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"Old Times in the Colonies" is an outline of some of the principal events that transpired during the colonial period of our country, and portrays the hardships and sufferings of those who laid the foundations of a new empire. It will show how the Old World laws, habits, and customs were gradually changed; how the grand ideas of Freedom and the Rights of Man took root and flourished. It covers the period from the discovery and settlement of America to the Revolutionary War. Contents: Discovery of San Salvador Forces of Civilization First Settlements The Wise Fool of England and His Times The Beginning of Two Civilizations How Beaver-skins and Tobacco Helped on Civilization The Pilgrims First Years at Plymouth Settlement of New Hampshire, New York, and Canada The Puritan Beginning The Puritans Take Possession of New England Island and New Hampshire Affairs at Manhattan The Struggle for Liberty in England, and How It Affected America The Quakers The End of Dutch Rule in America The Times of Charles II King Philip's War Louis Frontenac in Canada Governor Berkeley and the Virginians How the King Took Away the Charters of the Colonies King William's War New Jersey and Maryland Settlement of Pennsylvania Witches The Legacy of Blood Maine and New Hampshire The Carolinas Georgia The Negro Tragedy The Beginning of a Great Struggle Defeat or General Braddock The Emperor or Austria's Will Incompetent and Cowardly Generals Two Civilizations The Destiny of an Empire
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The settlement of our country was the beginning of a new era in human affairs. The people of England, ever since the days of King John, when the barons compelled him to sign the Magna Charta in the meadow of Runnymede, had struggled against tyranny; and when the emigrants sailed across the Atlantic to rear their homes in Virginia and New England, it was the transplanting of liberty to a continent where everything was new, and where the conditions that surrounded them were wholly unlike those of the Old World.
This volume is an outline of some of the principal events that transpired during the colonial period of our country, and portrays the hardships and sufferings of those who laid the foundations of a new empire. It will show how the Old World laws, habits, and customs were gradually changed; how the grand ideas of Freedom and the Rights of Man took root and flourished. It covers the period from the discovery and settlement of America to the Revolutionary War. In 1876 I wrote a volume entitled “The Boys of ‘76” — a narrative of the battles of the Revolution, and of the trials and devotion of our fathers in establishing the independence of the United States. While preparing that work, I discovered that there was no volume in existence that would give the young people of our country an idea of the struggles of men in England and Europe against the tyranny of emperors, kings, popes, archbishops, bishops, and inquisitors; to supply that want, I wrote a second volume, entitled “The Story of Liberty,” which traced a chain of events through a period of five hundred years, from the signing of the Magna Charta to the settlement of Jamestown and Plymouth. This volume, therefore, fills the gap between the others in time, and together they make a series, not of general history, but an outline history of the progress of ideas.
I desire to call your attention to a few things which will be made plain in this volume. You will notice that the beginning of the history of our country is clear and distinct, while the beginnings of the histories of other countries are obscured by tradition or made doubtful by fable. Our early history is definite; the early history of other lands uncertain.
The history of a nation is like the flowing of a river; there are many rivulets starting wide apart, which unite to swell the ever-deepening stream. Many of the fountain-heads of American history are in England and Europe; and in order to obtain a correct view of what transpired in the colonies, we must cross the Atlantic and follow the rivulets to their sources. The tracing of the relationship of one event to another, and showing their effect upon the human race, is the philosophy of history, and by studying the philosophy we are able to arrive at some conclusion as to its meaning.
You will notice how, through priority of discovery, Spain, France, and England claimed various sections of this continent, and how conflicting claims led to a great struggle between England and France for supremacy; that it was a conflict between two races, two languages, two religions, two systems of laws, two distinct civilizations; that great ideas were behind the struggle. In the opening chapter you will read how John and Sebastian Cabot sailed along the northern coasts, how Jacques Cartier sailed up the St. Lawrence; the closing pages will picture a battle on the Plains of Abraham. It was an engagement which lasted only a few minutes, yet it was one of the great decisive battles of the world — momentous in its results. John and Sebastian Cabot, Cartier, Champlain, the Kings of France and England, the Pope, Ignatius Loyola, the Jesuits, Oliver Cromwell, the Pilgrims of the Mayflower, the Puritans, are as inseparably connected with that battle as William Pitt, James Wolfe, and the Marquis de Montcalm. The history of the entire colonial period leads up to it.
You will notice that the forces of Nature — the turning of the earth upon its axis, the flowing of the Gulf Stream, the contour of mountain ranges, the courses of the rivers, have had a far-reaching influence upon the history of our country. The rivers were the highways along which the Indians paddled their canoes to fall upon the settlers — along which the armies of England and France marched to engage in battle. Mountains were barriers, stopping awhile the progress of civilization, and also shielding the colonies from attack. Not only these, but the order of the Pope forbidding people to eat meat on Fridays, saints’ days, and during Lent, but granting permission to eat fish, the desire of the people of Europe to wear hats made from the glossy fur of the beaver, the love for tobacco, their ideas of holding men in slavery, are forces that have had much to do in shaping the history of our country.
The longing for adventure, the hunger for gold, led to the settlement of Virginia. Through convictions of duty and obligations to God, the Pilgrims were driven from England to Holland, and across the Atlantic, to begin self-government, and to give to the world the ideal of a written constitution. The hatred of the Puritans to the ritual of the Church of England, the determination of the bishops and archbishops to compel them to conform to it, are great fountain-heads of history. The inner light which illumined the soul of George Fox, the stern convictions of Roger Williams, of his obligation to conscience, are forces which give direction to the course of events. All the motives by which men are actuated — their passions, affections, religious convictions, the selfish ends — are part and parcel of the grand drama of Time.
