Page images
PDF
EPUB

DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, TO WIT.

Be it remembered, that on the fourteenth day of October, A. D. 1805.

in the thirtieth year of the Independence of the United States of America, ABIEL HOLMES, of said district, has deposited in this office, the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as author, in the words following, to wit : “ AMERICAN “ ANNALS ; or a Chronological HISTORY OF AMERICA from its discovery “ in 1492 to 1806, in two volumes. By ABIEL HOLMES, D. D. A. A. 8. 8. H. So « Minister of the First Church in Cambridge. Suum quæque in annum re« ferre. Tacit. Annal."

In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, intitled, “ Ar " Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, “ and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times there“ in mentioned :" and also to an Act intitled, “ An Act supplementary to an Act “ intitled, An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of “ maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during " the times therein mentioned ; and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of * designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."

N. GOODALE, Clerk of the District of

Massachusetts, copy of

Attest,

X. CO DALE, Clerk. }

AMERICAN ANNALS.

1692.
THE Revolution in England forms an epoch New

Charin American history. The effects of it were the ter of Mas most sensibly felt in the colony of Massachusetts. When the colonists resumed their charter in 1689, they earnestly solicited its reestablishment, with the addition of some necessary powers ; but the king could not be prevailed on to consent to that measure, and a new charter was obtained. Sir William Phips May 14. arrived at Boston on the fourteenth of May, with Arrival of this charter, and a commission, constituting him Phips, as governor.' He was soon after conducted from his governor. house to the town house by the regiment of Boston, the militia companies of Charlestown, the magistrates, ministers, and principal gentlemen of Boston and the adjacent towns. The charter was first published, and then the governor's commission. The venerable, old charter governor Bradstreet next resigned the chair. After the lieutenant governor's commission was published, the oaths were adminis- Governtered ; and the new government thus became organ

ganized. ized.

The province, designated by the new charter, Difference contained the whole of the old Massachusetts colo- between ny, to which were added the colony of Plymouth, and the old the province of Maine, the province of Nova Scotia, charter, and all the country between the province of Maine

1 The king complimented the New England agents for the first time with the nomination of their governor ; and they agreed to nominate Sir William Phips. The commission constituted him captain general over the colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island. In the last of these colonies the authority was attempted to be exercised ; but without effect. Hutchinson.

ment or

the extent

of the pro

1692. and Nova Scotia, as far northward as the river St. in regard to Lawrence, also Elizabeth islands, and the islands of

Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Under the old vince ;

charter, all the magistrates and officers of state were chosen annually by the general assembly. By the new charter, the appointment of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary, and all the officers of the admiralty, was vested in the crown. Under the old

charter, the governor had little more share in the the gover administration than any one of the assistants. He

had the power of calling the general court ; but he could not adjourn, prorogue, or dissolve it. To such acts the vote of the major part of the whole court was necessary. The governor gave commissions to civil and military officers; but all such officers were elected by the court. Under the new charter, there was to be an annual meeting of the general court on the last Wednesday in May ; but the governor might discretionally call an assembly at any other times, and adjourn, prorogue, anu dissolve it at pleasure. No act of government was to be valid without his conseut. He had, with the consent of the council, the sole appointment of all military officers, and of all officers belonging to the courts of justice. Other civil officers were elected by the two houses ; but the governor had a nega

tive on the choice. No money could issue out of the assist- the treasury, but by his warrant, with the advice

and consent of the council. Under the old charter, the assistants or counsellors were elected by the votes of all the freemen in the colony; and were not only, with the governor, one of the two branches of the legislature, but the supreme executive court in all civil and criminal causes, excepting those cases where, by the laws, an appeal to the general court was allowed. The new charter provided, that, on the last Wednesday of May annually, twenty eight

ants;

eral court.

counsellors should be newly chosen by the general 1692. court or assembly.' The representatives, under the the repre

sentatives; old charter, were elected by freemen only. Under the new charter, every freeholder, of forty shillings sterling a year, was a voter, and every other inhabitant, who had forty pounds sterling personal estate. The new charter contained nothing of an ecclesiasti- the church. cal constitution. With the exception of Papists, liberty of conscience, which was not mentioned in the first charter, was by the second expressly granted to all.

