Chapter 5



It was on a beautiful September day in 1621, the loveliest season of the year in forest-clad New England, that Captain Miles Standish, with Squantum, his Indian friend, and a picked force of a dozen stalwart matchlock men, sailed into Boston harbor, bound on an expedition to what we call the Blue Hills of Milton, but which the Indians called Massachusetts,—the "great hills of the arrowheads."

They coasted along the island-dotted harbor from Quincy to Charlestown, and landing at the mouth of the Mystic, just opposite the foot of Copps Hill, left their shallop on the shore, and marched inland along the Mystic as far as the heights of Medford.

They sought the Indian chieftain of that region,—a famous woman known as the squaw sachem of the Massachusetts, hoping to make with her a treaty of peace and friendship. But the squaw sachem, whose chief settlement was in what is now the city of Somerville, either did not know or did not care to know of the visit of the white men, for she was always "just gone beyond," so her tribesmen reported, and Captain Standish returned to Plymouth without having met the woman chief; but he had made a fairly satisfactory




exploration of Boston harbor and its vicinity, and reported, on his return, that "the country of the Massachusetts is the paradise of all these parts; for here are many isles all planted with corn, groves, mulberry trees, and savage gardens."

Thus, too, had Captain John Smith reported of the fair and pleasant land at the mouths of the Mystic and the Charles.

As he had told Captain Henry Hudson about the river that bears the name of that fearless sailorman who led the way to the greatness of New York, even so had he told an English clergyman, the Rev. William Blackstone (or Blaxton) of the benefits of Boston as a place of residence, and had prompted that exclusive and somewhat peculiar parson to live a hermit’s life just over the crest of Beacon Hill,—the first white inhabitant of Boston.

The stories of Smith and the reports from Blackstone had stirred in England much desire among the great trading syndicates to colonize or work up this attractive region, and at last a company was formed in England, under rich and powerful backing, to bring into the market the Massachusetts Bay country, as the stretch of water about Boston harbor was called.

In the summer of 1628 a company of twelve influential and worthy gentlemen met together at the famous college town of Cambridge in England, and formed themselves into an association, which they called the "Governor and Companions of the Massachusetts Bay Company." They were all leading men of the growing Puritan party in England, which, just then, was worrying into action





that obstinate son of an obstinate father, Charles Stuart, the son and successor of James, and then styled Charles I., King of England.

By some means these Puritan gentlemen secured from King Charles a charter to possess and govern the lands stretching north and west from Boston harbor, then known as Massachusetts Bay. Having secured this charter, the new company, meeting at Cambridge, elected as the president or governor of the company John Winthrop of Groton in Suffolk.

John Winthrop was one of the noblest of men and of Englishmen, —sturdy, honorable, pure-spirited, strong-hearted, a leader and a guide. Men, indeed, have called him the "Washington of colonization." Could any term better describe his character? "When his life shall have been adequately written," says John Fiske, "he will be recognized as one of the very noblest figures in American history."

There was a great feeling of unrest in England. That mighty struggle between king and commons, known as the "Great Rebellion," was fast drawing near. The Puritans, worried and persecuted by the king and his advisers, looked for relief and rest toward a land where they might have the right to believe and act and live according to the dictates of their own consciences rather than the king’s tyrannical laws.

That land was for them on the shores of Massachu



setts Bay, and to that fair country John Winthrop, as head of the newly formed company, offered to lead all such dissatisfied Puritans as desired to make for themselves a new home in a new land.

Already other men, following the example of the Pilgrims of Plymouth, had gone across the sea for the same purpose. Settlements had sprung up along the Bay shore, north and south. The Dorchester Fishing Company had planted little villages at Salem and on Cape Ann, and even before John Winthrop led the great exodus of 1630, and became the Moses of the Puritan~ people to lead them into what they deemed the Promised Land, other adventurous spirits or enterprising settlers to the number of several hundred had established homes, scattering themselves along the curving shore of the great bay from Plymouth and Duxbury to Salem and the Piscataqua. And this is a part of the agreement entered into by John Winthrop and the rest of the twelve gentlemen who met at Cambridge in England on the twenty-eighth day of August, in the year 1629:

"For the better encouragement of ourselves and others that shall join with us in this action, and to the end that every man may without scruple dispose of his estate and affairs as may best fit his preparation for this voyage, it is fully and faithfully agreed amongst us, and every one of us doth hereby freely and sincerely promise and bind himself, on the word of a Christian, and in the presence of God, who is the searcher of all hearts, that we will be ready in our persons and with such of our several families as are to go with us, and such provision



as we are able conveniently to furnish ourselves withal, to embark for the said plantation by the 1st of March next, at such port or ports of this land as shall be agreed upon by the company, to the end to pass the seas (under God’s protection) to inhabit and continue in New England."

