The Founding of New England/III
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III. The Race for Empire
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THE RACE FOR EMPIRE
During the period upon which our story now enters, all of North America was claimed by the three contestants for empire—Spain, England, and France. The claims of the first covered the entire western world beyond the line established by the treaty of Tordesillas; while those of he other two are indicated, at least as to their minimum extent, by the patents granted. Adrian Gilbert, in his application to Queen Elizabeth, had asked leave to “inhabit and enjoy” all places discovered between the equator and the North Pole; and although these limits are nowhere given in any single charter, those granted to various companies show English claims extending from at least 10° to 52° North Latitude, or from Panama to Labrador. Following the difficulties of colonizing in Maine and Nova Scotia, mentioned in the last chapter, the French King granted to Madame de Guercheville all of the continent from Florida to the St. Lawrence, thus overlapping the Spanish and English claims.
The title to newly acquired lands, originally deriving validity from Papal sanction, even in the eyes of Englishmen, had gradually come to rest upon the right of discovery. This theory was based upon the principle of Roman Law that the finder could appropriate what belonged to no one. A heathen was considered as nullus, hence his property had no owner, and American soil could be appropriated by whoever first found it. Although it was agreed by all that discovery must be consummated by possession and use, there were two very difficult questions, as to which the law was silent, in connection with the new situations now arising. One of these was the length of time which might elapse between discovery and taking possession, before the claim should become invalid through failure to consummate the discovery; while the other was that of the extent of territory involved by the above acts. The claims of the three contestants were preposterous, though no one more so than another, perhaps; and, in the absence of any superior authority, it is difficult to see how the matter could have been settled otherwise than by power of the sword, which thus replaced the Pope as arbiter. At the time we are now considering, it would seem as if, theoretically, England’s claim to any part of the New World were the least valid of the three. Although it was necessarily based solely on the voyage of Cabot, she had made no effort to colonize for nearly ninety years, and as yet had failed to do so successfully. To the south, Spanish titles were, in part, unassailable; while in the north, French claims were being made good by the struggling colony at Port Royal, and by scattered traders in furs.
The treaty of peace with Spain, in 1604, which followed almost automatically upon the accession of James to the English throne, changed the situation in important respects with reference to the success of English colonization. Privateering, which, in spite of many brilliant exploits, had become “a sordid and prosaic business,” and decreasingly profitable, came to a legal end temporarily under the English flag. It is true that certain of the larger venturers in the trade merely flew the Dutch flag instead, and continued their depredations; but the calling no longer offered its former opportunities, either for restless spirits or for the employment of capital. The more legitimate commerce with the Spanish possessions, such as the import of salt from Venezuela, which had grown to large proportions during the war, was also ended by the terms of the treaty, which completely surrendered English rights of trade with the Indies.
Meanwhile, the amount of capital seeking investment had become large, and owing to the enormous increase of bullion, the changed feeling in regard to the taking of interest, and other causes, it was rapidly growing larger. It was also becoming more fluid, as was labor, likewise. Contemporary, as well as many modern, authorities, have considered England as suffering from over-population at this time; but it is doubtful if this were so; and it is probable that the material for colonization came rather from “the displacement and disturbance of population” than from its growth. Not only the substitution, to a considerable extent, of sheep-grazing for farming, and the inclosure of the common lands, but the gradual breaking up of the whole mediæval system of trade and conditions of labor, had resulted in an extraordinary amount of idleness and vagabondage for several generations. During the same period had occurred also the enormous rise in prices, and in the cost of living, with results very similar to those which we are now experiencing. As to-day, they were severely felt by people with approximately fixed incomes; and the country gentry in particular, with their lands let on long leases, suffered greatly. During the war, younger sons, and the more enterprising of all classes, had had an opportunity to gain a living by embarking on a career in privateering or other warlike pursuits; but with the coming of peace, those openings were for the most part closed to them. On the other hand, the scale of living had risen rapidly, and extravagance required a much greater outlay than informer days. “In a time wherein all things are grown to most excessive prices,” wrote Harrison as early as 1577, “we do yet find the means to obtain and achieve such furniture as heretofore hath been unpossible.”
During the war, moreover, the older channels of legitimate trade had, for the most part, been closed to the English merchant, who found himself cut off “from Spain, Portugal, Barbary, the Levant, and, to a considerable extent, from Poland, Denmark, and Germany.” The seventeen years prior to the death of Elizabeth had been years of depressed business, now, in turn, to be followed by a like period of prosperity, while trade continued fairly good until 1636. Although other elements entered into the problem, it may be noted that the efforts to colonize, whether near home in Ireland, or far off in the new world, had been failures when general business was poor, and successful when it became good. Neither in Ulster nor in Munster, in Newfoundland, Virginia, nor Guiana, had the individuals or their associates, who had obtained grants, been able, as yet, to plant any permanent settlements.
