Friday, January 23, 2015

1636 - Founding of Providence

Roger Williams welcomed by Indians
The course of Roger Williams

January, 1636 - Banished a year earlier by the General Court of Massachusetts for openly criticizing Puritans intolerance, dissident minister Roger Williams escapes from Salem where he fears being imprisoned. He will spend the rest of winter with the Indians.

Februray, 1636 – The General Court of Massachusetts gives the name of Hartford to the settlement of Newtown based by John Steel on the Connecticut River in October, 1635.

April, 1636 - a party of dissident settlers, led by Roger Ludlow, establishes the village of Windsor in the Connecticut Valley next to a former trading post built in 1633.

Roger Ludlow (Dinton, Wilts. 1590 - Dublin, Irl.1664) - barrister graduated from Balliol College, Oxford, he belonged from 1612 to the Very Honourable Inner Temple. It is due to his wife Mary Cogan, the sister-in-law of John Endicott that he was involved in the puritan movement  and the Massachusetts Bay project. Arrived in New England in 1630 aboard the Mary and John, he was made a member of the group chosen to govern the new colony. He had subsequently taken part in the foundation of Dorchester and had been chosen as Deputy-Governor but his belonging to high aristocracy was an obstacle to his ambition to be one day appointed Governor, as far as Massachusetts authorities did not wish to be formed a government traced on English model. The opportunity to put him in charge of the new Connecticut colony allowed to keep him away from the decision making center while giving him a responsible job.

January, 1636 - Edward Winslow is appointed for the second time governor of the Plymouth colony.

Edward Winslow had made the trip to England the previous year to defend the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies against Thomas Morton's charges, lawyer for the nonce of the Council for New England. He had also wished to engage the English government against French raids in the East and Dutch incursions on the West. Hostile to the arrival in England of a Puritan representative from Massachusetts, archbishop Laud had made him arrested from his landing, and jailed for pointless reasons. Winslow had then spent 17 weeks in custody, before being allowed to explain to the king’s Privy Council the reasons of his coming.

John Winthrop, Jr. (1605-1676)
March 13, 1636 - The General Court of Massachusetts Bay passes a bill intended to grant administrative status to Saybrook, a fort recently built at Connecticut River’s mouth, governor of which is none other than John Winthrop Jr . The administrative plan states that its residents will henceforth have control on the future of their town. The General Court passes in the same way the Township Act, giving some autonomy to Massachusetts cities, and creates a council representing the four towns of the Connecticut Valley (Wethersfield, Windsor, Hartford and Springfield), now being in charge for resolving any disputes between the settlers and according to them control over their own destiny.

April2, 1636 - Jamestown: Si May 25, 1636 – 23 year-old Henry Vane is chosen new governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony.

Henry Vane (1613-1662)
Henry Vane (Hadlow, Kent 1613-1662) - Son of Sir Henry Vane, State Secretary of King Charles 1st, he had studied at Oxford University. With Presbyterian and Puritan allegiance, he had moved in 1635 to settle in Massachusetts Bay Colony. Admitted as member of the Church of Boston, he became " free man " of the colony in March, 1636. Vane then employed all his diplomatic skills to untie a quarrel between former two governors John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley. His prestige there grew out so that he was chosen as governor of the colony. Although not having prevented the outbreak of the war with Pequot Indians, he however managed in preserving peace with the Narragansetts and negotiating purchase of Rhode Island to serve as a haven for religious separatists. He was soon involved in the quarrels that disturbed the colony at the time when the charter was revoked, taking particular advantage for dissenting Ann Hutchinson. His position caused him to open conflict with John Winthrop and losing the 1637 election. He stayed still two years in America before going back to England where he was elected Hull representative in the House of Commons. Knighted by the king, he was therefore the lawyer of religious tolerance and worked for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.
Thomas Hooker & his Company moving to Connecticut

May 1, 1636 - Rev. Thomas Hooker and his assistant Samuel Stone leave New Town (current Cambridge, Mass.) with 100 members of their congregation and 160 head of cattle to a place located in the Connecticut Valley that the Indians call Suckiaug. Invalid, Thomas Hooker's wife Susann must travel in a litter carried by horses.

May 31, 1636 – After a hazardous journey across Indian territories, only guided by a compass, Rev. Thomas Hooker and his followers arrive in Hartford (Suckiaug). They found there the First Church of Christ and declare free of all but divine authority. They settle on a land left vacant since a smallpox epidemic decimated local Indian population. 