March came. Winthrop was ready; a dozen ships were preparing for the voyage; a thousand emigrants were booked for the venture; and on the 22d of March, 1630, the advance fleet of four vessels—one of them the flagship of the governor—set sail from Southampton.

As did William Bradford of the Plymouth colony, so did John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony— he kept a diary; and out of that diary has been taken the story of the founding and early settlement of the Com- monwealth of Massachusetts.

Governor Winthrop’s ship was the Arbella. It was named for one of the leading Englishwomen who had cast in their lot with the colony,—the Lady Arbella Johnson. She was the wife of one of the head men of the company, and was the daughter of an English nobleman.

The expedition first made land off Salem harbor, anchoring just beyond Bakers Island, still one of the Salem landmarks. Then, while Governor Winthrop and some of his chief associates went up to visit the weak and struggling little settlement, most of the passengers went ashore to "stretch their legs" after their long and tedious voyage of seventy-six days, and to pick strawberries; for it was the twenty-second day of June, just the time when the wild strawberries of Cape Ann are ripe and most inviting.



From Salem the Arbella sailed down the coast to Boston harbor. There the emigrants landed and began the settlement of the real Massachusetts at Charlestown, or "Cherton," as the clipped English pronunciation called it, where the Mystic and the Charles pour their mingled waters into the broad and beautiful harbor.

But the scarcity of drinking water at Charlestown bothered them, and when they learned from Blackstone of Beacon Hill that there were excellent and numerous springs on the hill-broken peninsula across the Charles, the colony removed to the other side of the river, and began a new settlement around one spring of especial excellence, on the site of what is now the Boston post office. To this settlement they soon gave the name of Boston, the cathedral town in the fen country of Lincolnshire in England, near to the boyhood home of Captain John Smith. The English Boston, too, had been the home of the Lady Arbella Johnson, and there lived also a noted Puritan minister, the Rev. John Cotton, who later joined the growing colony at the new Boston in Massachusetts.

For, in spite of a harsh Boston winter, full of rawness and east wind, of cold and storm and snow, the colony did grow and prosper, far outstripping the Plymouth settlement.

"We are here in a paradise,"—so Governor Winthrop wrote to his wife, who had not yet sailed over the sea from England. "Though we have not beef and mutton, yet (God be praised) we want them not. Our Indian corn answers for all; yet here is fowl and fish in great plenty."



But though Captain John Smith and Captain Miles Standish and Governor John Winthrop, too, had all called Boston a "paradise," and though that opinion has ever since been held by all true Bostonians, it proved anything but a paradise at first.

The winter, as I have said, was a bitter one. It was much worse than that fatal first winter of the Pilgrims at Plymouth. The newcomers, weakened by the long voyage in poorly appointed and scurvy-tainted ships, were not prepared for such extremes of cold as they experienced; they were poorly provided to stand the trying climate of New England, which can never be depended upon, except, as Mark Twain declares, to give you all possible changes within twenty-four hours.

Clams and mussels, groundnuts and acorns, are not a strengthening diet. Many died before spring, among them the Lady Arbella and her husband, Isaac Johnson, one of Governor Winthrop’s right-hand men.

Food grew so scarce, their limited supplies giving out, that one day in February, 1631, the governor had put the last batch of bread into his oven; he had scraped she last handful of meal in his barrel to give to a starving comrade, and had appointed a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer. It was likely to be a fast day indeed, when suddenly a sail was seen; a ship came up the harbor. Despair turned to joy. It was the long-expected, long-delayed supply ship bringing stores from England.

They kept no fast day then, for, so Winthrop tells us in his diary, "We held a day of thanksgiving for this ship’s arrival, by order of the governor and council, directed to all the plantations."



That was in February, 1631. It was the first regularly appointed Thanksgiving Day in New England.

"The plantations," as the governor called the cluster of settlements, or townships, were some eight or more, —Boston, Watertown, Roxbury, Saugus, Salem, Newtown, Charlestown, and Dorchester.

