« НазадПродовжити »
and in humbling his proud rival, France, by the reduction of Louisburg, and the conquest of the Canadas. It excited no relentings of tyranny, that one fifth of our population capable of bearing arms, was for successive years exposed to the horrors of the camp and the dangers of the field. No! they were called to submit to measures the most odious, to principles subversive of their dearest rights and their chartered privileges. Blessed be God, the spirit that led our Fathers across the deep, still lived in the bosoms of their descendants. They resisted even upto blood, and the Independence of a great empire was the result of this resistance. The year 1776 marks the fourth era, the proudest in the annals of cisilized man.
Since that period another half century has been added to the accumulating mass of years. It will ever be distinguisbed for its brilliant train of momentous events. It has beheld the consummation of our Independence, the establishment of our federative form of government, and the practical illustration of the principles of our fathers. It has beheld our beloved country rising with gigantic steps into maturity, and displaying to an astonished world the blessings of good government, and of opinions unshackled by law.
We are now entering upon the fifth epoch in our annals. It commences at a period of unexampled national prosperity, when our country, and those with whom she is connected, are in a state of profound peace; when Commerce, and her sisters, Agriculture and Manufactures, are rapidly extending and improving, and, mutoally protected by the parental care of the government, are reciprocally supporting each other, and pouring into the lap of their common mother the surplus of their abundance. Our times will also be distinguished, at least from all that have preceded it, for the singular circumstance, that our rulers are conducting the affairs of the country, and discussing questions of the highest importance to their constituents, uninfluenced by the bitterness of organized parties, and the confusion of contending factions.
Our history acquires importance by time, and the apparent magnitude of its incidents increases in proportion as we recede from them. This has awakened a laudable curiosity to discover ap adequate cause for the mighty effects that we witness around us-this can only be found in the principles of our Ancestors, and their results have been gradually unfolding, through all the successive years of our story. Anniversary celebrations, by presenting a knowledge of their events to the rising generations, have been found the
most effectual means of aiding the records of the historian, and of recalling the feelings and principles they are intended to commeinorate.
We hear with the keenest interest the story of our father's wrongs in their native land; we sympathise in those sufferings and trials that induced them to abandon forever their native fields. Conscience had issued her stern mandates, and the Puritans were not the men to disregard her solemn injunctions. We follow them with their wives and their children to the strand in full view of the perils of a tempestuous ocean. How have our hearts been elevated with hope or depressed by anxiety as we traced their lonely ship across the billows of an untried sea; the Mayflower cradled like the lone sea bird on the mountain wave, but laden with bles. sings that other gallant ships never bore ; with the constituent principles of an empire beyond the seas ; the germ of a government, from whence would spring civil and religious liberty, such as men had never before enjoyed, destined to spread its branches from the sea to the rirers, to protect and solace the millions, who would repose in its shade. The tie that bound the Pilgrim to his native land was now severed forever; what remained to him of earth was now within his view; the relics of property reserved from the grasp of avarice and tyrannical exaction; family and friends were now before him. But he had in expectancy a bright reversion in the wilderness beyond the seas, more valued than the cultivated plains of England, eren a home where he could worship his God without molestation or terror; and he bad, moreover, a yet brighter hope beyond the skies, dearer to bim, than all the loved objects around him, or than all that earth could give. We follow our fathers in their wanderings around our coast, a coast at that inclement season, terrible by its ice clad rocks and snowy cliffs.
We accom papy them in their landing upon an inhospitable shore, dreary, houseless, and forlorn. We contemplate with reverence and admiration that stern resolution, that holy self denial, that exemplary patience, which enabled them to persevere, and to place the lasting foundations of their State, through so many hardships, the dread of savage beasts and ferocious men, famine, pestilence, and death.
Where is the Araerican, who has pot felt a glow of enthusiasm in listening to a recital of those events that led to our national emancipation ? Who can contemplate without emotion that illustrious band of Sages, Patriots, and Statesmen, who adopted the higi resolve, that the American people were free and independent, and
who through a dubious struggle redeemed the pledge they had gitep to the world, that they would consecrate to the noble cause " their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred bonors."
These two events, although the most prominent in our history, and most frequently the themes of panegyric, were connected by a series of other incidents equally interesting, and if less splendid and imposing, will be found equally necessary to the consummation of our glory as a nation,
At the landing of our fathers, most of the places where they settled were entirely abandoned and destitute of inhabitants. Numerous restiges of a former population remained, but those parts of the country had been desolated by a sweeping pestilence some years previous to the arrival of the English. Whenever any of the natives appeared to claim jurisdiction of the soil, treaties were entered into, and equal and honorable bargains were made for the lands. If, in any instances, the case was otherwise, the fault was not that of our fathers, for they then were weak and the Indians were strong. These contracts were mutually fulálled during the lives of the contracting parties. By the immemorial usages of mapkind, however erroneous and unjust, these purchases were undecessary and altogether gratuitous, for without them, our claim to the soil was acquired by titles as fair and as indisputable as the domains of any other civilized nation. These bargains have been applauded by the most eminent writers upon the laws of nations, even by the French jurists,* as exemplary instances of moderation, and of a regard to equal and exact justice. If it is inggired whether the Iņdian tribes were parties to their conventional laws of dations, we answer, that by their own rules of acquiring and holding property, that of immediate and actual occupancy, our right is at least as good as theirs. The earth is the Lord's, aad the fulness thereof; its dominion was granted for the support of his intellectual creatures, and we know of none of his moral laws that was enacted to defeat this great purpose of the physical creation.
