(The FRENCH, DUTCH and ENGLISH to AMERICA – continued)
Europeans and Atlantic Coast Indians, to 1700
Charles I succeeded his father, James I, as king of England in 1625, and with the approval of Charles the Massachusetts Bay Company sponsored a new migration of around a thousand Puritans to the Massachusetts area. Puritan stockholders of the company had changed the company's emphasis from trade to religion, seeing the colony as a refuge from Anglican (Church of England) authorities. The Anglicans were happy to see them go, and the new group arrived in more than a dozen ships at the Boston-Salem area, bringing with them an abundance of tools and other supplies.
Another epidemic of smallpox killed many of the remaining 500 Massachuset Indians, and the new governor of the colony, John Winthrop, saw the epidemic as God "sweeping away" the Indians to make room for his Christian settlers. Some of what was left of Massachuset Indians converted to Christianity, becoming what were called "Praying Indians" and subject to Puritan rules of conduct.
In 1632, Charles granted a charter to his friend, the Catholic aristocrat John Calvert, also known as Lord Baltimore, for a colony that was to become Maryland (as in Mary, the mother of God). The colony was intended as a refuge for English Catholics, who, like the Puritans, felt harried by Anglican bishops. Calvert was tolerant and planned to leave Maryland open to any Christian, and Charles agreed not to levy taxes against the Maryland colonists except for a fifth of the gold or silver that he hoped might be found in the colony.
The tolerance planned for Maryland was rejected by Puritan leaders in Massachusetts. They saw tolerance as compromise with God's will. They had fled from the tradition of uniformity in worship demanded by the Church of England and they attempted to maintain a unity of belief among themselves. This put the Puritan colony at odds with Roger Williams, who had arrived there in 1631. Williams had been educated in England at Cambridge, and in the Massachusetts Bay Colony he became a teacher at a Puritan church and incurred the wrath of authorities by advocating a separation of church and state, holding that the state should have no jurisdiction over one's conscience. In 1635, the colony tried Williams and sentenced him to banishment. With four colleagues, Williams established a new colony at Providence, which he declared to be "a shelter for persons distressed for conscience."
Soon the Puritans of Massachusetts faced contention of a more violent nature. The colony went to war against the Pequot and other neighboring Indians. The Pequot had also suffered decimation from disease – about 2,500 remaining in the Massachusetts area. The colonists had pushed into the lands of the Pequot and had tried to impose their rule on them, and there was retaliation. In what became known as the Pequot War, fought in 1634-38, the Puritans emerged victorious. They executed captured Pequot warriors, sold other Pequot as slaves, to be sent to the Caribbean, and some Pequot women and children became servants to Puritan families. About half of the Pequot survived the war, and those who remained in the Massachusetts area scattered, some of them finding refuge with other peoples, such as the Narraganset.
Copyright © 2001-2015 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.