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The Tribes and the States
W. J. Sidis
THE NEW ENGLAND CONFEDERATION
44. Difficulties with the Dutch. The Dutch colony at New Amsterdam claimed its "discovery rights" to the mainland as far east as the Quinnitucket River, as well as to all the Paumonok Islands. The East Paumonoks were already to some extent in the possession of the Plymouth colony, though as yet there were no steady settlements except a few Plymouth colonizers on the island the Dutch called Martin Wyngaard’s, but which the English pronounced Martha’s Vineyard; while Connecticut had taken possession of Block Island in the Pequot War. But these were distant outposts that New Amsterdam could not hold or control so easily, and some of the East Paumonoks, such as Nantucket, still remained in Red control, while even Martha’s Vineyard was controlled more through Eliot’s converts among the red men than by white settlers.
But the Connecticut and New Haven colonies were real threats to the Dutch mainland claims, and both of these colonies, by settling across the sound on the Great Paumonok Island (Long Island), definitely interfered with what the Dutch considered their own private preserve, and apparently were beginning to threaten even such Dutch towns on that island as Vliessingen (now Flushing), even though they were still far off.
Fort Good Hope was built on the Quinnitucket to establish Dutch claims there, and the difficulties that resulted over land disputes finally made the Dutch, who were not ready for open conflict, send representatives to negotiate for a boundary settlement. There never was to be any such agreement reached.
The Dutch had other territorial claims on this continent. Even far Maryland was considered by them as an invasion of their territory, and, when a Swedish colony named Christiana was established on the far side of the Unami (Delaware) River, over a hundred miles southwesterly from New Amsterdam, the Dutch authorities treated that as a challenge. The Dutch colony based its extensive claims mainly on the claims of the Iroquois Federation to control over distant tribes to supervise their border disarmament policy; but where the Iroquois merely claimed control for treaty-making purposes, the Dutch West India Company, which owned and governed the colony on the Hudson, took their agreements with the Iroquois as conferring on them ownership of the whole vast extent of territory over which the Five Nations claimed rights of supervision. The Iroquois saw no inconsistency in letting Dutch and English settle side by side on land under Iroquois supervision, since the Iroquois were not handicapped with such ideas of property as were setting the white colonies at each other’s throats over land which could well afford room for all―such ideas of property as were keeping the white men’s home countries over the ocean everlastingly fighting with each other, then as well as now.
The only colonies seriously threatened on the east were Connecticut and New Haven. They sought aid from England, from the other Puritan colonies, from the Mohicans, from the Penacook Federation. For reasons we have already seen, the Mohicans favored Connecticut but opposed New Haven, though they felt that in Dutch expansion they had a common enemy with New Haven; and furthermore, they, like all other red nations, were unwilling to precipitate a war, as their desire was mainly for peace. England, which had previously been a rather ineffective moral support for the Puritan colonies, was now busy with civil war and unable to do anything; and certainly the Puritans could not expect to fight the English regime and at the same time get aid from it. And the Penacook Federation, though at peace with the Puritans, was still too resentful over the Pequot War to do anything but stay neutral. It practically held the balance of power in its home country, and resumed its position as mentor of the white settlements, Connecticut being most anxious to placate the Federation, as being already in conflict with the Dutch.
The use of wampum for exchange purposes, together with the rewards given to scalpers during the Pequot War, had resulted in quantities of alcohol finding its way into Federation towns, and in 1638, the Council of the Penacook Federation asked the New England colonies to stop their traffic in liquor, as it was felt the liquor trade was badly weakening the red nations. Only Connecticut paid attention to this request, as it had the most reason to placate the Penacooks. Connecticut therefore, in 1638, passed a law forbidding the sale of liquor to red people; but the white institutions of property have always been ill adapted to prevent any sort of smuggling, and, the trade being in private hands, it was almost impossible to prevent considerable smuggling from going on, though both Connecticut and Penacook authorities used considerable effort against the contraband trade. It has since been the effort of red people to stop this trade, but so far without any effective success, since white man’s property institutions continually breed every sort of corruption.
The Quinnitucket colonies, not being able to get effective aid from Mohicans, Penacooks, or England, were forced to turn to the remaining Puritan colonies, who appeared willing but hardly able to aid. Their population had been badly depleted by the Puritan re-migration to England.
