Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Endicott, John

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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography
Endicott, John
Edition of 1900. See also John Endecott on Wikipedia, and our Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography disclaimer. The birth year seems unreasonable. Sometimes it is given as c. 1588.
Appletons' Endicott John.jpg
Appletons' Endicott John signature.jpg

ENDICOTT, John, colonial governor of Massachusetts, b. in Dorchester, England, in 1558; d. in Boston, Mass., 15 March, 1665. He was one of the six patentees of the Dorchester company, which succeeded, by purchase in 1627, to the property and all the rights and privileges that had formerly belonged to the Plymouth company. Among those who, almost immediately after the purchase, secured proprietary rights in the company, and who became respectively governor and deputy-governor of the company in London, were Matthew Cradock and Roger Ludlow. Being related to both of these by marriage, Endicott was sent out with full powers to take charge of the plantation at Naumkeag (afterward Salem), where he arrived in September, 1628, accompanied by his family and numerous colonists. He continued to exercise the chief authority till April, 1630, when, the charter and company having been transferred to New England, John Winthrop arrived and took charge. In 1634, when member of the court of assistants, inflamed, it is said, by the fiery eloquence of Roger Williams, he publicly cut out the red cross of St. George from the king's colors, which hung before the governor's gate, for the reason, as he said, that the cross savored of popery. Endicott was reprimanded, removed from his office, and disqualified to hold any other for the space of one year. It was not long before it became manifest that he was not without sympathizers. Some of the militia refused to march under a flag that displayed what they regarded as an idolatrous figure; and, after no little controversy, the military commissioners agreed that, while the cross should be retained on banners of forts and ships, it should be omitted from the colors of the militia. In 1636, Endicott, in conjunction with Capt. John Underhill, conducted a sanguinary but ineffectual expedition against the Block Island and Pequot Indians. His harsh measures on this occasion were instrumental in bringing on the Pequot war. He was deputy-governor in 1641-'4, in 1650, and in 1654, and governor in 1644, 1649, and from 1650 till 1665, with the exception of 1654. In addition to these honors, he was made in 1645 sergeant major-general, the highest military office in the colony, and in 1685 president of the colonial commissioners. Endicott was a fair specimen of the men who made New England. It was characteristic of the man that, to meet the monetary requirements of the time, he established a mint which, contrary to law, continued to coin money for a period of thirty years. With all his many excellences, however, he had his faults. Of strong convictions, and of great decision of character, he was impatient of any resistance to his authority, and hasty of temper. On one occasion, in the early part of his career, he so far forgot himself as to strike a man, for which offence he was fined forty shillings. He was a Puritan of the Puritans, and would allow no divergence from what he conceived to be the straight line of orthodoxy. He had as little respect for episcopacy as he had for popery, as some of the prelatic clergy found to their cost. His hand fell heavily upon the unfortunate Quakers, of whom, under his administration, four were executed at Boston for so-called disobedience of the laws. But he aimed for good, and he sought, as he best knew how, to secure the highest welfare of the colony. He had been sent out, in the first instance, because he was believed to be a “fit instrument to begin the wilderness work.” “A man of dauntless courage,” says Bancroft, “and that cheerfulness which accompanies courage; benevolent, though austere; firm, though choleric; of a rugged nature, which his stern principles of non-conformity had not served to mellow.”