Thomas Hooker & His Freinds reach Connecticut
Thomas Hooker (July 5, 1586-July 7, 1647) - Born in the rural village of Marefield, Leicestershire, he joined the puritan movement further to comments about the meaning of some of the Bible scriptures and the Life of Christ. His status obliged him to emigrate at first to Holland then towards New England to escape the persecutions of Archbishop William Laud. Arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1633 aboard the Griffin, he was quickly appointed minister of the Church of New Towne (now. Cambridge). In 1635 he was commissioned by the Massachusetts General Court to try to convince his friend Roger Williams to abandon his controversial ideas but failed in doing. He left the following year with a hundred members of his congregation to settle in Hartford, opening the way that would become "the Old Connecticut path". One reason for his departure was his disagreement with John Winthrop about the right to vote. He believed that every adult owner was able to vote and take part in civil government, while Winthrop would rather reserve this right to members of the Church. After settling in Harford, Thomas Hooker nevertheless kept good relations with Roger Williams and John Winthrop and kept making regular visits to Boston.

Roger Williams arriving at Providence
June 4, 1636 - Roger Williams founds Providence at the head of Narragansett Bay.

This atypical minister had always fought for the separation of Church and State, a reason why the Massachusetts government had wished to send him back to England. Governor John Winthrop had however suggested to move him near Narragansett Bay, in a place where could be found people whose consciousness was in distress. Williams chose to call this new settlement Providence to show his gratitude to the " God's friendly providence " which had led him there. He was not the first dissident colonist to settle down in Rhode Island. Reverend William Blackstone who had already escaped from Boston a few years before, had a few months earlier decided to leave Massachusetts for a land he had named Cumberland.

New Netherlands & New England (map drawn by Jan Jansson, 1636 - detail)
 June 6, 1636 – Director General of New Amsterdam Wouter Van Twiller confirms to Andries Hedden and Wolphert Garritsen Van Couwehoven ownership of the land of Amersfoort (Flatlands, Long Island) whom they purchased previous year to the Indians.

June 7, 1636 - Jacob Van Corlear, one of the lieutenants of Van Twiller, buys a land on the site of current Brooklyn, a place inhabited by the Walloons from the beginning of the colonization. The same day, William Adriaense Bennett and Jacques Bentyn purchase  a 930-acre land to Canarsee leader Gouwane, in southern Brooklyn.

William Pynchon (1590-1662)
June 16, 1636 - Plymouth merchant Jonathan Brewster is responsible for transmitting a message from chief Mohegan Uncas according to which the Pequots are planning an attack against the English.

July 13, 1636 - William Pynchon and a small group of settlers purchase the place of Agawam (Springfield) in exchange for 10 coats, 10 hoes, 10 hatchets, 10 knives and 10 fathoms of wampum. Pynchon came last year to recognize the lands occupied by Nipmucs and Pocumtucks.

The forest had given way to large meadows suitable for cattle breeding and the soil was rich in silt from seasonal floodings.

William Pynchon (Springfield, Essex 1590 - Wraysbury, Buckinghamshire, October 29, 1662)
Appointed in March, 1629 by King Charles 1st among the beneficiaries of the royal charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, he had arrived next year in New England beside governor John Winthrop. He had then held the position of treasurer of the colony
and was particularly involved in the foundation of Roxbury and organizing its first church. When in May, 1634, the colony was on the brink of starvation because of the heavy influx of new immigrants, the General Court encouraged the residents who wished it to move to more appropriate locations. William Pynchon, with his wife, his children and a small group of settlers founded a new plantation in the meadows at the confluence of Agawam and Connecticut Rivers. He gave it in 1640 the name of Springfield in memory of his hometown.

July 1636 - a meeting at Fort Saybrook is attended by representatives from Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay,Western Niantics and Pequot Indians.
The English recalled the terms of the Treaty of 1634 and the Niantic leader Sassacus assured them of his allegiance and loyalty.

20 July 1636 - John Oldham is killed by Pequots. This murder will lead to a series of armed expeditions against the Indians of Rhode Island and Connecticut.

Skilful and tireless merchant but also a member of the Church of Watertown, John Oldham had participated in the first meeting of the Massachusetts General Court in 1634. He dealt for years with the Indians, from the coasts of Maine to New Amsterdam and had led in particular the group of settlers that founded Wethersfield, in 1634.
He was engaged in July 1636, in a business trip on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island when he was attacked by a party of hostile Indians, certainly Pequot but more likely Niantic or even Narragansett. They killed him with his crew and plundered his cargo. Only two young boys survived the massacre and could be rescued by fishermen. This murder was certainly explained by the fact that the Narragansetts had been affected hardly two years earlier by an awful epidemic of smallpox. It killed at least 700 people and John Oldham was, from that date, suspected of having deliberately introduced the disease within their villages. The Puritans persisted in seeing there the hand of Divine Providence but, knowing the vulnerability of Indian populations, it was not unlikely that, among the English, some malevolent spirits have changed the course of destiny in favor of their interests.
Narragansett leaders Miantonomo and Canonchet hastened to condemn this murder and offered repair. They promised to refuse any alliance with the Pequots in case of conflict with English people.

