The Ark and the Dove

 

Andrew White, born in 1579 in London, followed the well worn path of many English Catholics of the period to study for the priesthood at the English seminary in Douai, France.  Continuing his studies at St. Alban’s College in Valladolid, Spain,  he was ordained at Douai in 1605.  Returning to England as an undercover mission priest, he was arrested in the persecution that occurred after the Gunpowder Plot and was exiled from England in 1606.    He joined the Society of Jesus in 1607.  Defying a death sentence hanging over his head, he continued to visit Southern England to say clandestine masses and to preach to the faithful.  He also served as prefect at the seminaries of Leuven and Liege.

Father White was instrumental in the conversion of George Calvert to Catholicism in 1625.  Calvert was a truly remarkable man, a favorite of James I, who sacrificed a promising career in English government by publicly declaring his Catholicism at a time when being a Catholic in England was a criminal offense.  After his conversion his main goal in life was to create a colony where English Catholics could worship freely.  He established a small colony called Avalon in Newfoundland for Catholics in 1627.  Appalled by the rough climate of Newfoundland, and the author of this post knows from first hand experience how rough that climate can be, he sought and received lands from Charles I that became the foundation of Maryland.  Like Moses, Calvert was not fated to enter the promised land, dying in 1632.  Fortunately he had a Joshua in his son Cecilius Calvert,  who carried on with the colonization project,  paying out of his pocket the  sum of 40,000 pounds which would have a current value of approximately 8,000,000.00 dollars.  Under his brothers George and Leonard, the colonists, a mixed group of Protestants and Catholics,  the Calverts emphasized that their colonly would be a bastion of religious tolerance, sailed in The Ark and The Dove on November 22, 1633 (Old Style) from the Isle of Wight for America.  Father White sailed with them. (more…)

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Published in: on April 26, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Ark and the Dove  
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December 13, 1636: Birthday of the National Guard

 

On December 13, 1636, to fight the Pequot War, the Massachusetts Bay Colony established three militia regiments:  the North, the South and the East.  All males between 16 and 60 were considered to be members.  This date is now considered to be the birth of the National Guard.  The Pequot War, 1636-1638, engulfing the newly settled coastal New England, was the first great war in American history and began the American process of modifying European modes of war to American conditions.  The colonists won an overwhelming victory, celebrated by the contemporary New England accounts.  Modern historians of course condemn the colonists, and use such popular cant phrases as calling the contemporary documents “hegemonic, valorizing Puritans and demonizing Indians. ”  The War tends to be seen through popular racial prejudices, both those of the seventeenth century and those of our day.

Published in: on December 13, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on December 13, 1636: Birthday of the National Guard  
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Of Pilgrims

A not bad, albeit simplified, look at how the most unlikely and ill-prepared pilgrims, the Pilgrims, in American history succeeded against the odds in planting a permanent colony.

 

 

Published in: on November 24, 2017 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on Of Pilgrims  
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The Angel of Hadley

 

 

 

The town of Hadley was alarmed by the Indians in 1675, in the time of public worship, and the people were in the utmost confusion. Suddenly a grave, elderly person appeared in the midst of them. In his mien and dress he differed from the rest of the people. He not only encouraged them to defend themselves, but put himself at their head, rallied, instructed and led them on to encounter the enemy, who by this means were repulsed. As suddenly the deliverer of Hadley disappeared. The people were left in consternation, utterly unable to account for this strange phenomenon. It is not probable that they were ever able to explain it. If Goffe had been then discovered, it must have come to the knowledge of those persons, who declare by their letters that they never knew what became of him.

Thomas Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts Bay (1764)

Three of the regicides who sentenced Charles I to death took refuge in New England after the Restoration:  John Dixwell, Major General Edward Whalley and his son-in-law Major General William Goffe.  Goffe and Whalley were both experienced soldiers, having fought throughout the English Civil Wars.  They had also both served as Major Generals in Cromwell’s scheme to have Major Generals rule ten administrative districts in England, the only period of military dictatorship in English history.  All three of the regicides found refuge in New Haven, Connecticut.   Living under the assumed name of James David, Dixwell lived in peace in New Haven until his death in 1689.   Not so Whalley and Goffe who were too well known.  On the run, they ultimately found refuge in the frontier settlement of Hadley, Massachusetts.  Whalley probably died in 1675 while Goffe probably passed away in 1679.  (more…)

Published in: on October 17, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on The Angel of Hadley  
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October 6, 1723: Ben Franklin Arrives in Philadelphia

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Philadelphia’s most famous citizen arrived in it 293 years ago, 17 years old,  with only a few coins in his pocket, dirty from his long walk from Boston and eating three large loaves of bread he had just purchased:

I have been the more particular in this description of my journey, and shall be so of my first entry into that city, that you may in your mind compare such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since made there. I was in my working dress, my best cloaths being to come round by sea. I was dirty from my journey; my pockets were stuff’d out with shirts and stockings, and I knew no soul nor where to look for lodging. I was fatigued with travelling, rowing, and want of rest, I was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted of a Dutch dollar, and about a shilling in copper. The latter I gave the people of the boat for my passage, who at first refus’d it, on account of my rowing; but I insisted on their taking it. A man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps thro’ fear of being thought to have but little.