45. New England Federation. Thus Connecticut and New Haven were forced to turn for aid to the English settlements to the east. But not much was actually done, and the Dutch remained stationed between Connecticut and New Haven, threatening Mohicans, Penacooks, and Puritans alike. There was also a threat from the French in the north, who were trying to occupy their theoretical Province of Maine, which they interpreted as taking in the entire Penacook country.
Thus was created a situation very similar to that of the Penacooks peoples in 1621. Then the Iroquois were reaching the Quinnitucket, and the Penacook nations were gathered to repulse them; on this occasion, the Puritans were sharing Penacook territory and were overflowing its western border, while the Dutch, spreading eastward to the Quinnitucket, had reached them and were threatening them. Both English and Dutch had brought over much of their social structure from Europe, and were therefore unable to understand communities where the people had even as much control as among the Iroquois, where democracy was more nominal than real; but still the Puritans had received some smattering of democracy from their Penacook neighbors, while as yet nothing remotely resembling it had penetrated to their white neighbors the Dutch to the west, or the French to the north.
Though the Penacook Federation got more friendly treatment from the French allies of their sister federation the Wabanake, and though they had plenty of reason to resent the presence of English in their own country, still did not wish to take any chance on a Dutch invasion from over the Quinnitucket, which would have been, in a way, a duplicate of the Iroquois raid of 1621. Accordingly they planned to aid the Puritans by indirect advice, as peace was already arranged in that quarter. It was a simple matter to circulate hints of the story of the Iroquois attempt at invading that region, as well as of the remedy finally adopted. In this way the various New England colonies gradually became impressed with the advantage of taking similar steps themselves, and, like the red peoples of their territory, they began to plan on forming a federal council, a central organization having a slight measure of control over all the colonies for purposes of concerted action only. This would also be able to replace the support they used to have from England, but which was now lacking due to the English civil war; it could also bolster up the morale of the Puritans while so many of their people were emigrating to fight in the English war. This emigration, in fact, made a further point of similarity with the situation of the Penacooks in 1621; for then the Penacook population had just been depleted by a plague, to the same degree as the Puritans were losing their people by emigration.
In 1642, delegates assembled in Boston from all the English colonies in or near Penacook territory. This included Gorgeans (or "Maine," as the popular assembly preferred to call it), New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Rhode Island, Providence Plantations, Connecticut, and New Haven. Had the influence of the Narragansett Bay colonies predominated in the council, or had Iroquois influence been stronger than Penacook, they would doubtless have gone through with the original plan to federate all these colonies together; but the Massachusetts delegates objected to including such terribly intolerable people as the Red Island colonies (Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, still separately ruled under a joint charter) or the feudal aristocracy of Gorgeana and New Hampshire, representing the very institutions the English Puritans were fighting against.
This exclusive attitude was primarily due to religious intolerance on the part of the Massachusetts delegates; but the Penacooks had a very different reason for approving the results―namely, that similarity of social institutions was a test of federability―and it was from the Penacooks that the English had to learn the rudiments of federal organization. Where the Iroquois, figuring on the basis of common origin and language, would have united everyone, the Penacooks, on the basis of similarity of organization, could not advise such different types of organizations as the aristocratic Piscataqua colonies, the free-opinioned Red Island colonies, and the church-ruled Puritan colonies, to federate together, on the theory that the rifts would be too strong and tend to break up the federation. The Red Island colonies, however, in their exclusion, were assured of Narragansett protection, which is to say, the protection of the Penacook Federation.
The New England Confederation was finally organized in 1643, on a similar basis to the Penacook Federation, an agreement being drawn up between the four constituent colonies to form a constitution for the confederation. The four colonies that finally federated were Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven. It was a loose federation, like the Penacook, leaving the units the greatest degree of freedom, but was intended to secure unity in regard to external affairs (including, as the New England constitution mentioned it, missionary work among the red men). This constitution provided for a general annual get-together ("Congress") of delegates from the individual colonies to correspond the Penacook federal council; while a presiding officer of this "Congress" (President) was designated as a general leader of the confederation, corresponding to the Bashaba of the Penacook Federation. Admission of new colonies into the confederation was barred, probably to keep the Rhode-Islanders out, though it is notable that no federal constitutions ever provided for admission of new states before 1719, when the Iroquois admitted the Tuscarora nation, after which all new federal constitutions always provided for that question.
