New England’s Plantation – Bancroft

HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES BY GEORGE BANCROFT

Volume 1, Part 1

Chapter 13 — New England’s Plantation

WHILE the king was engaged in the overthrow of the London company, its more loyal rival in the West of England sought new letters-patent with a great enlargement of their domain. The remonstrances of the Virginia corporation and the rights of English commerce could delay for two years, but not defeat, the measure that was pressed by the friends of the monarch. On the third of November, 1620, King James incorporated forty of his subjects—some of them members of his household and his government, the most wealthy and powerful of the English nobility—as “The Council established at Plymouth, in the county of Devon, for the planting, ruling, ordering, and governing New England, in America.” The territory, which was conferred on them in absolute property, with unlimited powers of legislation and government, extended from the fortieth to the forty-eighth degree of north latitude, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The grant included the fisheries; and a revenue was considered certain from a duty to be imposed on all tonnage employed in them.

The patent placed emigrants to New England under the absolute authority of the corporation, and it was through grants from that plenary power, confirmed by the crown, that institutions the most favorable to colonial independence and the rights of mankind came into being. The French derided the action of the British monarch in bestowing lands and privileges which their own sovereign seventeen years before had appropriated. The English nation was incensed at the largess of immense monopolies by the royal prerogative; and in April, 1621, Sir Edwin Sandys brought the grievance before the house of commons. “Shall the English,” he asked, “be debarred from the freedom of the fisheries—a privilege which the French and Dutch enjoy? It costs the kingdom nothing but labor, employs shipping, and furnishes the means of a lucrative commerce with Spain.” “The fishermen hinder the plantations,” replied Calvert; “they choke the harbors with their ballast, and waste the forests by improvident use. America is not annexed to the realm, nor within the jurisdiction of parliament. You have, therefore, no right to interfere.” “We may make laws for Virginia,” rejoined another member; “a bill passed by the commons and the lords, if it receive the king’s assent, will control the patent.” The charter, argued Sir Edward Coke, with ample reference to early statutes, was granted without regard to previously existing rights, and is therefore void by the established laws of England. But the parliament was dissolved before a bill could be perfected.

In 1622, five-and-thirty sail of vessels went to fish on the coasts of New England, and made good voyages. The monopolists appealed to King James, and he issued a proclamation, which forbade any to approach the northern coast of America, except with the leave of their company or of the privy council. In June, 1623, Francis West was despatched as admiral of New England, to exclude such fishermen as came without a license. But they refused to pay the tax which he imposed, and his ineffectual authority was soon resigned.

The company, alike prodigal of charters and tenacious of their monopoly, having, in December, 1622, given to Robert Gorges, the Son of Sir Ferdinando, a patent for a tract extending ten miles on Massachusetts bay and thirty miles into the interior, appointed him lieutenant-general of New England, with power “to restrain interlopers.” Morell, an Episcopal clergyman, was provided with a commission for the superintendence of ecclesiastical affairs. In 1623, under this patent the colony at Weymouth was revived, to meet once more with ill fortune. Morell, remaining in New England about a year, wrote a description of the country in very good Latin verse. The attempt of Robert Gorges at colonization ended in a short-lived dispute with Weston.

When, in 1624, parliament was again convened, the commons resolved that English fishermen should have fishing with all its incidents. “Your patent,” thus Gorges was addressed by Coke from the speaker’s chair, “contains many particulars contrary to the laws and privileges of the subject; it is a monopoly, and the ends of private gain are concealed under color of planting a colony.” “Shall none,” asked the veteran lawyer in debate, “shall none visit the sea-coast for fishing? This is to make a monopoly upon the seas, which wont to be free. If you alone are to pack and dry fish, you attempt a monopoly of the wind and the sun.” It was in vain for Sir George Calvert to resist; the bill for free fishing was adopted, but it never received the royal assent.

The determined opposition of the house, though it could not move the king to overthrow the corporation, paralyzed its enterprise; and the cottages, which, within a few years, rose along the coast from Cape Cod to the bay of Fundy, were the results of private adventure.