The time, nevertheless, was evidently growing ripe for accomplishment. Apart from any political or religious motives, America was as certain to be colonized in the early part of the seventeenth century as it was to be discovered by Columbus, or someone else, in the latter part of the fifteenth. After the fall of Calais in 1557, England, though fearful of the future, had turned her back definitely and forever upon continental conquest and entanglements, and had embarked boldly upon those waves which it was to become her pride to rule. With the seas safe for traffic, with a host of younger sons and other men suffering from the economic conditions of the time, with the growing need in England of many commodities found in the new world, with the great growth of capital seeking investment, and with the trade of practically every other portion of the earth already in the hands of corporate companies, English merchants and adventurers could not fail to turn again, with ampler resources and better methods, to the land where they had already tried and failed. The Muscovy Company controlled all trade with Russia, the Eastland that with the Baltic, the Levant that with Venice and the East, while another controlled the African west coast, and the East India Company held from the Straits of Magellan around to Africa again. Although these companies, which were almost wholly owned in London, aroused the jealousy of Plymouth, Southampton, and the other provincial ports, which found themselves limited to a little nearby continental and coasting trade, they pointed the way to the corporate form and joint-stock undertakings as the successful method of handling large business enterprises, such as colonizing was now realized to be.
This was clearly brought out by an unknown author, who, probably toward the end of 1605, wrote the paper known as “Reasons for raising a fund.” The writer strongly advocated the raising of a “publique stocke” for “the peopling and discovering of such contries as maye be fownde most convenient for the supplie of those defects which the Realme of England most requireth.” It is likely that this paper, which was intended for Parliament, had considerable influence in the granting of the Virginia charter, and it is, therefore, interesting to note that, at the very beginning of successful colonization, one of the leading points in future English colonial policy was thus touched upon. It is often lost to sight that practically the sole value of her colonies to England all through the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries was the value of their trade, and the most important part of that trade, during nearly all of the period, was in supplying her with such materials as she lacked at home. In this respect, her West Indian colonies became more important than her continental ones, though an exaggerated emphasis has been laid upon the contemporary importance of the latter, in part because they chanced to revolt, whereas the island colonies did not.
As one of the reasons for raising a public fund to assist in colonizing, our unknown author went on to say that “private purees are cowld compfortes to adventurers,” and pointed to the “marvelous matters in traficque and navigacon” which the Hollanders had accomplished, in few years, by a “maine backe or stocke.” Whether the paper was written in order to obtain the Virginia charter, it is impossible to say; but apparently it was, and, in any case, that charter was issued on the 10th of April, 1606. The great revolution in foreign trade, which had been going on for the past two centuries, was now complete, and the period of chartered companies, foreshadowed by the formation, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, of the few already noted, was well under way. With the addition of the East India Company, chartered in 1600, the existing English companies covered practically all known parts of the world except America; and during the next generation about the only companies organized were for the new world—North and South Virginia in 1606, Guiana, 1609, Newfoundland, 1610, Northwest Passage, 1612, Bermuda, 1615, New England, 1620, and Massachusetts, 1629.
There was a very close connection between many of these great companies. The East India, for example, was practically an outgrowth of the Levant; while of the two hundred and three members of the Virginia Company, one hundred and sixteen were members of the East India, and thirteen of the Muscovy, ten were to become interested in the Newfoundland, one hundred in the Northwest Passage, forty-six in the Bermuda, and thirty-eight in the New England companies. Members of the Virginia Company were also represented in the African, Levant, Guiana, Guinea, Eastland, Providence, Irish Plantation, and other stock enterprises. To the noblemen and merchants thus brought into close working relations, America was but one of the many irons which they had in the fire, and by no means the most important. Their interest, as that of their successors, was naturally in British trade as a whole, and not in the success of any particular colony, much less in its religious bickerings or political aspirations. From the very beginning, the trade of the Empire was considered paramount to that of any unit, even in England itself. At this very time, King James, in pressing for the union with Scotland, expressed what was later to become the established policy. “It may be,” he said, “that a merchant or two of Bristow or Yarmouth may have a hundred pounds lesse in his packe; but if the Empire gaine and become the greater, it is no matter.”
These two points thus early made, namely, that the value of colonies lay in their contributing to the empire products otherwise obtainable only from foreigners, and that the interests of the empire as a whole were paramount to those of any section, were well understood by those at the head of colonizing enterprises, and must have been understood also by the more intelligent of the early planters themselves. These views naturally would continue to be held by those who remained at the centre of the empire in England; while those who dwelt on its periphery, in many scattered settlements, would as naturally, in time, tend to lose sight of them, and to consider their own particular interests as greater than those of the empire. The struggle between these centripetal and centrifugal forces was bound to result in warping the imperial structure, though in one case only was it to end in the breaking away of a part of the system. Adjustments, continuing even to the present day, were to save the rest intact; but it is interesting to note the germs of conflict present from the very beginning. The forces which brought that conflict about were operative, in varying degrees, not only in North America, but throughout the entire empire, and extended back to its unconscious inception. The charter granted in 1606 provided for the formation of two colonizing companies, one of which was authorized to plant anywhere on the American coast between latitudes 34° and 41° North, and the other between 38° and 45°, provided that, should either, or both, choose to settle in the overlapping strip of three degrees, they should not plant within one hundred miles of each other. The patentees of the first company were residents of London, while those of the second were of Plymouth, the companies thus becoming known as the London and Plymouth companies respectively. Among the patentees of the latter, which embraced New England, were Thomas Hanham, Raleigh Gilbert and George Popham, although the names of the two who are thought to have been the prime movers in the whole enterprise, Chief Justice Popham and Sir Ferdinando Gorges, do not appear. Practically all those connected with it had seen service in the Spanish war, and many had already been interested in attempts to colonize in America and elsewhere. The charter, together with the instructions issued by the King some months later, reveals a mixed organization, partly proprietary and partly royal. The patentees were to provide the capital and colonists, and to have control of the trade, which was to be carried on by means of “magazines,” or joint stock; but the King, through the provision of a royal council appointed by himself, retained in his own hands the government of the entire province from 34° to 45°. Two local councils, one for each company’s territory, were appointed by the royal council, with power to govern the affairs of each colony under the king’s instructions. Land could not be granted to individuals by the patentees, but only by the king, upon application in their behalf by the local council for the colony in which it was located.