Though formed under Penacook guidance, the New England Confederation lacked the Penacook’s democracy, partly because the whites never could properly understand democracy, partly because the institution of property interferes. But enough of that element was injected by Penacook influence to create a sharp division in New England between authorities and advocates of liberty, a division which became stronger as the red ideals became infused among the population.
This was the first experience of the English colonies at federating with one another, and it became the precedent on which were based all subsequent federations, including the two successive federations known as the United States of America. That this first federation―a loose one, leaving the federal council comparatively little power―was brought into existence largely under Penacook influence was unquestionably a determining factor in the character of all later federations.
46. Annexation of the Piscataqua. The Piscataqua colonies, Gorgeana and New Hampshire, were left out of the New England Confederation as being built on too different a basis of organization; and there a town-meeting form of organization, parallel to the form of government in the Confederation colonies, was the rival for actual power as against the recognized government consisting of the lords chartered from England, the town meetings having more of the actual allegiance with the population even though without any recognition from across the ocean. In the case of Gorgeana, the town meetings, apparently objecting to a name that was derived too obviously from the lord's name, actually used a different name for the colony, by adopting the French name for the Wabanake region, Maine.
As the New England Confederation had little success in negotiating boundaries with either the Dutch to the west or the French to the north, it was hoped that New Hampshire and its sister colony (whether called Gorgeana or Maine) would act as buffer states to keep New England and New France apart, though the red federations which shared the White Mountain region were more successful at keeping English and French settlers from coming too dangerously in conflict with one another.
But the Massachusetts Bay colony did not feel like leaving these buffer states in peace. Just as they insisted on interpreting the royal charters literally as giving land titles even where no possession existed, prevailed even while the New England Confederation was actually fighting against the king (though the fight was theoretically against the malignant advisers rather than against the king personally). The charter of Massachusetts Bay extended to three miles north of the Merrimac River, which the English originally supposed to run all the way in a general west-to-east course instead of heading almost directly southward most of the way, as it actually does. Consequently the General Court of Massachusetts (the legislative body), on looking up the charter in 1652, after the protectorate in England had left New England very much on its own, decided that the charter meant that Massachusetts extended to a line three miles north of the headwaters of the Merrimac, and sent a commission of surveyors to determine the exact location and latitude of the river's source; which was done that summer, the commissioners leaving a stone marker in Lake Winnipesaukee for that purpose. (At low water, this stone, now called "Endicott's Stone," after the then governor of Massachusetts, is still to be seen in the lake.)
In October, 1652, Massachusetts officially set up a claim to everything as far north as the latitude of Lake Winnipesaukee―including all the New Hampshire and Maine settlements―and then proceeded to reorganize there and demand the allegiance of the inhabitants. In the original settlement of Piscataqua, which the Massachusetts legislature reorganized as the town of Kittery (its present name) a town meeting was called specially for the purpose, the commissioners arresting one man who protested against Massachusetts' seizure of Maine and holding him till he agreed to swear allegiance, while the rest of the town, warned by this, voted allegiance to Massachusetts unanimously. Similar incidents occurred elsewhere in New Hampshire and Maine; but, on the whole, as soon as it appeared definitely that Massachusetts was going to recognize the town meetings exclusively and oust Gorges and Mason from the government, opposition calmed down and there was more willingness to become part of Massachusetts, in preference to the old official governments, which could only recognize the inhabitants as serfs of Gorges and Mason. These lords themselves, by this seizure of territory, were left only with a claim to territory in actual possession of the Wabanake Federation; and thus ended the attempt to establish a feudal regime in New England. The Massachusetts reorganization of towns resulted in considerable renaming of towns, among which was the name of Portsmouth for New Hampshire's original settlement and only harbor.
