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siderable extent, among men in their present imperfect
It fostered idleness, and occasioned constant murmuring and discontent. So many were afraid of contributing more than their share to the common stock, that but little work was done; and in consequence of this neglect, more than any thing else, the colony was once threatened with all the horrors of famine. The young men, most capable of labor, thought it a great hardship to maintain other men's wives and children. Persons in full strength complained of injustice in the distribution of food and clothing; because they received no more than others who performed less than half, or a fourth part as much labor. The aged and principal men, thought it very disrespectful, to place them on exactly the same level, in point of labor and subsistence, with their juniors and inferiors ; and husbands counted it insupportable, that their wives should be required to perform every menial service, for the great common family. Beside all these evils and discontents, some began to infer, that as all were placed upon a level in doing and receiving, there ought to be no distinctions whatever in the community; and thus the very existence of civil government was brought into jeopardy. For these reasons, a change of system was found indispensable ; and the happy effects of making it the duty of each family to provide for itself, and the privilege of each to dispose of its earnings for its own benefit, were soon visible in the increasing prosperity of the colony.
This signal failure, after a fair experiment, of one of the most charming theories in the world, ought to be universally known and remembered; for if it could not succeed, with such men as the pilgriins at Plymouth, and under such favorable circumstances, it were vain to look for a different result, while the character of man remains the
A little band of missionaries, may undoubtedly find it convenient and necessary to have all things common,' where the means of subsistence are furnished chiefly by the band of christian charity ; but this presents a
No state, or colony, ever became prosperous and wealthy, on the plan which the pilgrims at first adopted ; and had they persisted in it, ruin would have been the consequence.
The seniority of the Plymouth Colony, and the memorable twenty-second of Dec. from which we date in this celebration, claim a decided prominence in our his torical sketch, of which I have not been unmindful in the preceding outline; but as the Colonies of Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut, and New-Haven, were founded but a few years later, for the enjoyment of religious liberty, and by men of the same character and principles ; as the early laws and institutions of all the New-England Colonies were so much alike ; and as the descendants of the Puritans still retain a distinctive character, it is proper, I think, that we should pursue the sketch a little further.
To return, then, for a moment, to the mother country. The storm of persecution still raging in England, and beating vehemently upon the heads of the non conformists, a farther settlement was projected, by a number of gentlemen of considerable distinction, in and about the city of London. In pursuance of this design, they obtained a charter in 1628, incorporating them by the name of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay, and fitted out a small fleet which sailed the next year in the month of May, with about 350 settlers. They arrived on the twenty-fourth of June, at Salem, where they began a plantation, and organized a Church, under the care of a
pastor, teacher, and ruling elder. Here, as at Plymouth, the first winter proved fatal to numbers of the infant Colony; and the church lost both her teacher and elder. About a hundred died in a very short time.
The next year brought over a third Colony, of 1500 persons, under the celebrated Governor Winthrop, who upon his arrival, found the people of Salem in a very suffering and perilous condition. Many who survived the late mortality, were still extremely feeble—their stock of provisions was nearly exhausted, and they knew not where to look for more.
Similar trials were reserved for the Governor and his company. Having but little time to prepare for a severe winter, to which they were unaccustomed, their best habitations proved but a slight defence against the elements, while many of the poorer sort, had nothing better than tents, or miserable hovels for their protection. Thus sit. uated, and threatened at the same time with famine, the scurvy, and other diseases brought on by exposure and want of suitable food, prevailed to an alarming extent, and before the spring opened, swept off more than a hundred and twenty. Indeed, if a ship which the governor bad dispatched to Ireland for provisions, had not providentially arrived, the greater part of the people must have perished with famine. Sustained by this supply, and reanimated by the smiles and promises of spring, they divided into small companies, and began the settlement of Boston, Charlestown, and six or eight other towns in the vicinity.
From this time, to the beginning of the civil wars in England, great numbers were driven across the Atlantic, by the Laudian persecution, some of whom joined their brethren and companions in tribulation, who had fled be
fore them, and others, exploring the coast, ascending the rivers, and penetrating further and further into the country, began a great many new plantations; which in their turn, sent out other little colonies, and these, again, becoming the parent settlements of fresh adventurers, the wide wilderness was gradually turned into flourishing villages and fruitful fields.
In 1634, a settlement was projected on Connecticut river, by some of the principal inhabitants of Dorchester, Watertown, and Newton : and though not without some difficulty and delay, they obtained permission from the General Court of Massachusetts Bay, to emigrate thither, the next year. But it required no ordinary courage to embark in such an enterprise. A perfect wilderness, of more than a hundred and twenty miles in extent, lay between them and the place of their destination. Nothing however could daunt the resolution of this little band of adventurers. They took their departure on foot, with their wives and children; and after suffering the greatest hardships, in fording rivers, and traversing thickets, swamps, and mountains, they at last reached Connecticut river; but so worn down with fatigue and exposure, and so late in the season, that their preparations for winter were very inadequate, when it set in with great severity, early in the month of November. Thus overtaken, their sufferings, especially for want of provisions, soon became insupportable. Many of thein were compelled early in Dec. to abandon their poor huts, and make the best of their way through the snow, towards the mouth of the river, to meet the vessels which were expected with provisions: and they were at last, hardly saved from perishing with famine.
pects, however, brightened in the spring, and reenforced from time to time by other settlers of the same puritan character, they gradually spread themselves orer the Colony of Connecticut.
In 1638, a new settlement was begun still further south, by a company which arrived in Boston the preceding year, at the head of which were several gentlemen of considerable distinction and property. Among these, were the two Eatons and the Rev. Mr. Davenport. The place selected for a plantation by this pious and enterprising company, was Quinnipiack, now New Haven, and from thence branching out in all directions, they became the founders of another flourishing Colony.
It is manifest, I think, even from the hasty and imperfect view which we have taken, of the causes that led to the first settlement of New England, and of the establishment of our puritan ancestors in a savage wilderness, that the mighty God of Jacob was with them; that his name sustained them under all their persecutions; that his wisdom .guided them to these shores, and that he was their shield and buckler. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them.' In reviewing the causes and consequences of their emigration, we have a striking practical illustration of that scripture, surely the wrath of man shall praise thee : the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.
Nothing was further from the design of the Dragon who persecuted the woman,' and compelled her to fly into the wilderness, than the establishment of civil and religious liberty in the new world; and yet, this has been the glorious result. We can now see, that God overruled