must have known better than 
any one else what it did mean ; but a party already ex- 
isted against him who pressed their views with unneces- 
sary asperity. When the Legislature, or " Court of Com- 

^ The reader will find a more full account of these divisions and disputes 
than is here given, in Judge Staples' Annals of Providence, chap. x. 
^ Mooshausick and Wanasquatucket. 


missioners," as it was styled under the old patent, author- chap. 
ized the town to buy off the Indians, and to add three ^;^ 
thousand acres to their territory by purchase from the sa- 16 7 7. 
chems,^ the town negotiated with the natives to obtain 
their removal, and in that year took three deeds, from the 
successors of Canonicus and Miantinomi, more clearly de- 
fining the disputed western boundary of the colony. ^ The 
two parties viewed these conveyances in different lights ; 
one considered them as simple confirmations of the origi- 
nal grant, the other as a new purchase. If they were 
only confirmations the whole tract belonged to the origi- 
nal proprietors of Providence, who were the owners of 
what was called, in the division of lands into two parts,' 
" the Pawtuxet purchase." But if these were in fact 
new purchases, the fee vested equally in those members 
of the corporation who had been admitted since the first 
grand division of lands. It is readily seen how important 
it was to each party that the settlement of tliis question 
should be in its favor. Again, whichever way this dispute 
of title might be settled, the deeds were so vague, and 
the rights exercised imder them were so varied and un- 
limited, that nothing definite could be agreed upon as to 
the limits of the first grand division — where " the grand 
purchase of Providence" ended and 'Hhe Pawtuxet pur- 
chase " began. An attempt had been early made to de- 
termine this boundary,^ but the line had never been run 
out, nor could it be, owing to the vagueness of the deed, 

' May, 1G59, ante, chap. vili. 

" The first of these was given hy Cawjuniquante, brother of i^Iiantinomi, 
May 29th, 1650. It confirmed the old grant and defined it as extending from 
Fox's hill,' tventy miles in a straight line up between Pawtuckot and Paw- 
tuxet rivers. His son acknowledged the deed 28th April following. The 
other two deeds, from resident sachems of the same family, were given 13th 
August and 1st December, confirming the first one, and granting the lands in 
fee simple, but with less exactness of boundary. All three deeds are printed 
in Staples' Annals, p. 567-70. 

' Made Oct. 8th, 1638, ante ch. iv. 

* July 27th, 1610, ante ch. iv. 


167 7. 

. both as to the nature and the limits of the rights con- 
. veyed in the concluding clause. To restore peace among 
• the distracted townsmen Koger Williams made a proposi- 
tion ^ for a new purchase from the Indians, and a separate 
settlement in the disputed territory. This was rejected 
by Thomas Olney, William Harris, and Arthur Fenner, 
in behalf of the town.^ A majority of the town having 
decided ^ that the later deeds were simply confirmatory, 
the Pawtuxet purchasers paid one-quarter of the cost,^ 
and the town limits were agreed to be at a point twenty 
miles west of Fox hill. A committee of three from each 
place was named to run the line ^ between Providence and 
Pawtuxet, and seven years afterward they made a partial 
report covering less ground than was claimed by the Paw- 
tuxet men, having ceased their surveys westward at a 
point afterwards known as " the seven mile hue." Mean- 
while William Harris made a voyage to England, to ob- 
tain justice from the King, but with no definite results.^ 

The disputes between Providence and Pawtuxet re- 
lated solely to title, the whole tract being within the 
township of Providence ; but soon after the purchase of 
Warwick questions involving both title and jurisdiction 
arose, the former between the purchasers of Warwick and 
of Pawtuxet, the latter between the towns of Providence 
and Warwick. The Pawtuxet men were thus placed, as 
it were, between two fires. Legal measures were early 
resorted to by the conflicting claimants for title. Nu- 

' 27th Oct., 1660. - 29tli Oct., 1660. = March, 1660. 

■* The one-quarter paid to the Indians hy the Pawtuxet pui'chasers for 
these confirmation deeds amounted to twelve pounds one shilHng and eight 
pence, as appears by an agreement of a joint committee of the two parties, 
composed of Roger Williams, Richard Waterman, Z. Rhodes, John Brown, 
James Allen, and William Harris, in August, 1663. See MSS. papers ot 
William Harris, in possession of W. J. Harris, Esq. 

' April, 1661. 

" In 1663, the evidence of which is in a bill of costs presented by him 
against the town of Warwick to the Court of Commissioners, 17th Nov., 1677, 
preserved in the Harris MSS. 


merous suits for trespass were brought in various Courts, chap. 
without regard to jurisdiction.* Cross suits were insti- ^^^^ 
tuted and counter writs of ejectment were issued, with no 1677. 
possibility of an unbiassed decision, owing to the mode in 
which the tribunals were constituted, the whole commu- 
nity being parties in interest, either directly or contin- 
gently, in every case, nor with any poAver to enforce a 
judgment, for the same reason. The progress of these 
various suits may be traced with great minuteness in the 
voluminous files of the Harris manuscripts. William 
Harris was generally successful in obtaining verdicts, but 
could rarely obtain execution, or have process served, un- 
der them. The officers were sometimes resisted by the 
contesting claimants, at others the awards of arbitrators 
or the decrees of Court failed to be carried out. He 
spent half his life in this fruitless litigation, the details 
of which, covering more than thirty years, would be te- 
dious to the reader, and unimportant to the purpose of 
this work. So inextricable was the confusion, and so 
pressing the difficulties arising from these complicated 
sources, that William Harris, as agent for the Paw^tuxet 
proprietors, at length resolved to go a second time to 
England, to petition the King for a special commission to . 
decide upon them. The petition was referred to the 
Board of Trade." It set forth the rival claimants to por- 
tions of the Pawtuxet lands, and prayed that the gover- 
nors of the four New England colonies, or such men as 
they might appoint, with a jury chosen in part from each 
colony, should settle all differences in the premises.'* The 
mission was successful. A royal order was issued to the 

'The Pawtuxet subjects of Massachusetts iu 1().")0 sued W. Harris for 
trespass, and judgment was rendered for the defendant July 81. Harris was 
himself one of the Pawtuxet proprietors. 

= On June 11th, 1075. 

=" The petition of 1675, with tlie order upon it issued 4th August, and the 
royal letter to the four governors, dated August, 1075, is entered iu the Brit- 
ish State Paper OiBce, New England papers, vol. xxxii. i>p. 3S-i7. 

VOL. 1—28 


CHAP, four governors who, after some delay, appointed commis- 

.^,^:^ sioners to liear tlie disputes. ^ Tliey met at Providence, 

16 7 7. and empanelled a jury of four from Massachusetts, two 


from Plymouth, and three each from Ehode Island and 
Connecticut. The Court then adjourned to meet at Prov- 

17. idence, where five cases were tried, three against private 
parties for trespass, the other two against the towns of 
Warwick and Providence, to compel them to run the 
boundary lines before agreed on, and to decide the title of 
lands on either side of these lines. William Harris, 
Thomas Field, and Nathaniel Waterman were the plain- 
tiffs, and Harris was the attorney for Pawtuxet, in all 
these cases. Eandall Holden and John Greene were ap- 
pointed ^ by the town of Warwick to defend her cause. 
Eoger Williams, Gregory Dexter, and Arthur Fenner ap- 
peared in behalf of Providence. The trials occupied four 
days, and resulted in a verdict for the plaintiffs on every 
case.^ The town of Warwick, being cast in the suit, at 
once appointed * their two attorneys, as agents, to proceed 
to England to represent their case before the throne, and 

21. to protest against the second verdict of the jury. War- 
rants were issued to compel execution of the verdicts, but 
the question of costs was reserved for advisement with the 
respective governors, the Court doubting its powers to is- 
sue execution for them. 