Gorges, the most energetic member of the council of Plymouth, had not allowed repeated ill success to chill his confidence and decision; and he found in John Mason, “who had been governor of a plantation in Newfoundland, a man of action,” like himself. It was not difficult for Mason, who had been elected an associate and secretary of the council, to obtain, in March, 1621, a grant of the lands between Salem river and the farthest head of the Merrimack; but he did no more with it than name it Mariana. In August, 1622, Gorges and Mason took a patent for Laconia, the country between the sea, the St. Lawrence, the Merrimack, and the Kennebec; a company of English merchants was formed, and under its auspices, in 1623, permanent plantations were established on the banks of the Piscataqua. Portsmouth and Dover are among the oldest towns in New England. In the same year an attempt was made by Christopher Lovett to colonize the county and city of York, for which, at a later day, collections were ordered to be taken up in all the churches of England.

When the country on Massachusetts bay was granted to a company, of which the zeal and success were soon to overshadow all the efforts of proprietaries and merchants, Mason procured a new patent; and, in November, 1629, he received a fresh title to the territory between the Merrimack and Piscataqua, in terms which in some degree interfered with the pretensions of his neighbors on the south. This was the patent for New Hampshire, and was pregnant with nothing so signally as suits at law. The region had been devastated by the mutual wars of the tribes and the same wasting pestilence which left New Plymouth a desert; no notice seems to have been taken of the rights of the natives, nor did they now issue any deed of their lands; but the soil in the immediate vicinity of Dover, and afterward of Portsmouth, was conveyed to the planters themselves, or to those at whose expense the settlement had been made. A favorable impulse was thus given to the little colonies; and houses began to be built on the “Strawberry Bank” of the Piscataqua. But the progress of the town was slow; Josselyn, in 1638, described the coast as a wilderness, with here and there a few huts scattered by the sea-side. Thirty years after its settlement, Portsmouth contained “between fifty and sixty families.”

When, in 1635, the charter of the council of Plymouth was about to be revoked, Mason extended his pretensions to the Salem river, the southern boundary of his first territory, and obtained of the expiring corporation a corresponding patent. But he died before the king confirmed his grant, and his family avoided further expense by leaving the few inhabitants of New Hampshire to take care of themselves.

The designs of Sir Ferdinando Gorges were continued without great success. His first act with reference to the territory of the present state of Maine was to invite the Scottish nation to become the guardians of its frontier. Sir William Alexander, the ambitious writer of turgid rhyming tragedies, a man of influence with King James, and desirous of engaging in colonial adventure, seconded the design; and, in September, 1621, he obtained without difficulty a patent for the territory east of the river St. Croix and south of the St. Lawrence. The region, which had already been included in the provinces of Acadia and New France, was named Nova Scotia. Thus were the seeds of future wars scattered broadcast; for James gave away lands which already, and with a better title on the ground of discovery, had been granted by Henry IV of France, and occupied by his subjects. Twice attempts were made to effect a Scottish settlement; but, notwithstanding a brilliant eulogy of the soil, climate, and productions of Nova Scotia, they were fruitless.

It may be left to English historians to relate how much their country suffered from the childish ambition of King James to marry the prince of Wales to the daughter of the king of Spain. In the rash and unsuccessful visit of Prince Charles and Buckingham to Madrid, the former learned to cherish the fine arts, and to rivet his belief that the king of England was rightfully as absolute as the monarchs of France and Spain; the latter received accounts of abundance of gold in the valley of the Amazon, and, after his return, obtained a grant of the territory on that river, with the promise of aid in his enterprise from the king of Sweden.

After the death of James, the marriage of Charles I with Henrietta Maria promised between the rival claimants of the wilds of Acadia a peaceful adjustment of jarring pretensions. Yet, even at that period, the claims of France were not recognised by England; and, in July, 1625, a new patent confirmed to Sir William Alexander all the prerogatives which had been lavished on him, with the right of creating an order of baronets. The sale of titles proved to the poet a lucrative traffic; the project of a colony was abandoned.

The self-willed, feeble monarch of England, having twice abruptly dissolved parliament, and having vainly resorted to illegal modes of taxation, found himself destitute of money and of credit, and yet engaged in a war with Spain. At such a moment, in 1627, Buckingham, eager to thwart Richelieu, hurried England into a needless and disastrous conflict with France.