At the beginning of the century, the Pequot nation, allied to Mohegans, had turned away from its traditional lands on the Hudson River to settle down in current Connecticut. They were about 6 000 people when the first English colonists landed. The etymology of the name remains controversial, most considering however that it would come from the Algonquian word Pekawatawog meaning "destroyers". The Pequot society was very highly structured and centralized, what gave it certain military advantage over its neighbors.
Proud and warlike, they could bring alone more than 500 warriors, a considerable force compared to the importance of the population. They were moreover the only ones to be avoided by the Mohawks, whose murderous raids periodically hit the tribes of New England.
In 1633, the Dutch had founded in their territory a first trading post where would rise later the city of Hartford. Further to the so-called breach of an agreement, they had seized Pequot leader Tatobem, whom they had returned the corpse against a ransom. The Pequots had then appointed as their new leader, Sassacus, the son of Tatobem, preferred to the Mohegan chief Uncas. This choice caused a major split between supporters of the Dutch rallied around Sassacus and those represented by the English led by Uncas. The alliance between the two Indian nations built for at least two generations around matrimonial ties between the families of their leaders, had shattered.
That same year, 1633, a terrible disease devastated the whole region causing the death of nearly 80% of the local Indian population. In 1636, the Pequots were no more than about 3,000.

Summer 1636 - the first American built slave ship is launched at Marblehead. This 120 ton-vessel whichs belongs to the people of Salem is named the Desire.

August 13, 1636 - Director General of New Netherlands, Wouter Van Twiller, gives Staten Island up for captain David Pietersz De Vries

David Pietersz de Vries (La Rochelle c. 1593-Hoorn c. 1662) -
This Dutch sailor had organized, in 1631, the founding of the Zwaanendael colony in Delaware. He had left a short time later to Holland to fetch supplies and had discovered on his return that all the settlers had been slain by Indians. In 1632, he negotiated a treaty with them and went up Delaware River intending to trade beans and corn. He failed but was luckier in Virginia where he got enough supplies to venture a new settlement at Zwaanendael. Lack of success, he repatriated however the colonists in Europe and resumed his business in North America. He then devoted himself to large estates farming, including Staten Island, before returning permanently to Holland and to publish in 1655 an account of his travels entitled "Korte Historiael Ende Journaels Aenteyckeninge" (Small Historical Notes and Journal of Different Travels).

August 24, 1636 - Governor Henry Vane asks John Endecott to organize a militia to reply to Pequots. This one goes to Block Island with a 90 men-force to attack the Niantic village. Fourteen Indians are killed and two settlers wounded. The village is razed to the ground and crops plundered or destroyed.

John Endecott had been, in 1629, the very first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, before John Winthrop's arrival. He had, in subsequent years, held various positions but was mostly reported as the opponent of Roger Williams and the one who had defaced the English flag in sign of protest against the St George’s Cross he considered a symbol of the Roman Catholic Church.
Endecott sailed from Block Island to Fort Saybrook, at the Connecticut River ‘s mouth. The settlers of the small colony commanded by Lieutenant Lion Gardiner did not approve the methods of Endecott but still provided him guides to lead him to a Pequot village. Endecott asked the Indians to pay tribute for the death of John Stone and John Oldham but these offered him waiting for their sachems to parley. Endecott refused burnt the village and the crops before leaving.
Pequot Indians had up to then avoided a direct confrontation but they had just realized that the English were ready for war. They went to besiege the small fort of Saybrook. Gardiner tried to force them away but the Indians killed three of his men and two were tortured to death.

October 28, 1636 - The General Court of Massachusetts raises funds to create Harvard College, the very first of America. Minister Henry Dunster becomes its first president.

November, 1636 - Governor of Plymouth Edward Winslow enacts a set of laws and of rules, "General Fundamentals" that reinforce the bases of the government of the colony.

December 13, 1636 – the Massachusetts Bay Colony organizes three militia regiments to defend against the threats posed by the Pequots. These are considered the ancestors of the US National Guard.

December 21, 1636 - While he was not still able to reach Virginia, Governor John Harvey is condemned by the Admiralty to pay wages to the sailors of the Black George although this ship was unfit to cross the ocean.

Dismissed in May 1635 by upset settlers, Sir John Harvey was confirmed governor of Virginia by King Charles 1. John West, who had replaced him, was officially discharged and considered as a usurper. 
The king mainly wanted to show that he would not longer bear that settlers violate orders from London on restrictions on tobacco planting and land conversion especially for wool production, and that he would not tolerate a Puritan control on Virginia. It appeared, in fact, that John Zouch, an influential settler attached to one of the most noble English families would become councilor of Virginia and impose puritan views. John Harvey’s return to Virginia was, on the other hand, going to take an ill time. The Black George which left Cowes on October 2 with on board a hundred passengers was in so poor condition that it could go beyond Scilly Islands and hastened to sail back to Portsmouth.

John Endicott and The Red Cross (William Allen Wall, 1851)

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