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The History of the United States from 1492 to 1910, Volume 1
The Stuarts and the Charter
by Hawthorne, Julian

The cutting off of Charles I.'s head was a deed which few persons in Massachusetts would have advocated; Cromwell himself had remarked that it was a choice between the king's head and his own. History has upon the whole accepted the choice he made as salutary. Achilles, forgetting his heel, deemed himself invulnerable, and his conduct became in consequence intolerable; Charles, convinced that his anointed royalty was sacred, was led on to commit such fantastic tricks before high heaven as made the godly weep. Achilles was disillusioned by the arrow of Paris, and Charles by the ax of Cromwell. Death is a wholesome argument at times.

But though a later age could recognize the high expediency of Charles's taking off, it was too bold and novel to meet with general approbation at the time, even from men who hated kingly rule. Prejudice has a longer root than it itself believes. And the Puritans of New England, having been removed from the immediate pressure of the king's eccentricities, were the less likely to exult over his end. Many of them were shocked at it; more regretted it; perhaps the majority accepted it with a sober equanimity. They were not bloodthirsty, but they were stern.

Neither were they demonstrative; so that they took the Parliament and the Protector calmly, if cordially, and did not use the opportunity of their predominance to cast gibes upon their predecessor. So that, when the Restoration was an established fact, they had little to retract. They addressed Charles II. gravely, as one who by experience knew the hearts of exiles, and told him that, as true men, they feared God and the king. They entreated him to consider their sacrifices and worthy purposes, and to confirm them in the enjoyment of their liberties. Of the execution, and of the ensuing "confusions," they prudently forbore to speak. It was better to say nothing than either to offend their consciences, or to utter what Charles would dislike to hear. Their case, as they well knew, was critical enough at best. Every foe of New England and of liberty would not fail to whisper malice in the king's ear. They sent over an envoy to make the best terms he could, and in particular to ask for the suspension of the Navigation Acts. But the committee had small faith in the loyalty of the colony, and even believed, or professed to do so, that it might invite the aid of Catholic and barbarous Spain against its own blood: they judged of others' profligacy by their own. The king, to gain time, sent over a polite message, which meant nothing, or rather less; for the next news was that the Acts were to be enforced.

Massachusetts thereupon proceeded to define her position. A committee composed of her ablest men caused a paper to be published by the general court affirming their right to do certain things which England, they knew, would be indisposed to permit. In brief, they claimed religious and civil independence, the latter in all but name, and left the king to be a figurehead without perquisites or power. They followed this intrepid statement by solemnly proclaiming Charles in Boston, and threw a sop to Cerberus in the shape of a letter couched in conciliating terms, feigning to believe that their attitude would win his approbation. Altogether, it was a thrust under the fifth rib, with a bow and a smile on the recover. Probably the thrust represented the will of the majority; the bow and smile, the prudence of the timid sort. Simon Bradstreet and John Norton were dispatched to London to receive the king's answer. They went in January of 1662, and after waiting through the spring and summer, not without courteous treatment, returned in the fall with Charles's reply, which, after confirming the charter and pardoning political infidelities under the Protectorate, went on to refuse all the special points which the colony had urged.

Already at this stage of the contest it had become evident that the question was less of conforming with any particular demand or command on the king's part, than of admitting his right to exercise his will at all in the premises. If the colony conceded his sovereignty, they could not afterward draw the line at which its power was to cease. And yet they could not venture to declare absolute independence, partly because, if it came to a struggle in arms, they could not hope to prevail; and partly because absolute independence was less desired than autonomy under the English flag. England was as far from granting autonomy to Massachusetts as independence, but was willing, if possible, to constrain her by fair means rather than by foul. Meanwhile, the tongue of rumor fomented discord. It was said in the colony that England designed the establishment of the Episcopal Church in Massachusetts; whereupon the laws against toleration of "heretics," which had been falling into disuse, were stringently revived. In London the story went that the escaped regicides had united the four chief colonies and were about to lead them in arms to revolt. Clarendon, to relieve anxiety, sent a reassuring message to Boston; but its good effect was spoiled by a report that commissioners were coming to regulate their affairs. The patent of the colony was placed in hiding, the trained bands were drilled, the defenses of the harbor were looked to, and a fast day was named with the double purpose of asking the favor of God, and of informing the colony as to what was in the wind. Assuredly there must have been stout souls in Boston in those days. A few thousand exiles were actually preparing to resist England!

The warning had not been groundless. The fleet which had been fitted out to drive the Dutch governor, Peter Stuyvesant, from Manhattan, stopped at Boston on its way; and we may imagine that its entrance into the harbor on that July day was observed with keen interest by the great-grandfathers of the men of Bunker Hill. It was not exactly known what the instructions of the English officers required; but it was surmised that they meant tyranny. The commission could not have come for nothing. They had no right on New England soil. The fleet, for the present, proceeded on its way, and Massachusetts voluntarily contributed a force of two hundred men; but they were well aware that the trouble was only postponed; and depending on their charter, which contained no provision for a royal commission, they were determined to thwart its proceedings to the utmost of their power. How far that might be, they would know when the time came. Anything was better than surrender to the prerogative. When, in reply to Willoughby, a royalist declared that prerogative is as necessary as the law, Major William Hawthorne, who was afterward to distinguish himself against the Indians, answered him, "Prerogative is not above law!" It was not, indeed.