Hostilities were nowhere successfully attempted, except in America. In 1628, Port Royal fell easily into the hands of the English; the conquest was no more than the acquisition of a small trading station. Sir David Kirk and his two brothers, Louis and Thomas, were commissioned to ascend the St. Lawrence, and Quebec received a summons to surrender. The garrison, destitute alike of provisions and of military stores, had no hope but in the character of Champlain, its commander; his answer of proud defiance concealed his weakness, and the intimidated assailants withdrew. But Richelieu sent no seasonable supplies; the garrison was reduced to extreme suffering and the verge of famine; and when, in 1623, the squadron of Kirk reappeared before the town, Quebec capitulated. That is to say, England gained possession of a few wretched hovels, tenanted by a hundred famished men, and a fortress of which the English admiral could not but admire the position. Not a port in North America remained to the French; from Long Island to the pole, England had no rival. But, before the conquest of Canada was achieved, peace had been proclaimed; and, as an article in the treaty promised the restitution of all acquisitions made subsequent to April 14, 1629, Richelieu recovered not Quebec and Canada only, but Cape Breton and the undefined Acadia.

From the scanty memorials which the earliest settlers of the coast east of New Hampshire have left, it is perhaps not possible to ascertain precisely when the fishing stages of a summer began to be transformed into permanent establishments. In 1626, the first settlement was probably made “on the Maine,” a few miles from Monhegan, at the mouth of the Pemaquid.

Hardly had the settlement, which claimed the distinction of being the oldest on that coast, gained a permanent existence, before a succession of patents distributed the territory from the Piscataqua to the Penobscot among various proprietors. The grants issued from 1629 to 1631 were couched in vague language, and were made in hasty succession, without deliberation on the part of the council of Plymouth, and without any firm purpose of establishing colonies by those to whom they were issued. In consequence, as the neighborhood of the French foreboded border feuds, so uncertainty about land titles and boundaries threatened perpetual lawsuits. At the same time enterprise was wasted by its diffusion over too wide a surface. Every harbor along the sea was accessible, and groups of cabins were scattered at wide intervals, without any point of union. Agriculture was hardly attempted. The musket and the hook and line were more productive than the implements of husbandry. The farmers who came to occupy a district of forty miles square, named Lygonia, and stretching from Harpswell to the Kennebec, soon sought a home among the rising settlements of Massachusetts. Except for peltry and fish, the coast of Maine would not at that time have been tenanted by Englishmen.

Yet, from pride of character, Gorges clung to the project of territorial aggrandizement. When, in February, 1635, Mason limited himself to the country west of the Piscataqua, while Sir William Alexander obtained of the Plymouth company a patent for the country between the St. Croix and the Kennebec, Gorges succeeded in soliciting the district that remained between the Kennebec and New Hampshire, and was named governor-general of New England. Without delay he sent his nephew, William Gorges, to govern his territory. Saco may have contained one hundred and fifty inhabitants when, in 1636, the first court ever duly organized on the soil of Maine was held within its limits. Before that time there may have been voluntary combinations of the settlers themselves; but there had existed on the Kennebec no power to prevent or to punish bloodshed. William Gorges remained in the country less than two years. Six Puritans of Massachusetts and Connecticut, who, in 1637, received a commission to act as his successors, declined the trust, and for two years no records of the infant settlements then called New Somersetshire can be found. In April, 1639, a royal charter constituted Gorges the lord proprietary of the country, for which the old soldier, who had never seen America, immediately aspired to establish boroughs, frame schemes of colonial government, and enact a code of laws.

The region which lies but a little nearer the sun was already converted, by the energy of religious zeal, into a busy, well-organized, and even opulent state. The early history of Massachusetts is the history of a class of men as remarkable for their qualities and influence as any by which the human race has been diversified.

The settlement near Weymouth was kept up; a plantation was begun near Mount Wollaston, within the present limits of Quincy; and the merchants of the west continued their voyages to New England for fish and furs. But these things were of feeble moment, compared with the attempt at a permanent establishment near Cape Ann; by which Arthur Lake, bishop of Bath and Wells, and John White, the patriarch minister of Dorchester, Puritans, but not separatists, “occasioned, yea, founded the work” of colonization, on a higher principle than the desire of gain. “He would go himself but for his age,” declared Lake shortly before his death. Roger Conant, having left New Plymouth for Nantasket, through a brother in England who was a friend of White, the minister, in 1625, obtained the agency of the adventure. A year’s experience proved that the speculation must change its form or it would produce no results; the merchants, therefore, paid with honest liberality all the persons whom they had employed, and abandoned the unprofitable scheme. But Conant, a man of extraordinary vigor, “inspired as it were by some superior instinct,” and confiding in the active friendship of White, succeeded in breathing a portion of his sublime courage into three of his companions; and, making choice of Salem as opening a convenient place of refuge for the exiles for religion, they resolved to remain as the sentinels of Puritanism on the bay of Massachusetts.