I have spoken of the meaning of history. Surely it has a meaning, else what are we living for? Whichever way we turn in the material world we find things needful for our use, and we think of them as God’s forethoughts, and as designed for our welfare. If there is design in the material world, there must be some meaning to history, some ultimate end to be accomplished. In “The Story of Liberty,” and in this volume, you will see how Tyranny and Wrong have fought against Liberty and Justice; how that banner which the barons flung to the breeze at Runnymede, inscribed with the rights of man, which Cromwell bore amidst the carnage of Marston Moor, which waved from the mast-head of the Mayflower when that lone vessel crossed the Atlantic, has never been trailed in the dust in this Western World; but Tyranny and Wrong have gone down before it. Through the colonial period there was an advance of principles which are eternal in their nature. All through those years conditions and influences were preparing men for self-government. Men die, generations come and go, but ideas live on. When the world was ready for it, and not before, the American Revolution came, with the announcement that all men are created free and equal, and endowed with inalienable rights.
Through all the narratives of wars, massacres, and bloodshed, you will see Right, Justice, and Liberty ever advancing. “Old Times in the Colonies,” therefore, is not an unmeaning record of events, but the story of the rise of a great nation, the growth of individual liberty, the coming in of constitutional government in this Western World — the history of the first period in the new era in human affairs.
As you peruse these pages, the conviction, I trust, will come that, under the power of great ideas, our country is leading the human race in its march toward a state of society inexpressibly grand and glorious.
CHARLES CARLETON COFFIN.
There it was, a green and sunny island. Christopher Columbus beheld it in the dawning light of October 12, 1492; an earthly paradise with stately trees, fragrant flowers, groves of oranges and bananas, hanging vines, birds of bright plumage, and groups of dusky men, women, and children.
It was San Salvador, one of the Bahama Islands. A few days later Columbus discovered Cuba and Hispaniola, now known as St. Domingo, and returned to Spain with the wonderful news.
Who owned the islands? They were occupied by Indians; but the Pope, Alexander VI., Roderick Borgia, wicked and cruel, a murderer, claiming to be God’s agent on earth and endowed with all power, gave all lands that might be discovered west of an imaginary line, drawn north and south one hundred leagues west of the Azores, to Ferdinand and Isabella, king and queen of Spain. So, by priority of discovery, and by the decree of the Pope, Spain entered upon the possession of what Columbus had discovered.
The news reached England. The merchants of Bristol who were sending their ships to France, the Mediterranean, and the North Sea, applied to the king, Henry YIL, for leave to send out an expedition for the discovery of new lands.
“If you discover any countries, they shall be mine,” he said, asserting his right to hold or give away lands, against that claimed by the Pope.
“If you make any money by the expedition, one-fifth of it shall be mine,” he added.
The merchants accepted the conditions, fitted out two vessels commanded by John and Sebastian Cabot, father and son, two Venetians in their employ as sea-captains. In May, 1497, the ships sailed down the river Severn, and steered west for a voyage over unknown seas, where vessels had not sailed since the days of the old Northmen.
In June they found themselves on soundings, and the sea around swarming with codfish. The water was warm, and dense fogs arose. A little farther on the water was colder, and filled with icebergs. They had reached a place where two great currents of the ocean meet. They did not know, nor was it till many years later that anybody knew, what caused the flowing of these currents; that the earth was whirling around the sun, and also turning on its own axis; that the speed at the equator was eighteen miles a minute.
We now know that the revolution of the earth upon its axis sets the water between Africa and South America to flowing westward, and that when the current strikes the coast of South America it is divided, a part flowing south and part north. The northern section, carrying with it the fresh water brought down the Amazon and Orinoco from the Andes and the plains of South America, sweeps into the Caribbean Sea, and whirls onward to the Gulf of Mexico, being heated by the sun to a temperature of eighty-six degrees. The Mississippi pours in its mighty flood, bringing minute particles of soil from the far distant prairies and mountains. Having no other outlet, the waters rush through the passage between Florida and Cuba, tearing great masses of sea-weed from the beds of white coral, which the coralline insects are building beneath the waves. This river of hot water, one thousand feet deep and fifty miles wide, sweeps on at the rate of five miles an hour, bearing the soil of two continents, the sea-weed, and myriads of marine insects — polyps, star and jellyfish, in infinite variety. East of Newfoundland it meets a current of cold water flowing south, from the frozen region of the North, bringing great icebergs; but the warm current whirls them north-east, speedily melting them, dropping the stones and gravel torn from the shore of Greenland beneath the sea. The fine particles of sand brought down from the Andes by the Amazon, and from the prairies of the West by the Mississippi, also settle to the bottom of the sea, thus making that portion of the sea a great dumping-place— building up the bank of Newfoundland. The hot river supplies the codfish with food, gives a mild climate to England, and makes it possible for men to live in Iceland and Northern Norway.
John and Sebastian Cabot caught all the fish they needed, and, sailing still west, on June 24th beheld the waves breaking against the rocky shore of Labrador.
Since the days of the old Northmen, no European eye had seen the main-land of the Western World. The Cabots sailed northward along a bleak and forbidding coast, with dense forests beyond the white granite ledges. They saw white-bears, floating on cakes of ice, plunge into the sea and catch fish in their paws. Walruses and seals frequented the shores, and myriads of birds reared their young upon the rocky cliffs; but their provisions failing, they returned to England.
What a year for discovery was 1498! Stimulated by what he had seen, Sebastian Cabot — young sagacious, bold — sailed once more westward. He coasted along the southern shore of Newfoundland, entered the Bay of Fundy, gazed upon the cliffs of Mount Desert, the majestic pines of Maine, the sandy beaches of Cape Cod, sailing southward to Virginia — thus, by priority of discovery, enabling England to claim the continent from Labrador to Cape Hatteras.
Christopher Columbus, at the same time, was making his third voyage; discovering the island of Trinidad, the coast of South America and Orinoco. He landed, and drank from a spring that still bears his name.
