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onies with a proposal for “a committee, to be chosen by each jurisdiction, to treat and agree upon such explanation or reconciliation of the Articles of Confederation as should be consistent with their true meaning.” After six weeks, Connecticut and New Haven made a joint reply.” “We grant,” they said, “as the Commissioners themselves have done, that, if any of their determinations prove manifestly unjust, which they have not yet heard of they ought to be laid aside. It is better to obey God than man; to obey God than General Courts or Commissioners.” But they thought the instrument of confederation sufficiently clear; they saw “no cause to choose or send a committee, either for explication or alteration of any of the Articles;” and they renewed the charge of “breach of league and covenant.” Plymouth took four months to longer for consideration, and then sent an an** swer of the same import.” Massachusetts made so a separate replies, and a joint answer was pre* * pared by New Haven for the three dissatisfied Colonies.” The arrival from England of the expedition destined against the Dutch had now taken place; and probably the prospect, thus opened, of attaining the desired end in a way different from what had been insisted on, had a tendency to compose the quarrel. Connecticut had chosen her Federal Commissioners at the usual time;" and, after some debate on the question whether o, ; the Confederacy should be still sustained, New ** Haven" and Plymouth,” at a later hour, followed the example, at the same time instructing their repre
* Records, &c., in Hazard, II. * Mass. Rec., IV. (i.) 196; N. H.
304. Rec., II. 113, 114.
* Plym. Rec., III. 43; Hazard, II. ' N. H. Rec., II. 111. 305. * Plym. Rec., III. 62, 67.
sentatives to endeavor to obtain satisfaction for the injury which was imputed. When, at the opening of the next annual meeting of the Commissioners, – held at Hartford, —they “fell upon a debate of the late differences betwixt Massachusetts and the other Colonies,” the Commissioners of Massachusetts, in behalf of their government, retracted the distinction which had been made as to the function of the Commissioners in respect to offensive and to defensive wars, and acknowledged the authority of the Federal Council, as it had been maintained on the other side, only insisting on the reservation that it could not oblige to any act or proceeding of a criminal character. “We do hereby,” they said, “profess it to be our judgments, and do believe it to be . the judgment of our General Court, that the * Commissioners, or six of them, have power, ac- Sept. 7. cording to the Articles, to determine the justice of all wars, &c.; that our General Court hath and doth recall that interpretation of the Articles which they sent to the Commissioners at Boston, . . . . . and do acknowledge themselves bound to execute the determinations of the Commissioners, according to the literal sense and true meaning of the Articles of Confederation, so far as the said determinations are in themselves just and according to God.” The Commissioners for the other Colonies unanimously accepted the explanation, “provided the General Court of the Massachusetts, at their next meeting, should certify to the other three General Courts their consent thereunto, and profess to act accordingly.” The General Court of Massachusetts did so certify;” and the long quarrel seemed at an end. The probability of an immediate conflict with New Netherland was now passed. Time had disclosed no more proof of the alleged conspiracy; the border was tranquil; and the parent countries had made peace. During the year, however, the proceedings of Ninigret, who was probably emboldened by intelligence of the dissension among the Colonies, had been more alarming. Some of his followers were even so rash as to make depredations upon the land of Mr. Winthrop at New London. The Commissioners, proceeding to business, unanimously resolved to send a messenger to require him to make up the arrears of tribute due for some Pequots who had been placed under his government, and to give security for its punctual payment in future, and “for his peaceable carriage” and “faithful observance of his covenants.” He was at the same time to be invited to make known the causes of complaint which he was understood to have against Uncas, that the Commissioners might take order for his effectual protection against that chief. His personal presence was not required; but, if he preferred to visit the Commissioners, he was “not to bring with him above twenty or thirty men,” to which retinue Uncas was required to allow unmolested passage through his country." Ninigret refused either to come or send to Hartford, or to give any satisfaction; and, though in Massachusetts his conduct was regarded as indicating rather ill-temper and vexation than any dangerous design, yet, as such