American History Stories—Volume I - Mara L. Pratt

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.