In the year 1627, some friends being together in Lincolnshire fell into discourse about New England and the planting of the gospel there; and, after some deliberation, they imparted their reasons by letters and messages to some in London and the west country.

“The business came afresh to agitation” in London; the project of colonizing by the aid of fishing voyages was given up; and from that city, Lincolnshire, and the west country, men of fortune and religious zeal, merchants and country gentlemen, the discreeter sort among the many who desired a reformation in church government, “offered the help of their purses” to advance “the glory of God” by establishing a colony of the best of their countrymen on the shores of New England. To facilitate the grant of a charter from the crown, they sought the concurrence of the council of Plymouth for New England; they were befriended in their application by the earl of Warwick, and obtained the approbation of Sir Ferdinando Gorges; and, on the nineteenth of March, 1628, that company, which had proved itself incapable of colonizing its domain, and could derive revenue only from sales of territory, disregarding a former grant of a large district on the Charles river, conveyed to Sir Henry Roswell, Sir John Young, Thomas Southcoat, John Humphrey, John Endecott, and Simon Whetcomb, a belt of land extending three miles south of the river Charles and the Massachusetts bay, and three miles north of every part of the river Merrimack, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, to be held by the same tenure as in the county of Kent. The grantees associated to themselves Sir Richard Saltonstall, Isaac Johnson, Matthew Cradock, Increase Nowell, Richard Bellingham, Theophilus Eaton, William Pynchon, and others, of whom nearly all united religious zeal with a capacity for vigorous action. Endecott—who, “ever since the Lord in mercy had revealed himself unto him,” had maintained the straitest judgment against the outward form of God’s worship as prescribed by English statutes; a man of dauntless courage, and that cheerfulness which accompanies courage; benevolent, though austere; firm, though choleric; of a rugged nature, which his stern principles of non-conformity had not served to mellow—was selected as a “fit instrument to begin this wilderness work.” In 1628, before June came to an end, he was sent over as governor, assisted by a few men, having his wife and family for the companions of his voyage, the hostages of his irrevocable attachment to the New World. Arriving in safety in September, he united his own party and those who had gone there before him into one body, which counted in all not much above fifty or sixty persons. With these he founded the oldest town in the colony, soon to be called Salem, and extended some supervision over the waters of Boston harbor, then called Massachusetts bay, near which the lands were “counted the paradise of New England.” At Charlestown an Englishman, one Thomas Walford, a blacksmith, dwelt in a thatched and palisaded cabin. William Blackstone, an Episcopal clergyman, a courteous recluse, gifted with the impatience of restraint which belongs to the pioneer, had seated himself on the opposite peninsula; the island now known as East Boston was occupied by Samuel Maverick, a prelatist, though son of a pious non-conformist minister of the west of England. At Nantasket and farther south, stragglers lingered near the seaside, attracted by the gains of a fishing station and a petty trade in beaver. The Puritan ruler visited the remains of Morton’s unruly company in what is now Quincy, rebuked them for their profane revels, and admonished them “to look there should be better walking.”

After the departure of the emigrant ship from England, the company, counselled by White, an eminent lawyer, and supported by lord Dorchester, better known as Sir Dudley Carleton, who, in December, became secretary of state, obtained from the king a confirmation of their grant. It was the only way to secure the country as a part of his dominions; for the Dutch were already trading in the Connecticut river; the French claimed New England as within the limits of New France; and the prelatical party, which had endeavored again and again to colonize the coast, had tried only to fail. Before the news reached London of Endecott’s arrival, the number of adventurers was much enlarged; on the second of March, 1629, an offer of “Boston men,” that promised good to the plantation, was accepted; and on the fourth of the same month, a few days only before Charles I, in a public state paper, avowed his purpose of reigning without a parliament, the broad seal of England was put to the letters-patent for Massachusetts.

The charter, which was cherished for more than half a century as the most precious boon, constituted a body politic by the name of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. The administration of its affairs was intrusted to a governor, deputy, and eighteen assistants, who were annually, on the last Wednesday of Easter term, to be elected by the freemen or members of the corporation, and to meet once a month or oftener “for despatching such businesses as concerned the company or plantation.” Four times a year the governor, assistants, and all the freemen were to be summoned to “one great, general, and solemn assembly;” and these “great and general courts” were invested with full powers to choose and admit into the company so many as they should think fit, to elect and constitute all requisite subordinate officers, and to make laws and ordinances for the welfare of the company and for the government of the lands and the inhabitants of the plantation, “so as such laws and ordinances be not contrary and repugnant to the laws and statutes of the realm of England.”

