Friday, October 30, 2015

1648 - The Iroquois War (part 1)

Margaret Jones hanged in Boston for witchcraft

January, 1648 – coming from Gothenburg, the Swan arrives in Christina harbor with a large shipment including iron and lead as well as a kettle intended to brew ale.

Johann Printz who governed the colony of New Sweden since 1644 hoped to be at last relieved of his duties but he was instructed to stay. In his report sent to the Swedish Company, he didn’t face with optimism the future of the colony given the  more aggressive Dutch posture since the arrival of the new Director Peter Stuyvesant.

Margaret Brent before the Assembly of Maryland
January 21, 1648Margaret Brent appears before the General Assembly of Maryland to ask voting right for herself and as the lawyer of former governor Leonard Calvert for whom executrix she is. Her request being rejected, she demands the minutes of the Assembly to be invalidated.

April 9, 1648Edward Hopkins is appointed Governor of Connecticut. He has held this position for some years alternately with John Haynes.

April 26, 1648 - Brant van Slechtenhorts, acting has commissioner of the Rennselaerwijck patroonship protests against decision of the Director General Peter Stuyvesant, to establish a day of fast and prayer.

Peter Stuyvesant visiting Fort Orange

April 7, 1648 - while confirming the restrictions on weapons sales to the Indians, Peter Stuyvesant approves the supply of 400 guns to the Mohawks, officially to help them to hunt.

It was a moment since hostilities were brewing between the various Indian nations whose vital interests were more dependent on colonial governments with which they had agreements.
But so far, the settlers that they were English, Dutch or Swedish had always kept strictly control on the number of firearms to the Indians and punished severely all those who were smuggling, lest these turn against them. Nonetheless, the illegal arms trade had not stopped flourishing, Fort Orange being a hub. From 1641 indeed, a party of Iroquois armed with muskets had been seen prowling not far from Montreal. Two years later, about 90 Mohawk warriors armed with guns had come down to New Amsterdam to claim a tribute to Wickquasgecks and Tapaens whereas 300 Iroquois well equipped with firearms  were again trolling near Montreal.
 By supplying Mohawks on an amost official way, Peter Stuyvesant could not ignore that he would upset the geopolitical balance of the region. The Mohawks claimed that they needed guns to enhance their hunting performances but they especially knew that the predictable depletion of beavers and the insatiable appetite of the colonists for their pelts obliged them to expand their territories to the north, going up to the Huron homeland where fur game was still plentiful. The commercial competition that engaged the French and the Dutch entered therefore into a new dimension, opposing in front line their Indian allies. The time of war was coming.

May, 1648Jeremiah Clarke is appointed Acting President of the Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in place of William Coddington, faced with various charges.

Jeremiah Clarke (East Farleigh, Kent,1605 – Newport (R.I.) 1651) – he was the nephew of Sir Richard Weston, Earl of Portland and Treasurer of England under Kinks James 1 and Charles 1. Formerly a merchant in London, he was signatory of the Portsmouth Compact (1638) and took part in the foundation of Newport, shortly after his arrival in New England. He held then various official positions, promoted  lieutenant and captain before being appointed  treasurer of Newport.

Samuel Gorton showing his charter
May, 1648 – After five years spent in England, Samuel Gorton is back in Rhode Island

He had been expelled from New England by the Massachusetts and Connecticut governments, denounced as a heretic due to a controversial reading of the Bible, which especially forbade baptism to children.

Back in Boston, he showed his charter to the judges as well as the safe-conduct allowing him to settle freely in Rhode Island. The charter that got for him his friend the Earl of Warwick also specified that the Massachusetts government should help him to implement his own administration.
He returned to settle in Showamet where he had left his family a few years earlier, in the meantime renamed Warwick, in tribute to Robert Rich, Earl of Warwick.

June, 1648William Bradford is appointed governor of Plymouth for a 20th term. He undertakes the building of the first Parish Church, intended to replace the old place of worship set in Burial Hill fort since 1621.

June, 1648John Winthrop keeps his appointment as governor of Massachusetts.
Two new towns would be incorporated during this term, Marblehead and Malden.

June 4, 1648 – Governor John Winthrop sends a company of 20 armed men to Nashaway to investigate five murders against members of the Quabaug tribe whose perpetrators could be their neighbors Norwottucks.

Quabaug Sachem Quacunquas had sent a message to the Massachusetts authorities asking to help him to arrest the Norwottuck Indians suspected for having killed several of his tribesmen. He recalled thereby that the Quabaugs who lived in current Brookfield area, west of Worcester, had sought protection of Massachusetts in 1644 under their sachem Cushamekin.

Margaret Jones at her trial
June, 1648 – The General Court of Massachusetts finds Margaret Jones guilty of witchcraft and sentences her to be hanged in Boston.

It was said that she only needed to touch the people she blamed to cause their illness.

