American History Stories—Volume I - Mara L. Pratt

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Long Ago

Many, many years ago, O, so many that I fear you could not count them even, this country in which we live was one vast expanse of woodland and fields, mountains and swamps.

There were no cities, no villages, not even a single house to break the view across the wild fields.

The whole country looked as it does now in those places which have not yet been built up.

Did you ever stand on a high hill and look off across the country where not one house was to be seen? How broad the fields looked and how strange it was to see the sky dipping down and seeming to rest upon the hills and trees away off at the horizon line! Well, that is the way it looked to the little boys and girls here so many years before the white people came to this country.

We do not know very much about these little boys and girls, and their fathers and mothers; for they knew nothing about writing, and so left no books to tell us about themselves.

We know that they used to live in tents, which they called wigwams; that they called the women squaws, and the baby boys and girls papooses; and that they were all called Indians by the white men.

These Indian people, according to our ideas, were very rude and wild. The fathers spent their time in hunting and fishing. The mothers stayed about the tents, kept the fires going, tilled the ground, raised the corn, cooked the food, such as it was, and loved their children just as mothers do the world over.

The little boys and girls had no schools, no books, no toys to keep them busy; so they spent their time playing about the tent or learning to fish and hunt and build canoes.

Perhaps you think they had lovely times with nothing to do; but I am afraid they sometimes had very hard times too.

If I were to tell you the way the tribes of Indians used to pounce down upon their homes, and slay the fathers, burn the mothers, and steal the children; and the way the children used to huddle into their tents during the cold, cold winters, I think you would not envy them at all.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

Early Discoveries

Little indeed did the people of Europe know of this country across the water or of the strange copper-colored people living here.

Lately there has been raised in Boston a monument in memory of Lief, the brave Northman or Norseman, who in the year 1000 sailed from his home in Iceland and came to the coast of America.

The vessel in which this Norseman came was odd-looking enough. Sometimes it moved along by the aid of its sails, sometimes each man would take an oar and so help it to move over the water.

The first land these hardy Norsemen found was flat and stony near the sea; but inland high mountains could be seen from the shore. This was Newfoundland. Then on the Norsemen sailed farther south, pleased with the warmth of the sun and the green trees, the song birds and the rich fruits. At one place, supposed to be on the shores of Massachusetts or Rhode Island, one of their company found such delicious wild grapes and in such abundance that Lief gave to the country the name of Vinland.

So delightful was the climate and so rich the fruits that the little band built huts and planned to spend the winter in the beautiful Vinland. It was all very strange to them, the swiftly changing day and night; for in their own land they had only one long day and one long night in a year.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Spring came, and Lief hastened back to Iceland to tell of the wonderful new land. Other Norsemen came, and, later still, a Norwegian nobleman with his beautiful young wife, Gudfrida. A colony was formed and the people lived very happily here for three years or more.

Then for some reason the colony died out, and little is known of them except what has been found in old chronicles in Iceland.

In Newport, Rhode Island, is a strange old tower which was once believed to have been built by these Norsemen. Certainly it is old enough and strange enough; but as to the true story of the Norsemen in America, I suppose we shall never know it.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


They were a brave, sturdy people and very fond of adventures. No people were ever so brave upon the sea as these Norsemen, and it is a great pity we do not know all about them.

These Northmen were the only Europeans who ever ventured far away from home. The people of the southern counties of Europe would look out across the sea and wonder; but they dared not venture out a great ways upon the ocean.

In fact, the ships in those days were small and frail, hardly more sea-worthy than a simple pleasure yacht to-day; and therefore very little had been learned of the oceans.

"There is," sailors of southern Europe would sometimes say, "an island far out at sea,—a beautiful sunny island with rich fruits and beautiful flowers and great purple mountains. Rich gems and gold and silver sparkle about its shores, and in the centre on a gentle slope of ground stands the palace of the sea-god."

But although the southern sailors talked of it and the poets sang of it, no one had ever seen this land. Sometimes on a clear day, standing upon the shores and looking away out to where the sky seemed to dip down and meet the earth, some imaginative person would think he saw the island, and would call to his companions; but before they could come, behold, it always disappeared.

There was living at this time a good man whom the people called Saint Brandon. He was always trying to help others to do what to him seemed right and good; and when he heard of this island, he with another good priest sailed away towards it, hoping to find an opportunity to help the people who might be living there.

He never found the island, however—the Atlantis, as it was called, but he did find, so he said, another island, afterwards called the island of St. Brandon. But the wonderful part of the story is that even this island could never again be found. Whether St. Brandon was fond, like the other adventurers of his day, of telling a big story, or whether he did honestly find an island which, by and by, sank below the level of the water, as sea-islands sometimes do sink, no one could ever tell.

Once in the history of Spain there was a terrible war between the Moors and the Spaniards. Seven Spanish bishops, pursued by these Moors, took to their ships and sailed out upon the sea. "Better by far drown than be overtaken by our cruel foe," said they; and they sailed out into the great sea, beyond all sight of land, into the very sunset, so they said.

These bishops came at last upon an island,—a beautiful sunny island, rich in fruit and flowers and the most wonderful trees.

Here they built seven cities, each bishop placing himself at the head of his own city and governing such natives as lived in his part of the island.

By and by, when the cities were prosperous, the seven bishops returned to Spain and told of their wonderful discovery. Strange to say, however, no one was ever able again to find this island; and no one has ever found it yet.

Of one other island we must speak—and that is the island of Bimini. This island was not only rich and beautiful, but there was upon it a fountain of sparkling water whose waters could restore youth and strength to the weakest and oldest of men.

Such an island as that was certainly well worth searching for; and, in 1512, long after Columbus had sailed to the new world, an old man, Ponce de Leon, sailed away in search of this wonderful "Fountain of Youth."

Remember this was the childhood of the modern world, a time when wise old men and women would listen to stories that to-day only a baby could be made to believe. It does not seem possible that they believed these tales; yet they must really have thought them true, for the books they made in those days tell us so. And who knows, after all, that the things we believe to-day may not, hundreds of years later, seem just as strange to the people who will be living then.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

Christopher Columbus


[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt
all these stories, foolish as they may seem, proved in the end a good thing. They kept the people wide awake, and on the look out for any new discovery far away upon the mysterious ocean.

By and by, there was born in the little village of Genoa, Italy, a baby boy who was destined to do more than guess and dream about the land beyond the sea. He was really to go and explore it and bring back proofs of its existence.

This baby boy, as every American school-child knows, was Christopher Columbus, the man whom now we are proud to honor as the discoverer of America.

Living as he did in this little sea-port town, he was generally, when not at school, to be found standing about the wharves watching the great ships come in, and listening to the marvellous stories that the sailors told.

Genoa at this time was a very rich town, and it sent ships to all parts of the known world. The little boy, eagerly drinking in all the wonderful stories the sailors were so fond of telling, thus learned much of the far away countries—much that was true and much also that was purely imaginary.

"I shall be a sailor!" he would say to himself as he listened; and then, like all other small lads, he longed to grow big and strong and old. "When I'm a man, I shall be a sailor! When I'm a man I shall go to all these wonderful countries and gather these beautiful things and bring home ships loaded with silver and gold."

The parents of Columbus were poor people. His father was a wool comber; but they were wise, and they tried to give their boy a good education. He was taught to read and write; and when, by and by, he was old enough to know what he should most enjoy, his father sent him away to a school where he could study arithmetic and drawing and geography.

To Columbus there was no study so fascinating as geography. He had listened eagerly to the sailors' stories in his very early boyhood; and so now he eagerly devoured every book and drank in every story he could find about the wonderful countries so far away.

And he would say to himself, "I must be a sailor! I must be a sailor!"

One day his good father said to him, "My boy, I have watched you for a long time; and since you have made up your mind to be a sailor, and since you like best those studies that have to do with navigation, I am willing to send you to the University of Pavia where, I am told, geography, astronomy, map-drawing and navigation are wisely taught."

Columbus was a happy boy, you may be sure. "Now indeed I may be a sailor!" cried he—"A wise one! An explorer and a discoverer perhaps!" And seizing a book, he ran down to the wharf to watch the ships and dream of the happy time when he should have learned all the wonders of navigation and be able to guide for himself one of these great ships.

Columbus improved every hour of his term at the University, learning so fast and showing so much eager interest and real thoughtfulness, that the teachers were very proud of him and predicted a great future for their pupil. But even they had little idea of how great that future was to be.

Columbus was only fourteen years old when he made his first voyage out upon the great blue sea with some traders bound for the East Indies. From that time on his life was like that of all sailors, I suppose, full of adventures, narrow escapes, and marvellous experiences.

When he was thirty-five years old he went to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. He was a quiet, dignified, thoughtful man now—his hair already white,—and here and there on his face were lines of care and trouble. For Columbus' life had not been an easy one; neither had he been satisfied to drift along contented with whatever he had been taught, whatever he had heard and read.

The stories of the great flat earth borne upon the back of an elephant or upon the shoulders of a great giant, the tales of the sea-gods and wind-gods,—all of which were believed in those early days,—had long since ceased to amuse or satisfy him. "They are not reasonable," he would say to himself. "They are like the stories one tells little children. There must be something different from all this."

And so, year after year, Columbus pondered and pondered upon these questions. He read every account of travels, every story of adventure, every theory of the earth's size and shape that he could find. But none satisfied him. "It's easy enough to guess and to guess about these things," he would say; "but there must be some natural law, some real fact, that, if discovered, would give us the truth."

On account of the smallness of the ships, together with the superstitious fears the sailors had of the unknown sea with its angry and revengeful gods, no one had ever sailed very far out upon the ocean, and so had little thought of what might be found far out beyond the horizon.

"There may be land away out there," Columbus would say; "at any rate, I am convinced that this earth is round, and that by sailing straight out to the westward, we should come to the East Indies, a much easier and more speedy route than we now have."

"Hear him! hear him!" the people would say. "He is crazy! he dares say the earth is round, when we and all our ancestors before us have known  that the earth is flat." "Ha, ha," laughed others; "let him sail westward as far as he pleases. When he has reached the end of the great sea and the sea-gods have cast him over, then he will learn how foolish he is, and Portugal will be well rid of him!"

But John II., then King of Portugal, was convinced that these notions of Columbus, as the people were pleased to call them, were not so absurd as they seemed. "The man knows what he is talking about, I believe," said he; "I will get his plans from him, pretend to favor them, pretend to be willing to aid him—then—then—well, we'll see who will have the honor of the first expedition, Columbus, the Genoese wool-comber's son, or John II., King of Portugal!"

And so this mean king led Columbus on to tell his plans and his reasons for believing the earth to be round. The king was wise enough to see that there was sound common sense and reason in these plans. Then when he had learned all, and had obtained the maps and charts which Columbus had made, he secretly sent out a vessel and ordered the captain to follow closely the route Columbus had marked out.

This was a mean trick, and I am glad, and you will be, that it did not succeed. No sooner was the vessel out of sight of land than the ignorant captain and the superstitious sailors began to be frightened.

"We are surely sailing off the edge of the earth!" cried they. "What shall we do when the sea-gods learn that we have dared come out of our home into their sacred waters!"

Then a great storm arose; the waves rolled and tumbled and broke above them mountains high. The thunder rumbled and the lightning flashed. Terror-stricken, the sailors turned the vessel homeward. "The gods are angry with us! They are punishing us for our boldness!" cried the ignorant sailors.

A more frightened and miserable crew never sailed back into Lisbon harbor than this one sent out by King John II.

And when Columbus heard of it, angry and disgusted with the meanness of the king, he would have no further talk with him; but, taking his little son Diego with him, he left the country and went to Spain.

Friendless and without money, Columbus with the little Diego travelled from place to place, always seeking some one who would understand and help him to an audience with the king or queen of Spain. If only somewhere a person of wealth could be found who would fit out for him a fleet, Columbus had not a doubt or a fear but that he could return with news of new lands or, at least, of a short route to India.

Years and years rolled by; and Columbus had gained nothing but a world-wide name of being a fool or an insane man. Men sneered at him, boys hooted at him in the street. Surely it was a brave man who could endure all this for the sake of right. But it is always so; as you grow older and read larger histories than these, you will find that seldom has a great man or woman brought to the world any great new truth, that ignorant and superstitious people did not scoff at it and make the life of the brave discoverer one of wretchedness and persecution.

"I will go to France," said Columbus at last, "and see if I can get the help of the French king." And he started with his little son, Diego, to walk the long distance.

One day, while on the road, Columbus stopped at the gate of a great gray convent in the town of Palos and asked for food.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


As the gate-man brought them bread, one of the monks passed by. Struck with the dignity and the courteous, refined appearance of Columbus, he said to himself, "Whom have we here? This is no ordinary beggar. I will speak with him."

So, going up to Columbus, he saluted him kindly and asked him to stop and rest. Glad enough were both Columbus and Diego to accept this hospitality, and together they entered the great halls of the convent.

Now the monk was a man of great learning for those days. More than that, he was a man who thought and who was always ready to accept any new theories, providing they seemed reasonable and honest proofs of their truth could be presented with them.

The intelligence and conversation of Columbus attracted the monk at once. "This man knows what he is talking about," thought he. "Surely I must bring him to Queen Isabella. She, if any one, will give him patient and intelligent hearing."

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


At that time the Spanish king and queen were busy with a great war against the Moors, so that it was a long time before either could listen to Columbus; but after long weeks of delay, he was summoned before them. There, before the king and queen and a large body of "wise men," as they called themselves, Columbus told his story.

All listened attentively. It was like a wonderful dream or a grand fairy story; and people were very fond of wonder stories of any kind in those days. But when the "wise men" were asked their opinion of the story as one at all likely to be true, they roared with laughter.

"The earth round!" cried they. "It is absurd! If a fleet were sent out upon the ocean it would certainly sail over the edge and fall down—down into unknown space."

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


"And if the earth were  round," said others, "and if this crazy man could sail down and stand upon his head on the other side of the sphere, how, pray, could he ever get back again? Has he learned to sail up hill?"

This was indeed unanswerable, so they all thought. Of course he could not, and of course he was a fool to think of such a thing. And so Columbus was sent away in disgrace, while the "wise men" entertained their friends for days after with the absurd story the crazy Genoese had told them.

"I will go to France," said Columbus to the good monk, when, discouraged and weary at heart he returned to the convent with the story of his defeat. "There is no hope for me in Spain."

"Wait, wait," said the monk. "I myself will go to the queen. I cannot bear that this honor should pass into the hands of the French. I will go to Isabella and beg her again to give you a hearing."

And so it was that once more Columbus waited and was led at last into the presence of the only one in all Spain who seemed to be kind enough at heart and to be far sighted enough to know that Columbus was neither foolish nor crazy.

After long hesitation—for it was not an easy matter in those days to fit out a fleet, nor was it a politic thing for Isabella to move in opposition to all the advice of her countrymen, she sent this word to Columbus: "I will undertake this enterprise for my own kingdom of Castile; and I will pledge my jewels, if need be, to raise the funds."