Accordingly, while the fleet with its commissioners was overawing the New Netherlanders, the Puritans of Boston Bay wrote and put forth a document which well deserves reproduction, both for the terse dignity of the style, which often recalls the compositions of Lord Verulam, and still more for the courageous, courteous, and yet almost aggressive logic with which the life principles of the Massachusetts colonists are laid down. It is a remarkable State paper, and so vividly sincere that, as one reads, one can see the traditional Puritan standing out from the words--the steeple crowned hat, the severe brow, the steady eyes, the pointed beard, the dark cloak and sad-hued garments. The paper is also singular in that it remonstrates against a principle, without waiting for the provocation of overt deeds. This excited the astonishment of Clarendon and others in England; but their perplexity only showed that the men they criticised saw further and straighter than they did. It was for principles, and against them, that the Puritans always fought, since principles are the parents of all acts and control them. The royal commission was, potentially, the sum of all the wrongs from which New England suffered during the next hundred years, and though it had as yet done nothing, it implied everything.

Whose hand it was that penned the document we know not; it was probably the expression of the combined views of such men as Mather, Norton, Hawthorne, Endicott and Bellingham; it may have been revised by Davenport, at that time nearly threescore and ten years of age, the type of the Calvinist minister of the period, austere, inflexible, high-minded, faithful. Be that as it may, it certainly voiced the feeling of the people, as the sequel demonstrated. It is dated October the Twenty-fifth, 1664, and is addressed to the king.
"DREAD SOVEREIGN:--The first undertakers of this Plantation did obtain a Patent, wherein is granted full and absolute power of governing all the people of this place, by men chosen from among themselves, and according to such laws as they should see meet to establish. A royal donation, under the Great Seal, is the greatest security that may be had in human affairs. Under the encouragement and security of the Royal Charter this People did, at their own charges, transport themselves, their wives and families, over the ocean, purchase the land of the Natives, and plant this Colony, with great labor, hazards, cost, and difficulties; for a long time wrestling with the wants of a Wilderness and the burdens of a new Plantation; having now also above thirty years enjoyed the privilege of Government within themselves, as their undoubted right in the sight of God and Man. To be governed by rulers of our own choosing and laws of our own, is the fundamental privilege of our Patent.

"A Commission under the Great Seal, wherein four persons (one of them our professed Enemy) are impowered to receive and determine all complaints and appeals according to their discretion, subjects us to the arbitrary power of Strangers, and will end in the subversion of us all.

"If these things go on, your Subjects will either be forced to seek new dwellings, or sink under intolerable burdens. The vigor of all new Endeavours will be enfeebled; the King himself will be a loser of the wonted benefit by customs, exported and imported from hence to England, and this hopeful Plantation will in the issue be ruined.

"If the aim should be to gratify some particular Gentlemen by Livings and Revenues here, that will also fail, for the poverty of the People. If all the charges of the whole Government by the year were put together, and then doubled or trebled, it would not be counted for one of these Gentlemen a considerable Accommodation. To a coalition in this course the People will never come; and it will be hard to find another people that will stand under any considerable burden in this Country, seeing it is not a country where men can subsist without hard labor and great frugality.

"God knows our greatest Ambition is to live a quiet Life, in a corner of the World. We came not into this Wilderness to seek great things to ourselves; and if any come after us to seek them here, they will be disappointed. We keep ourselves within our Line; a just dependence upon, and subjection to, your Majesty, according to our Charter, it is far from our Hearts to disacknowledge. We would gladly do anything in our power to purchase the continuance of your favorable Aspect. But it is a great Unhappiness to have no testimony of our loyalty offered but this, to yield up our Liberties, which are far dearer to us than our Lives, and which we have willingly ventured our Lives and passed through many Deaths, to obtain.

"It was Job's excellency, when he sat as King among his People, that he was a Father to the Poor. A poor People, destitute of outward Favor, Wealth, and Power, now cry unto their lord the King. May your Majesty regard their Cause, and maintain their Right; it will stand among the marks of lasting Honor to after Generations."
Throughout these sentences sounds the masculine earnestness of men who see that for which they have striven valiantly and holily in danger of being treacherously ravished from them, and who are resolute to withstand the ravisher to the last. It is no wonder that documents of this tone and caliber amazed and alarmed the council in London, and made them ask one another what manner of men these might be. It would have been well for England had they given more attentive ear to their misgivings; but their hearts, like Pharaoh's, were hardened, and they would not let the people go--until the time was ripe, and the people went, and carried the spoils with them.

The secret purpose of the commission was to pave the way for the gradual subjection of the colony, and to begin by inducing them to let the governor become a royal nominee, and to put the militia under the king's orders. Of the four commissioners, Nicolls remained in New York, as we have seen; the three others landed in Boston early in 1665. Their first order was that every male inhabitant of Boston should assemble and listen to the reading of the message from King Charles. These three gentlemen --Maverick, Carr and Cartwright--were courtiers and men of fashion and blood, and were accustomed to regard the king's wish as law, no matter what might be on the other side; but it was now just thirty years since the Puritans left England; they had endured much during that time, and had tasted how sweet liberty was; and half of them were young Americans, born on the soil, who knew what kings were by report only. Young and old, speaking through the assembly, which was in complete accord with them, informed the commissioners that they would not comply with their demand. What were the commissioners, that they should venture to call a public meeting in the town of a free people? The free people went about their affairs, and left the three gentlemen from the Court to stare in one another's scandalized faces.

They were the more scandalized, because their reception in Connecticut and Rhode Island had been different. But different, also, had been the errand on which they went there. Those two colonies were the king's pets, and were to have liberty and all else they wanted; Connecticut they had protected from the rapacity of Lord Hamilton, and Rhode Island had never been other than loving and loyal to the king. They had, to be sure, been politely bowed out by little Plymouth, the yeomen Independents, who still preferred, if his majesty pleased, to conduct their own household affairs in their own way. But to be positively and explicitly rebuffed to their faces, yet glowing with the sunshine of the royal favor, was a new experience; and Cartwright, when he caught his breath, exclaimed, "He that will not attend to the request is a traitor!"