In order to present these controversies, so far as they 
have a public interest, in a compact form, we shall be 
obliged to pass somewhat beyond the period to which this 
chapter is limited, condensing as much as possible the pro- 

' These were Simon Lynde and Daniel Henchman of Mass., Thomas 
Hincldey, Esq., and James Cudworth, Esq., of Plymouth, Capt. George Den- 
ison and Daniel WithereU of Conn., Peleg Sandford, Esq., and John Cogges- 
hall, of R. I. 

- Oct. 1, 1677. See Warwick records. 

' The pleadings in full are preserved among the Harris MSS. 

* 29th Nov., 1677. See Wai-wick records, and their commissions were 
read and approved in town meeting, 18th January. 



ceedings of the next two or three years upon these cases 
and then leave the subject for ever. 

To decide the question of costs, the Court met at Bos- 16 78 
ton, but the Connecticut members being absent, it was ad- ^2? 
journed to meet at Providence. The eight commissioners 
assembled there, but found that notliing had been done June 
about running the line between Providence and Pawtuxct 
in accordance with the verdict, which required it to be run 
by the defendants "equally between Pawtuxet river and 
Wanasquatucket river, till they meet a thwart line from 
the head of Wanasquatucket river, directly running to 
Pawtuxet river." An imperfect line, contrary to the in- 
tent of the Court's order, had been surveyed between the 
two rivers, a map of which was presented by Mr. Fenner, 
but rejected by the Court, as being unfair towards the 
plaintiffs ; as the thwart line was drawn to intersect it at 
an acute instead of a right angle. The Court summoned 
the jury to appear in October, and explain their verdict in 
this case, the third in the order of trial. At this meeting, 
one of the commissioners being absent, the two from Rhode 
Island withdrew, deeming the Court disqualified to act un- 
less every member was present. The others, considering 
a quorum to be sufficient, proceeded to act. The jurors 
were all present, but the three from Rhode Island refused 
to explain the verdict. The other nine explained the 
meaning of their third verdict, that the two lines were to 
intersect at right angles. Still, as some of the Court were 
absent, and others doubted their power, under these cir- 
cumstances, to issue warrants to enforce its execution, as 
now explained, the whole matter was referred back to the 
king, and a full statement of the case was prepared and 
sent to England by Governor Leverett.' 

' This long statement details the manner in which the Court and jury were 
constructed, the five verdicts rendered, and all subsequent proceedings of the 
commissioners. It is entered in New England papers, vol. xxxii. p. 296. 
Br. S. P. 0. 



CHAP. Holden and Greene went to England to protest against 
,^^1^ tlie second verdict, wliich required the town of Warwick 
1678-9. and certain individuals in it, as tenants by force, to restore 
2. ' the land, with one hundred pounds damages, to the plain- 
tiffs. They obtained an arrest of judgment by royal de- 
cree, till Harris should prove title before the king in coun- 
cil. Scarcely had they left London to return home, when 
Harris appeared, for the third time in England, to urge 
the cause which law and justice had so often decided in 
his favor. Exceptions had been taken by the Warwick 
agents against having referees from Massachusetts or Con- 
necticut, by reason of their former difficulties with War- 
wick men, and a valid objection was now made by Harris 
against any Ehode Island referees, as being interested par- 
_. „ ties. The council therefore recommended that the Magis- 
June trates of Plymouth colony should decide the questions be- 
^^- tween Warwick and Pawtuxet, and that Khode Island be 
required to put Harris in possession of his lands under the 
other four verdicts, within three months from the time of 
receiving the order, or otherwise that Plymouth should see 
juij it done. An order to this effect passed the council, and 
2- letters were prepared in accordance therewith.^ Thus 
Harris was again triumphant before the highest tribunal 
in the realm, but justice was still withheld. Governor 
Winslow gave the parties a hearing and decided in favor 
of Harris, confirming the verdict against Warwick.^ The 
governor and council of Ehode Island received the royal 
order brought over by Harris, and placed a warrant in the 
hands of the marshal, to execute judgment in accordance 
Nov. -with the verdicts. This he attempted to do, but it would 

' The report in full is entered in New England papers, vol. xxxii. p. 3i6, 
S. P. 0." R. I. Col. Eec, iii. 66. 

^ Oct. 28tli Gov. Winslow summoned the parties interested in the second 
verdict, and after a full hearing confirmed the action of the Court of Com- 
missioners in favor of Harris. On 2d Nov. he sent a report of the case to the 
King, now preserved among the Harris MSS., giving a clear statement of the 
questions involved in that case, and the reasons of his decision. 





seem that the plaintiffs themselves refused to receive pos- 
session except in the terms of the verdict, which required 
the defendants to run the lines. This they had not done, 1679 
and the marshal properly refused to do it, altliough urged 
to do so by the plaintiffs. At any rate, the plaintiffs faded 
to point out the lands, and the marshal made his return 
in accordance with these facts. The truth of this return 
was denied hy the plaintiffs who collected evidence to im- 
peach it. Harris, resolute amid all these obstacles, im- 
mediately sailed for England for the fourth time. On this 95. 
occasion, besides his Pawtuxet business, he was the accred- 
ited agent of Connecticut in her claim against Rhode isto-so. 
Island for the Narraganset country. The ship was cap- 04.* 
tured by a Barbary corsair, and he, and other prisoners, 
were taken to Algiers, and sold in public market as slaves. 
For more than a year he remained in this sad situation, Feb, 
when his ransom was effected at a cost of twelve hundred 
dollars. The colony of Connecticut became responsible 
for the whole amount and contributed handsomely towards 
it. The money was afterwards refunded by his family. 
Landing at Marseilles in the summer he travelled through 
France, and broken down by the trials of Turkish bondage, 
died in three days after reaching London. 

Thus perished one of the strong men of Rhode Island. 
He filled a large space in the early history of the colony, 
as an active, determined man, resolute in mind and vig- 
orous in body, delighting in conflict, bold in his views on 
the political dogmas of his time, fearless in his mode of ex- 
pressing them, strildng always firmly, and often rasldy, for 
what he beheved to be the right, and denouncing with the 
energy of a concentrated intellect all men or measures 
that did not conform to his ideas of truth or of justice. 
His controversy with Roger Williams, we have before re- 
ferred to. It was never forgotten, and scarcely forgiven, 
by either of these great men, and presents the darkest blot 
that rests npon their characters. The public career of 



CHAP. Harris was almost uninterrupted, except by liis frequent 
,_^_^ voyages, and these were always upon official business. As 
16 81. an assistant or a deputy, his name constantly occurs in 
connection with important trusts, and no man, unless it be 
his great opponent, has left a deeper mark upon the rec- 
ords of his State. 
16 8 2. The year following his death, another attempt was 
made to settle the controversy between Providence and 
Pawtuxet by mutual agreement. The line agreed upon 
narrowed the limits of the Pawtuxet purchase more than 
any previous attempt at adjustment had done. The same 
committee were to settle the Warwick dispute. Both at- 
tempts failed, and the line between Providence and War- 
wick was finally settled by the legislature in 1696, as it 
now exists, making the Pawtuxet river the boundary. 
This gave to Providence jurisdiction over the litigated 
tract, which was on the north side of the stream included 
in a bend of the river. The other controversy was main- 
tained at great cost, agents being employed in England, 
and hearings had before the royal council as late as 1706, 
all to no practical result. It was finally settled by com- 
promise in May, 1712, when the line was run and bounds 
set up, reducing still further the limits of the Pawtuxet 
purchase. The moral conveyed in the result of this pro- 
tracted and costly litigation is apparent. 