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


The Voyage

With Isabella's aid and a little money which Columbus himself had, three ships were fitted out. These were not tall, stout ships such as you see lying at our wharves with their broad sails, huge wooden sides and wide decks. They were small, frail craft, not so large as those you may see to-day sailing up and down rivers and small lakes.

On Friday, August 3, 1492, three small vessels, the Santa Maria, the Pinta and the Nina with twenty men on board set sail from Spain.

They sailed for weeks across the unknown waters, keeping all the time to the west, until at last the sailors began to be frightened at the thought of their distance from home. They threatened to throw Columbus overboard if he did not turn back; and at length Columbus promised them that if they did not see land in three days he would return to Spain. You can imagine how anxious Columbus must have been during those three days. He felt that land was near, although he could not prove it to the sailors. To turn back now would have been a terrible disappointment.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

But fortunately for Columbus signs of land began to appear. Birds came and rested on the masts of their ships; a large branch of a tree floated by; and even the dullest sailor could not fail to believe these signs.

At last, one morning at daybreak, the cry of "Land! Land!" was heard from the foremost ship; and in a few hours more they reached the shores of a small island, which they called San Salvador.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


When Columbus set foot upon the dry land, he at once set up the Spanish flag and took possession in the name of Spain. A few days later they set sail for a larger island in the distance, and safely anchored in one of its harbors. They named this island Hispaniola, but it is now called Hayti. A beautiful island it proved to be, for the climate was soft and mild; there was an abundance of rich fruit, and there were many strange trees and flowers.

When the natives saw the white sails of the vessels, they rushed down to the shores, yelling with astonishment, for they never had seen a ship before, and of course were terribly frightened. Some thought they were great birds with white wings, some thought the "Great Spirit" had come. They were glad to see Columbus and his men, and they said to them in their strange language, "Welcome, white men." And from that time they were very kind to Columbus and his men, and helped them not a little in exploring the island and in hunting for food. Columbus at first treated them kindly; and it would have been well had all white men continued to do so.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

Columbus, however, soon returned to Spain, and told of his great discovery and of the wonderful copper-colored people, some of whom he had brought back with him, with their straight black hair and head-dresses of feathers and faces streaked with paint. All Spain was filled with wonder; and it was not long before shiploads of men were sent over to the new country; so that very soon the island was settled by Spanish people.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


I wish that I could tell you that Spain was so proud of Columbus and so grateful to him for his gift that he was ever after treated with great honor; that he never again wanted for anything which money and favor could buy; and that he died peacefully at last, loved and honored by all. This is certainly what you might expect to hear of so brave a man.

But there were jealous, envious men in Spain, who plotted against Columbus; and when, a few years later, he went again to the islands he had discovered, he was seized by one of these Spaniards who had been sent out to govern the colony which had settled there, was put into chains and sent back a prisoner to Spain.

When they heard of this cruel treatment, the people of Spain were indignant, and insisted that he be restored to his rights. The queen is said to have been moved to tears by his story.

Columbus made two more voyages of discovery, but sickness and disappointment had undermined his health, and he died shortly after at Valladolid, on the 20th of May, 1506.

Other Great Explorers

But if Columbus discovered America, how did it happen that the country was named America? It certainly seems as if Columbia would have been a better and more fitting title for it, and it would have been but fair to Columbus, after all he had borne, to have had his name remembered in naming the country.

But people were not very careful in those days about being "fair" to anybody or anything; and so, when in 1497 Americus Vespucius made a voyage to the new world and on his return talked much of the great continent he had seen, and wrote a diary about it, people began speaking of this new world as the country of Americus Vespucius; by and by they called it America; and, since Columbus was not the man to whine at injustice, and Americus Vespucius did not seem to object to the honor conferred upon him, it soon became customary throughout Europe to speak of the new world as America.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Americus Vespucius made another voyage a few years later, and this time directing his course farther south, he came upon the continent of South America. He sailed along the coast for several thousand leagues, very carefully noting all changes in the soil, the climate, and even in the stars.

"In these southern skies," reported he, "there is a constellation never seen by us,—a group of four bright stars arranged in the shape of a cross. One cannot imagine how strange these southern heavens look with this great central figure of four bright stars."

The winds grew colder and colder as they sailed along. The nights were fifteen hours long. Before them lay a great, rocky, ice-bound coast. "Let us return," begged the superstitious sailors; "we must be nearing the land of perpetual cold and darkness and we shall all be caught in the great fields of ice and be frozen to death."

So Americus turned his vessel homeward, glad and eager to tell of his discovery of the "Land of the Southern Cross," and of the marvellous sights he had seen. All Europe rang with praises of the explorer. His writings were passed from one to another, and everybody talked about them; Americus Vespucius, and not Columbus, was now the hero of the hour.

But during all these years the Spaniards had been sending over colonists, until now there were flourishing Spanish towns on those islands round about where Columbus had first landed. The Spanish had begun to be very cruel to the poor Indians, and the Indians were not slow to see that it was an unlucky day for them when the great white ships of Columbus came to their shores.

About twenty years after the landing of Columbus, Balboa came over with a small fleet on a voyage of discovery. A few years later Balboa helped to found a colony on the Isthmus of Panama, and was made its governor. He was very angry because the Spaniards treated the Indians so unjustly; and ordered that no man of his colony should treat them as the other settlers had done.

The poor Indians, who had suffered so much from the Spaniards, were very glad to find these new comers so kind to them; and when they found that the great desire of Balboa was for gold, a chief sent him a large box full of the precious metal as a peace offering.

No sooner, however, had Balboa opened the box, than the men all began quarreling over it, snarling and fighting each other like fierce dogs. The Indian chief, looking with scorn upon their greedy wrangle, said, "Shame upon you, Christians! There is a land not far away where there is gold enough for all."

Balboa and his men cared very little for the Indian's disgust, but began at once to beg him to lead them to this land of gold.

One bright morning very soon after, they started toward a ridge of mountain land beyond which, so the Indian said, lay a great ocean and also the land of gold. Balboa, anxious to see this great ocean first, left his men on the side of the ridge and climbed to its top alone. There lay spread out before him, rolling and sparkling so peacefully, the great Pacific ocean, never seen before by a white man. Calling his men to him, he descended the ridge and, arriving at the shore, took possession of the ocean in the name of Spain.

Since I have told you about Balboa and the new ocean, I must tell you about the first voyage around the world. A Portuguese named Magellan started out from Spain with a large fleet, hoping to find a way through this new continent by which he might sail to the Spice Islands. He sailed directly across the Atlantic to America, and looked all up and down the coast for an opening to the other ocean.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Finding there was none, he sailed down to the most southern point of South America, and after sailing around that point he came out into the new ocean. When he saw it first, it looked as it did when Balboa first saw it—smiling and peaceful. On account of its calm, sunny appearance, he named it at once the "Pacific," which means peaceful.

They saw some very strange people as they sailed along the coast of South America, who, so Magellan's men said, were ten and twelve feet tall. These people were unusually tall, but it is not very likely that they were quite as tall as the men said. Sailors in those days liked to tell very big stories, I think, just as they do now.

These natives of South America were as surprised to see the white men as the white men were to see them. The natives could not understand how such little men could make such big ships move; and they thought the boats must be the babies of the ships.

They pulled from the ground, and gave to the white men to eat, something which Magellan and his men said looked like turnips and tasted like chestnuts. The sailors ate them eagerly without cooking, and carried some of them home to Spain as great curiosities. Do you guess what they were? Nothing but common potatoes, which are eaten now everywhere, but which then were only known to the natives of America.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


But it was not curiosities nor even gold and silver that Magellan most desired to find. Like most of the explorers, including Columbus himself, he was in search of a short route to the East Indies. And as he sailed down the Atlantic coast, he hoped at every little bend in the shore to find himself able to steer his ship directly west towards the Indies. So onward he sailed, till as we said, he finally reached the southern end of South America, passed through the Straits of Magellan—as they were afterwards called—and came into the Pacific. Here was another route to India, that was sure. But, unfortunately, it was not another but a shorter route the European merchants wanted. However, Magellan sailed straight across the new ocean as far as the Philippine Islands, meaning to return to Spain by the old route around Africa.

He had five ships when he set out from Spain, but one of these had been lost while sailing down the Atlantic coast of South America. When he entered the straits the captain of another vessel, discouraged by the distance before him, turned and went back to Spain. With three ships then, Magellan crossed the Pacific. Then, at the Philippine Islands, two more ships were lost in battles with the natives, and he himself was killed. Only one ship—the Victoria—with but eighteen men, and those sick and half starved, was able to make its way back to Spain to tell the story of the first voyage around the world.

English Explorers

The Cabots

But what was England about all this time? No more then, than now, was she the nation to sit quietly by and see another country carry off a prize.

England was soon awake to the possibilities of the new world. She, too, sent out explorers and set up her claims of possession. Among those who set forth were John Cabot and his son, Sebastian, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir Walter Raleigh.

It was in 1497 that the Cabots set sail. Sebastian Cabot had lived in his boyhood days in Venice, the beautiful city built so many years ago on little islands off the coast of Italy. The streets of this city are water, and the people ride up and down the streets in boats called gondolas, just as in our cities we ride up and down the streets in carriages.

It must have been here that Sebastian grew to love the sea; for to the Venetian boy a gondola is what a bicycle is to you. Sebastian used often to say, "I think sometimes I am more at home on the water than I am on land; and to go back to my boat is the rest to me that going on land is to other men."

Now, when reports of the discoveries of Columbus began to attract the English people, the Cabots were inspired with a new zeal for exploration; and, in 1497, fitting out the good ship "Matthew," away they went, the English king, Henry VII., having given them permission to sail to all parts of the seas and countries of the East and to take possession of all lands they might visit. Generous king indeed, to give away lands that he had never seen and that he was by no means sure were on the face of the globe!

"We believe," said the Cabots, "that there is a shorter Northwest Passage by which we may sail to India, and we will go in search of it."

Ah, that Northwest Passage! It has proved a sort of Will-o-the-Wisp to sailors ever since; for every now and then, all along the years since 1497, some adventurous seaman has thought he was the man born to find the wonderful short route. But, alas, it was never found, and the fate of the sailors has always been much the same. If they have lived to return at all, it has always been with the same sad story of wretched suffering from starvation and cold.

The Cabots met with little success on this first voyage, but in the following year, 1498, Sebastian Cabot, for his father was now dead, sailed out for the second time on a voyage of discovery, this time full of courage. "We only learned our way about the strange waters on our first voyage," said he, "but this time we shall bring back reports of discovery."

Sailing off towards Iceland, he went on towards Labrador. Here he reports that he passed that island and found the sea so full of codfish as "truly to hinder the sailing of the ships." Salmon, too, came swimming down the rivers in enormous numbers, and bears flocked at the water sides to catch and eat them. There were no fishery bills in those days, and the American bears and the English sailors fished side by side with not a thought of quarreling.

Sailing on southward, Cabot discovered, to his great astonishment, that the coast was continuous for miles and miles, from Labrador to Florida!

"This is not India," said he, "it is a continent, a New Found Land, lying somewhere between Europe and India." And so, while we remember that it was Columbus' daring that set all this zeal for search into motion and brought about all these wonderful discoveries and opened up to Europe the grand New World, let us give to the Cabots the lesser honor—but the honor due them—of being the first to bring back the report that out beyond the waters lay a new continent—a New Found Land.

Sir Francis Drake

But of all the gay, brave knights of Queen Elizabeth's court, none was so gay and brave as Sir Francis Drake!

Like Sebastian Cabot, Drake had, as a boy, been as much at home on the water as on land. Indeed, perhaps it would be the whole truth to say this time that the boy was entirely at home on the water, inasmuch as his father had, when Francis was quite a little lad, moved his whole family, twelve children in all—into an old hull of a ship which lay wrecked off the coast of Kent. There they lived year after year—a jolly crew you may be sure—until, one by one, the boys grew up and pushed off for themselves to join some cruising party up and down the coast.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


In all the years since Columbus had discovered America,—for it was now 1577—the Spaniards had been pushing on across the new continent and up and down the coast, until there seemed a fair prospect of their gaining possession of the whole of the new world.

More than this, the Spanish navy, growing stronger and stronger as the years rolled on, had for some time been making things generally disagreeable to the vessels of all other nations, even when out upon mid-ocean.

"Does Spain propose to lay claim to the very waters of the ocean?" said Queen Elizabeth.

"We shall see," answered Sir Francis, gallantly. And he did see. Sailing away from England amid the cheers of his countrymen, loaded down with honors and buoyed up with promises of future glory on his return, Sir Francis Drake set gaily forth to teach the Spaniards a lesson—to explore new coasts and conquer new countries should opportunity present,—but above all to teach the Spaniards a lesson.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


In 1572, he started for the West Indies, plundering every Spanish vessel he met on the way. He destroyed one whole Spanish town on one of the islands, and even crossed overland with his men the Isthmus of Panama, destroying Spanish shipping on the other side. From the top of a tree, which he climbed while on the Isthmus, he obtained his first view of the Pacific, and resolved, he said, "to sail an English vessel in those seas." And in a very few years he made good his word. Five years later, in 1577, while sailing down the coast of South America, driven blindly on by storm and wind, the Golden Hind, Drake's ship, reached one morning a point of high rocky land, the meeting place of two great oceans—the extreme southern point of South America—Cape Horn.

" 'Tis an ill wind that blows nobody any good," said Sir Francis (or at least, he might have said it) as he looked with surprise upon the strange view before him, "let us sail up this western coast."

At one place where they landed for water, they found a Spaniard asleep, thirteen bars of silver worth four thousand ducats, lying by his side. "We took the silver," said Sir Francis dryly, when he told his story to the Queen, "and left the man."

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


At another place they saw a Spaniard driving eight sheep to Peru. Across the back of each sheep were two bags of silver. Without so much as an "if you please," Sir Francis' men took the silver—for they had come, you know, "to teach the Spaniards a lesson."

Again, entering the harbor at Callao, where seventeen Spanish ships loaded with treasure lay at anchor, the Englishmen took possession of all the treasure and sailed away as gaily as mischievous school-boys.

So they went on up the coast, taking the Spaniards everywhere by surprise.

"Very likely," said this daring young captain, "since the two great oceans meet at the southern extremity of this great new land, they will also meet at the northern extremity. We will sail on northward around that point out into the Atlantic to our English coast."

"A very pretty little trip," thought all the crew; especially as, for the best of reasons, anything would probably be pleasanter than sailing back again through Spanish waters and past Spanish forts.

So on they went up the coast, enjoying everything and looking hopefully for the northern point. But it grew so very cold and the days grew so short and the ice was so threatening, they were forced to turn back and take their chances among the Spaniards, who by this time were pretty sure to have recovered from their surprise and to be on the lookout for the returning vessel.

"But what need of sailing around Cape Horn?" said Drake. "We can sail far out into these Western waters, and, the earth being round, we can sail through the Indian sea, around the Cape of Good Hope, up the European coast."

And this he did, reaching England November 3rd, 1580,—the first Englishman to sail around the world! How the church bells rang out as the ship entered the harbor! how the guns thundered and how the people cheered!

