| 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 |
HOW MAINE AND NEW HAMPSHIRE WERE FOUNDED
 NORTH of Massachusetts two more colonies, New Hampshire and Maine,
were founded. But they were not founded by men who fled from tyranny,
but by statesmen and traders who realised the worth of America,
not by Puritans, but by Churchmen and Royalists. The two men who
were chiefly concerned in the founding of these colonies were Sir
Ferdinando Gorges and Captain John Mason. They were both eager
colonists, and they both got several charters and patents from the
King, and from the New England Company.
It would be too confusing to follow all these grants and charters,
or all the attempts at settlements made by Mason and Gorges and
others. The land granted to them was often very vaguely outlined,
the fact being that the people who applied for the land, and those
who drew up the charters, had only the vaguest ideas concerning the
land in question. So the grants often overlapped each other, and
the same land was frequently claimed by two people, and of course
confusion and quarrels followed.
In 1629 Mason and Gorges, being friends, agreed to divide the province
of Maine between them, and Mason called his part New Hampshire,
after the county of Hampshire in England, of which he was fond.
Mason and Gorges each now had an enormous tract of land, but they
wanted still more.
The French, as you know, had already made settlements in Canada.
But just at this time that buccaneering sea
 captain, David Kirke,
besieged Quebec, took it and carried its brave governor, Champlain,
away prisoner. Now, as soon as they heard of this Gorges and Mason
asked the King to give them a grant of part of the conquered land,
for it was known to be a fine country for fur trade, and was also
believed to be rich in gold and silver mines. In answer to this
petition the King granted a great tract of land to Gorges and Mason.
This they called Laconia, because it was supposed to contain many
lakes. They never did much with it however, and in a few years
when peace was made with France it had all to be given back to the
Both Mason and Gorges spent a great deal of money trying to encourage
colonists to settle on their land, and the people of Massachusetts
were not at all pleased to have such powerful Churchmen for their
As has been said, land grants often overlapped, and part of the
land granted to Gorges and Mason was also claimed by Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts colonists insisted on their rights. Both Gorges
and Mason therefore became their enemies, and did their best
to have their charter taken away. To this end Gorges got himself
made Governor General of the whole of New England, with power to
do almost as he liked, and he made ready to set out for his new
domain with a thousand soldiers to enforce his authority.
When this news reached Massachusetts the whole colony was thrown
into a state of excitement. For in this appointment the settlers
saw the end of freedom, the beginning of tyranny. Both Gorges and
his friend Mason were zealous Churchmen and the Puritans felt sure
would try to force them all to become Churchmen also.
This the settlers determined to resist with all their might. So
they built forts round Boston Harbour and mounted cannon ready to
sink any hostile vessel which might put
 into port. In every village
the young men trained as soldiers, and a beacon was set up on
the highest point of the triple hill upon which Boston is built.
And daily these young men turned their eyes to the hill, for when
a light appeared there they knew it would be time to put on their
steel caps and corslets and march to defend their liberties. Ever
since the hill has been called Beacon Hill.
But the danger passed. The new ship which was being built for
Ferdinando Gorges mysteriously fell to pieces on the very launching
of it, and Captain Mason died. "He was the chief mover in all the
attempts against us," says Winthrop. "But the Lord, in His mercy,
taking him away, all the business fell on sleep."
But still Gorges did not give up his plans. He did not now go out
to New England himself as he had meant to do, but sent first his
nephew and then his cousin instead. They, however, did not trouble
Over the Province of Maine, Sir Ferdinando ruled supreme. He could
raise troops, make war, give people titles, levy taxes. No one
might settle down or trade in his province without his permission,
and all must look upon him as the lord of the soil and pay him
tribute. It was the feudal system come again, and Sir Ferdinando
Gorges was as near being a king as any ruler of America ever has
been. He drew up a most elaborate constitution, too, for his kingdom,
making almost more offices than there were citizens to fill them.
For, after all, his kingdom was a mere wilderness containing two
fishing villages and here and there a few scattered settlements.
And when the deputy governor arrived to rule this kingdom he found
his "palace" merely a broken-down store house with "nothing of
household stuff remaining but an old pot, a pair of tongs and a
couple of irons."
Thus side by side with the Puritan colonies of New England,
colonies which were almost republics, there was
 planted a feudal
state which was almost a monarchy. Of all the New England colonies,
New Hampshire and Maine were the only two which were not founded
for the sake of religion. For although the English Church was
established in both as the state religion that was merely because
the proprietors were of that Church. The colonies were founded for
the sake of trade and profit. But they grew very slowly.
In 1647 Sir Ferdinando Gorges died, and Maine was left much to
itself. For his son John took little interest in his father's great
estate. Thirty years later his grandson, another Ferdinando, sold
his rights to Massachusetts. From that time till 1820, when it
was admitted to the Union as a separate state, Maine was a part of
Neither did the heirs of Mason pay much attention to their estates
at first. And when they did there was a good deal of quarrelling
and a good deal of trouble, and at length they sold their rights
to twelve men, who were afterwards known as the Masonian Proprietors.
There was a great deal of trouble, too, before New Hampshire was
finally recognised as a separate colony. It was joined to Massachusetts
and separated again more than once. But at last, after many changes,
New Hampshire finally became a recognised separate colony. And
although Captain John Mason died long before this happened he has
been called the founder of New Hampshire.
"If the highest moral honour," it has been said, "belongs to founders
of states, as Bacon has declared, then Mason deserved it. To seize
on a tract of the American wilderness, to define its limits, to give
it a name, to plant it with an English colony, and to die giving
it his last thoughts among worldly concerns, are acts as lofty and
noble as any recorded in the history of colonisation."
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