Massasoit: A Story of the Indians of New England - Alma H. Burton

The Puritans

Besides the Pilgrims, who had set up a church of their own, there were many people in England called Puritans, who still belonged to the Established Church, but did not wish to conform to all its ceremonies.

So these, too, dared the dangers of the sea, and sought homes in America.

They planted towns along the curving shores of Massachusetts Bay, and on a peninsula of three low-browed hills, held to the coast by a narrow neck of marshland, they laid out the capital city of Boston, with John Winthrop 88 governor.

They had brought cattle, horses, plows, machinery, seeds, fruit-trees and all needful things to develop the new country.

And soon Salem, Charlestown, Dorchester, Watertown, Roxbury, Lynn and other little Puritan towns, sent delegates to Boston to make laws for the commonweal of all.

Hunger, disease and death visited/the settlements; but the brave pioneers built their houses and mills, planted vineyards and orchards, and marched straight on in the paths where duty seemed to lead them.

They made peace with the Indians. Chickatabit; chief of the Massachusetts, who paid tribute to Massasoit, visited Governor Winthrop, accompanied by his bravest warriors and their wives, to make a treaty of alliance against the hostle Tarratines of Maine.

But the very next year, a hundred Tarratine braves paddled up the Merrimac under cover of the night, fell upon a village of the Massachusetts Indians, and killed several before they were frightened away by the alarm of the English guns.

An embassy from the Mohegans on the Connecticut river, came to beg that a settlement be made on their beautiful river.

Then Miantonomo, of the great nation of the Narragansetts, came in state to Boston to form an alliance with Winthrop.

The governor received him in his own home and dined with him, which pleased him greatly. Miantonomo went to meeting, and while he was listening to the long sermon and noting how the white men worshiped, three of his warriors broke into a dwelling and stole several articles.

It was a difficult matter to induce the chief to whip the culprits, and very soon after there were rumors that the Narragansetts were plotting mischief.

Now there was very little cause for the Indians to make trouble with the colonies of New England.

All the land upon which they settled had been bought, and the Massachusetts Bay Company had written to the governor, "We pray you to be careful that there be none in our precincts permitted to do any injury in the least kind to the heathen people." Of course, some of the traders were dishonest.

Even the wide ocean could not keep all the rascals from this new world.

Some way or other, the chaff would come over with the wheat in the grain bags; and the wicked found a berth with the good on every ship; but the laws of the colonies were very severe against those doing wrong to the Indians.

In the colonial records is written: "It is agreed that Sir Richard Saltonstall shall give Indian John a hogshead of corn for the hurt his cattle did him in the corn."

Another Englishman was ordered to be severely whipped for theft upon the Indians, branded with a hot iron, and then banished.

When smallpox ravaged the natives, the Pilgrims of Plymouth were much afraid of the infection. But hearing the pitiful cries of the sufferers, they brought wood and water, and cooked food for them while they lived, and buried them decently when they died. But there was always a feeling of distrust between the two races that now dwelt together in the Land of the Bays. No doubt, the Indians dimly realized that the white men were crowding them out of their hunting-grounds.

The old familiar sounds of the forests were hushed by the lowing of cattle, the bleating of sheep and the sharp neighing of the strange horses.

The forests were being cut down and the streams dammed up.

They gazed with astonishment at the plowman who tore up more ground in a day than their clamshells could scrape up in a month. They looked with awe on the windmills, as they whisked around in the air, biting the corn into meal.

And while they wondered over the many inventions, and gazed wistfully at the strange things they could not understand, there must have been some who were wise enough to see how it all would end.