And Queen Elizabeth herself, delighted indeed at his success, conferred the honor of knighthood upon him, gave him the title of Sir Francis, and presented him with a coat of arms—a ship on a globe.

The Golden Hind  she ordered to be lodged in the Deptford dock as a monument to the courage and daring of the brave sailor. For years it stood there; and when its timbers began to decay, a chair was made from it and presented to the University of Oxford. And in the college building it still stands, as grand and as important as ever, ready to tell always its wonderful history.

Sir Walter Raleigh

There was another gallant Englishman who made a great name for himself upon the sea.

Did you ever hear of the young Englishman who, when one day Queen Elizabeth, taking her daily walk, came to a muddy place in the road, threw down his rich plush coat, and with a profound bow begged her Queenship to do him the honor to cross upon it?

Well, that young Englishman was the Sir Walter Raleigh of whom we hear in the stories of the earliest discoveries.

Sir Walter had made a voyage with his older brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who had tried again and again to find the Northwest Passage of which the Cabots so long before had talked and written.

And now a time had come when England was very anxious to get a colony founded in North America before the Spanish should take possession of the whole country.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Several attempts were made, but none of them were successful. One colony, called in history "The Lost Colony," was made up of a hundred families. They settled upon the beautiful island of Roanoke in Albemarle Sound, Virginia.

When their rough houses were built and the people had planted their fields and seemed comfortable and prosperous, their governor, John Whyte, returned to England to report their success and to bring back provisions for the colony.

The governor did not like to leave the colony, for there were hostile Indians round about. His people depended on him for guidance, and then, too, there was a little baby girl, his grand-daughter—little Virginia Dare, the first English baby born on American soil—who had a wonderful hold on the heart-strings of the rough old governor, and made him wish that he might stay there on the beautiful island to protect her from all danger.

But the colonists needed provisions, so the brave governor sailed away.

On reaching England he found the country in such commotion and the queen so busy with the war going on between Spain and England, that it was three long years before he could get together the provisions and the help he needed to carry back to the little colony.

When at last he did set sail, it seemed to him that the ocean must have grown thousands and thousands of miles wider, the voyage was so long and he was so anxious about the little colony and so eager to see the little baby colonist.

At last the vessel neared the island. Eagerly Governor Whyte looked up and down the shores for some sign of welcome. But only the stillness and the gloom of the forest greeted him. Not a sign of life. The huts were deserted, not a sound was to be heard save the cry of the birds and the moaning of the trees.

On a tree were cut the letters, CROATAN. What did that mean? Was it the name of some place to which the colonists had moved? No one knew. No one ever knew; and not one trace of this lost colony, not one trace of the little English baby, Virginia Dare, has been found to this day.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


It was at this time that many reports came of the enormous amounts of gold to be found in Guiana. "Why," said one adventurer, "it lies in lumps about the streets; and in the forests it lies like fallen trees across one's path."

"England must have some of that gold. She needs it to carry on the war," said Raleigh. "It will never do to let Spain capture it all." And so he set forth for the wonderful gold country. Of course, he found no such quantities of gold, but he explored the rivers and brought home most valuable reports of the new world.

Later, in a great battle with the Spanish vessels, Raleigh so contrived to set his own vessel across a narrow channel that the whole Spanish fleet was crippled, and had no choice but to blow up their own vessels or see them captured by Raleigh. This victory was a terrible blow to the Spanish power on the sea. Never again did she dare defy the powers of other countries as she had done, or proudly proclaim herself "mistress" of the seas." From that day the power of Spain was broken.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Queen Elizabeth was proud indeed of her brave knight, and all England rang with praises of their bold deliverer.

But, by and by, the Queen died. King James of Scotland became King of England. Now the skies grew black indeed for Sir Walter. King James hated him, was jealous of him, and felt he was a man to be feared. Accordingly he had him shut up in prison, and later condemned him to death. It is a sad, cruel story and we will not repeat it here. Only you may be sure, good, brave man that Sir Walter was, that he died nobly; and that, as the years rolled on, the world grew more and more to appreciate and honor him.

The French, too, and the Hollanders were at this same time sending explorers across the sea to find a short route to India. That was how it happened that Jacques Cartier discovered the mouth of the St. Lawrence, and Henrick Hudson the mouth of the Hudson. Cartier's heart beat fast when he found this great river, and saw it led directly west. Hudson, too, though his river ran so far to the north, still hoped it might somewhere turn towards the west. For, you see, the people of those days did not yet realize that they had discovered a new continent thousands of miles wide, and that no river or system of rivers could extend from shore to shore.

This idea of a vast country came to the people slowly; for first, when Columbus discovered the island of Hispaniola, the people thought of this new western land as merely a series of islands. Then, when Balboa crossed the Isthmus of Panama, he reported the new land as only a narrow strip. But, gradually, when Magellan sailed so far south and Cartier so far north, the people began to realize that the new land was not an island nor even a narrow strip of land. And so the truth of the discovery grew, until, by and by, it was known that great continents had been discovered—continents as large as all Europe and Asia put together. And they named these two great continents North America and South America.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

The Colonies

I am going to ask you now to take a long trip with me, out of the period of discoveries over into the period of the colonies. You must not imagine that these few men I have told you about made all the discoveries in the new America.

There were many more, so many, that I think you might read about them every day for a whole year, and then not read the half. Hundreds and hundreds of men had been sent over by England, France, Spain, and many other European countries. These men had wandered about the country, daring much and suffering much, sometimes fighting and killing the Indians, and sometimes getting killed themselves.

Sometimes a band of these men would come over, intending to build towns and live here together, as they had lived in their old homes in Europe; but for a long time something would always happen to prevent their success. Often the men grew homesick, or they grew lazy; or, worse still, the Indians who had now good reason to hate the pale-faces, as they called the white men, would fall upon them and scalp them and slay them with their tomahawks.

But in spite of all the efforts of the Indians the pale-face colonies finally succeeded, and in due time there came to be little towns up and down the sea-coast.

It was as early as 1535 that the French came over to Florida, and built two forts and made a settlement of importance. For some time these French people lived in their settlement, happy and prosperous. But one day some Spanish vessels arrived, and claiming the country because they had first discovered it, they took possession of the French settlement, and massacred the people. There they built a fort for themselves, and made plans for building a town. This they did, and a successful town it proved; for it still stands—the old fort and all—at St. Augustine in Florida. And now people go to visit it, and wander about the old fort, and up and down the quaint narrow streets, and say, "This is the oldest town in America!"

It was not until 1607, however, that settlement by the English began in real earnest. At that time a number of men, having permission from the English government to come to America and found a colony, set sail from London. They reached the mouth of a river in Virginia, which they named the James, in honor of their English king. The town they began to build they named Jamestown.

One of the leading men of this company was John Smith. He was a very wise and able man, and seemed always to do the right thing at just the right time.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


The story of his life is as interesting as a novel. If there were time I would tell you some of his strange adventures at sea and on the battlefield.

One adventure of his in Jamestown colony will show you what a brave man he was, and how a little Indian girl saved his life. John Smith had started up the river on an exploring expedition. Some Indians had been watching him, and when Smith left his boat they seized it, scalped the men he had left with it, and then ran to overtake Smith himself.

When he saw them coming he turned and fought them so furiously that, although there were many of them, they had much trouble to secure him. They led him to their camp. Here he entertained them by showing them his compass, and told them how the needle always turned to the north. This amused the Indians so much that they allowed him to live some weeks in peace. They decided at last that he was too wise, and therefore dangerous to have about; and that the sooner he was killed the safer it would be for them. So, when they had held a long council, and had performed some wonderful war dances around him, they led him forth to be killed.

Poor Smith could see no way of escape; and, as he used to tell afterwards, he was more frightened than he had been when in his younger days he was thrown overboard from a ship or when he fought the Turks.

He was brought out, bound hand and foot, and a savage had already raised his war-club to dash out his brains, when just then up rushed little Pocahontas, the daughter of the great Indian Chief, Powhatan, threw her arms around John Smith's neck, and begged the chief to spare his life. Strange to say, the cruel old chief seemed moved by the child's pleading, and the prisoner was released, and even allowed to return to Jamestown.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

(From an Old Print)

For some time John Smith remained in the little white settlement, guiding the affairs of the colony. As long as he was there all went well, for Smith was a very wise man, and not afraid to work hard with the other men in making the settlement a pleasant home. At last, however, having met with a severe injury, he was obliged to return for a time to England.

You would suppose that after he was gone the men would have been wise enough to keep on tilling the ground and building their houses. But, instead, when John Smith returned to Jamestown he found the men quarreling among themselves. They had used up the provisions and were almost starving. Had Smith not returned just when he did, I fear they would have given up the colony and gone back to England. But Smith worked hard to save Jamestown; and for a time he prevailed upon the men to stop their foolish quarreling, and to go to work to build up the colony and protect it from the Indians.

Later he made many voyages along the American coast, exploring the shores as far as Canada.

The Indians, however, were never quite friendly; and after years and years of continual quarreling with them, the Jamestown colonists determined to have peace in some way. One of them, Captain Argall, thought it would be a good plan to steal Pocahontas, and then send word to the Indians that they would do her no harm so long as the colony was not troubled. Pocahontas was now a young woman nearly nineteen years old and was said to be very beautiful. At any rate, soon after coming to the colony she won the heart of a young Englishman named John Rolfe, and he took her to his old home in England.

Pocahontas was received in England with much honor, and came to be greatly loved by all who knew her.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


It was Rolfe's plan to spend a few months in England and then to return to the colony in America, and make for himself and Pocahontas a home in which they hoped to live the rest of their lives. But Pocahontas began to fail in health. Probably the change from her free forest life to the close house life of an English city was more than she could bear. Day by day Pocahontas grew weaker and at last she died.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


She left a little baby boy who was as beautiful, it is said, as his mother had been. John Rolfe took the little one to America, and there he grew up in the colony. Some of the good families in Virginia to-day are proud to say that they are descendants from the little son of Pocahontas.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

Plymouth Colony

The next English colony was settled in Massachusetts. One stormy day in December, 1620, there sailed into Plymouth harbor a queer little vessel named the Mayflower. On board this little craft were a hundred brave men and women, who had come from England in order to escape "religious persecution." These are rather large words for young folks; but I think it better for you to learn them just here, because they seem, somehow, to belong to these particular people. Why, you will understand later.

Now, it seems rather cruel to leave these wanderers out in the cold storm; but we must for a few moments, while we hurry over to England to learn what had happened there to force these men and women across the ocean at this stormy time of the year.

Many years before, King Henry the Eighth of England had had a great quarrel with the Pope at Rome. The Pope, being the head of the Catholic Church, sent certain orders to King Henry; for all England at that time was Catholic, and always obeyed the Pope in every point. But King Henry had made up his mind that he would obey no one and that he would be the head of the Church himself. So he announced to his subjects that no longer were they to pay any attention to the Pope's orders, but that they were to obey him instead. And so came about the English Church.

This seemed a fearful thing to some of the people. They believed God would send some terrible punishment upon them. Still, there were very many people in England who were glad of the change, and who, therefore, took the king's side in the trouble that followed.

King Henry died before the people had all grown used to the change, and left the throne to his son Edward, who believed as his father had done and held to the English Church.

Edward died very soon after he came into power, and his sister Mary took the throne. Now, Mary was an earnest Catholic, and as you would suppose, began at once bringing back the priests and doing everything in her power to restore the old religion.

But Mary's reign, too, soon came to an end, and Queen Elizabeth took the throne. Elizabeth was as strong an English Church woman as Mary had been a Catholic; and so again the country was thrown into confusion; places of worship were destroyed; priests were displaced, and all who were Catholics were expected to join the English Church, just as in Mary's reign all who were of the English Church had been expected to turn Catholics.

Queen Elizabeth was followed by James I., the king, you remember, who so cruelly caused Sir Walter Raleigh to be put to death. James was meaner than any of the Kings or Queens who had gone before him, and persecuted all, Catholics or Protestants, who opposed his ideas.

But you will begin to wonder what all this has to do with the men and women we left in Cape Cod harbor. As you will see, it has everything to do with them.

During all this trouble there, a class of people had been rising in England who believed neither in the Catholic Church nor in the English Church as it was then.

These people dressed very strangely, and acted even more strangely. Now, it was the fashion in those days for gentlemen to wear their hair long, and to dress in very elegant clothes; but these people who hated both the Churches, dressed in the very plainest of clothes, wore their hair so short that they were nick-named, "Round Heads," would not allow music in their churches, would not have the old church service, and, in short, would have nothing but the very barest and plainest of everything.

These people were called Puritans, Round Heads, Separatists, and many other names by the English Church people, who looked upon them as fools and lunatics.

You may be sure the Puritans, or Separatists, did not have a very enjoyable time in England under King James.

At last, in 1608, a little band of Separatists, from Scrooby, in England, unable to bear their persecutions any longer, went over into Holland. There they lived happily enough, but they longed for a home of their own, where they could teach their own religion and make it the religion of the country.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


For this reason they went back to England, obtained permission to found a colony in the new world, and with their hearts full of hope and courage, started out—in the Mayflower and the Speedwell,—for the unknown land. The Speedwell, however, was obliged to put back into port because it was found to be unseaworthy. Thus it was that the Mayflower alone came into Cape Cod harbor.

You will often hear these Puritans, who came first to America, spoken of as Pilgrims, or the Pilgrim Fathers. This was a name given them because of their pilgrimages to Holland and to America in search of a home. Try to remember this,—these plain, honest, God-fearing people were all called Puritans in England, while the few who wandered about and finally settled in Plymouth were given the name of Pilgrims.

Let us go back to Cape Cod harbor now, and see what these Pilgrims have been doing all this time. It was one of those snowy, windy days that we, who live in the North Eastern States, expect to have now and then in the winter time. Not a pleasant sort of day to spend on the ocean even in the snuggest and warmest of vessels. Much less pleasant it must have been to these wanderers in their rudely built vessel, drifting about at the mercy of the wind and tide.

The Pilgrims had intended to land much farther south, where it was pleasanter and warmer; but the storm was so severe that the captain of the Mayflower said he must make port wherever he could.

I am afraid they were not over-pleased when their vessel came into Cape Cod harbor; for there they found only a sandy, desolate shore awaiting them; and, as it was in the dead of winter, you can imagine how cold and bare it looked. The trees were leafless, the ground was frozen, and the waters about the shores were covered with sheets of ice.

But they were brave and sturdy; and, although they would have been glad to be welcomed by the pleasant warmth of the southern lands as they left their weather-beaten vessel, still they bravely accepted what was before them, perfectly sure that they had been guided to this shore by Divine Providence.

As soon as they had all landed, they gathered together about that large rock at the water's edge, known now as Plymouth Rock, and kneeling down, thanked God for their safe deliverance from the perils of the sea.

Then they went sturdily to work. These men were not idle, lazy good-for-nothings, as many of those first colonists in Virginia had been. They did not need a John Smith to urge them to be industrious. They were all terribly in earnest. They had left their native land and, with their brave wives, had come over to this wilderness to build homes for themselves.