There was another brave sailor on the seas, Vasco da Gama, of Portugal, who was sailing south along the west coast of Africa, doubling the Cape of Good Hope; sailing on till, through the ocean haze, he beheld the mountains of Hindostan, thus opening a long sought for route to India. There was still another voyager on the seas, Amerigo Vespucci, a merchant of Florence, engaged in trade at Seville, in Spain, who, animated by a spirit of adventure, sailed to the West Indies with Captain Ojeda, and from thence to the coasts of South and Central America. He wrote interesting accounts of what he saw, which were published in 1507 — probably the first printed narrative given to the public of the discoveries in the West. The pamphlet fell into the hands of Martin Waldseemuller, of Freibourg, in Germany, who translated it into German. People spoke of the new world as Amerigo’s country, and thus the name became attached to the Western Continent, though the honor of discovery belongs to John and Sebastian Cabot.
The King of Portugal, desiring a share in the new world, sent Gasper Cortereal upon a voyage of discovery, who sailed along the coast of North America, from Virginia northward to Newfoundland. He enticed a number of Indians on board his ships, and treacherously carried them to Portugal and sold them into slavery.
Men do not like to grow old. How gladly would they ever retain the freshness of youth! The longing to be young again became a passion with Ponce de Leon, Governor of Porto Rico. The gray hairs had come, and there were furrows in his cheeks. Poets had written of a fountain of perpetual youth — a stream so clear, and pure, and life-giving, that those who drank of it would be forever young and fair. De Leon resolved to go in quest of it, that, tasting its refreshing waters, he might ever be young.
He sailed from Porto Rico, with three vessels, in 1513. On Easter Sunday, which the Spaniards call Pasqua de Flores, he sighted land a few miles north of St. Augustine, and took possession of the country for the King of Spain, naming it Florida. He was charmed by its scenery — the wide-spreading live-oaks, the fan-leaved palmettos, the tangle of jessamine and honeysuckle, filling the air with fragrance; but vain his search for the fabled Fountain of Eternal Youth; and, after coasting along the shores, landing here and there and exploring the country, he returned to Porto Rico.
The Spaniards in the West Indies heard of the wonderful land of Mexico, inhabited by millions of people — a land of cities and villages, cultivated fields and gardens, abounding in silver and gold, advanced in arts and architecture, with schools, courts of justice, and great stone temples.
On the 15th of February, 1519, an expedition, commanded by Hernando Cortez, sailed from Ravenna to conquer the empire of the West, landing first in Yucatan; again at the mouth of the river Tobasco, in the Bay of Campeachy, fighting a battle on the banks of that stream, sweeping the Indians down like grain before the reaper by his cannon and volleys of musketry, beginning a series of conquests that made him master of the empire of the Montezumas, and extending the authority and dominion of Spain westward to the Pacific, and northward to the Colorado and the Rio Grande; establishing the religion of the Roman Catholic Church, and the language and civilization of Spain over that vast section of North America.
The Spaniards were in need of more slaves to work in their mines and cane-fields, and to obtain them Vasquez D’Ayllon visited the coast of South Carolina in 1520. He called the country Chicora, and entered the Combahee River, which he named the Jordan, and gave the name of St. Helen to the cape which bounds St. Helen’s Sound on the south. The Indians received him kindly, accepted his trinkets, flocked in great numbers on board the ships, when he treacherously seized them, hoisted his sails, and carried them away. But it was to little profit; for, knowing nothing of the Gulf Stream, one of his vessels was borne upon rocks by the current, and wrecked, while upon the other the captives sickened and died. D’Ayllon made his second appearance in St. Helen’s Sound in 1525, where one of his vessels was wrecked. The Indians attacked him, and drove him on board his ships, mortally wounding him. Instead of conquering them, and establishing the Spanish language and the Catholic religion in Carolina, as Cortez was doing in Mexico he returned to Cuba to die.
Francis I. was King of France. He had desired to be Emperor of Germany, but his rival, Charles V. of Spain, had been elected instead; besides this, the Pope had given the whole Western Continent to Spain.
“I should like to be shown the clause in the will of Adam which disinherits me in the New World!” he bitterly exclaimed.
Francis despatched John Verrazano on a voyage of discovery in the ship Dolphin from Dieppe, January 24th, 1524. He reached South Carolina in March, and sailed northward along the coast, entering Narragansett Bay and the harbor of Newport, R. I., passing around Cape Cod to the coast of Maine. He landed in many places, and had interviews with the Indians.
In January, 1525, Stephen Gomez sailed from Corunna, in Spain, entered the Hudson River on St. Anthony’s day, June 13th, named it St. Anthony. He seized some of the Indians, taking them to Spain and selling them. The country was cold, and he reported that Spaniards could not live there.
Hunger for gold, desire for conquest, zeal for the establishment of religion, thirst for adventure — are there any stronger motives than these to lead men to brave danger or endure hardships? Moved by such motives, Pamphilio Narvaez, Cabez de Vaca, and several hundred young men from the rich and noble families of Spain, sailed from the Guadalquiver for America, landing in Tampa Bay, on the west coast of Florida, April 14th, 1528, taking possession of the country for the King of Spain. The Indians that flocked around them were in possession of gold ornaments. When asked where they obtained them, they pointed to the north.
Narvaez marched in that direction. There were three hundred in the party, with horses and small cannon. Never before had the eyes of the adventurers beheld such gloomy solitudes — dense forests of pine, dark groves of cypress, wide-spreading oaks with long trails of gray moss drooping from the branches, magnolias filling the air with their overpowering fragrance. They toiled through swamps; bays, inlets, and rivers impeded their progress, and their way was blocked by decaying trees torn up by whirlwinds and blasted by lightning. They saw strange animals — the opossum, that carried its young in a pocket; panthers prowled around them, and bears. At every stream they were compelled to construct rafts. They had little to eat. They expected to find rich and populous Indian towns, but only beheld clusters of wigwams.