The Massachusetts assembly declined to accept the characterization. Since the king's own patent expressly relieved them from his jurisdiction, it was impossible that their refusal to meet three of his gentlemen-in- waiting could rightly be construed as treason. The commissioners finally wanted to know, yes or no, whether the colonists meant to question the validity of the royal commission? But the assembly would not thus be dislodged from the coign of vantage; they stuck to their patent, and pointed out that nothing was therein said about a commission? So far as they were concerned, the commission, as a commission, could have no existence. They recognized nothing but three somewhat arrogant persons, in huge wigs, long embroidered waistcoats under their velvet coats, and plumes waving from their hats. They presented a glittering and haughty aspect, to be sure, but they had no rights in Boston.

At length, on the twenty-third of May, matters came to a crisis. The commissioners had given out that on that day they were going to hold a court to try a case in which the colony was to defend an action against a plaintiff. This, of course, would serve to indicate that the commissioners had power--whether the assembly conceded it or not--to control the internal economy of the settlement. Betimes in this morning, the rather that it was a very pleasant one--the trees on the Common being dressed in their first green leaves since last year, while a pleasant westerly breeze sent the white clouds drifting seaward over the blue sky--a great crowd began to make its way toward the court house, whose portals frowned upon the narrow street, as if the stern spirit of justice that presided within had cast a shadow beneath them. The doors were closed, and the massive lock which secured them gleamed in the single ray of spring sunshine that slanted along the facade of the edifice.

It was a somber looking throng, as was ever the case in Puritan Boston, where the hats, cloaks and doublets of the people were made of dark, coarse materials, not designed to flatter the lust of the eye. The visages suited the garments, wearing a sedate or severe expression, whether the cast of the features above the broad white collars were broad and ruddy, or pale and hollow-cheeked. There was a touch of the fanatic in many of these countenances, as of men to whom God was a living presence in all their affairs and thoughts, who feared His displeasure more than the king's, who believed that they were His chosen ones, and who knew that His arm was mighty to defend. They were of kin to the men who stood so stubbornly and smote so sore at Marston Moor and Naseby, and afterward had not feared to drag the father of the present Charles to the block. Fiber more unbending than theirs was never wrought into the substance of our human nature; and oppression seemed but to harden it.

They conversed one with another in subdued tones, among which sounded occasionally the lighter accents of women's voices; but they were not a voluble race, and the forms of their speech still followed in great measure the semi-scriptural idioms which had been so prevalent among Cromwell's soldiers years before. They were undemonstrative; but this very immobility conveyed an impression of power in reserve which was more effective than noisy vehemence.

At length, from the extremity of the street, was heard the tramp of horses' hoofs, and the commissioners, bravely attired, with cavalier boots, and swords dangling at their sides, were seen riding forward, followed by a little knot of officers. The crowd parted before them as they came, not sullenly, perhaps, but certainly with no alacrity or suppleness of deference. There was no love lost on either side; but Cartwright, who wore the most arrogant front of the three, really feared the Puritans more than either of his colleagues; and when, seven years afterward, he was called before his majesty's council to tell what manner of men they were, his account of them was so formidable that the council gave up the consideration of the menacing message they had been about to send, and instead agreed upon a letter of amnesty, as likely to succeed better with a people of so "peevish and touchy" a humor.

The cavalcade drew up before the door, and the officials, dismounting, ascended the steps. Finding it locked, Cartwright lifted the hilt of his sword and dealt a blow upon the massive panel.

"Who shuts the door against his majesty's commissioners?" cried he angrily. "Where is the rascal with the keys, I say!"

"I marvel what his majesty's commissioners should seek in the house of Justice," said a voice in the crowd; "since it is known that, when they go in by one door, she must needs go out by the other."

At this sally, the crowd smiled grimly, and the commissioners frowned and bit their lips. Just then there was a movement in the throng, and a tall, dignified man with a white beard and an aspect of grave authority was seen pressing his way toward the court house door.

"Here is the worshipful Governor Bellingham himself," said one man to his neighbor. "Now shall we see the upshot of this matter."

"And God save Massachusetts!" added the other, devoutly.
[Illustration Removed: An Incident of King Philip's War]
The chief magistrate of the colony advanced into the little open space at the foot of the steps, and saluted the commissioners with formal courtesy. "I am sorry ye should be disappointed, sirs," said he; "but I must tell you that it is the decision of the worshipful council that ye do not pass these doors, or order any business of the court, in this commonwealth. Provision is made by our laws for the proper conduct of all matters of justice within our borders, and it is not permitted that any stranger should interfere therewith."

"Truly, Mr. Bellingham," said Maverick, resting one hand on his sword, and settling his plumed hat on his wig with the other, "you take a high tone; but the king is the king, here as in England, and we bear his commission. Massachusetts can frame no laws to override his pleasure; and so we mean to teach you. I call upon all persons here present, under penalty of indictment for treason, to aid us, his majesty's commissioners, to open this court, or to break it open." His voice rang out angrily over the crowd, but no one stirred in answer.

"You forget yourself, sir," said the governor, composedly. "We here are loyal to the king, and too much his friends to believe that he would wrong himself by controverting the charter which bears the broad seal affixed by his own royal father. Your claim doth abuse him more than our refusal. But since you will not hear comfortable words, I must summon one who will speak more bluntly."

He turned, and made a signal with his hand. "Let the herald stand forth," said he; and at the word, a broad-shouldered, deep-chested personage, with a trumpet in one hand and a pike in the other, stepped into the circle and stood in the military attitude of attention.