Can you not fancy their axes ringing in the still winter days, as they felled the trees for lumber with which to build their rude houses?

Can you not fancy the brave, tender-hearted wives and mothers working cheerfully on in the bitter cold of their old, uncomfortable houses, washing, ironing, baking, brewing, pounding the corn, spinning the cloth, and making the homes comfortable and even cheerful, in the thousand ways which only mothers and wives can understand?

And the little boys and girls, too! There were not very many of them to be sure; but you may be sure the children of such noble men and women would bravely bear the cold and hunger without a tear, and would try in all their little ways to do their part toward helping their fathers and mothers to build up their village.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


And there were two little babies, too; little baby boys, who were born during the voyage from England to America. I am afraid these little babies didn't have all the beautiful little dresses, puffs and powders that our babies have. I should not wonder if the little strangers were wrapped in very ordinary shawls and blankets, and that the mothers were very thankful they could keep them from the cold. Nevertheless, I suspect these little babies had a very warm welcome from all these sturdy, hard-working men and women, and were the pets of the whole colony. Can you not see the women coming every day to look in upon the new babies, and the men, each glad to stop and amuse the little ones for a minute as they went to and fro; and the children only too happy to be allowed to take care of them?

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt



The breaking waves dashed high

On a stern and rock-bound coast,

And the woods against a stormy sky,

Their giant branches tossed;

And the heavy night hung dark

The hills and waters o'er,—

When a band of exiles moored their bark

On the wild New England shore.

Not as the conqueror comes,

They, the true-hearted, came;

Not with the roll of stirring drums,

And the trumpet that sings of fame;

Not as the flying come,

In silence and in fear;—

They shook the depths of the desert's gloom

With their hymns of lofty cheer.

Amidst the storm they sang,

Till the stars heard, and the sea;

And the sounding aisles of the dim woods rang

To the anthem of the free.

The ocean-eagle soared

From his nest by the white wave's foam,

And the rocking pines of the forest roared;

This was their welcome home.

There were men with hoary hair

Amidst that pilgrim band;

Why had they come to wither there,

Away from their childhood's land?

There was woman's fearless eye,

Lit by her deep love's truth;

There was manhood's brow serenely high,

And the fiery heart of youth.

What sought they thus afar?—

Bright jewels of the mine?

The wealth of seas? the spoils of war?

They sought a faith's pure shrine.

Ay, call it holy ground,

The land where first they trod!

They have left unstained what there they found,—

Freedom to worship God!

—Mrs. Hemans.
[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt
[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

The Puritans


The colonists worked hard during the whole winter and spring and summer, so that by the time the next winter came they had quite comfortable homes.

The Indians had been very kind to them, probably because they had been kind and honest in their dealings with the Indians. Soon, encouraged by the success of the Pilgrims, there came other bands of English men and women to the shores of Massachusetts. Some sailed into Salem harbor, settling there; others went to Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Charlestown, and several other places.

These later bands of colonists were larger than the earlier; besides this, they were quite wealthy people. They were Puritans—like those who had come to Plymouth; but they had not been persecuted very severely, and did not come, therefore, because they were driven from England. They had come hoping to find new homes for themselves, where they could enjoy greater freedom in their manner of worship, to be sure; still, I want you to keep distinctly in your mind the difference between these colonies.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


The Dutch in America

In Europe there is a small country called Holland. It is a strange little country; it is flat, and so low that the whole country would long ago have been swallowed by the ocean had not the sturdy people built great walls of mud and stone to keep back the water. Holland is sometimes called the land of windmills, because there are so many of these great wheels whizzing and whirring about the country. Now, the merchants and workmen of this little country were far ahead of those of England in these days of which we are reading. Although there was hardly a stick of timber in the whole land, yet Holland built more ships and did more trading than England had thought of.

It was not long, therefore, before some of these enterprising Dutch merchants became interested in the long sought for short route to China and the Indies; and in the autumn of 1693 they engaged Henry Hudson, an Englishman, to search for the passage for them.

In the spring of the following year, Capt. Hudson, with a crew of about twenty men, set sail from Holland in the Half Moon, and following a map and letter sent him by his friend, Capt. John Smith, he arrived on Sept. 31 at the fine bay now known as New York Harbor. As he entered the bay, the Indians came hurrying out from the shores in their canoes, paddling up to the Half Moon. They were friendly—as Indians generally were until some act of treachery or cruelty on the part of the white men put them on their guard—and they freely traded with the sailors of the strange Half Moon.

Then Hudson sailed as far up the beautiful river as he could with his vessel, and then sent boats up as far as what is now Albany. "Perhaps," said he, "this river cuts through the continent to the other ocean, and will prove to be a short route to the Indies."

But, as you and I know now, he was disappointed in this. The river grew less and less navigable as it neared its source, and Hudson was obliged to sail back into New York bay. But so beautiful had the country seemed to him, and so valuable were the furs which the Indians offered in trade, that Hudson, on his return to Holland, gave a most glowing description of the opportunities for making wealth in this new world—so glowing, indeed, that it was not very long before the wide-awake, enterprising little country sent traders to settle upon the banks of the river, and to build up villages for themselves.

Holland, accordingly, now claimed the whole country around the river, and named it New Netherland. The Dutch colonists went to work at once trading with the Indians, cultivating the land and building their mills with the great whirring sails. The Indians were terribly afraid of these monsters, which were able to grind corn or saw boards. They would sit for hours staring at the strange things, wondering if they were alive. Often they would set fire to them, believing an evil spirit must be in them.

But on the whole the Dutchmen got along very well with the Indians, and it was not many years before they bought from the Indians the whole island of Manhattan and began the building of their city—New Amsterdam; or, as it is now called, New York.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Some of the very first governors of this Dutch colony are said to have been rather remarkable men in one way or another. There was Peter Minuit, an enterprising man, I am sure you will believe, when you hear that one of his first acts was to buy the whole of Manhattan Island from the Indians for twenty-five dollars, and that, too, paid mostly with beads and trinkets, of which the Indians were very fond.

Minuit was followed by Van Twiller, the second governor. Of this man I will give you Washington Irving's own description. He says, "Van Twiller was exactly five feet six inches in height and six feet five inches in circumference. His head was a perfect sphere, and of such dimensions that Dame Nature, with all her ingenuity, would have been puzzled indeed to construct a neck capable of supporting it. Therefore, she had declined to try and had settled it firmly on the top of his backbone just between his shoulders. His body was oblong. His legs were short but sturdy in proportion to the weight they had to sustain; so that when erect he had much the appearance of a beer barrel on skids."

Then, by and by, came gallant old Peter Stuyvesant. He was a grim old fellow, battle-scarred, and no more movable when his mind was made up than a wall of solid granite. How he did puff and steam as he stumped around on his funny old wooden leg, shouting his orders and telling of his own wonderful feats in battle! But for all this he was a good governor; and his love for the colony, his pride in it, and his honest desire to see it all and the best it could be, will never be quite forgotten by the New York people. They say that sometimes the bump, bump, bump of the old wooden leg even now is to be heard dark nights moving as of yore up and down the aisles of St. Mark's church, near where his bones lie buried. Well, if this is so it only goes to prove that he still loves old Manhattan Island as he loved it in those early days when he was its ruler and its governor.

It was while brave old Peter Stuyvesant was governor that the English first sailed into the harbor of New Amsterdam and demanded the surrender of the city, under the claim that the country belonged to the English, having been discovered by Cabot.

The fact is, the English king, having learned that the Dutch had secured a very valuable fur trade through their friendliness with the Indians, made up his mind that he needed it. He accordingly gave the territory of New Netherlands to his brother, the Duke of York, and sent several ships to capture the city.

The Dutch were too few to resist; and the appeals of Gov. Stuyvesant to defend the city were vain; and so New Amsterdam passed into the hands of the English on August 29, 1664. The city was then named New York; and, although eight years later the Dutch re-took the city, Holland finally gave up all title to New Netherlands and it became an English colony. This was in 1674.

New Amsterdam was an odd little city at that time, looking for all the world like a little Dutch city dropped down upon the new continent.

The little wooden houses had gable roofs; the ends of the houses were of black and yellow brick; over the door were great iron figures telling when the house was built; and on the roof there was sure to be a gay-looking weather vane whirling around in the strong wind, trying, so it seemed, to keep pace with the whirling windmills that stretched their great arms over the city.

Inside the houses you would have found great, roaring fire-places, with pictured tiles up and down the sides. Such funny pictures! telling all about Noah and the Ark, or perhaps about the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea. Can you not fancy just how the older brothers and sisters used to sit by these great fireplaces pointing out the wonderful pictures to the little children?

I am always glad to think of these little children of the Dutch colonists. They were all so much happier and freer than the little Puritan children. Their homes were so much more cheerful, their parents so much less grim and severe, and there was so much more love and joy everywhere about them.

Such fairy stories as these Dutch people could tell as they sat about their great fires in the long winter evenings, or out upon the doorsteps in the warm summer nights! Not a forest nor a dale, not a single peak of the Catskill Mountains but had its legend or mysterious story for them.

When the thunder rolled, the people would say, "Hark! that is Henry Hudson and his companions playing at nine pins up among the mountains." And the children would shout and laugh and say, "Good Henry Hudson! Good Henry Hudson! the wicked sailors could not kill you when they bound you and put you afloat on the cold ocean! The little fairies guided you back to your own river and to your own blue-topped Catskills. Kind little fairies! Good Henry Hudson!"

There are so many other stories to tell of this early history of our country that I am going to leave this colony just here. It seems too bad, for these Dutch people were so strange in their dress and customs, and had such odd ideas, that I should like to tell you a score of stories about them. I should like to tell you about Rip Van Winkle, who slept for twenty years up in the mountains; I should like to tell you about old Ichabod Crane, who thought he was pursued by a ghost; of Henry Hudson and his crew playing nine-pins up among the mountains; but you must read Irving's Sketch Book and his Knickerbocker History. There are stories enough there to keep you all busy for a year. But now I must ask you to leave these queer old Dutch people and hurry across to Maryland with me. There is another kind of people there waiting for us.

Other Colonies

You remember the misery of the people of England under Henry, and Mary, and Queen Elizabeth. First they must all be devoted to the English Church to please the king; then they must all turn Catholics to please Mary; then back they must turn to the English Church with Queen Elizabeth. It seems very strange to us now that it should have been considered necessary for a whole country to change its religion to suit the religion of the ruler; but the people in those days had not learned that it is not what a person believes as much as what he is that makes him a good or a bad citizen.

Thus, at the time the Pilgrims left England, they were not the only people who were being persecuted. The Catholics, too, were having a hard time of it. They also were casting longing eyes towards a free country where they could worship God in their own way.

At last, one of their nobles, Lord Baltimore, obtained from the English King, Charles I., a grant of land and permission to found a Colony, to be called Maryland, on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

Lord Baltimore died before he could carry out his good work, but in 1634, his son, Leonard Calvert, came over, bringing with him three hundred emigrants. After a voyage of four months, they reached the mouth of the Potomac, and there built a town, which they named St. Mary's.

The Indians in this part of the country had not seen the white people then; and when they saw them sailing up the Potomac they rushed down to the banks in wonder. Suddenly they gave a great yell, and disappeared in the forests. "Oh," said they, "we have seen a canoe as big as an island, and with as many men on it as there are trees in the forests!"

They could not understand that a ship was built board by board, and they wondered where there could be found a tree large enough to hollow out such a canoe as that.

As soon as these English people were settled in their new home, they made laws for their colony. Their laws were very just and generous, especially in regard to religion. All persons were free to worship as they pleased in Maryland.

On account of this generous law in the new colony, many Puritans from Virginia, who had been persecuted there by the Episcopalians, came to Maryland, Quakers came from Massachusetts, and all classes came from England. Among the latter were many Methodists, who not only desired to worship God in their own way, but sent missionaries among the Indians. Later, John and Charles Wesley, the founders of Methodism, came over to assist in the work; but the bad example of some of the white settlers often did as much harm to the Indians as the missionaries could do good.

During this time colonies had also been settled in North and South Carolina, and they had come to be important and flourishing.

On the southern border of South Carolina there is a large river, the Savannah. When the Carolinas were settled the Indians made great trouble for the white men. They felt that the white men were taking their homes from them, and that something must be done to drive these new comers away. A treaty was at last made with the Indians, in which the white men promised to make no settlements south of the Savannah river. This treaty was not broken for about seventy years. Then there came to be a new king in England, called George II. He gave permission to General James Oglethorpe, a wealthy but brave and charitable Englishman, to found a colony south of the Savannah.

General Oglethorpe's desire was to establish a place in the New World where poor people could obtain a new start in life; for at this time there was much poverty and wretchedness in England.

In November, 1732, his little band, one hundred and sixteen people in all, set sail from England. They arrived off South Carolina in February of the following year, and ascending the Savannah river, chose for their home the present site of that city.

Their leader sent for the Indians soon after their arrival, purchased the land from them and made a treaty with them, which was faithfully kept as long as General Oglethorpe remained in the country.

They named their territory Georgia in honor of the King, and when the laws for this new colony were drawn up, wise General Oglethorpe firmly declared that there should be no rum allowed there, and that any sale of it to the Indians should be punished as one of the greatest crimes. He knew, wise man that he was, that drinking men would not be industrious enough to keep a colony prosperous, and that it would be the very worst thing to allow the Indians to get a taste of the fire-water, as the Indians called it.

For a while the colony prospered, as any colony would under such a wise leader; but these colonists were not all earnest and industrious people as were the Puritans and the Quakers; and though they were helped by the English Government more than were those of any other colony, it was not long before some of them began to grumble bitterly about the hardships of a new country. They also wrote letters to the king of England, making all sorts of complaints against their leader, until, at last, disgusted with them, Oglethorpe returned to England, saying that he was sick of the very name of colony.

When the twenty-one years had passed for which Oglethorpe and his companions had been granted leave to hold this land in Georgia, their charter was given back to King George. Georgia then became a royal colony; and as the king cared very little what the colonists in Georgia or in any other colony did, they were now free to have as much strong drink as they liked. For a time matters were in a bad state in the colony, and it was not until several years later that the right kind of people came to Georgia. Then Georgia became a very different kind of colony; and when, by and by, the Revolution came on no colony was braver or did more in proportion to its size for the cause than did this of Georgia.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

Customs in the Colonies

During all these years a gradual change from the early days of struggle and poverty had been taking place in the older colonies, especially in Virginia.

Hearing of the many advantages in the new world, a number of industrious and even wealthy families had come from England to settle in Virginia. They had obtained from the proprietors great tracts of land, had built for themselves elegant mansions, and were cultivating great fields of cotton and tobacco.

These people were not Puritans nor Catholics, they had not been persecuted at all, and were content with the English Church, but had come to America to found new homes, and to trade and grow up with the country.