Then I walked up the street, gazing about till near the market-house I met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and, inquiring where he got it, I went immediately to the baker’s he directed me to, in Secondstreet, and ask’d for bisket, intending such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in Philadelphia. Then I asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none such. So not considering or knowing the difference of money, and the greater cheapness nor the names of his bread, I made him give me three-penny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surpriz’d at the quantity, but took it, and, having no room in my pockets, walk’d off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other. Thus I went up Market-street as far as Fourth-street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife’s father; when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut-street and part of Walnut-street, eating my roll all the way, and, corning round, found myself again at Market-street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther. (more…)

Published in: on October 6, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on October 6, 1723: Ben Franklin Arrives in Philadelphia  
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September 25, 1690: A Rocky Start For Freedom of the Press

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Freedom of the Press in the colonies got off to a rough start when the first and only issue of Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first multi-page newspaper in the American colonies, was published on September 25, 1690 in Boston.  The powers that be in the Bay Colony were not amused and brought this new fangled nuisance to a sift halt:

 

Whereas some have lately presumed to Print and Disperse a Pamphlet, Entitled, Publick Occurrences, both Forreign and Domestick: Boston, Thursday, Septemb. 25th, 1690. Without the least Privity and Countenace of Authority. The Governour and Council having had the perusal of said Pamphlet, and finding that therein contained Reflections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports, do hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet, and Order that the same be Suppressed and called in; strickly forbidden any person or persons for the future to Set forth any thing in Print without License first obtained from those that are or shall be appointed by the Government to grant the same.

Published in: on September 25, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 25, 1690: A Rocky Start For Freedom of the Press  
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September 20, 1737: Walking Purchase

William Penn was normally fair in his dealings with the Indians, but he did not pass this trait on to his sons. in 1737 they produced a deed purportedly from 1686  which the Lenape tribe promised to sell a tract beginning at the junction of the Delaware River and Lehigh River (modern Easton, Pennsylvania) and extending as far west as a man could walk in a day and a half.   Whether the deed was a forgery remains a matter of controversy Unwisely the Lenapes agreed to abide by the deed, assuming that a man couldn’t walk far in one day.  The Penn’s land office agent James Logan gained their agreement by use of a map which misrepresented the Tohickon Creek for the Lehigh River, which, if accurate, would have produced a far smaller amount of land ceded by the Indians.  He also had a dotted line on the map purporting to show the short distance that could be walked.  The Indians reasonably assumed that only about 40 miles could be walked. (more…)

Published in: on September 20, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on September 20, 1737: Walking Purchase  
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Justice Hathorne

He pointed his finger once more, and a tall man, soberly clad in Puritan garb, with the burning gaze of the fanatic, stalked into the room and took his judge’s place.

“Justice Hathorne is a jurist of experience,” said the stranger. “He presided at certain witch trials once held in Salem. There were others who repented of the business later, but not he.”

“Repent of such notable wonders and undertakings?” said the stern old justice. “Nay, hang them–hang them all!” And he muttered to himself in a way that struck ice into the soul of Jabez Stone.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone. Only seven of these entities are named, and we have examined the lives of each of them including the “life” I made up for the fictional the Reverend John Smeet.

The judge who presided over the case was Justice John Hathorne.  Born in August of 1641, Hathorne was a merchant of Salem, Massachusetts.  Hathorne prospered as a merchant with trading ventures to England and the West Indies.  He owned land around Salem and in Maine.  With economic power he combined political power, being Justice of the Peace in Essex County, and a member of the legislative upper chamber which combined the roles of legislature and high court.  In 1692 Hathorne was one of the men who questioned the accusers and accused and was in favor of bringing the accused to trial.  He was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts as one of the judges of the Special Court of Oyer and Terminer that heard the trials.  Hathorne always voted to convict.

Subsequent to the trials he saw service in the militia in King William’s War, taking part in 1696 in the siege of Fort Nashawaak in what became New Brunswick in Canada and rising to the rank of Colonel.  He was eventually appointed to the Superior Court.  He died on May 10, 1717.

Following the Salem witch trials, there was a wave of revulsion at the verdicts.  Few doubted at that time that witches did exist, but many attacked the fairness of the trials, especially the concept of “spectral evidence” which allowed the accusers to testify as to what demons purportedly told them about the accused.  Many people found this admission of supernatural hearsay to be not only fundamentally unfair but preposterous and feared that the accusers had been simply settling old family feuds with the accused.  (more…)

Benjamin Franklin on German Immigrants

Colonial Pennsylvania in the eighteenth century witnessed a huge influx of German settlers, the Pennsylvania “Dutch”, mostly from the Palatinate.  Much strife occurred between English and German settlers.  On May 9, 1753 in a letter to Peter Collinson, Pennsylvania’s most famous resident, Benjamin Franklin, gave full vent to this frustration.  However, note how at the end Franklin states that he does not want to stop such immigration, but rather to aid in the assimilation of the German settlers through the founding of schools to help teach them and their children English.  Some issues in American history constantly recur, and the issue of immigration is one of them.  Here is the relevant passage from Franklin’s letter: (more…)

King Philip’s War Begins

The great war of Seventeenth Century New England, King Philip’s War raged from 1675-1678 with the New England colonists, now numbering about 80,000, and their Mohican and Pequot allies confronting the  Wampanoag, Nipmuck, Podunk, Narragansett and Nashaway tribes.  The war was savage on both sides, with quarter rarely given.

The conflict began due to the suspicions of the New England colonists that Metacomet, named by them King Philip, Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Confederacy, was attempting to rally the Indian tribes of New England into a great alliance for war against the whites.  John Sassamon, a Christian Indian, graduate of Harvard and an advisor to Metacomet, informed the Governor of Plymouth colony of this plan.  Metacomet was brought to trial in Plymouth.  Lacking evidence the court merely warned him that further rumors of plots by him could lead to severe consequences for the Wampanoag.  (more…)

Published in: on March 30, 2012 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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