This charge of witchcraft is only one of the first aspects of the paranoia that would rage for half a century in New England involving both gullibility, obscurantism and settling neighborhood, strangely quick to condemn women and spare men, often for similar charges. Margaret Jones had the misfortune to practice home medicine with hazardous results which according to their more or less good success went to magic or witchcraft. She was reproached the most and the observation of her behavior allowed to identify compelling evidence of her guilt, inept evidence of course. This woman had made nothing very serious but the fantastical universe in which evolved the Massachusetts Bay society fell by dint of inflexible Puritanism in some kind of criminal deviance while hiding behind the desire to establish a perfect and exemplary New Jerusalem. We may, however, remain stunned in front of the list of jurors who voted with one voice for the death of this midwife, all notabilities, prominent figures of Massachusetts such as Thomas Dudley, John Endicott, Richard Bellingham, Increase Nowell, Simon Bradstreet, William Pynchon, John Winthrop, Jr. and others.
The charges were so false and yet so ridiculous that it’s hard to understand how such intelligent and reasonable people could act with a so guilty lightness. Governor John Winthrop, usually so verbose, avoids in his diary to get into the detail of this trial, a terseness which explains maybe his reserves when we know that his old opponent Thomas Dudley, radical and uncompromising Puritan just like John Endicott, known for his extremism, had pronounced without a doubt for the death penalty. The legend says that at the time of her death, it is not a bright sunshine that flooded New England but a violent storm that would suddenly hit Connecticut, proof that heavens were in wrath.

July 3, 1648 - in the sunrise, an army of Senekas attacks the Huron village of Teanaostaiaë and the St Joseph mission, established by Jesuit Father Jean de Brebeuf in 1638, where live about 2000 inhabitants.

The surprise was total. The Senekas set fire to houses, plundered and killed people. Jesuit Father Antoine Daniel led the resistance but overwhelmed, the Hurons eventually let go. The survivors fled and father Daniel remained alone to oppose Iroquois until he fell, his body stuck full of arrows. It was cut in pieces and thrown into the burning church. The human toll was heavy. 700 Hurons had been killed or taken prisoners and the survivors had sought refuge in the other villages.
Soon after this victory, the Senekas concluded an alliance with the Mohawks for a next campaign in Huron country.

August 6, 1648Sir Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, appoints William Stone, a Protestant from Virginia, as the new governor of Maryland to replace Thomas Greene. He engages to assist him a Protestant secretary and a majority of Protestant counselors.
Gov. William Stone

William Stone (c.1603- c.1660) - From Nottinghamshire, he arrived in Virginia in 1628 with a group of Puritan immigrants and settled with them in Accomack County, on the Eastern shore. He had married Verlinda Graves, the daughter of former Governor Thomas Graves what allowed him to become a notability while acquiring some fortune. He was named sheriff of Accomack, a quite new position created for the occasion combining a police power to tax collecting. Stone achieved success in public life as well as in his business before being chosen governor of Maryland by Lord Baltimore.
His appointment resulted in bringing in Maryland hundreds of Protestants from Nansemond County, Virginia who were in conflict with the Episcopal church supported by Governor William Berkeley. Led by Richard Bennett, they mostly settled in Providence, not far from current Annapolis.

August, 1648 – the Synod of ministers from Massachusetts and Connecticut adopts the Religious Constitution of the United Colonies better known as The Cambridge Platform, a declaration that sets up disciplinary rules common to all churches within its jurisdiction.

A first synod met two years before had been adjourned 15 days later. But following the fall of Presbyterianism in England, the delegates agreed plans for governing church introducing order and unity in theoretically independent communities. The synod unanimously adopted the confession of faith drafted in 1646 by the Westminter Assembly of Divines, except for those of Presbyterian orientation. 
The union was mainly ratified about the right to exclude from the community anyone who would offend the church and to make an appeal to civil authority to eradicate heresy, blasphemy and idolatry. The platform admitted prerogative to episodic synods of making advice and complaints to their own churches but denied this right to the Church of England and Presbyterians.
These steps strengthened the already growing influence of Calvinistic doctrine on intellectual life in New England.

October 4, 1648 – Director General of New Netherlands Peter Stuyvesant forms the first volunteer fire brigade in America.

October, 1648 - The Court of Plymouth sentences Allice Bishop to hanging after it was established that she brutally knifed her 4-year-old daughter Martha.

October 18, 1648 – the General Court of Massachusetts legalizes the creation of the first labor union in America , the “Boston Shoemakers”.

This one was based on the English tradition of “gilds”but without having all its powers in particular regarding price fixing and provisions intended for education and charity. Shortly after, barrel-makers ( coopers ) benefited from the same rights.

An Iroquois council
October 20, 1648 - Peter Stuyvesant arrives at Fort Orange where he gives the order to destroy the houses of the colonists built too far from the surrounding wall of the fort, under pretext that in case of attack by the Indians, they may be detrimental to the defense of the settlement. 
Commissioner Brant Van Slechenhorts opposes this decision, considering that being responsible for the colony and having always solved its problems without the help of the Director General, he doesn’t take order from him.

Autumn, 1648 - An army of about one thousand Senekas and Mohawks leaves for a hunting season in the forests north of Lake Ontario, in Huron territory.

They would be prepared to spend the winter well positioned to launch an attack in the next spring.

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