Now, in these early days it was very difficult to get laborers to work in the fields; so it had become the custom to ship over criminals and poor people from England, and make them work a number of years before they obtained their freedom. After a time negroes began to be sent from Africa, and thus it became quite common in the South for one to own a number of slaves, and even in the Northern colonies slaves were to be occasionally seen; but here in Virginia where it paid to keep a great many laborers to cultivate the corn fields, the planters owned a great many slaves. These slaves did the work of the fields and received no pay except their food and clothes.

Very likely the masters were kind enough to them, and very likely they worked no harder than men and women do everywhere. But there is this great difference between slaves and other people who work: The man or woman who goes out to work as we see them doing to-day, goes at a certain hour, works until a certain hour, and receives pay for it. That man or woman has perfect liberty to do whatever he or she wishes with the pay received, perfect liberty to go to another place to work, perfect liberty to do anything and everything proper without asking permission of the employer. But how is it with a slave? His employer owns him just as he owns his horses or oxen.

The slave takes the master's horses in the morning and goes out to work with them wherever the master bids. No matter how much or how little the slave and the horses have earned for the master,—the master takes it all. He would no more think of giving the slave a part of it than he would of giving a part to his horse. The horse receives his bed and supper for his day's work, and the slave receives the same. So you see a slave has no hope (no matter how hard or how well he may work) of receiving anything for it which he can call his own.

Is it any wonder then, as the years roll on and on, bringing him no reward for his labor, that he grows to be stupid and heavy, without ambition or hope, and becomes, as the slaveholders used to say of him, as dumb as the cattle he works with?

But we must remember people did not think of slavery in those days as we do now. Everybody who could afford it owned slaves, just as to-day everybody who can afford servants has servants; and they thought it no wrong so long as they were kind to them and gave them good food and lodging.

In the early days of the Colonies, the need of money was very much felt. There were various ways tried. In Virginia, which was a great tobacco growing country, the colonists used tobacco for money. This, of course, was just as good; for, if a farmer wanted to buy an article worth fifty cents, he gave fifty cents worth of tobacco for it. The dealer who received the tobacco, packed it away with other tobacco until he had a large amount of it. Then he would send it to England and receive for it goods for his store, which he would sell again for tobacco.

At one time in the early history of this colony, when there were very few white women in America, there were sent over from England about a hundred young women, who were sold to the colonists for a hundred pounds of tobacco each. Each colonist then went to the minister with the woman he had bought with his tobacco, had the marriage ceremony performed, and then led her to his home. This would seem a very strange thing now-a-days; but we must remember there was then no other way for these colonists to obtain wives, unless they were sent to them from the old country—and it was no more than right that the future husband should pay the expense.

There were also some very strange laws as well as customs in those early colonial days.

If a woman was a scold she was ducked in running water three times; if she slandered any one, her husband was obliged to pay five hundred pounds of tobacco to the governor of the colony; a husband had a perfect right in those days to whip his wife whenever he seemed to think she needed it.

They had some good temperance laws. No man was allowed to keep a "tavern" who did not possess an excellent character. The names of all drunkards were posted up in the taverns, and no one was allowed to sell liquor to them. In Connecticut no one under twenty years of age was allowed to use tobacco, and no one, no matter what his age, was allowed to use it more than once a day.

One must dress, too, according to law. No one owning land not valued at two hundred dollars or more could wear gold or silver lace; and only the "gentility" were allowed to use Mr. or Mrs. before their names.

There were very severe laws against those who would not attend church. If a man was absent one Sunday, he would not be given his allowance of provisions for a week; if he was absent a second time, he was whipped; a third time, he was likely even to be hanged.

In Virginia, especially, both men and women were sometimes whipped in sight of the whole colony. For some offenses they were made to stand in the church with white sheets over their heads during the service; or they would be made to stand on the church steps, with the name of their crime pinned upon their breasts.

In New England they had an odd way of taking offenders out into a public place and putting them in the stocks or in the pillory, where they were kept until sundown, the subject of the laughter and jokes of every passer by.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Such punishments would seem unchristian now, but they were very common in those days.

The New England people were also very strict regarding the Sabbath. As soon as the sun went down on Saturday evening their Sabbath began. From that time until sunset on Sunday night no manner of work was allowed to be done; no visiting, no playing, no gayety of any kind was permitted; one man, it is said, was brought to trial and fined for kissing his wife on a Sabbath morning.

Public worship took place in what was called the meeting house, the place where all meetings for attending to the town's business were held.

Slowly and solemnly the families all walked to church, coming sometimes for miles from the country around.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


On reaching the church the men took their places on one side of the aisle, and the women took theirs on the other. The children, too, sat all by themselves, and there was a man appointed to keep them quiet.

This man carried a long stick with a hard knob at one end and a little feather brush on the other.

With the knob he knocked the heads of the men if they chanced to grow sleepy, and with the feather tickled the faces of the women.

I shouldn't wonder if he had to use this rod pretty often on men, women, and children all; for the sermons were very long, sometimes lasting whole hours, and they were timed by an hour-glass which stood upon the high pulpit and not until it had been turned three or four times was a sermon considered at all of the proper length. And the singing! For many years it was the custom for the people all to rise and sing. There were few hymn-books; therefore the minister, or some one of the deacons, would read a line of the hymn, the people would sing it, then wait for another line to be read. But, by and by, singing schools began to come into fashion, the "queristers," as the singers were called, began to sit together during the church service, leading the singing, the whole congregation joining with them in rolling out the grand old tunes that were the fashion then.

There were not many tunes that the people knew, but such as they did know they poured forth vigorously and were quite content with them for years and years. The first hymn-book published in the colonies contained twenty-eight tunes.

"Twenty-eight tunes!" cried the people. "We can never learn so many!"

"This book is a sin and a snare," preached one minister from his pulpit. "This new solfa singing is wicked. Singing schools will lead to mischief. Let us have no more of this foolish vanity."

But the "foolish vanity" some way would not go. The young people had begun to learn to sing, and sing they would, until in the course of time both people and ministers became reconciled to it, wicked as it was; and when, in 1764, Josiah Flagg published a book containing one hundred and sixty hymns, no one thought of objecting. On the contrary, every singing youth and maiden hastened to own the book, and it was not long before the churches throughout the colonies rang out the whole hundred and sixty grand old tunes, happy enough that there were so many to sing.

As to the men, as you read in the "Indian Stories," they brought their muskets to the meeting-houses, that they might have them in case of attack.

The meeting-houses were not warmed even in very cold weather; the people had an idea that some way they were better Christians if they bore all these discomforts, without a murmur.

But soon the people began carrying hot bricks and stones to keep their feet and hands from freezing; and, by and by, they carried little foot stoves. These stoves were little tin boxes, with holes in the sides, a cover, a door, and handles with which to carry them. In these boxes were put live coals, and so the fire would last during the whole sermon.

As books were very scarce, the minister read off one line of the hymn, which the people would sing to some old tune; then another line would be read and sung, then another and another, until the whole hymn was sung.

When the service was over, all walked solemnly home again. The fathers and mothers were very strict on this Sabbath day, and I fear many and many a little boy and girl dreaded to have this long, dreary day come, and were very glad when it was over; for you remember there were no beautiful books and magazines in those days; and if there had been, the children would not have been allowed to read anything but the little New England Primer which contained quaint pictures, a few terrible verses, and the Catechism.

I am sure we are glad people have got over the idea that Sunday should be such a dismal, sober day. I am sure the Heavenly Father is much more pleased to see the children spending His day happily in their homes with their fathers and mothers and little sisters and brothers.

Of all the men of rank or office in the colony, none were looked upon with such reverence and respect as the ministers. Though the Puritans hated titles of all kinds, considering them vain inventions, they were willing to honor the minister with "Parson," or "Elder," or "Teacher," and were ready to humble themselves before him. I am afraid, however, that these ministers sometimes received little else than reverence; for their salaries were generally very small; sometimes they had none at all, and depended wholly upon the gifts of the parishioners who supplied them with whatever they had or could spare. "Alas," said one pastor, "my people are very poor; and I am very poor. I have received for salary this year only turnips, there being a generous harvest of that vegetable; but I do not complain. I have always been able to sell them or exchange them, and thus I have been supplied with the necessary things of life."

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

The New England Primer

Speaking of these little sober-faced children of the colonial times, reminds me of the queer little books from which they learned to read.

I wish you could see one I have. It is very, very old now, its leaves are all yellow and musty, and I fear that before long they will fall in pieces like an old dead leaf.

It is a little square book with blue paper covers, on which is an odd looking picture of two children kneeling to say their prayers. In the book are several little verses and hymns and prayers, a long list of questions and answers from the Bible, the ten commandments, and then some odd little verses, with pictures which are odder still. On the opposite page are a few of them, which I am sure you will say are very funny.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Manner of Dress

You remember how very plain the Puritans dressed at the time of their leaving England. Then the men wore their hair shaved so closely that they were called Roundheads. The women, too, all dressed very plainly, in homespun dresses and stiffly starched white aprons.

There was a time when a fine was imposed on any man who should wear his hair long; and if a woman wore any sort of jewelry, she was looked upon as a most wicked creature, one upon whom the punishment of heaven would surely fall.

As time went on, and the Puritans mixed more and more with other people, these severe styles gave way, and at last the Boston folks of the Puritan colony were as gay in their dress as were the Cavaliers of Virginia.

In a history of America, written for young people by Abby Sage Richardson, there is such a good description of these people as they dressed at this time, just before the Revolution, of which we are going so soon to hear, that I think we must stop and read it.

You remember the rude log cabin in which these first Puritans who came to Cape Cod Bay lived. Compare that rude cabin with Miss Richardson's description of Governor Hutchinson's house in Boston as it looked in the Revolutionary time: "It was a fine brick house, three stories high. If we enter the house we shall find a large hall with massive staircases heavily carved, the floor laid in elegant colored marble or different woods.

"The walls are painted, there are fluted columns supporting the ceiling, and there is heavy mahogany furniture set around in stately grandeur."

Speaking of the dress of the men, she says, "Do you see that elegant looking man? He would hardly be laughed at now and called a Roundhead. The Puritans now dress as the English do. They wear powdered wigs, or else they powder their own hair and tie it in a long queue behind.

"Look at that gentleman standing in his doorway! He has on a red velvet cap, with an inside cap of white linen which turns over the edge of the velvet two or three inches; a blue damask dressing-gown lined with sky-blue silk; a white satin waistcoat with deep embroidered flaps; black satin breeches with long white silk stockings, and red morocco slippers.

When he goes out into the street he will change his velvet cap for a three-cornered hat; his flowered brocade dressing-gown for a gold-laced coat of red or blue broadcloth, with deep lace ruffles at the wrist; put a sword at his side, and wear a pair of shoes with great silver buckles.

"Let us see how the women of the same time used to dress. Here is a lady dressing for a dinner party. First the barber comes and does up her hair in frizzles and puffs and rolls, one on top of the other, until it all looks like a pyramid or a tower. She has on a brocade dress, green ground with great flowers on it, looped over a pink satin skirt. Her dress is very low in the neck, and is greatly trimmed with lace.

"It is very tightly pulled over a stiff hoop which sticks out on both sides so far she has to go in at the door sideways. The heels of her low shoes are very high, and she wears beautiful silk stockings. That is the way she dresses for a party; but how does she dress at home?

"At home she wears a cap and a pretty gown, a neat white apron, and a muslin kerchief over her neck.

"This is the way the rich people dress. Let us take a look at the country people. The farmers' wives wear checked linen dresses in summer, and strong home-spun woolen dresses in the winter with clean white aprons and kerchiefs. The farmers wear stout leather breeches, checked shirts and frocks. Every day but Sunday the working-men wear leather aprons, and are not at all ashamed of them either."

The very early houses of these colonists were rudely built structures, usually of roughly hewn logs from the forests. To keep the houses warm, the spaces between the logs were stuffed with dried leaves, and the whole wall was then plastered over with mud.

Sometimes the houses of the less industrious colonists were very carelessly built, and little pains were taken to fit the logs together.

There is a story told of one colonist who, lying in his bed on the floor against the side of his log house, felt in the dead of the night a sharp bite at his ear, and starting up he saw the fierce head of a wolf pushed in through the space between the logs, close by his head.

It was some little time before there was any window glass used in the colonies. Indeed glass was as yet very rare even in England. "Bring oiled paper for your windows," wrote a Massachusetts governor to his friends in England who were about to sail for the colonies.

"You need not bring oiled paper for your windows," wrote a New York colonist to his friends; "oiled paper is used in Massachusetts colonies, but here we have found in the rocks sheets of mica which make most excellent windows."

But, by and by, when comfortable houses began to be built and window glass had become less rare, we find the dwellings fashioned after the old English style of houses. The more wealthy colonists built great square buildings; the rooms arranged, as it seemed, around a great central chimney in the middle of the house. "They built the chimney," says one writer, "and then fitted the rooms to the chimney." Perhaps they did; it might seem so. At any rate each room had its own great open fireplace, the warm red flames from which leaped and sprang up into the secret places and out of sight—all in this one great chimney. It was a long time before stoves were invented; and a long time again before a kind was invented that would really warm the rooms and be of use. The very first stoves, it is said, were built into the walls; and when wood was to be put on the fire, some one had to go out of doors to do it, the door of the stove being on the outside of the house.

But the old open fireplaces with their cheerful fires were one of the very best features of colonial life. Here in the long winter evenings the families would sit talking and telling wonderful stories, roasting chestnuts and apples, and having just the very best of social times. You will not wonder that they lingered around their cheerful fires and were inclined to make the evening long when you hear what crude beds they often had in these same comfortable houses.

Of course among the very wealthiest of the colonists at this time there were great bedsteads, and warm feather beds, such as one often sees now in country places, where the people are wise enough to still cling to their rich, old-fashioned furniture. But among the less favored classes the beds were not, I am afraid, the most comfortable things in the world, and certainly they were not very handsome pieces of furniture by any means.

One way of building up a sleeping place was to make two holes in the wall and into these to drive two poles. These poles served for the sides of the bed-frame. Then two upright posts were erected, with holes in them into which the side poles were driven. A cross beam from post to post and the bed-frame was complete. Then slats were laid across, or, when possible, ropes were woven in and out, a great bag of hay or straw, sometimes pine boughs, were laid on this—then the bed was complete. But simple and easy to make as these beds and bed-steads were, many strange stories are told of the scarcity of beds in the little taverns here and there at which travelers from town to town must stop over night.

"In England," wrote one colonist, "we were accustomed at the tavern to have a room and a bed and a privilege of bolting our door; it will be so here by and by when we have grown a little more settled in our new land, and have had time and means to make more furniture. At present, however, if we go to bed alone in a tavern, it is by no means sure that some fellow-traveler will not, when we awake, be found sleeping soundly in the same bed, having thrown himself down by our side or perhaps across the foot of the bed."

Furniture, too, of all kinds, was not common in the very first years of colonial life. The wealthiest people had their furniture brought from England; but in those days of slow sailing vessels such importation was far too expensive for poor families. The chairs and tables were accordingly home made, like the bedsteads, and were rude and rough, not very comfortable, but "good enough for now," as the patient, hardworking people would say to each other as now and then they would recall their more comfortable English homes. "Our chairs and tables were better, no doubt, in England," some father would say, "but we can forego all that for the blessed liberty of this country and by and by we shall have them all again."

