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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


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Chapter III. — Settlement of Massachusetts, and the New England Colonies.

1620.

THE idea of migrating to America, to escape the intolerance of the House of Stuart, had been, for a long time, entertained by the English exiles in Holland. Intelligence of the discoveries in Virginia, and in the region of New York, probably had the effect of reviving the agitation of the project, as well as of demonstrating its practicability, and, in effect, they were, in a short time thereafter, on their way to the New World. The first colony which landed in Massachusetts Bay, late in the autumn of 1620, was surrounded by small tribes and bands of the Algonquins. During the years immediately preceding this period, fatal epidemics had much thinned, and, in some instances, nearly annihilated, the coast tribes. Whole villages appeared to have been depopulated, and deserted fields everywhere met the view. This decadence of the race was a favorable circumstance for the colonists, whose utmost efforts were required to combat the difficulties of their position.

The principal personage amongst the aboriginal chieftains was Massasoit, the ruler of the Pocanokets, or Wampanoags, living at Montauk, on the waters of the Narragansett Bay. He had been a noted warrior, but was at that time a man far advancedin life. He was of good stature, full and fleshy; and, possessing a manly mien, mild manners, a moderate temper, and a noble spirit, amicable relations with him were soon established. The jurisdiction of the Massachusetts coast appears to have belonged to him, in quality of his office of Bashaba, or presiding chief-holder, as is more certainly evinced by the authority assumed, after his death, by his sons, Alexander and Pometacom. [89] The first interview with this potentate was conducted with equal ceremony by the colonists and by the semi-imperial chief. [90] A pacific course of policy was established, and from this era the aboriginal words, Manito, wigwam, powwow, samp, moose, and others from their vocabulary, began to be incorporated into the English language. [91]

The country had been first explored by the English, in 1583, when Sir Humphrey Gilbert visited the coast. In 1602 Gosnold bestowed names on Cape Cod, Elizabeth's

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Island, and Martha's Vineyard; and, in 1614, Captain Smith, of Virginia notoriety, gave the name of New England to this part of the continent. The coast had been explored by Dutch navigators, subsequent to the discoveries made by Hudson, and is designated, in an ancient map, by the name of Almochico. The Indians being deficient in generalization, had no generic name for it, unless it be that of Abinakee, which they subsequently made use of. The first colony landed on the banks of a river, which, we are informed, the natives called Accomac, but which the English named Plymouth. [92] One hundred and one persons debarked, on the confines of twenty tribes, whose exact numbers were unknown, but whose hostility to the colony was undoubted. Prince says, these "hundred and one" were the persons "who, for an undefiled conscience, and the love of pure Christianity, first left their native and pleasant land, and encountered all the toils and hazards of the tumultuous ocean, in search of some uncultivated region in North Virginia, where they might quietly enjoy their religious liberties, and transmit them to posterity, in hopes that none would follow to disturb or vex them."

Within a few years thereafter, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, were successfully colonized. To endure and to hope, amidst every ill, were primary principles with the colonists, and, as soon as they came into contact with the Indians, they aimed, both by precept and example, to teach them the advantages of thrift, over the precarious pursuit of the chase. Among a people characteristically idle, listless, and prone to regard with favor the rites of daemonology, and the practice of magic, nothing could be more unpalatable, or more certainly productive of hostilities; for the priests and sages, powwows and necromancers, clung to their ceremonies and orgies with a desperate tenacity. To live on the products of the bow and arrow, and not by the use of the plow, had been the practice of the people for untold centuries; and they regarded the new comers with a feeling of distrust and hatred, which grew stronger and more intense with every succeeding decade of colonial existence.

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Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
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