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ing fertility of its lands, its fine situation, the conveniency of its harbor, and affluent circumstances of its first inhabitants, all contributed to make it increase faster than any of the other, and to become, in a few years, the most considerable town in, and the metropolis of the colony.—Justice requires that I should here, once for the whole, acknowledge that I have borrowed a great part of this account of the first settlement of Rhode Island, and some few other articles, made use of in the course of these papers, from the Century Sermon of the late ingenious and worthy Mr. John Callender.
Four years after the first coming to Providence, a settlement was began at a place about five miles southward from it, called by the Indians Pawtuxet, where a fine fresh river, known by the same name, falls into the Narraganset Bay, and within the purchase Mr. Williams had made of the Indians.This settlement was made by William Arnold, William Carpenter, Zechariah Rhodes, and William Harris, who all removed from Providence thither, and seem to be induced to make this remove for the sake of the fine natural meadows that were on both sides of the aforesaid river.—And here still remains a numerous posterity from each of these four first planters.
The next plantation, began within this colony, was at a place by the Indians called Shaw-o-met, now known by the name of Warwick. 4 Here a purchase was made of a tract of land, bounding northerly on Providence purchase, 5 and to extend about four miles and a half, south, and twenty miles west. This purchase was made in the beginning of the year
(1) Published in the “Collections of the R. I. Historical Society, IV. (2) Instead of “four years,” this should read “two years.” It was in 1638. (3) For the subsequent disputes as to boundaries by the Pawtuxet settlers, see
2. rnold's “Rhode Island,” I. 174-75, 230-33, 429-38. (4) See Fuller's "History of Warwick.” Also the notes, appendices, etc., to
Gorton's “ Simplicities defence," edited by W. R. Staples. (In “Col
lections of the Rhode Island Historical Society," II). (5) "Along the bay from Gaspee point to Warwick neck.” (Arnold's “Rhode
Island,” I. 176).
1643, of Myantonomo, by Randal Holdon, 1 John Wickes, Samuel Gorton, John Greene, 3 Francis Weston, Richard Waterman, John Warner, Richard Carder, Sampson Shotton, Robert Potter, and William Woodale. 4 The settlement at this place, was began, as I have good reason to believe, a year or two earlier than this purchase of Myantonomo ;5 these lands being first purchased of Pomham, a petty sachem, who with his tribe were the possessors of it, and this purchase afterward assented to, and confirmed by Myantonomo, the principal sachem. Be this as it will, this was the beginning of the fourth town in the colony, planted by people half from Providence, 6 one from Rhode-Island, and the rest, perhaps, new-comers.
The first form of government ? established by Mr. Williams, and the people at Providence, seems to have been no
(1) “Randall Holden.” “Arnold's Rhode Island," I. 176. (2) Samuel Gorton. He published in 1646 “Simplicities defence against
seven-beaded policy.” (Edited by W. R. Staples, and reprinted in “Collections of the Rhode Island Historical Society," II). New light is thrown on this singular character, by a posthumous workof the late Judge Brayton, “A defence of Samuel Gorton and the settlers of Shawomet,"
(Rhode Island Historical Tracts,” No. 17.) (3) John Greene was the ancestor, five generations back, of General Nathanael
Greene. (4) Only eleven names are here given. Gorton gives twelve names. (“Sim
plicities defence,” p. 86). The twelfth is that of Nicholas Power. He
never resided at Shawomet. (5) About November, 1641, Gorton and others settled at Popoquinepaug (in
the vicinity of the present Roger Williams Park). (Brayton's "Defence of Samuel Gorton," p. 73). "John Greene in October, 1642, purchased of Miantonomi (the deed being signed by this same Soccononocco) what is now the Spring Green Farm, called the Occupassuatuxet.” (Brayton,
p. 102). (6) Those from Providence were Greene, Weston, Waterman and Warner;
also Power, not named above. Instead of there being “one from Rhode Island," there were seven : (Gorton, Holden, Wickes, Carder, Shotton, Potter, and Woodale). This latter name is found in as many as eight
variations of spelling. (7) In the minute inventory of the records of the town of Providence, (made
in 1678), may be traced the simple beginnings of government in this town. Appendix III.
