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H ON O VRED SIR,
I Have received yours, wherein you desire me to give you a Brief Account of the past and present State of New England, which in as few words as I can, and as straits of time will permit me, I shall endeavour your Satisfaction in. New England contains that Tract of Land which is between forty and forty five Degrees of Northern Latitude; It was for some time known by the name of die Northern Plantation; but King Charles the First (then Prince of Wales) gave it the name of New England.
The first settlement of the English there, was in the year 1620, via. at New Plymouth.
New England differs from other Foreign Plantations, in respect of the Grounds and Motives, induciug the First Planters to remove into that American Desert; other Plantations were built upon Worldly Interests, New England upon that which is purely Religious; for although they did, and do agree (as is evident from their Printed Confession of Faith) with all other Protestant testant Reformed Churches; and more especially with England, in Matters of Doctrin, and in all Fundamental Points of Faith; yet as to the Liturgy, Ceremonies, and Church Government by Bishops, they were, and are Non-conformists: It was grievous to them to think of living in continual difference with their Protestant Brethren in England; upon which account they resolved on a peaceable SECESSION into a corner of the World; and being desirous to be under the Protection of England, about twenty worthy Gentlemen obtained a Charter from King Charles the First, bearing date from the year 1628, which giveth them Right to the Soil, for they hold their Titles of Lands, as of the Mannor of East-Greenwich in Kent, and in Common SOCAGE, which, notwithstanding, they purchased their Lands of the Indians, who were the Native Proprietors: By their mentioned Charter, they are Empower'd to Elect yearly their own Governor, and Deputy-Governor, and Magistrates, as here in London, and in other Towns Corporate, the Freemen chuse their Lord Mayors, Mayors, Aldermen, ty-c.
They have also Power to make such Laws, as shall be most proper and suitable for the Plantation: Nevertheless, as an acknowledgment of their dependence on England, by their Charters, they are obliged not to make any Laws, which shall be repugnant to the Laws in England.
Also, the fifth part of all Oar, of Gold or Silver, found in that Territory, belongs to the Crown of England.
The Report of this Charter, did encourage many very deserving persons to Transplant themselves, and their Families, into New England; Gentlemen of Ancient and Worshipful Families, and Ministers of the Gospel, then of great fame here in England, Tradesmen, Artificers, and Planters, to the Number of about four thousand did in twelve years time go thither.
The hazards they run, and the difficulties which they encountred with, in subduing a Wilderness, cannot be easily exprest in a large Tract: But the Almighty God, by a wonderful Providence, carried them through all.
In the year 1637, they were in imminent danger of being cut off by the barbarous Heathen; but when it came to a VVar, mighty numbers of the Indians were slain, by a few of the English, which caused a terror of God to fall upon the Heathen round about; so that after the Pequod Indians were subdued, there was peace in the Land for forty eight years together; and being setled under a good and easie Government, the Plantation increased, and prospered wonderfully; yea, so as cannot be parallelled rallelled in any History: never was place brought to such a Considerableness in so short a time; that which was, not long since, a howling Wilderness, in few years time, became a pleasant Land, wherein was abundance of all things meet for Soul and Body, which can be imputed to nothing else, but to their Religion, the Gospel bringing a fulness of Blessings along with it: Some have observed, that since the year 1640, more Persons have Removed out of New England, than have gone thither. Nevertheless, the four thousand, who did, between that and the year 1620, transplant themselves into New England, are so marvelously increased, as that, if the Computation fail not, they are now become more than Two hundred thousand Souls.
There are Towns and Villages,on the Sea-Coasts, from Long Island to Boston, which is Three hundred English Miles, and the like from Boston to Pemmaquid, which is Two hundred Miles more.
In the year 1662, Conecticot Colony, as also Road Island, with the Plantations thereunto belonging, had Charters granted to them by King Charles the Second, being much of the same Tenor with the Patent of the Massachusets, whereby these Colonies were made distinct Government.
In the year 1675, the Indians began a second War with the English; the Issue of which was, that whole Nations of them were destroy'd.
Never did men shew greater Courage and Bravery in their Encounters with the Barbarous Heathen, than they did. Although it must be acknowledged that the Indians advantages were such, as they could not have been overcome, if God had Dot fought against them, by sending the Evil Arrows of Famine, and Mortal Diseases among them. I have often thought of an Expression of an Indian there: We could easily be too hard for the English, but (said he, striking on his Breast) The Englishmen God makes us afraid here.