In almost every case these townships had not been settled by people from different sections of old England, but by those who, following the lead of the ministers of certain congregations at home, had come to America as offshoots from different Puritan churches in England, or as the followers of some particular minister. Naturally such emigrants would club together and select a place for settlement where they could gather around their own, favorite preacher or set up their own congregation of church comrades.



From this sprang the townships of Massachusetts, for the grants of land obtained from the Massachusetts Bay Company were not made to any one man, but to the congregation or company to which he belonged.

So the towns grew up; for when other places were settled in the colony, such settlements were made by those who went out from one of the older towns in the same manner as they had first emigrated from England,—in companies or congregations. Thus the men of Dorchester and Cambridge and Watertown went out to found the towns along the Connecticut, even, as in the next chapter, we shall see a company from Roxbury going forth to the settlement of Springfield.

Such companies were really partners in land development. Each man had a voice in what was to be done, and when, once a year, in the spring, the men of each settlement met together in the church or the townhouse to arrange for the carrying on of the affairs of the settlement during the year, every voter had his say. This was called "town meeting," and to this day the government of Massachusetts townships is by the voice of all the voters assembled in town meeting.

But as the towns of Massachusetts Bay grew in number they needed to talk over and arrange for more than their own village affairs. They wished to have something to say about the union of the whole colony. The "Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England" meant a governor and several assistants, elected each year by the freemen of the company. But as the colony grew, and the "freemen " became scattered and separated, this voting in a whole assembly was not



easily arranged. So it was agreed to select two freemen from each township and send them to sit as delegates in the Great and General Court, as the council of the colony was called, to talk about taxes, and say what the people wished as to the conduct of the government.

This was the earliest representative body in New England; it was the beginning of the Massachusetts legislature. It was really only the general court of the Massachusetts Bay Company brought from England to America, and called together at Boston, the capital of the colony. But gradually this court or body of councilors and lawmakers outgrew the stockholders in the company and developed into democratic self-government in Massachusetts,—government by the people for the people, the same that later grew into the American republic.

For in the great Statehouse on Beacon Hill in Boston, of Representatives as the sign of the source from which sprang the wealth and prosperity of the old Bay State, there meets still, to talk about taxes and government same Great and General Court, representing the freemen of the commonwealth to the founding of which noble John Winthrop led his brave company of Puritan settlers in those far distant summer days of 1630.

This change in method of which I have spoken, which brought about the establishment of the Massachusetts legislature, and gave the right of representation to all the freemen of the Massachusetts Bay colony, was largely due to the bold and independent stand of the men of



Watertown,—in 1630 the farthest outlying town of the colony.

Watertown adjoins Cambridge. One rides out to it now by carriage or trolley, over the broad avenue that skirts the white memorials of Mount Auburn, and leads into the center of the old town where modern houses and old-time history continually jostle each other. Most glorious in its ancient history is this bold stand of the freemen of Watertown in the summer of 1631. For when, in August of that year, the officers of the Massachusetts Bay Company learned that there was danger of French invasion, at once, without asking permission of the colonists, they proceeded to levy a war tax of sixty pounds upon each settlement, to provide for the general defense.

Then it was that the freemen of Watertown objected. "It is the law," they said, "that no Englishman shall be taxed without his consent. We are Englishmen. We have been allowed no voice or vote in this matter. We will not pay the tax".

Thereupon the officials of the company, in high dudgeon, summoned the men of Watertown to Boston and solemnly "admonished" them; but still they protested that there should be no taxation without representation. The necessity of the tax Was explained; but so just and wise seemed the protest of the \\Tatertown men, and so determined, too, that, although the Watertown men, out of regard for the public safety, did pay their tax, the very next year a change was made in the constitution of the colony, by which all freemen were to have a voice in the affairs of the col-



ony, and the General Court voted that the whole body of freemen should elect the governor and his assist-ants. From this grew the town representation and the legislature of Massachusetts. Thus the determined stand of the men of Watertown against privileged classes and aristocratic government early worked a~ reform in Massachusetts politics. Out of it came, as John Fiske says, "the beginnings of American constitutional history ;" and the protest of the men of Watertown in 1631 grew at last into that protest of the whole American people—" No taxation without representation "—which made up the Declaration of Independence, carried forward the War of the American Revolution, and created the republic of the United States of America.

The story of Massachusetts had begun. John Smith and the Pilgrim Fathers had been but the preface to the story. The men of Watertown were the prophets of the republic.