Both companies at once took steps to plant their colonies, the Plymouth being the first in the field, although to the London Company was to accrue the earliest lasting success. The latter’s expedition, including in its members Bartholomew Gosold, who had already been in New England, and Captain John smith, who later was to become a factor there, sailed from London in three ships, on December 20, 1606. Arriving in Virginia the following spring, they established themselves at Jamestown, and so founded, what, in spite of many vicissitudes, was to be the first permanent English settlement in America.
Meanwhile, the Plymouth Company, mainly by virtue of the activity of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, who became indefatigable in his colonizing ardor, and of Chief Justice Popham, had also commenced operations. In 1600 had occurred Gorges’s unfortunate connection with the revolt of Essex, which had blasted his character in the eyes of the Puritans, and so served, perhaps, to embitter his future relations with Massachusetts. He had been for some time reinstated as Governor of Plymouth, when Weymouth returned from his voyage in 1605; and from him Gorges obtained possession of the three natives whom the captain had kidnaped on the coast of Maine. Having learned much from them of the nature of the country and its inhabitants, he despatched a vessel under Captain Henry Challons, in August, four months after the granting of the charter, with strict instructions to take the northern route to Cape Breton, and then to follow the coast southward to the place the natives had described. Challons disobeyed the order, went southward by the West Indies, and was captured by the Spaniards, some of the crew, with himself and the two natives, being carried to Spain, and others, by accident, to Bordeaux. The latter, after having filed claims with the authorities of the port, and left a “Letter of a Turnye,” returned to England, as did also, after some time and difficulty, Challons himself.
Although the little ship of fifty-five tons had carried only twenty-nine Englishmen, it had been the intention to leave some of them for settling, “if any good occasion were offered”; and the Chief Justice had also dispatched a ship, under Captain Hanham, to meet and assist Challons in the enterprise. This, of course, he was unable to do; but he explored the shore, taking back with him to the company “the most exact discovery of that coast that ever came into their hands.” The reports were considered so encouraging that a much more considerable effort was next made by the adventurers.
On May 31, 1607, two ships, the Gift of God and the Mary and John, were dispatched from Plymouth under command of Raleigh Gilbert and George Popham, a relative of Sir John. The vessels became separated on June 29, and did not meet again until August 7, among the St. George’s Islands, off the coast of Maine. Having reached the mouth of the Kennebec, then called the Sagadahoc, the colonists explored the stream, and finally chose for their place of settlement a point at its mouth, on the high ground of the peninsula of Sabino. They landed on the 19th, when they had a sermon preached to them, and listened to the reading of their patent and laws. The next day they began the building of their fort, named St. George, followed by the dwellings and storehouse and the first boat built in America.
Meanwhile, the Spaniards were by no means oblivious of what was going on, both in North and South Virginia; and to the zeal of the Spanish ambassador in London in keeping his master posted as to the encroachments of the English upon his territories, we owe the preservation of a drawing of the fort in the infant colony, which he obtained from some one who had been there. From the first discussion of the Virginia charter, Zuñiga had written frequently to the King, telling him of the plans and doings of the English, and advising strong action to prevent their settling. For some years, Spanish spies were kept at Jamestown, who regularly sent home word of what was going on, by means of renegade English sailors, while evidently there was also a traitor at Sagadahoc, as even in the Royal Council itself. A vessel was once dispatched by Spain to wipe out both the colonies; but the crew proved faint-hearted, and no attack was made upon either, the King, moreover, having some hope, apparently, that both would conveniently prove failures of themselves.
At first, however, all went well at Sagadahoc, and early in October the Mary and John was sent home to carry word of the colony. The account brought back so pleased Gorges that he wrote a letter, “late at night,” to Sir Robert Cecil, to tell him of the “greate newes.” But he was doomed to disappointment. A couple of days later he had evidently heard more, and in a second letter wrote that the settlement was getting into trouble because of “childish factions, ignorant, timerous and ambitious persons.” Popham, who had been made president of the colony, he described as “an honest man, but ould, and of an unwieldy body, and timerously fearfull to offende, or contest with others that will or do oppose him, but otherways a discreete, carefull man.” Gilbert was declared, by hearsay, to be “desirous of supremacy, and rule, a loose life prompte to sensuality, little zeale in Religion, humerouse, headstronge and of small judgment and experience, other wayes valiant inough.” The next ship brought a letter from Popham to the King, but no better news for the company than the first, in spite of the president’s enthusiastic belief in the presence of nutmegs, cinnamon, and “other products of great importance,” in the imaginatively tropical climate of Maine. During the winter, which was unusually severe, the storehouse was burned, with most of the provisions; and before the arrival of the two supply ships sent out from England, Popham, the leader of the colony, died. The ships carried yet more serious news to the colonists in the death of the Chief Justice in England, which proved “such a corrosive to all, as struck them with despair of future remedy.” A later ship brought word of the death of Sir John, Gilbert’s elder brother, which necessitated that leader’s returning to England to look after his affairs. The colonists, in view of all these circumstances, resolved to quit the place, and return with Gilbert; and so all “former hopes were frozen to death,” and, by October, the wilderness of Maine was abandoned by the English, as, five years before, it had been by the French.
