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The subject of a treaty between Massachusetts and the French governor of Canada, was in agitation, in 1658. A proposition was made to the government of Canada two years before, for maintaining a mutual trade. The French were so much pleased with the proposal, that they now expressed a desire to establish a treaty, not only to regulate trade between them, but for the purpose of an alliance with Massachusetts and Plymouth. The subject, affecting all New England, was referred by Massachusetts to the commissioners of the united colonies. The French were desirous of the aid of the English against the Mohawks, and the six other Indian tribes in their vicinity. And unless a treaty of alliance should be formed, they declined making any agreement respecting commerce. The commissioners, though ready to enter into a friendly intercourse, as to trade, were not willing to agree, at that time, to the proposed alliance.

The political disputes, and the internal wars of England, which were followed by the death of Charles I., who was beheaded in 1649, directed the attention of that government from the proceedings in the colonies, and prevented the plans which had been proposed for ruling them in an arbitrary manner without regard to the powers and rights secured to them by their charters. This state of the parent kingdom permitted them, for several years, to exercise all the powers which had been granted them; and, in some respects, those powers were exceeded, and the authority of the king and parliament almost entirely disregarded. Still, they were in fear of the exertion of political power from the parent government; and claims were often set up, though not put in force, inconsistent with the rights they contended for, and had assumed.

Massachusetts was subject to alarm from the government of England, in the days of the cominonwealth, as well as in the reign of Charles I. The parliament meditated a new charter for the colonies, and authorized the council of state to appoint governors over them. It was proposed, that warrants should be issued, and the courts held in the name of the parliament of England (or of a council by them appointed.) This was considered as prostrating the authority which the colony had a right to exercise; and which it had exercised even in the life of Charles I. Massachusetts remonstrated against these projected measures, through their agent, Mr. Winslow, of Plymouth, then in England, and pleaded the royal charter, which permitted them to have a governor and magistrates of their own choice, and laws of their own making, if not repugnant to those of England; and that they had emigrated, settled, and

maintained the colony, without cost to the parent state. They said "they were able enough to have lived in England, and had removed to a wilderness, to escape ecclesiastical persecution; and, if their hopes were now blasted, they should have cause to say, they had fallen on hard times, and must sit down and sigh out too late repentance for coming hither." The parliament did not then proceed any further in the meditated plan. In conformity with these views of a qualified independence, when there was war between England and Holland, in 1652, they informed Cromwell, that they considered it their duty to remain at peace with the Dutch in America. Massachusetts chose, indeed, to call it an offensive war on the part of England; and though the commissioners of the other colonies declared the causes for war sufficient, they insisted, that they were not bound, in such case, to observe their directions. In truth, this colony did not consider itself in danger from the Dutch, at that time. But the year following, when it was recommended by Cromwell, whose favor they wished to retain, to engage with the other colonies in the war on the Dutch, they made preparations for that purpose; but peace soon took place between the two nations. The general court were careful to assert their rights, even in the order to authorize the raising of troops at this time. They said, "that they desired to keep in grateful remembrance the Protector's favorable regard to the colony, and should be always ready to attend to his Highness' pleasure, wherein they might, with safety to the liberty of their consciences, and the public peace and welfare."

The chief reason, with the colonies of New England, for war against the Dutch near Hudson river, was their alleged instigation of the Indians against the English. The Dutch had great influence with the Narragansett and Niantick tribes, and with the Indians on Long Island; and these were often committing petty hostilities on the English settlements. Their depredations were such, that the commissioners of the four colonies concluded to send a military force to quell them. Major Willard was appointed to command. But his conduct was not marked by the energy or success expected, and he received the censure of the commissioners for his inefficiency. These two tribes were not sufficiently powerful, however, to put the colonies in great danger. Had the Dutch, as it was alleged they attempted, excited all the Indians in New England, and adjoining territories, to unite against the English, they might have entirely broken up the settlements.

Another execution for witchcraft took place in 1655, to the

HISTORY OF MASSACHUSETTS.

great reproach of the judges and others of that period, and a lamentable instance of human weakness and credulity. Mrs. Hibbins, the widow of a very respectable character, who had been assistant, an agent for the colony to England, and an eminent merchant, was tried on the charge of being a witch; was declared guilty and executed. Mr. Hibbins lost his estate, and left his wife poor. She did not bear this reverse of condition with due christian resignation, but became very querulous; and her frequent complaints and repining habits rendered her an annoyance to her neighbors. It is strange, that even an excess of this unhappy temper, should have subjected her to the charge of witchcraft. But there was, in fact, no greater proof against her, unless conjectures and prejudices were allowed to be proofs. Her conviction led one to say, "that the charge was made because she had more wit and shrewdness than her neighbors."

When the religious character and views of the early inhabitants of New England are duly considered, it will not be a matter of surprise, that they discouraged luxury and extravagance publicly in every form. Governor Winthrop and others, his associates, set examples of sobriety and economy, which were long followed; and all superfluity in dress was expressly discountenanced. In 1651, the general court passed sumptuary laws, and while they admitted the difficulty of legislating on the subject, they said they considered it their duty to recommend a sober and temperate use of riches. A law was also passed, in 1655, to encourage "the useful occupation of spinning."