Writs having been immediately issued on the gov- June 8. ernor's arrival,

the general court met on the eighth First genof June. An act was then passed, declaring, that all the laws of the colony of Massachusetts bay and the colony of New Plymouth, not being repugnant to the laws of England, nor inconsistent with the charter, should be in force, in the respective colonies, until the tenth of November, 1692, excepting where other provision should be made by act of assembly.

A strange infatuation had already begun to pro- Witchcraft. duce misery in private families, and disorder throughout the community. The imputation of witchcraft was accompanied with a prevalent belief of its reality; and the lives of a considerable number of innocent people were sacrificed to blind zeal, and superstitious credulity. The mischief began at Salem in February ; but it soon extended into various parts of the colony. The contagion however was principally within the county of Essex. Before the close of September, nineteen persons were executed, and one pressed to death, all of whom asserted their inDocence. 3

1 The construction, given to the terms “ general court or assembly," was, that it included the whole three branches.

2 Hutchinson, ii. 5–15. Adams N. Eng. 156, 157. The Charter of William and Mary is in the Appendix of Neal's Hist. of N. Eng. and in Mirot's Continuation of Hutchinson. 3 Coll. Hist. Soc. v. 76. Hutchinson, ii. 59. Calef, Part v. Giles Co

1692.

This part of the history of our country furnishes an affecting proof of the imbecillity of the human mind, and of the potent influence of the passions. The culture of sound philosophy, and the dissemination of useful knowledge, have a happy tendency to repress chimerical theories, with their delusive and miserable effects.' The æra of English learning had scarcely commenced. Laws then existed in England against witches ; and the authority of Sir Matthew Hale, who was revered in New England, not only for his knowledge in the law, but for his gravity and piety, had doubtless great influence. The trial of the witches in Suffolk in England was pubry, refusing to plead, had judgment of peine fort et dure for standing mute, and was pressed to death ; the only instance of this barbarous punishment, that ever has occurred in New England. More than a hundred women, many of them of fair characters and of the most reputable families, the towns of Salem, Beverly, Andover, Billerica, and other towns, were apprehended, examined, and generally committed to prison. Ibid. No person was safe. What Montesquieu says of the Greeks, in the time of the emperor Theodorus Lascaris, might be applied here : “ A person ought to have been a magician to be able to clear himself of the imputation of magic. Such was the excess of their stupidity, that, tu the most dubious crime in the world, they joined the nost uncertain proofs.” Spirit of Laws, book xii.ch A contemporary writer observes : “ As to the method “ which the Salem Justices do take in their examinations, it is truly this: “ A warrant being issued out to apprehend the persons that are charged " and complained of by the afflicted children, as they are called ; said peru sons are brought before the justices, the afflicted being present. The “ justices ask the apprehended why they afflict those poor children ; to « which the apprehended answer, they do not afflict them. The justices “ order the apprehended to look upon the said children, which accordingly " they do ; and at the time of that look (I dare not say by that look, as the “ Salem gentlemen do), the afflicted are cast into a fit. The apprehended « are then blinded, and ordered to touch the afflicted; and at that touch, " though not by the touch (as above), the afflicted do ordinarily come out « of their fits. The afflicted persons then declare and affirm, that the ap“prehended have afflicted them ; upon which the apprehended persons, " though of never so good repute, are forthwith committed to prisoni, on « suspicion for witchcraft.” Letter of Thomas Brattle, F. R. S. dated October 8, 1692, in Coll. Hist. Soc. v. 61-80; which gives an account of this delusion, that is worthy of a man of sense and a philosopher.

I “ Our forefathers looked upon nature with more reverence and hor« ror, before the world was enlightened by learning and philosophy ; and « loved to astonish themselves with the apprehensions of witchcraft, prodi“ gies, charms and enchantments. There was not a village in England « that had not a ghost in it; the church yards were all haunted ; every hal large common had a circle of fairies belonging to it; and there was scarce

« PreviousContinue »