As long as they enjoyed their 6rst Government, no Enemies could stand before them ; but since that they have not been able to subdue an hundred Indians, who did the last year commit some outrages among them, having been (as I am credibly informed.) designedly provoked thereunto by some Injuries done unto them by those then in Power, who intended the Ruine of the English, and Advancement of the French Interest in that Territory.
As for your Enquiry, By what means they came to be deprived of their Charters, Rights and Liberties,; please to understand, that in the year 1683, a Quo Warranto was issued out
against against them, and with the Notification thereof by the then King's Order there was a Declaration published, enjoyning those few particular Persons mentioned in the Quo Warranto, to make their defence at their own perticular Charge, without any help by a publiclc Stock: By this it was easie to see that some Persons were resolv'd to have the Charters condemned, quo jure quaqut injuria: Nevertheless, the Governor and Company appointed an Attorney to appear, and answer to the Quo Warranto, in the Court of King's Bench.
The Prosecutors not being able to make any thing of it there, a new Suit was Commenced by a Scire facias, in the High Court of Chancery.
But tho they had not sufficient time given them to make their Defence, yet Judgment was entred against them for Default in not appearing ; when it was impossible, considering the remote distance of Netv England from Westminster-hall, that they should appear in the time allowed.
Thus illegally was the Charter of the Massachusets Colony wrested from them: as for the Colonies of Plymouth, Conecticot, and Road Island, there was never any Judgment against them, nor any Surrender; but by a mere Rape, in the year 1686, their Charters and Priviledges were violently taken from them.
Since that time the Country hath mightily declined, and gone to ruin daily, not being now like the place it was Five Years ago, which is not much to be wondred at, considering the Intollerable Oppressions they have been Labouring under,since their Charters were Ravished from them.
In the Year 1686. Sir Edmond Andros, was sent by the late King James to New England; with a Commission absolutely destructive to the fundamentals of the English Government, Impowering him with Four more ( none of them chosen by the People) to Levy Money, and make Laws, nay, and in case of War in the Plantations to send as many of the Inhabitants as he would, two Thousand Miles out of the Country: This Commission being Illegal and so in it self void, the People not being able to Continue longer under those Oppressions, did this last Spring assert their English Liberties, Rights and Priviledges, and Unanimously Declare for the Prince of Orange, and the Parliament of England.
And it is greatly to be observed, that as long as JVeui England enjoyed their Charters for more than Fifty Years together, they never put the Crown of England to a Penny Charge; which is more than can be said of any other Forreign Plantations dependant on England.
But since they have been under a Government not by Charters, but by Commission, the Country hath been Chargeable, and less Beneficial to the Kings Revenue than in former times.
It hath indeed been objected, that in New England they did many years a go Transgress the Act of Navigation. But the Transgression of some few particular Persons ought not to be charged as the fault of the Government there, who did in the Year 1663, make a Law that the Act of Navigation should be Strictly observed, and their Governours are Sworn to see that Law Executed, and have to the uttermost of their power been careful therein.
Many other Things have been suggested against New England, the most of which having no footsteps of Truth in them, but being the Malicious Inventions of the Tobijahs and Sanballats of the Age, are not worth mentioning.
Not but the People there being but Men, have had their failings as well as other Men in all places of the World. The only thing (so far as I can learn) which can with any Colour of Truth be justly reflected on them as a great fault, is that in some matters relating to Conscience and difference of opinion, they have been more rigid and severe than the Primitive Christians or the Gospel doth allow of.
Yet this is to be said in their behalf, that things are reported worse than indeed they were, and that now many Leading Men, and the generality of the People are of a more moderate Temper.
I know many that have a great Interest there, do abhor the Spirit of Persecution as much as any Men in the World.
It is certainly for the Interest of England, that New England be incouraged; and preserved in all their Rights, Priviledges and Properties, and those ill Men who have given or shall give contrary advice (notwithstanding all their vain pretences to the contrary) have and will prejudice the Interest of the Crown more than they are, or ever were, or can be able to make amends for: which I evince by the Arguments following.
I. The Kings Revenue, all things considered, is as much or more augmented by New England, than by any other of the Foreign Plantations. This will seem to some a strange Assertion: But consider what I say, and then judge if it be not true.
The other American Plantations cannot well subsist without New England; which is by a Thousand Leagues nearer to them
Vol. IV.—No. 11. 33