TER, JUNE, 1686. 

CH \ P 

There are many periods of Rhode Island history, xi. 
some of which we have already passed, that could not be 
truly written without a free access to the archives of the 
British government. To no period does this remark ap- 
ply more fully than to that uj)on which we entered at the 
close of the preceding chapter. The Harris controversy 
is scarcely referred to in the State records, the council 
minutes having been sent to England as evidence. The 
struggle for jurisdiction that was now to be resumed on 
every side against Rhode Island, was soon transferred to 
the English Court, in whose archives alone its progress 
can be correctly traced. The disasters suffered by Rhode 
Island during Philip's war, furnished the occasion for a 
renewal of the disputes that, with one exception, had 
been definitely settled by the royal commissioners of 1664. 
Even Connecticut, as we have seen, had acquiesced for a 
time in the decision of Sir Robert Carr, but soon took 
exceptions to that settlement based upon the absence of 
Col. Nichols, governor of New York, who was induced, 


CHAP, upon no valid grounds, to dissent from tlie unanimous 
.^^^ decree of his colleagues in favor of Ehode Island. The 
war had for a time suspended the dispute in regard to the 
jurisdiction of Narraganset, but now her claims were put 
forward with increased energy, on the new ground that it 
belonged to her by right of conquest — the same reason 
that had formerly been put forth by Massachusetts after 
the Pequot war. Massachusetts also entered the field 
again as a claimant, in behalf of the heirs of the Ather- 
ton company ; and Plymouth, not satisfied with the de- 
cision that bounded her upon Narraganset bay, until the 
King's pleasure should be further known, injudiciously 
sought to re-open the question, assigning reasons for so 
doing that may well excite surprise. Thus the ancient 
controversies with all her neighbors were re-opened, and 
Ehode Island, weakened by pestilence and wasted by war, 
was again involved in the struggle for existence. 

It is not enough to say that, after nearly seventy years 
of further contest, she came out more than victorious 
over all her opponents, not only retaining the territory 
which they sought to wrest from her, but adding some- 
thing to it from two of them at least ; but we must trace 
the progress of the struggle, if we would have even a 
faint idea of the difficulties that beset her. At one time 
it will appear as if all was lost, and that the colony must 
be absorbed by her ambitious sisters, and again the recu- 
perative energy of the sturdy "heretics" will seem to 
have already won the battle. The plan of having resi- 
dent agents in London soon came from necessity to be 
adopted by each of the New England colonies, the record 
of whose acts, in many cases, can only be found among 
the archives of the home government. 

While the era upon which we now enter is memorable 

■ for the above-named causes, the present year is not less 

remarkable for the changes wrought by death in the chief 

magistrates of the colony. No less than three different 


governors filled that place within five months, two of chap. 
whom died in office. The lapse of forty years was telling Jt]^^ 
the tale of mortality upon the founders of the State. 16 7 8. 
The first generation of Ehode Islanders was fast passing 

The force of the colony at this time was from one May 
thousand to twelve hundred freemen able to hear arms.' 
At the election Benedict Arnold was again chosen gover- 
nor, and Major John Cranston deputy governor. Gov. 
Arnold was then too ill to attend the Assembly, so that 
the engagement was administered to him by a committee 
at his own house. The tax law was further modified at 
this session, and as taxation without representation was 
one of the prime grievances which, a century later, roused 
the American colonies to arms, it is important to notice 
how early and deeply-rooted was this idea in the Khode 
Island mind, and how frequently it appears upon the stat- 
ute book of the State. By an existing law - no tax could 
be assessed without a full representation of deputies from 
all the towns. This was now amended so as to require 
legal notice to be given, by warrant from the governor, to 
every town, that a tax was to be assessed, without which 
notice no levy could be made.^ Since the creation of the 
office of major, during Philip's war, the choice of that 
officer had devolved upon the militia, but this was now 
changed, and all freemen were admitted to vote upon the 

' Report of Sir Edmund Andros to Board of Trade received 9th April, 
1678, in reply to queries on the state of the New England colonics, addressed 
to him the day previous. A rough draft of the seventeen queries is filed in 
Br. S. P. 0. New England, vol. ii. p. 140, and the original answer on pp. 
149, 150. By this the relative strength of the colonies may be ascertained. 
Sir E. A. had lately returned from America, where he had been governor of 
New York. He estimates Connecticut force at 3000, Rhode Island 1000 to 
1200, Plymouth 1000 to 1500, and Massachusetts 8 to 10,000. 

= Passed Nov. 6th, 1672. 

5 It was soon found necessary to repeal this act. The struggle to main- 
tain the rights of the colony in England often required money to be raised to 
meet emergencies, which could not be done promptly under this statute. It 
was therefore repealed in July, 1679. 

442 mSTOEY OF the state of RHODE ISLAND. 

CHAP, question, provided they personally appeared to do so, upon 
^S^l^ election day. A permanent court-martial for tlie trial of 
16 78. delinquent soldiers was instituted, to consist of the major 
and a majority of the commissioned officers of the several 
military companies in the colony. A bankrupt law was 
also passed, based upon the statutes of Elizabeth and 
James. Five men were chosen as commissioners of bank- 
rupts, who were sworn to make a just and proportionate 
distribution of insolvent estates among the creditors. 
They were to notify parties interested to present their 
claims, and had full power to do all acts necessary to the 
fulfilment of their commissions. ^ This law, for some rea- 
son not apparent, could not stand the test of the first case 
June that was brought up for action under it, and was repealed 
^^- within six weeks, at the beginning of the adjourned ses- 
sion of the Assembly. The conflict of land titles in Nar- 
raganset, among private owners as well as townships, led 
the Assembly to order a survey and plats to be made of 
the several tracts. They also required all purchasers, 
who held by Indian titles, to present their deeds to be 
passed upon by the Assembly, in order that the vacant 
lands might be known and should not be settled upon ex- 
cept by their order. Fast riding within the compact 
parts of Newport was forbidden under a penalty of five 
shilhngs, on account of an accident from that cause which 
had lately occurred. Constables were re-appointed for the 
towns in Kings Province. 

A greater accuracy in the terms employed in framing 
statutes is observable at this time. The additional words, 
" and by the authority thereof be it ordained, enacted, 
and declared," appended to the enacting clause of a law, 
which surplusage, with slight modifications, continued in 
use till a very recent date, appear for the first time at 

^ The commissioners of bankrupts were the deputy governor, Major John 
Cranston, the general treasurer, Peleg Sandford, John Coggeshall, the general 
recorder, John Sandford, and the attorney-general, Edward Richmond. 


this session. Again, the law of 1647 which empowered chap. 
the town councils to appoint an " executor " upon the es- vi^ 
tate of a deceased intestate, was amended by substituting 16 78. 
for that term " the word administrator ; it being in that 12. 
case the more proper and usual term in the law." Among 
the curiosities of legislation may here be cited the con- 
cluding clause of an act making a final settlement of the 
accounts of the late general sergeant, which it seems were 
so involved as to be beyond the power of the auditing 
committee to strike a balance. It was therefore voted to 
call the accounts square, " and that by this act there is a 
full and fynall issue of all differences relating to the said 
accounts from the beginninge of the world unto this pres- 
ent Assembly ! " A more comprehensive statute cannot 
well be imagined. The military power, which during the 
war had been placed in the hands of the town councils, 
was now taken from them, and vested more completely in 
the major-general, who could call out all the troops for 
exercise at his pleasure, and was subject only to the orders 
of the Assembly, the governor, deputy-governor, or their 

Scarcely had the Assembly adjourned when Gov. Ar- -'^• 
nold died. He had been a resident of Newport for twen- 
ty-five years, having removed from Providence during the 
division that continued in the colony for more than a 
year after the revocation of Coddington's commission, and 
was very instrumental in effecting the subsequent recon- 
ciliation and union of the towns. From that time he 
was almost constantly in public oflS.ce, first as a commis- 
sioner from Newport and then as assistant. For five 
years he was President of the colony under the old patent, 
and was named in the second charter as governor, which 
office he filled at seven different times by popular election.' 
His liberal views and thorough appreciation of the Ehode 

' He was elected a commissioner in 1654, 1656— assistant in IG.')."), 1G60- 
01— president in 1678-9, 1 662-63— governor in 1663-4-5-9, 1670-1-77 and 
78, and died in his sixty-fourth year. 


