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Historic Events of Colonial Days

Rupert Sargent Holland


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Historic Events of Colonial Days is a 1916 book by Rupert Sargent Holland, and is part of the 'Historic Series for Young People'. Chapters include: A Puritan Hero; Peter Stuyvesant's Flag; When Governor Andross Came to Connecticut; The Struggle Between Nathaniel Bacon and Sir William Berkeley; An Outlaw Chief of Maryland; In the Days of Witches; The Attack on the Delaware; The Pirates of Charles Town Harbor; The Founder of Georgia; and, The Green Mountain Boys and the Yorkers.

This book has 203 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1916.

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Excerpt from 'Historic Events of Colonial Days'

(Rhode Island, 1630)

The good ship Lyon had been sixty-seven days outward bound from the port of Bristol, in England, when she dropped anchor early in February, 1630, at Nantasket, near the entrance of Boston Harbor, in New England. The ship had met with many winter storms, and passengers and crew were glad to see the shores of Massachusetts. On the ninth of February the Lyon slipped through a field of drifting ice and came to anchor before the little settlement of Boston. On board the ship was a young man who was to play an exciting part in the story of the New World.

Yet this young man, Roger Williams by name, seemed simple and quiet enough, as he and his wife came ashore and were welcomed by Governor John Winthrop. He was a young preacher, filled with a desire to carry his teaching to the new lands across the Atlantic Ocean, and he had been asked to be the minister of the First Church in Boston. As it turned out, however, his ideas were not the ideas of the people of Boston, and he soon found that the First Church was not the place for him.

So after a short stay in Boston Roger Williams and his wife went to Plymouth, which was then a colony separate from Massachusetts Bay. William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth, and his neighbors made the young preacher welcome, and there Roger Williams stayed for two years, teaching and exhorting and prophesying, as ministers were said to do in those days. There his daughter Mary was born. Roger Williams, however, was given to argument and could be very obstinate at times, and presently he fell out with his neighbors at Plymouth, and moved again, this time to Salem. There he was given charge of the church, and there he, like many other free-thinking men, fell under the displeasure of the governor of Massachusetts Bay. For some things he taught he was summoned before the General Court of the Bay, and the Court ordered him to leave the colony. He did not go at once, and Governor Winthrop let him stay until the following January, when rumors came to Boston that Roger Williams was planning to lead twenty men of his own way of thinking to the country about Narragansett Bay, and there establish a colony of his own. John Winthrop objected seriously to any such performance.

The governor sent Captain John Underhill in a sailboat to Salem, with orders to seize Roger Williams and put him on board a ship that was lying at Nantasket Roads, ready to sail for England. But when Captain Underhill and his men marched up to the house of Williams they found that the man they wanted had fled three days before. There was no knowing which way he had gone, the wilderness stretched far and wide to west and south, and so they gave up the search for him and reported to Governor Winthrop that Roger Williams had disappeared.

Five friends of Williams, knowing that he had been commanded to leave Massachusetts Bay, had gone into the wilderness and built a camp for him on the banks of a river which was called by the three names of the Blackstone, for the first settler there, the Seekonk, and the Pawtucket. There Williams joined them, and there they stayed during the winter and planted their crops in the spring. Then a messenger from the governor of Plymouth came, saying that their plantation was within the borders of the Plymouth Colony, and asking in a friendly way that Roger Williams and his friends should move to the other side of the river.

The settlers did not like to lose the harvest of their new crops, but neither did they want to make enemies at Plymouth, and so they launched their canoe and paddled down the river in search of a new site. As they went down the stream tradition says that a group of Indians, standing on a great rock near the river's bank, recognized Roger Williams as a man who had once befriended them. They cried their greetings to the white men, and the latter landed and went up the rock and talked with the Indians. Then, taking their canoe again, the white men went on down the river to its mouth, rounded a promontory, and came into an estuary of Narragansett Bay. Here they paddled north a short distance, until they reached the point where the Woonasquatucket and the Moshassuck Rivers joined, and there they landed, near a spring of sweet water. Here they pitched their camp, founding what was to be known in time as the Providence Plantations.

The little colony of six men was soon joined by others, and presently a government was formed, somewhat like those of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth. There were many Indians along the shores of Narragansett Bay, and Roger Williams made it his concern to be on friendly terms with all of them. When he had lived at Plymouth and at Salem he had met many Indians and had been liked by them. Canonicus and his nephew Miantonomoh, chiefs of the Narragansetts, ruled over all this new region. When the six settlers reached their new plantation these chiefs were at odds with a chief to the north named Ausamaquin. Williams set to work to reconcile the hostile Indians, and while he did so he made such friends of the Narragansett chiefs that they gave him a large tract of land, stretching from the Pawtucket to the Pawtuxet Rivers. In his turn Roger Williams sold the land to his company for thirty pounds.

Here, as the little colony of Providence Plantations grew, Roger Williams tended to the government of it and preached constantly to his people. All was not smooth sailing, however, even here in the wilderness. Men disagreed with the preacher, and he found it hard to keep them from continually fighting with each other. When there was no danger of trouble with the Indians, the settlers stirred up trouble for themselves, and Roger Williams had his hands full trying to keep first the white, and then the red, men in order.

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