A few long boards laid across carpenters' horses for a table, some long boards arranged bench-fashion around the room against the walls, and the house was ready for a husking party or a quilting bee or any other good time; and the "time" was nowise any less "good" that the furniture and preparations were so simple.

Carpets were rarely seen then, even in the finest houses. The floors were sanded; and in the best room, as they called their parlors, the sand was lined off into squares or diamonds which suited the proud housekeeper's ambition quite as well as a real carpet with its squares and diamonds.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

Pine-Tree Shillings

There is one very pretty story told of these early days of the Massachusetts colony. The only money in use among the people was the gold and silver coins which were made in England and Spain. These coins were very scarce, so that the people had to trade in goods when they wished to make a purchase, instead of being able to pay in money as we do now.

That is, if in those days you had wanted to buy a yard of ribbon, or a top, or a ball, you would very likely have paid for it with butter or eggs—anything that you happened to own that the storekeeper was willing to take.

But as the people were growing more and more in number, and trade increased, this kind of bartering grew very troublesome. The people needed some sort of money; and so a law was passed, a kind of coin was decided upon, and Captain John Hull was made mint-master. The largest of these coins had stamped upon them a picture of a pine tree. This is why they were called "Pine-Tree" shillings.

As payment for his work, it was decided that the mint-master should have one out of every twenty coins he made.

Captain John Hull was an honest man; and although he put aside for himself only one in every twenty coins, his strong boxes got to be very, very heavy.

Captain Hull had a daughter; a fine, plump, hearty girl, with whom young Samuel Sewell fell in love. As Samuel was a young man of good character, industrious and honest, Captain Hull readily gave his consent to their marriage. "Yes, you may take her," he said in his rough way, "and you'll find her a heavy burden enough."

In due time the wedding day arrived. There were John Hull, dressed in a plum-colored coat, with bright silver buttons made of the Pine-Tree shillings; the bridegroom, dressed in a fine purple coat and gold lace waistcoat, big silver buckles on his shoes; and last, but by no means least, the fair bride herself, looking as plump and smiling and rosy as a big red apple.

After the marriage ceremony was over, Captain Hull whispered to his men servants, who at once left the room, to return soon with a great pair of scales. Everybody wondered what could be going to happen.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

"Daughter," said the mint-master, "get into one side of these scales." Then turning to his servants, and pointing to a big, iron-bound box, he added, "Bring hither the chest."

The servants tugged and pulled at it, but it was all they could do to get it across the floor. Then Captain Hull unlocked it and threw open the cover.

The guests stood breathless, for behold! the chest was full of bright, shining Pine-Tree shillings.

"Put them into the other side of the scales, lively now," said the mint-master, laughing, as he saw the look of amazement on the faces of the people.

Jingle, jingle, went the shillings, as handful after handful were thrown in, till, big and plump as she was, the fair young bride was lifted from the floor.

"There, son Sewell," said the honest mint-master, "take these shillings for my daughter's portion. Use her kindly, and thank God for her. It isn't every wife that's worth her weight in silver."

Education in the Colonies

Governor Winthrop, the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, had, living in England, a sister, of whom he was very fond. He often wrote letters to her and to her husband, who was also a warm friend of Governor Winthrop, begging them to leave the old country and come with their children to the new colony where there was more than enough of all the good things of life.

The sister, and her husband, too, would gladly have come, and indeed were often almost persuaded to do so; but they were very intelligent people for these times and prized education above all things.

On this account, because there were no colleges in America in which her boys could be educated, she hesitated year after year.

Often she would write to her brother, saying that, by and by, when the little colony should have means for the education of her boys, she would gladly come. Another time she would write that she believed the value of education was above all things, and that therefore she must stay in England until the boys were educated.

All these letters set Governor Winthrop to thinking. Would it not be well for the colony to found a college? Surely there were other youth than his nephews who would be glad of a college education.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


At last a letter came which seemed to set Governor Winthrop to work as well as to thinking. This letter, written in the early part of 1636, was but another appeal from his sister for a college in Massachusetts. It is a quaintly written letter, spelled after the fashion of the times. In it she says, "If only there were some place of learning for youths, it would make me go far nimbler to New Englande if God should call me to it than I otherwise shoulde; and I believe a colledge would put noe smal life into the plantation."

In October of this very year, Governor Winthrop had convinced those who controlled such things in the colony that a college should be built. The money was raised, and work on the building was begun at once.

The college building, a square, red brick building, with low ceilings and little windows, was considered a very elegant structure at the time. It still stands on the college land in Cambridge, surrounded by the great brick buildings which have from time to time been added to it.

This will show you how much these early colonists thought of education. In fact, as early as 1635, only five years after the settlement of Boston, steps were taken to open a public school for the children of that town.

Salem Witchcraft

No one knows when the belief in witches first sprang up in Europe. There was a time, when James the First was king, that England was wild with excitement over witchcraft. The people believed there were witches in the forests, in the rivers, in the air, and I don't know where else. They stood in mortal fear of them, and believed every strange old woman they saw might be a witch and about to work some evil charm on them.

It is no wonder that, from time to time, witch excitements sprang up in the colonies. They died out soon, however, without much harm being done.

But in the year 1692, there sprang up such a fire of excitement over the witch belief, that no power seemed able to quell it. It seems strange to us, in these days, that grown up men and women could be so foolish. These people believed that the cause of witchcraft was the devil; when a person was bewitched, that meant that the devil had taken possession of that person, and was making him do the most terrible things. The devil, they believed, was an enormous creature, with a long tail, a pair of horns, and terrible hoofs. He could take all sorts of shapes, and was often known to take the form of a goose or a black cat.

The excitement over witchcraft in Salem seems to have started in a minister's family.

One day his little girl began to behave very strangely. The minister, being a strong believer in witchcraft, declared at once that the child was bewitched. He begged the child to tell him who had bewitched her; and the child, frightened half out of her wits by her father's terrible stories, cried out that it was a certain old woman who lived near by.

The poor old woman was brought into the presence of the child. The child, excited as she was now, probably, believed that the old woman had, indeed, afflicted her; and, frightened still more when she was brought before her, the child fell into convulsions. This, the minister thought, was sure proof; and the poor old woman was loaded with chains and thrown into prison.

Soon others in Salem began to declare themselves bewitched. If the butter would not come, the housewives declared there were witches in their churns; if the animals on the farms died, it was said to be the work of witches. Every possible disaster was laid at the door of witchcraft.

Although the excitement over witchcraft was highest and hottest in Salem, there was no small amount of it in all the other towns. In the town of Boston it took such a firm hold upon the people that an educated woman, the sister of one of the governors, one who had, therefore, hosts of friends who used their power and influence to save her, was hanged, as a witch, on Boston Common.

This woman, Mrs. Anne Hibbins, was the wife of a wealthy merchant in Boston. Mrs. Hibbins had, we fear, a very proud, selfish disposition, which caused her neighbors to dislike her most heartily. Being the wife of a wealthy merchant, she rather looked down upon her more humble friends, and was not at all careful to hide her feelings from them. When she and her husband were quite old, there came a long line of business troubles, which swept away their money, leaving them as poor as the poorest of their neighbors.

Mrs. Hibbins' crabbed disposition did not grow any sweeter under this misfortune, you may be sure. She grew to be so ugly and so cruel to the little children that they would run screaming to their mothers if she came towards them. She had very sharp eyes and ears, and seemed to see and hear all that happened in the town. She was, also, very keen, and was sure to ferret out the very boy who stole her apples, or stoned her cat, or broke her windows. At last, the mothers began whispering that they believed she was a witch.

"The Devil himself tells her these things," said they, "else how does she know everything that happens?"

As they grew to fear her more and more, they began really to believe she was a witch. Many a mother would run into her house and hide her baby if the cross old woman was seen coming. Soon her neighbors became so sure that she was a witch that they went to the town officers about it; and in a very, very short time, all Boston was filled with fear of this unhappy old woman, whose selfish, proud heart had made her such a disagreeable object.

This fear of her having broken out, it was not long before the people began to clamor for her death. Every accident in the town was laid to her; every sickness in the homes was laid to her; every trouble in the church was laid to her.

At last she was publicly accused and thrown into prison. Her brother, who stood high in the colony, made no effort to save her; her three sons, whom she loved with all the tenderness of which she was capable, were all away and knew nothing of her arrest. And so the poor old woman, who had once held her head so high, was dragged forth from her prison, tried, and sentenced to be hanged. After she was hanged, the people went back to their homes satisfied that in hanging a witch they had done a good deed, one which the Heavenly Father would reward them for!

It doesn't seem possible that only two hundred years ago people could have been so cruel and so foolish.

By and by not only poor old women were accused, but young people, some of them from the leading families in the colonies. Everybody had accepted this wicked belief, doubting not, so long as no one but poor, friendless old women had been accused. But when, at last, the young people and the wealthy people, who had friends to defend them, began to suffer, then the people began to come to their senses.

"How do we know that this man saw Goody Glover flying on a broomstick? How do we know that he saw Martha Corey turn into a black cat? How do we know that he saw the children ride up the stairs on a white horse?" they began to ask when people came forth at a witch's trial to testify to these wonderful sights.

"We do not know," the judges at last honestly declared; and from that time the witchcraft excitement began to die away.

One of the chief believers in this cruel nonsense was a prominent minister, named Cotton Mather. It is said, however, that when he became old he deeply regretted the part he had taken in it and frankly confessed that he would give years to undo the harm he had done.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


Religious Troubles

One might think, after all the Puritans had suffered because of their desire to have their own style of church worship, that they would be perfectly willing to let all other people have the same freedom that they themselves had sought.

But this was not the way people thought in those days.

"Believe what you wish," they would say, "only please do not come among our people."

With all the trouble the Puritans had to contend against, they may be excused for speaking thus. Enemies were on all sides of them, as well as in England, and it seemed absolutely necessary to them that they should be united among themselves.

But there were people of other beliefs who had also found it uncomfortable to live under the strict laws of England, and who preferred to come to a new world where they thought they could do more as they pleased.

Their ways, however, were not the ways of the Puritans, so, naturally, they were not very welcome.

In 1631, a young minister, named Roger Williams, came to the colony, and he soon began to give the Puritan leaders much trouble.

He thought that people should worship where they pleased—and he publicly said so. But, what was still worse, he preached that the early settlers had no right to the very land they lived on unless they bought that land of the Indians.

"Surely," the Puritans said, "we have enough trouble with the Indians without putting this new idea into their heads."

As was the case with troublesome people in those days, Roger Williams was ordered out of the country. Fearing that, if caught, he might be sent back to England, he made his escape into the deep forests.

It was midwinter, but the Indians welcomed and protected him. He gradually made his way to that part of the country now called Rhode Island. Here, in 1636, he purchased land of the Indians, and, before very long, many of his friends in Salem followed him and made a settlement.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


They built a town and named it Providence. In this colony, it was declared that every one should be free to worship as he pleased. There, for the first time in the history of the world, all people were allowed to act as seemed to them best in their own churches.

Roger Williams, meanwhile, did not forget the kindness of the Indians. After he had learned to speak their language, he spent much of his time with them, teaching them to read and work.

You may be sure, his people all loved this good, well-meaning man. At one time, when he had been away in England nearly two years, the whole colony crossed the river to meet him as he returned.

The old men and the young men, the old women and the young women, and all the children, met him with flowers and songs and every sign of joy.

Roger Williams' kind old heart was touched when he saw how his people loved him, and he was not ashamed to let the tears run down his cheeks as he thanked them for their love.

Meanwhile, there had sprung up in England another class of people, under the leadership of George Fox, who went much further in their idea of simple form of church worship than even the Puritans had.

These people, called "Friends," would have no form at all. They believed it was best and most pleasing to God to go into their little churches, with no minister, no singing, no praying, and sit there, perfectly quiet, fixing their minds only on holy things. This, compared with the elaborate form of worship in the English Church, was certainly a great change, to say the least.

The English Church, which thought the Puritans had been foolish enough, thought these last people more than foolish—they thought them mad.

There is a funny little story connected with these Friends, which shows how later they came to receive their peculiar name of Quakers. It is said that one of these people was brought for trial before an English judge.

The English judge having been rather severe, the Quaker turned to him and said, "Dost thou not quake with fear before the Great Judge, who this day hath heard thy cruel judgment upon his chosen people?"

But just then, the Quaker, who was very nervous and excitable, began to shiver and shake and quake to such an extent that the whole court burst into a roar of laughter. From that time these people were nicknamed "Quakers."

In due time the Quakers were driven from England, as the Puritans had been before them. They, too, came over to America, hoping to find freedom to worship God in the way they thought best.

It was about thirty-five years after the Mayflower entered Plymouth harbor that the first Quakers came.

There had been many changes in the colonies in that time. The little children had now come to be middle-aged men and women with children of their own.

The men and women who had done the hard work of settling the little home at Plymouth, had now grown to be quite old, and very, very many of them had, long since, been laid away in the quaint little burying-ground.

Many, many other men and women had come over from England, so that now, instead of thinking of a few people living in their huts at Plymouth, you must think of little towns all along the coast, having residences, stores, churches, and schools, all of which were quite fair buildings for the times.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


The Old South Church, the Old North Church and King's Chapel, which stand now in Boston, were built in these early times.

The new-comers, the Quakers, were strange in their looks and in their manners, it is true; but so were the Puritans as to that matter. Then, too, in their enthusiasm they often forgot the rights of the Puritans in whose towns they were living.

And so it came about that the Puritans had these Quakers whipped in the streets; they cut off their ears and their noses; they put cleft sticks upon their tongues to keep them from speaking; and they punished them in many other ways.

Until within a few years, there stood on the beautiful Common in Boston an elm tree, to whose boughs the Puritans hanged a woman named Mary Dyer, not so much because she was a Quaker and preached the Quaker doctrines, but because she insisted on preaching on the streets and in direct defiance of the laws of Boston.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


And surely, we have to admit that the Puritans thought they had a right to enforce their own laws: only of course punishments were very severe; still we must remember they would have used these same punishments on their own people had they broken the same laws.

The one thing that exasperated the Puritans with the Quakers above all other things, was the fact that the Quakers allowed the women to preach and pray as they liked. "A preaching woman," said the Puritans, "is a disgrace to religion! Away with such!"

You can imagine, therefore, how annoyed the Puritans were with Mary Dyer when she insisted on preaching.

For a time Mary Dyer lived quietly in Rhode Island; but when she heard of the cruel treatment of the Quakers in Boston, she was determined to go to their aid. Twice was she driven from the town, and threatened with hanging if she came again.

But Mary Dyer was fearless; her one thought was that her friends, the Quakers, were in prison, many of them dying of fever and hunger. A third time she entered the town. She was at once seized, brought before the judge, and condemned to be hanged. Many friends begged that she might be spared, but the judge would not yield.

On the 27th of October, 1659, Boston Common was to witness the hanging of a woman. The streets were thronged with people, all anxious to get even one glance at the unhappy Quakeress. By her side walked two young men, also Quakers, who were to be hanged with her.