CHAP. Island idea of intellectual freedom, appear in tlie letters 
v^^ that, as president of the colony, he wrote in reply to the 
16 78. arrogant demands of the United Colonies, when they urged 
20. the forcible expulsion of the Quakers.^ That he was no 
friend of the doctrines, or advocate of the conduct, of the 
followers of Fox, is evident from his writings ; hut that, 
like Williams, he recognized the distinction between per- 
secution and opposition, between legal force and moral 
suasion, as applied to matters of opinion, is equally ap- 
parent. In politics and theology he was alike the oppo- 
nent of Coddington and the friend of John Clarke, and 
throughout his long and useful life he displayed talents 
of a brilliant order, which were ever employed for the wel- 
fare of his fellow-men. 
July Active demonstrations were soon made both here and 

in England by the several claimants for the soil of Khode 
Island. The first of these proceeded from Plymouth in 
a letter to the King, recounting the disasters sustained 
by that colony during the war. It goes on to say, " our 
neighbors of Ehode Island were once so ungrateful, after 
we had freely given them the said island,^ to accommodate 
them in their distress when banished by the Massachu- 
setts, that by misinformation they obtained from your 
Majesty a good quantity of the best of our land on the 
maine, the same that we now call conquest lands, but 
better informed by your commands, you were pleased to 

^ These two letters are printed in R. I. Col. Rec, i. pp. 376-80. 

^ The claim here set up that Aquidneck was " freely given," is somewhat 
remarkable in view of the fact that when Williams and Clarke, with the An- 
tinomian committee, went to Pljniiouth early in March, 1637-8, to inquire 
about tlieir contemplated settlement at Sowams, that spot was claimed " as 
the garden of Plymouth patent," and the applicants were advised to select the 
other location, which they had also in view, Aquidneck, because it was be- 
yond the limits of Plymouth patent. See Clarke's Nan-ativc, or 111 News 
from New England, p. 24-5, and ante chap. ii. Now, forty years later, 
they claim, to the King, that the island was " freely given," and charge Rhode 
Island with being "ungrateful" for the signal favor of having received at 
their hands what they admitted at the beginning did not belong to them. 


return it again to us. We have reason to fear tliey arc chap. 
coveting it, or part of it, again, and it may bee some of ^^ 
them will pretencle to have a right of purchase of the In- 1 G 7 8. 
dians, &c." It next assails the conduct of Khode Island 
during the war, in these words : " The truth is the au- 
thority of Khode Island being all the time of the warr in 
the hands of Quakers, they scarcely showed an English 
spirit, either in assisting us, their distressed neighbors, or 
relieving their own jDlantations upon the Mayne,' but 
when, by God's blessing upon our forces, the enemy was 
routed and almost subdued, they tooke in many of our 
enemyes that were flying before us, thereby making profit 
by our expence of blood and treasure," &c.^ 

These extracts indicate the spirit of the opponents of 
Rhode Island, and the new line of policy they had adopted 
to obtain their ends. 

The proceedings of Massachusetts and of her agents 
in England were equally decisive. A printed advertise- 
ment was struck off in Boston, and soon afterward posted ^q 
in the town of Newport, signed by a committee of the 
Narraganset proprietors, in right of the Atherton pur- 
chasers, offering for sale, upon advantageous terms to ac- 
tual settlers, tracts of land in that country, and describing 
it as being within the jurisdiction of Connecticut.^ 

' There is more tmth tban poetry in this clause of the sentence, and in- 
deed it is the only trnth contained in the whole paragraph. But if the main- 
land towns, appreciating the reasons of the neglect they certainly experienced 
from the island, failed to complain very much about it, we see no cause why 
Plymouth should vex herself in their behalf; and it comes with an ill grace 
from one of the United Colonies when they had wantonly made Pvhode Island 
their battle ground, and then failed to leave a garrison within her borders af- 
ter the great swamp fight. 

"-This letter, dated 13th July, 1G77, and signed "Nath. Morton, Secy., by 
order of the Great Court," is entered in Cr. S. P. 0. New England papers, 
vol. xxxiii. p. 5. 

' This handbill is signed by Simon Bradstreet, John Baffin and Elisha 
Hutchinson, and is preserved in New England papers, vol. in. p. 46. Br. S. 
P. 0., and printed in R. I. Col. Eec., vol. iii. p. 18, from a copy in Mr. 
Brown's MSS. 


CHAP. The course pursued by Holden and Grreene, as the 

.^.^ agents of Warwick in the Harris case, opened the whole 
16 78. discussion of the past conduct of Massachusetts. They 
had protested against having any Massachusetts referees 
in a matter where their town was concerned. This drew 
an answer from the agents of that colony/ wherein they 
incautiously ventured upon a sketch of the early history 
Aug. of Warwick^ defending the acts of Massachusetts, assail- 
ing the character of the petitioners, and charging Ehode 
Island with disloyalty upon sundry occasions. This was 
an unfortunate train of argument for the respondents to 
adopt. The Warwick men at once retorted with great 
severity in a petition, relating the facts of the case, ex- 
posing the fallacies of their opponents, repelling their at- 
tacks upon the loyalty of Ehode Island, adducing record 
proofs of the disloyalty of Massachusetts, and concluding 
with a series of requests ; first, that a Supreme Court of 
judicature over all the colonies may he erected in New 
England, whereby equal justice may be rendered, boun- 
dary disputes be adjusted, and civil war, which must oth- 
erwise result from " the oppressions of an insulting and 
tyrannical government," may be averted ; second, that 
the royal letter of 1666, confirming the acts of the com- 
missioners in behalf of Ehode Island, may be renewed ; 
third, that Connecticut may be compelled to restore the 
town of Westerly, lately taken from Ehode Island by 
force ; and lastly, that the decisions of Massachusetts 
against Warwick men, especially the decree of banish- 
ment against Eandall Holden, now of thirty-five years 
standing, may be annulled,'^ The petition was accompa- 
nied by a number of documents going back to the pur- 

' William Stoughton and Peter Bulkely. Their answer is of the same 
date in London as the handbiU in Boston, July 30th, 1678. The original 
paper is in Br. S. P. 0., vol. iii. p. 47, of New England papers. 

