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church, thus constituted, could not be viewed with much favor by Mr. Cotton and his friends. A church, which was formed this year, at Newport, though Congregational in form, and orthodox, it is presumed, in its doctrines, is mentioned, in a tone of censure, by Winthrop, and after him, by Hubbard, (339) as having been gathered
very disordered way, for they took some excommunicated persons, and others who were members of the church of Boston, and not dismissed.”. The leaders, both in church and state, in Massachusetts, were not then in a mood to be pleased with any thing which occurred in Rhode Island. It would have been well if this feeling had expired with the first age. But local prejudice is almost as durable as the natural features of a country. Bæotia incurred, among the Greeks, a contempt, which the fame
give us the like notice of any dealt with in like manner by you, that so we may walk towards them accordingly; for some of us, here, have had communion ignorantly with some of other churches. 2 Thess. iii. 14. We can do no less than have such noted as disobey the truth.
“ ROGER WILLIAMS and his wife, John THROGMORTON and his wife, Thomas Olney and his wife, STUKELY WESTCOTT and his wife, Mary HOLLIMAN, Widow Reeves.
“ These wholly refused to hear the church, denying it, and all the churches in the Bay, to be true churches, and (except two) are all re-baptized.
" John ELFORD, for obstinacy, after divers sins he stood guilty of, and proved by witness. WILLIAM JAMES, for pride, and divers other evils, in which he remained obstinate. JOHN TABBY, for much pride, and unnaturalness to his wife, who was lately executed for murdering her child. WILLIAM Walcot, for refusing to bring his children to the ordinance, neglecting willingly family duties, &c.
“ Thus, wishing the continued enjoyment of both the staves, beauty and bands, and that your souls may flourish as watered gardens, rest,
“ Yours in the Lord Jesus,
“ HUGH PETERS,
“ By the Church's order, and in their name. “For the Church of Christ in Dorchester.”
Winthrop, vol. i. p. 297. Mr. Savage remarks, in a note : “ Those members of Boston "church, who had been driven by intolerance to the new region, if they gathered a church at all, must do it in a disordered way, for they might well apprehend, that an application for dismission would be rejected, and perhaps punished by excommunication."
of Pindar, Hesiod and Epaminondas could not soften.* Nazareth seems to have acquired a similar distinction among the Jews.f Rhode Island may regret, yet cannot greatly wonder, that her sisters have sometimes remembered the circumstances of her origin, better than the purity of her principles and the steadiness of her patriotism. Many, since Mr. Cotton, have been inclined to doubt, whether there was any true religion in Rhode Island, and to believe, with Winthrop, that there was no good government. But let her not be moved. Time is brightening the fame of her founder, and the reflected lustre will attract the eyes of men to a fairer contemplation of her character.
* Horace (Ep. lib. ii. Ep. i. 244) has a pungent sarcasm, ending thus :
“ Bæotum in crasso jurares aera natum.” # John, i. 46.
Affairs of the Indians—birth of Mr. Williams' fourth child-dis
putes at Providence about boundaries—Committee of Arbitration account of Samuel Gorton.
LITTLE is known of transactions, during two or three subsequent years, which can shed light on the conduct or character of Mr. Williams. Winthrop* mentions one circumstance, that shows the confidence which the Indians reposed in the founder of Rhode Island, and the invincible opposition to him that was maintained in Massachusetts. Rumors were circulated, that the Indians were again forming plots against the colonists; that Miantinomo, the Narraganset sachem, had sent a large present of wampum to the Mohawks, inviting them to an alliance against the English, and that the Mohawks had complied with the invitation. The government of Massachusetts took the precaution to strengthen the military defences of the towns, and to send an officer, with three men and an interpreter, to Miantinomo, to ascertain his real dispositions. He denied all hostile intentions against the colonists, and, says Winthrop, “promised to come to Boston (as he was desired) if Mr. Williams might come with him, (but that we had denied.")
