It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it. — Upton Sinclair

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Williams and the Indians

One of the first important persons who followed Williams to Rhode Island was Mrs. Anne Hutchinson. Soon after her arrival in Massachusetts, in 1634, she began to hold meetings and to preach. The Puritans, who did not believe in women's talking in public, told her to be silent; but she refused to obey, and went on preaching until she gained great influence over many people.

Indeed, when an Indian war broke out, her followers even refused to go and fight unless she was allowed to talk just as much as she pleased. But as soon as the war was over, Mrs. Hutchinson was banished. Then she, too, went to Rhode Island (1637), where she bought from the Indians the large island of that name. She gave them only twenty hoes, ten coats, and forty fathoms of wampum in payment for it, and near one end of it she began the town which is now the beautiful city of Newport. Several Quakers, driven out of the Massachusetts colonies by the Puritans, also came to live near her, and her settlement prospered greatly.

Other colonies were also begun farther north. A short time after the founding of Plymouth, Mason and Gorges received from the king a grant of land. Coming over to America, they divided their land and founded colonies, Gorges in Maine and Mason in New Hampshire. Among the principal settlements thus made were the towns of Portsmouth and Dover. Some years later, however, these places were added to Massachusetts, to which colony New Hampshire was joined for about thirty-five years.

In 1630, at the time when Boston was founded, some fishermen reported that the Connecticut River flowed between very fertile banks. This news made Lords Say, Brooke, and others ask for a grant of land there, which the king readily gave them. These owners then prepared to found a new colony, which was called Saybrook, after two of their number. But they very soon found that there was no time to lose if they wanted to claim the land the king had given them, for the Dutch had already built a trading station where Hartford now stands, and were threatening to occupy all the Connecticut valley.

Carrying Mrs. Hooker to Hartford

In spite of the fact that the Dutch got there first, Winthrop's son was told to build a fort at the mouth of the Connecticut, or Long River, where he was soon joined by a colony of about fifty men. These settlers suffered greatly from lack of food and proper shelter.

Still, the white men spread rapidly in Connecticut, and in the spring of 1636, Pastor Hooker, "the light of the western church," came there from Massachusetts, with about one hundred men, women, and children. Walking through the woods, driving their cattle before them, and carrying poor sick Mrs. Hooker on a litter, these colonists came to settle on the banks of the Connecticut, where they founded Hartford. They brought written laws with them, in which, among other things, it was stated that a man need not be a church member to vote.

But the Connecticut colonists soon met two foes in this new region; they were the Dutch and the Pequot Indians, of whom the latter proved by far the more troublesome. Soon after murdering one settler, the Pequots carried his family off to Block Island. The news of murder and capture no sooner reached Massachusetts, than ninety men set out, under John Endicott, to punish the Indians.

Sailing to Block Island, the Indian stronghold, they killed the Indians and burned down their village. Then some of them went on to the Connecticut valley, to join and help the English there. The Pequots, angry with the colonists, now sought the friendship of the Narragansett and Mohegan Indians; for they thought that if three such powerful tribes joined forces, the white men would soon be crushed.

When the settlers heard of this, they were terrified. But knowing Roger Williams was the only man who could prevent the Narragansetts from making an alliance with their foes, they hastily sent him a message, imploring his aid. Instead of acting meanly, as some other men would have done in his place, and leaving those who had treated him ill to look out for themselves, Roger Williams set out right away, although a terrible storm was then raging.

Narrowly escaping death, he paddled bravely on in his frail skiff till he came to the Narragansetts' camp. There he found the Pequots fiercely urging their friends to fight by showing them the bloody scalps they had already taken. During the next three days and nights, Williams pleaded and argued with the Narragansett Indians, and he finally persuaded them not to take part in the Pequot war. Thanks to his efforts, too, the Mohegans sided with the white men, their chief bravely helping John Mason, the commander of the settlers' force.

After a night spent in prayer, the combined force of colonists and friendly Indians suddenly attacked the principal Pequot camp in what is now southeastern Connecticut. Taken unawares, the savages, roused by the barking of their dogs, sprang out of their wigwams, only in time to see the white men rush into their fort. A moment later, the invaders flung blazing torches at their dwellings, which were soon in flames over the heads of their wives and children. Many perished in the fire, and the glare of the flames allowed the colonists to see and kill nearly all their dusky foes.

Soon after this massacre, the Pequot chief was overtaken and slain, and his head was long exposed on a tree, in a place since known as Sachems Head, or Point. The few remaining Pequots either became slaves or fled to the Hudson River. This was the first real Indian war in New England (1636-1638). After it was all over the colonists along the Connecticut were left in peace, and for nearly forty years there was no more trouble with the red men.

The Pequot war was scarcely finished when three hundred English settlers came to found New Haven. They were mostly rich trading people, and they wanted to have a colony which would be governed only by the laws of the Bible. The New Haven colony grew fast, and before long included Saybrook and five other very prosperous towns.

It was in the Pequot war that the colonies first saw the advantage of helping one another, and five years later (1643) a league was formed between Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, Connecticut, and New Haven. Maine and Rhode Island were not allowed to join it, because they were not Puritan colonies. But New Hampshire really belonged to it, as that colony had been joined to Massachusetts in 1641.


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