The character of the colonists, and, more particularly, the unusual sequence of accidents, were enough to account for the failure of the attempt, without invoking, with Gorges, “the mallice of the Divell” to explain it. The company at home became thoroughly discouraged, and no further efforts were made to plant a settlement, although Sir Francis Popham, son of the late Chief Justice, continued to send over vessels for some years for trade and fishing, and it is probable that no year now passed without the temporary presence of Englishmen upon the coast. In connection with the obtaining of a new charter by the South Virginia Company, in 1609, the adventurers in the Northern Company were offered the opportunity to join with the Londoners on favorable terms, and to form with them “one common and patient purse,” an opportunity of which some of them availed themselves.
Although temporarily abandoned as a site for colonizing, the coast of North Virginia was by no means deserted, and the events of the next few years there were of great importance to the future history of the territory. Hudson, an Englishman employed by the Dutch, coasted along its shores during the famous voyage on which he explored the river which bears his name; and the following year, Argall and Somers, attempting to sail from Jamestown to Bermuda, were blown out of their course, and having made for the North Virginia coast, spent some time along it, fishing for cod. Upon Hudson’s voyage was based the Dutch claim to their portion of North America. The validity of such a claim to the country immediately about the Hudson would depend upon the interpretation of the two difficult points in connection with titles noted at the beginning of this chapter. Any such claim extended by Holland to the coasts of the present eastern New England, however, could have no standing whatever, as French and English explorations in that exact locality had been both prior in date and far more thorough. The only real dispute there lay between the English and French, which was soon to be decided in the main by force. In fact, with three nations, to say nothing of Spain, claiming the same territory, all basing their claims upon discovery within a few miles of each other, even where explorations did not actually overlap, the points raised were too fine, in the then inchoate state of international law, to permit of any other arbitrament.
When, owing to the annulling of De Monts’s patent, the French colony at Port Royal had been temporarily abandoned in 1607, de Poutrincourt, who still retained his rights, intended and made a careful examination of the coast. At the island of Matinicus, where the attack on Plastrier had taken place, he found some Englishmen fishing; but although he was urged by some of his party to burn their ships, he would not do so, as they were peaceful civilians, and contented himself with erecting a large cross with the arms of France.
A couple of years later, under the more aggressive regime of Madame de Guercheville and the Jesuits, an extension of French settlement toward the south was attempted by the founding of a colony on Mt. Desert, which was named St. Sauveur. It was not, however, to remain undisturbed for many weeks, for at a meeting of the Quarter Court of the Virginia Company in London, in July, 1612, Captain Argall had been commissioned to drive out foreign intruders from the country claimed under English charters, and had sailed from England for that purpose. After wintering in Virginia, he proceeded northward the following summer, to clear the territory as far as 45°, and promptly ran across the newly established Jesuits on the Maine coast, being guided to them by Indians, who were under the mistaken impression that the English were friends. The French, being taken wholly unaware, made practically no resistance, the only one among their number who had presence of mind enough even to fire their cannon, having forgotten to aim it. Argall easily overcame such opposition, and having obtained possession of La Saussaye’s commission from the French King, proceeded to break up the colony and dispose of his prisoners. Fifteen of to return speedily, and to continue his settlement. Various delays, however, kept him in France for three years, and it was not until the spring of 1610 that he again set sail. The houses and their contents, untouched by the friendly Indians, were found intact, and life at the little colony, which had thus been merely interrupted, was resumed. In the following year, a certain Captain Plastrier, who had been fishing near the Kennebec, complained to the Sieur de Biencourt, Poutrincourt’s son, that he had been attacked and robbed by English, who claimed title to the coast. These may have been Captain Williams and his party, who were annually sent out by Francis Popham, or Captains Harlow and Hobson, who were on the coast, in 1611, on a voyage of discovery and Indian kidnaping, for the Earl of Southampton. Thus obscurely, off the New England coast, between a French fisherman and English seamen, whose very names are unknown to us, began that duel for empire between France and England, which was to last a century and a half, and which was to decide the fate of the vast continent of North America and the teeming millions of India. Clive and Dupleix, Wolfe and Montcalm, were the successors of these humble pioneers striving to assert the claims of their rival nations to the empire of the world.
The significance of the attack by the English was not lost upon the young Biencourt, who “represented very earnestly” to his people how important it was to “every good Frenchman” to prevent this usurpation by the English of lands claimed by France, and occupied by her citizens “who had taken real possession . . . three and four years before ever the English had set forth”—which was quite true in so far as related to colonizing. In August, Biencourt made a trip along the shore of Maine, stopping at St. Croix Island, where Plastrier had decided to spend the winter, and thence down to the Kennebec, where he inspected the abandoned site of the Popham colony, them, including Biard and another of the Jesuit fathers, were taken back as captives to Virginia, and the remaining thirty, in two small boats, allowed to take their perilous way to rejoin their countrymen to the northward.
Soon afterward, Argall, with three ships and the Jesuit Biard, who, apparently out of personal rancor toward Biencourt, had turned traitor to his former associates, again set sail from Virginia, for the purpose of completely extirpating the French settlements. Revisiting St. Sauveur, he burned the buildings, and tearing down the French cross, erected another. Continuing his voyage, he put in at St. Croix, where he likewise burned the buildings and confiscated the stores collected there. Arriving next at Port Royal, from which the inhabitants were temporarily absent, a few miles off, after taking as booty even the locks and nails from the buildings, as well as the food, ammunition, and clothes of the unfortunate French, he burned the whole settlement to ashes. It is difficult to conceive of a more dastardly act than thus to rob a peaceful colony of its stores, and then to render it homeless on the approach of winter in a far northern country.
