New England


New England.

In the northern settlements, conditions socially and intellectually were very different from those existing in the South. The men who colonized New England represented a unique type; their ideals, their purpose, were essentially other than those which inspired the settlers at Jamestown and the later colonizers of Virginia. The band of Pilgrims who landed from the Mayflower at Plymouth in December, 1620, were not bent on mere commercial adventure, lured to the shores of the New World by tales of its fabulous wealth. They were not in search of gold; they were looking for a permanent home, and had brought their wives and children with them. Their ideals were of the most serious sort; their deep religious feeling colored all their plans and habits of life.

The Pilgrims.

The Pilgrims were a congregation of l"Separatists" or non-conformists who had already endured hardness for conscience' sake before they had ever left the old home. Under the leadership of the Rev. John Robinson and Elder William Brewster, they had fled to Holland in 1608. For ten years, this community of Englishmen had lived peacefully in the Dutch city of Leyden, earning their own living and enjoying the religious liberty they craved; but they felt themselves aliens in a foreign land, and saw that their children were destined to lose their English birthright. After long deliberation, they determined "as pilgrims" to seek in the new continent a home where they might still possess their cherished freedom of worship, while living under English laws and following the customs and traditions of their mother-land.

The plymouth colony.

This company of men obtained a grant from the London Company under the sane charter as that which had been given to the Virginia Colony. They finally set sail from Plymouth, in England, September 16, 1620. It was in the early winter when the Mayflower sighted the shores of Cape Cod. The story of "New England's trails," first told in the narrative of Captain John Smith,1 is as romantic as that of the Jamestown Colony and even more impressive.

Of the forty-one adult males who signed the famous compact on board the Mayflower, only twelve bore the title of "Gentlemen." They were a sober-minded, sturdy band of true colonizers, familiar with labor and inspired with the conviction that God was leading them in their difficult way. Although half the colony perished in the rigor of that first winter, for which they had been wholly unprepared, the spirit of the Pilgrims spoke in the remarkable words of their leader, Brewster: --

"It is not with us as with men whom small things can discourage or small discontentments cause to wish themselves at home again."2

Puritan Colonies in New England.

The companies of settlers who followed the Pilgrims within the next few years were composed of the same sturdy, independent class of thoughtful, high-minded men. They were Puritans, -- for the most part well-to-do, prosperous people; many of them had been educated in the universities, and brought the reverence for education with them. "If God make thee a good Christian and a good scholar, thou hast all that thy mother ever asked for thee," said a Puritan matron to her son. The colonists who within the next fifty years dotted the New England coast-line with their thrifty settlements were idealists. As Professor Tyler puts it, they established "not an agricultural community, nor a manufacturing community, nor a trading community; it was a thinking community." Moral earnestness characterized every action. In 1636, the General Court of Massachusetts voted to establish a college at Newtown; John Harvard, dying two years later, bequeathed his library and half his estate to the school, which was then named

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