Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

THE GREAT MASSACRE.

53

to be executed on the 22d of March, 1622, a little before noon, at a time when our men were all at work abroad in their plantations, dispersed and unarmed. This conspiracy was to have taken effect upon all the several settlements at one and the same instant, except on the eastern shore, whither this plot did not reach. The Indians had been made so familiar with the English as to borrow their boats and canoes to cross the river, when they went to consult with their neighbouring Indians upon this execrable conspiracy; and 10 colour their designs the better, they brought presents of deer, turkeys, fish, and fruits, to the English, the evening before. The very morning of the massacre, they came freely and

unarmed among them, eating with them, and behaving themselves with the same freedom and friendship as formerly, till the very minute they were to put their plot in execution ; then they fell to work all at once, every where surprising and knocking the English on the head, some with their hatchets, which they call tomakawks, others with the hoes and axes of the English themselves, shooting at those who escaped the reach of their hands ; sparing neither age nor sex, but destroying man, woman, and child, according to their cruel way of leaving none behind to resent the outrage. But whatever was not done by surprise that day, was left undone, and many that made early resistance escaped.

• By the account taken of the Christians murdered that morning, they were found to be three hundred and fortyseven, most of them falling by their own instruments and working tools.

• The massacre had been much more general had not this plot been providentially discovered to the English some hours before the execution. It happened thus :

• Two Indians, that used to be employed by the English to hunt for them, happened to lie together the night before the massacre in an Englishman's house, where one of them was employed. The Indian that was the guest, fell to persuading the other to rise and kill his master, telling him that he would d8 the same by his own the next day; whereupon he discovered the whole plot that was designed to be executed on the morrow. But the other, instead of entering into the plot and murdering his master, got up, (under pretence of going to execute his comrade's advice,) went into his master's chamber and revealed to him the whole story that he had been told. The master hereupon arose, secured his own

6

:

How was it executed ?

| What prevented its complete succes!

54

TIE GREAT MASSACRE.

a

house, and before day got to Jamestown, which, together with such plantations as could receive notice time enough, were saved by this means; the rest, also, who happened to be watchful in their defence, escaped. Captain Croshaw, in his vessel at Pawtomack, had notice given him by a young Indian, by which means he came off untouched.

• The occasion of Oppaconcanough's furious resentment was this : The war captain, mentioned before to have been killed, was called Nemattanow. He was an active Indian, a great warrior, and in much esteem among them ; insomuch that they believed him to be invulnerable and immortal, because he had been in many conflicts, and escaped untouched from them all. He was also a very cunning fellow, and took great pride in preserving and increasing this their superstition concerning him; affecting every thing that was odd and prodigious to work upon their admiration : for which purpose he would often dress himself up with feathers, after a fantastic manner, and by much use of that ornament, obtained among the English the nickname of Jack of the Feather.

• This Nemattanow, coming to a private settlement of one Morgan, who had several toys, he had a mind to persuade him to go to Pamunky to dispose of them. He gave him hopes what mighty bargains he might meet with there, and kindly offered him his assistance. At last Morgan yielded to his persuasion, but was no more heard of; and it is believed that Nemattanow killed him by the way, and took away his treasure ; for, within a few days, this Nemattanow returned to the same house with Morgan's cap upon his head, where he found two sturdy boys, who asked for their master, and would have had him before a justice of the peace, but he refused to go, and very insolently abused them; whereupon they shot him down, and as they were carrying him to the governor, he died.

• As he was dying, he earnestly pressed the boys to promise him two things : 1st, that they would not tell how he was killed; and, 2dly, that they would bury him among the English. So great was the pride of this vain infidel, that he had no other views but the being esteemed after his death (as he had endeavoured to be while he was alive) invulnerable and immortal, though his increasing faintness sufficiently convinced him of the falsity of both. He imagined, that being buried among the English, perhaps, might conceal his death from his own nation, who might think him translated to some

[ocr errors]

What was the cause of the Indian king's hostility ?

[blocks in formation]

nappier country. Thus he pleased himself to the last gasp with the boys' promises to carry on the delusion. The killing this Indian champion was all the provocation given to that haughty and revengeful man, Oppaconcanough, to act this bloody tragedy, and to take such indefatigable pains to engage in such horrid villany all the kings and nations bordering upon the English settlement on the western shore of Chesapeake.

The effects of this massacre were highly disastrous to the colony. It restricted the pursuits of agriculture, and occasioned the abandonment of most of the settlements, so that from eighty they were reduced to six or seven in number. Sickness was the consequence of crowding many people into a few small settlements, and some of the colonists were so far discouraged as to return to England.

CHAPTER VII.

INDIAN WAR-DISSOLUTION OF THE LONDON COMPANY.

