| This Country of Ours|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Stories from the history of the United States beginning with a full account of exploration and settlement and ending with the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The 99 chapters are grouped under 7 headings: Stories of Explorers and Pioneers, Stories of Virginia, Stories of New England, Stories of the Middle and Southern Colonies, Stories of the French in America, Stories of the Struggle for Liberty, and Stories of the United States under the Constitution. Ages 10-14 |
THE FOUNDING OF CONNECTICUT AND WAR WITH THE INDIANS
 MANY of the people who founded Massachusetts Colony were well-to-do
people, people of good family, aristocrats in fact. They were men
accustomed to rule, accustomed to unquestioning obedience from their
servants and those under them. They believed that the few were meant
to rule, and the many meant to obey. The idea that every grown-up
person should have a share in the government never entered their
heads. Their Governor, Winthrop, was an aristocrat to the backbone.
He believed heartily in the government of the many by the few, and
made it as difficult as possible for citizens to obtain the right
But there were many people who were discontented with this
aristocratic rule. Among them was a minister named Thomas Hooker,
like John Harvard a graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.
So, being dissatisfied, he and his congregation decided to move
away and found a new colony. They were the more ready to do this,
as the land round Boston was not fertile, and so many new settlers
had come, and their cattle and flocks had increased so rapidly,
that it was already difficult to find food and fodder for man and
beast. Adventurers who had travelled far afield had brought back
glowing reports of the beauty and fertility of the Connecticut
Valley, and there Hooker decided to settle.
But for several reasons many of the people of
Massa-  chusetts objected
to his going. He and his people, they said, would be in danger from
the Dutch, who already had a settlement there, and who claimed the
whole valley. They would also be in danger from the Indians, who
were known to be hostile, and lastly, they would be in danger from
the British Government because they had no charter permitting them
to settle in this land. The people at home, they said, "would not
endure they should sit down without a patent on any place which
our King lays claim unto."
The people of Massachusetts were keeping quiet and going along
steadily in their own way, without paying any heed to the British
Government. They wanted to be left alone, and they did not want
any one else to do things which might call attention to them.
And besides all this they were greatly troubled at the thought
of losing an eloquent preacher like Hooker. Every church was like
a candlestick giving light to the world. "And the removing of
a candlestick," they said, "is a great judgment, which is to be
But in spite of all arguments Hooker determined to go. So one June
morning he and his congregation set forth. They sent their furniture
by water and they themselves, both men and women, started to walk
the hundred miles, driving their cattle before them; only Mrs.
Hooker, who was ill, being carried in a litter.
They went slowly, allowing the cattle to graze by the wayside, living
chiefly on the milk of the cows and the wild fruits they found.
It was no easy journey, for their way led through the pathless
wilderness, their only guides being the compass and the sun. For in
those days we must remember that beyond the settlements the whole
of America was untrodden ground. Save the Indian trails there were
no roads. Here they had to fell trees and make a rough bridge to
cross a stream; there they hewed their way through bushy undergrowth.
Again they climbed steep
 hillsides or picked their way painfully
through swamps, suffering many discomforts and fatigues.
But there were delights, too, for the sky was blue above them:
birds sang to them night and morning, and wild flowers starred the
ground and scented the air. All day they marched beneath the sunny
blue sky, every evening they lit their watch-fires as a protection
against wild beasts and lay down to rest beneath the stars, for
"they had no cover but the heavens, nor any lodgings but those
which simple nature afforded them."
For a fortnight they journeyed thus through the wilderness. Then
they reached the Connecticut River and their journey's end. And
here they built a little town which they called Hartford.
Other communities followed the example of Hooker and his flock,
and Wethersfield and Windsor were built. At first all these towns
remained a part of Massachusetts in name at least. But after a time
the settlers met together at Hartford and, agreeing to form a little
republic of their own, they drew up a set of rules for themselves;
the chief difference from those of Massachusetts being that the
religious tests were done away with, and a man need no longer be a
member of a church in order to have the right to vote. It is also
interesting to remember that in these Fundamental Orders, as they
called their Constitution, there is no mention of the British
King or Government. These colonists had settled new land without a
charter, and they made laws without recognising any authority but
their own. Thus the Colony of Connecticut was founded.
Besides these towns, John Winthrop, the son of the Governor
of Massachusetts, founded a fort at the mouth of the Connecticut
River. For he saw it was a good place for trade with the Indians.
This fort was called SayeBrook after Lord Saye and Sele and Lord
Brook, two Puritan
 lords who had obtained a grant of land along
the Connecticut River.
But this new colony was very nearly wiped out as soon as begun.
For one of the dangers which the people of Massachusetts foretold
proved a very real one. This was the danger from the Indians. The
Indians are divided into several families, such as the Algonquins,
the Hurons, the Iroquois, each of these families again containing
many tribes. All the Indians in New England belonged to the Algonquin
family, but were, of course, divided into many tribes. One of these
tribes was called the Pequots. They were very powerful, and they
tyrannised over the other tribes round about. They hated the white
men, and whenever they had the opportunity they slew them.
