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that, at least upon the grounds of public safety, equity, and prudence, can find out some way or means of union and reconciliation for you amongst yourselves, before you become a prey to common enemies, especially since this State, by the last letter from the Council of State, gave you your freedom, as supposing a better use would have been made of it than there hath been 2 Surely when kind and simple remedies have been applied and are ineffectual, it speaks loud and broadly the high and dangerous distempers of such a body, as if the wounds were incurable.”" This letter was brought by Williams to New England. Landing at Boston, he produced a letter of safeconduct from twelve members of the Council of . State” and was permitted to proceed without * molestation to his home. Distressed to find, on une. his arrival there, that, though the forms of a general election had lately been gone through,” no actual union was made or prepared for, he addressed to his neighbors a letter of remonstrance. He reproached them for the misconduct by which they had brought on themselves the reproach of being “a licentious and contentious people,” “and urged them, with the eloquence almost of despair, to find some way to a settlement, if they would not seem “to have disfranchised humanity and love.” The evident necessity of the case lent force to his advice. A meeting of “Commissioners” for the four towns — six for each — was arranged. They voted to restore the government as it had been constituted seven years before, under the patent obtained by Williams, at the same time ratifying the proceedings which, during its suspension, had been had by the two separate
- - - - - Sept. 12. colonial authorities. An election was ordered, * R. I. Rec., 285. * Ibid., 273. * Ibid., 290, - * Knowles, Memoir, &c., 266.
VOL. II. 31
at which Williams was chosen President, and a prospect of better things seemed to be disclosed." A list of freemen, made about this time, exhibits two i., hundred and forty-seven names. Of these, one * hundred and sixty-seven belonged to the island, Newport having ninety-six, and Portsmouth seventy-one. Of the residue, Providence numbered fortytwo, and Warwick thirty-eight, Newport alone being considerably more populous than both these settlements together.” The aggregate population may have amounted to twelve hundred. The Colony was rounded by the adjustment of the dispute, of sixteen years' standing, respecting Pawtuxet. It had been ordered, when a governion ment was organized under the patent for “Provi** dence Plantations,” that the planters at Pawtuxet should “be left to their choice, whether they would have Providence, Portsmouth, or Newport over them.” But the Pawtuxet people desired to attach themselves to no one of those towns. They continued to consider themselves under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts. Two years after, under the Presidency of John Smith, the 1949. General Court of Providence “ordered that a ** messenger be sent to Pomham and the other Sachem, to require them to come to this Court, and that letters be sent to Benedict Arnold and his father, and the rest of Pawtuxet, about their subjecting to this Colony.” The Pawtuxet people reported this to the General lo, Court of Massachusetts, who warned Smith's gov** ernment to desist from troubling them." To clear her claim, Massachusetts then applied to Plymouth; and, receiving from that Colony a formal surrender of its title to the lands occupied by Arnold and his friends, she proceeded to annex them to her county of Suffolk.” Providence undertook to collect taxes at the settlement, and was threatened by the General Court of Massachusetts, in a letter to Wil- lon. liams, which declared that, if the pretension was "** not abandoned, that government “intended to seek satisfaction in such manner as God should put into their hands.”” The Commissioners from Plymouth now disputed the legality of the earlier proceedings of their Colony in making the cession to Massachusetts; and the question became further perplexed." Once more the Pawtuxet people were molested by their neighbors with a claim for taxes. But Massachusetts was getting tired of the dispute, and the original purpose of it had long ago been answered. She merely replied by a protest against the claim, and by a permission to the Pawtuxet peo- los. ple to recover compensation in her courts, if they "* could find within her jurisdiction any property of those by whom they were aggrieved.” Their number was reduced by removals, till only four heads of families remained. Two desired to attach themselves to the new ico. government; and two, William Arnold and Wil- * liam Carpenter, weary of the annoyances which were always so near, while protection had to be invoked from such a distance, professed their willingness to do so, but for the fear of offending Massachusetts.” This imaginary, if not pretended, scruple