In August they were at St. Mark’s, on Appolodree Bay; but their ships had not arrived, nor did they ever see them again. They began the construction of boats, making their swords into saws and axes, their stirrups and the bits of their bridles into nails. They plundered the Indian corn-fields to obtain food, and ate their horses. They twisted the film of the palmetto and the hair of their horses’ manes and tails into ropes; calked the seams of the boats with grass, and smeared them with pitch; sewed their shirts together for sails; made water-bottles of the skins of their horses; and on the 2d of September embarked, two hundred and fifty in number, in five frail vessels, so deeply loaded that the gunwales were hardly six inches above the water. They seized some Indian canoes, split them in pieces, and built up the sides of their boats. Slowly they crept along the shore westward. On the 30th of October they reached the Mississippi, and tried to enter it, but the current swept them back. On the 5th of November two of their boats were wrecked not far from Galveston, and the others were driven out to sea. Of the company all but four — De Vasca, Dorantes, Castillo, and Estevarrico — perished. They made themselves at home among the Indians, learned their language, passed from tribe to tribe, travelled northward through Texas to the Canadian River and westward to the Rio Grande, and from thence to San Miguel, in Sonora, which they reached in 1536, where they found some of the soldiers of Cortez, who conducted them to the city of Mexico.
Jacques Cartier, a Frenchman, entered the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1534, and set up a cross at Gaspe, claiming the country for France. The next year he made a second voyage up the St. Lawrence, beheld the gloomy gorges of the Saguenay, and dropped anchor in the Bay of Orleans. Upon the northern shore, under a rocky cliff, was a cluster of wigwams; the Indians called the place Stadacone. Little did Cartier think that on the plateau behind the town the last decisive battle between France and England for supremacy in America would be fought; that upon the site of the wigwams would rise the city of Quebec. Cartier sailed up the river in a boat, to a town which the Indians called Hochelaga. A hill which overlooked the town and all the surrounding country he named Mont Royal — which time has changed to Montreal. The ice closed around Cartier’s ship before he could get away, and he spent the long winter at Stadacone, returning to France in the spring.
Cabeza de Vaca, who had experienced such hardships in his journey from Florida through Texas to Mexico, reached Cuba. His accounts of what he had seen fired the ardor of Ferdinand de Soto, Governor of the island, who had been with Pizarro in Peru. He resolved to conquer Florida, and landed on its western coast, near Hillsborough River, with six hundred men; marched north through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, crossing the Mississippi near the boundary of Tennessee, exploring the country north to New Madrid, in Missouri, and west to the western boundary of Arkansas. At the mouth of the Rod River, De Soto died, and was buried beneath the waters of the Mississippi. The survivors of the party wandered in Louisiana till July, 1543, when they constructed boats, descended the Mississippi, reached the Gulf, and made their way west to the Spanish settlements in Mexico.
Cabeza de Vaca and his companions, while in Texas and Mexico, heard of a country still farther north which the Indians called Cibola. The Governor of Western Mexico, Coronado, resolved to conquer it. He despatched two vessels up the Gulf of California, which ascended the Colorado River about eighty-five miles beyond the present boundary between Mexico and the United States. Coronado himself with an army marched to Central Arizona, and eastward to Santa Fe, on the Rio Grande, claiming the country for the King of Spain.
While Coronado was marching through Arizona, Francis de la Roque and Cartier were planning the colonization of Canada. They made a settlement at Quebec, but the winter was cold, the emigrants pined for home, and they went back to France.
The Dominican priests in Cuba and Spain had set their hearts on converting the Indians of Florida, and, in 1549, Louis Cancella and several other priests endeavored to establish a mission. The Indians had not forgotten the cruelties of D’Ayllon, Narvaez, and De Soto, and in revenge killed several of the priests, and compelled the others to leave the country.
The Huguenots of France were heretics, and the Catholics were hunting them down. John Ribault, of Dieppe, turned his eyes to America as a place of refuge for himself and friends. He sailed to Carolina, and left twenty-six men to begin a settlement at Port Royal. When he returned to France civil war was raging, and he could send no supplies. The men at Port Royal were homesick. Their provisions failed. They built a small vessel and set sail. Some died, but the others were picked up by an English vessel and saved. Two years passed. There was a lull in the strife between Catholics and Protestants in France, and Ribault began another settlement, on the St. John’s River, in Florida. Several hundred Huguenots, with their families, weary of the strife in France, emigrated to Florida.
The news reached Spain. French heretics on Spanish soil! What an outrage! They were Frenchmen, and must be driven out: heretics — and must be exterminated. A heretic — one who did not recognize the Pope as head of the Church — must be put to the sword, as an enemy of God and man.
Philip Melendez, fired with zeal for the Church, stimulated by the preaching of the Jesuit priests and bishops, quickly gathered an army. The high-born sons of Spain enlisted under his banner to wipe out the insult to Spain and to the holy Catholic Church. A great company of priests joined in the enterprise. With twenty-five hundred men he made his appearance on the coast of Florida. It was St. Augustine’s day, and he discovered a beautiful harbor to which he gave the name of the saint. He approached Fort Carolina. Ribault’s vessels went out to meet him. A storm came on, and the French vessels were wrecked; but Melendez reached the harbor at St. Augustine. Fort Carolina was defenceless, and he marched overland, entered it without opposition, and massacred men, women, and children, old and young, sick and helpless, alike. A few men only escaped on two little vessels. Upon the smoldering ruins of the fort, amidst the ghastly forms of mangled corpses, Melendez reared a cross, with this inscription:
“NOT AS TO FRENCHMEN, BUT AS LUTHERANS.”
The Jesuit priests chanted a Te Deum, and, laden with the spoil, the army returned to St. Augustine.
The shipwrecked sailors of the French fleet, living on roots, frogs, and alligators, gave themselves up as prisoners. Their hands were tied behind them, and then the work of death began. Those who were Catholics were spared to become slaves; the others were inhumanly butchered.