The action, however, if not the manner of it, fitted in with the English temper of the time, which was becoming increasingly aggressive in colonial matters. On the shores of India, as on those of North Virginia, the cannon’s mouth was announcing territorial decisions of vast import for the future. Almost simultaneously with the operations of Argall in Maine, Captain Best, off the Indian coast, was having a running fight, lasting a month, with four Portuguese ships, attended by over a score of galleys, against his own little fleet of only two vessels. As a result of his brilliant victory against these overwhelming odds, the English obtained their first permanent foothold in continental India. The glorious battle of Swally, and the petty raiding of Mt. Desert and Port Royal, were alike mere incidents in the struggle of new forces let loose by the age of discovery, and the transformation of the European nations into world powers. The struggles between French and English in North Virginia and India; between English and Portuguese in the Gulf of Cambay; between Dutch and Spanish, or Dutch and Portuguese on many seas; between English and Dutch in Guiana and on the Amazon and in the Spice Islands of the East, must all be considered as but parts of one stupendous drama. Everywhere along the edge of the world, traders and settlers were being tossed on those stormy political waters, where met the new tides of imperial ambition, fast flowing to the farthest confines of the new-found seas.
In that portion of the drama with which we are particularly concerned, a new figure now appears upon the scene, whose services to North Virginia have been somewhat overrated by many, but whose personality remains a matter of fascinating interest. Around few names in American history has legend clustered more luxuriantly than around that of the South Virginian hero Captain John Smith; and as to the real merits of few men is opinion more diverse. Even though it must be frankly admitted that no one will ever again think as highly of the Captain as he thought of himself, yet much of the modern detraction from his character and services is so evidently biased as to be critically of little value. The main importance of his share in North Virginian colonization, unlike his labors in the south, was in his capacity as author, and his efforts to stimulate interest in the possibilities of the New World. He himself, however, wished for and endeavored to achieve a more active part in the settlement of the country to which he attached its present name of New England.
He first saw its shores, on his only voyage thither, off the island of Monhegan, in the spring of 1614, having been sent out by some London merchants “to take Whales and make tryalls of a Myne of Gold and Copper.” “If those failed, he wrote, “Fish and Furres was then our refuge.” It was soon evident that the refuge was needed, and it proved, fortunately, to be a goodly one, although along the New Hampshire and Massachusetts coasts, he found that the French had recently preceded him, and spoiled his market. While fishing for cod, and trading with the Indians, he also explored a considerable part of the shore, and, as a result of his observations, prepared a map, on which many of the names still familiar to us appear for the first time. In spite of all the explorers who had preceded him, Smith asserted that the shore was “still but even as a coast unknowne and undiscovered”; and historians formerly dated the beginning of modern New England cartography from the appearance of his chart. Without necessarily detracting from the excellence of Smith’s field-work, however, his claim to be the first accurate cartographer of our coast has been dispelled by the discovery of the excellent map transmitted by the Spanish ambassador in London to King Philip in 1611, and found some years ago in the Archives at Simancas. This map, prepared for King James in 1610, shows that the New England coast was well known, and had been well drawn, before ever John Smith began his labors. It probably embodies the surveys made by Gosnold, Archer, Pring, Weymouth, Champlain, and, perhaps, others, and shows, for the first time, correctly drawn, such characteristic features as the peculiar hook of Cape Cod. This very point had hitherto been considered the distinguishing mark of excellence of Smith’s map, drawn six years later.
However, if Smith’s cartographical services cannot now be considered as important as formerly, his work as a popularizer remains unimpaired. Although the map of 1610, until published within the present generation, continued in the form of a single manuscript copy, and was seen in its day by few outside the inner circles of company promotion, Smith’s was published in a large edition, and, together with his Description, which has not yet lost its charm, did much to spread a knowledge of New England among the people. Many a man in disgrace with fortune must have pondered his note for those “that have great spirits, and small meanes,” and have read enviously of “the planters pleasures, and profits,” as set forth by the plausible captain.
An act of cruelty, which occurred on Smith’s voyage, was to bear unforeseen results in the future. One of the captains, a rascal named Hunt, kidnaped twenty-four savages, and sold them in Spain for slaves. One of these, who was subsequently returned to his native land, was the Squanto who so materially assisted the Pilgrims at Plymouth, as we shall see later.
Of more immediate influence were the fish and furs with which Smith reached London,—valued at £1500,—and which served to direct attention to the possibilities of the region. It was, it is true, a trifle compared with the £90,000 or more which the stockholders of the East India Company were receiving from the annual voyages of their fleet; but interest in colonizing as well as in trading was rapidly growing. In Ireland, where colonization ran a course curiously analogous to that in America, settlement now proceeded rapidly. In Newfoundland, two colonies were founded, and in Bermuda people were said to be beginning “to nestle and plant very handsomely.” Little Englanders of an early type, and opponents of chartered privilege, were not wanting, indeed, to inveigh against the growing imperialism of the times. As “for the Bermudas, we know not yet what they will do; and for Virginia, we know not well what to do with it,” wrote one author; while Bacon compared the visionary possibilities of America with the solid results in Ireland.