more than a voluntary association, and compact, 1 that each individual should submit to, and be governed by the resolutions and determinations of the whole body: All public matters were transacted in their town-meetings, and all private disputes and controversies were also heard, adjudged, and finished there. They annually chose two officers, which were called town deputies; these had authority to keep the peace, to settle small disputes, to call town meetings, preside in them, and see their resolutions executed. And all new-comers, before they were admitted as inhabitants, were obliged to make a solemn promise, in the nature of an oath, in an open town-meeting, that “they would submit themselves, in active and passive obedience, to all such orders and agreements, as shall be made for the public good of the body, in an orderly way, by the major consent of the present inhabitants.” 2 And by the form of engagement given by officers, 3 in the year 1647, after the colony had obtained a charter, 4 and established a body of laws, there is a plain allusion to this primitive government: The form runs thus ; “You A. B. being called, and 5 chosen by the free vote and consent of the inhabitants of this plantation, now orderly met, unto the office of ....., do, in this present assembly, engage yourself, faithfully and truly to execute, all that is required from your office, in the body of laws agreed upon by the whole colony, so far forth as the nature and constitution of this plantation will admit. Also you are faithfully and truly 3 to execute, all that is required from your office in our town book, concerning our town affairs, and to do neither more, nor less, 4 in these respects, than this town have, or shall authorize you to do, according to the best of your understanding.”
(1) “That it was not the intention of Roger Williams, in seeking a refuge in
the wilderness, to become the founder of a state, his own declaration proves." (Arnold's “Rhode Island,” I. 97). Compare Williams's language, (Harris Commission Procedings, Nov. 17, 1677) :-"My soul's desire was to do the natives good.” “Thus," says Professor Diman, “circumstances which he had not at first foreseen, caused a modification
of his plan.” (“Orations and Essays, p. 121). (2) Dated Aug. 20, (1636). See Staples's “Annals of Providence,” p. 39.
Also in the R. I. Col. Records, I. 14. Governor Hopkins's version varies from the original in substituting the words, “submit themselves," for
“subject ourselves.” (3) See the R. I. Col. Records, I. 150, where this form is given in full. (4) It was known as the "patent of 1643." (5) Several variations from this phraseology occur in this “form" as found
in the manuscript Colony Records. These are given below.
For instance, “& chosen unto publick imploymt and the office of
..... by the free vote of ye inhabitants,” etc. (6) “province of Providence Plantations, now orderly mett.”
The government, established by Mr. Coddington, and the people at Rhode Island, appears to be nearly like that at Providence; for though they chose one chief magistrate, which they called by the name of governor and four others, called assistants; yet these seem like the deputies at Providence, to be vested only with some executive powers, while the principal authorities, both legislative and judicial, rested in the body of the people, when met together in town-meeting. And indeed, the authority of these town-meetings, at this time, and long afterwards, was very great, and might be compared to the power of the common people of Athens or Rome; for about the year 1653, an inhabitant of Newport, of very considerable note, was charged with a capital crime, and was brought be fore the town-meeting, there tried, and condemned to death, and the sentence immediately executed in their presence.
It being the resolution of those who came to RhodeIsland, not to settle within the jurisdiction of any of the colonies that were already settled, (and) and they now considered themselves, and were considered by others, as a separate, and independent government, and continued so for several years. What chiefly moved them to the aforesaid resolution, of living in a separate manner, was their desire and intention to enjoy and to maintain an absolute liberty of conscience, and intire freedom in all religious matters. But after having lived some years in the neighbourhood of the Providence planters, and gained a certain knowledge of their principles and practices, they found that they had already established, and constantly and steadily maintained all the liberty and freedom they had been so desirous of, and had removed a second time to find. This union 1 of sentiments, and of intentions, of the most noble and generous kind, soon produced a coalition of the people of Providence, and of those at Rhode Island, and an agreement, that they would unite and become one colony, and apply together to the crown, for a charter of incorporation. In consequence of this agreement, they jointly appointed Mr. Williams their agent, to go to England, and there sollicit and conduct their affairs for them. Some time in the year 2 1642, Mr. Williams sailed for England ; and when he arrived there, found his native country involved in all the miseries of a furious civil war; carried on by the King on one side, and his Parliament on the other : But as the Parliament were masters of the English fleet, that, they supposed, gave them also the power of all the plantations abroad ; therefore they had appointed Robert Earl of Warwick, president, and had joined a number of commissioners with him, and had given them power to take care of and transact all the plantation affairs. To these commissioners, therefore, did Mr. Williams now apply for a charter; and as Sir Henry Vane, with whom he was well acquainted, and seems to have had a close friendship, was one of them, through his assistance, as Mr. Williams afterward declared, he obtained his suit, and (1) "This union.” This was among the first of a series of coalitions and
(1) “the present Assemblie.” (2) "& truly to the uttmost of your power to execute." (3) “to execute the comission comitted unto you and do hereby promise to
do," etc. (4) "in that respect.” (5) "then that w'h the colonie have ..... you to do." (6) "Rhode Island;" i. e. Aquidneck.
combinations which with the charter of 1663 crystallized into the “Colony
of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." (2) He set sail from New Amsterdam, June, 1643. Compare Winthrop's
Journal, II, 117. He doubtless arrived in England in the midst of the campaign of Newbury, (Sept. 20, 1643,) in which the high-minded Lord Falkland fell.