Beneath the palmettos, on the banks where the alligators lay basking in the sun of the St. John’s, and on the beach of the St. Augustine, lay the mangled bodies of nine hundred men, women, and children, murdered through bigotry and hate; while over the gloomy scene priestly hands held the cross, emblem of love and peace, amidst the chantings of a Gloria to Almighty God.
The work of death done, the work of colonization began. Forts were built at St. Augustine, a town laid out, a chapel and houses erected. It was the first permanent settlement within the present boundaries of the United States, begun in 1565.
Intelligence of the horrible massacre reached the ears of Dominic de Gourges in France. He was a Huguenot and wealthy, but of what value was wealth with so terrible a crime unavenged? He sold his estates, purchased ships, enlisted one hundred and fifty men, sailed secretly, captured the garrison in a fort on the St. John’s, hung the captives upon the widespreading branches of the surrounding trees, with this inscription above them:
“NOT AS UNTO SPANIARDS, BUT AS TO MURDERERS.”
He was too weak to attack St. Augustine, and sailed for France, having only in part accomplished his purpose.
Sir Francis Drake, with three ships, had passed through the Straits of Magellan to wage war upon the Spaniards in Peru. One of his ships had been wrecked; the others had sailed he knew not where; but in the Pelican he carried havoc to the Spanish towns. In June, 1579, he was so far north off the coast of Oregon that his crew complained of the coll. In a spacious harbor — possibly in the Bay of San Francisco — he refitted his ships, made a map of the coast, and gave the name of New Albion to the country. From thence he sailed west across the Pacific, returning to England by the Cape of Good Hope.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed from England in 1583, with five small vessels, on a voyage of discovery. On the 3d of August he dropped anchor in the harbor of St. John’s, Newfoundland, where he found thirty-six vessels. The crews were catching fish and drying them on the rocks. Sir Humphrey informed the fishermen that the island belonged to Queen Elizabeth, and that they must obey the laws of England. If any one said anything against it he was to have his ears cropped off, and lose his goods. The fishermen for many years had been drying their fish on the rocks, but now they were informed that they must pay for the privilege. It was the beginning of a controversy about fish which has lasted three hundred years, and which is not yet settled.
Having set up the authority of Elizabeth, Sir Humphrey sailed for England, but his vessel went down in a storm with all on board; the other vessel reached England in safety.
Sir Walter Raleigh had large ideas in regard to America, and greatly desired to have England obtain a foothold in the New World. He sent two vessels, commanded by Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlow, to explore the coast. They sailed south-west, and on the 3d of July, 1584, found themselves off the coast of North Carolina. They were kindly received by the Indians, and, upon their return to England, gave such a satisfactory account of the country that Sir Walter Raleigh sent a few men to establish a colony.
Sir Francis Drake was ranging the seas, destroying the ships, and plundering towns in the West Indies, which he called “singeing the beard of the King of Spain.” He plundered Porto Rico and St. Augustine, then sailed along the coast and discovered Sir Walter’s colony. The settlers longed to see England once more, and sailed with him for their old home. They had but just gone, however, when Sir Richard Grenville arrived at the abandoned settlement with supplies, which Sir Walter had sent. The houses were there, and the fields of wheat ready for the sickle. Sir Richard, not willing to give up the enterprise, landed fifteen men on Roanoke Island, with two years’ provisions, to hold the country against Spain; but the men quarrelled with the Indians, and were destroyed.
Sir Walter Raleigh, instead of being disheartened, sent out one hundred and fifty colonists to found the city of Raleigh. John White was governor; he laid out a town on Roanoke Island.
On the 18th of August, 1587, Mrs. Dare gave birth to a daughter, who was named Virginia — the first child of English parents born in America.
The ships departed for England, and when they again returned to America the colonists had disappeared. The houses were there, but weeds were growing in the yards. What became of the settlers no one ever knew.
From these voyages and discoveries, covering a period of one hundred years, it came about that Spain, England, and France, by priority of discovery, could lay claim to various sections of the New World.
“Fish! fish! the sea swarming with fish!”
That was the news carried to England, in 1497, by John and Sebastian Cabot. The people across the Channel, in Brittany and Normandy, heard of the discovery; they were accustomed to brave the dangers of the sea; to make hazardous voyages in their little fishing-boats; and it was not long before the sailors of St. Malo, Honfleur, Morlaix, and other quaint old towns along the coast, were bidding good-bye to their friends, leaving their humble homes, and spreading their sails for a trip to a region all unknown till traversed by the Cabots.
The fishermen of Honfleur steered west, past the Jersey Islands, till they came to the wonderful fishing-ground, where they soon filled their boats, and returned to spread the welcome news.
No one knows exactly how it came about, but many years before the discovery of the New World the Pope decreed that it was wicked to eat meat on Fridays, saints’ days, or during Lent, but that it was not wrong to eat fish. There were so many saints to be honored that on more than one hundred days during the year no meat could be eaten, and in consequence there was a great demand for fish.
The people of Brittany were all good Catholics, and, for that matter, there were no Protestants anywhere; everybody accepted the Pope as the head of the Church. The people in the old towns counted their beads, said their prayers devoutly, and sailed boldly out upon the stormy ocean, enduring great hardships. They reached the Banks of Newfoundland, moored their frail vessels in the harbor of St. John’s, dried their fish upon the rocks, and then, with full cargoes, sailed away to find a market in the seaports of Portugal, Spain, France, England, and Holland.
In 1527 the captain of an English vessel wrote to the King of England that the French were occupying the fishing-ground that belonged to the English; that he found twelve vessels from Brittany in one of the harbors of Newfoundland; that the Bretons were dressing and drying their fish upon the rocks, and taking possession of the country; that one of the islands was named Cape Breton.
After awhile the question arose as to who owned the fishing-ground. England claimed it because John and Sebastian Cabot had discovered it. France claimed that the ocean was free, and that England could not set up any boundaries on the water; that fishermen of France had just as much right as Englishmen to catch codfish on the Banks of Newfoundland.