“The principle and foundation of the charter of Massachusetts,” wrote Charles II at a later day, when he had Clarendon for his adviser, “was the freedom of liberty of conscience.” The governor, or his deputy, or two of the assistants, was empowered, but not required, to administer the oaths of supremacy and allegiance to every person who should go to inhabit the granted lands; and, as the statutes establishing the common prayer and spiritual courts did not reach beyond the realm, the silence of the charter respecting them released the colony from their power. The English government did not foresee how wide a departure from English usages would grow out of the emigration of Puritans to America; but, as conformity was not required of the new commonwealth, the persecutions in England were a guarantee that the immense majority of emigrants would be fugitives who scrupled compliance with the common prayer. Freedom of Puritan worship was the purpose and the result of the colony. The proceedings of the company, moreover, did not fall under the immediate supervision of the king, and did not need his assent; so that self-direction, in ecclesiastical as well as civil affairs, passed to the patentees, subject only to conflicts with the undefined prerogative of the king, and the unsettled claim to superior authority by parliament.

The company was authorized to transport to its territory any persons, whether English or foreigners, who would go willingly, would become lieges of the English king, and were not restrained “by especial name;” and they were encouraged to do so by a promise of favor to the commerce of the colony with foreign parts, and a total or partial exemption from duties for seven and for twenty-one years. The emigrants and their posterity were ever to be considered as natural-born subjects, entitled to all English liberties and immunities.

The corporate body alone was to decide what liberties the colonists should enjoy. All ordinances published under its seal were to be implicitly obeyed. Full legislative and executive authority was conferred on the company, but the place where it should hold its courts was not named.

The charter had been granted in March; in April, the first embarkation was far advanced. The local government temporarily established for Massachusetts was to consist of a governor and thirteen councillors, of whom eight were to be appointed by the corporation in England; three were to be named by these eight; and, to complete the number, the old planters who intended to remain were “to choose two of the discreetest men among themselves.”

As the propagating of the gospel was the professed aim of the company, care was taken to make plentiful provision of godly ministers; all “of one judgment, and fully agreed on the manner how to exercise their ministry.” One of them was Samuel Skelton, of Clare Hall, Cambridge, from whose faithful preachings Endecott had formerly received much good; a friend to the utmost equality of privileges in church and state. Another was the able, reverend, and grave Francis Higginson, of Jesus College, Cambridge, commended for his worth by Isaac Johnson, the friend of Hampden. Deprived of his parish in Leicester for non-conformity, he received the invitation to conduct the emigrants as a call from Heaven.

Two other ministers were added, that there might be enough, not only to build up those of the English nation, but also to “wynne the natives to the Christian faith.” “If any of the salvages,” such were the instructions to Endecott, uniformly followed under the succeeding changes of government, “pretend right of inheritance to all or any part of the lands granted in our patent, endeavor to purchase their tytle, that we may avoid the least scruple of intrusion.” “Particularly publish that no wrong or injury be offered to the natives.” In pious sincerity, the company desired to redeem these wrecks of human nature; the colony seal was an Indian erect, with an arrow in his right hand, and the motto, “Come over and help us “—a device of which the appropriateness has been lost by the modern substitution of the line of Algernon Sidney, which invites to the quest of freedom by the sword.

The passengers for Salem included six shipwrights and an experienced surveyor, who was to give advice on the proper site for a fortified town, and, with Samuel Sharpe, master gunner of ordnance, was to muster all such as lived under the government, both planters and servants, and at appointed times to exercise them in the use of arms. A store of cattle, horses, and goats was put on shipboard. Before sailing, servants of ill life were discharged. “No idle drone may live among us,” was the spirit as well as the law of the dauntless community. As Higginson and his companions were receding from the Land’s End, he called his children and others around him to look for the last time on their native country, not as the scene of sufferings from intolerance, but as the home of their fathers, and the dwelling-place of their friends. During the voyage they “constantly served God, morning and evening, by reading and expounding a chapter in the Bible, singing and prayer.” On “the sabbath they added preaching twice, and catechising;” and twice they “faithfully” kept “solemn fasts.” The passage was “pious and Christian-like,” for even “the ship-master and his religious company set their eight and twelve o’clock watches with singing a psalm and with prayer that was not read out of a book.”