2 The original of this masterly state paper, as conclusive as it is severe, 
is filed in the Br. S. P. 0. New England papers, vol. iii. p.24-7. 



chase of Warwick, and corroborating the positions ad- 
vanced by its authors. 1 

The G-eneral Assembly at the adjourned session pro- 16 7 8, 
ceeded at once to fill the vacancy in the office of gover- 28?' 
nor, and William Coddington was chosen. A committee 
waited upon Mrs. Arnold, widow of the deceased gover- 
nor, to obtain the charter and other pubhc papers, late in 
the official custody of her husband. Attention was called 
to the Atherton handbill, which had been set up in Nar- 
raganset by John Saffin, one" of the signers, " whoe forth- 
with fled olf the island from the hands of justice."' A 
declaration of ownership by Rhode Island, and prohibi- 
tion to all persons against settling upon the lands without 
leave of the Assembly, was immediately passed ; copies 
of it were sent to every town in the colony, to be posted 

' These documents are not filed with the petition, but are found scattered 
among the papers in the same and other volumes, with other evidence pre- 
sented at different times by Holden and Greene, upon these and other points 
connected with their mission. Seven of these documents are contained in 
pages 2 to G of the same vol. iii. of New England papers, viz., Submission of 
Narragausets, 19th April, 1644. Reception thereof by the commissioners, 
20th March, 1664. Warning sent by Warwick to Massachusetts men, 
28th Sept., 1643. Sentence of Massachusetts Court against Gorton, 3d 
Nov., 1643. Naming and bounding of Kings Province, 20th March, 1664. 
Appointment of Rhode Island officers as justices there, 8th April, 1665. 
Cartwright's letter to Gorton, 26th May, 1665. The facts of which these 
and many other papers deposited at this period are confirmatory evidence wo 
have stated in their proper place, but have not befere mentioned where the 
official copies, if sought for, may be found. Although sent originally by 
Warwick upon the Harris laud case, the general business of the colony soon fell 
into their hands. The colony agents, Sandford and Bailey, appointed 24th 
May, 1677, did not go to England. The Warwick men showed themselves 
fully competent for the most difficult labors of negotiation or of defence, and 
upon their return the Assembly, in July, 1079, voted them the sum of sixty 
pounds, of which forty-five pounds had been disbursed by them on the colo- 
ny's account in England, and the balance was for their passage home. 

'^ He was afterwards arrested and imprisoned under a warrant issued by 
Gov. Cranston, 14th April, 1670. MS. files of Mass. Hist. Soc, and a let. 
ter was sent by Massachusetts to Rhodd Island, 3d June, demanding his re- 
lease — Trumbull papers, vol. xsii. No. 95 — but no notice was taken of it by 
the Rhode Island Assembly. He was tried, fined, and his estate forfeited. 


in cons23icuous places, and tlie act was published by beat 
of drum in the town of Newport. 

A case involving the question of the revising power of 
the Assembly over the proceedings of the General Court of 
Trials, which has since been often agitated in this State, 
was presented. ; the action upon which shows that the im- 
portance of an independent judiciary was felt at that early 
day, and that the Assembly clearly understood their legit- 
imate powers, and had no desire to exceed them. The 
case of Sandford against Forster had been twice legally 
tried by the Court, when one Colson petitioned the legis- 
lature, in behalf of the defendant, for a reversal of judgment. 
We quote the language of the vote upon this petition : 
" This Assembly conceive that it doth not properly belong 
to them, or anywise within their recognizance, to judge or 
to reverse any sentence or judgment passed by the Gener- 
all Court of Tryalls, according to law, except capitall or 
criminall cases, or mulct or fines." 
Oct. When the next regular session of the Assembly was 

held, Governor Coddington was on his death-bed. " He 
died November 1st, in the seventy-eighth year of his age, a 
good man, full of days." ' He was a man of vigorous in- 
tellect, of strong passions, earnest in whatever he under- 
took, and self-reliant in all his actions. Such a man could 
not fail to occupy a prominent place in any community. 
He was one of the Assistants of the Massachusetts Com- 
pany in England, came over with it to America, and was 
a leading merchant in Boston, where he built the first brick 
house. With the lai-ger number of the more liberal and 
educated people of that town, he espoused the Antinomian 
views, and upon the overthrow of that cause, emigrated to 
Aquedneck, which island he purchased in his own name 
for himself and associates. He was made the first judge 
or chief magistrate of the new colony, and continued to be 
its governor till the union of the towns under the first 

1 Cullender's Dedication, p. 52, R. I. H. C, iv. 


patent. In Newport he was the first person who ever en- chap. 
gaged in commerce. The distraction that prevailed in the J^^ 
colony was no doubt the motive of his voyage to England 16 7 8. 
to obtain a commission as governor of the island for life. 
This was a direct, and as the event proved, an unwarranted 
usurpation, in which he was opposed by Clarke, Arnold, and 
nearly all the freemen of the island, and for wliich we can 
best account in the words of one who thoroughly appreci- 
ated the principles and the men of early Rhode Island. 
" He had in him a little too much of the future for Mas- 
sachusetts, and a little too much of the past for Rhode 
Island, as she then was." ' After the revocation of his 
power he led a retired life for many years. During this 
interval, he embraced the views of the Friends, and was 
distinguished for his zeal in their cause, and the vigor with 
which he combated those who differed from his opinions. 
Latterly he had engaged to some extent in public affairs. 
He was once elected deputy governor and three times gov- 
ernor, in which office he died,- 

The Assembly adjourned till the following Monday, 4. 
when Conanicut island was incorporated as a township, 
and called Jamestown in honor of the King. Another ad- 
journment then took place, probably for the funeral of Gov. 
Coddington, after which the chief business of the session 
was transacted. The deputy governor, John Cranston, was '^ 
then elected Governor, and the first Assistant from New- 15. 
port, James Barker, was chosen deputy governor. Each 
took the engagement to his new office and was formally ab- 
solved from his previous official engagements. The two 
Assistants next to Barker were each raised one step with- 
out taking a new engagement, and a third Assistant, Caleb 
Carr, was elected and engaged. The charter and otlicr 

' Chief Justice Durfee's Historical Discourse, p. IG. 

" He was a deputy from Newport in March, 1666, and au assistant in Oc- 
tober of that year. In 1673 he was chosen deputy governor, and the two 
following years governor, and again in August, 1678, by the Assembly. 

VOL. 1—29 


CHAP, papers, as usual, were obtained from Mrs. Coddington and 
,_^^ placed in custody of the new governor. The duplicate 
1 "J 7 8. copy of the charter, which had hitherto been kept by John 
Clarke, was also obtained from his executors, and has ever 
since been preserved, first in the custody of the deputy 
governor, and then by the General Assembly in the Secre- 
tary's office.^ 
15. A rate of three hundred pounds was laid. As this was 

the first tax assessed since the war, the great disproportion 
observed in its allotments, indicates the relative degree in 
which the towns had suffered. A comparison of this with 
previous taxes will show how recent events had afiected 
the prosperity of different portions of the colony. New- 
port was assessed one hundred and thirty-six pounds, Ports- 
mouth sixty-eight. New Shoreham and Jamestown each 
twenty-nine, Providence ten, Warwick eight, Kingston 
sixteen, one-half of which was afterwards remitted. East 
Greenwich and Westerly two pounds each. Thus it will 
be seen that while every town bore its share, the two towns 
on Aquedneck paid more than two-thirds of the whole 
levy, the three islands together paid seven-eighths of the 
tax, and the five mainland towns less than one-eighth. 
So great a disproportion has never been observed before or 
since. The prices placed upon articles of food and rai- 
ment, in commutation of this tax, give us valuable infor- 
mation as to the cost of living at this time. Fresh pork 
was valued at two pence a pound, salted and well packed 
pork, fifty shillings a barrel, fresh beef twelve shillings a 
hundred weight, packed beef, in barrels, thirty shillings a 