The question involved the dominion of the seas. We shall see, as this narrative goes on, that this controversy, in connection with the establishment of fish-houses on shore, led to the settlement of Canada, Nova Scotia, Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts in part, and the planting of two races, two languages, two religions in the northern section of this Western world.
When the crusaders marched to the Holy Land to rescue Jerusalem, and the holy sepulchers from the Saracens, they wore caps made from cat-skins. The French word for cat is chat, and for skins peau, and so they called a cap a chapeau. Somewhere in the East they learned the art of making felt.
When the fishermen of Brittany built their huts upon the shores of Newfoundland and Cape Breton, they saw the beavers constructing their dams along the streams, felling trees, gnawing them into logs, floating the timber in the current, placing the logs in proper position, piling stones upon them, interweaving them with sticks, stopping the crevices with grass, plastering the structure with mud, curving the dam against the current to give it strength, and building their mud-houses in the ponds of still water thus created.
Quite likely the hatters of France had already discovered that furs could be felted; but when the fishermen of Brittany carried home some skins of the beaver, they saw that hats manufactured from its fur would be far more beautiful than those felted from wool: there was soon a great demand for them; and not only the beaver, but other furs — the sable, fox, and marten — were wanted. To supply the ever-increasing demand, companies were organized in France, England, and Holland, with charters to carry on the fur trade; with power to hold lands, make settlements, and establish governments.
This desire to obtain furs became a mighty force. Emigrants bade farewell to friends, home, and the dear old things of the past, crossed the ocean, and reared their log-huts in the forest.
The demand for furs gave a new stimulus to the Indian tribes on the northern half of the continent. The knives, tinkling bells, and shining bits of tin, the glass beads, gunpowder, and rum, which the white men gave in exchange for furs, awakened desires all unknown before.
Canada was settled by emigrants from France, through this demand for furs, planting on the St. Lawrence the religion of Rome and the ideas of the Feudal age, that allowed the people no rights, nor any voice in government. The same desire to obtain furs led the Dutch to New York, to lay the foundations of a State and of a city which time has made the metropolis of the Western World.
Among the plants which Christopher Columbus beheld on the morning of October 12th, 1492, was one with broad, green lanceolate leaves, and rose-colored flowers, native not only to San Salvador and the West Indies, but growing in luxuriance in the soil of Virginia. Columbus saw the Indians roll up a dry leaf of the plant, light one end, and inhale the smoke at the other. They called it tobacco, and used it not only for pleasure, but believed that the odor was a fragrance that gave delight to the Great Spirit. Whenever they made a treaty, or transacted important business affecting them as a tribe, they smoked a pipe, making the act an oath of confirmation.
The Spaniards learned to smoke, and the French, who visited the North American shores, acquired the habit. Jules Nicot carried some of the dried leaves to France, and the plant became known to botanists as Nicot’s plant, or Nicotiana tabacum. Its introduction to France was about the year 1560, and it was soon in great demand. People not only smoked it but chewed it, and ground it into dust and snuffed it.
Ralph Lane carried some tobacco to London, in 1586, where it was used first as a medicine, but soon became a luxury, and was made fashionable by Sir Walter Raleigh. He and his friends often met at the Pied Bull tavern to smoke their pipes. King James I. hated tobacco, and wrote a book against its use. Pope Urban VIII., and Innocent XI. issued bulls against smoking. The priests of the Mohammedan religion cried out against it, and the sultan, Amuret IV., cut off the noses of those who used it. Vain the prohibition! The love for tobacco increased. All nations acquired the habit of smoking. The first settlers of Virginia grew rich through the cultivation of the plant. It became their exclusive occupation. The colony was founded upon it. Laws, customs, habits, social relations, the progress of the state, all were affected by it. Tobacco became the currency of the colony; all values were reckoned by it. Far-reaching has been its influence.
Through all past ages the strong have enslaved the weak. Prisoners taken in war were held as slaves. Barbaric people were reduced to bondage by those more civilized.
When Christopher Columbus landed on San Salvador and Cuba he was kindly treated by the Indians; but the men of Spain were cruel and enslaved them, compelling them to work in mines and in the cultivation of the sugar-cane. They gave them hard tasks, with little to eat; cut off their ears, noses, hands and feet upon the slightest provocation. Under such cruel treatment the Indians died in great numbers, and, to supply their places, expeditions were made to Mexico and South America. Vasquez D’ Allyon visited South Carolina in 1520 to obtain slaves, enticing the confiding Indians on board his ship, and carrying them to Cuba. The Indians were feeble, but the negroes of Africa were strong; and Bishop Las Casas, of Chiopia, in Mexico, who was a friend to the Indians, petitioned the emperor, Charles V., to permit the enslavement of negroes in Africa, instead of allowing the slavers to rob him of his flock. The emperor gave his consent, and the enslavement of negroes began.
Captain John Hawkins, of England, visited the West Indies, and the thought came to him that he might make it profitable to bring slaves from Africa. He returned to England, laid his plan before Sir Lionel Duchet, Sir Thomas Dodge, Mr. Gunnison, Mr. Winter, Mr. Bromfield, and other gentlemen, who joined in fitting out the ships Solomon, Swallow, and Jonas. Sir John sailed in December, 1562, to Tenerife, and from there to Sierra Leone, in Africa, where three hundred negroes were captured or purchased from the chiefs, taken to Cuba and sold. Captain Hawkins returned to England with a great quantity of gold, besides a cargo of hides, sugar, and ginger. It was so profitable a trade that the following year he sailed with four ships, and captured five hundred negroes. It is not probable that Captain Hawkins or any one else connected with the enterprise thought for a moment that it was wrong. They believed that they were God’s elect servants. The ships were becalmed in mid-ocean, and their water was running low; but Hawkins trusted in God to bring him and his cargo safe to Cuba. He wrote this in his journal: “For the space of eighteen days we were becalmed, which put us in such fear that many of our men despaired of reaching the Indies, but the Almighty God, who never suffers his elect to perish, sent us, on the 16th of February, the ordinary breeze, which never left us until we came to the Islands of Cannibals, called Dominica.”