47. New Sects. In the meantime, England was in a state of civil war between the followers of the king and those of the Puritan regime, the latter finally gaining the victory in 1649. Since Roger Williams was one of the chief advisers of the Puritan side, he attempted to introduce into England a system of religious toleration similar to what the Penacook chiefs had taught him; also, the influence of the quantity of Puritans just returned from America resulted in many safeguards of individual liberty such as were taken for granted in Penacook country. For instance, the king's private and secret court, the Star Chamber, was abolished, as well as the custom (taken for granted in England for centuries) of sentencing people to prison or death without a hearing. Much of this work of the English "Commonwealth," derived from institutions the New England Puritans had brought back with them from the Penacook land, has become permanent, and is responsible for such personal rights as exist today in England, though the infiltration type of tactics made it essential to attribute all this to English sources, claiming (though falsely, and by the help of mistranslations from the Latin text) to be restorations of popular rights alleged to have been granted to England in 1215 by Magna Carta, which really proclaimed certain rights to the nobility rather than the people.
The new system of tolerance had its immediate effect in the formation of many new sects. Persons who had been exiled for various forms of heresy, and sects formerly excluded, were invited back to England. Many of these sects were offshoots of Puritanism, though violently opposed to it as an established church.
One of the most important of these new sects arising at this period, at least as far as concerns American history, was the Society of Friends, commonly called the Quakers. This sect was founded in 1648, and had its origin in Puritanism, but differed from it remarkably on many points, emphasizing to a great extent equality and a sort of passive resistance to authority; but it derived from Puritanism its method of conduction the affairs of the sect by membership meetings―a method originally learned from the Pilgrims, and by the Pilgrims from the democratic institutions of the Penacook peoples.
The Quaker sect, building on so much of the new that was brought back from America by the Puritans, and rejecting or opposing the old, consequently incorporates so many native American features that the sect remained a small one and a very inconspicuous one in England, but flourished remarkably in spite of the fiercest opposition the moment it was attempted to transplant it to American soil; so that this sect, never of importance in England, became an important factor in the development of America.
Though Roger Williams had frequently and openly denounced Quakerism, yet, when they came to attempt settling in the Narragansett Bay region, he had to grant them the same tolerance granted there to all religious dissenters, as Rhode Island and the Providence Plantations now more than ever had to fall back on Penacook protection, and therefore to stick closely to the conditions under which occupation of Narragansett territory was allowed. And, as Massachusetts, not content with its seizure of the Piscataqua colonies, was attempting to take possession of parts of the Providence Plantations by issuing land grants to the Pawcatuck River region, encouragement of the immigration of a multitude of new sects with an interest in resisting Puritan expansion was a good means of building up the colonies in those regions in a way that added weight to the principle of tolerance.
Such was the opposition between Massachusetts and Rhode Island on the tolerance question that the Quaker sect quickly became the bone of contention as concerned that issue. And it was probably mainly on account of Rhode Island’s tolerance that Massachusetts authorities, almost from the very first, stringently persecuted the Quaker sect with a zeal that went far beyond any support the authorities could get from the population, and in some cases produced internal difficulties over the tolerance issue, though the people did not consciously fight for tolerance.
Even though the Quakers, battling against persecution in Massachusetts alienated public sympathy by the use of such tactics in propagating their beliefs as the breaking up of Purtitan meetings by what amounted to nudist demonstrations accompaied by loud prophesies of disasters to come, nevertheless such drastic measures as the order to banish all Quakers from Massachusetts, passed by the Massachusetts legislature in 1658, met with constant opposition from the people whenever enforcement of its strict provisions was attempted.
One of the first cases was that of the Southwick family, starting with the banishment of an old Quaker couple in Salem, who were arrested several times before they managed to get out of the province, and, after finding several nearby refugee colonies unsatisfactory, finally reached one of the Paumonok islands, where they died a year later; this island has ever since been called Shelter Island on account of the refugees finding shelter there. Next the authorities descended on their children, who were ordered by the authorities to be sold into slavery to pay for their parents' defaulted pew-rent in the Puritan meeting-house; but, when the children were brought to the water-front in Boston to be sold off to the captains of outgoing ships, the captains unanimously refused to accept the children, and the rebellious attitude of the crowd forced the governor to release the Quaker children. This incident, on Wednesday, September 18, 1658, was one of the early indications of the general attitude of rebellion which Massachusetts has always taken towards its authorities whenever there has been any tendency for authority to overstep prescribed limits. It is this incident that is commemorated in Whittier's poem "Cassandra Southwick":
"Pile my ship with bars of silver, pack with coins of Spanish gold,
This Southwick incident also marked the beginning of an active fight for freedom of opinion in Massachusetts, and, with the beginning of that fight, could actually be credited with ushering in a new era in the world. This fact gives some justification to the poem's description of that moment:
"Oh, at that hour the very earth seemed changed beneath my eye,
A holier wonder round me rose the blue walls of the sky,
A lovlier light on rock and hill, and stream and wooded lay,
And softer lapsed on sunnier sands the waters of the bay."