"Hast thou the proclamation there in thy doublet, Simon?" demanded his worship.

"Aye, verily, that have I," answered Simon, in a voice like a fog horn, "and in my head and my heart, too!"

"Send it forth, then, and God's blessing go with it!" rejoined the chief magistrate, forcibly, but with something like a smile stirring under his beard.

Upon this Simon the herald filled his vast lungs with a mighty volume of New England air, set the long brazen trumpet to his lips, and blew such a blast that the led horses of the commissioners started and threw up their heads, and the windows of the court house shook with the strident vibration. Then, taking the paper on which the proclamation was written, and holding it up before him, he proceeded to bellow forth its contents in such stentorian wise that the commissioners might have heard it, had they been on Boston wharf preparing to embark for England, instead of being within three or four paces. That proclamation, indeed, was heard over the length and breadth of New England, and even across the Atlantic in the gilded chamber of the king of Britain. "These fellows," muttered his majesty, with a vexed air, "have the hardihood to affirm that we have no jurisdiction over them. What shall be done. Clarendon?" "I have ever thought well of them," the chancellor said, rubbing his brow; "they are a sturdy race, and it were not well to wantonly provoke them; yet it is amazing that they should show themselves so forward, without so much as charging the commissioners with the least matter of crimes or exorbitances." Clarendon, indeed, was too lenient to suit the royal party, and this was one of the causes leading up to his impeachment a year or two later.

But the herald was not troubled, nor was his voice subdued, by thoughts of either royalty or royal commissioners; though, as a matter of form, he began with "In the name of King Charles," he coupled with it "by authority of the Charter"; and went on to declare that the general court of Massachusetts, in observance of their duty to God, to the king, and to their constituents, could not suffer any one to abet his majesty's honorable commissioners in their designs. There was no mistaking the defiance, and neither the people nor the commissioners affected to do so. The latter petulantly declared that "since you will misconceive our endeavors, we shall not lose more of our labors upon you"; and they departed to Maine, where they met with a less mortifying reception. The people were much pleased, and made sport of the king's gentlemen, and at their public meetings they were addressed in the same "seditious" vein by magistrates and ministers. "The commission is but a trial of our courage: the Lord will be with His people while they are with Him," said old Mr. Davenport. Endicott, on the edge of the grave, was stanch as ever for the popular liberties. Besides, "There hath been one revolution against the king in England," it was remarked; "perchance there will be another ere long; and this new war with the Netherlands may bring more changes than some think for." On the other hand, resistance was stimulated by tales of what the gold-laced freebooters of the court would do, if they were let loose upon New England. Diplomacy, however, was combined with the bolder counsels; there was hope in delays, and correspondence was carried on with England to that end. Charles's expressed displeasure with their conduct was met with such replies as "A just dependence upon and allegiance unto your majesty, according to the charter, we have, and do profess and practice, and have by our oaths of allegiance to your majesty confirmed; but to be placed upon the sandy foundations of a blind obedience unto that arbitrary, absolute, and unlimited power which these gentlemen would impose upon us--who in their actings have carried it not as indifferent persons toward us--this, as it is contrary to your majesty's gracious expressions and the liberties of Englishmen, so we can see no reason to submit thereto."

The commissioners were recalled; but Charles commanded Bellingham, Hawthorne, and a few others to appear before him in London and answer for the conduct of the colony. The general court met for prayer and debate; Bradstreet thought they ought to comply; but Willoughby and others said, No. A decision was finally handed down declining to obey the king's mandate.
"We have already furnished our views in writing," the court held, "so that the ablest persons among us could not declare our case more fully."
Under other circumstances this fresh defiance might have borne prompt and serious consequences; but Louis XIV. conveniently selected the moment to declare war on England; and Boston commended herself to the home government by arming privateers to prey upon the Canadian commerce, and by a timely gift of a cargo of masts for the English navy. Charles became so much interested in the ladies of his court that he had less leisure for the affairs of empire. Yet he still kept New England in mind; he believed Massachusetts to be rich and powerful, and from time to time revolved schemes for her reduction; and finally, when the colonists were exhausted by the Indian war, the privy council came to the conclusion that, if they were not to lose their hold upon the colony altogether, "this was the conjuncture to do something effectual for the better regulation of that government." They selected, as their agent, the best hated man who ever set foot on Massachusetts soil--Edward Randolph. His mission was to prepare the way for the revocation of its charter, and to undo all the works of liberty and happiness which the labor and heroism of near fifty years had achieved. He was also intrusted by Robert Mason with the management of his New Hampshire claims. The second round in the battle between king and people had begun.

Randolph was a remorseless, subtle, superserviceable villain, who lied to the king, and robbed the colonists, and was active and indefatigable in every form of rascality. During nine years he went to and fro between London and Massachusetts, weaving a web of mischief that grew constantly stronger and more restrictive, until at length the iniquitous object was achieved. His first visit to Boston was in 1676; he stayed but a few weeks, and accomplished nothing, but his stories about the wealth and population of the colonies stimulated the greed of his employers. Envoys were ordered to come to London, and this time they were sent, but with powers so limited as to prevent any further result than the cession of the jurisdiction of Massachusetts over Maine and New Hampshire--which, as we have seen, was bought back the next year. The enforcement of the Navigation Acts was for the moment postponed. The colonists would pay duties to the king within the plantation if he would let them import directly from the other countries of Europe. But Charles wished to strengthen his grasp of colonial power, although, if possible, with the assembly's consent. In 1678, the crown lawyers gave an opinion that the colony's disregard of the Navigation Acts invalidated their charter. Randolph was appointed customs collector in New England, and it was determined to replace the laws of Massachusetts by such as were not "repugnant to the laws of England." And the view was expressed that the settlement should be made a royal colony. Manifestly, the precious liberties of the Puritans were in deadly peril.