In this vicinity also, the Indians had been much reduced by the pestilence, and their destructive wars with the Mohawks. Over a considerable region in the valley of the Nashua, Sholan claimed to be the Proprietor. He was Sachem of a tribe, formerly of considerable power, but at this time was tributary to the principal Sagamore of the Massachusetts. He had carried on considerable trade with the settlers of Watertown, for whom he had acquired great
* Vattel-Book Ich. 18-sect. 209.
friendship. He invited them to occupy this territory, as being a place peculiarly fitted for a plantation. His offers were accepted; and as early as 1643 the purchase was made. It was stipulated that the Indians should not be molested in their hunting grounds, fishing places, and planting fields. For more than thirty years the utmost harmony subsisted between them and the whites. We have no reason to believe that the patives had any cause of complaint against the settlers at Lancaster. In the mean time, Sholan, the friend and protector of our fathers in their weakness, paid the great debt of nature, and was succeeded by Matthew, his nephew, who pursued the same pacific policy towards the English. The "Dext Prince was of an opposite character; he joined with Philip in his rebellion, and afterwards expiated his crimes by an ignominious death. With this unfortunate Sachem, terminated the feeble em
pire of the Nashuay. The miserable remnant of the tribe dispers*ed, partly to the vicinity of Albany, and a part united themselves with the more powerful Penicooks.
The song of the desert were found by our fathers untamed and untutored, sometimes subtle and crafty, and sometimes simple and credulous. Laws were immediately enacted prohibiting any undue advantages upon the part of the whites in trading with them. Purchases of lands from them were void, unless made under the control of the Goveromeot. Men of learning and perseverance commenced the benevolent task of rescuing them from their state of barbarity to the cheering light of civilization. The Scriptures and other valued books were translated into their language, a tongue to which the dialects of the learned bpre no analogy, and a koowledge of which could only be acquired by submitting in unrepining conformity to savage customs, and brutal modes of living. These pacific measures were completely successful through the whole of the first period of the Massachusetts history.
The Colony of Plymouth bordered upon the Narrhagansett bay. Those beautiful waters studded with a cluster of islands and fertile promontories were peculiarly fitted for the residence of those children of pature. The western banks were at that time occupied by the warlike tribe of the Narrhagansetts. The Pawkunnawkets held the opposite shore. They were then governed by Philip, a youthful, gallant and ambitious Prince. A growing and rancorous animosity towards the English had long been cherished in the bosom of this vindictive chief. He possessed sufficient political sagacity to foresee that the superiority of the Whites would soon un
dermine his power and dispossess him of bis domains. His conduct had already awakened suspicions, and his motions were watched by the English. The wily King was at last unable to suggest any plausible reasons for his repeated warlike preparations. Without waiting for his allies, whom he had engaged in a general plot to exterminate the English, this self-willed victim of ambition flew to arms, June 24, 1675.
His depredations commenced in his immediate peighborhood, but the flames of war almost instantaneously extended their ravages into Massachusetts. On the 24th of the following month his Nip muc subjects made an attack upon Mendon, in this County, and slew several of the Inhabitants. This is said by the historians of that day to have been the first blood shed in the Massachusetts Colony, is a
per. Philip fled before the vengeance of his pursuers, and was an outcast from his dominions for nearly a year. His mind was bent on the blackest deeds, and pothing could glut his vengeance but the blood of his enemies. With the most consummate wiles, he infused his spirit foul and dark into all the neighboring tribes he visited in his exile. In August, the Nasbuas forgetting the ancient friendship of their fathers, consummated by so long an interchange of kind offices, led on by their newly appointed chief, who had imbibed much of the temper of the Prince of the Wampanoags, made a desperate assault upon their neighbors at Lancaster, then in the unguarded and unsuspecting hours of sacred worship, and barbarously slaughtered eight of the citizens,
The governments of the New England colonies were not unconcerned spectators of these outrages upon their borders. In the depth of a severe winter, a well appointed army made a desperate attack upon the strong holds of the powerful and perfidious Narrhagansetts, and achieved a glorious and memorable victory, which manifested that the valor of Cressy, of Agincourt and Poictiers, had not deserted the Saxon race, even in a remote wilderness.
Nothing now was wanting to arouse to the highest pitch of exasperation and frenzy the temper of the savage soul. The council fires were lighted through the wilds of North America, from the shores of the Narrhagansett to the frozen plains of Canada, from the rivers of Penobscot and Sagadabock to the roar of the cataracts in the West ; from the thickest recesses of their morasses the incantations of their priesthood went forth summoning to arms. The spirits of their fathers howled in the blast, and sbrieked for vengeance. The foot of the stranger had polluted their consecrated