There were to be, however, other cases of Quaker persecution in Massachusetts, and other cases of resistance by the people to the authorities, before tolerance was to be considered as even partially won. In December, 1660, three Quaker women were banished from Dover, tied behind the cart and stripped to the waist in zero weather, and under sentence of ten lashes each at every town till they were gotten out of Massachusetts; but at Salisbury, they were released by the town judge, who made the officers take the women's place under the lash.
| " 'This warrant means murder foul and red;
Cursed be he who serves it!' he said.
" 'Cut loose these poor ones and let them go;
Again, a legend (though its correctness is questioned) tells of a couple who were harboring a Quaker on the Merrimac shore, and escaped arrest by sailing down the river and out to sea in a rowboat, and who founded a refuge for religious dissenters on Nantucket Island, where they landed. This settlement has ever since shown a remarkable degree of independence of everybody outside; it also differs from other white settlements in America in having actually taken over a partially Penacook form of land tenure―land being owned in common, and occupancy being parcelled out in family groups on a basis that may derive from the tribal genses―this land tenure still holding its own on Nantucket to a great extent in spite of the persistent attempt of outside courts to impose private individual ownership.
48. Conquest of the South. During all this time, with New England so strongly rebel, the Potomac colonies in the south were more strongly royalist than ever. Virginia, in fact, served as a refuge for many royalists driven out of England by the war there; all such refugees were welcomed by Governor Berkeley, whose boast it had always been that the populace of the colony were being held down and kept in ignorance. Maryland was just as strongly royalist, though the established church there had less power than in Virginia, the proprietor, Lord Baltimore, being a Catholic. But, in 1649, when it became obvious that in England the Puritans were gaining the upper hand, Maryland attempted to placate the new regime by passing a law providing for complete religious tolerance, which nevertheless in practice was available only to Catholics and Episcopalians.
The northern and southern English colonies were thus at loggerheads, and only the fact that the Dutch and Swedish colonies separated the two prevented actual warfare from resulting. This was heightened by the difference in character of their institutions; all work done in the south was fundamentally based on slavery and indentured servitude, which was officially recognized in the north but rare and looked down upon; aristocracy was rampant in the south and holding the people down, while it was almost extinct in the north; witchcraft prosecutions (though the existence of witchcraft was universally believed in at that time) was always common in the south, and surprisingly rare in the north, just as the Puritan regime in England had completely stopped all witch-craft prosecutions there, though they had been previously frequent. The idea of popular self-government, largely acquired from the northern red nations, was fundamental with northern colonies, but made very little headway in the south, where the red nations were controlled from above rather than from the people.
After 1649, when King Charles had been beheaded and the Puritan revolution took control of England, expeditions were sent out to enforce the submission of every region where royalist forces might possibly be supposed to remain; and in connection with these expeditions, territory occupied by the other nations were taken possession of, under the excuse that England had some shadowy charter claim and it might prove a royalist hideout. This policy of allowing no refuge on earth for an overthrown regime, and thus forcing them to fight by hounding them to the remotest ends of the earth, is a characteristic of eastern-hemisphere revolutions which has ever been noticeable in those native to North America, which rather tend to encourage an overthrown regime to make its home in some other spot where it is more welcome.
New England, as the origin of the Puritan revolt, was not disturbed, and the Federation was allowed to function uninterrupted, but Holland was forced to evacuate its settlements on the Quinnitucket, thus rendering the New England settlements there safe from attack from that source.
