Laws are like spider-webs which, if anything small falls into them they ensnare it, but large things break through and escape. — Solon of Athens

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber




The Beginning of Boston

Besides Puritans, a few other men came over to New England. Among these was Standish, who, as you know, proved very useful to the Plymouth colony, and a learned man named Blackstone. The latter tried at first to live with the Separatists at Plymouth, but when he saw that they were not willing to let him do as he thought right, and wanted to force him to think just as they did, he boldly said: "I came from England because I did not like the Lord Bishops, but I cannot join with you, because I would not be under the Lord Brethren."

Having spoken thus, Blackstone left the colony, and withdrew to a hill about forty miles up the coast, where he built himself a comfortable house. Here he soon had a fine garden, where he grew the first apples seen in New England; and his cow, wandering around in search of pasture, made the first winding paths through the forest in that part of the country.

Although the Plymouth settlers were, as we have seen, usually on friendly terms with the Indians, there were some worthless settlers where Weymouth now is, who soon quarreled with them (1623). Hearing that the Indians had planned to kill all the whites, Captain Standish and his little force marched over to Weymouth. Though small, he was very brave. He sent for the Indian chiefs, and met them in a log hut. When one of them threatened his life, Standish boldly attacked him. There was a terrible tussle, but the white man finally killed his huge enemy. This act of daring made other Indians respect Standish, whom they called the "big little man."

While Standish was struggling with one Indian, two more were killed by the other white men in the hut, and a few others were slain afterwards. When this news reached Mr. Robinson at Leyden, he sadly cried: "Oh, that they had converted some before they killed any!"

In 1630 the colonists of Massachusetts Bay were reinforced by the arrival of seven hundred newcomers, "the very flower of the English Puritans." Led by John Winthrop, a noble and clever man, some of them came over in a ship which was called the Lady Arbela, in honor of a delicate lady on board. But seventy-six days of sea journey proved so trying to this frail woman that she died soon after landing at Salem.

At first the newcomers tried to settle near Charlestown; but they found the drinking water so bad there that they finally went to Trimountain, or Tremont ("Three Hills"), where Blackstone had built his house. Not liking to live so near a large colony of Puritans, Blackstone sold them his house and land, and went to settle elsewhere.

The land thus purchased was divided among the settlers, who, for convenience' sake, built their houses along the paths made by Blackstone's cow. Some people say that this accounts for the crooked streets in old Boston, for such was the name this settlement received soon after it was made (1630). Six acres, however, were set apart as the Common, or pasture ground, for everybody. This part of Blackstone's farm still bears that name, but it is now in the very heart of the city of Boston, a beautiful, well-kept park, and no longer a mere pasture ground.

The Boston colonists had brought tools, cattle, and seed in abundance; but in spite of all their foresight and supplies, their first winter proved very hard. It was very cold, and as they had to go some distance for their fuel, many could not secure enough. We are told that one man was even caught stealing wood from Winthrop's pile. Now, the Puritans considered stealing almost as bad as murder, and had the man been publicly accused, they would perhaps have condemned him to death. But Governor Winthrop was so good and gentle that he merely said he would cure the man of the habit of stealing, and did so by sending the rascal all the fuel he needed until spring.

Like the Plymouth colonists, the Puritans were threatened with starvation long before their ships could return. Winthrop then generously supplied the people's needs from his own store, and actually gave the last flour he had in his house to a poor man who came to beg. But the good governor did not suffer on account of his generosity, for that very day the returning ships sailed into port, bringing plenty of provisions for all.

The colony now prospered greatly, and sent home such encouraging letters that more and more people ventured across the ocean. Winthrop sent for his wife, and a minister wrote to his friends that "a sup of New England air is better than a whole draught of Old England's Ale."

During the next ten years, more than twenty thousand English-speaking persons came over to New England. There, in time, they formed fifty parishes, or villages, connected by roads and bridges. Some of these settlements were planted far inland, although the Puritans at first declared they would never need more land than what was inclosed in a circle drawn ten miles around Boston.

A governor was elected to rule over the colony, and each town ruled itself. But the people also sent representatives to the General Court, or Assembly, where public matters were discussed and laws were made for the good of the whole colony.

The government being in the hands of the people, and the Puritans wishing their children to be well educated, public schools were soon provided in every village, and in 1636 the General Court started the first college. It was located in a spot which was called Cambridge, in honor of the great university town in England. Two years later, a minister named Harvard left his library of about two hundred and fifty books and some money to the new college, which since then has borne his, name.



Contents

Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell