Chapter 8


In the very year in which young Sir Harry Vane was governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony—that is, in 1636—there came to Boston a traveling salesman who represented an English business house. His name was George Story, and he lodged at the house of a Mrs. Sherman.

He had samples from which to take orders, and he was, in fact, what we call in America a "drummer." He hoped to get many orders for his goods in Boston, send them home to England, and make a comfortable commission on his sales.

But George Story, the drummer, was not welcomed in Boston. The Boston people had a common, neighborly interest in one another, and preferred to keep all business and all commissions among themselves, instead of sending them off to England.

We'll patronize home industries," they said, "keep what money there is here, and let our merchants do their own business with England, rather than through a stranger who does no benefit to the town."

So the merchants and magistrates of Boston made it most unpleasant for George Story, the drummer. They considered him a most undesirable person, and as there




was a law against obnoxious or objectionable persons staying more than three weeks in the town, they haled George Story before a magistrate, who fined him as an "alien."

Now this magistrate was one of the solid men of Boston, Captain Robert Keayne, —a prosperous merchant, a rich landowner, and the first captain of the famous "Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company," which still exists as one of the peculiar institutions of Boston.

But George Story was very angry at the way in which he had been treated, and was especially angry at Captain Keayne as the magistrate who fined him.

"I’ll get square with him some day," he said; and he did.

It seems that Widow Sherman, at whose house George Story boarded, kept a pig, and this pig, like most of its kind, was of a roving disposition, very irresponsible, and had a troublesome habit of not staying where it belonged.

It took to wandering off, and rooted and grunted about the grounds of Captain Robert Keayne, who had a comfortable house on the corner of what are now Washington and State streets, just opposite to where the old Statehouse stands.

Captain Keayne saw this pig wandering along State Street, and as that was most unpermissible, he took the pig in hand, had it " cried" through the town, and then, as no one claimed it, put it into his own pigpen, and gave notice that the owner could have the pig by proving property.

But for some reason Mrs. Sherman never attempted to prove property or identify her pig. So when nearly



a year had passed by, Captain Keayne thought he had kept the pig long enough, and as undisputed possession was ownership, he counted the pig as his, and killed it for winter pork.

That action was watchful George Story’s opportunity for revenge. He knew of the whereabouts of Mrs. Sherman’s pig, even if she did not, and as soon as the pig became pork, he induced Mrs. Sherman to believe that Captain Keayne had defrauded her of a pig by kidnapping, concealing, and killing it.

This was more than Captain Keayne could stand. He, a magistrate of Boston, objected to being called a pig stealer and pig murderer; so he became very angry, and brought suit against both Mrs. Sherman and George Story for slander and defamation of character.

Of course, as Captain Keayne was one of the magistrates, when his case came before the court the magistrates believed his story, and fined the Widow Sherman twenty damages.

Then George Story went about among the town people, telling Mrs. Sherman’s sad story, and asking if it was not outrageous that a poor woman should be fined by the magistrates twenty pounds just because she had tried to get her rights from a rich, grasping capitalist.



Finally he persuaded Mrs. Sherman to appeal for justice and protection to the Great and General Court.

The Great and General Court was not only the lawmaking and governing body of the Massachusetts Bay colony; it was also the highest court of appeal, and its decisions were final. It was composed of twelve Assistants (or magistrates), who were elected by the freemen as a whole, and twenty-two Deputies, who were elected by the different towns. They all sat together—Assistants and Deputies—in the General Court, and acted as a single voting and lawmaking body; and the governor had not even the power of veto.

When Mrs. Sherman’s appeal for justice for the killing of her white pig came to a vote, the Great and General Court was divided. Thanks to the work of George Story among the people, although the Assistants were on the side of Captain Keayne, the sympathies of the Deputies were enlisted in behalf of Mrs. Sherman, and the Deputies being in the majority, Captain Keayne lost his case, and George Story had his revenge.

But this did not end the matter. Both sides kept arguing and quarreling over the affair of Mrs. Sherman’s pig. Even good Governor Winthrop took a hand in it, and because he sided with the Assistants he had to apologize to the people, although he would not change his opinion. He admitted that he had spoken perhaps too strongly, "arrogating too much to myself," the good man said humbly, "and ascribing too little to others." He would, he assured them, "be more wise and watchful hereafter." But even this manly avowal of his own overzeal did not save him from the peo-



pie’s resentment, and next year he failed of reelection as governor, all on account of the pig.

The wiser heads in the colony saw the impossibility of an elective assembly acting as a judicial tribunal; in other words, the Deputies would decide as the people who elected them desired, and not as the real justice in the case demanded. At last, after a year of dispute and clamor, a compromise was arranged. The Assistants were to sit by themselves, the Deputies by themselves; they should act separately, but any new act introduced in one body must have the consent of the other before it became a law.

And that was the origin of the State legislature: the Assistants are the Senate; the Deputies are the House of Representatives (or the Assembly, as it is sometimes called). And so the Great and General Court of Massachusetts, which was almost thrown into demoralization by Mrs. Sherman’s pig, was saved from disruption, and the colony along with it, by the simple and practical compromise brought about by the wisdom of Governor John Winthrop, often called the "Father of Massachusetts."