• ^ At the January session of the present year, 1858, it was " Resolved, 
That the Secretary cause the original charter, granted to this State when a 
colony, hy King Charles II., and the copy thereof, to he framed and protected, 
in such manner as to ensure their preservation ; and that he deposit the du- 
plicate of said charter in the cahinet of the Rhode Island Historical Society, 
for safe keeping ; and that the cost of such frames he allowed and paid out 
of the State Treasury, upon the order of the State auditor." This has ac- 
cordingly heen done. 


hundred, pease, and barley malt, two and sixpence a bush- chap. 
el, corn and barley, two shillings, washed wool, sixpence a ^,_;_ 
pound, and good firkin butter, five pence.' Most of this 16 78. 
tax was paid in wool, and the price reduced to five pence. 15 " 
A report of the proceedings of the Court of Commissioners 
at Providence upon the Harris land cases, presented by 
the two Ehode Island members of that tribunal, was or- 
dered to be forwarded to his Majesty, which was done, with 
a letter from the governor.^ 

The Warwick agents were fully employed at this time, '■ 
not only with their immediate business, but in a defence 
of the rights of the colony, incidentally forced upon them 
by her opponents. Richard Smith, in behalf of the Nar- 
raganset proprietors, had sent a petition to the King, set- 
ting forth the Connecticut claim, and the defenceless con- 
dition of Rhode Island during the war, and praying that 
their country with the adjacent islands, Conanicut, Dutch, 
Patience, and Hope, might be restored to Connecticut. 
The matter was referred to the Board of Trade, and Hol- 
den and Greene were called upon for information on the 
subject, and to answer the averments of the petitioners.' 
This they did, in behalf of the colony, with signal ability, 
defending the claim of Rhode Island under the charter, 
and vindicating her conduct in the war.< The printed ad- 
vertisement of the Narraganset lands, having been sent out 

' A comparison of this tax with that levied for the same amount in June, 
1670, forcibly illustrates the changes wrought by the war. A like com- 
parison of prices with those current in Oct., 1670, shows a large decline 
in all the staple articles of Ufe, while the relative values of English 
and colonial currency, as there stated, remained about the same, and g 
hence the reduction of sterling to federal money, there given, will answer for 
this period. 

= The letter is filed in Br. S. P. 0., New England, vol. xxxii. p. oU. 

^ The orioinal petition and order in council thereupon, July od, 1678, are 
in New England papers, vol. iii. p. 38-10, Br. S. P. 0., and arc printed in K. 
1. Col. Rec, iii. 50-1. 

" The original paper is in Br. S. P. 0., New England, vol. iii. p. 42— 
printed in R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 60-2. 




to Holden and Greene, was presented by them to tlie royal 
council, and an order was at once issued for the Massachu- 
setts agents to appear and show upon what title the lands 
were claimed.' Staughton and Bulkeley informed the 
council that it was a private claim. This admission, to- 
gether with the representations of Holden and Greene in 
answer to Smith's petition, were embodied in an order of 
council,^ issued the same day, requiring that notice should 
be sent to New England to leave Kings Province in its 
present condition, and that those who claimed ownership 
or jurisdiction there, should forthwith send agents to prove 
their rights before the King. The following week, upon 
petition of Eandal Holden, a peremptory order was issued 
annulling the sentence of banishment passed by the Mas- 
sachusetts Court against Holden and his associates, the 
men of Warwick, thirty-five years before, and command- 
ing the said Court to repeal the same and to allow these 
persons, at all times, free access within their jurisdiction. 
The terms of this order were unusually decided, and indi- 
cate a strong feeling of condemnation, in the royal coun- 
cil, at the arbitrary conduct of Massachusetts towards the 
adherents of Gorton. ^ 
1678-9 ^^® Warwick men having concluded their mission in 

Jan. England were about to return home, when another matter 
occurred to cause their delay for a few weeks. John 
Crowne petitioned for the grant of Mount Hope, lately , 
^ conquered from the Indians, as an offset to losses sustain- 
ed by his family in the King's service in Acadia,^ A 
note was addressed by the council to the agents of Massa- 
chusetts and of Warwick, inquiring about the extent, 

' This order is entered in vol. xxsii. p. 295, New England papers, Br. S. 
P. 0. See R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 62. 

^ New England papers, vol. xxxii. p. 308, Br. S. P. 0. R. I. Col. Rec, 
iii. 63. 

' The original petition is in Br. S. P. 0., New England papers, vol. iii. p. 
49, and the order upon it is in vol. xxxii. p. 312. 

* Br. S. P. 0., New England, vol. iii. p. 52. 


value, and proprietorship of Mount Hope.' To this Hoi- chap. 
den and Greene replied that the tract contained about four ^J_, 
thousand acres, was worth as many pounds, and that the 16 79. 
propriety was in the King. Staughton and Bulkeley ^^!^' 
estimated it at about six thousand acres, could not judge 
of the value, and claimed that it was included in Plymouth 
patent." The diversity of these replies led the council to ^• 
order that inquiries on the same points be made to the 
four colonies in the same letter that was preparing to be 
sent to them concerning Narraganset.^ This letter, draft- 
ed in accordance with the order in council of two months 
before, recapitulated the points in dispute about Narra- 
ganset, and required claimants to send agents to England 12. 
to prove their rights. It also made inquiries about Mount 
Hope,^ and became, as we shall see, a fruitful source of 
contention in a few months.' 

At the next General Assembly all the towns except * g-' 
Westerly and Kingstown were represented by deputies. 
As we have before stated, it was the custom to organize 
on. the day previous to the election in order to admit free- 
men. Those who had been received as freemen of the 
towns were, on these occasions, made freemen of the colony. 
Although in fact but one session, the two Assemblies, one 
meeting the day before and the other upon election day, 
were technically considered as distinct bodies, as indeed 
they were, and the towns chose their deputies for the 
spring sessions to attend both Assemblies. The changes 

' Br. S. P. 0., New England, vol. xKxii. p. 18. R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 38. 

" The originals of these two replies are in Br. S. P. 0., New England, vol. 
iii. pp. 50, 53. R. L Col. Rec., iii. 37-8. 

= Br. S. P. 0., New England, vol. xxxii. p. 336. R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 38. 

* The Mount Hope matter was settled in favor of Plymouth, by Report of 
the Board of Trade, 4th Dee., 1679, approved by the Council 21st Dec. Br. 
S. P. 0., New England, vol. iii. p. 34-7, and confirmed by royal letter, 12th 
Jan., 1679-80, vol. xxxii. p. 315 — granting their petition of 1st July, 1670, 
vol. xxxiii. p. 15, R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 64-6. 

' Br. S. P. O., New England, voL xxxii. p. 338. II. I. Col. Rec, iii. 40. 
1 M. H. C, v. 221. 


made on election day were among the general officers and 
Assistants, who were chosen by popular vote. The meetings 
of the Assembly were held at hotels or in private houses. 
The vote of those present was by ballot, collected in a hat. 
Proxy votes were opened by a committee, and the Ee- 
corder made a list of the names of all those who voted. 
At this election, the choice of John Cranston as governor, 
made by the Assembly upon the death of Coddington, was 
confirmed by the people, and Walter Clarke was elected 
deputy governor. 