In 1619 a Dutch vessel sailed up the James River with negroes stolen from Africa. They were sold to the settlers of Virginia, who were gathering rich harvests of tobacco. Little did the captain of that ship think what would be the outcome of that cargo of slaves — the misery, suffering, anguish, woe, and horrors; the death of myriads of human beings in the terrible passage across the sea, crowded into hot and stifling holds, panting for breath, dying of fever, thirst, hunger, confinement, homesickness; and when the terrific typhoons came on, to lighten the ship, the living and dead cast overboard to a multitude of ravenous sharks, ever following in the wake of the vessel, looking upward with hungry eyes for their expected prey!
The great artist, Turner, has pictured the horrible scene:
“Aloft, all hands! Strike the top-masts and belay! Yon angry setting sun and fierce-edged clouds Declare the Typhoon’s coming. Before it sweeps your decks, throw overboard The dead and dying. Ne’er heed their chains. Hope I hope! fallacious hope! Where is thy market now?”
Little did Sir John Hawkins, or anybody else have any conception of what would one day be written upon the historic page of our country — the desolation of a great civil war, death upon the battle-field and in prison of half a million of men! We, even, do not comprehend what is to be the ultimate result of that sale of sixteen slaves. What part are the four millions of the African race to take in the future of our country? What will they yet do for Africa? Who knows but that they will be the means of canning a Christian civilization and Republican institutions to the continent where they had their origin?
In the “Story of Liberty” is an account of Ignatius Loyola, who founded the society of the Jesuits. He inspired others with his own lofty zeal. The members of the society went forth to convert the world, to thread the jungles of India, traverse the deserts of Africa and the steppes of Asia; uphold the Cross on the banks of the Amazon, and plant it upon the peaks of the Andes; to rear churches amidst the fertile vales of Mexico; make their home in a palace or the hut of a savage; brave every danger, suffer every hardship; endure every privation; to die of hunger, thirst, cold or heat, disease or violence; to labor without reward, except that which the Virgin Mary would extend to them, through their sacrifices to save souls from the clutches of the devil. They were to persuade men where persuasion was available; employ force where force was possible. It was their province to spy out the actions of men — meddle in all their affairs; fathom the secrets of human hearts; interfere in households, in cabinets, in halls of justice and legislation; set father against son, and son against father; stir up strife between husband and wife, mother and daughter. All earthly relations, all human considerations, all the ties which men deem sacred, were subordinated to the idea that baptism into the Church was of more value than anything else; that they were commanded by the Virgin to rescue men from perdition.
To bring about that end any means were justifiable. Each member was to watch every other member; report their faithfulness or unfaithfulness. They had one watchword — “Obedience.” With a zeal such as the world had never before witnessed, the Jesuits went forth upon their missions. Their history is interwoven with that of every action — a record of self-denial, hardship, suffering, martyrdom; of burning zeal, fiery energy, tireless activity, unquenchable ardor; of religious devotions, worldly wisdom, benevolence, and charity; deceit, falsehood, hypocrisy, cruelty, and despotism. If they have been charitable and kind, they have also blackened history by the darkest of crimes. If they have lifted men to higher and nobler lives, they have also sent myriads to prison, and burnt hundreds of thousands at the stake. Time has not quenched their zeal; and though three hundred and fifty years have passed since their organization, they are still making their power felt in every country, controlling the consciences and actions of men.
The tomahawk and scalping-knife, at the bidding of the Jesuits, will do bloody work from the Penobscot to the Ohio, and the lurid light of burning dwellings will illumine the midnight sky. Men, women, and children will pass through the gloomy wilderness, from their rained homes on the banks of the Merrimac and Connecticut to Quebec and Montreal, to be sold into slavery. The old and young, the strong and weak, will redden the snows of winter with their blood. It was the disappointment of Ignatius Loyola in love, and the firing of a cannon at Pampeluna that started this crimson stream.
In the “Story of Liberty” is a chapter about the man who split the Church in twain — Henry VIII. — who, through his love for Anne Boleyn, defied the Pope, and set up a church of his own, himself the head: it was in 1539. His daughter, Mary Tudor, did what she could to restore things as they had been before Henry established the Church of England; she burnt so many men and women who refused to accept the Pope as head of the Church, that she was called “Bloody Mary.” Her half-sister, Elizabeth, when she came to the throne, re-established the Church which her father had founded, making herself the head. James I., who succeeded Elizabeth, endeavored to make everybody conform to the ritual which the bishop had written out. Those who refused to do this were called Non-conformists. In the “Story of Liberty” is an account of the persecutions endured by the people of Scrooby and Austerfield, because they held meetings of their own on Sunday in an old manor-house, listening to the preaching of John Robinson; how they fled to Holland, and finally sailed to America in the Mayflower.
Some of the ministers of the Church of England did not like to make the sign of the cross when they baptized a child, and there were other things distasteful to them in the ritual which the bishop had established. They desired a purer form of worship, and so were called Puritans by those who ridiculed them. They were not Separatists, like those plain farmers of Scrooby and Austerfield, but remained in the Church. When James came to the throne, several hundred Puritans requested a change in the ritual. He answered them rudely:
“I will have,” he said, “one doctrine, one discipline, one religion; I alone will decide; I will make you conform, or I will harry you out of the land, or else do worse — hang you.”‘
Convictions of what is right and true are forces for good which oppression and tyranny never can suppress. Obedience to such convictions led the men and women of Scrooby to flee from their pleasant homes to Holland, and from thence to America, to find peace and quiet in the solitude of the wilderness. Conviction of what was right and true also led the Puritans — some of whom lived in fine houses, with spacious halls, where they entertained their friends in princely style — to turn their backs upon all the comforts and refinements of life to which they had been accustomed, and make their humble homes in the wilderness, laying the foundations of a State which, though small in area, has wielded a wonderful influence on the history of our country.