A synod of the churches and a meeting of the general court were held to devise defense. To obviate a repeal of their laws, these were in a measure remodeled so as to bring them nearer to what it was supposed the king would require. Almost anything would be preferable to giving up the right to legislate for themselves. It was first affirmed that English laws did not operate in America, and that the Navigation Acts were despotic because there was no colonial representation in the English parliament. And then, to prove once more how far above all else they prized principle, they passed a Navigation Act of their own, which met all the king's stipulations. They would submit to the drain on their resources and the hampering of their enterprise, but only if they themselves might inflict them. Meanwhile, they cultivated to the utmost the policy of delay. Randolph, came over with his patent as collector in 1679, but though the patent was acknowledged, he was able to make no arrangements for conducting the business. Orders were sent for the dispatch of agents to London with unlimited powers; but Massachusetts would not do it. Parliament would not abet the king in his despotic plans beyond a certain point; but he was at length able to dissolve it, and follow what counsels he pleased. His first act was to renew the demand for plenipotentiary envoys, or else he would immediately take steps legally to evict and avoid their charter.

Two agents, Dudley and Richards, were finally appointed to go to the king and make the best terms possible. If he were willing to compound on a pecuniary basis, which should spare the charter, let it be done, provided the colony had the means for it; but, whatever happened, the charter privileges of the commonwealth were not to be surrendered. The agents had not, therefore, unlimited powers; and when Charles discovered this, he directed them to obtain such powers, or a judicial process would be adopted. This alternative was presented to Massachusetts in the winter of 1682, and the question whether or not to yield was made the subject of general prayer, as well as of discussion. There seemed no possible hope in resistance. Might it not then be wiser to yield? They might thus secure more lenient treatment. If they held out to the bitter end, the penalty would surely be heavier. The question ultimately came up before the general court for decision.

It is probable that no other representative body in the world would have adopted the course taken by that of Massachusetts. Certainly since old Roman times, we might seek in vain for a verdict which so disregarded expediency--everything in the shape of what would now be termed "practical politics"--and based itself firmly and unequivocally on the sternest grounds of conscience and right. It was passed after thorough debate, and with clear prevision of what the result must be; but the magistrates had determined that to suffer murder was better than to commit suicide; and this is the manner in which they set forth their belief.
"Ought the government of Massachusetts to submit to the pleasure of the court as to alteration of their charter? Submission would be an offense against the majesty of heaven; the religion of the people of New England and the court's pleasure cannot consist together. By submission Massachusetts will gain nothing. The court design an essential alteration, destructive to the vitals of the charter. The corporations in England that have made an entire resignation have no advantage over those that have stood a suit in law; but, if we maintain a suit, though we should be condemned, we may bring the matter to chancery or to parliament, and in time recover all again. We ought not to act contrary to that way in which God hath owned our worthy predecessors, who in 1638, when there was a quo warranto against the charter, durst not submit. In 1664, they did not submit to the commissioners. We, their successors, should walk in their steps, and so trust in the God of our fathers that we shall see His salvation. Submission would gratify our adversaries and grieve our friends. Our enemies know it will sound ill in the world for them to take away the liberties of a poor people of God in the wilderness. A resignation will bring slavery upon us sooner than otherwise it would be; and it will grieve our friends in other colonies, whose eyes are now upon New England, expecting that the people there will not, through fear, give a pernicious example unto others.

"Blind obedience to the pleasure of the court cannot be without great sin, and incurring the high displeasure of the King of kings. Submission would be contrary unto that which hath been the unanimous advice of the ministers, given after a solemn day of prayer. The ministers of God in New England have more of the spirit of John the Baptist in them, than now, when a storm hath overtaken them, to be reeds shaken with the wind. The priests were to be the first that set their foot in the waters, and there to stand till all danger be past. Of all men, they should be an example to the Lord's people of faith, courage, and constancy. Unquestionably, if the blessed Cotton, Hooker, Davenport, Mather, Shepherd, Mitchell, were now living, they would, as is evident from their printed books, say, Do not sin in giving away the inheritance of your fathers.

"Nor ought we to submit without the consent of the body of the people. But the freemen and church members throughout New England will never consent hereunto. Therefore, the government may not do it.

"The civil liberties of New England are part of the inheritance of their fathers; and shall we give that inheritance away? Is it objected that we shall be exposed to great sufferings? Better suffer than sin. It is better to trust the God of our fathers than to put confidence in princes. If we suffer because we dare not comply with the wills of men against the will of God, we suffer in a good cause, and shall be accounted martyrs in the next generation, and at the Great Day."
The promulgation of this paper was the prelude to much calamity in New England for many years; but how well it has justified itself! Such words are a living power, surviving the lapse of many generations, and flaming up fresh and vigorous above the decay of centuries. The patriotism which they express is of more avail than the victories of armies and of navies, for these may be won in an ill cause; but the dauntless utterances of men who would rather perish than fail to keep faith with God and with their forefathers is a victory for mankind, and is everlasting. How poor and vain in comparison with this stern and sincere eloquence seem the supple time-service and euphemism of vulgar politicians of whose cunning and fruitless spiderwebs the latter years have been so prolific. It is worth while to do right from high motives, and to care for no gain that is not gained worthily. The men of Massachusetts who lived a hundred years before Jefferson were Americans of a type as lofty as any that have lived since; the work that was given them to do was so done that time can take away nothing from it, nor add anything. The soul of liberty is in it. It is easy to "believe in" our country now, when it extends from ocean to ocean, and is the home of seventy-five million human beings who lead the world in intelligence, wealth, and the sources of power. But our country two hundred years ago was a strip of sea-coast with Indians on one side and tyrants on the other, inhabited by a handful of exiles, who owned little but their faith in God and their love for the freedom of man. No lesser men than they could have believed in their country then; and they vindicated their belief by resisting to the last the mighty and despotic power of England.