Several towns and settlements in Maine, and within the territory claimed by Sir S. Gorges, were induced to put themselves under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. Gorges and his friends complained that improper measures were adopted, by the A portion rulers in that colony, to bring about this union. of the people in Maine were willing to become united to the government of Massachusetts; but its proceedings, in this case, as in some others, did not escape the charge of being arbitrary and unjust. Afterwards, the commissioners of Charles II., in 1664-5, on complaint of Gorges' heirs, ordered Massachusetts to relinquish its claims; but it continued its pretensions till 1691, when Maine was included in the new charter for the province.

At this period, (1654–5) the navigation and trade of Massachusetts were in a prosperous condition. With all the difficulties the people had encountered, such were their enterprise and industry, they had extended their commerce; and their exports were so great that they could purchase, with the pro

ceeds, all that was necessary to their comfortable subsistence, and promotive of a gradual improvement. In the time of the commonwealth, and of Cromwell, acts of parliament were passed, regulating trade with and in the colonies. During the reign of Charles I., restrictions were imposed on the colonial trade, for the purposes of a revenue for England, which were oppressive, and justly considered a monopoly. In many respects, these regulations were rendered less oppressive, and some dispensations were granted for the relief of the colonies. Free trade was in a great measure allowed. The vessels of Massachusetts traded to Dutch, Spanish, and French ports. Its commerce was then the chief source of wealth.

In 1656, the lord protector meditated the wild plan of removing the inhabitants of New England to Ireland, or to Jamaica. This was as unaccountable a project, as any one planned by those who have suddenly risen to power in modern times. Perhaps the possession of great authority, unexpectedly obtained, intoxicates the mind, and naturally leads to impracticable and extravagant projects. But the people were too wise to listen to the proposal. They had become attached to the soil and climate, by a residence of twenty-six years; and some were ready to suppose, that they would, in no other place, so fully enjoy their religious rights and principles. Mr. Leverett, then agent for the colony in England, and afterwards governor, satisfied the protector that such a project would not be favorably received; and Cromwell forbore to urge it. Leverett was highly useful to the colony, at this period, in vindicating the character and conduct of its rulers, as to various complaints preferred against them by their political enemies. Leverett believed he had great influence with Cromwell; others, of different views, boasted also of his favor towards them. If not a hypocrite, the protector could, certainly, flatter and dissemble. It is evident, however, that, for some reasons, whether it were esteem for Leverett, or real regard for the rulers of Massachusetts, he was particularly favorable, in many instances, towards the colony.

The conduct of the government of Massachusetts, in 1656, is justly liable to censure, for the severe treatment of the Quakers, who had then recently come into the jurisdiction. They were undoubtedly reprehensible, for their intrusion into the colony, without permission; for their turbulent conduct to the governor and magistrates; and for their profanation of the Lord's day and worship. It is to be remembered, also, that they were ordered to depart the jurisdiction, and not to visit it again. But after a legal banishment, and warning of the fate

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which awaited them, if they returned, they came again into the colony, and were highly disorderly, in opposing the authority of the rulers, and in disturbing and ridiculing the mode of worship observed by all the churches. Before their return, a severe law had been made against them. And when they again came and remained in the colony, and persevered in their disorderly behavior and gross heresy, as it was called, several of them were imprisoned, and two suffered death. No one will doubt that their conduct was highly reprehensible and imprudent; and perhaps not the legal right of the government to banish them from their territory, purchased, defended, and maintained chiefly for the enjoyment of their own mode of worship; but no justification can be found for the punishment of death, or of imprisonment. The Baptists were treated with almost equal severity; and laws were enacted to banish or suppress them. A few years after, directions were given by the parent government, to forbear persecutions against the Quakers, and other sects, which had been so unjustly and cruelly treated; and from regard to these instructions, as well as from their own maturer reflections, they refrained from such acts of severity. The Quakers and Baptists, being free from persecution, became more regular and correct in their deportment; and were justly regarded with far more favorable sentiments by the rulers and the people.

Though such conduct is not singular in the history of man, even among pious professors, it deserves severe rebuke; as it is alike inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel and a wise policy in civil governments. And it is matter of surprise with enlightened men, that christians should ever so much mistake the genius of their religion. The charter declared, that there should always be liberty of conscience, in matters of religion. There was also an early ordinance of the assembly of Massachusetts, that all strangers, professing the christian religion, who should flee to the colony from the tyranny of their oppressors, should be succored at the public charge. But this seems to have been applied only to those of the same religion, faith, and modes of worship. Another order of a similar character was adopted in 1641, "that no injunction should be put on the churches, or members thereof, as to doctrine, worship, or But this discipline, besides the institution of the Lord." liberal decree was sadly disregarded, or misapplied.

The efforts, which were made in 1646, to disseminate the knowledge of the gospel among the Indian tribes, were continued, with great zeal, in various parts of the colony. Several clergymen devoted much time to this benevolent object; and

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