The new Colony of Connecticut was far nearer their hunting-ground
than Massachusetts. It was a far easier prey, and from the very
beginning the Pequots harassed the settlers. They made no open
attack, but skulked about, murdering men and women, now here, now
there, appearing suddenly and vanishing again as swiftly.
This sort of thing could not be endured, and the English determined
to put a stop to it. So messengers were sent to the Indians to
demand that the murderers should be given up to the English. When
the Indians saw the English boats appear they did not seem in the
least afraid, but came running along the water-side shouting, "What
cheer, Englishmen, what cheer? What do you come for?"
But the Englishmen would not answer.
And the Pequots, never thinking that the Englishmen meant war, kept
running on beside the boats as they sailed up the river.
"What cheer, Englishmen, what cheer?" they kept repeating. "Are
you angry? Will you kill us? Do you come to fight?"
But still the Englishmen would not answer.
 Then the Indians began to be afraid. And that night they built
great fires on either side of the river, fearing lest the Englishmen
might land in the darkness. All night long, too, they kept up a
most doleful howling, calling to each other and passing the word
on from place to place to gather the braves together.
Next morning early they sent an ambassador to the English captain.
He was a big, splendid-looking man, very grave and majestic. "Why
do you come here?" he asked.
"I have come," answered the captain, "to demand the heads of those
who have slain our comrades. It is not the habit of the English to
suffer murderers to live. So if you desire peace and welfare give
us the heads of the murderers."
"We knew not," answered the wily Indian, "that any of our braves
had slain any of yours. It is true we have slain some white men. But
we took them to be Dutch. It is hard for us to know the difference
between Dutch and English."
"You know the difference between Dutch and English quite well,"
answered the captain sternly. "And therefore seeing you have slain
the King of England's subjects, we come to demand vengeance for
"We knew no difference between the Dutch and English," declared
the Indian. "They are both strangers to us, and we took them to be
all one. Therefore we crave pardon. We have not wilfully wronged
"That excuse will not do," insisted the captain. "We have proof
that you know the English from the Dutch. We must have the heads of
those persons who have slain our men, or else we will fight you."
Then, seeing that he could not move the English captain from his
determination, the ambassador asked leave to go back to his chief,
promising to return speedily with his answer.
 He was allowed to go;
but as he did not return very soon the Englishmen followed. Seeing
this, the ambassador hurried to them, begging them not to come
nearer, and saying that his chief could not be found, as he had
gone to Long Island.
"That is not true," replied the English. "We know he is here. So
find him speedily or we will march through the country and spoil
Hour after hour went past; the Englishmen always patiently waiting;
the wily Indian always inventing some new excuse for delay. But
at length the patience of the English was exhausted, and, beating
their drums, they charged the savages. Some were killed, and, the
rest fleeing, the English burned their wigwams and destroyed their
corn, and carried off their mats and baskets as booty.
But the Pequots were not in the least subdued, and more than ever
they harassed the colonists of Connecticut. So the men of Connecticut
sent to Massachusetts and to Plymouth asking for help. The people
of Plymouth, however, said the quarrel was none of theirs and sent
no help, but from Massachusetts about twenty men were sent. Besides
this, a few friendly Indians, glad at the chance of punishing their
old tyrants, joined with the white men.
So one moonlight night the little company embarked, and, sailing
along the coast, landed at a spot about two days' journey from the
Pequot fort. As they got near to it most of the Indians who had come
with the English took fright and ran away. So less than a hundred
Englishmen were left to attack seven hundred Indians.
A little before dawn they reached the fort. The Indians were
all sleeping and keeping no guard, so the Englishmen quietly took
possession of both entrances to the fort.
Then suddenly through the still morning air the sharp sound of a
volley of musketry rang out "as though the finger of God had touched
both match and flint."
 Affrighted, the Indians sprang from their
sleep yelling in terror. They scarce had time to seize their bows
and arrows when, sword in hand, the Englishmen stormed into the
fort. A fierce fight followed, showers of arrows fell upon the
Englishmen, but they did little hurt, and glanced off for the most
part harmless from their thick buff coats and steel corslets.
During the fight some of the huts were set on fire, and soon the
whole village was a roaring mass of flames. Many perished miserably
in the fire, others who fled from it were cut down by the Englishmen,
or escaping them, fell into the hands of their own countrymen. They
found no mercy, for they had given none; and, remembering the awful
tortures which their fellow-countrymen had suffered, the Englishmen
had no compassion on their murderers.
Ere an hour had passed the fight was over. Out of four hundred
Indians not more than five escaped. The Pequots were utterly wiped
out and their village a heap of smoking ruins. Never before had
such terrible vengeance overtaken any Indian tribe. And all the
other tribes were so frightened and amazed that for forty years
there was peace in New England. For no Redmen dare attack these
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