While Smith had been ranging our coast, getting information, furs, and fish, another expedition, despatched by Gorges, under Captain Hobson, was seeking gold on Martha’s Vineyard. Needless to say, he did not find it, and, as Smith laconically remarks, he “spent his victuall and returned with nothing.” The tangible cash results of Smith’s own voyage pointed to him as the man whom the company needed, and by them he was made Admiral of New England for life, and started on another voyage, with two ships and Captain Thomas Dermer. He never again, however, saw America. Owing to damages to his vessel, received in a storm only a few days out, he was forced to return to Plymouth; and although Dermer went on, we know nothing of his trip. On Smith’s next attempt, he was taken prisoner by pirates; and on his fourth start, in 1617, for some reason he never got out of Plymouth harbor.
Voyages to New England now became frequent, however, and it is not necessary to mention them all. In 1615, Sir Richard Hawkins was exploring and trading for Gorges, whose agent, Richard Vines, probably spent the following winter in Maine, bringing back with him the first news of the great plague which was decimating the Indians, and which was to simplify the question of settlement. As Gorges speaks of the “extreme rates” at which he had to hire men to stay the winter quarter, it is probable that he had other parties there, in this or other winters. “This course I held some years together,” he wrote in his old age, “but nothing to my private profit; for what I got one way I spent another; so that I began to grow weary of that business, as not for my turn till better times.” The surprising part is, not that he grew weary, but that he still continued the unprofitable business for a lifetime.
In 1618, he received a letter from Captain Dermer, in Newfoundland, saying that he had there found Squanto, one of Gorges’s savages, and that the Indian’s description of New England had made him desirous to “follow his hopes that way,” The next spring, therefore, the indefatigable Gorges sent out Captain Rocroft to meet Dermer and cooperate with him. Dermer, meanwhile, had returned to England; so Rocroft failed to meet him, and after capturing a French barque off the New England coast, sailed to Virginia, contrary to orders, and was there killed in a quarrel. Gorges reimbursed the Frenchmen for the damages suffered, and, in other respects, made a heavy loss on the voyage, from which he recovered nothing.
As soon as possible after Dermer’s unexpected arrival in England, he was again fitted out and sent to join Rocroft, who had meanwhile gone to Virginia. Having missed his associate in the enterprise, whom he had expected to find at Monhegan, Dermer sailed along the coast, making observations, from Sagadahoc to Martha’s Vineyard, and then on to Virginia. Finding Rocroft dead, he wintered there, and went back to New England in the spring. Apparently on this visit, he returned Squanto to his native Plymouth, where Dermer seems to have wished to plant. “I would,” he wrote, “that the first plantation might hear be seated, if ther come to the number of 50 persons, or upward”—a desire which was to be fulfilled within a few months by the coming of the Pilgrims.
Meanwhile, the colony in South Virginia, at Jamestown, had been passing through a long series of troubles, which on more than one occasion had nearly ended its career. Those in its first years led the company to publish A True and Sincere Declaration as to the affairs of the settlement, in which the form of government was given as one of the roots of the evils which had “shaken so tender a body.” As a result of changes effected by the two subsequent charters, which they obtained in 1609 and 1612, the London patentees were incorporated as a joint-stock body, and their territory increased to a strip four hundred miles wide, extending from coast to coast, which they were empowered to grant to others. The old Royal Council was replaced by one elected by the members of the company, thus becoming subject, not to the king, but to the fifty-six city companies, and to the six hundred and fifty-nine individuals, who formed the membership of the enterprise at the time of the 1612 charter. Governmental powers were also bestowed upon it, and the colony thus became a proprietary province, with a trading company as proprietor.
The unfortunate results of the recent voyages in which Gorges had been interested, so far from dampening his ardor, had made him more anxious than ever to go on with his efforts. The governmental changes in the charter for South Virginia, together, perhaps, with the enlargement of its bounds, moved him to apply for a new charter for the northern plantation. A dispute in which he had become involved with the southern company, regarding its rights to fish within the limits assigned to the North Virginia patentees, which rights he denied, had won for him the hostility of a part of the Virginia Company’s membership. As the new charter for which he had applied contained a clause giving the New England Company a monopoly of the fishing along their entire section of the coast, it was bitterly attacked by the southerners, who had annually gone to the northern fishing-grounds for an important part of their year’s supplies. The dispute was taken into Parliament, where Gorges defended himself with ability, and thence to the King. The factional fight then in progress between Smythe and Sandys, in the Virginia Company, led Smythe’s party to support Gorges against their opponents in their own company; and as Gorges had also strengthened his cause by including among his associates many of the influential nobles of the court, an order in council was finally issued in his favor, on the 18th of June, 1621, for the delivery of the new charter. Thus was originated the “Council established at Plymouth in the County of Devon for the Planting, Ruling, and Governing of New England in America,” which now became the proprietor of all the territory between 40° and 48° North Latitude, and extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in utter disregard of the French claims in Nova Scotia and Canada, and of the colonies planted there. The charter stated that there were no subjects of any foreign power in possession of any part of the territory, although Quebec had been settled for thirteen years, and French fishermen and fur traders were constantly being met by the English. Upon the new company were bestowed rights of trading, colonizing, and governing. The members were allowed to elect their own officials in England, and to appoint those for ruling in the settlements. The members of the Virginia Company numbered nearly a thousand persons, who elected their council, and were responsible for the administration of the colony; but under the Gorges charter, the council was the whole company, limited to forty members, who were self-perpetuating, and whose relation to the colonists was thus direct and final.