designs might easily follow, and the example of defiance Expedition - aginous was dangerous, the Massachusetts Commission* ers could no longer take the responsibility of obstructing active measures. They united with the rest in a vote to send twenty horsemen and forty foot-soldiers into his country, with a demand tantamount to that which he had recently rejected. If he should comply with it, no further measures were to be taken. Should he refuse, he was forthwith to be brought to terms by an invading force consisting of forty horsemen and a hundred and forty-three foot-soldiers from Massachusetts, forty-five foot-soldiers from Connecticut, forty-one from Plymouth, and thirty-one from New Haven. A commission and instructions were prepared for the Commander-in-chief. The appointment of that officer was left to Massachusetts; but the Commissioners expressed their hope that it might fall to Major-General Gibbons, Major Denison, or Captain Atherton." It seems that Gibbons and Denison declined the trust, and that Atherton was absent. At all events, it was assigned to Simon Willard, of Concord, one of the Assistants of Massachusetts, and Sergeant-Major of the militia of Middlesex County. He mustered his Massachusetts force at Dedham, and led it by Providence, and along the western shore of Narragansett Bay, to Ninigret's customary residence, in what is now the town of Westerly. Ninigret had withdrawn “up into the country, into a great swamp;” and Willard deferred the pursuit till the troops from Connecticut and New Haven should come up. Three or four days passed before they arrived. The delay was highly unfavorable to the success of the expedition. The place of Ninigret's retreat was fifteen miles from Willard's camp. Captain Seely, of New Haven, and Captain Davis, of the Massachusetts cavalry, were despatched to confer with him. He professed to be in great alarm; but the only distinct engagement which he could be prevailed upon to make, was to surrender the Pequot captives, whose hire, or tribute, he had neglected to pay. The season and the weather were unsuitable for further operations. Possibly Willard had instructions from his immediate superiors not to put too much at hazard for what in Massachusetts had scarcely been regarded as an urgent cause.” He attempted no more, and brought back
* Records, &c., in Hazard, II. 307. * Mass. Rec., IV. (i) 202.
* Records, &c., in Hazard,II.318,319. liams, in which he pleaded with them * Just as Willard was beginning his earnestly against using severe measmarch from Massachusetts, the Magis- ures with Ninigret. The letter is in trates received a long letter from Wil- Knowles, p. 272.
his immediate command to Boston in fifteen days from his departure." When the next meeting of the Commissioners, which was held at New Haven, afforded them opportunity to express their sense of Willard's conduct, nearly a year had passed, giving time for passion to subside. But they then unanimously announced their disapprobation of it in earis: nest terms.” On the other hand, the government *** of Massachusetts, entertaining the opinion that intimidation had more cheaply answered the purpose of violence, and that “the peace of the country, through the blessing of God upon the late expedition, was comfortably secured,” gave their thanks to the troops for “their cheerful and ready service.”* Willard did not lose the public confidence; and though afterwards, from time to time, the perverse savage, whom he was blamed for sparing, gave occasions for complaint, these were never again of such moment as to create serious anxiety, or to call for any costly measures of coercion. The English found that the easiest way to protect their countrymen, and the friendly Indians on Long Island, against Ninigret's inroads, was to give them a frugal supply of arms and ammunition, and employ a little vessel to cruise in the Sound and intercept his boats.” And, as matters stood between the parties, occasional threats probably accomplished as much towards repressing the disorders of these unreason
* Joseph Willard, Willard Memoir, or Life and Times of Major Simon Willard, &c., 204 – 215. — Simon Willard, born, in 1605, at Horsmonden, in Kent, came to Massachusetts in 1634, and established himself at Cambridge. In the autumn of 1635, he went with the Reverend Mr. Bulkeley, “and about twelve more families, to begin a town at Musketaquid, ..... and it was named Concord.” (Winthrop, I. 167.) In 1636 (Mass. Rec., I.185) and for many years afterwards, he was
a Deputy in the General Court for that place. In 1653, having previously gone through the inferior degrees of military command, he was promoted to be Sergeant-Major of the troops of Middlesex County, and in the following year was first chosen to be an Assistant. (Mass. Rec., IV. (i.) 181.)
* Records, &c., in Hazard, II. 340.
* Archives of Massachusetts, XXX. 44, 45.
* Records, &c., in Hazard, II. 341 – 343.