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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/47

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MASSACHUSETTS


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MASSACHUSETTS


I. Colonial History.— A.. S'ert/emen<. — The explora- tions and set t Icinents of the Northmen upon the shores of Massachusetts, the voyages of the Cabots, the tem- porary sett lenient (1602) of the Oosnold party on one of the EHzabeth Islands of Buzzard's Bay, and the ex- plorations and the mapping of the New England coast byCaptain Joliii Smith are usually passed over as more or less conjectural. The undisputed history of Massa- chusetts begins with the arrival of the "Mayflower" in December, 1620. Nevertheless the due apprecia- tion of these previous events gives a ready and logical explanation of many acts, customs, and laws of the founders of this commonwealth wliich, in general, are imperfectly understood. The early maps (1582) mark the present territory of New England under the name " Norumbega ", and show that the coast had been vis- ited by Christian mariners — whether by fishermen in search of the fisheries set forth by Cabot, or by the daring Drakes, Frobishers, and Hawkinses of Eliza- beth's reign, does not seem clear. It is an accepted fact that, when Gosnold set out in 1602, there was not a single Enghsh settlement on the Continent. France did not acknowledge the claim of England over the whole of the territory. A French colony had been established where now is northern Virginia, under the name of "New France". » This was after Verazzano's 7MI expedition made by order of Francis I. A French explorer, too, the Huguenot Sieur de Monts, had been to Canada, and knew much about the resources of that country, especially the fur trade of the Indian tribes. Henry IV had given De Monts a patent to all the country now included in FORMING PART OF THE Se.4l OF New England, also a mo- Massachusetts nopoly of the fur trade.

All this is important, because it entered into the con- ditions of the early permanent settlement here.

For a quarter of a century prior to the coming of the Pilgrims, the French and the Dutch resented the en- croachments of the Enghsh. "The Great Patent for New England", of 1620, granted to Gorges and his forty associates, has been called a " despotic as well as a gigantic commercial monopoly". This grant in- cluded the New Netherlands of the Dutch, the French Acadia and, indeed, nearly all the present inhabited British possessions in North America, besides all New England, the State of New York, half of New Jersey, nearly all of Pennsylvania, and the country to the west — in short, all the territory from the fortieth de- gree of north latitude to the forty-eighth, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. The English had in- creased the enmity of the French by destroying the Catholic settlements at Ste-Croix and at Port-Royal, and had aroused the suspicion and hostility of the Indians by the treachery of Hunt, an act described by Mather as " one which constrained the English to sus- pend their trade and abandon their prospects of a settlement in New England".

The religious conditions were no less ominous for the Pilgrims. At the opening of the sixteenth century, all Christian Europe, with slight exceptions, was Cath- olic and loval to the papacy; at the close of that cen- tury England herself was the mother of three anti- papacy sects: the State Church and its two divisions; the Nonconformists, or Puritans; and the Separatists, or Pilgrims. At the time of the sailing of the " May- flower", the Puritans had become as fully disenfran- chised by the Anglican Church as the Pilgrims had estranged themselves from both; each distrusted the others; all three hated the Church of Rome. Gorges


and his associates had found the French and their Jesuit missionaries a stumbling-block in the way of securing fur-trading privileges from the Indians. The alleged gold and copper mines of Smith and of Gosnold were now regarded as myths; unless something could be done at once, the opportunities offered by their charter monopoly would be worthless. A permanent English settlement in America was the only sure way of preventing the French and the Dutch from acquir- ing the Virginia territory. The Gorges company knew of the cherished hopes of the Pilgrims to find a home away from their English persecutors, and, after much chicanery on the part of the promoters, the company agreed to found a home for the Pilgrims in the new world. The articles of agreement were wholly com- mercial, and the "Mayflower" sailed for Virginia. History differs in its interpretation of the end of that voyage, but all agree that the Pilgrims, in landing at Plymouth, 22 December, 1620, were outside any juris- diction of their patrons, the Virginia Company. The Pilgrims themselves recognized their difficulty, and the famous " Compact " was adopted, before landing, as a basis of government by mutual agreement. Gorges protected his company's investment by ob- taining from James I the new charter of 1620 which controlled, on a commercial basis, all religious coloni- zation in America. The struggle of race against race, tribe against tribe, neighbour against neighbour were all encouraged so long as the warfare brought gain to the mercenary adventurers at home. The Pilgrims, finding themselves deserted by the instigators of this ill-feeling, were forced by the law of self-preservation to continue religious intolerance and the extermina- tion of the Indians. Thus it is that we find the laws, the customs, and the manners of these first English settlers so interwoven with the religio-commercial principle. The coming of the Puritans, in 1629-30, added the factor of pohtics, which resulted in estab- lishing in America the very thing against which these " Purists " had fought at home, namely, the union of Church and State. Here, again, at Puritan Salem, Gorges and Mason cloaked their commercialism under religion, as the accounts of La Tour and Winslow attest, and so effective were their machinations that, as early as 1635, Endicott's zeal had not left a set of the king's colours intact with the red cross thereon — that " relic of popery insufferable in a Puritan com- munity ".

B. Colonial Legislation.— The legaUty of the early acts of the colonists depends, to a great degree, on whether the charters granted to the two colonies were for the purpose of instituting a corporation for trading purposes, or whether they are regarded as constitu- tions and foundations of a governnicnl Tliw much- controverted point has never been sitil. a s:ii i-;f:icto- rily. The repeated demands from thr kiiiL', '>liiii with threat of prosecution, for the return of the charters were ignored, so that, until 1684, the colony was prac- tically a free state, independent of E^nglaiid, and pro- fessing little, if any, loyalty. Judging from the corre- spondence, il is more tiian prohahlo that 11h- intention of the Crown in granting the charter was that the cor- poration should have a local habitation in England, and it is equally evident that the colony did not pos- sess the right "to make its own laws. It is plainly state<l, in the patent granted to the Puritans, who the governor and other officials of the colony should be, showing thereby that the Crown retainc<l the right of governing. A new charter was granted in 1692, cover- ing Mas.sachusetts, I'l\ mouth. Maine, Nova Scotia, and the intervening terrilorv, entilled "The Province of Massachusetts Bay in New England " ; iievcrt heless it was not until the Treaty of Utrecht, in li 13, that the proceedings on the part of the home Government, to as.sert the Crown's rights, abated notably. During the half-century in which the Puritans ignored the terms of their charter, and made laws in accordance