On November 30, 1683, the decision was made known: "The deputies consent not, but adhere to their former bills." A year afterward the English court, obstinate in the face of all remonstrances, adjudged the royal charter of Massachusetts to be forfeited. It had been in existence all but half a century. It was no more; but it had done its work. It had made Massachusetts. The people were there--the men, the women and the children --who would hand on the tradition of faith and honor through the hundred years of darkness and tribulation till the evil spell was broken by the guns of Bunker Hill. Royal governors might come and go; but the people were growing day by day, and though governors and governments are things of an hour, the people are immortal, and the time of their emancipation will come. By means of the charter, the seed of liberty was sown in favorable soil; it must lie hid awhile; but it would gather in obscurity and seeming death the elements of new and more ample life, and the genius of endless expansion, Great men and nations come to their strength through great trials, so that they may remember, and not lightly surrender what was so hardly won.

The king's privy council, now that Massachusetts lay naked and helpless before them, debated whether she should be ruled by English laws, or whether the king should appoint governors and councils over her, who should have license to work their wills upon her irresponsibly, except in so far as the king's private instructions might direct them. A minority, represented by Lord Halifax, who carried a wise head on young shoulders, advised the former plan; but the majority preferred to flatter Charles's manifest predilection, and said--not to seem embarrassingly explicit--that in their opinion the best way to govern a colony on the other side of an ocean three thousand miles broad, was to govern it--as the king thought best!

So now, after so prolonged and annoying a delay, the royal libertine had his Puritan victim gagged and bound, and could proceed to enjoy her at his leisure. But it so fell out that the judgment against the charter was received in Boston on the second of July, 1685, whereas Charles II. died in London on February 6th of the same year; so that he did not get his reward after all: not, at least, the kind of reward he was looking for. But, so far as Massachusetts was concerned, it made little difference; since James II. was as much the foe of liberty as was his predecessor, and had none of his animal amiability. The last act of the Massachusetts assembly under the old order was the appointing of a day of fasting and prayer, to beseech the Lord to have mercy upon his people.

The reign of James II. was a black season for the northern American colonies; we can say no better of it than that it did not equal the bloody horrors which were perpetrated in Scotland between 1680 and 1687. Massacres did not take place in Massachusetts; but otherwise, tyranny did its perfect work. The most conspicuous and infamous figures of the time are Sir Edmund Andros and Edward Randolph.

Andros, born in 1637, was thirty-seven years of age when he came to the colonies as governor of New York on behalf of the Duke of York. He was a lawyer, and a man of energy and ability; and his career was on the whole successful, from the point of view of his employers and himself; his tenure of office in New York was eight years; he was governor of New England from 1686 to 1689, when he was seized and thrown in jail by the people, on the outbreak of the Revolution in England; and he afterward governed Virginia for seven years (1692-1698), which finished his colonial career. But from 1704 to 1706 the island of Jersey, in the English Channel, was intrusted to his rule; and he died in London, where he was born, in 1714, being then seventy-seven years old, not one day of which long life, so far as records inform us, was marked by any act or thought on his part which was reconcilable with generosity, humanity or honor. He was a tyrant and the instrument of tyranny, hating human freedom for its own sake, greedy to handle unrighteous spoils, mocking the sufferings he wrought, triumphing in the injustice he perpetrated; foul in his private life as he was wicked in his public career. A far more intelligent man than Berkeley, of Virginia, he can, therefore, plead less excuse than he for the evil and misery of which he was the immediate cause. But no earthly punishment overtook him; for kings find such men useful, and God gives power to kings in this world, that mankind may learn the evil which is in itself, and gain courage and nobility at last to cast it out, and trample it under foot.

James II. was that most dangerous kind of despot--a stupid, cold man; even his libertinism, as it was without shame, so was it without passion. In his public acts he plodded sluggishly from detail to detail, with eyes turned downward, never comprehending the larger scope and relations of things. He was incapable of perceiving the vileness, cruelty, or folly of what he did; the almost incredible murders in Scotland never for a moment disturbed his clammy self-complacency. Perhaps no baser or more squalid soul ever wore a crown; yet no doubt ever crept into his mind that he was God's chosen and anointed. His pale eyes, staring dully from his pale face, saw in the royal prerogative the only visible witness of God's will in the domain of England; the atmosphere of him was corruption and death. But from 1685 to 1688 this man was absolute master of England and her colonies; and the disease which he bred in English vitals was hardly cured even by the sharp medicine of the Boyne.