The new company was never either active or successful. The controversy which had marked its slow birth tended to keep people from investing; and from its narrow and monopolistic nature, it could make no appeal to popular support. While the passage of the charter was still pending, chance decreed that under it was to be made, even before its issue, the first successful planting within its granted limits, and without efforts of their own, the grantees, when they received the powers bestowed upon them by the King, were to find the Pilgrim colony already established at Plymouth.
- W. R. Scott, Constitutions and Finance of English and Irish Joint-Stock Companies to 1720 (Cambridge, 1910) vol. ii, p. 244.
- The southern limit was that of the Providence Company (Scott, Joint-Stock Companies, vol. ii, p. 327); and the northern that of the Newfoundland Company, (D. W. Prowse, History of Newfoundland [London, 18951, pp. 122-25).
- F. Parkman, Pioneers of France in the New World (Boston, 1909), p. 303.
- Henry II asked and obtained the Pope’s consent to conquer Ireland. W. B. Scaife, “The Development of International Law as to newly discovered Territory,” in American Historical Arsociation Papers, vol. iiv, p. 269.
- Cf. B. A. Hinsdale, “The Right of Discovery,” in Ohio Archeological and Historical Quarterly, vol. ii, pp. 351-78; and Scaife, “International Law,” pp. 269-93.
- The number of colonists living in Spanish possessions varies greatly in estimates. DeLannoy thinks that it may have been 152,000 by 1574 (DeLannoy and Van der Linden, Histoire de l’Expansion Coloniale des Peuples Européens [Paris, 1907], vol. i, p. 414); while Leroy-Beaulieu puts it as low as 15,000 in 1550. De la Colonisation chez les Peuples modernes (Paris, 1898), vol. i, p. 5.
- A. P. Newton, The Colonising Activities of the English Puritans (Yale University Press, 1914), pp. 13-17.
- W. Cunningham, English Industry, vol. ii, pp. 77 ff.
- E. P. Cheyney, “Some English Conditions surrounding the Settlement of Virginia,” in American Historical Review, April, 1907, p. 526.
- F. Aydelotte, Elizabethan Rogues and Vagabonds (Oxford, 1913), pp. 3-20.
- A Discourse of the Commonweal of this realm of England, 1581; reprinted, Cambridge, England, 1893.
- Harrison’s Introduction to Holinshed’s Chronicle, reprinted as Elizabethan England (London, n. d.), p. 118.
- Scott, Joint-Stock Companies, vol. i, p. 98.
- Ibid., pp. 465 ff.
- Cf., however, Leroy-Beaulieu, who thinks that “la colonisation anglaise eut donc pour origine une nécessité réelle, une crise économique intense.” Colonisation, vol. i, p. 91.
- A. B. Hinds, The Making of the England of Elizabeth (New York, 1895), p. 138.
- S. R. Gardiner, History of England (London, 1895), vol. i, p. 187.
- For discussion as to authorship and date, vide Brown, Genesis, pp. 36-42, where the document is printed in full.
- Cf. P. Bonnassieux, Les grandes Compagnies de Commerce (Paris, 1892), pp. 510 ff.
- W. W. Hunter, History of British India (London, 1899), vol. i, p. 244.
- Compiled from Brown, Genesis, pp. 811-1068.
- Cited by Scott, Joint-Stock Companies, vol. i, p. 132.
- Hazard, Historical Collections (Philadelphia, 1792), vol. i, pp. 50-58.
- Brown, Genesis, pp. 64-75.
- Osgood, American Colonies, vol. i, pp. 25-35.
- Gorges, “Briefe Narration,” Mass. Hist. Soc. Coll., Series III, vol. vi, pp. 51 f. Various members of the company were associated with Gorges, but he seems to have been the leader in this venture, as Popham was in the next. An account of the voyage, written by John Stoneman, the pilot, is in Purchas, Pilgrimes, vol. XIX, pp. 284-96.
- J. P. Baxter, Sir Ferdinando Gorges, vol. iii, pp. 129-32, 168; Cal. State Pap., Col., 1675-76, p. 53.
- Gorges, “Briefe Narration,” p. 53. No account of this voyage has been preserved, although Purchas had one in his possession written by Hanham. Vide Purchas, Pilgrimes, vol. XIX, p. 296.
- Always stated to have been his brother, until Brown threw doubt upon the point; Genesis, pp. 791, 968.
- “Relation of a Voyage to Sagadahoc,” Mass. Hist. Soc. Proceedings, vol. XVIII.
- H. O. Thayer, The Sagadahoc Colony (Gorges Society, Portland, 1892), pp. 167-87.
- Reproduced by Brown, Genesis, p. 190. Cf. also Ibid., pp. 183 ff.
- Correspondence in Brown, Genesis, p. 117 and passim; also The First Republic in America (Boston, 1898), p. 91. Cf. I. A. Wright, “Spanish Policy toward Virginia,” in American Historical Review, April, 1920, pp. 448 ff. and Cal. State Pap., Col., 1675-76, pp. 45 ff.
- Cf. note on the “Movement of the ships,” Thayer, Sagadahoc, pp. 192 ff.
- Baxter, Sir F. Gorges, vol. iii, pp. 154 f.
- Maine Historical Society Collections, vol. v, pp. 357-60.