It is pleasing to observe the readiness of this savage chief to visit those who evidently distrusted him, provided that Mr. Williams might accompany him, in whose knowledge of his language, and firm friendship, he felt a confidence proportioned to the suspicions which savages feel towards all whom they have not thoroughly tried. And it is remarkable, that the rulers of Massachusetts would not relax the sentence of banishment, even for the advantage of a personal interview with the powerful sachem.
Mr. Williams was doubtless employed at Providence, in labors for the welfare of the colony, and for the subsistence of his family. He possessed no property, and was
* Vol. ii. p. 8.
obliged to support his wife and children by his personal labor. We have already seen, that, at his first coming, he planted his field, Whatcheer, with his own hands. He engaged, also, in traffic with the natives, and must have spent much time in travelling among them. The knowledge of their language, which he displayed in his Key, published a few years afterwards, could have been acquired only by a familiar and frequent intercourse with them, in their own habitations. He assures us, in his preface, that, “ of later times, (out of desire to attain their language,) I have run through varieties of intercourses with them, day and night, summer and winter, by land and sea. Many solemn discourses I have had with all sorts of nations of them, from one end of the country to another.*
His fourth child, Marcy, was born on the 15th of July, 1640.
The tranquillity of the town of Providence was early disturbed, by disputes respecting the boundaries of lands. The town was divided into two settlements, the original one at Moshassuck, and that on the Pawtuxet river. These two communities were much agitated, at various times, by dissensions concerning their respective limits. The loose phraseology of the memorandum attached to the deed of the sachems,“ up the streams of Pawtucket and Pawtuxet, without limits, we might have for our use of cattle,” was construed, by some, as a cession of the land up to the sources of the streams; while Roger Williams, more reasonably, insisted, that the Indians merely meant to allow the cattle to feed occasionally on the banks of the rivers. Of this dispute we shall see more hereafter. It seems to have commenced very early, and to have seriously disturbed the peace of the town. It became evident that a more energetic government was necessary.
A committee was appointed by the town, consisting of Robert Coles, Chad Brown, William Harris, and John Warner, who were authorized to decide, by arbitration, the existing disputes. Their report is dated “Providence, the 27th of the 5th month, in the year (so called) 1640.”+ It settles the boundaries between the Pawtuxet purchasers and the other
* Williams' Key, p. 22, Providence ed.
See Appendix D.
inhabitants of Providence. It proposes that five men be chosen, to meet once a month, to dispose of lands, with a right of appeal to the town. It further recommends, that disputes be settled, in future, by arbitration, according to certain rules which it prescribes. It provides for the choice of a town clerk, and for a general town meeting for business, to be called by the clerk, every three months.
This report is highly characteristic of the times, and of the community. One of its prominent articles is in these words: “We agree, as formerly hath been the liberties of the town, so still, to hold forth liberty of conscience.” This fundamental principle was recognised, and announced, on all occasions.
The democratic spirit appears in the provision, that the “ five disposers” should present their accounts every quarter, and 'a new choice be made.
No form of government could be more simple than this. Mr. Callender says, (p. 43) in allusion to this period, that the inhabitants of Providence“ did, to the number of near forty persons, combine in a form of civil government, according to a model drawn up by some of themselves, as most suitable to promote peace and order in their present circumstances, which, however, left them in a very feeble condition.”
The government on Rhode-Island was more regularly organized the same year, as we have already stated. An act, which was passed on the 16th of March, 1641, says: “It was ordered, and unanimously agreed upon, that the government which this body politic doth attend unto in this island and the jurisdiction thereof, in favor of our Prince, is a Democracy, or popular government, that is to say, it is in the power of the freemen, orderly assembled, or major part of them, to make or constitute just laws, by which they will be regulated, and to depute from among themselves such ministers as shall see them faithfully executed between man and man.”
The genuine Rhode Island doctrine is recognised in the following act : “ It was further ordered, by the authority of this present Court, that none be accounted a delinquent for doctrine, provided it be not directly repugnant to the government or laws established.” And on the 17th of