It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare. — Edmund Burke

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Stories of Two Ministers

At first, Harvard College had only a very few students, who were to be educated for the ministry. All the colonists contributed to the support of the institution, for those who were too poor to give twelve-pence in money were told to bring a measure of corn or some fire wood. Four years after the college was founded, the first English printing press was set up there, and began to print books of psalms for the Puritan churches.

While the new college was training missionaries for the Indians, the latter had found a good friend in John Eliot, who came over to America in 1631. While preaching in Boston and Roxbury, Eliot learned the Massachusetts Indian language, and began to translate the Bible into that tongue. It took him nearly thirty years of patient work to do this, in the midst of all his preaching and teaching. But his Bible was the first printed in America, and many of his "praying Indians," as the converts were called, learned to read in it.

Eliot was a sweet, simple, and very lovable man. He was so generous that once, in paying him his salary, the parish treasurer tied it up in the good man's handkerchief with several knots, so that he should not be able to give it all away before reaching home. But Eliot, unable to undo these hard knots when he met a poor woman, gave her handkerchief and all, saying: "Here, my dear, take it; I believe the Lord designs it all for you."

After years of faithful work among the savages, Eliot, the "Apostle of the Indians," died, at the age of eighty six. He tried harder than any other Puritan to convert the red men, who lost their best friend when he passed away. The Bible he worked so diligently to translate still exists; but as there are no Massachusetts Indians left, it is now of no use, except to remind us of Eliot's great patience and perseverance.

Williams welcomed by the Indians

As the soil was poor, hands few, and the harvests too scanty to supply food for all, the colonists soon began to wonder how they could earn money. Before long, they discovered that by sending fish to England, they could get all the food they wanted. For that reason they fished diligently, and soon used a huge codfish as an emblem for the Massachusetts Bay colony. Next, the colonists built a large ship called the Blessing of the Bay, in which they sent lumber to the West Indies. In exchange for timber, they got sugar and molasses, from which they made rum to ship to England. Thus commerce was begun, and, increasing year by year, finally made the Massachusetts Puritans both rich and independent.

The Puritans, as you have seen, left England because they were not allowed to worship there as they pleased. But although they did not like it when the English tried to make them obey the Anglican Church, they now wanted to force all who came among them to think just as they did.

One young man, Roger Williams, came to New England in 1631, and preached for a while at Salem. But as he openly said that the Puritans had no right to punish people for thinking differently about religious matters, or for such trifles as smoking on the street or laughing too loud, he soon displeased some of the colonists.

They sent him away for a while, thinking he would change his mind; but when Williams came back to Salem, he insisted harder than ever that every man had a right to think just as he pleased, to worship God as his conscience bade him', and to vote whether he went to church or not. He also declared that the land around there belonged to the Indians and not to the King of England. These opinions seemed so wicked to the good Puritans that they called him up before their Council to reprove him.

Finding that the Puritans would not let him live in peace in any part of the colony, but intended to send him back to England to be tried, Williams secretly escaped from Massachusetts, and went to live among the Indians. As he knew their language, and had made friends with them, he spent a very peaceful winter in their camp.

When spring came, Williams wanted to settle at Seekonk; but as the Plymouth people claimed that part of the land, he went farther still, to a place which he called Providence. Settling there, in 1636, on land he bought from the Indians, Williams was soon joined by others who shared his opinions, and thus a colony was formed in what is now Rhode Island, where all except Jews were allowed to vote. This was considered very generous in those days, although it now seems unfair to exclude any one on account of religion.

Because Williams was so much broader-minded than many other people of his time, he has often been called the "Apostle of Toleration"—a word which means letting others alone,—or allowing others to do as they please. People of every belief came to settle in Williams's neighborhood before long, and there was soon such a variety of them that it was said if a man had lost his religion he would be sure to find it again in Rhode Island.


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