It was one of these who first ascended the fatal ladder. As he was speaking of his faith, and his willingness to die, someone in the crowd called out: "Hold thy tongue! Art thou going to die with a lie in thy mouth?"

Soon the other young man was led forth. As the rope was being fastened he cried, "Know all ye, that we die not for wrong doing, but for conscience' sake!"

And then the judge called, "Mary Dyer!"

Her two friends were hanging dead before her eyes. Fearlessly she mounted the scaffold, and quietly allowed the hangman to fasten the blindfold and the rope. All was ready. The great crowd stood breathless.

The hangman raised his hand to give the signal, when there was heard a cry from the distance, "Stop! stop! she is reprieved! The Governor has reprieved her!"

Shouts of joy rang through the Common, mingled with hisses from those who had longed to see her hanged. She was taken back to the prison, where she was received by her brave son, who looked upon her as one brought back from death. He it was who had besought the Governor to save his mother, and at last won from him her reprieve.

Joyfully, the son carried away the mother to their home in Rhode Island. I wish I could tell you that the good woman lived out her days there with her brave boy, happy and free. But it was not so. Before many months had passed, again she was seized with the idea that it was her duty to go again to Boston and speak for her people.

Nothing could keep her from it; even the prayers and tears of her son, who loved her so, could not prevail upon her to give up the dangerous journey.

Hardly was she within the limits of the city before she was seized upon by the officers and again carried before the judge.

The judge, exasperated with her foolhardiness, as he called it, offered her, once more, her choice between hanging and promising to leave the colony forever. She would not accept the chance to escape, and was sentenced to be hanged on the morrow at nine o'clock.

Half wild with grief, Mary's husband begged the judge to save her once more; but the judge, saying that she had made her own fate, would not change her sentence.

At the appointed hour, the officer led her forth from the prison to the Common, and there, before the eyes of a great number of people, she was hanged, declaring, with her last breath, that she was giving her life, not for any wrong act of hers, but for her religion's sake.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

William Penn

The Quakers of England certainly were in great need at this time of someone who would call them together and find for them a place of safety. Such a leader appeared at last.

This leader was William Penn. He was the son of Admiral Penn, of the English navy. Admiral Penn had been brought up to believe only in the English Church, and to hold in contempt all such people as Puritans and Quakers. Imagine that father's astonishment when his son, having returned from college, came before him dressed in the queer garb of a Quaker, and told him that he had resolved to join these much abused people.

The old gentleman was horrified. He scolded and he argued; he raved and he threatened, but not one whit was the son moved by it all. He sent him abroad, hoping that the gay life at Paris and other great cities of Europe would cure him of this foolish freak he had taken.

Penn came back to England still a Quaker. His father's patience was now exhausted; he allowed Penn to live in the house, but he would have nothing to say to him, and for years would not even look at him.

When his father died, Penn made up a large party of Quakers to come to America. On August 31, 1682, he set sail from Deal, England, in the good ship Welcome, and after a voyage of two months arrived at New Castle on the Delaware on October 27, 1682, and immediately began a settlement. To this settlement he gave the name, Philadelphia, which means "brotherly love."

In payment of a debt owed to Penn's father, King Charles of England had already granted to Penn that tract of land which we now call Pennsylvania; still Penn was not willing to take the land from the Indians without paying them also for it. He held a council with them under a large elm tree. There he made a treaty with them, and the agreements were made peaceably and honestly. Think what a strange picture it must have made! There was the Englishman in his long-skirted coat, with blue sash and broad hat, while all around him stood the Indians gorgeous in their feathers and war-paint, glittering with strings of wampum, and wrapped about with furs.

Like Roger Williams, Penn was always loved and reverenced by the Indians. The great elm under which the treaty was made has long since decayed and fallen; but in its place to-day stands a monument which tells the story of Penn and the treaty.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


This treaty of peace, made between the Quakers and the Indians, had no other than the blue sky, the bright sun and the forests for witnesses. But the Indians were a true-hearted race, and if they were treated with any degree of fairness, whatever, were ready and willing to be honorable in their dealings with the white man. There was a simple gratitude about them that was like a child's; and it is a pity that other white men, not Quakers, had not wisdom enough to deal fairly with these simple-souled people.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

The history of this treaty was kept by the Indians by means of their strings of wampum, and long afterwards they would tell the story over to their children, bidding them always in their fights and war-makings to remember their father's promises to the good Quaker, William Penn.

And so it was that, in the years that followed, when war was raging on every side in all the surrounding States, not one drop of Quaker blood was ever spilled.

There is a little story told of how one Quaker saved the lives of many families about him.

One morning, some Indians, incensed at the behavior of certain colonists up the river, fiercely set forth in full war dress, war paint and all, cruelly bent upon revenge.

On the borders of the forest, toward which they strode, lived a good Quaker and his family. As the Indians approached, the Quaker went forth to greet them. Knowing how honorably the treaty with the Quakers was held by these red men, the Quaker had no fear for his own family.

"But they mean bloodshed to the colonists up the river, I am sure," said he to his wife. "I must try to turn them back."

So generous and frank was the Quaker's greeting, that the fierce warriors, thirsting as they were for blood, melted in the warm sunlight of his gentle heart, and turned back to their wigwams, the massacre given up for that day, at least.

As they went away, one of the Indians climbed up on the little porch over the door and fastened there the "white feather of peace," which was a mark among these Indians that the house upon which that was placed should never, under any provocation, be molested.

War raged on every side in the days that followed; many cruel deeds were done, and hundreds of colonists were slain; but the good Quaker and his family dwelt in safety and slept without fear of harm from their savage neighbors.

Indian Troubles

During these hundred years or more, from the founding of the Plymouth Colony in 1620, there had been continual trouble with the Indians.

The Indians, you remember, were kind to the white men at first; but after the white men began to be cruel and hard to them, they, too, grew hard and cruel, and there seemed nothing too terrible for the Indians to do in revenge.

The newcomers thought that these Indians had very strange ways of carrying on their battles. They never came out and met the enemy face to face in battle array, as the white men were then used to doing, but would skulk around behind trees, in swamps, or in the high grass.

When the white men first used muskets and gunpowder, the Indians were terribly frightened; but it was not long before they, themselves, learned to use them.

One day an old Indian chief begged some gunpowder from a white man and ran away to his wigwam with it.

The white man watched to see what he would do with it. When he reached his wigwam, he called some of his friends about him and, after a long council together, they began to plant the powder. They thought it would grow like corn and beans.

When an Indian killed a white man in battle, he always tried to tear off the skin from the top of the white man's head. These were called scalps. The more scalps he could get the braver he thought he was. After a battle he would show the scalps, with great pride, to the people of his village.

These Indians were a very wandering people, never staying in one place very long at a time. When they made up their minds to move, the women would take down the tents, strap their babies onto their backs and trudge on the best they could, carrying, on their shoulders, the poles and household wares, the mats and the furs. The men would march on ahead, with nothing but their bows and arrows.

Sometimes the poor women would sink under their heavy loads. Then the men would beat them and kick them until the poor things would rise and struggle on.

When the Indians reached a place which looked pleasant for a camping ground, the men would throw themselves down upon the ground, in a sunny place, and lie there smoking and napping, while the women set up the tents and got the camps in order.

The men treated the women like slaves. They expected them to do all the work, such as planting the corn, building the tents, carrying the baggage; while they did nothing but hunt and fish and smoke and fight.

But, in reading of this life of the Indians, let us judge them not too harshly. They were cruel to the women and girl children, that is true; but it was because they knew no better rather than because they meant to be cruel.

Remember they were rude, rough people, accustomed to war and to fighting. Surrounded on all sides by enemies, they grew to regard physical strength and skill in overcoming an enemy as the highest virtue in the world; and, consequently, they had come to look upon women as of very little account—good enough to do the cooking and the drudgery of wigwam life; but that was all.

They had never learned that men and women, boys and girls, were to be judged and valued by something better and higher than mere brute force.

"Good to squaw!" exclaimed an Indian in surprise, when one of the colonists had rebuked him for his treatment of his wife. "She no fight—no scalp!" and I suppose no argument could have convinced the Indian that he was wrong; or that, since she could neither fight nor scalp, it was worth while to make of her anything better than a slave or a servant.

The Puritans, you will remember, landed at Plymouth one cold December day. A few Indians had been seen on the top of the hill when they first landed, but they had fled at the sight of the white men, and were not seen again for some time.

Glad, indeed, were the white men that they did not again appear until they got their log cabins built, in which their wives and children might be safe from the arrows of these strange red men.

Weeks passed by. At last, one morning in March, when the Puritans were holding a town meeting, in stalked a solitary Indian. The Puritans were not overjoyed to see him, you may be sure.

They waited for him to speak. Solemnly he looked about upon them all, and then cried, "Welcome, Englishmen! Welcome, Englishmen!"

These were indeed welcome words; for a minute before the white men had stood breathless, wondering whether this stranger was about to declare peace or war upon them.

Samoset—for that was the name of this visitor—was a tall, straight man, with long black hair, and was arrayed in feathers and furs, and colored with bright paints, as was the custom of these savages.

Samoset was so delighted with the manner in which the white men received him, that he speedily declared his intention of staying with them all night. The white men did not relish that; but, not daring to displease him, they made him comfortable for the night in one of the cabins, and kept watch over him until morning.

At sunrise he was ready to return to his home, and the Puritans gladly bade him farewell.

I am afraid Samoset hadn't very many ideas of what we call etiquette. He did not wait for the Puritans to return his call, but appeared again the very next day, bringing with him five other Indians.

The Puritans were annoyed with this second visit; however, they gave them all food and drink, after which the six Indians danced and sang in a fashion peculiar to themselves.

At night the five Indians went away, but Samoset had made up his mind to stay longer with his new friends.

A few days later, seeing that he had no idea of going home, the Puritans sent him to find Massasoit, who, as Samoset had told them, was the chief of the Indian tribes in that neighborhood—the Wampanoags.

Soon Massasoit, the chief, came, with sixty armed and painted warriors; terrible to look at in their feathers and paint. But Massasoit did not come to fight. He wanted peace between his tribe and the strange people. After a little talk, he sat down with John Carver, the Governor of this little colony, smoked the pipe of peace with him and promised to befriend the colony as long as he should live.

This treaty he always kept, and, as he was a very powerful chief, the Puritans were safe from Indian attack as long as he lived. It was after his death that their real trouble with Indians began.

South of the Plymouth Colony there lived a tribe of Indians who hated Massasoit's tribe. They also hated white men; therefore, you may know that when they learned that Massasoit was protecting these Puritans, they were doubly angry. For a long time they annoyed the colonists in little ways, but there had been no real trouble.

At last, one day, there marched into the village a huge Indian, covered with his war paint, and carrying in his hand a long snake-skin.

This skin he presented to William Bradford, who was now Governor of the colony, telling him that in the snake-skin was a bundle of arrows.

"And what does that mean?" inquired Bradford.

"War, war, war!" yelled the messenger.

"Very well," said Bradford, calmly; "you may take this back to your chief." And as he spoke, he emptied the skin of its arrows and filled it full of shot and gunpowder.

"This means," said Bradford, "that if your chief comes to us with arrows, we will come to him with gunpowder and shot."

The messenger understood, and, snatching the skin, he ran out of the village to his home. There was no more trouble with that tribe of Indians.

One day word came to the Puritans that Massasoit was dying, and that he wished to see the white men once more.

Quickly, one of the Puritans, Edward Winslow, who knew considerable about medicine, hastened to Massasoit's home.

He found the tent, in which Massasoit lay, so full of people that the sick man could hardly breathe. These Indians, both men and women, were howling and dancing around him, trying, so they said, to drive away the bad spirits which were giving him pain.

This was a custom of theirs when an Indian was ill. If the sick man recovered, they believed it was because their noises had scared away the evil spirits; if he did not recover, it was because they had not made a noise great enough.

When Winslow arrived, he set to work to do all he could to relieve the poor chief, who was suffering from high fever.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

In two or three days, Massasoit was quite well again. The Indians looked upon the cure as a miracle, and families came from miles and miles around to see the wonderful "medicine man."

No one was more glad of Massasoit's recovery than the white man himself; for all knew that if Massasoit died the tribes of Indians on all sides would at once rush upon the white settlements, burn the houses, scalp the men, and carry away the women and children as captives.

And this did happen within a very few years. After Massasoit's death, the Indians began to grow jealous of the increasing power of the white men. They were being gradually driven from all their hunting grounds.

King Philip's War


[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt
tribes of Indians, under the leadership of their chief, Philip, banded together and vowed that they would not rest until every white man was driven from the country. There were so many Indians in this league that it seemed for a time as if their threat would indeed be carried out.

The first attack was made upon the people of Swansea. The people had all been gathered together in their little church, which you remember was more like a fort than a church. As they came out, and were walking slowly homeward, suddenly there was heard the Indian war-whoop; and in an instant there burst out from the forests troops of Indians armed with guns, arrows, clubs, tomahawks—anything with which a deadly blow could be given.

After this, the Indians fell upon all the towns and upon the farms scattered about over the country. If you ever read the history of King Philip's War, you will find it full of terrible stories of the cruelty of these Indians, and of stories, sad, sad stories, of the poor women and children who were cruelly murdered or dragged away to be made slaves of.

The Indians were continually on the watch. When men went out to work, they would be shot down by an unseen foe. The women at work in their homes would be shot by a ball or an arrow coming in through the window.

King Philip's right-hand man in this war was Annawon. He it was, who, in the midst of the fire of battle, could be heard shouting to his men, "I-oo-tash! I-oo-tash!" meaning, "Stand to it! Stand to it!"

At last, in August, 1676, King Philip was surrounded in a swamp at Mount Hope and killed. "Now," said the colonists, "if we could capture or kill Annawon, we should be safe."

Finding that Annawon had made his camp in another swamp near by, Captain Church, one of the bravest of the colonists, set out with a companion and some Indian guides to find it. Soon they came in sight of it—down in a deep recess among the hills. There lay Annawon himself, stretched out before his tent half asleep. Slowly and quietly they climbed down, and before Annawon even knew of their presence, Captain Church stepped across the chief's body and took him prisoner.

Meantime, the followers of Captain Church went to the other Indians lying about before their camp-fires, and told them that their chief was taken, that there were hundreds of white men just outside the camp, and that their lives should be spared, if they would surrender at once.

Captain Church, exhausted with his long march, now lay down close to Annawon and slept, throwing his foot over Annawon, so that the least movement would awaken him. For two hours the captain slept. When he woke, he found Annawon lying with eyes wide open staring at him. At last, Annawon arose and stalked off into the forest. As he had surrendered his arms, Captain Church allowed him to go, wondering what he would do next.

Soon he returned, bringing a war-belt, which had belonged to the Indian chief, King Philip.

Laying it at Captain Church's feet, he said, "Great Captain, you kill King Philip—you capture me—now the war is ended—this belt belong to you."

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt

French and Indian War

From 1754 to 1763 there was a bitter war carried on between the French, aided by the Indians, on one side, and the English, aided by her colonies, on the other. We shall pass very quickly over this war, which, though very important, does not chance to have so very many stories for young people in it.

One of the first attacks in this war was made on the French settlement in Acadia. I wish you were old enough to read the beautiful story of Evangeline as it is told by our Longfellow. By and by I hope you will read it, and will learn to love this beautiful Evangeline, who was so cruelly driven from her home in Acadia.

In the beautiful Basin of the Minas was a quiet little French village. The people of this village were peaceful, home loving families, and took no part in the war on either side. The English colonists, however, fearing that they might, by and by, be persuaded to join the French forces, made up their minds to break up this village and scatter the people.

One bright morning the English officers came into the village and demanded that the people be gathered in the churches to hear a message which the English brought to them.

The people all left their work and flocked to the churches. The farmer left his harvest field, the blacksmith his anvil, the wife and maiden their spinning-wheels.

No sooner were all the people within the churches than they were surrounded by British soldiers, hustled down to the water-side, and crowded on board the ships like so many herds of sheep. O, it was a cruel deed! Families were torn apart; wives lost their husbands; mothers lost their little ones; brothers and sisters, lovers and maidens, were doomed never to meet each other again. Piteous were the cries of these poor people, but the soldiers only laughed at their grief.

As they sailed out from the harbor, they saw the soft September sky all one terrible glare of flame. Then they knew that their last hope was gone; their beautiful homes were burned. This the cruel soldiers had done lest the poor Acadians might try to wander back to their old home in this beautiful Basin of the Minas.

When these vessels reached the New England coast, the unhappy people were put ashore here and there at different places, from New England to Virginia, that there might be no possibility of their banding together again. Very few of them ever met their dear ones again, and many died of homesickness and heart-break.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


George Washington
in the French and Indian War

I suppose every child in America knows about George Washington. Indeed, I hardly dare offer you a story about this man, lest you say, "O, don't bother! we know all about him." And very likely you do; but let's read this one story together.

When the French and Indian War broke out, George Washington was a young man, only about as old as those big boys that you see coming now and then from their colleges to spend their vacations at home.

George Washington, you remember, lived in Virginia. The Governor of Virginia at that time was Governor Dinwiddie.

It became very necessary to get a message to the commander of the French forts on the Ohio river; and, as Washington had already made a name for himself, being a brave, honest, trustworthy lad, Governor Dinwiddie chose him to go on this important journey with the message.

It was a terrible journey, and one that was full of danger. Very likely Washington would have been quite willing to be excused from the task; but as it must be done, and somebody must do it, he bravely and willingly accepted the trust.

It was in the winter time; and his journey lay over mountains, through forests, and across rivers, where very likely, no white man had ever been before.

One night he and his companion worked till daylight, making a rude raft with which to cross a narrow river too deep to ford, expecting every minute an attack from the savages of the forest.

Lossing, in his "Life of Washington," gives the following account of this journey:

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


"I was unwilling," writes the guide, "that he should undertake such a march; but, as he insisted on it, we set out with our packs, like Indians, and traveled eighteen miles. That night we lodged at an Indian cabin, and the major was much fatigued. It was very cold; all the small streams were frozen, so that we could hardly get water to drink." At two o'clock the next morning they were again on foot, and pressed forward until they struck the southeast branch of Beaver Creek, at a place called Murderingtown, the scene, probably, of some Indian massacre.

"Here we met with an Indian, whom I thought I had seen when on our journey up to the French fort. This fellow called me by my Indian name, and pretended to be glad to see me. He asked us several questions, as, how came we to travel on foot, where we parted from our horses, and when they would be there. Major Washington insisted upon traveling on the nearest way to the forks of the Allegheny. We asked the Indian if he could go with us, and show us the nearest way. He seemed very glad and ready to do so; upon which we set out, and he took the major's pack.

"We traveled quite briskly for eight or ten miles, when the major's feet grew very sore, and he very weary, and the Indian steered too much northeastwardly. The major desired to encamp, upon which the Indian asked to carry his gun; but he refused that. Then the Indian grew churlish, and pressed us to keep on, telling us there were Ottawa Indians in these woods, and that they would scalp us if we lay out; but to go to his cabin and we should be safe.

"I thought very ill of the fellow, but did not care to let the major know I mistrusted him. But he soon mistrusted him as much as I. The Indian said he could hear a gun from his cabin, and steered us more northwardly. We grew uneasy, and then he said two whoops might be heard from his cabin. We went two miles farther. Then the major said he would stay at the next water, and we desired the Indian to stop there; but before we came to water we came to a clear meadow.

"It was very light. Snow was on the ground. The Indian made a stop, and turned about. The major saw him point his gun toward us and fire. Said the major, 'Are you shot?' 'No,' said I; upon which the Indian ran forward to a big standing white oak, and began loading his gun, but we were soon with him. I would have killed him, but the major would not suffer me. We let him charge his gun. We found he put in a ball; and then we took care of him. Either the major or I always stood by the guns. We made him make a fire for us by a little run, as if we intended to sleep there.

"I said to the major, 'As you will not have him killed, we must get him away, and then we must travel all night;' upon which I said to the Indian, 'I suppose you were lost, and fired your gun.' He said he knew the way to his cabin, and it was but a little way. 'Well,' said I, 'do you go home, and as we are much tired, we will follow your track in the morning.' He was glad to get away. I followed him and listened until he was fairly out of the way, and then we went about half a mile, when we made a fire, set our compass, and fixed our course and traveled all night. In the morning we were on the head of Piney Creek." There is little reason to doubt that it was the intention of the savage to kill one or both of them.

The fort on the Ohio was at last reached. Washington delivered his message to the commander there, who sent back a very insolent reply to Governor Dinwiddie.

The journey back was as hard and as dangerous as the journey to the fort had been. It was accomplished, however, and the French commander's reply delivered to Dinwiddie.

I will not try to tell you what these messages had been about, but the one that Washington brought back from the fort was such that the people of Virginia knew that the French were determined to fight, and that war would surely follow.

Quickly the Governor of Virginia prepared for war, and, sending word to the other colonies, bade them be ready too. All the colonies bravely made ready to meet the foe. Even Georgia, settled only twenty years before, was ready to join hands with Virginia and Massachusetts, the oldest colonies of all, to give what help she could.

To help the colonies, England also sent over

[Illustration] from American History Stories - I by Mara L. Pratt


a large army of soldiers, with General Braddock at the head. Now, General Braddock felt himself to be a great man. Indeed, he had made up his mind that, as soon as he and his army arrived, the whole war would be as good as over. He little knew what sort of people these Indians were with whom he was going to fight. He supposed that, as soon as they caught sight of the great red-coated soldiers with him at their head, they would be so overcome by fright that they would give up at once. "Pooh!" said he, "the idea of Indians daring to fight with me!"

General Braddock's contempt for the colonists was as great as his contempt for the Indians. How he sneered when the sturdy colonists took their places among the red-coats as he drew up his forces in battle array!

It is a wonder he didn't tell them to go to their homes, while he started off through the forests with his troops alone.

Washington, who was at the head of the Virginia militia, talked long and earnestly with Braddock, trying to show him how impossible it would be to attempt to fight these Indians as he would fight a battle where the armies on both sides were trained soldiers.

He told him the Indian way of fighting; how they never came out in battle array; how they always hid behind trees, in bushes, and in swamps.

But Braddock only sneered. "Do you suppose a General in the King's army needs advice from a boy like you?" thought he. And I shouldn't be at all surprised if he said it too.

Now, Washington and his Virginia troops were used to the ways of the Indians, and when they saw that Braddock was determined to set out upon the journey to meet the Indians in the English fashion, they knew only too well what the result would be. Nevertheless they made no complaint, but were ready to start at Braddock's command.

In the first place, there were the Virginia mountains to be climbed, and the rivers to be forded. The English soldiers used only to their level country, began to give out before the journey was half accomplished.

Still, Braddock had not sense enough to see that it would be well to heed the advice of Washington and the other colonists. "Perhaps the Indians can frighten such soldiers as you are," said he, sneering at the colonists, "but they cannot frighten English soldiers."

So they were marching on, in full battle array, drums beating, and colors flying.

Braddock's head was high in the air, and he was very likely expecting to see the Indians advancing in the same manner.

Suddenly, as his army was ascending a little slope with deep ravines and thick underbrush on either side, they were greeted with the terrible war-whoop of the Indians. Arrows began to fly in every direction, men were falling dead about him; still no enemy was to be seen.

"Where are they?" weakly asked the boasting General.

T'he terrible war-whoop resounded on every side. Well might the General ask, "Where are they?" They seemed to be everywhere.

The British regulars huddled together, and frightened, fired right and left at trees and at rocks.

The Virginia troops alone, with Washington at their head, sprang into the forests and into the bushes and met the Indians on their own ground. Washington seemed everywhere present. The Indians singled him out as the especial object for their shot. Four balls passed through his coat; two horses were shot dead beneath him. Braddock was mortally wounded and was borne from the field. Then, when the Virginia troops were nearly all killed, the British soldiers turned and fled disgracefully.

Washington and his few men, seeing they were fleeing turned again upon the Indians, and, by keeping them busy returning his fire, prevented them from pursuing the frightened British regulars.

This battle was a terrible one to the British and the colonists. Nearly all of Washington's troops were killed and a great many of the English; the French and Indians on the other side lost very few.

After this the British were more willing to take the advice of the colonists, who were so much more familiar with the ways of the Indians.

Now in this war it was important that Quebec be taken from the French.

To give you some idea of how Quebec was situated, and how difficult it was to besiege it, perhaps nothing can help you more than the story of how the city came to be named Quebec.

Away back in these early times, when the French were sailing down the St. Lawrence, and taking possession of what they saw, in the name of France, by a turn in the river, they came suddenly into view of a great, sharp overhanging cliff. "Quel bec!" cried one of the sailors, meaning "What a beak!"

Coming nearer, the leader saw that the top of this cliff would make a fine site for a trading-post. It would be difficult for the enemy to attack, and it would be an excellent watch-tower from which to watch vessels passing on the river.

Accordingly the cliff was chosen for the trading-post and remembering the sailor's cry, the explorer gave it the name Quebec. When it afterwards became a city, you can see that it was indeed a watch-tower for the people. If an enemy's vessel was seen approaching, the people were warned long before it reached them, and they meantime had plenty of opportunity to prepare for defence.

"Quebec must be taken!" said the English officers.

"We can do nothing on the river with that city scowling down upon us, ready to attack our vessels as soon as they pass within the shadow of that great beak."

And so it came about that General Wolfe was sent to attack this city of Quebec. Landing at night two miles above the city, the soldiers climbed the steep banks of the river, and stood at daybreak, on the plains of Abraham.

Montcalm, who held the city, was surprised indeed to see the English upon the plain in full battle array. But Montcalm was a brave soldier; and though he knew that in Wolfe he had a "noble foe,'' he did not shrink from the encounter, which seemed likely from the beginning to be disastrous to the French.

Towards ten o'clock the French advanced to the attack. Two cannons, which, with very great labor the English had dragged up the path from the landing place, at once opened fire upon the French.

The advance was badly conducted. The French soldiers marched steadily on, but the native Canadians, firing as they advanced, threw themselves on the ground to reload, and this broke the order of the line. The English advanced some little distance to meet their foes, and then halted.

Not a shot was fired until the French were within forty paces, and then, at the word of command, a volley of musketry, crashed out along the whole length of the line. So regularly was the volley given, that as the French officers afterwards said, it sounded like a single cannon-shot. Another volley followed, then another and another; and when the smoke cleared away there lay the dead and wounded on every side.

All order had been lost under the terrible fire. In three minutes the line of advancing soldiers was broken up into a disorderly shouting mob. Then Wolfe gave the order to charge, and the British cheer mingled with the wild yell of the Scotch Highlanders rose loud and fierce. The English regiments advanced with levelled bayonets; the Highlanders drew their broadswords and rushed headlong forward.

The fire was heaviest on the British right, where Wolfe himself led the charge. A shot shattered his wrist. He wrapped his handkerchief around it and kept on. Another shot struck him, but he still advanced. When a third pierced his breast, he staggered and sat down. Two or three officers and men carried him to the rear, and then laid him down and asked if they would send for a surgeon.

"There is no need," he said. "It is all over with me."

A moment later one of those standing by him cried out:

"They run, see how they run!"

"Who run?" Wolfe asked.

"The enemy, sir; they give way everywhere."

"Go, one of you, to Colonel Burton," Wolfe said, "tell him to march Webb's regiment down to the Charles River to cut off their retreat from the bridge;" then, turning on his side, he said:

"Now, God be praised, I die in peace!" and a few minutes later he died.

At almost the same moment Montcalm, mortally wounded, said to his surgeon, "Have I much longer to live?"

"No," answered the surgeon; "only a few moments, I fear."

"So much the better," answered Montcalm, "I shall not live to see the surrender of Quebec."

This French and Indian War was carried on for about five years. There were many terrible battles, and thousands and thousands of brave men were killed on both sides. At last the British and the colonists won, peace was made, and England now owned all the land from the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Mississippi.

How The Colonies Grew United

The close of this French and Indian War brings us close upon a period which is perhaps the most important in the whole history of our country.

We are coming upon that great war known as the Revolutionary War. Revolution, you know, means a turning over, a changing about; and you will think, before you get through, that it was indeed a turning over and a changing about.

Before we start upon that great war, let us look over this country and see what sort of people and conditions we are going to deal with.

During this French and Indian War, the people of the thirteen colonies had unconsciously been getting ready for the Revolution which was so near at hand.

Before this war, there had been a great deal of petty jealousy between the different colonies. Each had been jealous of the other's religion and customs. The Swedes didn't care to have much to do with the Dutch, and the Dutch were rather jealous of the Swedes; the Puritans and the Quakers had not quite forgotten the days of persecution; the Episcopalians of Virginia, the wealthy planters with their slaves, looked down upon the northern colonists as a very common sort of people.

But during this French and Indian War all the colonies had fought side by side against a common foe, the Indians and French. They had grown more used to each other's ways; the Virginian Episcopalians had found that the Massachusetts Puritans were, after all, quite as brave and noble as they themselves were; while on the other side these rigid Puritans had found that the Virginians were true and honest-hearted, and could make just as sturdy soldiers as were to be found in any colony. All these bitter feelings were gradually softened down, and at the end of the war many a Puritan, Catholic and Episcopalian had made warm friendships with one another, which no doubt lasted as long as they lived.

Other things, too, had been working to bring them together. The British officers had, throughout the war, sneered at the colonists, and had plainly shown them that England considered them as a very inferior sort of people.

Their wishes and their advice had been thrust aside in contempt, and their best officers had often been pushed out to make room for some young Englishman who knew no more about the work before him than a child.

All these and many other influences had been at work to bring about in the colonists a more united brotherly feeling; while, at the same time, there had been creeping into their hearts and heads a feeling of rebellion against the injustice of England, and a sense of strength in themselves, which by and by, as we shall soon see, broke out in that war between England and America known as the Revolution.