In the last days of June, the band of two hundred arrived at Salem. They found eight or ten pitiful hovels, one larger tenement for the governor, and a few cornfields, as the only proofs that they had been preceded by their countrymen. The old and new planters, without counting women and children, formed a body of about three hundred, of whom the larger part were “godly Christians, helped hither by Isaac Johnson and other members of the company, to be employed in their work for a while, and then to live of themselves.”

To anticipate the intrusion of John Oldham, who was minded to settle himself on Boston bay, pretending a title to much land there by a grant from Robert Gorges, Endecott with all speed sent a large party, accompanied by a minister, to occupy Charlestown. On the neck of land, which was full of stately timber, with the leave of Sagamore John, the petty chief who claimed dominion over it, Graves, the surveyor, employed some of the servants of the company in building a “great house,” and modelled and laid out the form of the town, with streets about the hill.

To the European world the few tenants of the huts and cabins at Salem were too insignificant to merit notice; to themselves, they were chosen emissaries of God; outcasts from England, yet favorites with Heaven; destitute of security, of convenient food, and of shelter, and yet blessed as instruments selected to light in the wilderness the beacon of pure religion. They were not so much a body politic as a church in the wilderness, seeking, under a visible covenant, to have fellowship with God, as a family of adopted sons.

“The governor was moved to set apart the twentieth of July to be a solemn day of humiliation, for the choyce of a pastor and a teacher at Salem.” After prayer and preaching, “the persons thought on,” presenting no claim founded on their ordination in England, acknowledged a twofold calling: the inward, which is of God, who moves the heart and bestows fit gifts; the outward, which is from a company of believers joined in covenant, and allowing to every member a free voice in the election of its officers. The vote was then taken by each one’s writing in a note the name of his choice. Such is the origin of the use of the ballot on this continent; in this manner Skelton was chosen pastor and Higginson teacher. Three or four of the gravest members of the church then laid their hands on Skelton with prayer, and in like manner on Higginson: so that “these two blessed servants of the Lord came in at the door, and not at the window;” by the act of the congregation, and not by the authority of a prelate. A day in August was appointed for the election of ruling elders and deacons. The church, like that of Plymouth, was self-constituted, on the principle of the independence of each religious community. It did not ask the assent of the king, or recognise him as its head; its officers were set apart and ordained among themselves; it used no liturgy; it rejected unnecessary ceremonies, and reduced the simplicity of Calvin to a still plainer standard. The motives which controlled its decisions were so deeply seated that its practices were repeated spontaneously by Puritan New England.

There were a few at Salem by whom the new system was disapproved; and in John and Samuel Browne they found able leaders. Both were members of the colonial council: both were reputed “sincere in their affection for the good of the plantation;” they had been specially recommended to Endecott by the corporation in England; and one of them, an experienced lawyer, had been a member of the board of assistants. They refused to unite with the public assembly, and gathered a company, in which “the common prayer worship” was upheld. But should the emigrants, thus the colonists reasoned, give up the purpose for which they had crossed the Atlantic? Should the success of the colony be endangered by a breach of its unity, and the authority of its government overthrown by the confusion of an ever recurring conflict? They deemed the co-existence of their liberty and of prelacy impossible; anticipating invasions of their rights, they feared the adherents of the establishment as spies in the camp; and the form of religion from which they had suffered was repelled, not as a sect, but as a tyranny. “You are separatists,” said the Brownes, in self-defence, “and you will shortly be Anabaptists.” “We separate,” answered the ministers, “not from the church of England, but from its corruptions. We came away from the common prayer and ceremonies, in our native land, where we suffered much for non-conformity; in this place of liberty we cannot, we will not, use them. Their imposition would be a sinful violation of the worship of God.” The supporters of the liturgy were in their turn rebuked as separatists; their plea was reproved as sedition, their worship forbidden as a mutiny; and the Brownes were sent back to England, as men “factious and evil conditioned,” who could not be suffered to remain within the limits of the grant, because they would not be conformable to its government. Thus was episcopacy professed in Massachusetts, and thus was it exiled.

The Brownes, on their arrival in England, raised rumors of scandalous and intemperate speeches uttered by the ministers in their public sermons and prayers, and of rash innovations begun and practiced in the civil and ecclesiastical government. The returning ships carried with them numerous letters from the emigrants, and a glowing description of “New England’s Plantation” by Higginson which was immediately printed and most eagerly and widely sought for.


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History of the United States by George Bancroft, formatted for the Internet by Steve Farrell – An Americanist Classic.