By the time Andros came to New England, he had learned his business. The year after his appointment to New York, he attempted to assert his sovereignty up to the Connecticut River; but he was opposed by deputy governor Leet, a chip of the old roundhead block, who disowned the patent of Andros and practically kicked him out of the colony. Connecticut paid for her temerity when the owner of Andros became king. In the meanwhile he returned to New York, where he was not wanted, but was tolerated; the settlers there were a comfortable people, and prosperous in the homely and simple style natural to them: they demanded civil rights in good, clear terms, and cannot be said to have been unduly oppressed at this time. New York for awhile included the Delaware settlements, and Andros claimed both east and west Jersey. The claim was contested by Carteret and by the Quakers. When the Jersey commerce began to be valuable, Andros demanded tribute from the ships, and shook the Duke's patent in the people's faces. They replied, rather feebly, with talk of Magna Charta. In 1682, the western part came by purchase into Quaker ownership, and, three years afterward, the eastern part followed by patent from the Duke. To trace the vicissitudes of this region to their end, it was surrendered to England in 1702, and united to New York; and in 1788, in compliance with the desire of the inhabitants, it became its own master. The settlers were of composite stock: Quakers, Puritans, and others; and at the time of the Scotch persecutions, large numbers of fugitive Covenanters established themselves on the eastern slopes. The principle on which land was distributed, in comparatively small parcels, made the Jerseys a favorite colony for honest and industrious persons of small means; and, upon the whole, life went well and pleasantly with them.

At the time of the return of Andros to England, in 1682, the assembly decreed free trade, and Dongan, the new Roman Catholic governor, permitted them to enact a liberal charter. In the midst of the happiness consequent upon this, the Duke became king and lost no time in breaking every contract that he had, in his unanointed state, entered into. Taxes arbitrarily levied, titles vacated in order to obtain renewal fees, and all the familiar machinery of official robbery were put in operation. But Dongan, a kindly Kildare Irishman--he was afterward Earl of Limerick --would not make oppression bitter; and the New Yorkers were not so punctilious about abstract principles as were the New England men. Favorable treaties were made with the Indians; and the despot's heel was not shod with iron, nor was it stamped down too hard. The Dongan charter, as it was called, remained in the colony's possession for over forty years. The rule of Dongan himself continued till 1688.

Andros, after an absence from the colonies of five years, during which time a native but unworthy New Englander, Joseph Dudley, had acted as president, came back to his prey with freshened appetite in 1686. He was royal governor of all New England. Randolph, an active subordinate under Dudley, had already destroyed the freedom of the press. Andros's power was practically absolute; he was to sustain his authority by force, elect his own creatures to office, make such laws as pleased him, and introduce episcopacy. He forbade any one to leave the colony without leave from himself; he seized a meeting house and made it into an Episcopal church, in spite of the protests of the Puritans, and the bell was rung for high-church service in spite of the recalcitrant Needham. Duties were increased; a tax of a penny in the pound and a poll tax of twenty pence were levied; and those who refused payment were told that they had no privilege, except "not to be sold as slaves." Magna Charta was no protection against the abolition of the right of Habeas Corpus: "Do not think the laws of England follow you to the ends of the earth!" Juries were packed, and Dudley, to avoid all mistakes, told them what verdicts to render. Randolph issued new grants for properties, and extorted grievous fees, declaring all deeds under the charter void, and those from Indians, or "from Adam," worthless. West, the secretary, increased probate duties twenty-fold. When Danforth complained that the condition of the colonists was little short of slavery, and Increase Mather added that no man could call anything his own, they got for answer that "it is not for his majesty's interest that you should thrive." In the history of Massachusetts, there is no darker day than this.

The great New England romancer, writing of this period a hundred and seventy years later, draws a vivid and memorable picture of the people and their oppressors. "The roll of the drum," he says, "had been approaching through Cornhill, louder and deeper, till with reverberations from house to house, and the regular tramp of martial footsteps, it burst into the street. A double rank of soldiers made their appearance, occupying the whole breadth of the passage, with shouldered matchlocks, and matches burning, so as to present a row of fires in the dusk. Their steady march was like the progress of a machine, that would roll irresistibly over everything in its way. Next, moving slowly, with a confused clatter of hoofs on the pavement, rode a party of mounted gentlemen, the central figure being Sir Edmund Andros, elderly, but erect and soldier-like. Those around him were his favorite councilors, and the bitterest foes of New England. At his right rode Edward Randolph, our arch-enemy, that 'blasted wretch,' as Mather calls him, who achieved the downfall of our ancient government, and was followed with a sensible curse, through life and to his grave. On the other side was Bullivant, scattering jests and mockery as he rode along. Dudley came behind, with a downcast look, dreading, as well he might, to meet the indignant gaze of the people, who beheld him, their only countryman by birth, among the oppressors of his native land. The captain of a frigate in the harbor, and two or three civil officers under the Crown, were also there. But the figure that most attracted the public eye, and stirred up the deepest feeling, was the Episcopal clergyman of King's Chapel, riding haughtily among the magistrates in his priestly vestments, the fitting representative of prelacy and persecution, the union of church and state, and all those abominations which had driven the Puritans to the wilderness. Another guard of soldiers, in double rank, brought up the rear. The whole scene was a picture of the condition of New England, and its moral, the deformity of any government that does not grow out of the nature of things and the character of the people. On one side the religious multitude, with their sad visages and dark attire, and, on the other, the group of despotic rulers, with the high churchman in the midst, and here and there a crucifix at their bosoms, all magnificently clad, flushed with wine, proud of unjust authority, and scoffing at the universal groan. And the mercenary soldiers, waiting but the word to deluge the street with blood, showed the only means by which obedience could be secured."

Education was temporarily paralyzed, and the right of franchise was rendered nugatory by the order that oaths must be taken with the hand on the Bible--a "popish" ceremony which the Puritans would not undergo. The town meetings, which were the essence of New Englandism, were forbidden except for the election of local officers, and ballot voting was stopped: "There is no such thing as a town in the whole country," Andros declared. Verily, it was "a time when New England groaned under the actual pressure of heavier wrongs than those threatened ones which brought on the Revolution." Yet the spirit of the people was not crushed; their leaders did not desert them; in private meetings they kept their faith and hope alive; the ministers told them that "God would yet be exalted among the heathen"; and one at least among them, Willard, significantly bade them take note that they "had not yet resisted unto blood, warring against sin!"