A custom had grown up " among sundry persons, being 
evill-minded," of overworking their own servants, and of 
hiring other men's servants and under-letting them, to la- 
bor on Sunday. A law was passed to prevent this inhu- 
manity, and also to forbid gaming, sporting, and tippling 
on the first day of the week, under penalty of the stocks, 
or a fine. The frauds practised by sailor landlords upon 
seamen, caused a law to be passed that no such person, 
who should trust a sailor, that had been shipped, for a 
sum greater than five shillings, without an order from his 
captain, could recover the debt ; and should he attempt 
to do so he rendered himself liable for damages at the suit 
of the master. The master of every vessel of over twenty 
tons burthen was required to report himself to the head of- 
ficer of the town upon arrival and departure, and if over ten 
days in port then to set up notice in two public places in 
the town three days before sailing.^ This act was passed in 
view of the Enghsh acts of trade and na\dgation which 
afterwards became so fruitful a source of contention be- 
tween the mother country and her American colonies. 

The colony now adopted the rule of paying the neces- 
sary expenses of the members of the Assembly, and also of 
the Court of Trials, for board and lodging during their at- 

^ This latter regulation still exists in some countries and is applied to all 
travellers, who, as in Russia at this day, must advertise their intention to 
leave, that creditors may have full notice. 


tendance. The sums collected by fines and forfeitures 
were appropriated to this purpose. The law of 1658 to 
prevent innovation in the government of the colony was 
revised, pronouncing forfeiture of the entire estates of all 
persons who should subject their lands, lying within the 
jurisdiction of this colony, to that of any other government. 
There was ample occasion for severe legislation upon this 
point. The settlement of Narraganset by Khode Island 
men had attracted the attention of Connecticut, and drawn 
from that colony a letter demanding the recall of those 
settlers ; to which Khode Island replied, regretting a re- 
newal of the strife, but asserting her claim, and looking 
for justice to God and the King.' The General Assembly 
of Connecticut appointed officers in Narraganset, and em- 
powered the governor and council to punish intruders, to 
treat with Khode Island, and to settle the country. 

Upon the return of the Warwick agents bearing the 
royal letter of inquiry concerning Narraganset and Mount 
Hope, the governor, by warrant, convened the Assembly. 
A prohibition was sent to Westerly and Kingstown for- 
bidding any persons from there exercising authority under 
any other government, and requiring all the residents of 
Kings Province to render obedience to this.- The magis- 
trates were required to hold courts in Kings Province as 
often as the governor should see cause, the better to en- 
force the King's commands. The arrival of Sir Edmund 
Andros, governor of New York, being daily expected, pro- 
vision was made for his reception at the pubhc expense. 
He was then on his way home, and was maldng the tour 
of New England under orders to report upon the condition 
of these colonies. It happened fortunately for Rhode 
Island, when a few years later she, with the rest of New 

' The two letters, dated April 7tli and 21st, 1679, are in vol. i. p. '240-4 
of MS. copies of Conn, records in the cabinet of the K. I. Hist. Soc. 

■■^ The prohibition is entered upon the records, and is in R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 


16 7 9. 




CHAP. England, was placed under his government, that this 
^^,^^ timely civility had been shown to the royal governor ; 
16 7 9. but at this time no such calamity could have been antici- 
^ ^ pated. 

19 A warrant was issued for the arrest of Kichard Smith 

on account of his petition to the King on behalf of Con- 
necticut. He was to be examined preparatory to drafting 
the letter that was to be sent to England in reply to the 
royal missive brought by Holden and Greene. A survey of 
Mount Hope was ordered to be made for the same purpose, 
and other examinations, in respect to Narraganset, were 
^^- made on each side of the question. The testimonies of 
John Greene and of Roger Williams were taken upon the 
facts of the first settlement of Narraganset by Richard 
Smith, and a lengthy petition was signed by a large num- 
ber of the people of Narraganset praying that they may be 
erected into a distinct government.^ The letter of Rhode 
"^* Island to the King was accompanied by a plan of Mount 
Hope, which tract was supposed to contain about seven 
thousand acres and was valued at three thousand pounds, 
and it asked that Kings Province may be preserved to 
Rhode Island as accorded in the charter.^ The United 
^'^" Colonies in their reply to the royal letter claimed Mount 
Hope for Plymouth and Narraganset for Connecticut, 
and indulged in the usual vituperation of Rhode Island.^ 
Sept. A court was held at Westerly, in his Majesty's name, 

by the magistrates of Rhode Island, at which an oath of 
allegiance to the King and fidelity to the colony was ad- 
ministered, and signed by thirty-three freemen. The Con- 
necticut Court for that county was then sittiDg at New 
London. A protest was sent by Governor Leete upon this 
subject. A prompt reply was returned by Governor Cran- 

' These papers are all filed in Br. S. P. 0., New England, vol. iii. pp. 44, 
68, 69, 66. R. I. Col. Rec, iii. 52, 56-60. 

- Original of this letter is in New England papers, vol. iii. p. 59, in Br. S. 
P. 0., R. I. Col. Rec, iiL 43-6, I M. H. C, v. 223. 

M M. H. C. V. 226. Not found in Br. S. P. 0. 





ston, justifying the proceedings of the Ehode Island Court. 
The same energetic course was pursued by the Court of 
Trials. John Saffin, one of the signers of the obnoxious 1^,^7 9, 
handbill, before described, and who had posted the same 
in Newport, having been arrested, was imprisoned, tried, 
and sentenced to pay a fine and to forfeit his estates in 
Narraganset. Kichard Smith was arraigned at the same 
term but discharged, owing to a flaw in the indictment,' 

The Connecticut Assembly, in compliance with the 
King's command, empowered the council to send an agent 
to England to defend the claim of that colony to Narra- 
ganset, and designated William Harris of Pawtuxet as a 
suitable person. They also disavowed the late Court held 
by Governor Cranston at Westerly, forbidding the inhabi- 
tants of Stonington in any way to recognize the same, and 
protested against any other act of jurisdiction heretofore, 
or hereafter to be, exercised by Ehode Island in the Nar- 
raganset country. Massachusetts also resented the griev- 
ances of her people, and upon the suit of John Safl&n ar- 
rested Capt. John Albro, an Assistant of Ehode Island, 
then in Boston. He was discharged at once, and the 
slight expense incurred by this annoyance was met by the 
Assembly. This body met at the usual time and contin- .30, 
ued in session, with several adjournments, more than two 
months. Their first action was upon a petition from the 
town of Westerly that the western line of the colony 
should be run. It was voted to do so, surveyors were ap- 
pointed, and notice was sent to Connecticut requesting the 
concurrence of that colony in the survey. This was a cool 
rejoinder to the recent fulminations from that quarter, but 
was perhaps the best notice that could be taken of thoiu. 

The same subject was at this time occupying the royal 
council. A brief historical sketch of Narraganset, drawn 4. 

* This was at the Mcay term of the Court. F-ettors iVom Sallin inul Smith, 
dated May 23d and 26th, to Sec. Allen of Comiectient, giving nil account of 
their trial are in MS. records of Conn., vol. i. p. 250-2, in R. I. Hist. See. 





CHAP, up by Holden and Greene, was read,' and a full report 

^^' was made by the Board of Trade soon after, upon the gov- 

16 79. ernment and propriety of Kings Province, reciting the 

^^' progress of the dispute to this period, and recommending 

that a commission be sent out to examine the subject, as 

it was too complicated for the Board to decide.- 

11 _ Connecticut replied to the last proposition of Rhode 

Island, refusing to run the line, and giving notice of the 
appointment of an agent to adjust the dispute in England 
that Rhode Island might also send one if she chose." At 

6. an adjourned meeting of the General Assembly, a letter 
was addressed to the King, advising his Majesty of the ap- 
pointment of an agent by Connecticut, and asking that 
time may be allowed to Rhode Island to make her reply 
before final judgment in the case.^ 

12. The grant of Mount Hope to Plymouth by royal let- 

ter 5 decided the petition of John Crowne, so long pending 

Feb. before the council. He then made a new application, pe- 
titioning the King for the grant of Boston neck in Narra- 
ganset.^ This, like its predecessor, was referred to the 
Board of Trade, and met the same fate. The lands of 
Potawomet, about which there had been frequent conten- 
tion between Warwick and her neighbors, both Indian and 
English, were finally disposed of in town meeting, by di- 
vision into fifty equal parts or rights, and the names of the 
proprietors were inserted on the records.'' 