- Gorges, “Briefe Narration,” p. 55.
- Attempts have been made to magnify the importance of the colony, and even to insist upon its continued existence. Following the publication of the uncritical Popham Memorial, Portland, 1863, 98 pamphlets and articles appeared in six years. The literature is surveyed by Thayer, Sagadahoc, pp. 87-156.
- Gorges, “Briefs Narration,” p. 56; “Briefe Relation,” Purchas, Pilgrimes, vol. XIX, p. 271.
- Brown, Genesis, pp. 238-40.
- G. M. Asher, Henry Hudson the Navigator (Hakluyt Society, 1860), p. 63.
- Purchas, Pilgrimes, vol. XIX, pp. 73, 84.
- Leaving out of consideration the early coasting voyages, in which the Dutch had no part whatever, they had recently been preceded to within a reasonable distance of both the mouth and the source of the Hudson. The English had made a detailed discovery as far as the entrance of the Sound, while Champlain was within a few miles of the source of the river some months before the Dutch ascended it. If rights of discovery were to be limited only to the points actually visited, with no extension thence in any direction, the country would have become a veritable checker-board of warring nationalities. The Dutch themselves held no such view, and claimed all the land from Cape Cod to Delaware Bay, with indefinite limits toward the interior. Acknowledgment of any such claim would have to be based upon a theory of extension which would seem, therefore, equally to validate the claims of English and French, arising in both cases from discovery prior to the Dutch.
- Brown, Genesis, p. 534.
- The accounts of the latter voyage are slight. John Smith, in a page, gives us all we know, and says nothing of Plastrier. Works (ed. Arber, Glasgow, 1910), vol. ii, p. 696. Purchas had a full account, which he did not print and which is now lost. Pilgrimes, vol. XXX, p. 296.
- Brown, First Republic, p. 176; Genesis, pp. 709-23.
- W. D. Williamson, History of the State of Maine (Hallowell, 1832), vol. i, p. 206, states, but without giving any authority, that there had been Jesuits at Mt. Desert for five years.
- The story of his having secretly rifled La Saussaye’s trunks of his papers, and then demanded them from him, seems hardly likely, in view of other facts. It rests on the authority of Biard (“Relation,” in Levermore, Forerunners, vol. II, p. 496). As to Biard’s character and credibility, cf. Biggar, Trading Companies, pp. 263-65.
- Brown, Genesis, p. 534.
- The accounts of the latter voyage are slight. John Smith, in a page, gives us all we know, and says nothing of Plastrier. Works (ed. Arber, Glasgow, 1910), vol. ii, p. 696. Purchas had a full account, which he did not print and which is now lost. Pilgrimes, vol. XXX, p. 296.
- Biard, in Levermore, Forerunners, vol. ii, p. 506. Cf. also the English account in Purchas, Pilgrimes, vol. XIX, pp. 214-16, 271.
- Biard and Purchas, ubi supra; also Biencourt’s complaint, in Brown, Genesis, pp. 725 ff. and Cal. State Pap., Col., 1574-1660, p.15.
- Hunter, British India, vol. i, pp. 300-304.
- John Smith, Works, vol. i, p. 187.
- For various states of the map, vide J. Winsor, Memorial History of Boston (Boston, 1882), vol. i, pp. 52-56.
- Printed for the first time by Brown, Genesis, p. 456.
- Hunter, British India, vol. i, p. 306.
- Cheyney, “English Conditions,” pp. 514-21. For a report on a site for a colony in Derry, which might be mistaken for an American “prospectus” of the same period, vide Cal. State Papers, Ireland, 1608-1610, p. 318. The items are curiously familiar: the goodness of the air and the fruitfulness of the land”; “the red deer, foxes, conies, martins, otters”; “the great plenty of timber for shipping”; “the commodious harbor”; “the infinite store of cods, herrings,” etc.; “the sea-fowl in great abundance”; even the pearls.
- Cal. State Pap., Col., 1558-1660, p. 15.
- The Trades Increase, in Harleian Miscellany (ed. 1809), vol. iii, p. 299; Brown, Genesis, p. 820.
- Smith, Works, vol. i, p. 240.
- Ibid., vol. ii, pp. 731 ff.
- Gorges, “Briefe Narration,” pp. 57-62.
- Gorges, “Briefe Narration,” p.62. He does not give the name of the savage. The identity is established by Bradford, History of Plymouth Plantation (Boston, 1861), pp. 96 f.
- This I take to be the explanation of the voyages, though he may have returned to England between them. It seems certain that he was on the coast in 1620. Cf. Dormer’s letter in Purchas, Pilgrimes, vol. XIX, pp. 129 ff.; Gorges, “Briefe Narration,” pp. 61 ff.; and Bradford, Plymouth, pp. 95-98.
- Reprinted by Brown, Genesis, pp. 338-53.
- Hazard, Hist. Coll., vol. i, pp. 58-81.
- Osgood, American Colonies, vol. i, pp. 56 ff.
- Gorges, “Briefe Narration,” p. 64.
- Ibid., pp. 64 ff.; Documents relating to the Colonial History of State of New York (Albany, 1853), vol. III, p. 4; Thomas Pownall, The Administration of the British Colonies (London, 1777), vol. i, p. 49.
- Charter in Hazard, Hist. Coll., vol. i, pp. 103 ff.
- Cf. Osgood, American Colonies, vol. i, pp. 98 ff.