In obedience to this conviction, George Fox preached in the fields, the streets, entered churches unbidden, wearing his hat, and dressed in sheepskin clothes. He preached that men should always be guided by the “inner light” which God would reveal to every honest heart. The justices sent him to prison as a fanatic and disturber of the peace; but as soon as he was out he resumed his preaching, making many converts to his ideas.
On other pages of this volume we shall read of the persecutions, sufferings, and obloquy endured by the Quakers; of their fanaticism and mistakes, and also the founding of the State of Pennsylvania by the follower of George Fox.
How strange that the firing of a gun on the shore of Lake Champlain should set in motion a train of events which have had a mighty influence upon the destiny of our country! In another chapter we shall accompany a hardy pioneer from France (Samuel Champlain) along the shore of the lake that bears his name. He will fire a gun whose echoes have not yet ceased to reverberate through the wilderness. Insignificant the event; but it will set the Mohawks, Onondagas, Senecas, Canandaiguas, and Cayugas — the five tribes composing the Iroquois Nation — forever against the French. They will make their power felt in the great struggle between France and England for supremacy in America.
Such are some of the forces that gave direction to the early history of our country. It is a history not designed by man; for the men of one generation cannot lay a plan for the generation that succeeds it. Every person exercises his own individual will; and it is only a Divine hand that out of the greed, selfishness, avarice, ambition, and passions of the multitude — out of their blunders, mistakes, and crimes — out of all the turmoils and conflicts of centuries — can mould a great Republic in which law, order, liberty, and an exalted sense of justice and right shall be supreme.
The century of discovery closed, and the period of settlement, began. Elizabeth was Queen of England, Henry IV. King of France, and Philip II. of Spain. A great fleet of vessels crossed the ocean every year from England and Brittany to the Banks of Newfoundland to obtain fish. The hardy sailors moored their little craft upon the banks, rode out fearful gales, or, when the storms came on, hoisted sail and ran to the harbor of Newfoundland for shelter. Some of the fishermen passed through the Straits of Canso into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Others coasted along Nova Scotia, and dropped anchor in the harbor of Maine— the sailors opening trade with the Indians, purchasing a large pile of beaver skins with a few knives, fish-hooks, or bits of tin; carrying the furs to France, and selling them to the hatters, making quite as much money on their furs as on their fish.
A gentleman of Brittany, the Marquis de la Roche, resolved to capture and keep to himself a goose that would lay no end of golden eggs, by obtaining from the king the exclusive privilege of trading with the Indians. The King of France had no claim to America, except through the discoveries made by John Verrazani and Jacques Cartier; but he granted De la Roche’s request, and made him Governor of Canada, Newfoundland, and Labrador — a vast undefined territory — with power to raise troops, declare war, build cities and forts; to give away the land to whomsoever he pleased. The marquis tried to induce the people of Brittany to emigrate to Canada, but they preferred to remain at home and enjoy the comforts of life in their native villages. Not being able to get any settlers, De la Roche obtained leave to ship criminals from the prisons, and set sail with forty thieves and murderers. It was not a promising beginning, for the villains pummeled and pounded one another fearfully on the voyage. One morning they beheld the long yellow beaches of Sable Island, off the shore of Maine. As De la Roche had not decided where to make a settlement, he landed the criminals, and sailed away to explore the coast; but a storm came on, and the north-west winds blew so furiously that he was swept nearly across the Atlantic, and found himself so near home that he returned to St. Malo.
Forty thieves, with no one to govern them, no law — no authority — what will they do? what will become of them?
A vessel had been wrecked on the island years before, and the hulk lay half buried on the beach; from its planks they built some huts. Herds of wild horses cropped the stunted grass in the meadows, and the sea was alive with fish, so that they would not lack food. There were troublesome times in France, and De la Roche could not visit them. Five years went by, when a vessel approached the island and sent a boat on shore. Twelve men, wearing clothes made from the skins of foxes, were all that remained: the others had been killed, or had died from exposure or homesickness. The weak had gone down before the strong; might had made right. So ended the first attempt of the French to make a settlement in America.
The merchants of Bristol, England, began to turn their eyes to the New World, and sent Bartholomew Gosnold on a voyage of discovery. He sailed in 1602, in the ship Concord, descrying first the white granite ledges of Cape Ann. Turning southward, he discovered a sandy promontory, which he named Cape Cod. He dropped anchor in the harbor of Provincetown, caught many fish, sailed south once more around the cape to the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, entered Buzzard’s Bay, and landed on an island which the Indians called Cuttyhunk. He was charmed with the country, the tall forest-trees, the grapevines which grew along the shore; built a fort, intending to leave six men, but was so short of provisions that he was obliged to abandon the project. He loaded his ship with sassafras, which was greatly esteemed in London, the doctors using it as a medicine, and hastened away, having only a single biscuit left when he reached England.
The next year the Bristol merchants sent Martin Pring to see what he could discover. He sailed along the coast of Maine, entered Casco Bay, Kennebunk Harbor, the Saco, and Piscataqna. It was midsummer, and the fields on the west shore of the Piscataqna were so red with strawberries that he named it Strawberry Bank. The quaint old town of Portsmouth now covers the ground where the sailors feasted themselves upon red, ripe berries.
Captain Pring was so enthusiastic over what he had seen, upon his return to England, that Richard Hakluyt, one of the ministers of Bristol, became greatly interested, and wrote letters to influential friends — Sir George Somers, Edward Wingfield, and others in London — telling them that ‘it was the duty of Englishmen to do something to checkmate Spain, who had already obtained possession of Mexico, South America, and Florida, and who was in a fair way to control the whole Western World.
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