was easily removed. Their iss, petition, “in behalf of themselves and all the in** habitants of Pawtuxet, for a full discharge from their submission,” was cheerfully granted by the General Court of Massachusetts.” Plymouth did not care to revive her claim. They were received as citizens of “Providence Plantations;” and, with a view to prevent the recurrence of such difficulty as they had occasioned, a penalty of forfeiture of estate was denounced by that government against whosoever should “put his lands, or any parts thereof, that are within this Colony's bounds, under the government of any other jurisdiction, or endeavor actually to bring in any foreign power to govern in any part or parts of this Colony's precincts.” When it had at last accomplished a political union, the Colony was not yet prepared to enjoy the sweets of peace ... and order.” “A tumult and disturbance” took disorder place at Providence, “under pretence of a volun** tary training.”" A reforming citizen addressed a letter to the town, maintaining “that it was bloodguiltiness, and against the rule of the Gospel, to execute judgment upon transgressors against the private or public weal.” It was found judicious to provide that, “in case any man should strike another person in the Court, he should either be fined ten pounds or be whipped, isos. according as the Court should see meet; ”’ ” and, because the Colony was “rent and torn with divisions,” it was “ordered that if any person or persons should be found . . . . . to be a ringleader or ringleaders of factions or divisions, he or they should be sent over at his or their own charges as prisoners, to receive his or their trial and sentence at the pleasure of his Highness and the Lords of the Council.”* Coddington was suspected of furnishing guns to the Indians;” and was required to give assurance of his fidelity to the ico. government by publicly uttering and signing the ** following declaration: “I, William Coddington, do freely submit to the authority of his Highness in this Colony as it is now united, and that with all my heart; ”*— a submission which scarcely procured him admittance to a seat in the Legislature when he was elected as a Commissioner from Newport.” William Harris had been one of Williams's earliest associates." He was disposed to follow out his master's doctrine to its last results. His ardor occasioned a fierce quarrel between them. He “sent his writings or books to the main and to the island, against all earthly powers, parliaments, laws, charters, magistrates, prisons, punishments, rates, yea, against all kings and princes, under the notion that the people should shortly cry out, “No lords, no masters 1’ and in open Court protested, before the whole Colony Assembly, that he would maintain his writings with his blood.”" Williams caused him to be formally arraigned for Igor. high treason, and he was laid under heavy bonds "** for good behavior till such time as the Colony should be
* R. I. Rec., I. 276. advice of the Federal Commissioners * Ibid., 209 – 302. respecting the question of her jurisdic* Ibid., 152. tion, and had been advised by them to * Ibid., 218. settle it with Plymouth “by a neigh
* Mass. Rec., III. 196. — Massachu- borly and friendly treaty.” (Records, setts had first (July, 1649) asked the &c., in Hazard, II. 144.)
* Mass. Rec., III. 198; Plym. Rec., II. 158. * Mass. Rec., III. 201, 202. — The
be costly and troublesome. (Plym. Rec., II. 171; Records, &c., in Hazard, II. 153; comp. 143.)
Federal Commissioners, being informed of this cession at their next meeting (September 5, 1650), advised, for the sake of conciliating the Warwick people, that Plymouth should retract it, and assume jurisdiction of the territory. (Records, &c., in Hazard, 153, 154.) Massachusetts readily acceded to that arrangement (Mass. Rec., III. 216); but Plymouth declined a business likely to
* Mass. Rec., III. 228.
* Records, &c., in Hazard, II. 199 — 203. — The business was revived at this time by a notice to the Commissioners, from Gorton and his friends, of their intention to make another application to Parliament. (Ibid., 198; see also Winthrop, II. 251, 252.)
* Mass. Rec., IV. (i.) 149.
* Williams's letter to “The General * Mass. Rec., IV. (i.) 833. Court of Magistrates and Deputies as- * R. I. Rec., I. 339. sembled at Boston,” in Knowles, Me- * Ibid., 401. moir, &c., 285. In this letter the ha- * It is gratifying to know that Wilrassed President of Rhode Island says: liams was now allowed to come to Bos“Honored Sirs, I cordially profess it ton. There is a letter from him to before the Most High, that I believe if Winthrop written there, May 17, 1656. not only they [the Pawtuxet people], (Knowles, 292.) The vote in his favor but ourselves and all the whole country, is in the Mass. Archives, XXX. 62. by joint consent, were subject to your “Staples, Annals of Providence, 113. government, it might be a rich mercy.” * Knowles, Memoir, &c., 278.