A letter containing twenty-seven queries from the 
Board of Trade, relating to the condition of Rhode Island, 

' Br. S. p. 0., New Eng. vol. iii. p. 45. 

- This report is without date, in Br. S. P. 0., New England, vol. iii. p. 12- 

' Conn. MSS., vol. i. p. 264 in E. I. Hist. Soc. A copy of the Connecti- 
cnt instructions to W. Harris is in Br. S. P. O., New England, vol. iii. p. 107. 

* Original filed in Br. S. P. 0., New Eng. vol. iii. p. 93, R I. CoL 
Rec, iii. 76. 

^ N. E., vol. xxsii. p. 315, Br. S. P. 0. 

« N. E., vol. iii. p. 55, Br. S. P. 0. 

■' "Warwick records, March 8th, 1680. 





having been received, was probably the cause of a special chap. 
meeting of the Assembly. A committee of seventeen per- ,J^ 
sons was appointed to collect the necessary information in 16 8 0. 
reply. The severe illness of the governor compelled an ad- 21"^ ^ 
journment. He expired the next day, being the third gov- 12. 
ernor who had died in office within two years. 

Governor John Cranston had borne a distinguished 
part in the history of the colony, and filled the highest 
military and civil positions in its gift. He was the first 
who ever held the place of Major-general, having been se- 
lected to command all the militia of the colony during 
Philip's war, and he was the father of a future governor 
who became still more distinguished for his protracted 
public service. Major Peleg Sandford was elected by the ig. 
Assembly to fill the vacancy. This was confirmed by the 
people at the general election, and Walter Clarke was 
again chosen deputy governor. A bell was now provided i^-^ ' 
for calling together the Assembly, the Courts, and the 
Council, and ordered to be set up in some convenient place. 
A committee was appointed to make a digest of the laws 
" that they may be putt in print." ' The prudent limita- 
tion of the power to be exercised over the Courts, prescribed 
by a previous Assembly,- was swept away at this session 
by a vote " that in all actionall cases brought to the 
Grenerall Courts of Tryalls, if either plaintiff or defendant 
be aggrieved after judgment entered in Court, they may 
and have liberty to make their appeale to the next Gen- 
erall Assembly for reliefe, provided such appeale be made 
in the Kecorder's office tenn days' time after judgment en- 
tered as aforesaid ; as also such person or persons soe ap- 
pealinge, shall first pay cost of Court, and give in bond as 

' We infer that they did not discharge the whole of their duties, as the 
earliest printed copy of the laws now known is dated 1719, and repeated at- 
tempts were vainly made by the home government to procure from Rhode Isl- 
and a copy of the laws, as we shall presently see ; and this could not have 
been the case had a digest been provided. 

'^ Aujvust, 1678 


in case of review, and thereupon execution shall be stopped 
till the determination of the Assembly be knowne/' It 
should be remembered that the General Court of Trials 
was composed of the Greneral Council, being the governor 
and assistants, or what afterwards became the upper house 
of Assembly, who, at this time, formed a part of the Gren- 
eral Assembly sitting as one body ; and it was not till 
nearly seventy years later that a reorganization of the 
Courts effected a complete separation of the legislative 
from the judicial branches of the Government. An alter- 
ation in the time of holding the Courts of Trials was made, 
as they often interfered with the sessions of the Assembly. 
They were hereafter to be held on the last Tuesday in March 
and the first Tuesday in September, instead of in May and 
October as heretofore. The pay of members of both bodies 
was fixed at seven shillings a week. The statistical ac- 
count of Khode Island, in reply to the inquiries of the 
Board of Trade, having been completed, it was sent, with 
a letter from the governor, to England.^ 

The dispute with Connecticut continued with unabated 
violence. That colony attempted to set up Catopeci, a 
Pequot, as joint Sachem of the Niantics with Weeounk- 
hass, daughter of the deceased Ninigret, and hereditary 
queen of the tribe. The same policy that had placed the 
usurper Uncas at the head of the Mohegans, now sought 
to distract the remnant of the once powerful Narragansets 
who remained faithful to Khode Island. The injured 
queen petitioned the King against this violation of her 
rights, setting forth the conduct of Connecticut, and 
of the Atherton purchasers, as alike prejudicial to his 
Majesty, to herself, and to Khode Island, and praying that 

' The original replies and letter are filed in Br. S. P. O., New England, 
vol. iii. pp. 115-121. As this is the earliest official information upon these 
points, and gives some interesting facts, we insert the substance in Appendix 
F. Tlie queries may he gathered from the replies. They were addressed to 
all the colonies, and are printed in Antiquities of Connecticut, p. 130. Hart- 
ford, 183G. 


the jurisdiction of tlie country might be left, as it ever had chap. 
been, in the hands of the latter/ A constable of Stoning- J^ 
ton was seized by warrant of Governor Sandford, for exer- 16 80. 
cising authority in Westerly, by arresting one WeUs upon '^"^^' 
a warrant from Connecticut, and carried to Newi^ort. A c. 
sharp letter from the Connecticut council followed, de- 
manding his release, and for peace' sake agreeing " not to 
meddle on the east side of Pawcatuck river " till the mat- 
ter was decided in England. The governor replied, giving 
the reason for the arrest, but retaining the prisoner for 9. 
trial. The council issued a formal protest against the 
conduct of Khode Island, to be published by the marshal 
of Stonington on both sides of the river, prohibiting the ^'^' 
recognition of any authority not derived from them. They 
also wrote a letter to the Board of Trade containing seven 
pleas for their claim to the jurisdiction and soil of Narra- 
ganset.2 Further than this they proceeded to make re- 
prisals. The marshal and his posse broke open the house 
of Joseph Clarke in Westerly, before sunrise, and carried 
him off as a prisoner. The governor and council of Rhode 
Island and Kings Province demanded his release, in a let- 23. 
ter setting forth their right of jurisdiction, both by charter 
and commission, over the invaded district. Clarke was 
released upon recognizance in the sum of two hundred 
pounds sterling for his appearance at the October term. 
Connecticut replied, placing the seizure of Clarke on the 20. 
ground of retaliation, denying the allegations of the Rhode 
Island letter, and asserting her claims to Kings Province. 
Mr. Blathvvayt, secretary of the royal council, wrote to 
Randal Holden and John Greene concerning the boundary 
dispute, and also the AVarwick case with Harris. In their 

' The original petition, transliited by Job Babcock, iutcrprctor, dated -tth 
April, 1680, and signed " Weeounkhass, the Queen in the Nihantiek Cuntrey 
in the Kings Province in New England — with the consent of her Coiinsell," is 
in Br. S. P. 0., New England, vol. iii. p. 77. 

'^ Antiquities of Connecticnt, p. 128. 


CHAP, reply, a minute account of tlie history of Narraganset and 
,_^^ tlie grounds of the Ehode Island claim is given.* The 
16 8 0. secretary's letter shows a leaning on the part of the council 
"^" in