6

This treachery of the Indians was terribly revenged. The whole people were intent on the means of destroying so merciless an enemy. The men took arms. A war of extermination was commenced against the Indians, in which neither old nor young were spared. That elegant historian, Dr. Robertson, thus describes this relentless war:

• The conduct of the Spaniards, in the southern regions of America, was openly proposed as the most proper model to imitate ; and regardless, like them, of those principles of faith, honour, and humanity, which regulate hostility among civilised nations, and set bounds to its rage, the English deemed every thing allowable that tended to accomplish their design. They hunted the Indians like wild beasts rather than enemies; and as the pursuit of them to their places of retreat in the woods, which covered their country, was both difficult and dangerous, they endeavoured to allure them from their inaccessible fastness by offers of peace and promises of oblivion, made with such an artful appearance of sincerity as deceived their crafty leader, and induced them to return to T'ments requiredes were the settle- | Howevengedhe treachery of the Indians

?

56

DISSOLUTION OF THE LONDON COMPANY. their former settlements, and resume their usual peaceful occupations. (1623.) The behaviour of the two people seemed now to be perfectly reversed. The Indians, like men acquainted with the principles of integrity and good faith, on which the intercourse between nations is founded, confided in the reconciliation, and lived in absolute security without suspicion of danger; while the English, with perfidious craft, were preparing to imitate savages in their revenge and cruelty. On the approach of harvest, when they knew a hostile attack would be most formidable and fatal, they fell suddenly upon all the Indian plantations, murdered every person on whom they could lay hold, and drove the rest to the woods, where so many perished with hunger, that some of the tribes nearest to the English were totally extirpated. This atrocious deed, which the perpetrators laboured to represent as a necessary act of retaliation, was followed by some happy effects. It delivered the colony so entirely from any dread of the Indians, that its settlements began again to extend, and its industry to revive.'

While these events were passing in Virginia, the London company was rapidly hastening towards its final dissolution. This body had become quite numerous, and its meetings furnished occasion for discussions on government and legislation, which were by no means pleasing to so arbitrary a sovereign as King James I. Having sought in vain to give the court party the ascendency in the company, he began to charge the disasters and the want of commercial success in the colony to the mismanagement of the corporation.

Commissioners were appointed by the privy council to inquire into the affairs of Virginia from its earliest settlement. These commissioners seized the charters, books, and papers of the company, and intercepted all letters from the colony.

Their report was unfavourable to the corporation, who were accordingly summoned, by the king, to surrender their charter. This being declined, the cause was brought before the court of king's bench, and decided against them. The company was dissolved, and its powers reverted to the king. *

More than one hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling nad been expended on the colony, and nine thousand emigrants had been sent out to people it; yet the annual imports

What was the state of the colony | Relate the circumstances of its disafter this?

solution. 'Vhat rendered James I hostile to the What had the colony cost the com

London company ?

pany?

PROGRESS OF CIVIL FREEDOM.

57

from it did not exceed twenty thousand pounds, and the number of inhabitants was only eighteen hundred.

While the controversy between the king and the company was going forward, the colonists were continuing to exercise the right of self-government. The general assembly met in February, 1624. Their most important act was a solemn declaration that the governor should not impose any taxes on the colony, otherwise than by authority of the general assembly; and that he should not withdraw the inhabitants from their private labour to any service of his own.' Other measures, for the protection of the colonists against arbitrary power, were passed ; and the laws of that session generally, says Judge Marshall, are marked with that good sense and patriotism which are to be expected from men perfectly understanding their own situation, and legislating for themselves.'

They resisted the attempt of the royal commissioners to extort from them a declaration of unlimited submission to the king; but transmitted a petition to him praying for a confirmation of the civil rights then enjoyed, together with the sole importation of tobacco. They also petitioned to have the direction of any military force which the king might station in the country. All the acts of this assembly indicate a remarkable progress of the colonists in the knowledge and appreciation of their civil rights.

King James I was not disposed to yield up a second time the unlimited controul of the colony. He issued a special commission, appointing a governor and twelve councillors, to whom the entire direction of the affairs of the province was committed. He did not recognise the assembly as a part of the government; but attributing the late disasters to the influence of that body, he determined on its discontinuance. He granted to Virginia and the Somers Isles (Bermudas) the exclusive right of importing tobacco into England and Ireland, as had been desired, but totally disregarded the wishes of the colonists respecting the continuance of their civil freedom. His death prevented the completion of a code of laws in which he proposed to carry out his favourite principles of government.

Charles I inherited the arbitrary disposition and despotic principles of his father. He appears, however, to have attached very little importance to the political condition of the

What did it produce ?

What was done by the king ? What is said of the general assembly? What prevented his completing his Of their acts ?

arbitrary designs ?

« ZurückWeiter »