Boston was Andros's headquarters, and in 1688 was made the capital of the whole region along the coast from the French possessions in the north to Maryland in the south. But Andros had not yet received the submission of Rhode Island and Connecticut. Walter Clarke was the governor of the former colony in 1687, when, in the dead of winter, Andros appeared there and ordered the charter to be given up. Roger Williams had died three years before. Clarke tried to temporize, and asked that the surrender be postponed till a fitter season. But Andros dissolved the government summarily, and broke its seal; and it is not on record that the Rhode Islanders offered any visible resistance to the outrage. From Rhode Island Andros, with his retinue and soldiers, proceeded to Hartford, which had lost its Winthrop longer ago than the former its Williams. Governor Dongan of New York had warned Connecticut of what was to come, and had counseled them to submit. Three writs of quo warranto were issued, one upon another, and the colony finally petitioned the king to be permitted to retain its liberties; but in any case to be merged rather in Massachusetts than in New York. It was on the last day of October, 1687; Andros entered the assembly hall, where the assembly was then in session, with Governor Treat presiding. The scene which followed has entered into the domain of legend; but there is nothing miraculous in it; a deed which depended for its success upon the secrecy with which it was accomplished would naturally be lacking in documentary confirmation. Upon Andros's entrance, hungry for the charter, Treat opposed him, and entered upon a defense of the right of the colony to retain the ancient and honorable document, hallowed as it was by associations which endeared it to its possessors, aside from its political value. Andros, of course, would not yield; the only thing that such men ever yield to is superior force; but force being on his side, he entertained no thought of departing from his purpose. The dispute was maintained until so late in the afternoon that candles must be lighted; some were fixed in sconces round the walls, and there were others on the table, where also lay the charter, with its engrossed text, and its broad seal. The assemblymen, as the debate seemed to approach its climax, left their seats and crowded round the table, where stood on one side the royal governor, in his scarlet coat laced with gold, his heavy but sharp-featured countenance flushed with irritation, one hand on the hilt of his sword, the other stretched out toward the coveted document:--on the other, the governor chosen by the people, in plain black, with a plain white collar turned down over his doublet, his eyes dark with emotion, his voice vibrating hoarsely as he pleaded with the licensed highwayman of England. Around, is the ring of strong visages, rustic but brainy, frowning, agitated, eager, angry; and the flame of the candles flickering in their heavily-drawn breath.

Suddenly and simultaneously, by a preconcerted signal, the lights are out, and the black darkness has swallowed up the scene. In the momentary silence of astonishment, Andros feels himself violently shoved aside; the hand with which he would draw his sword is in an iron grasp, as heavy as that which he has laid upon colonial freedom. There is a surging of unseen men about him, the shuffling of feet, vague outcries: he knows not what is to come: death, perhaps. Is Sir Edmund afraid? We have no information as to the physical courage of the man, further than that in 1675 he had been frightened into submission by the farmers and fishermen at Fort Saybrook. But he need not have been a coward to feel the blood rush to his heart during those few blind moments. Men of such lives as his are always ready to suspect assassination.

But assassination is not an American method of righting wrong. Anon the steel had struck the flint, and the spark had caught the tinder, and one after another the candles were alight once more. All stared at one another: what had happened? Andros, his face mottled with pallor, was pulling himself together, and striving to resume the arrogant insolence of his customary bearing. He opens his mouth to speak, but only a husky murmur replaces the harsh stridency of his usual utterance. "What devilish foolery is this--" But ere he can get further, some bucolic statesman brings his massive palm down on the table with a bang that makes the oaken plank crack, and thunders out--"The charter! Where's our charter?"

Where, indeed? That is one of those historic secrets which will probably never be decided one way or the other. "There is no contemporary record of this event." No: but, somehow or other, one hears of Yankee Captain Joe Wadsworth, with the imaginative audacity and promptness of resource of his race, snatching the parchment from the table in the midst of the groping panic, and slipping out through the crowd: he has passed the door and is inhaling with grateful lungs the fresh coolness of the cloudy October night. Has any one seen him go? Did any one know what he did?--None who will reveal it. He is astride his mare, and they are off toward the old farm, where his boyhood was spent, and where stands the great hollow oak which, thirty years ago, Captain Joe used to canvass for woodpeckers' nests and squirrel hordes. He had thought, in those boyish days, what a good hiding-place the old tree would make; and the thought had flashed back into his mind while he listened to that fight for the charter to-day. It did not take him long to lay his plot, and to agree with his few fellow-conspirators. Sir Edmund can snatch the government, and scrawl Finis at the foot of the Connecticut records; but that charter he shall never have, nor shall any man again behold it, until years have passed away, and Andros has vanished forever from New England.

Meanwhile, he returned to Boston, there, for a season, to make "the wicked walk on every side, and the vilest to be exalted." Then came that famous April day of 1689; and, following, event after event, one storming upon another's heels, as the people rose from their long bondage, and hurled their oppressors down. The bearer of the news that William of Orange had landed in England, was imprisoned, but it was too late. Andros ordered his soldiers under arms; but the commander of the frigate had been taken prisoner by the Boston ship-carpenters; the sheriff was arrested; hundreds of determined men surrounded the regimental headquarters; the major resisted in vain; the colors and drums were theirs; a vast throng at the town house greeted the venerable Bradstreet; the insurrection was proclaimed, and Andros and his wretched followers, flying to the frigate, were seized and cast into prison. "Down with Andros and Randolph!" was the cry; and "The old charter once more!" It was a hundred years to a day before that shot fired at Concord and heard round the world.


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