I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. — Mark Twain

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Quakers

While the English were founding the New England colonies, many changes had taken place in England. King James I. was succeeded by Charles I., and the English, weary of monarchs who did not keep their promises, rose up in rebellion in 1643.

By this time, the English Puritans had increased so that they became masters of the whole country. It was governed by their chief, Oliver Cromwell, and called the Commonwealth of England. The Puritans, being in power, made the Roman Catholics and the Church of England people as uncomfortable as the latter had once made them. Many Catholics and Anglicans were therefore only too glad to cross the ocean, in their turn, so as to found new homes where they could worship as they pleased; and you shall soon hear how they prospered.

Cromwell, as Protector of the Commonwealth of England, made a new law (1651), called the Navigation Act. By this law it was decided that the colonists should build no more ships, and that all their goods should be carried across the ocean only in English vessels. This law was very unjust, and captains of English ships speedily took advantage of it to raise their prices for freight. So, while England was rapidly growing rich, her colonists grumbled sorely at the heavy rates they had to pay.

That same year began the great Quaker excitement in Massachusetts. The Quakers were the disciples of a very good man, George Fox. They called themselves Friends, but were called Quakers by the other people, because they often said one ought to quake at the thought of the wrath of God.

As some of the months and days of the week bore the names of old heathen gods, the Friends would not use them, but, instead, numbered the days and months, speaking of the first day of the sixth month, the twelfth day of the second month, and so on. They would not take any oaths, either, but used only the words "yea"and "nay." They further treated all persons alike, calling even the king by his given name, and refused to take off their hats in his presence. Although generally quiet and modest, a few of the Quakers were so anxious to spread the teachings of their preacher Fox that they came over to Massachusetts, knowing they would be ill-treated there.

Nevertheless, they began preaching, and firmly but quietly refused to stop when told to do so. They were therefore tortured and punished in many ways. A few were whipped, sent to jail, or put in the stocks. Their books were burned; they were driven out of the colony; and as all this was not enough, four of them were hanged.

The Quaker excitement finally grew so great that some of them were sent back to England and the rest forced to take refuge in Rhode Island, where they could practice any religion they liked. But the Quakers who had been shipped back to England, and especially a few discontented colonists, complained very much of the Massachusetts government, and made considerable trouble for New England.


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