While Cromwell’s Puritan regime in England went to considerable trouble in forcing Scotland and Ireland to submit, and while, under an old charter claim, the Spanish in possession of Jamaica were routed from that island, it was the Southern colonies of North America that were considered the arch-retreat of royalism. And so, in 1652, a fleet from England sailed into Chesapeake Bay to demand the submission of Virginia and Maryland. No effective resistance proved available on the part of the Potomac colonies, which surrendered and were dominated by the Commonwealth of Virginia ("Commonwealth" being the title given England by the Puritan revolution there, and which was temporarily adopted by some New England colonies at the time), under a Puritan governor, Bolton, brought over by the fleet. Virginia’s royal governor, Berkeley, retired to his country estate, out of office but holding much of the colony’s allegiance, while the Maryland proprietor, Lord Baltimore, was in a very similar situation on the north shore of the Potomac River.
Thus the hostility between North and South which parallelled the civil war in England resulted in what could be considered as a victory for the North. It was not a victory for popular government in the South, as the aristocracy remained in actual control and retained its royalist disposition, though outwardly submitting to the Puritan rule. Slavery and indentured servitude remained the social basis of the Potomac colonies, though the source of indentured servants was cut off during the Cromwell period by the discontinuance of the practice of shipping people to Maryland and Virginia to be sold as servants.
49. The Middle Regions. In the meantime the Dutch, from their headquarters on the Paumonok Islands, in spite of the loss of territory to New England in the northeast, pushed westward and southward, as well as up towards the heart of the Iroquois territory to the north of them.
In 1655 the Dutch conquered the Swedish colony of Christiana, and made it part of the domain of New Netherland, thus coming into conflict with the Maryland settlements east of Chesapeake Bay. An assortment of manors, with a land tenure modelled on what they had left behind in Europe, were beginning to line the Shatemuck (or Hudson) River―establishing settlements in that valley as individual property of overlords, such as Bronck’s, the Jonkeer’s, Peek’s Kill, and many others, mostly bearing the lord’s name. It was still a long way from a successful establishment of feudal aristocracy on this continent, but seeds were being planted which somehow took better root on the Hudson than in New England or on the Potomac.
Thus the Mohican and Lenape tribes which lived in the valley of Shatemuck were pushed back from the river. The Lenape nations were under the Iroquois disarmament rule, and were supposed to let the Iroquois do all their defense and treaty-making; but the Iroquois failed notably in this, being allies of the Dutch and English, and leaving the Lenapes to be squeezed out. After experience following the Hoboken massacre, the Iroquois disarmament rule was defied, and there were plenty of raids and fights between Lenape and Dutch. And now that the Iroquois themselves were being pushed back by the advance of Dutch colonization, Lenapes and Mohicans were left very much to their own devices in dealing with the invading whites.
The Mohicans were pushed eastward towards Connecticut, and were able to some extent to rely on their alliance with Connecticut, which, however, proved to be of little value to them because Connecticut belonged to the New England Confederation which was allied with the Iroquois.
To the west of the Shatemuck, the Lenape had themselves alone to rely on. Some branches of these nations pushed westward in to the mountains of the Unamie (which river, as well as the Lenape people, was named by the English Delaware), from where it was easier to defy both whites and Iroquois. But the fight against both Iroquois and whites forced the Lenape nations, at about this period, to imitate the Iroquois and Penacook form of organization to the extent of joining with Mohicans, Manhattans, and various nations of the West Paumonoks, to form the Lenape Federation, under the leadership of one Tamenund. This federation was definitely under control from above, unlike the Iroquois and Penacook Federations; it was actually under control of a self-perpetuating clique of sachems, which, however, went frequently through the formality of an election whose result was predetermined. The Iroquois custom whereby a name followed successors to the same office indefinitely, was adopted by the Lenapes, so that the name Tamenund became the title for a ruling chief of the Lenapes under this system, the present-day relic of that title being, strangely enough, in the political term Tammany.
In this way, the institution of federation was extended to the outposts of the Swedish and New England settlements, and from there on the prevailing form of society was aristocratic―among the whites through Maryland and Virginia, and among the red nations farther south. There was as yet no definite boundary, but the dividing line was thus beginning to form between the free institutions of the Algonquin influence on the north, and aristocracy and slavery on the south. This division line gradually became sharper as time went on, without changing its position noticeably, until, in the course of a century, it became definitely marked out as Mason and Dixon’s line.